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Problem Solving:
Conflicts Between Administrators and Subscribers


The following steps are generally helpful to resolve conflicts between administrators and subscribers. This type of conflict is often the result of a simple misunderstanding, especially if the subscriber has just started to use mailing lists as a resource.

  • If the conflict is occurring on the list, write to the list and let them know you will be resolving it privately. Since some may interpret that as biased, explain the goal is to enable the list to stay focused on its topic.

  • Write to the subscriber(s) involved in the conflict and privately reaffirm the subject is closed to list discussions and ask them to stop posting to the list on the topic (you won't want to post on that topic either, if you think it will deteriorate your resolving the situation). Try to remain neutral; help them understand this isn't personal, but is for the good of the list.

Recap what you understand the problem to be (often the administrator and subscriber identify different problems). Provide them with a copy of the list's existing guidelines, if that is the cause of the conflict. Clarify why you have taken the stance you did.

  • If you cannot resolve the situation, you may need to take other actions. Depending on the severity it may range from temporarily moderating their posts to the list, to unsubscribing their address and permanently blocking the address from posting to the list by using the reject list.

  • If you have exhausted all options ask for help, or suggest the subscriber contact us. In both cases, the messages will be kept confidential. As a rule we do not interfere with the day-to-day workings of the list. We will support reasonable rules administrators establish for a list, and reasonable actions they take to keep the list focused. Sometimes hearing it from a neutral third party will resolve the issue from the subscriber's perspective.

If a subscriber is being abusive in private e-mails sent to you, report the abuse to their ISP (service provider) and yours.