I've been a member of the Dinosaur Mailing List (DML) and VRTPALEO internet mailing lists for over 10 years. They're fantastic resources, both for learning about the latest news in paleontology as well as a means to get connected with colleagues in far-off locales. In addition to being a fantastic resource, the lists are also a fantastic opportunity for people to make a big fool of themselves (however inadvertantly). Not that it will do any good, but this post is devoted to a discussion of recommended "do's and don't's" on these lists. Maybe I'm just old and crotchety, but here goes. . .
PDF Requests: Half of the traffic on the lists these days are requests for this or that PDF. It's easy to sympathize with the requests - after all, many of us work under library limitations of one sort or another. But. . .why not just write the author? It gives him or her a big ego boost, and it doesn't clutter up the list. As for requests for some obscure German monograph from 1903 on emu ovarian histology. . .if it's not findable on Google, there probably isn't a PDF available. How about trying a library?
Proofreading: it looks r3ally unprofesionil 2 send messages like this to a mailing list. You never know who is reading - or what they think of you based on your emails. Keep your correspondence professional - in content, grammar, and capitalization.
"Me too": If you agree with someone's post, let them know in a private email. Don't tell the rest of the world - it clutters the inbox!
Inane speculation: I know, I'm a fun-killer--This problem is particularly prevalent on the DML. But I really don't care to see a debate about whether or not Chuck Norris could beat Velociraptor in a cage match. In fact, discussion of theropods should pretty much be banned in general. Ornithischians (and sauropod vertebrae), please.
Not checking the reply address: I've done this more than once, to my embarrassment. VRTPALEO automatically replies to the list - not the sender. It happens to all of us!
What to do, then?
Exhaust other options first. Of course the lists are for finding information - but the members won't do the research for you. Make a good-faith effort to research your topic before making a request! People are really helpful, especially for those who have clearly done a little background reading.
Be part of the community. The neat thing about VRTPALEO and DML is that anyone can make a contribution. It's fun to know the answer to someone's question, and learn that your reply was really useful.
Check the reply address in your email program. Did I mention this already? Man, I'm embarrassed by that time I didn't. . .
And I'm off to the field tomorrow!