Listserv Policies Subcommittee

Would you like to volunteer your time as a member of the Listserv Policies Subcommittee? The subcommittee will report back to the NASW president in one month with recommendations.

If you listen in on our listservs, you know them to be lively, wide-ranging, and remarkably collegial discussions on matters pertinent to science writers. As on other listservs, discussions of rules and policies often come to the fore, and in our case often evoke passionate consideration of the guidelines and rules that are currently in force.

As president, my goal in setting up this committee is to provide our members an opportunity to reconsider and, if need be, reform the policies and procedures that govern our listserv discussion groups. The current policies can be viewed at

The subcommittee's charge is to consider these three matters:

  1. Should the lists be kept open to non-members or should they be closed? What are the benefits and drawbacks of the recommendation?

  2. What policies are appropriate to create the richest discussions about science writing within a framework permitted by law (i.e., avoiding the possibility of libel and copyright infringement) and common sense (i.e. no spamming.)

  3. What procedures should be in place for NASW regarding warnings or suspension from the lists for policy violators?

Recommendations are due to NASW President Robert Lee Hotz and Internet Committee co-chairs, Kelli Whitlock Burton and Mariette DiChristina, by December 4.

Richard Robinson has agreed to head the subcommittee. Those of you who have worked with Richard before know that he has an independent mind and a great love of our online community.

The discussion is limited to NASW members.

If you would like to join the listserv that the committee will be using to discuss these policies, send a note to Please understand that the chairman will be responsible for keeping the discussion focused on the agenda. Participants should recognize that the discussion will proceed along the lines set by the chair.

If, in our judgment, the suggestions are relatively straightforward, I would expect to implement them immediately. If they require more sweeping measures, I would present the subcommittee's recommendations to the board in a timely way. The subcommittee will automatically disband upon submission of the recommendations.

Robert Lee Hotz President National Association of Science Writers