Discussion group policies

Approved by NASW board Dec.17, 2010; amended Aug. 21, 2013, June 6, 2014

NASW email list policies and procedures

The National Association of Science Writers maintains public discussion groups covering subjects of interest to science writers.

The groups are lightly moderated by the cybrarian and participation is not limited to NASW members. Users are asked to observe common etiquette: If you've got a topic for discussion, give others a heads up by including that subject in the subject line. When quoting from a previous post, only quote what you need to and delete the rest.

Anyone may read messages posted on the public discussion groups and participants should be aware that their words may be indexed by Google and other search engines. NASW members and guests who have registered with the NASW web site may also post messages, comment on others' messages, and subscribe to notifications of new messages, subject to the policies on this page. Violators may be subject to enforcement action as outlined below. New registrants may have their initial messages held for review as an anti-spam measure.

Purposes of the groups:

  • NASW-Talk is for general discussion related to science, science writing, or journalism.
  • NASW-Freelance is for issues specific to the business of freelance writing.
  • NASW-PIO is for issues relating to public information officers.
  • NASW-Books is for discussion relevant to writing or marketing science books.
  • NASW-Teach is for discussion relevant to teaching science writing.
  • NASW-FOIA is for discussion of freedom of information issues.
  • NASW-Chat is for general discussions that need not be relevant to science writing.

We recognize that discussions will naturally range beyond these boundaries, and individual participants normally will not be warned for occasional off-topic posts. However, please recognize that the NASW discussion groups are just about the only ones available for the discussion of science writing, and that's why most people participate. As a courtesy to other participants, please keep your posts on topic or take your discussions to NASW-Chat. Threads that are placed in an inappropriate group may be moved to another group by the cybrarian.

Policies applicable to all groups:

  1. All NASW groups are intended to be cordial discussions among professionals, similar to those one would hear around a water cooler or at a professional seminar. Participants must maintain a civil tone. Vigorous debate is allowed and in fact encouraged, but there must be no name calling, attacks on a person's character or motives, offensive language or profanity, badgering, or excessive posting of the same opinion or position.

  2. In posting material copyrighted elsewhere, participants should be careful to respect the rights of copyright holders. No more of a work should be quoted than is necessary to make a point. Whether or not a long excerpt is within fair use guidelines, the National Association of Science Writers prefers — as the group participants usually do — that any poster send a short excerpt and a link to the full online comment or article.

  3. The NASW discussion groups must not be used to distribute press releases or other promotional material. You may instead consider using a service such as EurekAlert or Newswise, or placing an advertisement in NASW's quarterly magazine ScienceWriters. Exceptions: Announcements of professional development opportunities or awards programs aimed at journalists and public information officers, such as fellowships and free classes or seminars. Please keep such announcements brief — no more than three paragraphs — and include a link to more information, if available. The groups may not be used to advertise programs that charge an admissions fee. Exceptions: Events funded, fully or partially, by NASW, e.g. Idea Grant programs; events hosted by local science writing groups; or events hosted by other professional writing groups. If you would like to promote programs such as this, or any other material not permitted by the discussion group policies, please contact the executive director for information about purchasing an ad or see our Advertise with NASW page.

  4. Advertisements for jobs or freelance opportunities may not be posted by advertisers in the NASW discussion groups. Rather, upon request and payment (in most cases) of a small fee, you may post your ad on the NASW web site, whereupon a copy will automatically be sent via email to all members who have requested that service. To place a job ad, visit the Advertise job or assignment page. Members are reminded that one-time ads for freelance assignments are free of charge. This policy is not meant to preclude informal mention of job opportunities, but ads posted in the NASW jobs archive may not be reposted to a discussion list under any circumstances.

  5. All messages in NASW's discussion groups must be signed with the author's real name.

  6. Original authors retain copyright to material posted in the groups and all digests and compilations derived from them. Material may not be reproduced in other media in whole or in part without the express permission of the original author(s). Exception: By posting messages to the groups, participants consent to publication of brief excerpts in the cybrarian's column in ScienceWriters, the organization's quarterly magazine.

Enforcement procedures

The cybrarian has the power to enforce these policies according to the following procedures. Any enforcement action will apply to all content, including discussion group posts, comments, and member blog posts, and may be appealed to the NASW president:

  1. If, in the judgment of the cybrarian, a participant violates a policy, he or she will receive a private warning. The cybrarian may also remove offending posts and alter the site's settings so that the participant's posts are held for cybrarian review before publishing.

  2. If a participant who has received a private warning violates one of these policies again, he or she will be given a final warning, which may be made public at the cybrarian's discretion.

  3. If a participant under final warning violates one of these polices yet again, he or she may be permanently barred from creating content on the NASW site.

  4. If, in the judgment of the cybrarian in consultation with the president, a participant engages in an especially egregious violation of these policies, the cybrarian may summarily suspend that participant without moving through the three steps above.