It seems that the mechanism of a number of groups that want to have focused subjects and avoid certain types of flame wars is to e-mail to a subscriber candidate a list of rules for being in the group. If the candidate agrees to abide by the rules, then (s)he will then e-mail back agreement, at which point the candidate is put on the list.
Avodah is moderated, and focused on Torah topics. Areivim is a general discussion area for the Avodah crowd. It's a means of building a sense of chevrah amongst its members. So, posts that are not appropriate for Avodah because of topicality may be shifted by the moderator to Areivim.
Failure to abide by the rules can result in a warning by the list-owner, called in our parlance a "DNA", a Darchei No'am Alert. Consistant or gross non-compliance with the list guidelines may lead to termination of membership (chas v'shalom!).
As an overview: The parameters of "darchei noam" and the Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Belief (and/or The Ani Ma'amins and/or the Yigdal) are baseline standards for our discussion group. Discussions on Avodah and Areivim ought satisfy the question: Am I spending a lot of time on something will aid my Avodas and Yir'as Hashem (AYH)?
Use Hillel's simple rule of thumb: If it would insult you were you in their shoes, don't say it.
No maligning others or their cherished opinions. Neither in a humorous way with with a complex reference intended to slyly denigrate; nor by saying that the opinion does not conform to any halachic standard or that it frightens you. That does not mean that you cannot respectfully disagree and then bring proofs why. Just question the person respectfully!
Examples: "Yeshiva bochurim are..." "Black people tend to..." "The MO like to..." "Liberals hate..." "Feminists believe..." "The Yeshiva world holds..."
If you use a blanket statement then the moderators will assume that you have read and re-read your post carefully and determined that it is appropriate. Your words will then be judged by that higher standard. Similarly: Do not make disparaging comments about other segments of the Orthodox community. In addition to this being proper middos, it is critical if we are to maintain Avodah (including Areivim) as an interesting group to make people with a diverse variety of opinions all feel welcome.
The overriding lesson is to always make your opinion clear without marginalizing another's opinion. If the other's opinion is in fact "dangerous," and you feel strongly that others are being led astray, let me know, and we may decide, after a cogent respectful exegesis of the sources, that perhaps it is necessary to slap a cautionary "questionable" label on the issue and move on to a new topic.
Areivim, on the other hand, is more general discussion, the issues that affect our communities. The appropriate topics for Areivim include anything you believe would interest the group that does not negatively impact AYH.
Humor (that is not directed at a person or his opinions) is appropriate for Areivim. Ridicule is a violation of the previous guidelines.
Remember that email does not convey tone of voice. This leads to many misunderstandings in electronic fora. Therefore, judiciously use emotion indicators (such as ":-)" "<grin>" "<sigh>" and the like). Make sure people know when you're joking. Similarly, before taking insult at someone else's comment, reread his post trying to see if there is a tone of voice that yeilds a more charitable interpretation. Dan lekaf zechus..
Actively promoting a clearly non-Orthodox viewpoint is grounds for summary dismissal.
When you introduce a new acronym, please be sure to define it. For our commonly used patois of acronyms, see this list.
If you do not recall a source for a statement, it is a productive use of the list to ask others for help. However, if you can locate the reference but it isn't handy, kindly postpone posting until you do.
Also, it's safe to assume most of the chevrah remember your position from the last 20 times you stated it.
We will be consulting: a) with group members we see on a regular basis face-to-face; b) with a core group of "charter members" to ask their advice and counsel in maintaining group standards. Ejection from the list (again, chas v'shalom!) will only occur after such consultations. I ask that any other group member not hesitate to contact us with their concerns and suggestions.
If you consent to these general guidelines, kindly fill out this form and I will gladly add you to our group. In the reply you will get instructions for setting up individual emails, or you can remain getting compiled digests. (You can select different settings for Avodah and Areivim, if you choose.) Please keep in mind that at times this is a fairly active group, and if you choose to receive individual messages you may average (between both Avodah and Areivim) 50 a day!