HarmonetLite Mailing List FAQ

HarmonetLite Mailing List FAQ

(Last modified: $Date: 2005/01/20 16:12:23 $) ...visitors since 4/11/2003:

This is the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for the HarmonetLite mailing list, a moderated yahoogroups mailing list to discuss barbershop harmony started by Tom Arneberg (toma@arneberg.com) on September 1, 2000. This document is online at "http://arneberg.com/harmonet/lite".

If you stumbled on this web page and you just want to read some recent messages on HarmonetLite, you can go to this page:



I have started a new mailing list, "HarmonetLite." It is moderated to provide a high signal-to-noise ratio, and includes posts forwarded from the main Harmonet (and other sources) that meet certain filter criteria, in addition to original posts. There are several different people moderating the list, to improve turnaround time for message approval.

To learn more about HarmonetLite, click on a question below (if you're reading this in a web browser), and it will take you to the corresponding answer further down in this document:

NOTE: There are many other frequently asked questions about yahoogroups and about email in general that are already covered in the FAQ for the main Harmonet. Those are not duplicated here; please read that one first!

Q1A: Why do we need HarmonetLite?

It is very useful to have a list to discuss general things about barbershop harmony. Many chapters and most districts have their own discussion lists, but we need one for all of SPEBSQSA.

Back in July 1991, after more than a year of email discussions, we started the "bbshop" mailing list at Cray Research (David Bowen did the actual work), which came to be known as the "Harmonet." For several years it was a great place to share experiences with fellow barbershoppers.

With the explosion of the Internet in the mid-1990s, however, the traffic on the Harmonet increased dramatically. Worse, many of the newcomers no longer adhered to long-standing guidelines of net etiquette, or "netiquette". (For details on some aspects of netiquette, see the Harmonet FAQ.)

As a result, many of the 7000+ people who have been on the Harmonet at one point or another decided to drop out. There was a need to have some sort of filtered version of the Harmonet that would weed out extraneous posts, for people who just didn't have time to read 50 messages per day.

One of the vehicles to meet this need was the "BBSNews" mailing list. I started that in May 1995, and kept it going (with some gaps) until September 2000. There were about 500 active subscribers as of 8/1/00. Each day's post contained several messages on one topic, from the last few days' or weeks' (or months') worth of Harmonet email.

The problem is, I often fell behind in keeping up with the Harmonet, and didn't get a chance to take the time to compile it and send it out. This is clearly more than a one-man job. Also, some of the posts got pretty old, since I would wait until I had about 20K on a given topic before sending that file out.

Another Harmonet-filtering service sprung up, called "Harmonet Tidbits," by Martin Fuchs. This was better than BBSNews in its timeliness, but it, too, suffered the fate of being at the whim of one single person. When Martin was gone, Tidbits stopped. And subscribers were forced into "digest" mode.

I had been thinking for a long time about a new approach to a Harmonet subset for those who couldn't handle the firehose of information on the main Harmonet. In November 1999, I started moving many of the mailing lists I own to Onelist (which later merged with yahoogroups), and realized that the easy moderation abilities of this service might be just the ticket we need. I suggested in May 2000 that we move the Harmonet to yahoogroups and make it moderated, at least to prevent junk mail or inflammatory remarks. But that idea was promptly shot down -- many people want to keep the Harmonet free and unmoderated.

That's fine -- but I figured that if we keep the Harmonet as is, then that would allow the freedom for even tighter moderation in a filtered subset, since people are always free to choose the unmoderated version (or even browse its online archives for a particular topic).

Last, at the SPEBSQSA International in Kansas City in July 2000, I talked to many, many random barbershoppers about the Harmonet. Most of them knew about it, but the vast majority said that they just didn't have time to subscribe to it. This is also true for most people in my quartet, chapter, and district, and for most of my friends in previous chapters and cities.

I began to see that there is probably a much bigger need than we realize for a timely subset of the Harmonet that isn't as overwhelming and that isn't as irritating. I realized that need to be careful when we poll the 2000 of us who are already on the Harmonet about what WE need; maybe we should spend more time polling the other tens of thousands of barbershop singers who are NOT currently Harmonet subscribers!

For all these reasons, I decided to form a new list, HarmonetLite, that would include posts automatically forwarded from the Harmonet, but only ones that are approved by a group of moderators.

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Q1B: How is HarmonetLite different from other barbershop mailing lists?

With all that in mind, I finally got my new idea working. It's called "HarmonetLite." (It took a while to figure out how to automatically forward all posts from the real harmonet to this one; any email coming into an yahoogroups mailing list that comes FROM another yahoogroups list is rejected, so I had to do some mail header mangling in "procmail".)

HarmonetLite is a filtered version of the Harmonet, like BBSNews and Tidbits were, but with a few key differences:

It is good to know that the founders/owners/moderators of both BBSNews and Harmonet Tidbits are now on the HarmonetLite moderator team!

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Q2A: How do I manage my HarmonetLite subscription?

The best way to set your subscription parameters is to go to the "My Groups" web page for yahoogroups:

If you are not already logged in, you will need to do so. If you have not already created an account there, you can do that now.

Even if you don't have an account, you can still go to the yahoogroups web page for HarmonetLite, which has all sorts of information:

And if you just want to read the latest HarmonetLite posts, you go here:
I won't cover any more details on using yahoogroups via the web, since it's pretty self-explanatory.

Q2B: How can I modify my subscription settings by email?

Fortunately for the web-challenged, the good news is that you don't HAVE to use the web to maintain your yahoogroups subscriptions; you can do most thing with email commands.

To subscribe, all you have to do is send email to this address. In other words, put this in the "To:" field of your email program. It doesn't matter what the subject line or the body of your email is:

To: HarmonetLite-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
If you want to turn off messages for a while, just send email to:
To: HarmonetLite-nomail@yahoogroups.com
...and when you want to turn them back on, send email to:
To: HarmonetLite-normal@yahoogroups.com
If you prefer getting only one file per day of all that day's posts put together, you can also send a blank email message (after your initial subscribe message) to:
To: HarmonetLite-digest@yahoogroups.com
...and to go back to individual posts, send email to:
To: HarmonetLite-normal@yahoogroups.com
To get off HarmonetLite entirely, send email to:
To: HarmonetLite-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Q2C: How do I change my email address on HarmonetLite?

There is now a way to "change" your email address on yahoogroups! Just go to your "Member Profile" web page on yahoogroups:

Then click on "Change Email Address", on the right side in the upper half of the page. If you are not signed on to yahoogroups, then you must do that now -- it will prompt you for your email address and password. If you have never logged on, or you've forgotten your password, then click on the text that says "If you cannot recall your password, click here." It will email you a confirmation code that you have to type in, to verify that you are the true owner of that email address.

If you don't want to sign in, or you don't have access to the web, you can still effectively change your subscription email address using only email commands. That way to do that is to unsubscribe from your old address, and then subscribe from your new address:

Send email to this address from your OLD email address:

To: HarmonetLite-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

Send email to this address from your NEW email address:

To: HarmonetLite-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

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Q3: How do I send a reply to a HarmonetLite message?

If you want to reply to a message you read on HarmonetLite, you should take time to decide who you want your reply to go to. The list is set up so that by default, all replies will go to the original author only.

Q3A: How do I send a private reply to the writer of a post?

If you want to send a private reply ONLY to the sender and not to the list, simply make sure that the only the author's address remains in the "To:" line of your outgoing message. If there are other email addresses there, you can delete them.

However, be sure to examine the email address of the original sender. In setting up the auto-forwarding from the Harmonet, I discovered that the yahoogroups service apparently has its own filter that rejects any email coming from another yahoogroups list. So the only way I could automatically forward messages from Harmonet to HarmonetLite was to mangle the email headers, stripping away most of the useful information.

For this reason, some messages you see on HarmonetLite will have an incorrect email address in the "From: " line, like this:

  From: "Barbershopper, Joe" <toma@sgi.com> 

(They show *my* email address, because the Harmonet email is automatically forwarded from my account!) >:-|

These messages are supposed to be hand-modified by the HarmonetLite moderators, to replace the original sender's address. But you can't always assume that this has been done. (Hey, we're all human!)

If a message with an unedited "From:" line does get through, there are a couple things you can do to find the email address of the real author. If you are able to expand your mail headers in your email program, you can always find the original sender's email address in a line like this:

  X-eGroups-From: "Barbershopper, Joe" <joeb@singers.com> 

However, some email programs won't show this level of detail, and then you are out of luck. And ALL digest subscribers will be missing this information.

If the moderators did mistakenly approve a post without manually inserting the correct address in the "From:" line, and you can't expand the headers, or you're a digest subscriber, then your best recourse for sending a private reply is to look for the sender's email address from the bottom of the message, if it's there. If worse comes to worst, you could look up the message on the main Harmonet web page archives, and reply to the person that way:


Q3B: How can I reply to the HarmonetLite list?

All you have to do is insert "HarmonetLite@yahoogroups.com" into the "To:" or "Cc:" lines of your email message. Keep in mind that any message sent directly to HarmonetLite must pass the same filter criteria as any message forwarded from the Harmonet. Note that this is not the preferred method; it is usually better to send your message back to the main Harmonet, and it will then get forwarded to the HarmonetLite queue.

Q3C: What if I want to reply to the entire Harmonet?

Suppose you want your reply to go not only to the sender, and not only to the HarmonetLite subscribers, but all the way to the thousands of subscribers on the main Harmonet?

This one is easy -- just put the Harmonet address in the "To:" or "Cc:" line of your reply:

Cc: bbshop@yahoogroups.com

Note, however, that you must be listed in the Harmonet database in order to post to it. But you can easily sign up to get this privilege without having to get any Harmonet email, by sending a couple blank emails:

To: bbshop-subscribe@yahoogroups.com
To: bbshop-nomail@yahoogroups.com
Note that, like any other Harmonet email, your reply to the Harmonet will also find its way back to HarmonetLite, as long as it passes the filter criteria. Therefore you really never should have to copy both the Harmonet and HarmonetLite on any email message.

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Q4: What is the HarmonetLite filter criteria?

Note: Many of the posts that are rejected for HarmonetLite are just fine for the main Harmonet! If your post doesn't get forwarded, don't assume you did something wrong -- it's just that the Lite version is meant to carry far fewer messages, to achieve a higher signal-to-noise ratio for the subscriber who just doesn't have the time to read that many messages. There will probably be about 5-10 messages per day on HarmonetLite, as opposed to 30-80 messages per day on the Harmonet.

There are three sections of filter criteria:

Q4A: What types of messages are usually approved?

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Q4B: What types of messages are usually rejected?

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Q4C: What types of messages are in the gray areas (i.e., may be approved or rejected, based on context)?

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Q4D: What percentage of Harmonet posts make it to HarmonetLite?

This varies; there is not a set goal for percentages. However, it used to average about 25-30% in its first year, dropped off into the 10-15% range in its second year, and down into the single digits after that. Here are some data points from HarmonetLite's first three years:

Month HarmonetLite
Sep. 2000 230 756 30.4% highest percentage through the filter
Oct. 2000 214 770 27.8%
Nov. 2000 139 481 28.9%
Dec. 2000 143 486 29.4%
Jan. 2001 119 452 26.3% lightest month for bbshop
Feb. 2001 145 528 27.5%
Mar. 2001 211 721 29.3%
Apr. 2001 254 909 27.9%
May. 2001 172 703 24.5%
Jun. 2001 230 925 24.9%
Jul. 2001 310 1286 24.1% Most messages on HarmonetLite
Aug. 2001 171 736 23.1%
Sep. 2001 131 814 16.1%
Oct. 2001 190 848 22.4%
Nov. 2001 146 947 15.4%
Dec. 2001 78 514 15.2%
Jan. 2002 136 870 15.6%
Feb. 2002 61 785 7.8%
Mar. 2002 69 1025 6.7%
Apr. 2002 76 732 10.6%
May 2002 54 1090 5.0%
June 2002 77 852 9.0%
July 2002 109 1469 7.4%
Aug. 2002 43 739 5.8%
Sep. 2002 85 640 13.3%
Oct. 2002 62 1042 6.0%
Nov. 2002 49 902 5.4%
Dec. 2002 29 831 3.5%
Jan. 2003 40 1004 4.0%
Feb. 2003 41 999 4.1%
Mar. 2003 47 888 5.3%
Apr. 2003 39 915 4.3%
May 2003 24 847 2.8%
June 2003 33 1225 2.7%
July 2003 175 1903 9.1%
Aug. 2003 52 803 6.5%
Sept. 2003 37 763 4.8%
Oct. 2003 36 876 4.1%
Nov. 2003 13 952 4.1%
Dec. 2003 44 1247 3.5%
Jan. 2004 39 688 5.7%
Feb. 2004 47 729 6.4%
Mar. 2004 62 939 6.6%
Apr. 2004 58 1055 5.5%
May 2004 44 875 5.0%
June 2004 84 1530 5.5%
July 2004 133 2045 6.5% Most messages on Harmonet
Aug. 2004 47 1313 3.6%
Sept. 2004 48 797 6.0%
Oct. 2004 57 1188 4.8%
Nov. 2004 6 712 0.8% Lowest percentage through the filter
Dec. 2004 36 871 4.1%

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Q5: How can I make sure that my post is in plain text?

In the good old days, all email programs sent messages in plain text. Plain text is "ASCII," which is readable on every type of computer and every piece of software in use today. (See " http://www.asciitable.com" for more information.)

Unfortunately, some relatively recent entrants in the email game have tried to change the rules. Microsoft is the biggest offender in this area -- many of its programs will send messages in non-ASCII by default.

In particular, Microsoft Word has so many bells and whistles built into it that it is very difficult to get all of them turned off so as to avoid non-ASCII characters in your finished product.

Particularly common non-ASCII characters to watch are:

It is common to have MS Word set to automatically substitute some or all of these for their mundane counterparts.

Your best bet is to do a "Save As..." and choose "plain text" for the document type. Then reopen the new plain text document, and you can cut-and-paste from that file into your email program. You might also want to use a mono-spaced font such as "Courier," so that you can see the number of characters in each line (which should be 75 or less).

To be universally readable, your message should contain only the characters in this table:

         ! " # $ % & ' ( ) * + , - . /
         0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 : ; < = > ?
         @ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O
         P Q R S T U V W X Y Z [ \ ] ^ _
         a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o
         p q r s t u v w x y z { | } ~

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Q6: How many people are subscribed to HarmonetLite?

This number changes every day, but here are some recent stats:

  Subscribers to HarmonetLite, as of  Thu, 01/20/05:

  Number     Percent     Subscription
  of subs    of total    option
  -------    --------    ------
    296        39%       'Individual Emails'
    289        38%       'Daily Digest'
    155        20%       'No Email'
     17         2%       'Special Notices'
   ----       ----
    757       100%       TOTAL

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Q7: Who pays for the HarmonetLite service?

All the labor involved with managing a moderated mailing list is volunteer; nobody on this list profits financially in any way.

It does cost money for the computer resources to run the list, though. Mailing lists on yahoogroups such as the Harmonet are paid for by text ads of 6-8 lines. For the past few years, these ads were at the end of each message.

However, on August 29, 2000, egroups decided to move the ads to the TOP of each message. This was significantly more irritating for many people.

For a mere $60/year per list, though, yahoogroups will totally turn off all the ads. So we decided to take a collection to pay the $120 for both Harmonet and HarmonetLite, and to give any extra to the Harmonet Reporter fund.

Here are the contributors who are responsible for these two lists being ad-free from September 2000 until September 2001:

    Amount Method  Rec'd     From
    ------ ------  -----     ----
    $ 2.00  cash   09/09/00  CA Casey Parker
    $ 5.00  cash   09/11/00  ?? Steve Nester
    $ 5.00  check  09/11/00  WA Tom & Janet Condon
    $ 5.00  check  09/15/00  FL Arthur & Joyce Proper 
    $ 5.00  check  09/16/00  TN Frazer & Suzanne Leuck
    $10.00  check  09/18/00  NJ Stephen & Kathleen O'Conor
    $10.00  check  09/18/00  MN Jack & Elaine Gable
    $ 5.00  check  09/18/00  CA Robert & Jeanne Cathaway
    $10.00  cash   09/19/00  NJ Rae Phillips (cats)
    $50.00  check  09/19/00  CA Paul Lewis
    $ 5.00  check  09/21/00  WA Martin & Renee Silverstein
    $ 5.00  check  09/21/00  SC John & Nancy Witmer
    $ 5.00  check  09/22/00  FL Clare & June McCreary
    $ 5.00  check  09/25/00  CA Dave & Tina Gunther
    $ 5.00  check  09/26/00  AE Frank & Christel Leitnaker (APO)
    $ 5.00  check  09/27/00  AU Steve F. ("Bear in Oz")
    $10.00  check  09/30/00  SC Bill Young
    $10.00  check  11/10/00  FL Jerald & Shireen Merrill
    $60.00  direct 02/00/01  ?? Philip Richards

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Q8: Who are the moderators of HarmonetLite?

HarmonetLite is moderated by a team of experienced and dedicated barbershoppers from various districts of SPEBSQSA. Here is a little background about our moderators, in alphabetical order:

Tom Arneberg (toma@sgi.com):

Tom was one of the three original members of the Harmonet back in 1991, and for five years ran the BBSNews service (a precursor to HarmonetLite). He joined the St. Paul chapter of SPEBSQSA in 1978, at the tender age of 18. He has been an active member in seven different chapters in several districts (LOL, RMD, EVG), including International competitors Denver Mile Hi, Denver Tech, West Portland, and Hilltop. He has sung in three LOL and EVG finalist quartets, currently performing with CHIPS (http://arneberg.com/chips), and he has held administrative positions at the chapter and district level. In real life he is an IC Design Engineer at SGI (formerly Cray Research), and has been designing web pages as a hobby since 1994. He also keeps busy with church leadership, finishing up a new house construction (never totally done), and raising five pre-teens.

Dave Diers (dave@boysprint.com):

Dave is a member of the Greater Portland, Oregon, Vocal Gentry. He is relatively new to barbershop singing, having joined in April of 1997. He edits The Gentry Weekly, the chorus bulletin. Dave and his wife Linda, a Sweet Adelines member, own a small print shop and computer sales and repair business in Hood River, Oregon. They spent the last 27 years raising eight children, the youngest of whom is 16 (the only one left at home). They have eight grandchildren.

Martin Fuchs ( Martin.Fuchs@West.Boeing.com):

Marty first joined SPEBSQSA in 1966. He directed the Westminster Chapter in Southern California in the early '90s and has sung bari and tenor in a great many quartets and choruses. Besides barbershopping, Marty coaches acting and magic. Marty was the moderator for many years of 'Harmonet Tidbits', a precursor to 'HarmonetLite'. Professionally, Marty works for the Boeing Company in Huntington Beach where he heads up a team of professional engineering programmers for the Space Station, Space Shuttle and Delta Programs.

Tina Gunther (tgsmiles@hotmail.com):

Tina Gunther represents the non-singing support structure that every Barbershop chapter needs to keep it healthy. Her husband, Dave Gunther is the current editor of SHOWCASE (formerly the Quaker Quartetter), the chapter bulletin of the SPEBSQSA Chapter in Whittier, California. For the last ten years Tina has helped to edit various publications and encourage new computer users as they tested the waters of cyberspace. She makes her living as a Library Cataloging Technician at Biola University in La Mirada, California.

Robb Topolski (rmt@bigfoot.com):

Robb has been a SPEBSQSA member since 1996. Robb sings baritone with Spare Time (http://www.evg.org/~spareweb). He directs the Intel Corporation company chorus, "Voice Connection" and is the assistant director of the Tualatin Valley Chapter chorus, the "Harmony Masters." When he is not singing, he is an in-company consultant on computer software testing methods and a father to his two daughters.

James Triplett ( jetriple@collins.rockwell.com):

James has been barbershopping since 1978. He started by forming a quartet in high school, and after high school graduation joined the Illini Statesmen (Urbana, Illinois). Back then they made you wait until you were out of HS to join. After college he sang for a year with the Cedar Rapids Harmony Hawks, then moved to Waterloo, and while singing with the Proud Image won two CSD contests and went to International in Salt Lake City and San Antonio. He's been in two registered quartets, "Camden Yards" and "Exit Only." In 1995-96 he co-founded the Linn County Metro Chapter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ("Twenty-First Century Vocals" chorus) and was the president for three years.

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If you have any questions not covered here, please send me email.

  - Tom A.  (HarmonetLite home page:  http://arneberg.com/harmonet/lite)
;-) I'd rather be ____  Thomas Arneberg    | http://arneberg.com/chips
:-) singing in a |____| toma@arneberg.com  | Baritone, "CHIPS" quartet
:-) Barbershop  _|   _| SGI (formerly Cray)| Former chapters: St. Paul,
:-) Quartet!   (_)  (_) Chippewa Falls, WI | Denver, W.Portland, Hilltop

[Barbershop FAQs & pointers] | [SPEBSQSA]

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This page is maintained by Tom Arneberg (toma@arneberg.com)
(Last modified: $Date: 2005/01/20 16:12:23 $)