GNLIB - Graphic Novels in Libraries
Hundreds of Librarians Can't Be Wrong!
(unless they use an auto-responder...)
Coping With Flooding
Learn how to safely handle a sudden influx of "vacation" messages.
Oh, My God! Its Starting Again! (or, "How
to Handle the Auto-Responder Nightmare.")
It begins. You dutifully check your email and notice a dozen messages from someone who's "on vacation or away from his desk." Uh-oh! It's Auto-Responder Time!
FIRST - DON'T PANIC. If you want to panic, wait about an hour, then the fun will really get going!
BLOCK THE SENDER. Most email programs have a way to block or filter unwanted email. Learn this technique beforehand - this is email equivalent of a fire extinguisher! Select one of the offending messages in your inbox. (By now, there should be dozens of them.) Note the email address of the sender. This should not be the firstname.lastname@example.org address. If you block the GNLIB-L address, you will be telling your computer to ignore anything coming from that address, and cutting off your nose to spite your face. Block the email address of the poster. This will stop the flood of incoming messages, and you will still continue to receive valid messages from other confused and bewildered GNLIB-L members, and can then discuss the situation in relative peace.
CONTACT THE SENDER'S ORGANIZATION. (This is the fun part.) Shhh - here's an Internet secret! Do you know how to turn an email address into a web address? Remove anything up to and including the @ symbol of the email address. Type the rest of the address into your web browser's "location" or "address" line, putting a "www" in front of it. If the email domain name contained a "mail(period)", remove that part too. You now should have either the exact, or a close approximation, of the sender's webspace. For example, Suzy works at the Bennet Library in Florida. Her email address is email@example.com. To turn this email address into a web address, remove the "suzyq@" and the "mail(period)". You are now left with "bennet.fl.us." Stick a "www" in front of it, and type "www.bennet.fl.us" into your web browser. Pop! Instant access to Suzy's Library's webpage. Now, look around for an email address (or phone number) for the library's webmaster or, if you're feeling really irritated, the director or board of trustees. Give them a ring and let them know that hundreds of librarians across America, Canada, Europe, and New Zealand are being flooded with messages letting us know that "Suzy is on vacation." Politely ask that the auto-responder on ____'s email be disconnected. Shame and embarrassment should bring the situation to an abrupt halt within, hopefully, moments, particularly if you are the twentieth librarian to call in the past few minutes.
ATTEMPT TO CONTACT THE LIST'S ADMINISTRATOR. My name is Steve Miller. When situations like this occur, I can be found hiding under a log in the Amazon jungle. You may reach me there. (Okay, I tried.) I am able to access the member list of GNLIB-L and suspend a subscriber's account. This will stop the problem cold. However, I am not always available either at work, or at home, to come charging to the rescue. These situations are, fortunately, rare enough that I don't have to give out my home phone number for crisis management. The old-hands on the list are aware of my email address and, by this time, have already emailed me to bring me up to speed. I participate on this list with my work email. During normal business hours, I will be aware of anything obtuse occurring with this list and can take appropriate action at my earliest break time. Please DO NOT, under any circumstances, call me at my place of employment regarding list-related business. I manage this list on my own time, outside of work and, as you are no doubt aware, many employers have rules similar to ours about "personal calls on company time."
NOTE: In 2002, I plan to privately recruit several Moderators for GNLIB-L. These members will be given access to Topica and the membership list. Should an auto-responder situation occur, they will be able to deactivate the sender's account. Having Moderators will not only increase the chances of this type of situation being remedied quickly, but these members will also be authorized to assist new members with list etiquette or to enforce courtesy issues with any problem members. For The Record: GNLIB-L has been extremely fortunate to have a very cooperative and polite list of members - THANK YOU! The New Member Assistance and "GNLIB Police" roles are simply adjunct duties for these mostly anonymous Moderators. I do not forsee these members actually having to enforce any rules - we have never had a problem with disrespect on this list, and I would like to ensure that we all continue to have positive experiences in the future.
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Content copyright 2002-2005, Steve Miller, except for quotations taken from emails,
which are credited to the respective authors.