Notes about Netiquette

E-Mail interaction with the community

You might have been referred to this page with a form letter reply. If so the form letter has been sent to you because you sent e-mail in a way which violates one or more of the common rules of email communication in the context of the Linux kernel or some other Open Source project.

Private mail

Help from the community is provided as a free of charge service on a best effort basis. Sending private mail to maintainers or developers is pretty much a guarantee for being ignored or redirected to this page via a form letter:

Confidentiality disclaimers

When posting to public mailing lists the boilerplate confidentiality disclaimers are not only meaningless, they are absolutely wrong for obvious reasons.

If that disclaimer is automatically inserted by your corporate e-mail infrastructure, talk to your manager, IT department or consider to use a different e-mail address which is not affected by this. Quite some companies have dedicated e-mail infrastructure to avoid this problem.

Reply to all

Trimming Cc lists is usually considered a bad practice. Replying only to the sender of an e-mail immediately excludes all other people involved and defeats the purpose of mailing lists by turning a public discussion into a private conversation. See above.

HTML e-mail

HTML e-mail – even when it is a multipart mail with a corresponding plain/text section – is unconditionally rejected by mailing lists. The plain/text section of multipart HTML e-mail is generated by e-mail clients and often results in completely unreadable gunk.

Multipart e-mail

Again, use plain/text e-mail and not some magic format. Also refrain from attaching patches as that makes it impossible to reply to the patch directly. The kernel documentation contains elaborate explanations how to send patches.

Text mail formatting

Text-based e-mail should not exceed 80 columns per line of text. Consult the documentation of your e-mail client to enable proper line breaks around column 78.


If you reply to an e-mail on a mailing list do not top-post. Top-posting is the preferred style in corporate communications, but that does not make an excuse for it:

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text. Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?

A: Top-posting. Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?

A: No. Q: Should I include quotations after my reply?

See also:

Trim replies

If you reply to an e-mail on a mailing list trim unneeded content of the e-mail you are replying to. It's an annoyance to have to scroll down through several pages of quoted text to find a single line of reply or to figure out that after that reply the rest of the e-mail is just useless ballast.

Quoting code

If you want to refer to code or a particular function then mentioning the file and function name is completely sufficient. Maintainers and developers surely do not need a link to a git-web interface or one of the source cross-reference sites. They are definitely able to find the code in question with their favorite editor.

If you really need to quote code to illustrate your point do not copy that from some random web interface as that turns again into unreadable gunk. Insert the code snippet from the source file and only insert the absolute minimum of lines to make your point. Again people are able to find the context on their own and while your hint might be correct in many cases the issue you are looking into is root caused at a completely different place.

Does not work for you?

In case you can't follow the rules above and the documentation of the Open Source project you want to communicate with, consider to seek professional help to solve your problem.

Open Source consultants and service providers charge for their services and therefore are willing to deal with HTML e-mail, disclaimers, top-posting and other nuisances of corporate style communications.