SIGCHI Mailing Lists and Aliases
Vol.29 No.2, April 1997
Policies for Lists and Aliases
The New SIGCHI Lists
- Open Discussion/Distribution Lists
SIGCHI Committee Lists and Aliases
Local Chapter Aliases
Publications Lists and Aliases
About the Author
The SIGCHI mailing lists and aliases have moved from their original home at Xerox to the ACM LISTSERV. This article describes the move and policies for new and old open discussion lists, committee lists and aliases, and support for local SIGCHI chapters and SIGCHI Bulletin editors, as well as some lists and aliases that were not carried over. The ACM LISTSERV effort is described on the Web at http://www.acm.org/sigchi/listserv/
ACM SIGCHI has used electronic mail extensively for years to coordinate committee activities, discuss topics of general interest, and to provide members of the HCI community with mail aliases. Coordinated by Don Patterson and supported by Nick Briggs, the SIGCHI lists and aliases were hosted on Xerox PARC machines (i.e., xerox.com) free of charge for many years. These lists and aliases were described in 1994 in the SIGCHI Bulletin, Vol. 26, No. 2. By 1995, the popular success of this service was taking its toll on Xerox people and machines, and the move to ACM machines was initiated. Without a champion, the move languished until the installation of L-Soft's LISTSERV software in May 1996 around the time of CHI 96.
The plan for the move of the services from Xerox to ACM evolved over the months after CHI 96. In part because of lack of human resources, the job of email manager fell onto Gary Perlman, the Vice Chair for Publications, who also had managed the Educators.chi list at Ohio State since the time he was Adjunct Chair for Education.
During a series of discussions in the latter half of 1996, the SIGCHI Executive Committee made some decisions about which lists and aliases would be transferred and how they would be used.
- lists and aliases that were named firstname.lastname@example.org would be named email@example.com
so that a list of ACM lists would group all SIGCHI lists together. The
old Xerox addresses would be redirected to the new addresses for some
- open mailing/discussion lists would remain open and have a
list owner who would provide a charter specifying appropriate posting
- the forwarding addresses (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) would not be supported for non-members; members would be urged to use the ACM member accounts (e.g., email@example.com).
During the transition, many more decisions were made on the fly as the opportunity for new aliases (e.g., for adjunct chairs, Bulletin editors), and new features (e.g., digests, archives) became apparent. For example, SIGCHI open discussion lists have open subscriptions, open postings, and open review of who is on the lists; with the feature-rich LISTSERV, there were always several decisions for every one we (naively) expected. Different options were chosen for lists that filled our need for mail aliases (e.g., chi-Chair@acm.org); these lists have closed subscriptions, no archive or digests, but remain open for postings and for review.
Also, before and during the transition, coordinating all interested parties proved both valuable and impractical. Perhaps not surprisingly, most people did not care much about decisions. This made it difficult to gather facts and opinions, especially when contacting large groups of people, or in the case of aliases for local SIGCHI chapters, many small groups of people.
The new SIGCHI lists are catalogued at the L-Soft Web site in their CataList at http://www.lsoft.com/lists/listref.html.
The new SIGCHI open lists are open to the general public for subscription (anyone can add their name to the list), for sending (anyone can send appropriate mail to the list) and for review (anyone can see who is on the list, except for people who have concealed their subscription). The lists are configured so that replies go to the sender by default, not the whole list; this should cut down on inadvertent replies to large lists. The lists are configured to send bounces to the list owners, not the sender, as was the case at Xerox; unknown hosts and users are handled (i.e., unsubscribed, after a while) automatically by LISTSERV.
All requests to subscribe, unsubscribe, and set options, should be sent to the LISTSERV (firstname.lastname@example.org) never to a list. Requests must appear in the body of the message, not in the Subject: line, which is ignored by LISTSERV. Requests are case-insensitive, and can usually be abbreviated. LISTSERV identifies people by their email address in the mail header, so subscriber requests do not include an email address.
To subscribe to a list (all examples will be with Gary Perlman working with chi-Announcements):
subscribe chi-Announcements Gary Perlman, OCLC
To review who is on chi-Announcements:
To set the option to receive daily digests, instead of receiving messages as they are posted:
set chi-Announcements digest
To reset back to undigested service:
set chi-Announcements nodigest
To temporarily suspend mail (e.g., while on vacation):
set chi-Announcements nomail
To restart mail:
set chi-Announcements mail
To get off a list, please do not send mail to the list, which is distributed to about 1000 people. Instead, send this to the LISTSERV:
Again, all requests are sent to email@example.com. The LISTSERV has many help files, but you can start with:
If you have problems, contact the listowner (e.g., chi-Announcementsfirstname.lastname@example.org). The "-request" scheme works for all the lists on the ACM LISTSERV (or any LISTSERV).
Online Help Form: To help users with most requests with the open SIGCHI lists, there is a form at the SIGCHI Web site: http://www.acm.org/sigchi/listserv/request.html . The form describes the lists and helps you set the options you have with them.
The open SIGCHI lists (all at acm.org) include:
- General Interest Announcements, (non-commercial announcements such as conferences and courses job postings should go to chi-Jobs; this is not a discussion list)
- HCI Bibliographic Information (announcements and discussions about bibliographic databases and tools and techniques for dealing with them)
- Reminders of Bulletin Deadlines (this list is for the SIGCHI Bulletin editor to remind potential submitters of submission deadlines; this is not a discussion list)
- HCI Educators (announcements, such as new books, and any discussion relevant to HCI educators)
- Email and Listserv (announcements and discussion of SIGCHI mailing lists and the ACM LISTSERV)
- Intelligent Interfaces (announcements and discussion about intelligent user interfaces)
- Cross-Cultural Issues in the HCI Community (announcements and discussion)
- Job Postings in HCI (announcements)
- Kids and Computers (announcements and discussion
- Future Directions of SIGCHI Publications (announcements and discussion of SIGCHI publications such as the SIGCHI Bulletin, ACM Transactions on CHI, interactions magazine, conference proceedings and videos, and even the SIGCHI Web site)
- Special Interest Area (SIA) on Social Issues (announcements and discussion)
- Student Issues and Announcements (announcements and discussion)
- Long Range Planning for CHI Conference Technical Program (announcements and discussion)
- Future Directions of SIGCHI (announcements and discussion)
- Human Factors of the WWW (announcements and discussion)
ACM SIGCHI is run by the Extended Executive Committee (EEC) which consists of the Executive Committee (EC) and the Chair-appointed Adjunct chairs. The SIGCHI conference is organized by the Conference Management Committee (CMC) for which there is the chi-CMC@acm.org list. The new mailing lists for SIGCHI committees include aliases for individual roles and sub-committees, as did the old aliases at Xerox, but the new names use fewer abbreviations. The aliases for the adjunct chairs are all new, so mail sent to chi-AC-Local-SIGs@acm.org will always be delivered to the current Adjunct Chair for Local SIGs. The people actually in the roles can be found on the SIGCHI officers' page at http://www.acm.org/sigchi/officers/. The lists (and aliases, which are actually closed subscription lists) are:
- Extended Executive Committee (EC + Adjunct)
- Executive Committee (Advisors + ACM-Liaison + Bulletin-Editor + Officers)
- Advisory Board
- ACM Liaison
- Bulletin Editor-in-Chief
- Elected Officers
- Past Chair
- Executive Vice Chair
- Vice Chair for Communications
- Vice Chair for Conference Planning
- Vice Chair for Finance
- Vice Chair for Operations
- Vice Chair for Publications
- Adjunct Chairs
- Adjunct Chair for Curriculum Development
- Adjunct Chair for Education
- Adjunct Chair for Information (Information Director)
- Adjunct Chair for International Relations
- Adjunct Chair for Local SIGs
- Adjunct Chair for Membership
- Adjunct Chair for Publicity and Public Relations
- Adjunct Chair for Special Interest Areas
- Adjunct Chair for Special Needs
- Adjunct Chair for Standards
- Adjunct Chair for Volunteers
ACM SIGCHI has a thriving population of local groups that hold meetings, publish newsletters, maintain job banks, etc. In January 1997, there were 23 chartered and forming local chapters, nine outside the United States. To help SIGCHI members (and non-members) find local chapters of interest, the Adjunct Chair for Local SIGs (chi-AC-Local-SIGs@acm.org) maintains aliases to contact each group (e.g., chi-Netherlands@acm.org will contact the Netherlands chapter). The aliases and other information about the local SIGs is maintained at the SIGCHI Web site at: http://www.acm.org/sigchi/local-sigs/. A tentative list of chi-aliases is:
- Adjunct Chair for Local SIGs
- Contacts for all Local SIGs
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Central Ohio (Columbus)
- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- Portland, Oregon
- Greater Boston Area
- Central Iowa
- Italian (Bari)
- Kansas City, Missouri
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Los Angeles, California
- Dallas/Ft. Worth
- Mexico (Puebla)
- Moscow, Russia
- Northern Utah
- New York City
- Puget Sound (Seattle, Washington)
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Switzerland (Zurich)
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Toulouse, France
- NC Triangle, North Carolina
As part of the move from Xerox to ACM, the lists for the SIGCHI Bulletin were expanded to allow the publication of aliases for the various editors of the Bulletin. Most other lists (e.g., to contact TOCHI or interactions editors) will be managed by those publications directly (e.g., as TOCHI-Editors@acm.org).
- Editor-in-Chief of the SIGCHI Bulletin
- Bulletin Reminders (Mailing List)
- Bulletin Editors (All)
- Bulletin Abstracts Editor
- Bulletin Education Editor
- Bulletin Events Editor
- Bulletin International Editor
- Bulletin Kids Editor
- Bulletin Local SIGs Editor
- Bulletin Publications Editor
- Bulletin Real World Editor
- Bulletin Standards Editor
- Bulletin Student Editors
- Bulletin Visual Interaction Design Editor
Some lists were not continued, and the fate of other lists is unclear. A major problem with the old lists was that there was no easy way to find out who was on a list, so even SIGCHI Executive Committee members were not receiving mail because some were mistakenly not on the right lists. The policy of making lists open to public review might help with this problem.
Some open lists had no activity in 1996, making them good candidates for removal. But since the move to the new LISTSERV might make the lists more usable and useful, the lists were transferred to ACM.
At Xerox, all subscription requests were sent to email@example.com. With the LISTSERV at ACM, all such requests should now be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. For each of the over 50 lists/aliases on the ACM LISTSERV (e.g., chi-Bibliographic@acm.org) there is a corresponding alias to contact the list owner (e.g., chi-Bibliographicemail@example.com) which should be used if there are problems or special requests.
To foster better communication between current committees and former committee members, the Xerox lists had included EEC-Plus (Extended Executive Committee plus others) and CMC-Plus (Conference Management Committee plus others). Unfortunately, these lists were almost never used, and their proposed elimination went without complaint. SIGCHI maintained lists to contact some related societies (i.e., British HCI and Australian CHISIG) but not others (e.g., HFES/CSTG), but the addresses were not maintained, so if anyone had used these lists, they would have found them useless. There were also liaison lists to other ACM SIGs, but these were unused, and people confused them with liaisons to other societies. None of these lists were carried over, but some may be added later.
SIGCHI maintained some lists for HCI publications, but apparently without any need. Lists to contact the editors of interactions magazine (the list for which was out of date), TOCHI (ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction) (the list for which was empty), and a list to contact the editors of all SIGCHI-related publications (out of date, and probably never used) are all likely to fade away.
SIGCHI maintained some lists for HCI conferences (e.g., CHI, DIS, EWHCI, IUI, UIST). Starting in 1997, the annual CHI conference started managing its own lists/aliases (for which there were 59 created). It seems likely that SIGCHI will not automatically own responsibility for any conference lists, but will consider support if requested by conference committees.
Clearly, there have been many changes in the SIGCHI mailing lists, but many users will not notice them. Old lists at Xerox were transferred to ACM and mail to the old lists is being forwarded to the new lists. Many of the tasks done by firstname.lastname@example.org are now being done by an automated system. SIGCHI is now poised for a new era of online communication with online help forms for list users, a guide for list owners (for existing and new lists), and plans to integrate the SIGCHI Web site with the ACM LISTSERV. The SIGCHI LISTSERV page at http://www.acm.org/sigchi/listserv/ will contain updated information about the ongoing process, both for SIGCHI members and for other ACM SIGs who may want to model parts of their communications infrastructure after SIGCHI's.
SIGCHI might not be what it is today were it not for the support provided by Xerox, originally initiated by Austin Henderson. SIGCHI owes an eternal debt of thanks to Don Patterson and Nick Briggs for handling the SIGCHI lists for so many years, and for making one long final pass through all the lists to set them up to forward to ACM. During the transition, Michael Clore and Chris Guccio at ACM offered advice, set up dozens of lists, and even fixed errors in requests before they became a problem. Keith Instone, the SIGCHI Information Director, was a good sounding board for ideas. Steven Pemberton and Richard Anderson helped more than they expected as we set up 14 SIGCHI Bulletin and 25 Local SIGs lists, respectively.
Gary Perlman is ACM SIGCHI Vice Chair for Publications, and originator of the HCI Bibliography Project. He works at OCLC: Online Computer Library Center.
He can be contacted as email@example.com
Vol.29 No.2, April 1997