General Posting Guidelines For PDXBackstage

Harold Phillips

Hey everyone


Now that our new group on has been approved, I wanted to to remind you that PDXBackstage's guidelines haven't changed.


When new members join the list, they receive an email pointing them to a message in the archive offering general guidelines for posting to PDXBackstage… this is a regularly updated post (well... ok, maybe it gets updated once per year or so...) to make sure everyone’s on the same page regarding the “do’s and don’ts” about communicating here on the list. These guidelines have been developed over the past 19 years of PDXBackstage's existence by the community. Here’s a summary:


1) This is a discussion list, not a "job board."


This list is meant to spur discussion within  the community on topics important to the community.  Through such discussion we get to know each other better, and we become stronger as a community.  This can produce a lot of traffic and (if you subscribe to the list via email) a lot of mail in your inbox.  If you don't want your inbox taken up with a HUGE number of emails from PDXBackstage, consider setting up message rules in your email program, or switching to Daily Digest delivery.


2) Don't Change The Subject Line We realize that not everyone uses PDXBackstage for the same purpose.  Some subscribers are just looking for audition notices.  Some subscribers just want to find that particular prop or piece of costuming.  Some just want to "lurk" and see what people are talking about.  We want to make posts to the list easy to identify for all users, so they can delete them or move on if the topic isn't of interest.  For that reason, PLEASE don't change the subject line when you respond to a post.  This will keep messages "threaded" online, and it will let people use the delete key easily when going through their inbox.  Of course, if you want to start a new "thread" of discussion inspired by another discussion you've been taking part in changing the subject line is fine... but be judicious.


3) Use "OT" in the subject line when the post is "off topic."  The rules here are a little "mushy," so bear with me... this is a listserv for the Portland theater (and, increasingly, film) community.  If you want to post an article or a link to something you think list members will be interested in, go for it - but if it's not specifically theater or film related, put "OT" in the subject line.  Here's the sticky point, though - what constitutes "theater related?"  If an actor is looking for housing while she's in town on a tour, is that theater-related? If an appliance store is offering a discount to lighting op's, is that theater-related?  Use your best judgment, and when in doubt, add the OT to the subject line just in case.


4) Tell us if the project you’re casting is “Paid” or “Unpaid” in the subject line You’ve probably already figured out that PDXBackstage can generate a LOT of email in members’ inboxes. That’s in addition to the many other messages we receive on a daily basis. You know how this goes… as we scroll through all the messages that have come in during the day (or scroll through a daily digest – more on that in a minute) we make hundreds of little judgements about whether to open an email, skip it for later, file it, trash it… the PDXBackstage community has asked producers and directors to help make those judgements a bit easier by adding “(Paid)” or “(Unpaid)” to the subject lines for casting notices and crew calls. Please take a second when posting a message looking for personnel to let them know if the project pays or not.

5) Post complete information in casting notices and crew-calls Our members range from fans to students to hobbyists to professionals to union members to dilettantes (and there are a few categories in between I've probably neglected.)  When you're looking to fill a position of any type, please be complete in the information you provide: is the position paid or not?  Is it a union position or not?  What's the time commitment?  Where will the project (and rehearsals) take place?  The more information you lay out in your initial notice, the fewer questions will come up on the list (and the more quality applicants you'll get!)

6) Be judicious in "quoting" previous messages in your response.  Some list members receive a "daily digest" that combines all the posts made in a single day into one email.  When most of us "reply" to a PDXBackstage post via email, the email we're replying to is "quoted" below our response... and sometimes the message that email was responding to, and the epistle before that, and the one before that... you get the idea.  All that "quoting" means a lot of scrolling for our daily digest members if they want to see the last post of the day.  Please be kind to these users - when you reply to a post, delete the message you're responding to.  If you feel there's something in the message that's worth restating, fine - "trim" everything around that portion of the previous message.  Carpal tunnel surgeons may not be happy with you, but our digest users will thank you.


7) Think before you hit "send" (or "post.")  Look, we're show biz folk.  We're passionate, and we keep our emotions close to the surface for easy access.  We have strongly-held beliefs, and the topics we engage in can really "light a fire" in us.  Before you hit "send" or "post" on a response, though, read through what you've written.  Remember, ours is a "relationship business," and most people working in the Portland theater community (and the film community, more and more) are subscribers to this list.  All points of view are valid, but consider how you're stating your views - and consider the impact your writing style may have on your reputation in our business.  A little editing can save a lot of explanation later... 


8) Personal attacks and harassment will not be tolerated This one doesn’t need a lot of explanation.  As I mentioned above, we can be passionate people and we can really “dig in” when we’re advocating for or debating an idea.  It’s fine to be passionate… but stick to the ideas you’re talking about and don’t attack the people you’re talking to.  Accusations about members of the list (or the broader theater and film community) will be removed and, in cases of repeated harassment, the harasser will be banned.  Remember, we’re all members of this community.  We have to work together and interact with each other off stage...  Let’s keep the discussion focused on the issues; if you have a problem with someone in our community take it to them (or, if necessary, the police) and keep it off the list.


9) Remember, this is a PUBLIC list (You may be seeing a theme here…) Here’s the deal, folks - ANYONE can read PDXBackstage posts.  Now that we're on the list's privacy settings have changed... but yous should assume it's not just the subscribers to this group who will see your point of view or any private information you share on the list.  Emails can be forwarded, remember!  A good rule of thumb on this list (or anywhere on the internet) is “don't say anything you wouldn't say through a megaphone in Pioneer Courthouse Square.”  We've all heard about how social media posts can haunt people looking for work, running for office, or what have you... PDXBackstage posts are publicly available online.  Even though Listservs are "1990's technology," you should give your messages on this service the same consideration you'd give to Twitter or Facebook.


10) Don't "over-promote" your project or business.  Look, we get it.  This is a free internet list - it costs you nothing to send an email out notifying nearly 4,500 people about your show/ show case/ web site/ whatever.  That said, remember point #7 - people in our business get to know you or your production company through this list, and you don't want them to see your show announcements and immediately think




do you?  Of course you don't.  You do yourself and your company more harm than good by posting to this list too often. General rule of thumb: Don't post more than once per month if you have a business that caters to list members.  If you have a production, post once before opening, once mid-run (to highlight reviews, for instance) and once to let the community know the show is getting ready to close.  If you have a special deal during the run (you're "papering" the house or offering a special discount) feel free to let us know mid-run... but let’s not offer a "special deal" every week and post a new message about it each week, ok?  That's not going to do any favors for the public perception of your company.  Above all, don't just post the same message again and again - list members get very tired of seeing the same notice for "Shakespeare's Hamlet IV Part 2" posted to the list, and are likely to treat your notice like any other can of processed meat product.


11) Don't click on suspicious links I do my best to keep the non-human spambots off the list by requiring new members to prove they're human when they sign up (that's what that "tell us why you want to join PDXBackstage" field on the signup form is all about.)  Thing is, in this day and age you don't have to be a spambot to spread spam.  Webmail accounts are being taken over regularly by spammers, and those spammers are sending out emails with malicious links inside.  You've seen them, I'm sure.  Don't click on these links, folks, and don't assume that the sender is a spam merchant.  Simply let the sender know his or her email address has been taken over and delete the message.  If you use a web-based email system like gmail, yahoo, msn, etc. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON'T USE "PASSWORD" OR "123456" AS A PASSWORD!  These spammers take over your email by breaking your password... the more complex you make your password, the less likely it is your email will be compromised. Visit for some tips on how to create a strong password, and keep all of us safe by taking a moment to strengthen your password, if you haven't already.


Remember, we're all in this together.  That's the idea behind this list - we're a community, looking out for each other and trying to build the best theater scene we can.  Keep that spirit alive... and keep on talking...



Harold Phillips

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