Storytell Listserv (Discussion Group)

Storytell, sponsored by the National Storytelling Network, is one of NSN’s forums of subscribers worldwide for discussions about storytelling. All persons interested in storytelling are invited to participate: professional storytellers, amateur storytellers, people concerned with the rich history of storytelling, people who enjoy listening to stories, and those who speculate about the place of storytelling in the 21st century.

The group reflects viewpoints from around the world on issues and topics concerning the storytelling community. Storytell serves as a source of information on conferences, workshops, and events as well as a place to ask (and answer) questions about the origins and variations of stories, the business of storytelling, or organization of storytelling events. NSN reserves the right to include any posts deemed interesting or useful on one or more of NSN’s other forums. In instances where posts are shared on additional NSN forums, the author’s name and original post date will be included with the post verbiage.

Click below for the Storytell Listserv Etiquette

Storytell Listserv Etiquette

Etiquette and “standards and practices” document developed by consensus on this list over the past 13+ years, compiled and whipped into shape by Tim Jennings.

Most of the following customary code of conduct is not restricted to the Storytell list, but applies throughout the ‘net.

Because people are joining all the time, and because people who’ve been on the list for a long time sometimes forget, for awhile we found ourselves repeatedly posting certain suggestions and requests. While they may look like a bunch of “thou shalt nots,” we’re a pretty mellow bunch, actually, and nobody’s keeping score. But Storytell is an unusually busy list, and things go more smoothly when we tend to follow these.


Please do not quote entire posts, just enough to show what you’re talking about.

If you must use a long quote, make your comments at the top, or they may not be read.

Consider responding just to the writer– do all 500 subscribers *need* to know “I agree”?

Mark the subject line with OT when the thread has nothing to do with story, storytelling, etc. (OT means “Off Topic”)

Rename the subject line when the topic of the thread has changed.

Be careful not to forward or quote a private (offlist) message to the list, unless you first get the sender’s permission; this is taken very seriously. Look at the header: if it doesn’t say “storytell” somewhere, it’s private. (Conversely, if you are sending a private message to somebody on the list, tell them so in the message, it’s easy to miss otherwise.)

Keep in mind, this is an international list. Local terms like “k-3” will not be intelligible to everybody.

In general, upper-case reads as shouting. PLEASE DO NOT SEND POSTS THAT LOOK LIKE THIS or nobody will listen to you, or even get sore; they’ll just sigh & delete.

When a discussion heats up, ask the following questions before you post: “Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” If you still want to send something incendiary, wait a day or two.

If somebody reacts angrily to something you sent, even though it hurts, it’s best to stay calm; usually it’s a misunderstanding, and when it isn’t, you lose credibility by flaming them back. There’s a community here, and it’s mostly on the side of civilized discourse.

Never ever send us anything that begins, “Send this to everybody you know.” No virus warnings, chain letters, etc. These are *always* hoaxes &/or spam. Always.

If you’re getting ready to quote

>> >>> >>someth
>>> that looks l

>> >> ike thi
> s
we will all bless your heart if you take the time to clean the thing up.

Please do not attach anything. Do not open any attachments. It’s an easy matter to copy-and-paste text into the body of your post, where it will get read by many more people.

(1) Attachments can and sometimes do carry a worm or virus. (Your computor will probably not catch this, unless you open it.)

(2) Some people are still on dial-up; gentle-spoken members of this list have been known to get almost abusive when faced with a ten-minute download.

(3) Many attachments cannot be opened by people who do not have your software.

Additional Formatting Concerns (contributed by Tom Farley)

(1) If you use Outlook Express for your emailer, please change the default setting “enriched text”, which duplicates the text of your mail in HTML code below the regular text message. In addition to more than doubling the size of your message, the latter part comes out unreadable on most other mail readers.

(2) Some other mailers have similar features, as well as settings to send colored, bold, italic, or other stylized text, usually as an option rather than as a default. While it may be fun to use these with family and friends, please send only plain text to lists and newsgroups. Please deactivate the MIME and HTML coding of messages sent to any mailing list. Ideally, you should leave this feature off all the time, except when you specifically want to send formatted text, pictures, or audio files to someone you know has the capability of reading them. Please check that any preformatted signature files are also plain text, not HTML, and include no attached image files or reference cards.

(3) When you cite an URL for a web-page, consider giving the full form beginning with http://, rather than just the www. part. Many mail can use prefixes like <http:> <mailto:> and <news:> to make clickable links. You can put < and > around these links in text to point them out, keep ordinary punctuation from being read as part of the link, and identify the ends of long URL’s that break between two lines.

Announcements of your upcoming storytelling festival, new storytelling recording, book, newsletter, etc, are welcome until they are repeated, at which point they may begin to look like spam. Sending us your schedule, or telling us about individual performances & workshops, is iffy– how many people are likely to be able (or interested) in attending? People hate spam, and your purpose may be thwarted. Much better to become a part of the community and slyly work it in– people will want to know, then. Please be sure the State (Country?) and City are specified, especially when forwarding announcements. It’s disappointing to reply to something that sounds wonderful, and discover that it’s a thousand miles away!

Posting stories here is welcome when they are oral stories, i.e. in form and language suitable for oral telling (not reading aloud) to an audience. Creative writing should be posted somewhere else unless it relates to the list purpose, described directly below.


1: Go to Click Subscribe in the left column. Fill in your email address and click Submit.

2: You will receive an email from NPOGroups List Manager asking you to confirm your request before it can be processed. Click the link contained in the email. You will be brought back to the Storytell webpage and there will be a notice across the screen that says “subscribe: action completed”.

3: Click the “Your Preferences” link at the top of the screen in the blue bar.

4: Enter the password you want to use for Storytell and click Submit.

Note: you do not need a password to receive emails from Storytell. However, you do need a password if you want to change your email delivery options or to view the Archive.

5: Get back to the main page of Storytell by clicking the “storytell” link in the left-hand column under the blue box that says Manage Your Subscriptions.

6: Log out by clicking the button at the top right of the screen.


Click the Request Password link in the blue bar at the top left of the screen. Enter the email address you used to sign up for Storytell. Check your email for a message from NPOGroups List Manager and click the link contained in the email. You will be brought to a screen to set your password.


Post to the list using email:


Click Preferences in the left column.


Click on Request Password in the upper left corner of the window.


Click Subscriber Options in the left column.

You will be then able to change your email delivery options (reception mode) to:

DIGEST – receive a compilation of messages once a day (delivered at 11:59 pm to your mailbox)

DIGESTPLAIN – The Digest is sent in a plain text format.

STANDARD – normal delivery (emails are delivered to your mailbox as soon as they are received)

TEXT ONLY – receive emails sent in both HTML and plain text formats only in plain text format.

HTML – receive mails sent in both HTML and plain text formats only in HTML format.

NO MAIL – disable message delivery – great for the short term, such as vacations.


  • Click on Unsubscribe in the left column.
  • Fill in your email address.
  • You will receive an email from NPOGroups List Manager confirming that you are unsubscribed.

Archives of discussions since June 2009 can be accessed after you sign up for the list.

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