Rules and Guidelines for AACN E-mail Lists

Participation in AACN’s email lists is a privilege of membership. It may be restricted or removed. These lists are designed to stimulate exchange of ideas and knowledge that is directly relevant to neuropsychological practice or research. The email lists represent a professional community and there is an expectation at all times that members will display mutual respect and civility. Listservs can be wonderful, but they can also devolve into incivility, misinformation, or distrust. It is every member’s responsibility to maintain high standards of civility. To guide that, AACN leadership has developed listserv rules of conduct and guidelines for “netiquette.” These may be updated or edited, and substantive changes will be announced to list members. Comments may be directed to the Board of Directors or at

Rules of Conduct (violations can result in loss of privileges)

  1. Keep it clean and courteous. We will not tolerate profanity, ad hominem accusations, personal attacks, inflammatory comments, or attacks on protected groups (such as race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion). Some posts, while not profane or directed personal attacks, may also be considered inappropriate by list members, and there may be no simple or objective way to define postings of this nature. The Board of Directors may restrict or remove privileges at any time they consider such actions appropriate to the optimal functioning and community spirit of the list.
  2. Focus on neuropsychology, not societal debates (e.g., politics, religion). Topics of larger societal debate are important, and people feel passionately about them. However, experience has shown that listserves are a terrible venue for them and risk damage to the community that the AACN lists are meant to support. Bring debates about those topics to other venues and avoid close tangents on AACN lists (e.g., one might discuss elsewhere whether a political leader is developing dementia, but that is an unproductive topic for the listserve).
  3. Posts on the list should stay on the list. Except for announcements of training or job openings, listserve postings should not be shared outside of the list without the explicit permission of the author(s) of the post and any copied prior posts. Do not pass posts to attorneys for use in medico-legal applications.
  4. Respect patient confidentiality. Names of patients or other confidential information should not be included in postings. 
  5. Respect copyright. Distribution of copyright protected information (e.g., PDFs of journal articles, test forms, other intellectual property, etc.) is prohibited.
  6. Be transparent. Use your real name on posts and disclose any potential conflicts of interest (e.g., financial interest in a test or product under discussion).
  7. Science is central. There are limits to scientific knowledge, but avoid specious or pseudoscientific claims. Do not make such claims in a provocative and repeated manner.
  8. Limit commercial advertisement, including ads for non-AACN events. Non-AACN-affiliated products or events should not be advertised more than once.  Besides being annoying, repeated ads threaten our nonprofit status and distract from valuable AACN events. Did you publish a relevant book or are you running a relevant seminar?  Great!  We want to hear about it…once. Admittedly, there is a gray area, in which members might reasonably recommend a book or product. However, when commercial interests clearly outstrip information-sharing, posts will be removed, and the post originator risks sanction. Ads for open job or training positions are exempt, but please do not “spam” the list with repeated postings.

Consequences of Rule Violations

If a list member violates the letter or the intent of these rules, other list members may provide direct feedback to the offending member and/or email with a description of the alleged violation. List members may also email Board members directly with concerns. A list of current Board members may be obtained here.

Rule violations will be considered by the AACN Executive Committee and/or Board of Directors. Individuals found to have violated listserve rules may have access to all AACN e-mail lists restricted or removed entirely, depending on the nature of the transgression and whether previous warnings have already been given and disregarded.

Any member who feels that he or she has been inappropriately restricted or removed from the lists may petition the Board of Directors for a reconsideration of any sanction(s). A member who has been suspended can request an appeal using the appropriate form. The Appeals Panel consists of the most recent three past AACN presidents.

Emergency Suspensions or Moderation

Under normal circumstances, posts are immediate. However, listserv administrators are empowered to suspend or moderate posts on entire lists or from specific individuals in an emergency, such rapidly devolving incivility or dissemination of malware. AACN leadership will then review in a timely manner. To protect other members of the group, messages that appear to contain spam, malware, or harmful content will be deleted from the list and the originating member’s posting privileges may be temporarily suspended until the origin of the problem can be determined and fixed.

Guidelines for “Netiquette” (violations make you look bad and impede communication)

When you post to the list, you are generating a message to a large, diverse, intelligent, and professional audience. You may find that others do not share your perspective. Take that as an opportunity for growth and remember that peers and junior colleagues will watch and learn from the exchange. Acting unprofessionally makes you look bad, squelches dialogue, and degrades the purpose of the list. Although not fixed rules, here are some guidelines:

  1. Consider before posting: “Is it relevant? Is it kind? Does it improve on silence? Would I say this in front of a large live audience? Would I want my boss to read this? How about my mom?” Make sure the tone of your message is what you intend. It can be surprisingly difficult to communicate tone in postings.
  2. If you are angry, consider saving the post for later, after you have calmed down. Once you submit a post, you cannot go back and edit it. Administrators can remove posts from the archive, but not from members’ inboxes.
  3. Err on the side of courtesy and humility.
  4. If you unintentionally violate a rule, apologize, and use it as a learning opportunity to guide your future behavior.
  5. If you find yourself in a heated or protracted disagreement, take the conversation “backchannel” (direct emails, not sent to the list). If you are debating a point on which the group might have some interest, you may summarize for them later.
  6. Sign posts with your contact information (e.g., your name and direct email address) so that other members can reply to you individually rather than to the list, as they prefer.
  7. Post personal replies or personal requests directly to the message sender, rather than to the entire list. Even if you delete the email list name from the “To” address line, some e-mail software will still send replies to everyone on the list. If you intend to contact an individual listserve member “backchannel” (i.e., without your message going to the entire list), it is safest to send a new email and manually enter their email address.
  8. Be brief and to the point.
  9. If the subject line of your post does not match the content, edit the subject line.
  10. Never assume that your message will remain confidential and private. It is against the rules to share outside of the list, but nobody can guarantee that.


As is stated in the footer of all new postings:

Members of this listserve agree to its rules: (1) Keep it clean and courteous; (2) Focus on neuropsychology, not societal debates (e.g., politics, religion); (3) Except for announcements of training or job openings, listserve postings should not be shared outside of the list without the explicit permission of the author(s) of the post and any copied prior posts; (4) Respect patient confidentiality; (5) Respect copyright; (6) Be transparent; (7) Keep science central; (8) Limit commercial ads, including ads for non-AACN events. Details on these rules, responses to rule violations, and guidelines for “netiquette” can be found here. Although the lists are sponsored by AACN, each member personally assumes full responsibility for their messages.