Garageboy's Dream Garage

Tags and the BMW Mailing Lists

by Steven Jay Bernstein, BMWCCA #83901


Many changes have occurred since the original veterans on the BMW Mailing List shared information about BMWs with fellow scientists and engineers that had the common bond of BMW ownership and fanaticism. The Internet has changed a great deal since the late 1980s when only those communities knew how to harness the great potential of the Internet.

Fast forward to 1999. In addition to countless model-specific BMW mailing lists, there are now two major Internet mailing lists to serve the needs of the international (English-speaking) BMW community. Each of these lists has their positive and negative aspects, so it has become a matter of personal choice which list one subscribes to (or both, if one has a large enough mailbox).

These lists are as follows, and can be accessed directly by clicking on either of these links:

On both lists, contributors are constantly looking for ways to improve the situation in the wake of a tremendous increase in the number of email messages these lists generate. Sadly, some of our most thoughtful contributors have unsubscribed over the years due to the difficulty in dealing with this increase. For all readers, it requires a tremendous effort to sort through the raw data in the digests that enters our mailboxes daily. And if we dare let a week or two of messages arrive without reading them, we return to find our mailboxes flooded.

As I said, there are already some very well run model-specific lists on the Internet, and these should supplement the general BMW Mailing Lists, not replace them. Therefore, we should continue to bring together contributors from all points of reference. At the same time, rather than discourage participation on the list, we should make it the responsibility of the end-users to decide what each of us chooses to read. Let users filter out the messages they don't want to see based on their own criteria.

The Undigestifier

In an effort to improve the situation, John Firestone wrote an program, called an undigestifier, to separate large digests into their individually composed messages. This has helped tremendously. In addition to splitting up the digests (which now can be done automatically on the BMW UUC Digest), each user of the undigestifier tool can filter out messages based on the sender's e-mail address or undesired subjects. You can click here to download a copy for your Unix mail system. I know of no other similar program for PC or MAC mail programs at this time. Sorry.

What can individuals do?

There are a number of voluntary steps each contributor can do to help make their posts to the list more effective. And not surprisingly, most of these are common sense and apply to every mailing list you subscribe to:

Why Tags

Chances are, if you're doing all that, this is a tremendous help, and it will surely be appreciated by your fellow subscribers. But some of us want to further categorize e-mail into folders based on the subject, and use mail programs that make this easier.

Everyone wins when tags are used often and consistently. If you have a question, it will be seen more quickly by the very people you want help from. It will help those of us who answer questions, since we're looking at the notes we can answer first. It makes sense - if I'm an E28 expert, and I read the notes that have the tag <E28> on them first, I'll be able to offer a quick response to your question.

Here's an example of what subjects in a digest might look like:

Subject: <E28> Brake accumulator lasted only 30k miles
Subject: RE: <E30 M3> Cracked subframe discovered
Subject: RE: <E28> Best aftermarket Katalyzator
Subject: <OT> Using Kleen Wheels with my Airplane ABS
Subject: <FS/Tires> New R1s for sale - $50 each!

The nice thing about voluntary tags is that people don't have to use them. If other experts have the time and wish to wade through all of the other notes before they find yours, that's their choice. And it's your choice to use them or not. Very democratic.

How do I use the Tags?

For tags to be beneficial to list members, try to use tags consistently. Use them at the beginning of the Subject line. Use as many tags as you find appropriate, within reason. Place the tag surrounded by the <> characters. Whether reviewing the subject fields manually or not, these provide an excellent visual clue as a delimeter. As well, for those of us using mail filters, use the tags as you see them appear here. For example, one of the tags is <E28>, not <E-28> and not <E 28>. It's that simple.

What are the Tags?

Voluntary Tags of the BMW Mailing List
<BMW> related to general BMW issues (e.g. corporate news, repairs or maintenance that applies to all models, etc.)
<02> 2002s, tis, tiis, 1502s, 1602s
<E21> all E21s from 1976 to 1983, including 315, 316, 318, 318i, 320i, 323i, and Baurs
<E30> 1983-1992 model year E30s, including the 316, 318i, 320, 320i, 323i, 325, 325e, 325i, 325iC, 325iX, 323iT, 325iT, and M3s only when relevant to all
<E30 M3> E30-specific M3
<E36> 1992-1997 3-series, including M3s when relevant to all
<E36 M3> E36-specific M3
<E46> The New 3
<Z3> all Z3 roadsters, including the 1.9 and 2.8 engines, as well as the ///M version, and of course, the ///M-Coupe.
<E12> pre-1982 5-series, including ///M535i (is the old 530i an E12?)
<E28> this is the category I read first; 1982-1988 5-series, including the 518, 520i, 528e, 533i, 535i, 524td, M535i, and 1988 ///M5
<E34> the 1989-1996 5-series, including the 525i, 525iT, 530i, 535i, 540i, and ///M5
<E39> the new 5-series, including the 528i, 540i, and pending ///M5
<6er> all 6-series models from all years
<7er> all 7-series models from all years
<8er> all 8-series models from all years
<///M> Previously neglected, the ///M tag is useful for issues regarding the BMW Motorsport Division, and items referring to all Motorsport models.
<\\\eta> As an devotee of the eta engine, this tag was created for the discussion of this oft-maligned yet wildly popular engine, designed specifically for the US and Swiss markets.
<WHEELS> This is the tag for discussing wheels - buying wheels, sizing wheels, repairing wheels, cleaning wheels, etc. There's no point in trying to combine this with the tires tag. If you need to discuss both, use both tags.
<TIRES> This is for discussing tires - street tires, snow tires, racing tires, buying tires, shaving tires, inflating tires, cleaning tires? I think you get the idea.
<$$$> this is for all pricing issues on automobiles and parts; lease policies and comparisons; all discussions of pricing questions with individuals, dealers, and aftermarket suppliers.
<FS> For Sale
<WTB> Wanted to Buy
<MISC> there are a lot of items that would go here (e.g. fuel questions, zymol and other waxes, Bon Ami, rare models like *old* 328s, 507s, Bavarias, Isettas, etc...); also items that don't belong anywhere else (hence the name)
<SUMMARY - Tagname> when you ask a question, or more often a survey about a particular topic, and you get many personal responses, you can use this tag to post the final summation of all the information you received. This, of course, is voluntary, but some of us do post summaries. This would be a helpful approach.
<OT> Off Topic (formerly <WOB> Waste of Bandwidth): this includes all discussions of frivolous Class Action lawsuits, M3 vs. Corvette, ABS on Airplanes, using M-badges, Kleen Wheels, Amtrak, Ferries


These tags defined above are not finalized - hopefully, they never will be. These are currently a recommendation based on the collective discussion of some contributors to the BMW Mailing Lists. They were selected based on two main factors: ease of recognition and volume of e-mail. I did not create any tags for motors, for example, since few people know of the motor by number. As well, I didn't always use the E-numbers, because in the case of the 6er, 7er, and 8er, these are not nearly as widely known. If you have any suggestions, corrections, or comments, send me e-mail.

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©1999 - Steven J. Bernstein All rights reserved.

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Steven Jay Bernstein
P. O. Box 11242
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updated Thursday, May 27, 1999 22:49:35