Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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3. What is The Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation?
The Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation is a moderated discussion on the practice and theory of group facilitation. Participants share ideas, questions, and advice on group problem solving and decision making, group development, running meetings, and related topics. It was started in 1995 and was adopted in 1997 as the official electronic discussion group of the International Association of Facilitators. We average about 5-7 posts per day and have over 800 subscribers in 40 countries.
Most participants are practicing group facilitators who work in diverse fields such as: meeting facilitation; conflict resolution; large group interventions; organization development; Total Quality Management; electronic meeting systems; strategic planning; team building; project management; and community planning.
For information about electronic discussions in other languages, visit the International Association of Facilitators
4. Who sponsors this list?
The Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation is sponsored by:
University at Albany, SUNY
5. How do I send a message to the list?
To send a message to all the people that are subscribed to the list,
address your email to: GRP-FACL@LISTSERV.ALBANY.EDU
When you REPLY to a message from the list, your email reader will automatically address your response to the Sender (the individual who sent the message to which you are responding) rather than to list. To respond to the list use the "reply-to-all" function of your email software or otherwise make sure that your email is addressed to GRP-FACL@LISTSERV.ALBANY.EDU.
6. Are messages public?
Messages posted to grp-facl are publicly available. If you do not want your response distributed widely, do not reply or post to the list. The Listserv archives are maintained by the University at Albany at http://listserv.albany.edu:8080/archives/grp-facl.html and are available only to grp-facl subscribers. Mirrors maintained at Google Groups and Yahoo Groups are publicly available.
7. What are the ground rules for this discussion?
Some ground rules for maintaining the quality of this electronic group discussion:
o Posts must pertain to the topic of group facilitation.
o Training related submissions are referred to the training oriented lists (such as the Training and Development Listserv Trdev-l@LISTS.PSU.EDU).
o Advertisements and self promotion are prohibited. Recommendations of products and services of interest to facilitators may be made by those without a vested interest.
o Events -- conferences, classes, workshops -- should be advertised on the following sites, not on grp-facl.
IAF Events Calendar
IAF Methods Database Events
o Although advertising and self promotion are prohibited, announcements of
books and newsletters provide valuable information to subscribers and may be
posted to the group. However, since the number and length of announcements
could be bothersome to those not interested, their impact should be
minimized. Such announcements should conform to the format below:
o Position announcements may be posted if they are specifically for group facilitators, not training or HR positions.
o Quote only the pertinent material from the post to which you are responding. Provide enough to give context, but edit out the rest.
o Use the subject line to indicate what the message is about. When your post picks up a new thread, initiate a new subject heading.
o If you are a DIGEST subscriber replying to a message, please replace the subject header "Re: Grp-Facl Digest mm/dd/yy" with the pertinent subject header. (Or, switch to NODIGEST mode.)
o Avoid signatures longer than four lines.
o Generally, submissions should not be cross-posted to other groups.
o When offering materials, remind requesters to respond via private email. Include your name and email address.
o When replying to an offer, or making a personal request to a contributor (e.g., "I'd like a copy of the material you mentioned"), respond privately rather than to the group.
o When you raise a question we expect that the ensuing discussion will be public -- responses will be to the list rather than to you individually. However, if you request that responses be sent to you individually, indicate that you will provide a summary of responses to the list.
o The default REPLY on Grp-Facl is to the sender, not to the list. To reply to the list, select "Repl;y-to-All" on your email software. When you intend to reply privately, check the address before you SEND and make sure that you are sending to the individual rather than to Grp-Facl.
o Do not quote an email message that you received privately or from another list without first obtaining permission from the author.
o Do not send HTML-formatted email messages. The Listserv strips HTML attachments from all posts. Instead, turn off your HTML option (if your email has one) and send your message in plain text (ASCII). Otherwise, subscribers who do not use HTML-enabled software will see your HTML formatting code and find your message difficult to read.
o Do not send messages with attachments. The Listserv strips attachments from all posts.
o Large messages (e.g., over 15Kb) should be made available only on request. Many subscribers pay for email based on message length, or have limited mailbox space, and are bothered by lengthy messages. However, if you find that you receive a large number of requests, and your email software does not easily handle the task of sending email to multiple requestors, you can make your material available on a web site and post the URL. If you don't have your own web site you may submit your material to for inclusion in IAF's Virtual Library of Facilitation <email@example.com>
8. How should I distinguish between "facilitation" and "training?"
The topic of training is close to that of facilitating. However training
issues should be addressed to a training-oriented discussions.
TRAINING is a process primarily to transfer information or skill (content)
between a trainer and a participant group.
FACILITATION focuses primarily on processes in which information is
exchanged among the participants in a group.
Note that many training issues are also relevant to facilitators, and are therefore valid threads--for example, dealing with resistant participants or train-the-facilitator discussions.
9. How does moderation work?
All submissions to the grp-facl are processed by the Listserv software. When the Listserv receives a submission it first determines if the sender is on our subscriber list. If so, Listserv automatically distributes, or "posts" the message.
If the sender is not a Listserv subscriber (or if the sender is using an email address other than the one he or she used to subscribe to the list), the submission is sent to the moderator for review. It is by this means that we screen out off-topic submissions as well as spam (unsolicited, mass-distributed email, typically advertising).
Any subscriber who posts inappropriate material (e.g., advertising, personal attacks, personal replies, cross-posts, technical questions about Listserv operation) may have future submissions reviewed by the moderator before they are posted.
10. How should I respond to flames?
The Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation is not edited or censored for political or social correctness. We invite you to respect and encourage the ideas of others. This leads to more safety in the group, and the sense of a professional environment. If you feel "flamed" (attacked) remember that the offense is often inadvertent. We suggest ignoring the occasional provocative post: it might easily be the result of an oversight or a bad day.
If you wish to act on such a post, please adhere to the following:
· Read the post very carefully and look for alternative meanings. Your interpretation of the post might not be the same as that intended by the sender. Understand that most comments are not about "you", unless they so say directly and explicitly. Keep in mind that list members come from various English-speaking cultures, having norms for expression that may be different from yours, and that many are not native English speakers and may be uncertain as to how to interpret or convey nuances of meaning.
· Before reacting, ask the sender to clarify his or her meaning. Reply to the individual by private e-mail and/or forward the post to the moderator. Personal exchanges, especially of a heated nature, should be carried out by private email where there is greater chance of success for the participants and less risk of downsides for the group as a whole
· Respond to the substance of the comments, not the persons character. Do not make personal attacks: derision, inuendo, slur, judgment, or other assertions about the personality, intent, or motiviation of a person which designed reduce the credibility of a person and by implication, anyone who is convinced that person's argu ment. These "ad hominem" arguments attack the person rather than the substance of what that person has said.
When posting to this list, please keep in mind the following:
· Posts should provide thoughts, ideas and questions that serve to stimulate, clarify, and probe thinking; evidence in the form of facts, actual experiences (war stories), opinion based on expertise, and reasoning that supports a point of view.
· Dialogue should remain focused on the substance of a particular case. Back and forth probing and questioning are natural elements of dialogue and are encouraged. However, posts should focus on the case, providing evidence to the contrary or counter-argument directed only at the case. Dialogue and debate can be passionate, so long as courtesy and respect for all participants is maintained.
· On the whole, personal authority is a weak case even when the writer may be an acknowledged expert. His or her bias in a particular discussion may cause their experience or knowledge to be discounted.
The moderator reserves the right to act on messages containing personal attacks or other potentially inflammatory messages by not posting them and redirecting them back to the sender.
11. How can I obtain the Resource files?
The Resource files are available on the web at http://www.albany.edu/cpr/gf/
Resource file topics include: facilitator competencies, definitions of terms, book lists, professional organizations, journals/newsletters, facilitation training and seminars, brokers for trainers and facilitators, electronic meeting systems, experiential exercises and ground rules, and more.
12. What are Listserv commands?
Better yet, visit http://www.albany.edu/cpr/gf/ and click on Modify Subscription!
Listserv commands are used to subscribe and unsubscribe, change your mailing options, retrieve archived information, see who else is subscribed, and more. The Listserv software automatically responds to these commands.
Send commands to:
In the body of the message type the command, as indicated below in CAPS.
Do not include any other text or signature.
To end your subscription to the list:
To suspend your receipt of email from the list, but remain a subscriber
(useful if you want to view the group discussion from the newsgroup, or if
you go on vacation for a while and don't want your mailbox to be flooded):
To find out how your subscriptions options are set:
To prevent your name and email address from showing on the list of
To receive each post as a separate email message (rather than as a
"digest" of all of the day's posts in a single email message):
To receive a "digest" (only one email message a day, containing
all of the posts for the day, rather than each post as a separate email
To allow Listserv to send you digests or other files as attachments:
To prevent Listserv from sending you digests or other files as
To receive a list of the subscribers:
To get information on more Listserv commands:
13. Who can I contact for more information?
For additional information contact