“The Source for Documentation”

DocBook Mailing List Guidelines

This information[1] is posted to the DocBook and DocBook Applications mailing lists (and their digests) at regular intervals under the subject line “DocBook list guidelines”.


Only subscribers can post to mailing lists, and only from the address they used when they subscribed. Mail from unsubscribed addresses is forwarded to a moderator and may be forwarded after some delay. Note, however, that due to the extraordinary volume of spam, some messages are likely to get lost entirely.

Only text messages may be posted to the lists. If your mail client posts using HTML or some other “enriched” format, your message will be rejected. This decision was motivated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of spam that gets sent to the lists arrives as text/html.

There are two DocBook-related lists: docbook and docbook-apps. The docbook list is for general questions about DocBook. The docbook-apps list is for questions about applications (stylesheets, transformation tools, publishing tools, processing requirements, etc.) that use or work with DocBook.


  • Questions about DocBook markup (How do I markup a Widget? What's a FuncSynopsisInfo for?) should be sent to the docbook list.

  • Questions about XSL or DSSSL stylesheets, publishing DocBook documents on your platform of choice, support for PostScript, PDF, or other types of output, questions about Windows or Unix applications that can consume or produce DocBook should be sent to the docbook-apps list.

Do not begin your subject line with “help” or “subscribe” since the list software will bounce the message because it looks like is an administrative request.

Do not use un-informative subject lines like “Urgent”, “Easy question”, or “Problem”. Instead, use a meaningful subject line that will make sense to the people whose help you are trying to get.

Both subscribers to and should post their messages to . The messages will be received by both subscribers to the list and subscribers to the digest.

Both subscribers to and should post their messages to . The messages will be received by both subscribers to the list and subscribers to the digest.

Do not start a new thread by replying to an unrelated message and just changing the subject line since the header of your message will contain references to the previous message and your new message will appear in the archive as one of the replies to the original message. It is better to start a new message for a new thread.

Before You Post

  1. Check that you are posting to the right list.

  2. Make sure you are posting from the account that you used to subscribe. If you post from another account, your message will be delayed until it is approved by hand.

  3. Check that your question isn't already answered in the mailing list archives at or

  4. If you are replying to a post, trim the quoted message to just the parts to which you are replying.

The DocBook Technical Committee, as part of its commitment to maintaining DocBook, responds to Requests for Enhancement (RFEs) submitted by the DocBook user community. The likelihood that a submitted RFE will be implemented is determined by the degree to which it meets the following criteria:

  1. The change is within the scope of the TC's charter.

  2. The change is consistent with the existing DocBook model.

  3. The change is beneficial to the community of users.

The implication of criterion (c) is that if only one user or company needs a particular change, the TC is likely to recommend a local customization to acheive the desired result.

Replies Go to the Author

The DocBook lists don't set the Reply-to: header on messages (see Reply-To” Munging Considered Harmful) so replies go to the author by default. If you want to reply to the list, make sure you include the list mailing address in your reply.

Most mail readers make this easy by offering two forms of reply: reply/group-reply or reply/follow-up, for example. If you want to post to the list, make sure you select group-reply or follow-up or whatever your mail reader calls it.

Use Short Quotes of Previous Messages in Replies

Please do not quote entire messages just to add a few lines at the beginning or end. Instead, quote the parts to which you are directly replying or quote enough to establish the context.

Everybody on the list has already received the message that you are quoting, and anyone searching the archive will find your message and the previous message listed under the same thread.

Subscribers to the mailing list will just ignore most of the quoted messages and move to the next post, but subscribers to the mailing list Digest will mostly have to page past the quoted messages to reach the next material in which they are interested in reading.


Cross-posting between the DocBook mailing lists or to other lists is often counter-productive unless everybody who replies to the thread is on both lists. Cross-posts from non-subscribers continuing the thread will bounce, and mailing list subscribers who are not also on the other list will only see half of the thread, as will those on the other list who are not also on the mailing list. Subscribers to both lists will see two copies of the message, annoying them as well.

Subscribing and Unsubscribing

Subscriptions to the DocBook lists and their digest forms are managed by OASIS:


The DocBook mailing list messages are archived at

The DocBook Applications mailing list messages are archived at

Reporting Bugs in Software

Confirmed bugs in software should be reported to its author rather than to the mailing list, but it is appropriate to discuss suspected bugs and workarounds on the docbook-apps list only.

Further Information on DocBook DocBook Home Page The Definitive Guide

The DocBook project at SourceForge.

The recommended way to report bugs in software maintined in the DocBook Project at SourceForge is with the project “tracker” mechanism. Please be sure to attach a test case that demonstrates the bug. XSL Stylesheets


If you have any questions or problems, please contact Norman Walsh,


Credit where credit is due: I stole the vast majority of this document from Tony Graham's excellent posting on the DSSSL and XSL lists. Thanks, Tony!