Community Guidelines

Ground rules to create a safe, inclusive, respectful, and welcoming environment, a service of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), manages several communities of practice for government employees and contractors. We manage these communities to fulfill our mission, which includes making open collaboration across government easier. We host events, host community mailing lists, and publish content to facilitate conversations among community members.

Who can join?

All federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government employees and contractors are eligible to join our communities. You must use your official government email account, in most cases a .gov or .mil account.

We strive to maintain inclusive, professional communities that engage in on-topic discussions. By voluntarily participating in these communities, you are agreeing to abide by these guidelines and the TTS code of conduct. If you do not agree, email us at, and we will unsubscribe you from the LISTSERV mailing lists.

When GSA becomes aware of alleged violations of the guidelines or code of conduct, we use a fair, objective process to review and evaluate the incident and determine an appropriate course of action. In accordance with GSA’s policies and legal guidance, the team implements this process in consultation with a community’s GSA lead and GSA’s human resources team and general counsel.

Courses of action include:

  • taking no action,
  • sending a reminder for infractions, and
  • issuing a first or second notice for violations.

Severe or repeated violations may result in temporary or permanent removal from the communities.

Email us at to report an alleged violation.

Your communications are not private

As a federal agency, GSA is subject to records access requests such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). We must comply with requests for records made under FOIA. All communications made on the mailing lists are subject to release under FOIA.

Follow the ground rules

We all have a responsibility to ensure the community is a safe space for everyone and free from harassment. It is appropriate to have and express differing opinions, as long as they are expressed in a respectful manner.

When dealing with sensitive topics or during disagreements, written statements can often sound more aggressive than when we speak them out loud. Review your message before pressing send. Think about how it may appear to its recipients. Remember, each message goes to thousands of people. When in doubt, don’t send it out.

Words matter. Choose words that create a safe, inclusive, respectful, and welcoming environment. Take a look at the following resources on inclusive language for additional information.

When participating in the community, community members must follow the ground rules for discussions.
What you should do What you shouldn't do
Use your official .gov or .mil email account. Don’t use your personal email.
Understand that you are acting in your official capacity and representing the government. Don’t conduct yourself in a way that’s unbecoming of a government employee or contractor.
Follow your agency’s policies, including policies about using government equipment and IT systems and managing records. Don’t violate your agency’s policies.
Respect your colleagues. Always assume the best of others. Don’t make personal attacks.
Be patient. Understand that community members have various experience levels. Don’t be condescending or talk down to other people.
Listen carefully and actively. Listen as much as you speak. Don’t disrupt meetings, talks, or discussions, including mailing lists and chats.
Review your message before pressing send. Don’t use inappropriate language, images, or emojis. Don’t reply-all if your message may clutter other members’ inboxes.
Share government links and resources. Don’t name (endorse) commercial products or services or appear to recommend them in your professional capacity or on behalf of your agency.
Keep the conversation relevant and stay on point. Start a new thread if needed. Give others the time and space to participate. Don’t dominate conversations. Don’t interrupt or talk over other people.
Respect members’ real, lived experiences. Recognize that people face systemic discrimination in a multitude of ways. Don’t belittle others to make your point.
Take legal questions to your agency’s lawyers. Don’t seek legal advice from the community. Don’t take conversations or shared experiences as interpretations of federal laws and policies.
Treat other people’s identities and cultures with respect. Spell and say their name correctly and use their pronouns. Don’t make derogatory comments on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, or appearance.
Ensure the community is free from harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Don’t harass anyone. This includes, but is not limited to, retaliating against anyone who files a complaint.
Remember that everything you write on the mailing list is a federal record and subject to release under FOIA. Don’t assume your communications are private.
Use plain language. Don’t use confusing or overly technical language.
Abide by the Paperwork Reduction Act when sending out a survey or other requests for feedback. Don’t violate the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Abide by U.S. copyright laws when using others’ content. Don’t violate U.S. copyright laws.

Manage your mailing list subscription

Email us at and we’ll help you manage your LISTSERV subscription. The most common requests are to:

  • receive a daily digest (instead of each individual message),
  • access the mailing list archive, and
  • unsubscribe.

When you email us, please include the name of the community and what you’d like to update.