This is the frequently asked questions (FAQ) document for the Hardlines Digest. It's mailed out automatically once per quarter to all members of the Hardlines Digest and was last modified on January 29, 2012.

1: What is a FAQ?
2: What is the Hardlines Digest?
3: How do I subscribe/unsubscribe?
4: Can my brother-in-law join even though he sells used cars?
5: Why do I see replies to messages that I only just received?
6: How many people subscribe the Hardlines Digest?
7: How much does it cost to subscribe?
8: What's the deal with sponsorship?
9: Who runs this thing and what does he do with the money?
10: Is there an archive of messages somewhere?
11: How did this list get started?
12: How come so many messages are about Epicor/Activant/Triad?
13: What topics can we discuss on the Hardlines Digest?
14: Are the messages edited before they are sent out?
15: Should I post computer virus warnings to the list?
16: Are there other rules about posting to the list?
17: How do I (your question here)?

1: What is a FAQ?

A FAQ is a list of frequently asked questions that is compiled in one place for easy reference. It's a useful document for new readers of the list as well as a nice reference for seasoned veterans.

2: What is the Hardlines Digest?

The Hardlines Digest is an Internet mailing list for members of the retail hardware and home center industry. Subscribers can email questions, comments, ideas, and occasional complaints to the digest and their message then gets distributed to all the other subscribers.

3: How do I subscribe/unsubscribe?

There are instructions on unsubscribing at the bottom of each message you receive from Hardlines Digest. You can subscribe, unsubscribe, and change your message options via the web discussion forum at Google Groups.

4: Can my brother-in-law join even though he sells used cars?

If he makes me a nice deal on a used Toyota Rav 4, then by all means he can subscribe. Seriously, anyone can subscribe to the Hardlines Digest...retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, consumers, and clergy are all welcome. Please be aware that the topics are generally of interest to hardware industry members, so don't complain if you get bored by all the talk about hammers and order points.  Also, advertising on the list is prohibited, so please don't join in order to send info about your new product to hardware retailers.  We're a friendly bunch until you try and sell us something.  :-)

5: Why do some messages that I just received already have replies?

You're probably setup to receive Hardlines as a Digest. You can receive the Hardlines discussions in two ways...as a nightly collection of all messages submitted (a Digest) or as individual email messages as people submit them to the list. The default setting when you subscribe is Digest-mode. You can change your message options via the web discussion forum at Google Groups. The advantage of immediate mode is that you get the message right away and can reply immediately. The disadvantage is that you might receive ten or twenty individual messages each day from the list which can become tough to manage if you receive lots of other email messages.

6: How many people subscribe the Hardlines Digest?

As of January 25, 2012 there were 2617 members of the Hardlines Digest.

7: How much does it cost to subscribe?

The Hardlines Digest is free, making it one of the best values on the Internet (or anywhere!). Thankfully, we've received a lot of sponsorship support from manufacturers and suppliers over the years so I am able to maintain the list with no cost to my hardware business. The best contribution you can make is sharing your knowledge with your fellow list members. If you're a manufacturer, refer to question 8.

8: What's the deal with sponsorship?

Your company can be a co-sponsor of the Hardlines Digest. The initial cost is $500 with renewals costing $300 per year, and gets you a rotating ad link on the Hardlines web site as well as a one line message in the Hardlines email messages. Sponsorship does not entitle you to spam the list members, and sponsors are fair game for comments, complaints, and compliments from users. For more info, visit our sponsorship page.

9: Who runs this thing anyway and what does he do with the money?

The list is administered and maintained by John Fix 3rd(john3@cornells.com) of Cornell's True Value  in Eastchester NY. The money received from sponsors is used to pay hosting and domain fees and the occasional website update and maintenance.

10: Is there an archive of messages somewhere?

Yes, there is a searchable archive of messages at http://lists.cornells.com/read/?forum=hardlines. You can search back issues (up to one year) using any keyword(s). You need a password to sign in via the web interface. If you forgot (or never received) your password you can click the button to receive it via email. Some additional back issues and articles can be read online in text file format.

11: How did this list get started?

Back in the fall of 1991, John Fix put together printed newsletter called Hardgoods Confidential. Bill Round, Bob Whelan, and Gary Miller provide articles and John provided some gossip. That first issue was mailed out free to the 1000 True Value stores that owned a Triad system. Three more issues were published and mailed to stores that subscribed, but the time between issues grew as the size of the newsletter also grew. At the same time, the Internet and email lists had opened up a new and more efficient way for dealers to exchange information and ideas. We did a final one page mailing with info on how to subscribe to the Hardlines Digest email list, launched the mailing list in 1996 and the rest is history.

12: How come so many messages are about Epicor/Activant/Triad?

Most of the initial subscribers to the Hardlines Digest were originally subscribers to the printed Hardgoods Confidential, and 99% of those folks were True Value owners who had a Epicor/Activant/Triad system. The list has grown tremendously since then, but the core group still tends to be stores with Epicor/Activant/Triad systems.

13: What topics can we discuss on the Hardlines Digest?

Any topic that relates to hardware and home center retailing is fair game for Hardlines. Discussions in the past have ranged from different year-end bonus methods to ways to keep the owner's dog from soiling the front sidewalk of the store.

14: Are the messages edited or approved before they are sent out?

No, all messages are sent to the list immediately as they are received. Subscribers with the Digest option will get all the messages as one digest sometime after midnight, but everyone else receives postings within a few minutes of when it arrives at the Hardlines listserver. The only exception to this is new subscribers who must wait for the administrator to approve their first two postings. This was implemented to prevent people from spamming the list using a hotmail.com (or other free account) with a one-time posting. 

Because this is an uncensored forum you should carefully read and re-read your message before posting to the list.  Once sent, your message cannot be retracted.  Unlike online forums where messages can be deleted once they are posted, email lists go out immediately and can't be "recalled".  More than once I've had subscribers email me to tell me they meant to reply to one person and sent to the whole list instead.  Make sure you want all 1200 list members to get your post before hitting the SEND button.

15: Should I post computer virus warnings to the list?

That depends....if you receive a message that says "Pass this along to everyone you know!" then you should probably NOT send it to Hardlines. There are a number of hoax warnings that arrive as email messages, so before you post to Hardlines you should verify the warning from an authoritative source. For viruses, check first at www.mcaffee.com or www.symantec.com. Both sites have security/virus areas where you can search for real virus information as well as info about Internet hoaxes. Once you verify that the virus is legitimate, go ahead and post a concise message and include a link to the website with further info (how to remove the virus, how to detect it, etc.).

16: Are there other rules about posting to the list?

For a humorous discussion about etiquette for posting to the net (called "netiquette"), refer to the Emily Post guide. Another informative resource is Eric Raymond's How To Ask a Question page.

17: How do I (your question here)?

Don't be shy...post your question to the list! There are over one thousand fellow hardware industry members out there waiting to help you, but you've got to post your question first.

Please address corrections, deletions, additions, comments, complaints and compliments about the Hardlines Digest FAQ to john3@cornells.com. Thanks!
 

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