Written by U Ne Oo on 1997-11-27

BurmaNet was founded in 1994 by Strider ( One activist named Douglas Steele from Georgetown University) to accelerate communication between Burma activists around the world. At that time, there had already been a Burma specific bulletin board (soc.culture.burma) and other Internet bulletin boards that were carrying Burma related messages. The users were apparently frustrated by the junk mails that commonly flooding those bulletin boards and therefore an alternative means of communicating and getting information was sought: hence the BurmaNet mailing list was created.


There were few brave Burmese that had spoken-out on the internet against SLORC around 1994. The majority of Burmese expatriates, however, seems preferred receiving the news/information anonymously. In later years, the subscription list also was automated, thus enable the users to subscribe anonymously. The rule is that a user can remain anonymous as long as he/she do not post messages to the list. Since its creation, there has been increase in number of contributors to the BurmaNet, especially of the Burmese origin. The BurmaNet mailing list become the most comprehensive source of news and activities regarding Burma.

Nowadays, the BurmaNet mailing list was fully automated and maintained by IGC (Institute for Global Communication) technical staffs. The original list-owner of BurmaNet (strider@igc.apc.org) also changed hand over the years. Hence, the BurmaNet mailing list become a fully automated and un-moderated forum for discussions.(The subscription process to BurmaNet, as I have tested recently, is quite pleasant and flexible to new subscribers: Thanks to the IGC technical staffs.)


Subscribing a totally un-moderated mailing list, such as BurmaNet (burmanet-l), is similar to subscribing a daily newspaper. One particular difference of the internet mailing list and a daily newspaper is that the internet mailing list allows you to "post" the messages. The internet mailing list, therefore, is like the newspaper that give you a regular column for your articles.


Although the use of e-mails(internet mailing list) being flexible, it also come-up with the cost of insecurity. For example, an e-mail message can be interrupted or being altered or partly be deleted. Or a third person may send e-mail without your knowledge if your account is un-secured. There is, in principle, no such thing as complete privacy on internet: any competent hacker, in theory, can find out about what you "post" and to whom you "post", etc. In fact, personal e-mail messages may never be considered as totally reliable. One e to whom you "post", etc. In fact, personal e-mail messages may never be considered as totally reliable. One exception to that is when you post the message to a mailing list. In this case, the message sent is arriving to multiple recipients, by which the authenticity of a message may become much more credible.


The messages carried by personal Web-pages, in contrast to e-mails, are much more secured and credible. This is partly because the original messages (HTML files) always remain in your own directory and therefore less chance of being altered by a third party. Web-messages are not intrusive to the users: a user can visit a Web-site at his/her own choice. The access to a Web-pages can, however, be blocked in theory.

The Internet bulletin boards, such as soc.culture.burma, soc.culture.thai and soc.rights.human etc., on the one hand are more powerful means of disseminating information. Then again, these bulletin boards are much more chaotic: any person may check the bulletin board at his/her own will, and can respond anyway he/she likes. Neverthelpond anyway he/she likes. Nevertheless, on the part of communicator, it is more satisfactory means than the use of Web-pages. The access to bulletin boards can also be restricted, possibly by a service provider, to the users.

Communicating via an internet mailing list (for example, BurmaNet) can be much more satisfactory than above two-methods. This is because a mailing list, in fact, is representing group and the subscribers do have a strong sense of community. The message a user send will go directly to each mail-box of all users. On the ot users. On the other hand, a message on the mailing list, in a sense, is much more intrusive. Unlike Web-pages and bulletin boards, the mailing lists (e-mails) can be much more difficult to block at all times.


It is such a privilege, of course, to become a "Being" in this "information age". One can easily express views on internet to make one's stand-point known to the colleagues (or mailing list users). It will, however, be naive to assume that every message appear on the me appear on the mailing list is getting an equal attention. I, for example, do read BurmaNet everyday. However, different attention is given to different senders (Though, I still collect most postings on BurmaNet in my own archive.). Some messages are to be read seriously. The others are left just to check heading or skimmed through the contents. One or two exceptional senders will receive D.O.A. treatment, i.e messages DELETED ON ARRIVAL!


The un-moderated internet mailted internet mailing lists, such as BurmaNet, are the best forum to collect/disseminate information. For advocacy purpose, the activists may send-out/respond-to the activities. The usefulness of mailing list as a discussion/debate forum, however, can be contentious. Not all the users on the list are likely to be interested in every conversation made by a few persons on the list. (Here, a professionally conducted debate or discussion on the list, of course, is not in question.) Therefore, a general discussion may probably be better bably be better made at a smaller/direct lists that goes to each participant.


Although BurmaNet is not "owned" by anybody and all subscribers have the "right" to send messages, some voluntary self-regulation may be required for the benefit of all users. Followings are some points for our friends' considerations:

1. Avoid sending multiple messages: This is most common by the standard news senders. The users do appreciate to be able to read e able to read the news readily available from the mailing list. However, sending one combined message (with an easy find index please) instead of sending 4-5 messages will be more appreciated.

The same news item being posted simultaneously by different users may not necessarily be a bad thing. Because the same news being received from different places (sources), the credibility of news read is assured. Mind you, most internet users seems to have access to standard news database of one kind or af one kind or another, therefore can check if there is discrepancy in postings of the same news item.

2. Avoid "Garbage In - Garbage Out" style postings: Users appreciate the appearance of message being neat and tidy. For example, a message directly downloaded from a Web page may need some tidying-up: Columns and TABS may need re-adjusting, headers may need to be stripped-off etc. Furthermore, an average user may expect a contributor to be more responsible in its postings to a list: at ngs to a list: at some point, the contributor should be more selective on topic or interest. Someone constantly downloading and sending relevant or irrelevant pieces of information to a list can easily put the users off. Therefore, please do read the whole messages before you send to the mailing list.

3. Avoid private chatting/greetings: This is more accidental in most cases. For example, a netter in Australia may greet its folks in Netherlands: in that case, it is better not to use ter not to use the return-path on BurmaNet mailing list - the reply message may accidentally arrives to all users. The messages which considered to be private should send via a separate e-mail.

4. Avoid using obscured mails: BurmaNet mailing list operates in a highly politically-charged environment. Therefore, no one on the side of democracy should contemplate using obscured mails (such as hotmail.com etc to hide the identity). In fact, it is difficult even for most experienced persons to ced persons to distinguish between a "Creep" and an "Activist" if obscured mails are used. If secrecy in distributing information is required, Strider is the most experienced and appropriate person to be contacted (it is completely safe.).

5. Carefully select your reply method/message: When you are in agreement or disagreement with someone on the net and chosen to reply a message, it is advised you carefully prepared your reply message. In most cases, private reply is more appro is more appropriate. If you choose to reply publicly, be polite in both TONE and CONTENT so as not to cause distress to other users.

With best regards, U Ne Oo.

Subscription Information

In addition to BurmaNet mailing-list, there nowadays are quite a numbers of mailing-lists with wide range of activities covering Burma democracy movement. The subscription information for BurmaNet lists is given here. For more complete information on suchformation on such lists, the FreeBurma Home Page is the best place to look for.

1. BurmaNet

To subscribe: send an email to: majordomo@igc.apc.org

To receive BurmaNet News and 4 to 5 other messages a day, i.e. an unmoderated list, type;

'subscribe burmanet-l'

To receive BurmaNet News only type in the body of the message;

'subscribe burmanews-l'

2. reg.burma Archive

The postings on BurmaNet can also be[Text-base] search in the archive for reg.burma on


Subscribing Burmanet, Politics in Cyberspace