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Forum Etiquette

08/16/16 at 04:12pm in Forum Etiquette (Latest Edit: 02/15/18 at 01:24pm by Zachary.)
Post: #1
It was decided by the Advisory Panel that the old "Forum Etiquette" section of the forum rules should be removed as they were not enforced standards but rather encouraged guidelines of conversation.

I firmly believe that new users (especially those unfamiliar with internet fora) who are motivated to become great contributors need a place to familiarize themselves with what is expected of them. That is what this thread will be.

For now, the unofficial forum etiquette guidelines below are largely based on what was previously featured on the forum rules page (put together by Nicole, Gavin, Shane, and I). I will be using that joint effort as a base to build off of as I evolve this collection of recommendations as needs arise and dissipate in the future.

Unofficial Forum Etiquette Guidelines

Posting in a Thread

— Content & Tone
  • Keep posts relevant to the thread topic
  • Ensure your post makes a substantive contribution to discussion [Additional Thoughts]
  • Maintain civility—pleasantness wins more debates than rudeness [Additional Thoughts]
  • Try not to post the same content in multiple threads
— Formatting & Presentation
  • Use proper capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and grammar
  • Include descriptive text captions with all external links and file attachments
  • Cut down quoted text to exclude anything irrelevant to your post

Creating a Thread
  • Search the forum for an existing applicable conversation before creating a new thread
  • Post new threads in the appropriate discussion category

Modifying Your Profile
  • Keep your user signatures small and subtle
  • Do not use animated profile images
  • Avoid potentially offensive material in your username, signature, and profile image

Discussion of these (and possible future) guidelines is encouraged below. I have had a hand in managing this forum for seven years now, but I am in no way an communication expert. Ultimately it is up to the community—not me—to determine what is expected of its members.

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Our biggest foe is our inclination towards complacency and willingness to settle for mediocrity.
Thanks given by:  Nicole, Lord Robert, Jesy, MAZ, Unagi, CoasterJon18, Gavin, CastleOSullivan, John, Zimmy, Merboy, Joe, RollyCoaster
07/14/17 at 06:59pm in Forum Etiquette (Latest Edit: 07/14/17 at 07:02pm by Zachary.)
Post: #2
A few tweaks have been made to the etiquette guidelines above in light of a handful of recent complaints. The real reason for this post though is to address one in particular: Useless nonsense.

Long ago there was a rule that disallowed "useless nonsense." Naturally, this was a problem as it constructed an environment where users didn't know what was or wasn't acceptable. It was a bad rule, but it wasn't without purpose.

The issue behind that old, long gone rule has become a common point of frustration for a number of people who have messaged or spoken to the admins recently.

There have been an increasing number of posts that lack real substance. Posts that serve only to thank or agree with someone are often better skipped in favor of a simple press of the Thanks button. Posts that serve only to contribute a one-liner quickly pile up to make a thread that consists of a hundred of them. This can clog up discussions and, worse, discourage people from reading at all.

This forum has been specifically, visually designed to put a large spotlight on the words of our users (compare this to this or this). We cast this spotlight on our user's content by separating each user's posts by a lot of screen real estate dedicated to that user. While each post is part of a larger thread, each post is also designed to stand alone as a small blog entry of sorts.

Furthermore, through the "Unread Posts" feature, we actually notify all forum users when anyone makes a post. When you post, you're not just commenting on a piece of content like you would be on Facebook or YouTube—you're writing your own small piece of the site. Each and every member will then be notified of that contribution and encouraged to check it out. This is not the standard operating procedure on most fora out there.

Because the forum is designed to place so much weight on each post, when a post doesn't contribute anything substantive to the discussion, it hurts.

All I'm asking here is that before you hit "Post Reply," ask this: If someone came to, clicked on the "Unread Posts" link, entered the top thread in the listing, and found your post as the only new post since their last visit, would they feel that their time was well spent? If the answer is no, you should try to add some additional substance to your post.

Say that you want to make a joke about something relevant to a forum discussion. By all means, do it—I want to read it! That said, follow that up with something that contributes to the larger conversation. Sometimes that'll be contributing to a topic a few posts up from the one you were originally going to reply to. Sometimes that will be introducing a new thought or idea. Sometimes it can just be as small as posing a new question to drive conversation forward.

Note that not once have I suggested that people post less or that they refrain from jokes or the like. In fact, the wide range of personalities on the forum are one of our best assets and I don't want to suggest anything that will tone those down. Keep the jokes, puns, references, etc coming—I enjoy them too—just don't let them rule the conversation.

Anyway, anyone who made it this far, thanks for reading and thanks for caring!

tl;dr: Ask yourself if your post is worth people going out of their way to read. If not, add content, use the Thanks button, PM the user, etc.

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Our biggest foe is our inclination towards complacency and willingness to settle for mediocrity.
Thanks given by:  Nicole, Zimmy, CastleOSullivan, luseendesi, Shane, Gavin, ElsaManta, Merboy, Joe, RollyCoaster
07/14/17 at 07:07pm in Forum Etiquette
Post: #3
I agree.

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Thanks given by:  UncleDuncan
02/25/18 at 02:10pm in Forum Etiquette
Post: #4
In light of something that happened recently, I’d light to raise an ethical issue. It is never OK to post another Forum member’s ideas as your own without giving credit or receiving explicit permission. It is essentially plagiarism.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
Thanks given by:  The Hessian, Merboy, Zimmy
02/26/18 at 02:08am in Forum Etiquette
Post: #5
It is also just rude.

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate! - William of Occam
I'm serious now, who here wants my job? - NASA Director James Webb
Thanks given by:  Merboy

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