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Author Topic: Cauldron Netiquette Guide (New Posters Please Read)  (Read 9947 times)
Star
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« Topic Start: February 21, 2007, 04:05:01 pm »

These tips were originally posted long, long ago on Beehive.  (Technical details have been modified to suit SMF.)  The idea is to help you get a feel for how to make the most of interacting on this board by giving an idea of how we usually work around here.  It should be most helpful for new posters, but long-time members may find it helpful to review from time to time as well.  Enjoy!

New Posts

We encourage our posters--whether new to the forum or old hands--to not only jump into whatever conversations interest them, but also post new threads if they want to talk about something not currently under discussion. Here are some tips to help you make the most of new threads.

Tip #1: Take a moment to review the archives. While we like new threads, having too many about the same subject at one time can be confusing. You don't have to do a thorough search of everything that's ever been posted, but it does pay to look around and make sure there aren't any recent threads about the topic you want to discuss. You can do this by browsing through the folders to see what discussions are currently active, or you can use the search function to look for a specific term. (There's a search box near the top of each page on the right-hand side.) You may find that someone has recently asked the same question you were going to--and possibly gotten answers.

Tip #2: Be specific with the title. We get a lot of threads with titles like "need info" or "Help me please" which don't really give a good idea of what the thread is about. You're far more likely to get the help you need if instead of vague request for information you indicate what you need help with. Not everyone reads every thread, so having a specific title will help attract the people who can help you or answer your questions to your thread. For example, someone reading the forum might pass over a thread called "need info" because they don't know what it's about, so it doesn't catch their interest. If they see "Need Info About Candle Magic" and they know a lot about candle magic, though, they would be more likely to read the thread and maybe provide some of the requested information.

Tip #3: Be sure to put the new thread on the right board. Again, this helps people find the thread more easily. Think of the forum as a big library. You remember reading a book about a particular subject, but don't immediately see it when you return to the library later. If it was about pet care, but it gets filed under history, you probably won't be able to find it. Similarly, if you post that thread about candle magic on the Non-Pagan Religions board, someone who stumbles across some helpful information when surfing the Web would have a difficult time finding your thread again so that they can pass the information on to you. This is not an exact science, as often a thread could fit into multiple folders easily. It's best to try to make sure that it does fit into the folder it's posted in, though, and that if there's one folder it fits into best it gets posted in that folder.

Legibility

Whether you're posting something new or replying to an existing thread, it's important--and in your own best interest--to make sure that your messages can be read easily without eyestrain or confusion. After all, if your posts are difficult to read, people will simply skip over them without reading. These tips will help you understand what you can do to make your posts as easy as possible to read.

Tip #4: Put white space (blank lines) in longer posts. In long blocks of text, the lines start to run together and become difficult to follow, so it's a good idea to put in a blank line between paragraphs to break it up a little. If you have a really long paragraph and can't find a logical break point, just put a blank line in after every three or four sentences. Our interaction here is much more like a spoken conversation than like a term paper, so we don't really mind if the structure of the post isn't, strictly speaking, correct. It's more important to be able to read what you're saying than to have it formatted "properly".

Tip #5: Don't use Netspeak. Using "u" for "you", "r" for "are", 2 for "too" or "to", and so forth might look cool and mean less typing, but most of our posters are not used to it. Since we're not used to it, we don't read it very well. Many people complain that trying to decipher it gives them headaches. In addition, we are an international community. While many of our members for whom English is a second language read and write it very well, not everyone is so fluent. For those who aren't, the meanings of the Netspeak abbreviations or words in 133t-speak might not be immediately apparent. For that matter, even those of us who do speak English as a first language often find that trying to read Netspeak or 133t is very much like trying to read a foreign language we're only half-fluent in.

Replying to Messages

Conversations can move quickly, and it's easy to lose the thread of who said what to whom--especially if you come along hours after the fact instead of getting the posts one or two at a time as they go up.  Here are a couple of things you can do to help make things less confusing for everyone.

Tip #6:  Leave the quotes in.  When you click "Reply/Quote", code is inserted into your reply with the text of the post you're replying to, as well as a link back to the post and some information about it.  This means we can all see who you're talking to and what you're talking about.  If you erase this, your reply is posted with no indication of what specifically you're replying to or who you're talking to.  That can make keeping track of a conversation difficult.  If you don't want to quote the whole post, just delete what isn't relevant to your reply.  (You can even delete the entire text of the post, as long as you leave the code in.)  There are a few exceptions to this tip, but for most purposes the quote needs to be there.

Tip #7:  In the absence of a quote, give context.  If, for whatever reason, you just can't find something that seems to fit your reply, please at least give some idea of the context of your reply.  For example, instead of just saying, "That sounds like a good idea," you might say, "Lyric's idea of looking at Resource X sounds good."  Remember that we're not in your head; you may know what you're replying to, but that doesn't mean the rest of us do.  Even if you're replying to the post directly above yours, it might not be obvious what you're replying to if someone reads the two posts hours apart.  On Beehive we had links back to the post you were replying to that we could click on for context.  Here we don't have that (unless you use the Quote button or put in links manually), so it's very important to give some kind of context.

Tip #8: Take note of what board the thread is on.  Mostly this doesn't make a great deal of difference, but there are some boards on which it might. One big one is the humour board. Occasionally, someone will post something there that looks like it might be serious--until you realize what category it's in, and then it usually becomes obvious that the post is satire or something similar. There are also special boards like the 101 folders and the Prayer and Energy Request board on which there are specific things that are appropriate or inappropriate to put into a reply.  On any board like these which has special rules, read the special rules (stickied to the top of the folder) before replying to find out what's expected.

Misc Posting Stuff

There are a few important points that don't really fit anywhere else. So--here they are.

Tip #9: Don't make major edits to your posts or delete them, especially after they have been replied to. There's no problem with correcting a typo, of course, but when considering major revisions, remember that we are a very busy board. Chances are that if more than a couple of minutes have passed, someone has already read your post and may be composing a reply to it. Editing it at that point means that different people will see different versions of what you said. This can cause a lot of confusion about what you did or didn't say and throw the conversation off-track. It's usually better just to make a new post with the new or revised information in it. Don't worry about having to correct yourself--the rest of us do it too! We'd rather be able to follow discussions properly than pretend that all of us are infallible and get everything right on the first try.  (If you do need to correct a typo, be sure to make a note letting us all know that's all you were doing, so we know we're still all having the same conversation.)

Tip #10: Use the ignore feature if necessary. Sometimes someone gets so annoying and so irritating that just reading their posts makes your blood boil. If another poster is stressing you out that much, or if you aren't sure you can follow the rules when posting to them, put them on ignore.  You can do this by clicking the "Ignore" button under their user info on any post they've made, or by managing your ignored users through your own profile.  (If you don't see an "Ignore" button for a user, chances are good that they are staff; the ability to ignore staff has been removed.)

Tip #11: Preview your work before posting. This provides you a chance to proofread, and it will also let you make sure you've done any BBcode in your post correctly. Also, sometimes if you write your post in another program and copy/paste it into the forum, some formatting will disappear. Previewing lets you notice and correct that before the post goes up for everyone to see.

Tip #12: Be patient. Online as in real life, you will run into situations that are somewhat frustrating. A little bit of patience will go a long way in these situations. In particular:

  • Communicating in text is hard. Without the cues of body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and so forth, it becomes easy to misunderstand the subtext of a message. Emoticons help, but they're not foolproof. If someone misconstrues something you've said, chances are they don't mean it personally; it's just a misunderstanding. The best course of action is to try to re-word what you said rather than get too upset with the person who misunderstood you.  In order to avoid this problem, it's also usually a good idea to think about what you're posting and consider whether it could be misread easily.  If so, you probably want to re-word it so that your meaning is more clear.
  • People often reply to messages mid-thread without reading the whole thread. For some people, this is the most logical way to read a thread, because it means they don't have to worry about remembering which messages they wanted to reply to so that they can go back and do so after finishing the thread. This means that you might get the same response several times from different people. Generally it's best to just reply to one of those messages and not worry about the rest of them.

I hope these tips help!  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask on the Board Questions board or contact me privately.  (Just click on the little envelope or speech bubble underneath my user info to the left.)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2007, 11:49:15 am by Star » Logged

"The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced."
-- Aart Van Der Leeuw

Main Blog:  Star's Journal of Random Thoughts
Religious Blog:  The Song and the Flame
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