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A treatise on forum etiquette

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Dan L

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A treatise on forum etiquette
« on: August 28, 2007, 11:05:52 AM »
We have had some complaints recently that the forums are a bad place, where we insult people for things like double posting and where if you do something wrong you get banned. I think that is completely wrong, so to avoid further confusion, I would just like to post some basic forum etiquette rules and guidelines for everyone to follow, with explanations. So here it is (with some help from Wikipedia):
Forum etiquette

Certain rules of unspoken etiquette are recommended to be followed when using Internet forums. They include:

    * Contributors should avoid the use of all CAPITAL LETTERS in posts. ALL CAPS is considered "shouting" and causes readability issues.

If you need to SHOUT to get your message across, then it isn't a very good or clear one. focus on explaining your statement more instead.

    * Contributors should avoid capitalizing the first letter of every word in posts. Capitalizing every word causes readability issues, especially in large paragraphs.

Capitalizing The First Letter In Every Word Is Jarring And Confusing And I Don't Recommend It To Anyone.

    * One should read all the rules and guidelines established by the community. Some communities may have different regulations on a particular subject.

These rules are mostly found in this topic, plus the guide for noobs. If you haven't read the other one it contains some helpful hints about how forums work.

    * One should always be courteous to other forum members.

This one's a given no matter which forum you're in. Joking insults are sometimes ok, but don't go past that.

    * Before creating a new topic thread, one is advised to search to see if a similar topic already exists.

Not really a problem here with a small forum, but sometimes new members who start posting forget this point. (I myself am guilty of this.) We have a search function at the top of the page, you are advised to use it.

    * Contributors should follow standard grammar and spelling rules and avoid slang. Leetspeak is sometimes accepted.

We have good readability here, I don't think there's a problem with this. Leetspeak is sometimes used here, but only to a minimum, |\|07 73|-| X7R33m3 L13k 7h1$.

    * If the forum is categorized, one should strive to post in the correct section.

When you make a topic about a regional event, post in the regional room. If it's off-topic, it goes in other.
    * When making a technical inquiry, one should include as much technical information as possible, especially in the subject line.

If we happen to provide tech support (which we don't) this would come up. Perhaps if we are discussing a problem with the robot it may however.

    * Contributors are asked to stay on-topic.

Something that our members find hard to do unfortunately.

    * Contributors should avoid double posting and Crossposting.

Something that has been discussed as a needless worry, but really, double posting has been a faux-pas of forums since they evolved from USENET. If you have double posted, you should have some valid new information that you are adding to the discussion, and usually an apology for double posting. If it was unintentional (accidentally clicking "Post" twice) then delete the post or PM a mod to ask them to do it for you.
Crossposting is posting the same message in many different threads (For those of you who remember "WE HAVE A SPINNING DRIVE TRAIN!!!!!!!!!" that was crossposting.) and it is usually never helpful to a conversation, so it is considered bad.

    * To avoid appearing self-absorbed, one should respond to topics started by others more often than starting topics of one's own.

Very basic etiquette. It's ok to lurk in your threads you made, but branch out and post elsewhere too.

    * One is advised not to resurrect a very old topic if nothing significant will be added. This practice is known as revival, bumping or Necroing.

It happens, but please try to avoid it without good reason.

    * One should try to refrain from lashing back at a poorly behaving member or participating in a flame war; instead, notify the messageboard's staff of the event.

Flame War = very bad argument that essentially devolves into "you suck!" "no you suck!" It completely disrupts the conversation, and can get you a warning from moderators.
    * When quoting a previous post, one should only include the relevant portion of that post. Contributors are requested to keep in mind that their audience can likely still see the message they are quoting on the same screen and can read it again if need be.

If you wrote a wall of text, and someone quotes it, it's as if it was posted twice on the same page. People who read the quote won't know which part the poster was referencing in his quote. If you do quote the whole post, highlight or bold the part you are referring to so people can skip the rest.

There you go, some basic etiquette rules and why we do them. Please don't take these forums the wrong way, it may be a robotics forum but it is a forum first and foremost and forum etiquette has a high place in forums (obviously) regardless of main focus.
Dan Lavoie - 2010 alumnus and 2012 mentor