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    Our Land
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    Forum Netiquette

    Post by Our Land on 29/01/09, 11:44 pm

    Netiquette

    The 'feel' of a computer forum is somewhere between spoken and written
    language in its formality. Writing styles tend to be informal, without
    excessive worry about typing errors or minor lapses in grammar. Despite
    the limitations of the medium, a strong sense of individual
    personalities comes through. It may be something inherent in the
    medium, or it may just be the ethos that has grown around computer
    forums, but there is often a tremendous sense of support and
    friendship, rather than competition.

    The principles of good
    communication in a computer forum are basically very similar to those
    in normal conversation and are largely common sense. But, because of
    the limitations of the medium (and with them the hazard of 'flaming'
    –see below), more care and attention is needed than in face-to-face
    discussion. The main principle is the intention to come to a shared
    understanding, which means trying to understand other people's views,
    rather than simply expressing yourself, or worse, trying to impose your
    views on others.

    There are three key principles that help to ensure good communication.

    1 Thank, acknowledge and support people freely.
    '
    I liked your comment in …' 'I agree with so-and-so's idea that …' 'Thanks
    Sarah for that contribution. I got a lot out of it.' 'Welcome to the
    conference, Bill.'

    In a computer forum you cannot see the other
    people nod their heads, smile, or otherwise indicate that they have
    heard what you said. If you don't receive an acknowledgement of a
    message, you may feel ignored, even when others have appreciated your
    contribution. This principle is particularly important when a group is
    set up as a support group, as it maintains the relationship necessary
    for people to feel supported. People know that they have been
    appreciated and are encouraged to contribute further.

    A note of caution: if everyone in a forum acknowledged everyone else's
    messages, the forum would be clogged with messages saying 'Thanks!' Before
    acknowledging, check that there aren't already several similar messages.

    2 Acknowledge before differing.
    'What I think you mean in essence is … Have I got that right? My own view differs as follows …'
    Before you disagree with someone, start by briefly restating what the other
    person has said in your own words. The person then knows that you are
    trying to understand them, and is thus in a better position to take
    your view seriously.

    Otherwise, you risk a sequence of
    statements flying backwards and forwards with little mutual
    understanding or possibility of coming to agreement (even if it is
    agreement to differ).

    3 Speak from your own perspective (or at least some specified perspective).

    'Here's how I see it/how I feel about it/what I want to do …'
    A commonly used abbreviation is 'IMHO', which stands for 'In My Humble Opinion', introduced for this purpose.
    Similarly, you can present other people's views, with a direct quote and
    acknowledgement if possible. 'As so-and-so said in XX …' 'Official government views as given in … are …'

    The most serious problems tend to occur when people speak impersonally:
    'This is the way it is …' 'It is a fact that …' If no perspective is
    given, a statement may seem dogmatic or moralistic. If something is put
    as an absolute, there is no room for anyone else's perspective.

    You may find that for casual remarks, writing in the first person can seem
    awkward. Thus this principle (as with the others) should not be applied too rigidly.

    It is most important when you are saying something that might appear
    controversial or contentious.

    4. Avoid 'flaming spirals'
    It's easy to respond quickly to something that makes you angry, but you
    don't get the feedback you would in speech where someone might quickly
    say 'but I didn't mean …' The result can be a series of angry outbursts
    ('flaming'), leading to an ever-increasing spiral of abuse (a 'flaming
    spiral'). When this happens, it can seriously disrupt a forum.
    Write your angry message by all means, but try not to send it straight away –
    come back to it later, consider the effect it may have, and rethink
    your wording.
    The best solutions are for the people involved to
    affirm that they had not intended to offend and to show that they
    understand the other's point of view

    5. Be careful about emotions in messages
    Emotions can easily be misunderstood when you can't see faces or body language.
    You may unwittingly upset someone: people's differing backgrounds and
    experience may mean that something one person thinks is funny will be
    offensive to another, so be cautious if you are not sure. People may
    not realise you are joking, being satirical or being sarcastic. There
    are conventions for saying 'this is a joke' or expressing your
    feelings, which you may wish to use. They are called 'smileys' or
    'emoticons'; look at them sideways: 8-) or :-) or :-( or ;-).

    Note that people with visual impairments who are using screen readers find
    smileys hard to interpret. Other people prefer to use (!), or for grin,
    or other indications.
    IF YOU WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS IT WILL COME OVER AS SHOUTING!

    6. Stay Focussed
    Avoid multiple answers to a message. Before sending a helpful reply to
    someone's question, check to be sure that someone else hasn't already
    said the same thing.

    Keep messages short. Write concisely and
    try to avoid messages longer than one or two screens. That helps people
    to follow the flow of the discussion.

    It can be helpful to quote
    the relevant part of a message you are replying to (e.g. so-and-so said
    '…'). Otherwise, in a busy forum, it can be time-consuming to find the
    original message.

    All messages have a 'subject' line, indicating
    the contents of the message. People see this before they see the
    contents of your message and may use it to decide whether or not to
    read your message. Take the subject line seriously and make sure it is
    clear.



    7. Topics.

    Before starting a topic give careful consideration to the choice of descriptive header for your topic. Remember the forum is an archive of information which is filed.

    The same questions are repeatedly asked by new members, but too often previously posted information which may be significant to a member’s enquiry cannot be found because the topic title bears no resemblance to the contents.

    For this same reason it is also important to post your messages within the confines of the topic subject. Slight deviations from the subject of the topic quite often happen so the topic becomes slightly side tracked.
    This is common but provided the topic comes back on track within a couple of posts it is acceptable.

    When someone posts something completely irrelevant to the topic and other members then follow this thread, the original post then goes ‘off topic’.
    This is not acceptable. Not only is this considered ‘high jacking’ the original member’s topic, but these further posts may contain some important information useful to all members, which later cannot be found when using the ‘search’ facility, using key words.

    For example if a post titled ‘Renewing a Chinese Passport’ is taken ‘off topic’ by a discussion about ‘train timetables’, although some good information may be posted it would be difficult to locate this information at a later date.
    A ‘search’ using key words such as ‘train’, ‘timetables’ or ‘travel’ would not lead you to the information.

    Please show consideration for other members. If you want to change the topic then state ‘Oh John, I wanted to ask if you still have the train timetable but I’ll open another topic on that subject’.
    Then open a new topic ‘Train timetables’ for open discussion.
    That way you have informed other members of your choice and then can follow your subject in your new topic.

    Going ‘off topic’ not only annoys the original author of the post, it also creates a lot of unnecessary work for the Moderators who have to decide whether to ‘edit’, ‘delete’, or ‘split’ the topic.

    Repeat offenders will be warned by the Moderators / Administrators.
    It is probably the most common abuse of good forum netiquette.


      Current date/time is 19/10/17, 03:18 pm