Welcome Package - Netiquette
"When thou enter a city, abide by its customs." - The Talmud
How to post to the lists and how to behave on the list: this has more to do with out of character lists then anything else.
Everyone is tempted from time to time to evangelize, to stride boldly into the enemy's camp and throw down the gauntlet. We will never see the end of people who pop up on comp.sys.intel praising Macs and Amigas; who send mail to the SKEPTIC list that flying saucers really, truly do exist; who enlighten the Buddhist newsgroups that they're all bound for hell, and on and on.
In the entire history of the net, no one has managed to do this without looking like a complete idiot. If you believe you are the one person who will succeed where millions have failed, then you're ready to learn about...
There is nothing you can say that won't offend somebody:
>It's a bright, sunny day today.
You filthy *@#?$!, what have you got against Seattle?!
Flames (violent verbal expressions of disapproval), misunderstandings, overreactions, and hurt feelings are par for the course. Four lessons from experience:
- Hedge your bets: Rather than saying, "Metal rules! Death to all that oppose!!" try saying "In my humble opinion (often abbreviated IMHO) metal bands perfectly express my feelings, choices, and lifestyle. Your mileage may vary." (another net clichť, less frequently abbreviated YMMV). By the way, BTW is another frequent net abbreviation, for what it's worth (FWIW).
- Apologize: When misunderstanding is the culprit, and especially if you respect the person, who misunderstood, take the blame on yourself for being unclear, apologize, say what you meant more clearly (if appropriate) and put it behind you. As in real life (remember that?) people who are quick to anger are often equally quick to forgive.
- Avoid flame bait: (Conduct, which gravely offends the norms, mores and folkways of a particular group.) "Now wait a minute!" you say. "Do you mean that something that's accepted behavior on one list or newsgroup will draw dozens of stinging, ridiculing comments in another?" I sure do. What can you do? Lurk a while before you post. Read what's said like an anthropologist, trying to discover what the big no-noís are. The beginning of a school term is a wonderful time to do this, as you will observe the clueless newbies who weren't smart enough to read this paragraph being torn to shreds. There are some things you should NEVER do, and we'll list them in a minute, but let's get to the last bit of advice.
Dos and Don'ts (or "How to Avoid Most Flames")
- DONíT include the entire contents of a previous posting in your reply.
- DO cut mercilessly. Leave just enough to indicate what you're responding to. NEVER include mail headers except maybe the "From:" line. If you can't figure out how to delete lines in your mailer software, paraphrase or type the quoted material in.
- DONíT reply to a point in a posting without quoting or paraphrasing what you're responding to and who said it. Reason: a dozen postings may occur between the original message and your reply. At some sites your reply may get there before the original.
- DO quote (briefly) or paraphrase. If the original "Subject:" line was "Big dogs" make sure yours says "Re: Big dogs". Some REPLY functions do this automatically. By net convention, included lines are preceded by ">" (greater than signs). Some mail editors and newsreaders do this automatically. Others require you to do it manually or set the "indent character" to ">".
- DONíT send a message saying "Why doesn't anybody say anything about X?" or "Who wants to talk about X?"
- It's always a risk to start a new topic (often called a thread). The group may have just finished a long, bitter war about that very subject. But if you want to take the risk, SAY SOMETHING yourself about the subject you're raising.
- DONíT send lines longer than 70 characters. This is a kindness to folks with terminal-based mail editors or newsreaders. Some mail gateways truncate extra characters turning your deathless prose into gibberish.
- Some mail editor tools only SEEM to insert line breaks for you, but actually don't, so that every paragraph is one immense line. Learn what your mail editor does.
- DONíT SEND A MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS. CAPITALIZED MESSAGES ARE HARDER TO READ (AND IS CONSIDERED TO BE SHOUTING) THAN LOWER CASE OR MIXED CASE.
- DO use normal capitalization. Separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Make your message inviting to your potential readers. If you intend to íshoutí indicate it in some fashion
- DONíT betray confidences. It is all too easy to quote a personal letter in a posting to the entire group.
- DO read the "To:" and "Cc:" lines in your message before you send it. Are you SURE you want the mail to go there?
- DONíT make statements that can be interpreted as official positions of your organization or offers to do business. Saying "Boy, I'd sure like to have one of them Crays" could result in a truck at your loading dock and a bill in the mail even larger than your student loan.
- DO treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy.
- DONíT rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm. It's hard to write funny. It's even harder to write satire.
- DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice. Use emoticons (or smilies) like :-) or :^) --turn your head counterclockwise to see the smile. You can also use caps for emphasis or use net conventions for italics and underlines as in: "You said the guitar solo on "Comfortably Numb" from Pink Floyd's _The Wall_ was *lame*? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND???!!!"
- DONíT make a posting that says nothing but "Me, too." This is most annoying when combined with (1) or (2) above. Ditto for "I don't know."
- DO remember the immortal words of Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-1889): "Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."
- DONíT try to retract a message already sent. That is HST discretion.
- DO Be certain of what your saying and who your sending it to.
Yes, It Is Worldwide
A warning: the net is international. If you tell a Belgian she's being un-American (or un-Canadian). SHE ISN'T OFFENDED. Of course she's un-American; you're un-Belgian. She doesn't care about being lectured on the First Amendment or Quebec separatism. She doesn't HAVE a First Amendment or a Quebec and she thinks Belgian values are better. Many people have made fools of themselves by forgetting this everywhere else. Let's try to behave a little better on the net.
Get the FAQ List
Finally, many groups have had the sense to write down some of their norms and folkways in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list along with (what else?) the answers to frequently asked questions. Many Usenet FAQs are posted monthly or so on the news.answers. List owners of listservs are often quite willing to mail you the FAQ for the list. In fact, they may have already told you where it is in the letter you get welcoming you to the list.
Welcome Package Index
[ Introduction ]
[ The Traditions ]
[ Back Story of the Game ]
[ What is the World of Darkness? ]
[ E-mail Lists and Websites ]
[ Character Creation ]
[ What Is OWBN? ]
[ Strike System ]
[ Experience Points ]
[ Downtime ]
[ Glossary ]