Online Etiquette 101 – Forums
Online services have turned from a convenience and past time to a part of life. E-mail, forum posts, blog posts, VoIP, IM (instant messaging) have become the norm in terms of communications for the tech savvy and the net-aholics to not only keep in touch with friends and family but also to be updated in the latest trends and happenings.
Just like in our everyday life, to enjoy your experience in any online network as well as have a constructive exchange of communication, you need to observe some rules of etiquette. Simple rules like paying due respect to other user’s point of views with some level of maturity and consideration are very important.
Netiquette (Internet ettiquette), is on it’s own unique to the online community you are participating in, be it a forum, a blog, a newsgroup or even just an IRC channel. Keeping in touch with our Filipino root’s and culture, it wouldn’t hurt and others certainly wouldn’t mind if you kept your manners. We’re known as a polite and hospitable people after all.
In this part of a short series, I’ll be giving out several pointers on how to survive a forum but first…
What exactly is a forum?
An Internet forum is a web application for holding discussions and posting user generated content. Internet forums are also commonly referred to as Web forums, message boards, discussion boards, (electronic) discussion groups, discussion forums, bulletin boards, fora (the Latin plural) or simply forums. The terms “forum” and “board” may refer to the entire community or to a specific sub-forum dealing with a distinct topic. Messages within these sub-forums are then displayed either in chronological order or as threaded discussions.
An internet forum is basically an online bulletin board where people “post” ideas, conversations etc. The target audience of the conversation of an internet forum (or forum for short) is many to many, you can point out to any and all of the members participating members within the thread (for this post’s purposes, the topic) and get pointed back at.
With the boom of cheap internet in the Philippines, many people go to these “tambayans” for a lot of reasons which include but are not limited to, free downloads, talk, advice, discussions, help etc.Â As a long time forum-er I’d like to share some tips on keeping forum netiquette.
Guidelines on surviving a forum:
Read the forum rules
Most forum newbies head in to the discussion without even bothering to read the rules even if it’s flashed before them on registration (from experience, this is 90% true). While most of the time this is fine, there will be times that a simple question or request will draw the ire of current members because such posts are forbidden or are supposed to be placed somewhere else.Take note that no matter how excited you are to make your first post as a a member of a new forum, make sure you find time to read the site’s policy page and read it thoroughly.
Read up before posting
If you’re going to ask a question or advice, make sure it hasn’t been asked before by using the SEARCH function. Once you’re certain that it’s something new or the said topic has been deleted, moved to trash or closed, you’re free to post it.
v Also, it’s good practice to read a number of posts in a particular thread instead of just relying on the title of the thread. Know what’s being discussed and participate accordingly.
Words are like swords
Remember that your words are your only medium to convey your ideas. Make sure you word your posts properly so that you don’t get misunderstood (this happened to me a lot) and if necessary, use descriptive wording to ensure your meaning is clear. If you come by a post that’s unclear to you, ask for clarification instead of jumping to conclusions.
It’s a typical impulse when you want something noticed but don’t over do it. Type in lowercase or standard case. By the rules of netiquette, all caps equates to shouting. You wouldn’t like conversing with someone that’s always shouting now wouldn’t you?
Don’t beat around the bush
If you want to say something, go right ahead. Going around in circles is a waste of your time and of responders. Keep it short but concise and Say your words exactly what you would say in person.
Check your spelling
Although it’s not a real requirement, it helps to minimize the risk of being misunderstood. Also, reading a well written post is less of a chore than a poorly composed one so you’re bound to get more attention to your posts.
Not everyone will be tolerant to rude or disrespectful comments so it’s best to keep your cool at all times and appreciate that your opinion is one of many. When people disagree with what you think, be mature during discussions and don’t force them over to your way of thinking.
Don’t feed the Trolls
Once you’ve spent enough time online, you’ll get to know them. Trolls are simply there to waste your time, raise your ire or even get you banned. They often don’t care about the subject but rather the conflict that ensues in the discussion and nothing more. When you encounter one, just remember that Trolls are not worthy of your time. Ignore them and move on.
Signatures in moderation
While many forums disable this feature, some allow you to have signatures make it easier to identify the poster. A signature is usually an added option that gives you the option of adding HTML codes to each of your posts. Many people put their favorite stuff in it like quotes, pics of their cat etc but sometimes it just goes too far. An example would be using a 1024x 768 image on a forum that maxes out at 900 px in width. It’s not only annoying but a waste of load time.Use userbars like the one below if you really can’t drop the images and animate as needed. They look professional and lessens the annoyances to others.
Share and Thank others
When you think you can help out with a suggestion or an answer, don’t be selfish and try to help other people who need it. When you’re the one asking for help, never forget to show your appreciation to those who helped you.
Be kind the newbs
Everyone was a newbie at first, even if you’re a resident poster of the forum, it wouldn’t hurt to give net beginners fair treatment. Never assume arrogant, all-knowing attitude. If you set a good example then newbies will turn out to be contributing forum members instead of just lurkers.
Do NOT hotlink
Hotlinking is bad practice especially on forums. If you can’t find the time to upload a picture to a free service then don’t do it, you might end up with this image that’ll ruin your day:
Tags: internet, networking, Online Etiquette 101