How To

General Behavioral Guidelines

Some general ways to behave online, in order to get the best out of the internet.

The following are cribbed from TWoP’s Dos and Don’ts. They should not be considered the be all and end all of how to behave on a site, but I find that abiding by these gets you going on pretty much every forum and comment site in the history of ever. Since a lot of people never saw TWoP (or the similar post I made on make/support in WordPress land), it’s useful here.

Good Manners and Respect Dos and Don’ts

  • DON’T use “um,” be snotty to another user, or make the argument personal
  • DO know the difference between differences of opinion and personal attacks
  • DON’T present your opinions as facts
  • DON’T post the same opinion over and over in the hopes of wearing other people down or “winning” a discussion; just move on

A swan attacking another swanStarting New Threads Dos and Don’ts

  • DO search for existing topics before starting new threads
  • DON’T use all-caps or excessive punctuation in thread titles

Posting Messages Dos and Don’ts

  • DON’T post in a thread until you’ve read the whole thread
  • DON’T post “Me Too!” messages; add something of substance to the conversation
  • DON’T sign your posts
  • DO use proper spelling, capitalization, punctuation, et cetera
  • DON’T pimp your site or product, et cetera;
  • DON’T post copyrighted articles; link to them
  • DON’T post the same thing in multiple areas; pick a spot and go with it

Warnings, Bans and Trolls Dos and Don’ts

  • DO take any mod warnings you get seriously
  • DON’T bug the mods to remove moderation on your posts

One thing I left out is something that drives me up the wall. Don’t reply to things in the wrong place. If you’re reading someone’s blog post about how to tie shoes and you post a comment of “Will Prince Harry get married?” because the blogger remarked about that in a separate post, you’re being really annoying. I personally delete off topic posts, and serial-off topic posters get blocked.

When you get off topic, you make it harder for a conversation to be followed. When you make it hard to follow, you get bad help (at least in support forums). Hate it.

Of course, when I suggested these to WordPress’s Support folks, I got some interesting replies which tell me that folks aren’t quite as receptive to things being spelled out, fairly friendly, that should be common sense. Allow me to quote Voltaire:

On dit quelquefois: “Le sens commun est fort rare.”

For those of you who do not speak French: People sometimes say: “Common sense is quite rare.”

5 replies on “General Behavioral Guidelines”

It looks like the list has been cut down a bit which I think is helpful. Two items I don’t get are Don’t use “um” and Don’t sign your posts?

I sometimes may start a post with “err…” (which is akin to um) when I think it’s appropriate and then get into the meat of the discussion. I do this because I think it helps to inject a bit of personality into what you are writing. Writing emails and posts, in my opinion, can seem quite cold at times which can then come across wrong.

I also think that if you sign off the post it comes across as being polite doesn’t it? But maybe I am wrong.

@chris odell: Both ‘um’ and ‘err’ come off as sounding very condescending. I know they’re not meant that way, but they do. So does “Well, actually ….”

Not signing your posts is a spam thing. I know who you are. Your name and Gravtar are right there. You can be polite with out a signature and most people use them like this:

Mika E – aka Ipstenu

Which … great. Thank you for making a thread even longer with your sig that doesn’t do anything.

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