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Forum NetiquetteRegistration Agreement
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.

Online Etiquette or Netiquette (Internet etiquette), 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.

What exactly is a forum?

   
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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.


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.
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.

DON'T SHOUT.

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.

Lurk before you post.

Each forum has its own culture and nuances. Maybe using Netspeak is the norm and typing in plain English is conspicuous. Maybe you should be rude and load your posts with swears. Read a few threads before you post. Some people will read forums for weeks or even months before they contribute. While that may be overdoing it, you should at least get a handle on the personality of the forum.

Don't be an echo: I agree.

This tip mostly applies to forums that keep post counts next to your screen name. Forum members will think that you're just trying to boost your numbers if you post only a two-word comment. On other types of forums it may not matter as much. Still, people generally like to hear your full opinion instead of a simple "I agree" or "I disagree."

Respect the regulars.

Let's go back to point number six. Let's say you wanted to create a new thread and, using the search function, found an old thread on your topic from 2001. So, you go ahead and post your new thread. Within minutes, you get a response from someone: "Sigh (yes, people do actually type a theatrical "sigh"), this thread has been discussed here and here. Learn to use the search function. Newbies. Sheeesh."

At this point, you may want to reply with a sarcastic response of your own. Instead, either reply politely or just wait for other people to respond. There's always a few regulars that are overzealous with the search function or other rules. If it's necessary, allow more established members to deal with them.

Don't be afraid of the regulars: Hi, I'm new. Please don't hurt me.

At the other end of the scale, sometimes new people are overly obsequious. You don't have to be timid. Follow tip number 10, and you'll become more confident that what you're posting is valuable, and that it's not necessary to load your posts with a bunch of qualifiers.

Don't spam: Hey everyone, I was wondering if you could come take a look at my blog! I just want some feedback; please tell me what you think!

People hate spammers. You hate spammers. But if you're new to a forum, even posting links to your own site will be considered spam. Your post will either be deleted or mocked by people who think you're trying to con them.

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. There is a spell checker next to the post button, use it.

Be respectful

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. You will normally find trolls have a online reputation, doing a search of other related forums will normally (but not always) result in similar posts by the same trolls, enticing and alienating forum members.

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.

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 newbies

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 a pornographic image that will ruin your day

Adapted from:
http://www.atmaxplorer.com/2008/02/online-etiquette-101-forums/ and http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1152990/forum_netiquette_for_newbies_pg2.html?cat=15

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