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Forum etiquette

TropicalStarfish

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I would like to create a simple reminder of what good, 'Forum Etiquette,' is.  The reason we employ etiquette, especially in a forum, is so we can avoid, 'bumping elbows,' so to speak, unnecessarily.  Nobody likes to feel their emotions, thoughts, and/or experiences have been trivialized.  Nobody enjoys being personally attacked.  Nobody enjoys having their thread hijacked; left to feel the sting of indifference that those who have a sense of belonging with other members, may not realize they are contributing to.

We are all quite familiar with the things we DO NOT LIKE in a forum.  We don't like being called names, personally attacked, threatened, or harassed.  Those are the, 'basics,' my friend.  People don't like getting stabbed at the bus stop either; that's life.  The REASON those types of things happen, is because, we, collectively, as a society, or in this case, a forum, fail at the, 'finer,' details. 

Yes, there will be a few cases of which, harassing type of behavior is beyond our control to mitigate due to externalities coming from outside the forum; and that speaks to our failure as a society at large, on the global, national, state, county, and city levels.  However, an interesting point to ponder, is that this forum operates at all of those levels; so, maybe, maybe not, but maybe it's as good a place to start as any.

-Be welcoming to new comers-
I have all but forgotten how to do that.  I usually just talk about my, 'piece,' if it has any relatable bits.  When I was a more agreeable (to me) version of myself, I often made a point of just giving a simple, 'hello,' and, 'welcome to the forums,' and was quick with a, 'check out the chatroom!'  It gets harder to do that, as time goes by, people join their cliques, and things start becoming exclusionary and, 'security,' focused.  This isn't the airport (people used to be trusted to get on an airplane too, without having to be x-rayed; just another point to ponder).  It's a forum.  The fact we need to pre-screen and moderate so heavily, speaks to our collective failure; things didn't used to be that way, and now they are.  Just as a building used to stand, but now has collapsed, obviously something went wrong; (unless it was demolished on purpose, which may be the case).

-Be respectful of differing viewpoints-
It's very, very, very unfortunate when the pain of being lonely leads to the types of feelings of rejection and, 'otherness,' that foster anger, sometimes even rage, and pure hatred.  Being alone is hard enough, then to add the suffering of anger and hatred, only makes it so much worse.  So, if you can, try to avoid broad sweeping generalizations.  If your last boyfriend was a wanker, it's understandable, for a time, you might think, 'all men are wankers!.'  However, to every man on this forum, especially if they are not skilled or adept at not taking things personally, your grief can add to the grief of others.  For example, in my opinion, all dogs are stupid animals, dumb as rocks.  But if you like dogs, that sounds pretty fuckin' horrid, doesn't it?  It also does me an injustice to say that; because, I rather like dogs; I just mostly am familiar with my family, who I feel doesn't raise dogs properly, and therefore, most of my experience with dogs, is just hearing about how they are misbehaving, which gets on my nerves.  So, my statement, that all dogs are dumb as rocks, is an exaggeration of how, I, 'FEEL,' mostly and primarily, only about that which I have experience with, concerning dogs.  By making a sweeping generalization I give a bad impression of myself, as a human capable of holding multiple, mixed, and varied views at different times as well as simultaneously; and I potentially put off, or put out other people as well.

-Try to dialogue instead of dispute-
It's great to have a debate from time to time, and really suss things out; it can be fun, insightful, and rewarding; but, a prerequisite to that, is to be respectful, as stated above.  Dialoguing can often be much more useful.  I myself, am not very familiar with dialoguing; and I'm not even sure I can define it; but, I will try.  If I say, "hotdogs are the best damn food out there," and your reply is, "Hell no, pizza is;" we could have a nice little, 'debate,' there.  However, if instead you were to reply, "Oh, I love hotdogs, I really like pizza too!" that sets the stage for a dialogue; we are building upon each other's sentiments.  Some one might chime in and say, "I love nothing more than a mohito on the beach," and now suddenly that opens us up to discussing beach topics, beachballs, sandcastles, etc..  I'm not a very good dialoguer; but, a lot of you probably are.  Maybe a good way to steer a stale debate, or a sour debate in the right direction, is to turn it into a dialogue.  Healthy competition can be great; but, sometimes, it's nice just to enjoy a movie together, or, if you don't like the movie, the popcorn, or if you don't like the popcorn, etc.. etc..

-Don't fucking hijack a god damn thread-
Just don't do it.  Bite your fucking tongue, and don't be a dick face.  I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it; but, we've also had those times, where some one said some nasty shit, and we bit our tongues.  So, don't do it; and especially don't EVER hijack a new member thread.  Nobody likes their first step in a new place to be into dog shit.

-Deliberate as to whether a situation warrants the gardeners nurturing touch, or the mechanics, 'can fix it,' attitude-
Some of us are prickly, and some of us gooey people.  Some of us are, 'hard,' types (usually means a really softy on the inside); and some of us are soft types (usually means stoic and sturdy on the inside).  Some of us are nothing but a mess, and some of us are so orderly it could drive you nuts.  So, consider your tool set/approach, when approaching people and their problems.  If they seem like they need the gardeners touch; and you have a power drill in your hands, maybe let some one else handle it and take a crack at it.  Maybe that tree doesn't need a hole drilled into it (unless you're after some syrup?); maybe it just needs a little water, and some pruning, or a little sunlight.  Likewise, if some one has a flat tire, don't show up with a garden hose (probably me), lol.  Assess the situation. Sometimes the best response, is no response.

-Chose an appropriate forum sub-section-
If you are looking for a debate; there's a section for that, it's called, 'up for debate.' If you want to express yourself, there is a section for that, called, 'express yourself.' If you have something positive to share, there's a section for that. You wouldn't show up to construction gig in tights with slippers; so, dress appropriately for the occasions you which to engage in. If you've got some social problems; write that sucker up in there. It's kind of self explanatory. It's easier to find your tools when you know where you've put them; and it's easier for your colleagues to find what they are looking for, when it's in the right place. Mistakes will be made and some times you have to bend the rules; but, in general if we all keep to that premise, things will be more agreeable to everyone.

--Religion, politics, and the meaty stuff--
Chances are, in a debate of this kind, you are both wrong, and both right, for yourselves. Some people can't eat tree nuts, or are allergic to bees; but, nuts are also a great source of protein and some people keep bees and they are needed for pollination. This is where all the previous sections I've covered become very important. Sometimes it's best to say nothing. Sometimes, you can try to dialogue instead. Others times you can just say your piece, and be done with it, without letting things get personal. Sometimes great ignorance wins out and truth does die; but, in my view and opinion, truth never dies, it can only be forgotten, and whatever is forgotten can be remembered or rediscovered later. Keep it light, and try to inject some humour if you can to keep things light. It's my opinion these things should be able to be discussed and talked about and need to be; because when the talking stops, that's usually when the stones start flying. If in doubt, keep a lid on it, think things over, and perhaps just move on. Sometimes it's better to take it on the chin, and let that be the end of it, if it comes to that. Other times you have to make a stand; and it's difficult to know the difference between those situations. I don't think I do; so you do the best you can, but, I think, if we keep all the former principles in check, we don't have to worry about that stuff anyway, it doesn't even have to come to that.

I can't think of too much more to add; but, the general idea is, be decent, be approachable, be friendly, and be helpful. It's much easier to get a fun game going when everyone's on the same page and the rules are clear, easy enough to follow, and adhere to.  Very few people have a fun time at security check points (and if they do, it's usually at the expense of everyone else and in poor taste); and we wouldn't need things like that, if people understood the subtleties and finer details of social congress and copulation. No forum lasts forever, and they will all meet their death at some point; but, may their legacy be one of joy and fond memories; rather than raging dumpster fires and lost causes...

This isn't a battlefield; it's a place where people, with a hope, or perhaps, no hope at all, come to try and come to terms with, in whichever way they can, the best that they can, that which causes them pain: their loneliness.  Being alone, doesn't have to be suffering; but, quite often, and perhaps more often than not, it is.  And if this place, this forum, comes to be anything less than THAT, then that's it.  What else could their be?
 

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