Rule #1: Read First, Type Later
One of the most irritating things for a seasoned member of a forum is to have a newbie come into the forums and start typing before they know anyone or have read any of the threads. Read first and you will learn the feel and flow of the forum before you post a message.
Rule #2: Respond Before You Start a New Thread
If you want to follow good forum posting etiquette, try responding to some existing conversations before you launch your own thread. Learn what everyone else is talking about, get a feel for the tone and conversations at hand, and find something with which you agree and can relate.
Rule #3: Look For It, Don't Ask For It
Chances are, any simple questions you may have are already addressed somewhere in the forum. Good forum posting etiquette means you should use the search feature available to you or manually scan the topics before you ask a question. One sure-fired way to get the seasoned posters on your bad side is to ask a question that has already been answered.
Rule #4: Don't Just Talk, Respond Too
Forum posting etiquette dictates that you should respond to at least twice as many threads as you start. If you want people to respond to your threads, it's always best to respond to theirs too.
Rule #5: Use the Title and Subject Fields Wisely
If you are in an informational, technical or help forum, there are many seasoned and experienced subscribers in that forum who are likely willing to help you, but these folks scan the subjects for things they know the answers to and avoid threads that they may not be able to answer.
A thread subject or title that says: "HELP!!!!" may go answered, whereas a title that says: "I Need Help With XXX" is much more likely to get a good response from someone who knows what XXX is and can help. Make your title informational, informative about what question or subject you are asking or talking about.
Rule #6: Be Courteous
In person at social situations, you may say or do something out of character or perhaps lash out or hurt someone's feelings, but that incident can be quickly forgotten or only remembered by those who see it.
In an online forum, that type of an incident is there forever, and anyone can see it, or worse, stumble upon it weeks or months later and dredge it up again. Ask yourself before posting whether what you are about to say is something you will want read a month from now. If it's not, don't type it, no matter how tempting it may be at the time. Remember, everything you put out on the internet can come back to haunt you.
Rule #7: Don't Use Internet Shorthand
It's one thing to be casual in a forum and not worry too much about perfect grammar or spelling, but be sure to write out all your words and avoid most internet shorthand. An occasional BTW, LOL, or the like is perfectly acceptable, but avoid using IM short speak.
Rule #8: Stay on Topic
While it's okay to make a casual comment, share an experience, or make a joke, try to keep the comments you make in a thread on-topic with the conversation. Forum posting etiquette says there is little more frustrating than to scan a thread title about one subject only to find 60 posts about something entirely different and you had to read them all to see if the question was ever answered.
Rule #9: Don't Spam or Promote
This probably should have been listed in the first position for forum posting etiquette. It's usually acceptable to have one link in your posting signature, but it is never acceptable unless the forum is for that specific purpose to post affiliate links, promotional content, or advertising. Nothing will get you blacklisted or kicked off a forum faster than spamming.
Rule #10: Help as Much as You Are Helped
If you come into the forums to ask questions, post a thread, and then disappear and never respond to anyone else's threads, questions or comments, chances are the forum members will be less likely or willing to help you in the future. You don't have to personally thank everyone who responds, but you can definitely respond with thanks to all who answered and make an effort to help others if you can answer their questions too.
Rule #11: Use Socially Acceptable Language
You wouldn't come into a stranger's house and start cussing, telling off colored jokes, or using inflammatory language and you shouldn't do this in a forum either. Until you are absolutely certain of the rules and atmosphere of any given online forum, it's best to always keep your language PG-13 or cleaner.
Rule #12: Read the Forum Guidelines and Follow Them
If the forum has guidelines, it's good forum posting etiquette to read those guidelines and follow them to the letter. When in doubt, refer back to the guidelines.
Rule #13: Respect the Moderator
If there is a moderator in your forum, and that moderator tells you not to do something, whether you agree with them or not, don't do it! Forum posting etiquette says you are coming into someone else's forum, you play by someone else's rules. If you don't like it, you're welcome to find another forum with different rules. Remember, the moderator usually has the power to suspend your posting privileges or ban you from the forum.
Rule #14: Post in the Proper Forum or Thread
Internet forum posting etiquette says to place your post in the appropriate forum or thread. It doesn't matter if one forum thread is more active than another, you should always use the appropriate forum or thread for your content.
Rule #15: Quote or Use Names When Responding
Some forums allow members to receive email updates. A post in a forum that has continuity is one thing, but an email that says only, "I agree" will not be of much value unless the member goes back to the forum, finds the thread, and retraces the conversation. If you have the ability to quote someone, do so. If not, use the name of the person to whom you are responding and use part of the original question in your response. Also, when threads in a forum become long, it's difficult without quoting or directing your response to someone to know who or what you are responding to.
Lastly, let's look at some quick forum posting etiquette rules to follow:
• Never use all caps
• Don't toggle between CaPitAl aNd LoWeRcAsE LetTeRs
• Use normal punctuation and grammar
• Keep it short and simple whenever possible
• Be careful sharing private information
• Provide enough information to answer any questions you ask
• Use minimal outbound links, and only when absolutely necessary
• Don't be a troll and don't feed the trolls
• Follow all posted rules of the forum at all times
***** Chilly's Rules :
I hereby bequeath these rules to those bent on being a pain in the balls:
1) Don't be an idiot
2) Post as if you are sitting across from the "audience"
3) No religious or political posts
4) See Rule 1
If you follow these simple etiquette tips you will find your time in an online posting forum productive and fun. Happy posting!
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