Posting Guidelines

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Posting Guidelines

Postby SV Pocket PC » Tue Aug 29, 2006 5:27 am

I thought I'd take this time I'm wasting and give some suggestions for posting etiquette. These are guidelines I've come up with after years of posting to various boards, but they are just guidelines, not rules.

The main principle in all of these is to make things easy for people reading your posts. You're either writing because you have a question, because you're trying to help somebody or because you have something to say. Make it easy for the readers to help you, use your help or understand your point. Don't tick the reader off from the start.

That said, here are the specifics.

  1. Try to use good English. We're not all native speakers, so we have to make allowances, but proper English will make posts easier to read for both native and non-native speakers. (Yes, I realize that not every site is in English. :) If you're at a non-English site, use good spelling and grammar in that language.)

    A corollary to this is don't talk like you're texting -- your peers may know what IM2CL4U means, but forums probably have a much broader cross-section of the population.

  2. Learn to search. Before posting what is likely an obvious question, do a search -- both here and on Google. Examples include "How do I hard reset my Pocket PC?" or "What good software is out there?" and so on. Too many threads on the same topic leads to "search overload" (how many times do you look past the first page of hits in Google?).

  3. No "Me, too" posts. At least add some thoughts about why you agree (or disagree).

  4. No multiple posts. Multiple posts about the same thing fragment the discussion. If you have something that could belong in two or more forums, post in one of them and post links back to that thread in the other forums. Do that sparingly, though.

  5. Use specific subjects. Do not post using the subject "Help!!!!!!" (or some equally content-free title). Some people will ignore posts with content-free subjects. Say "Need Help with my Motorola Q E-mail" or something.

  6. On the other hand, don't put all of your post in the subject. Unless the post is the first in the thread, people may not see your subject. The subject is meant to be a brief synopsis of the text of your post. Also, don't put half of your post in the subject and continue it in the body of the post for the same reason -- it's confusing if people haven't read the subject. It also looks silly when people quote it.

  7. Avoid "junk phrases". Don't waste time with "Hi, people!" or my personal favorite, "I have a question" (we can figure that out). "Thanks in advance" is another phrase I've heard that annoys people (because it assumes there will be something later to thank them for); I use "Thanks for any help" because it doesn't assume that.

  8. Don't assume people know what forum they're in. There are many ways to get to a thread, and sometimes we don't realize what forum we're in. For example, if you have a Dell problem posted in the Dell forum, don't just say "My Pocket PC is having a problem," because many people might not realize they're in the Dell forum. Say "My Dell Axim x51v is having a problem."

  9. If you're responding to somebody in a thread, quote the post that you're responding to (unless it's the only post in the thread, and even then it can't hurt). If five people have posted, don't assume people will know that you're responding to the last post. Even if it's obvious, if somebody else posts just before you do, then it will appear that you're responding to them.

  10. However, quote sparingly. Quoting is very effective for maintaining context, especially in a busy thread, but only quote the relevant parts of a post. Don't quote a five paragraph post to comment about one sentence in the post. Never quote the "extra text" (like greetings, inline signatures, etc.) unless you are actually discussing it. Avoid quoting images, too, unless you're discussing that image and it's not easily visible on the page by scrolling a bit. Remember that the forum admin is likely paying for disk space and bandwidth, and over-quoting wastes both (not to mention the readers' time who have to download and skip over that).

  11. Learn the BBCode keywords. They're very useful for quoting, lists, URLs, etc. Also look for site-specific BBCode (for example, RANT tags for ranting).

  12. If you talk about something, link to it. Obviously, if it's something that everybody knows about (like the Motorola Q on a site devoted to the Q) or a very common Web site (like Amazon or Google), that's not necessary. But if you haven't seen something mentioned before, maybe others haven't either, so link to it. It won't hurt and can prevent other readers from having to search later.

  13. When posting a link, include some text describing what is being linked to. However, do not post the entire text being linked to, either. Post a synopsis and the link for details.

  14. My usual rant -- don't post long URLs naked. Some browsers don't wrap them, which causes the page to be displayed much wider than normal, forcing horizontal scrolling. Use the URL tags.

  15. Don't embed wide images for the same reason. Not everybody's browser shrinks them to fit (or somebody may have that option turned off), and they'll force horizontal scrolling. If you can't resize the image, just post a URL link to the image.

  16. Always preview your posts and test any links. Failure to do that is why people have screwed up quotes and URLs.

  17. Don't use obnoxious signatures. Signatures shouldn't be longer than five lines of text. Nobody wants to see your 15-line signature on a one-line post. Also, if you must put an image in your signature, keep it small and preferably not animated. Remember that downloading your images slows down page loading time.

  18. Don't assume people are insulting you. If something can be read as a matter-of-fact comment or an insult, assume the best intention. That can avoid flame wars.

  19. And, above all, keep a sense of humor. :-D
Feel free to add your own suggestions.

Silicon Valley Pocket PC
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