Guide to Forum Etiquette

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Guide to Forum Etiquette






The Internet has created many unique opportunities for social interaction. One particularly popular form of this online interaction is the message board, or forum. This is a guide intended to help you survive and thrive on a forum, and it assumes you have some familiarity with forums. If you have no clue what a forum is, find one on your favorite website and explore how to use a forum.

First, before posting on a message board, make sure that you have an idea of the particular niches and peculiarities of the forum. Figure out what people like and don't like. Make sure that you choose a name that will not annoy people.

Once you have an acceptable username, read around for a while before posting. Don't immediately spam the board with all of your thoughts and ideas. Find out who is the "big cheese" of the board, and who the members whom everyone dislikes are. Also, make note of who you should stay on good terms with.

Once you have "lurked" for a bit, feel free to post on a topic of your liking. Make the post pertinent not only to the topic, but also to the flavor of the conversation before your post. Try to use understandable English, but don't come across as too proper. Do not use instant messaging short forms such as lol (laughing out loud) unless other members are doing so.

Continue this pattern for days or weeks, and you will slowly become involved in a forum. Do not assume to know anyone well unless you actually do. If a certain user is antagonizing you, just ignore it and don't respond. If you start a controversy, people will most likely remember it whenever they read your posts. Don't start trouble, and post timidly. Become more assertive as time goes on.

Whatever you do, don't fraternize with other "newbies"; you will simply be stuck with them if you do. After months of posting, you can start creating your own topics, or threads. Be careful, and use your best judgment. If people respond positively, kudos to you! You now have some points on the scoreboard. If they respond negatively, it might be hard to develop relationships.

Do not explain your actions or intentions. Forum regulars see that as a sign of weakness. Also, keep track of how often you post. If the first five threads on a page have your name under the "last posted" section, you might be labeled a spammer. Once you have become a respected member, this is not such an issue.

As you gain the acceptance of other board members, you can start to relax and show more lenience. Do not stretch this too far however. Try to learn the inside jokes, and if you are involved in one you may bring it up often. Don't bring up jokes that you had nothing to do with. That just makes you seem immature.

Remember that these are just guidelines. Becoming a true forum regular requires quick wits and clever thinking. Keep this in mind and you will be on your way to mastering your favorite forum.
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