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Netiquette: Good Forum Etiquette

An important term that you should be aware of and know about is "netiquette". This term is a contraction of Internet etiquette, and it's really the etiquette guidelines for posting messages to online services. Netiquette covers not only rules to maintain civility in discussions (i.e., avoiding flames), but also special guidelines unique to the electronic nature of forum messages. In most cases, netiquette is enforced by the forum administrator. One of the biggest issues facing those unfamiliar with using online forums is that they may not even be aware of what constitutes netiquette. To get you started with using online forums here are some tips to get you started and keep you from being banned on forums;

Do Stay On Topic. Many people use forums for knowledge gathering as well as social interactions. Forum posts and threads can be read by hundreds or thousands of users, and as such it's important to read the topic of a particular discussion and keep your posts related to that topic. If you are looking for general chat and comments, look in the forums for an off-topic discussion area.

Don't Be A Troll. A "troll" is a person who breaks netiquette on a regular basis by posted inflammatory messages (called a flame) when responding to other users in the forums. Trolls are also users who will find older flame-filled threads on a forum and reply to them just to get users worked up again.

Do Turn That Caps Lock Key Off. When you type a post in all capital letters you are going to annoy other forum users. Capital letters are viewed as shouting when communicating online, and its considered rude to do.

Don't Double Post. When using Internet forums it annoys other users when you post the same message more than once, in more than on discussion thread. If you make a post and no one replies, then leave it at that. Reposting the same message or slightly edited versions of the same message will not earn you any respect from other forum users, and in fact it may earn you warnings from the moderator.

Do Search Before Posting. Before posting a question or asking for help on a particular topic, do use the forum search option to make sure this question has not already been asked and answered by other users. Even if your question does not appear in the thread list, it may still be available as an archived topic in the forum.

  1. Before posting your question to a discussion board, check if anyone has asked it already and received a reply. Just as you wouldn't repeat a topic of discussion right after it happened in real life, don't do that in discussion boards either.
  2. Stay on topic - Don't post irrelevant links, comments, thoughts, or pictures.
  3. Don't type in ALL CAPS! If you do, it will look like you're screaming.
  4. Don't write anything that sounds angry or sarcastic, even as a joke, because without hearing your tone of voice, your peers might not realize you're joking.
  5. Always remember to say "Please" and "Thank you" when soliciting help from your fellow users.
  6. Respect the opinions of your fellow users. If you feel the need to disagree, do so respectfully and acknowledge the valid points in your fellow user's argument. Acknowledge that others are entitled to have their own perspective on the issue.
  7. If you reply to a question from a fellow user, make sure your answer is accurate!
  8. If you ask a question and many people respond, summarize all answers and post that summary to benefit your whole community.
  9. Be brief. If you write a long dissertation in response to a simple question, it's unlikely that anyone will spend the time to read through it all.
  10. Don't badmouth others or call them stupid. You may disagree with their ideas, but don't mock the person.
  11. If you refer to something your fellow user said earlier in the discussion, quote just a few key lines from their post so that others wont have to go back and figure out which post you're referring to.
  12. Before asking a question, check the community Help/FAQ or search the internet to see if the answer is obvious or easy to find.
  13. Check the most recent comments before you reply to an older comment, since the issue might have already been resolved or opinions may have changed.
  14. Be forgiving. If your fellow user makes a mistake, don't badger him or her for it. Just let it go - it happens to the best of us.
  15. Run a spelling and grammar check before posting anything to the discussion board. It only takes a minute, and can make the difference between sounding like a fool and sounding knowledgeable.
RULE OF THUMB: If you wouldn't do or say something in real life, don't do it online either.

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An Internet forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages.

Forums have a specific set of jargon associated with them; e.g., a single conversation is called a "thread", or topic.

A discussion forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure: a forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum's topic, each new discussion started is called a thread, and can be replied to by as many people as so wish.

Depending on the forum's settings, users can be anonymous or have to register with the forum and then subsequently log in in order to post messages. On most forums, users do not have to log in to read existing messages.

A forum consists of a tree like directory structure. The top end is "Categories". A forum can be divided into categories for the relevant discussions.

The topics (commonly called threads) come under the lowest level of sub-forums and these are the places under which members can start their discussions or posts. Logically forums are organized into a finite set of generic topics (usually with one main topic) driven and updated by a group known as members, and governed by a group known as moderators.

Each Messages on the forum is also known as a post.

A post is a user-submitted message enclosed into a block containing the user's details and the date and time it was submitted. Members are usually allowed to edit or delete their own posts. Posts are contained in threads, where they appear as blocks one after another. The first post starts the thread; this may be called the TS (thread starter) or OP (original post). Posts that follow in the thread are meant to continue discussion about that post, or respond to other replies; it is not uncommon for discussions to be derailed.

On Western forums, the communityic way to show a member's own details (such as name and avatar) has been on the left side of the post, in a narrow column of fixed width, with the post controls located on the right, at the bottom of the main body, above the signature block. In more recent forum software implementations, the Asian style of displaying the members' details above the post has been copied.

Posts have an internal limit usually measured in characters. Often one is required to have a message of minimum length of 10 characters. There is always an upper limit but it is rarely reached - most boards have it at either 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, or 50,000 characters.

Most forums keep track of a user's postcount. The postcount is a measurement of how many posts a certain user has made.[14] Users with higher postcounts are often considered more reputable than users with lower postcounts, but not always. For instance some forums have disabled postcounts with the hopes that doing so will emphasize the quality of information over quantity.

A thread (sometimes called a topic) is a collection of posts, usually displayed from oldest to latest, although this is typically configurable: Options for newest to oldest and for a threaded view (a tree-like view applying logical reply structure before chronological order) can be available. A thread is defined by a title, an additional description that may summarize the intended discussion, and an opening or original post (common abbreviation OP, which can also mean original poster), which opens whatever dialogue or makes whatever announcement the poster wished. A thread can contain any number of posts, including multiple posts from the same members, even if they are one after the other.

A thread is contained in a forum, and may have an associated date that is taken as the date of the last post (options to order threads by other criteria are generally available). When a member posts in a thread it will jump to the top since it is the latest updated thread. Similarly, other threads will jump in front of it when they receive posts. When a member posts in a thread for no reason but to have it go to the top, it is referred to as a bump or bumping. It has been suggested that "bump" is an acronym of "bring up my post";[15] however, this is almost certainly a backronym and the usage is entirely consistent with the verb "bump" which means "to knock to a new position".[16]

Threads that are important but rarely receive posts are stickyed (or, in some software, "pinned"). A sticky thread will always appear in front of normal threads, often in its own section. A "threaded discussion group" is simply any group of individuals who use a forum for threaded, or asynchronous, discussion purposes. The group may or may not be the only users of the forum.

A thread's popularity is measured on forums in reply (total posts minus one, the opening post, in most default forum settings) counts. Some forums also track page views. Threads meeting a set number of posts or a set number of views may receive a designation such as "hot thread" and be displayed with a different icon compared to other threads. This icon may stand out more to emphasize the thread. If the forum's users have lost interest in a particular thread, it becomes a dead thread.

A private message, or PM for short, is a message sent in private from a member to one or more other members. The ability to send so-called blind carbon copies is sometimes available. When sending a blind carbon copy (bcc), the users to whom the message is sent directly will not be aware of the recipients of the blind carbon copy or even if one was sent in the first place.[example 1]

Private messages are generally used for personal conversations. They can also be used with tripcodes—a message is addressed to a public trip and can be picked up by typing in the tripcode.

An attachment can be almost any file. When someone attaches a file to a person's post they are uploading the file to the forum's server. Forums usually have very strict limit on what can be attached and what cannot (among which the size of the files in question). Attachments can be part of a thread, social group, etc.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is sometimes allowed but usually its use is discouraged or when allowed, it is extensively filtered. Modern bulletin board systems often will have it disabled altogether[citation needed] or allow only administrators use it, as allowing it on any normal user level is considered a security risk due to a high rate of XSS vulnerabilities. When HTML is disabled Bulletin Board Code (BBCode) is the most common preferred alternative. BBCode usually consists of a tag, similar to HTML only instead of < and > the tagname is enclosed within square brackets (meaning: [ and ]). Commonly [i] is used for italic type, [b] is used for bold, [u] for underline, [color="value"] for color and [list] for lists, as well as [img] for images and [url] for links.

The following example BBCode: [b]This[/b] is [i]clever[/i] [b][i]text[/i][/b] when the post is viewed the code is rendered to HTML and will appear as: This is clever text.

Many forum packages offer a way to create Custom BBCodes, or BBcodes that are not built into the package, where the administrator of the board can create complex BBCodes to allow the use of JavaScript or iframe functions in posts, for example embedding a YouTube or Google Video complete with viewer directly into a post.

An emoticon or smiley is a symbol or combination of symbols used to convey emotional content in written or message form. Forums implement a system through which some of the text representations of an emoticons (e.g. xD, :p) are rendered as a small image. Depending on what part of the world the forum's topic originates (since most forums are international) smilies can be replaced by other forms of similar graphics, an example would be kaoani (e.g. *(^O^)*, (^-^)b), or even text between special symbols (e.g. :blink:, :idea:).

An avatar is a small image displayed next to your name on this website.

Please upload an image (jpg, png, and gif accepted). For best results, upload a square image between 150px and 1000px on a side. It may take up to 2 hours for your new avatar to appear everywhere.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_forum

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