How To Behave On Forums

Written By: Ramona Iftode

Whenever you need information on a given subject, you can search the web for answers. There are many articles and places to get informed. One of the best places to go would be a discussion board, or a forum. It’s a place many people meet and can ask, read and give answers. There are forums on every possible topic and since the forum system sites that are premade and have only got to be installed and run, every person with a Php-Mysql supported host can run such a board.

How it works? The visitors can go there and if they like the place, they can become members. Thus they can read, write, vote in polls and promote their own works. The most important thing: follow the rules. Every Administrator and Moderator in a given forum would try to make clear what the rules are and take measures against members who don’t obey the “code”. They can be warned, banned for a period of time and even excluded from the community.

Although there are the rules made by the administrators, here are some more:

READ AND RESPECT THE RULES – everybody runs his forum the way he wishes, so every visitor and member should respect them.

READ SOME POSTS TO SEE HOW THE FORUMS LOOK LIKE – don’t rush into creating accounts before you read some posts. If you like the way people discuss there and it looks like the members are respectful to each other, then proceed with the account.

STUDY THE STRUCTURE – before posting anything, try to see how the forums are divided and which are the main categories. When looking for an answer to your problem, SEARCH first. It is very likely to have beed discussed before. If you spend some time searching and you are not pleased with the answers, then create a new topic and ask for help. Be respectful and don’t expect to receive the answer right away. Be very descriptive and give detailed information about your problem. Mention you have searched the forums for an answer and couldn’t figure out how to deal with it. After receiving a good hint, don’t forget to thank the one who helped you.

BE HELPFUL – even beginners can give some good ideas. If you know the answer to somebedy’s problems, don’t be shy. Tell them what you would do in that certain situation. Remember a good community is based on cooperation.

TRY TO WRITE IN ENGLISH – or whatever language is used there. It’s not a chat, so don’t ruin everything by writing like a 2 year old. Chose your words carefully and try to discuss in a “standard” language. If you are not a native speaker, you could mention that. DOn’t use abbreviations (unless commonly used: FTP, ISP etc.). Refrain from “censored” words. When arguing, don’t forget to be calm and give some solid reasoning for your words. Writing like that: “No you’re not right, you’re an idiot” and so on can get you banned before you can spell “respect”. Although the internet grants you the right to be annonymous, behave. There’s always a way to track your identity and it’s better to be known as a respected member of the community or as a serious person.

PROMOTE DISCREETLY – when you are on a message board you are there to learn, communicate and help others too. You can also promote your projects, but don’t abuse. The most used way to promote our sites is to put them in the signatures (that’s a text we can change in the profile and which appears under every post we make). Put a discreet link to your projects and you’ll have some “targeted” visitors. Don’t abuse though. Some forums (including our forum here at “Webmaster Tips & Tricks”) don’t allow members to have images in signatures, because of bandwidth issues. It’s a common way to promote and I think you should have this right. Don’t forget you keep the forums going by posting, so you should have the right to put a link to your site. Try not to link to other similar forums .. some administrators (including myself) would get nervous.

To make this more clear, I’ll tell you about a webmaster related forum I’ve signed in these days (I participate in quite a few and I love them because I could find some serious subjects and support when I needed it). I’ve suscribe to this forum, among others for the exact reasons. I won’t name it, since it’s not important it’s name or address. They have put together a system of forum dollars, a nice idea. You post and get 2 dollars for every post. When you have a number of forum dollars (10-30), you can change your avatar, signature etc. An interesting idea indeed. Needless to say I spent 2 hours to read the huge number of posts and give my input in some problems I was familiar with. I gained some forum dollars and manages to personalize my profile with the known avatar (the red devil) and a sig with my motto: “wherever you go, go with all your heart” and the link to my Design site.

All went well. After a week or so I realised I haven’t got any avatar anymore, nor signature and in my profile the dollars I spent for that change didn’t appear to have been traded. I looked more attentive and saw I cannot put links in my sig, unless I’m a gold member (I understood you have to pay for that). I’ve asked for info about the reset of my status and received immediate response. Still I’ve decided not to take part in that forum and deleted its link from my collection of useful links. They treated me with respect, but I didn’t like the idea of writing useful posts and help them develop the community and not be able to at least put a link in the sig. As administrators, we must understand that people who come and write here keep everything going. They are not allowed to advertise in a obvious way, but they should be entitled at least to use the sig.

DON’T HIJACK AND SPAM THE THREADS – that means you should keep the off-topic discussion for the proper category and not abuse in any way the system. Reply only when you feel like having something to say. Posts like: “ok” or just smilies are not the best way to prove your knowledge. Some forums permit it, some not. It’s better to be careful when writing something. “Verba volant, scripta manent – words fly, what’s written remains” goes well with this sitution.

These are only few of the things you must have in mind in order to become a known and respected member in the communities you are a part of. Try to follow the rules and you’ll benefit from this great experience.

About the Author: Ramona Iftode is running http://www.wtricks.com a site dedicated to providing all webmasters with information and quality links. The aim is to gather good original articles and links, a good community and a lot of useful ideas.

Source: www.isnare.com

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