Netiquette, or Forum Etiquette


I have been on forums since 2002 and have been (and in one case still am) a mod.  A lot of people come on forums who have no idea how to behave which is why I’m writing this guide.

The most important thing to do is to read the rules.  Yes, it’s really boring, but the rules tell you what is expected, and not expected of your behaviour on the forums.  Sometimes there are rules there that I didn’t expect.  For example, one forum I am on doesn’t allow links in messages.

If you don’t intend to obey the rules of the forum, then please do everyone, including yourself, a favour and don’t join.  If you ignore the rules then it will take about a month for the mods to throw you out and you will have gone through a lot of aggravation by then.

If there is an introduction forum then the next most important thing to do is to introduce yourself before posting anything else.  In an introduction, the best thing to be is yourself.  If you pretend to be a hereditary witch with a couple of decades’ experience then you will be found out within your first few posts.  We all had to start somewhere and we were all once new to witchcraft and/or paganism at some point.

A few dos and don’ts : when typing a post please don’t use text speak as us oldies can’t understand it.  Also please post in a colour that makes it easy for people to read.  For example, yellow writing on a white background is very difficult for anyone to read.  If you type in capitals, that will be deemed as shouting.  And lastly, but most importantly : don’t put any of your phone numbers, home address or email address on a forum where anyone can read them.  It’s really not safe, and if you need to give someone any of this information send them a private message.

In most forums it’s quite acceptable to lurk and read messages until you get the hang of things.  Also remember that no-one on any forum knows everything.  One person may have a lot of herbal knowledge while another will be great at spells.  When I first came on to forums I thought that the mods were all-wise and all-knowing and within my first year I realised that a lot of them had become mods because they were friends of other mods and didn’t actually know a lot!

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3 Comments

  1. November 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    “The next most important thing to do is to introduce yourself before posting anything else. ”

    This will depend very much on the forum and local customs: On most forums I have visited over the years (usually just reading), introductions have been very rare and have usually been seen as a disturbance—or even been deleted by the mods for being too off-topic. Notably, most forums provide some type of profile page with the user account, where those who want can add relevant information without intruding in the normal discussions. This profile page, in turn, can usually be saved until one knows that the “membership” will not be a short one (e.g. just to post a question and participate in the ensuing discussion).

    As an aside, skillful frauds can get by for quite some time. Cf. e.g the disturbing case of Willow on http://forums.sexyandfunny.com/showthread.php?t=68406

    • November 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm

      Addendum: The reader should beware that there are some images to be found on the linked-to page that are not “family safe”. (The actual, factual discussion is legitimate, however.)

    • November 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

      Maybe we’ve been on different forums then. I’ve amended the post to read “if the forum has an introduction section….”


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