:Periodic Post: unofficial FAQ: a.r.m Manners

[Note: This is really the alt.religion.mormon Manners FAQ,
Revision 1.1, and is not an official FAQ of this
newsgroup. However, new posters to this group or
to Usenet in general might find some of the concepts
of value.]

These guidelines are provided to help you understand the type of
etiquette that is appreciated on alt.religion.mormon (or, a.r.m).
Please take the time to read these rules, particularly if you are
thinking "Etiquette?, I don't need no steenking etiquette!" right
now. The closer you can follow the general concepts presented in
the FAQ, the closer attention people will pay to your post. -ed.

Rule 1: Watch your Words
Writing a post provides a sense of anonymity. You may
be tempted to write things in anger, in defense, or with
the intention to hurt. Four hints on how to avoid it:

a) What if the person were standing in the room with you,
would you still say it to them? If not, then do not
post it.

b) Why do you want to post? To prove yourself right? To
prove the other one wrong? Stop, take a deep breath, and
chill. If the other poster is a fool, others will have
noticed, and you don't need to reply. If he or she isn't,
and you post anyway, others will notice and assume you are
the foolish one.

c) Where does your post go? All over; your message will pass
through hundreds or thousands of computer systems where
all can read what you wrote. This may include your boss,
your friends, your family and even Hard Copy. Don't write
anything you wouldn't want to see quoted in the media.

d) Whom are you addressing? If your post starts out with "Jim,"
or "Sue," or if your subject line reads "Response to
<insert name here>", send it in private mail. Don't post it
for thousands to read. If you don't get the difference
between e-mail and posting, don't send anything, yet.

Rule 2: Quoth the Raven: Nevermore. You can do better.
When replying to a previous post, including a portion of the
previous text is called "quoting". How much should you
include? Here are a few thoughts:

a) You need to include enough of the previous text to allow
the readers to understand the context of your reply. If
your post starts with: "Yes, I agree, and I want to
add..." then no one is likely to comprehend your thought.

b) Sometimes enough is too much. Find the essential part of
the post to which you're replying. If the first original
word of your response isn't on the first page of your
post you've gone too far.

c) Most newsreaders use a symbol to show quoted text, like a
">". When previously quoted text is re-quoted, you get
two symbols, like ">>". It should be a rare case, indeed,
that you would need to quote lines more than two previous
articles deep.

d) Never, ever, ever quote e-mail you received privately from
someone in a post without asking and receiving their direct
and explicit approval to do so. From an etiquette stance,
commercial, unsolicited e-mail is not private communication,
do with it whatsoever you will.

Rule 3: Silver Threads and Golden Subjects Can't Mend Your Topic.
When you reply to a post, and then someone replies to you,
and so on, that set of posts is called a "thread" (they
tend to branch and divide, so they look more like frayed
twine). Threads are easier to track if they stay close to
one topic: the one described in the Subject line. Below are
some suggestions for improving the quality of threads:

a) When starting a new thread, make your subject lines
relevant. Subject lines like "What?" or "Did you Know..."
are cute, but not very helpful to those who sort their mail
by subject.

b) When following a thread, if someone else already posted
what you're about to write, restrain yourself. Everyone
has already read it, they don't need to read it twice.
And, sorry to say, quoting someone else's entire post
just to say "Me, too!" or "Amen." breaks most of these
rules and only makes others think you are incapable of
forming a complete thought without help.

c) If your reply changes the topic, change the subject line.
It's confusing to read a post titled "BoM Archeology"
and discover you're reading about dog breeding in China.

d) If you have 40 posts in your reader, and you read the
oldest one first, don't respond until you've read the
other 39. Then refer to Rule 3b.

e) Learn to use your newsreader and editor. A post that quotes
someone else's entire article and contains no follow-up
text is a sure indication that you are new to the net, and
have not yet learned how to use your software. Make a trial
posting to an alt.test.* newsgroup first, to be sure you
know how things will turn out.

Rule 4: Stupid is as Stupid Posts
Stupidity is quite obvious. You should avoid posting it,
and should avoid like the plague replying to it.

a) Finding a stupid argument is a no-brainer, to point it
out rarely causes one to change their mind. They likely
will become defensive and flood the group with more stupid

b) The only thing worse than a stupid argument is the
defense of stupid argument.

Rule 5: Signature Files
The odd, witty, pithy comment that may appear at the bottom
of a post is called a "signature", often shortened to .sig.
If you want one, too, then remember:

a) You don't have to have one to be cool.

b) "Four Line .Sig." It's an old rule, but a good one. It
conserves bandwidth, it avoids boring your readers, and it
shows you to be a 'net polite person.

c) Don't put pictures in .sig files. They are cute, but a
waste of space. We know you're talented, or you wouldn't
be here. Don't prove us wrong by adding ascii art. Oh,
by the way, most have seen the "cat"/"cougar", thought it
was neat once (optional), and may now find it silly. Ever
think about folks with text-to-speech converters?

Rule 6: User Interfaces Were Not Created Equal.
Compare any two newsreaders, and one will be greater than the
other. Be considerate of all readers, by:

a) Manually inserting carriage returns around column 72. If you en
ter more than 80 col
umns your message may look like this and be very difficult for m
ost reader to compre
hend. If you enter more than 72ish, then your text will still
wrap around when is winds up as quoted text.

b) Don't think that means you
need to make really short
lines, because that is just
about as annoying.

Rule 7: All You People Who Have A Lot To Say, And Like To Write In A
James Joyce Style Of Run On Thoughts That Go On Forever And
Never Seem To Come To A Point, Please Raise Your Ha
[Sorry, I had to stop typing while I raised my hand.] If you
can't keep track of the other rules, write this one on a
yellow sticky and attach it to your keyboard:

a) Make it brief.

If you are confused by the terms used in the rules, or don't think they
apply to you, then please search for Lee's Two Laws, Bowie's Corollary,
and Woods' Words on Wisdom and follow them to the letter. If, after all
that, you still don't think these rules apply to you, then please wrestle
the keyboard from your grasp, and go off in search of a clue; you really
need one.

Web Pointers:

Official A.R.M FAQ: http://www.columbia.edu/~ylee/a.r.m.faq

Copies of this document are available on the s.r.m homepage



Advanced reading:

"I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradictions to the sentiments
of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbade myself
the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a
fixed opinion, such as "certainly", "undoubtedly", etc. I adopted
instead of them "I conceive", "I apprehend", or "I imagine" a thing to
be so or so; or "so it appears to me at present".

When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself
the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing him
immediately some absurdity in his proposition. In answering I began by
observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be
right, but in the present case there appeared or seemed to me some
difference, etc.

I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the
conversations I engaged in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in
which I proposed my opinions procured them a readier reception and less
contradiction. I had less mortification when I was found to be in the
wrong, and I more easily prevailed with others to give up their mistakes
and join with me when I happened to be in the right.

-Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(from alt.quotations)

But let everyone be quick to read, slow to post and slower to anger;
for the anger of flames does not achieve the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20 (sort of)


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