Types of "behaviour" learnt in one newsgroup probably won't apply to AFP. Before even considering posting to the group, read the FAQs. Reading these now can save you a lot of problems later on.
After you've done that, run through the following, general, list:
- DO cut mercilessly.
Leave just enough to indicate what you're responding to - replacing the missing text with the term '<snip>' or similar. If you can't figure out how to delete lines in your news software, paraphrase or type the quoted material in.
- DON'T include the entire contents of a previous posting in your reply.
Many afpers will pay to download your post. They'd rather not read old material all over again.
- DO quote briefly or paraphrase.
By convention, quoted lines are preceded by ">"(greater-than signs). Again, most newsreaders do this automatically. A few require you to do it manually or set the "indent character" to ">".
- DON'T reply to a point in a post without quoting or paraphrasing what you're responding to and who said it.
Reason: a dozen articles may occur between the original post and your followup. At some sites your reply may even get there before the original!
- DO post articles cautiously.
It's always a risk to start a new topic (often called a thread) before you've had a reasonable chance to acclimatise yourself to the AFP's particular sub-culture. The group may have just finished a long, bitter war about the very subject you're raising. A better idea is to stick to following up existing threads for your first few postings until you learn all the ropes.
- DON'T send a message saying "Why doesn't anybody say anything about X?" or "Who wants to
talk about X?"
If you want to start a new topic, say something about the subject yourself rather than implicitly demanding that others do first.
- DO learn what your newsreader does.
Download and read your own newsgroup messages to check their layout etc. Apologise for any reading problems that your messages may be causing and try to correct those problems before your next message.
- DON'T ignore comments, or emails, from other afpers regarding the formatting of your articles.
Most people are trying to help you by alerting you to problems which you may be completely unaware of.
- DO remember to use proper punctuation and other correct grammatical standards.
If people are going to pay to download your posts, make the cost worth their while.
- DON'T use abbreviations such as "ne" for "any" or "4 u" for "for
The above is known as "kewl talk" and is considered a sure signof an immature individual.
- DO be aware that AFP is international
Some afpers may be using a language that isn't their native tongue.
- DON'T immediately criticise others for their misuse of grammar etc.
Could you express yourself perfectly in Swedish, for example?
- DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice.
Use net conventions for italics and underlines such as:
That *is* what I meant.
I _told_ him about this.
- DO read and re-read your own articles before you post them.
Could they be mis-interpeted? If in doubt, try to make your meaning clearer to avoid causing confusion or bad feeling.
- DON'T rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm.
It's hard to write funny. It's even harder to write satire successfully.
- DO use emoticons if you feel they are necessary
Just don't overuse them. It's irritating.
- DON'T assume that the inclusion of a smiley will wipe out an otherwise insulting comment.
If there's any doubt that your words could be mis-interpreted (even with the inclusion of a "smiley"), then consider re-writing the post.
- DO remember the words of Martin F. Tupper (1810-1889):
"Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."
- DON'T make a posting that says nothing but "AOL!".
In general, it's a good idea to check all similar posts in a thread before responding to a given article. Sometimes a person who has asked a question will already have received an answer from another poster. Duplication is pointless and simply increases the general "noise" on a group.
A good rule of thumb:
Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive.
Above all, try to remember that your participation in AFP should be an enjoyable activity. When it ceases to be enjoyable or pleasant, STOP! Do something else instead.