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Old 03-30-2005, 03:50 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,529
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril Guidelines for Forum Posting

I was asked to make the contents of a post I wrote on the discussion The importance of intelligent debate available for continued reading. Here it is - and I do recommend reading that whole thread for those who have not yet done so!


This addresses basic issues concerning the nature of forum discussion. It sums up good advice about posting, sets down guidelines for discussion, and passes on my thoughts on control and ownership of threads.

A good deal of dissatisfaction is generated when the discussion does not take the direction some of its participants would like it to. Either the one who started it or one of the debaters who feels very strongly about issues involved complains about others who “do not belong here”, in their opinion. They make comments like, “If you don’t have anything good (or bad, as the case may be) to say, then leave!” They would like the administrators and moderators to set up clearer guidelines, limiting the scope of discussions.

So who has the right to control the discussion on a thread? Who owns it? The person who began the topic stated its theme, hopefully making it clear in the heading so that it could be easily identified. The problem often begins there – is it perfectly clear what the topic is? Then the discussion is open for all. Anyone who wants to can post. The topic starter no longer has control over the opinions expressed. That is forum discussion culture. If someone wants to post only to state personal opinions and receive applause, not opposition, they should be writing essays. The whole point of a discussion is learning from what others say, and that only happens when we listen to different opinions. As they say, “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ while you’re talkin’”.

The only person who has any further control over the discussion then is the owner of the site, in our case, The Barrow-Wight. With the help of administrators and moderators whose judgement he trusts, he monitors to be sure the discussions stick to the rules of the site. Those rules are plainly stated in the Forum Policies and Forum FAQ threads. They concern the language used in writing, such as “no profanity” and “no chatspeak”; the contents, “This board is for Tolkien-related discussions” or “keep movie discussions on the Movies forum”; and the manners used in contact with other members, such as “no flaming”.

In the light of those rules, I would like to set up guidelines for discussion on the Barrow-Downs.

1. READ!

2. READ!

3. READ!

To 1: Read the first post so that you know what the topic is. If the topic does not interest or concern you, it’s better to move on than to post off-topic.

To 2: Read the subsequent posts! Make sure that you realize what others have already said before you jump in with a trite repetition that bores all who read it. If you do not take the time to read what others have written, why should they bother to read your posts?

To 3: Read what you have written! The more strongly you feel about a topic, the more important it is to write carefully, proof-reading before you post. Write in your word processing program; save, reread, spellcheck and then, if you’re sure that is what you want to say, post it. Reread after you post – if you notice later that something was not appropriate, edit it to remove parts that could be offensive, or are subject to being misunderstood.

4. Search before starting new topics! You are not likely to get enthused answers on a topic that has been repeated so often that no one is interested; besides, old threads are well worth reading to see what others have said on a theme. If you do start a new topic, state it so clearly that all who read know what it is about. Be sure the heading states the topic – too many “I have a question” or “What about Elves” threads get extremely confusing.

5. Post on-topic! Think about the topic before jumping into the discussion. Try to make your post interesting for others to read; if you take the time to look up information and/or quotes before just saying what you think, your contribution will be worthwhile. If you do give your opinion, try to state it well, giving reasons for your choice. “I think, therefore I post” should be everyone’s motto!

6. Give your opinion on the issue, not on the other persons involved in the debate. Personal insults are not allowed, and putting a winking smilie or “j/k” behind them doesn’t necessarily make them more palatable. In addition, please refrain from attacking Peter Jackson or the actors involved in the making of the movies. Give your opinion on what they have done rather than saying “kill PJ”.

7. Use correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure. You do want what you write to be read and understood by all – and a correctly-written post is much more likely to gain respect. We can best honour Tolkien by following his example and striving for excellence in language. Divide long posts into paragraphs for easier reading. Edit afterwards to make corrections if need be.

8. Accept the fact that others have different opinions. Read them and think about them – you just might learn something! If you don’t agree, just state your own opinion; you don’t have to correct everyone else’s or argue until they agree with you.

9. If you don’t like the direction a thread has taken, move on! There are so many others for you to enjoy.

10. And finally, don’t take yourself or the Barrow-Downs too seriously! Does it really matter if you win an argument? We are all here to have fun!

PS – 11. If there is trouble on a thread that hasn’t been noticed by the moderator or administrators, please PM one of them, giving the link to the thread and stating the nature of the problem. We all have real life jobs, families and other demands on our time, besides time zone differences and the need for a minimum of sleep, so we can’t be everywhere all the time. Please do realize that we too are here to enjoy ourselves!
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'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'

Last edited by Estelyn Telcontar; 07-04-2005 at 01:55 PM.
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