i. General Information
ii. Replying to Threads
iii. Posting New Threads
I. General Information
Know the Rules
Read the rules before you post.
Grammar and Punctuation
Please try to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation when you post. It is much easier to understand a post when it is not full of run-on sentences and such. Sure, this may add a few seconds to the time it takes to post, but are you in that much of a hurry?
If English is not your native language, and you don't have good grammar, that's fine; we don't bite. Just try to do your best.
Eloquence can be severely hampered by words that don't exist. If you are on the Internet, use spell-checkers or reread your posts to make sure you don't have errors. You can also use the Preview Post function to see what your post will look like, before you submit it.
The different fonts, sizes, colors, bold, italic, underline and CAPITALIZATION features are there for EMPHASIS. Please avoid using them for entire posts. Let your ideas make you stand out instead of these features. Whole posts using different fonts and colors are very annoying and may decrease the likelihood of it being read. The Emphasis Features can also imply emotions you may not want, such as angry shouting from ALL CAPS. Remember that emphasis is best when used sparingly.
Don't know how to use the features? There's a tutorial.
Need to talk to a moderator? Private message them if it is something important. If you want to report a post that is against the forum rules, use the Report This Post function, which is visible as "Report" with a small warning icon in the bottom left of each post.
II. Replying to Threads
Just because someone doesn't agree with you, doesn't mean you need to insult them. They may be ignorant, but try not to flame them out of the forum. If they're intentionally insulting people, don't reply--just use the Report Post function to let the moderators know about it. They can deal with insult wars and rule-breakers more efficiently than regular users.
When you reply, try to make as much sense as possible. Organize your post into paragraphs or sections as to make it easier to understand. If nobody knows what you're saying, they aren't going to learn anything from it, or try to reply to it.
If you are going to say "it" or "one" or "they" then make sure we know what you are talking about. "It" is not a very descriptive word and people may get confused as to what you are trying to say.
Make your replies relevant to the topic. If there is a side conversation going on that is not related to the original post, don't reply to it. Keep everything spam-free.
If you see someone spamming, don't try to deal with it yourself: you can't. Instead, click the "Report This Post" icon (an exclamation mark in a triangle) in the bottom left of their post and let the moderators know what the problem is.
If you're telling us about a study or a theory that you've heard of, try to give links to a web site about it. If you're the only person saying it, not many people are going to believe you (many scientists are skeptics). Try to provide good links which support your point, and remember, dictionary.com is not a technical resource.
When you link to another website, don't do the "Click Here" gimmick. It gives people no idea what you're linking to. Rather, you should make the link text descriptive of what the link actually is about.
If you want to reply to a specific post, press the "Quote" button on that post. This will make your reply include the quoted text, so users will know who you are replying to.
Don't strawman. It is quite annoying and you will lose your credibility, and seriously undermines any argument.
If a user provides a link for more information, and you don't believe them, read the link. It may provide better information for you; if you ignore it, you may be missing vital information that supports their point. Purposefully ignoring it is strawmanning, and nobody likes that.
Don't be Mean
If you don't agree with someone, don't attack them. Tell them politely why you think they're wrong, and give them evidence. Insulting people won't get you anywhere but suspended.
I Hate You
Not everyone will agree with you, no matter how supergreat you are. Understand this, plus the difficulties involved in altering someone's deep-felt views over a text-only forum, and accept it. Don't try to force them into other beliefs.
One Source Arguments
If you can't provide more than one source, don't try to argue that position. Substantiating an event/opinion/theory requires more than just one source, even if the source happens to be the President/Prime Minister.
Me So Great
You may be intending to become a moderator by impressing the forum staff your superb skills, impressive vocabulary, witty sense of humor and ability to make derogatory comments to newbies. That's all fine and good, but do it quietly and don't annoy the rest of the forum members.
Try not to hijack a thread and bend the topic to your will. Nobody likes a megalomaniac. Try to stay on topic and keep to what the original poster said.
Converting the Heathens
Don't try to convert people to your religion. Leave them alone. If you try, you'll find yourself banned.
Pointing Out the Obvious
If you don't think anyone will care, why not keep it to yourself? Posting just for the postcount and not for actual content annoys people.
Try not to use too many acronyms in your posts. Not all of us know what they mean, so be sure to provide the full text the first time, to avoid confusing people.
Also, you can use BBCode tags such as the following
[acr=Laughing Out Loud]LOL[/acr]
[acr=Laughing Out Loud]LOL[/acr]
Hover your mouse over it to see the effect.
There is also a list of common acronyms pinned in the general discussion forum.
III. Posting New Threads
Use the Search Function
Before you post a thread, use the search function to see if anyone else has posted the same topic. It's better to post in an existing thread than to start a new one.
If you are asking a question or making a point, give references and links so users can see what you are talking about. If they have context, they can better understand you.
When you're asking a question, give plenty of details. Don't just say "my computer crashed, what do I do?" Give use details about what you're asking that will help us answer the question well.
Use a Descriptive Title
When you title your thread, give it a good title that will catch users' eyes and give them an idea of what it is about.
"Computer virus. Help!"
If you're posting an idea, be receptive to comments. If someone criticizes you, don't get mad at them. Take the comment well and, if necessary, reply to them to defend yourself (without being mean or nasty).
We will not do it for you. If you have someone else do it for you, you're not learning anything, and it's not fair that a lazy person with an Internet connection gets a better mark than someone who put the effort in himself.
Disguising your homework as a curiosity-based question doesn't work. We will probably figure it out, and we don't like people trying to fool us into doing their work.
Of course, we'd be glad to help you to finish your homework. Just not do it entirely.
Einstein is Wrong!
If you're going to try to disprove a major theory, or at least propose something that most people would never believe (there are a lot of sceptics on this forum), try to provide large amounts of evidence. Just because it "makes sense" doesn't mean it has to be right--much of science doesn't "make sense" to some people, but it has proved accurate.
I'm welcome to suggestions as to what else to add.