Cap'n Refsmmat

Science Forums Etiquette

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This is intended to be a thread that is a guide for folks on how to act and post on SFN.

 

Contents

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.

 

Spell Check

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.

 

Emphasis Features

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.

 

Contact Information

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

 

 

Don't Flame

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.

 

Be Coherent

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.

 

Don't Spam

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.

 

Give Sources

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.

 

Linking

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.

 

Use Quotes

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

Don't strawman. It is quite annoying and you will lose your credibility, and seriously undermines any argument.

 

Read Links

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.

 

Hijacking

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.

 

Acronyms

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]

to get

[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.

 

Give Sources

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.

 

Give Details

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.

Bad title:

"Help!"

Good title:

"Computer virus. Help!"

 

Allow Comment

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).

 

Homework

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.

Edited by Cap'n Refsmmat
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First, thanks to Cap'n Refsmmat for putting this together for the whole community. It's a great compilation that can help us all avoid the hostilities seen on other forums.

 

Second, the staff here really tries to moderate in moderation, if you will. We often let something slide in one thread that gets pounced on in others. Some people may think we are picking on them excessively. Consistently rude behaviour or posting incorrect information while claiming authority will simply put you up on the radar, where your posts are scrutinized more heavily.

 

Third, the worst thing you can do if you get a warning is to harp on and on about it. The warnings expire after a short time if you don't pile up enough to get banned. Take staff criticism in stride. Don't post a lot of garbage about how persecuted you are. Send a PM to a staff member instead.

 

If you think you are above reproach and refuse to consider you may have been in error, you are not practicing the scientific method.

 

For most of you, these rules of etiquette are common sense. It's unfortunate that those who need them most will never take the time to read them. For those of you who do, you are our truest members, the people whose opinons matter most. We are grateful for your support.

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We often let something slide in one thread that gets pounced on in others. Some people may think we are picking on them excessively. Consistently rude behaviour or posting incorrect information while claiming authority will simply put you up on the radar' date=' where your posts are scrutinized more heavily.

[/quote']

 

 

Also consider that someone with e.g. 1000 posts has a track record, and the moderators know if that poster is good at self-policing, and whether a transgression in a post is a rare occurrence, as compared to someone with e.g. 50 posts.

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RE the spelling and grammar:

 

The problem isn't one of analy-retentive pickyness with reguards to the English language*; it is one of being able to actually understand what is being said.

 

If you need a spell-checker, then here are two:

 

For Internet Explorer

 

For Firefox

 

Whenever I'm having an exessively mentally-'special' moment, I use the Firefox spell checker. 'Tis easy to use and takes but a few seconds, which is less than it takes to have to explain what you ment when you said scelingtoon**, teqhniquely***, or acqusation****.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

* except sayo, when he's in one of his linguistically pedantic moods.

** skeleton

*** technically

**** accusation

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:) I would only add that people should try to post only if they feel they are competent on the subject, otherwise they shouldn't or if they do then they should state clearly that it is not a claim but an opinion (which is equally valid) but otherwise people can get really annoyed and exhasperated with ridiculous comments :eek:
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Good rules, when I've read "Einstein's Wrong!", I thought the next words would be something like "If you say that you'll find yourself banned! Don't blaspheme about our Eternal Professor! Never and Never and Never!!!"

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Good rules, when I've read "Einstein's Wrong!", I thought the next words would be something like "If you say that you'll find yourself banned! Don't blaspheme about our Eternal Professor! Never and Never and Never!!!"

 

no, it reads like 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence'

 

there are only a very few other theories that have a catalogue of observational and experimental evidence as biga as or larger than relativity.

 

we know that relativity is wrong and we are open to alternatives but it must be able to explain everything relativity explains AND at least one of the bits that relativity cannot explain.

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Random new member. Feel free to undo it.

Done. I left it so that you could see. I suspect it's a new member whose name is a bit ironic.

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Can I suggest that if you find that you have a difference of opinion with someone and your "opponent" proves you wrong that you hold up your hand and admit you have been "beaten". Apologise if appropriate.

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Can I suggest that if you find that you have a difference of opinion with someone and your "opponent" proves you wrong that you hold up your hand and admit you have been "beaten". Apologise if appropriate.

 

If you can prove an opinion wrong, it really wasn't an opinion to begin with. Opinions are subjective. However, if the opinion is based on objective criteria, those can be shown to be wrong. With that, I agree — when you are factually wrong you should acknowledge it.

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I guess I have a different idea of what an opinion is. To me an opinion is subjective and, as opposed to proof, can be based on incomplete information or knowledge. If I approach someone who holds a different opinion and neither of us has complete proof then, after discussion, I feel that I am free to alter my opinion. I don't see that I didn't have an opinion before the discussion. In fact I don't see how the discussion could even have started if I hadn't had an opinion.

Edited by TonyMcC

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Why on Earth did the OP get neg repped?

Random new member. Feel free to undo it.

Done. I left it so that you could see. I suspect it's a new member whose name is a bit ironic.

LOL, seems like a lot of newbies don't like the etiquette suggestions...

(I have already used up my only positive vote and it's still at -7.)

 

And LOLz at foreign spammers.

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Now I am getting notifications of them quoting the above post, although their posts have been deleted.

 

 

And come on guys, our community are better than this...

 

All should HELP removing the negative reputation points for the OP.

Edited by Spyman

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It's getting silly now - I positive rep'd after ydoaps post a few months ago, but it seems to be getting worse.

 

Might I suggest a post limit for negative reputation reporting - or remove reputation marks from all but the substantive science sub-fora

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I don't think this is made by random new members, much more likely it's done by a banned user's sockpuppets.

 

[EDIT]

Maybe a post limit new members must reach before they can vote for reputation on posts.

Edited by Spyman

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I don't think this is made by random new members, much more likely it's done by a banned user's sockpuppets.

 

[EDIT]

Maybe a post limit new members must reach before they can vote for reputation on posts.

 

 

It seems that the negative voters outnumber those of us who can cast positive votes. This says something about the voting process. The OP was not only reasonable, but ought to be helpful to newbies. If anything it deserves a large positive point count. The -9 that I saw at the time that I voted is just ridiculous.

 

Fortunately it has zero impact on the OP, whose rep seems quite secure.

 

This is, of course, anecdotal, but my observation is that rep points have no correlation to the merits of the posts for which they are cast. I have gotten some positive votes on posts that even I thought were rather mediocre.

 

The whole idea of "reputation points" strikes me as silly. One ought to be able to judge the value of a post on the basis of its content, not just the gold stars of the poster. Nobel Laureates have been known to espouse nonsense -- Hans Alfven and Brian Josephson leap to mind.

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We've heard of Robert's Rules of Order, so maybe this'll be "Captain's Rules of Threadiquette". :lol:

 

Using Quotes

 

I'm advocating being space/time/scroll conscious.

 

First replier. I'm not sure if I see it in this forum, but people who are the first to reply in a thread obviously do not need to quote the OP en masse. Yet, I commonly see this wholly unnecessary repetition.

 

Wall of text. The first replier quoting en masse is particularly annoying when the OP is a wall-of-text --- actually, quoting any wall-of-text en masse is particularly annoying and almost always unnecessary. You'll find that I try to quote *only* the precise text in question. I think it inconvenient to make others plow through several paragraphs when a few sentences or even phrases or words will suffice.

 

Attributing quotes. Quoting by use of buttons is an excellent way of attributing quotes (instead of typing the text (sometimes inaccurately) and using quotes tags), but then trim, trim, trim as needed!

 

Thanks.

 

"Virtual threads within a thread"

 

What do I mean? Threads can be like parties where several conversations occur at once, and where people respond in random order. So, how to keep track and make order of such things? Maybe we can borrow from courtroom procedure.

 

In trials (in America, at least), each side presents witnesses. The presenting side conducts a "direct examination". The opposing side then conducts a "cross examination", but only on the points raised in the direct. Then the presenting side conducts a "redirect examination", but only on the points that the cross examination probed. Finally, the opposing side conducts a "recross" examination", but only on the points that the redirect examination probed. I think you get the idea, although it requires a civil, concerted effort by all.

 

If people wants to raise new point(s) to discuss, they should use a fresh post, quote the OP and, thus, begin a new "virtual thread" within the thread.

 

Yeah, I know, I'm picky.

Edited by ewmon
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First replier. I'm not sure if I see it in this forum, but people who are the first to reply in a thread obviously do not need to quote the OP en masse. Yet, I commonly see this wholly unnecessary repetition.

Unless one deactivates it, the forum will notify you if a post of yours is quoted. Thus quoting an OP will alert the OP to the fact that a conversation has begun in his or her thread.

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It seems that the negative voters outnumber those of us who can cast positive votes.

I hardly think this is true, more likely people are to lazy to vote or don't notice.

 

This is an old thread and people are not notified of reputation changes inside every thread, so threads like this is right now easy targets for people without sound ethic and moral values. Concealed sockpuppets with no other purpouse than to take a tiny and ridiculous revenge with negative reputation votes, is hard to discover and counter.

 

 

The whole idea of "reputation points" strikes me as silly. One ought to be able to judge the value of a post on the basis of its content, not just the gold stars of the poster.

I like the idea with reputation points, to some extent it can be an easy way for a less knowledged member to make a fast evaluation, if a for them unknown member are considered trusted by other members or known to spout rubbish, when they lack the knowledge to judge the content.

 

Sometimes when I don't feel up to the task to explain when a poster is wrong, I can choose to vote a negative reputation on that post, so that other readers later will at least get a small varning that someone thought this post to be wrong.

 

For me the reputation points also gives a small indication whether I should put extra effort in a reply or if it would be a waste of time to make any reply at all.

 

Reputation points might not be an ideal way to measure peoples knowledge or reliability but on average someone with high reputation is likely a polite and credible person, while someone with negative reputation is often found to be a troublemaker.

 

 

[EDIT]

Read through my reply again and found out I didn't mention positive votes, maybe I am myself to restrictive with my use of them as I have so far not found out what the limit of positive votes for one day is, but they should be more important than the negative ones and used more often.

 

When I found some post to be extra good in a explanation or with a "tasty" comment then I usually vote.

(But I certainly think I need to improve and use the positive vote option more often.)

 

Posts with positive reputation are much more likely to be true, important and helpful than posts with negative reputation.

Edited by Spyman

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This is intended to be a thread that is a guide for folks on how to act and post on SFN.

 

Contents

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.

 

Spell Check

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.

 

Emphasis Features

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.

 

Contact Information

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

 

 

Don't Flame

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.

 

Be Coherent

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.

 

Don't Spam

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.

 

Give Sources

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.

 

Linking

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.

 

Use Quotes

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

Don't strawman. It is quite annoying and you will lose your credibility, and seriously undermines any argument.

 

Read Links

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.

 

Hijacking

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.

 

Acronyms

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]

to get

[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.

 

Give Sources

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.

 

Give Details

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.

Bad title:

"Help!"

Good title:

"Computer virus. Help!"

 

Allow Comment

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).

 

Homework

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.

 

I've just read this and noticed that people had given negative rep 10 times! Why? There's nothing in this post that warrants negative rep

 

I have given positive rep in order to try to address the balance

 

maybe users under a certain threshold of posts should not be able to give rep?

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I've just read this and noticed that people had given negative rep 10 times! Why? There's nothing in this post that warrants negative rep

 

I have given positive rep in order to try to address the balance

 

maybe users under a certain threshold of posts should not be able to give rep?

 

And more than 10 times - cos I have plus rep´d it as i could not believe how many neg reps it had

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