Northern California - United States
Posted: May 5, 2002 4:54am
Now that you have read A few rules to remember (If not, do so now), I offer the following guidelines to think about...
If you're tempted to:
- Post a funny message
- Send or post an angry message
- Be sarcastic or ironic
- Criticize others in The Café
- Post a message late at night
- Post a message about a person that you wouldn't want them to see
- Post a message full of spelling and grammar errors
- Post a message that is inflamatory, or possibly offensive to others
- Post an article you copied from another website.
Please think twice. Ask somebody else to talk you out of it. Ask a Café staff member.
These posts will be edited or deleted with no questions asked
It's easy to damage your reputation by saying the wrong thing: it's ten times as easy to do this with electronic communication.
When posting in The Café, if you are not careful, you can easily make a fool of yourself to many strangers very rapidly.
Posting an electronic message is a lot more permanent than saying something; long after your feelings change, the words are still there. Unlike messages on paper, electronic messages are hard to stop once you've posted them: they can be read seconds after you post them. And electronic messages are awfully easy to copy and re-send -- you can't be sure who will read them eventually and form a negative impression of you.
Messages you post at The Café are remembered forever. Anyone can issue a simple command to search all posted messages for a keyword, or for your name. When you post a message, ask yourself if you'd like a potential employer or client to read it several years from now.
What seems hilarious when you type it in may offend others. And somehow, people are more offended by offensive jokes when they come through the electronic medium than they would be by the same joke told face to face. People also misunderstand electronic messages, because your tone of voice doesn't come along with the message; and when they misunderstand, they get mad.
Computers and humor have nothing to do with each other.
After all, what joke can be repeated a million times a second and stay funny for long?
If you're upset with someone, talk to him or her in person when possible. When you send or post an angry message, it is likely to make the problem, whatever it is, worse. Because people often react quickly to online messages, without reading them carefully, each emotional message causes more and stronger emotion in the receiver.
Sarcasm and Irony
You can't count on sarcasm and irony getting through. Some people read hastily; others just take your words literally and don't understand that you really meant the opposite of what you wrote. Even a or "just kidding" won't always work.
If you are tempted to criticize another person, don't do it here. This includes everything from flaming others (see A few rules to remember) to spelling corrections. People are touchy; if they feel attacked, they attack back.
It's very hard to disagree with somebody in a way that lets dialogue continue. Search for non-judgmental ways of disagreeing: try saying "That doesn't work for me, because.." instead of "That's wrong."
Suppose somebody says something you feel is really dumb. Lots of times, the thing that works best is to pretend you didn't notice. Pointing out that the remark was dumb won't work, we know that; the person is just going to dig in and push back.
Arguing, saying what you think is smart instead, may not work either, no matter how nice you are, because some people take any disagreement as criticism. If you ignore the remark entirely, though, you've done the best thing you can to kill it off. If you are having a problem from another Café member, use the Report post to moderator feature, and explain your problem. A staff member will deal with it.
Late Night Posting
Be especially careful about messages you compose late at night. Some mysterious influence seems to start operating after a certain hour, 1am or so, which makes us think we're typing in sensible messages, when in fact they are subject to severe misunderstanding.
"Oh, not me," you say. Well, even so, could the message wait? If it can, my advice is to save it in a file and look at it tomorrow morning. Chances are you'll want to make some changes to make it more clear and more polite.
This seems obvious, however many folks can sometimes forget that common courtesy goes a long way to lending respect to both you and your opinions. Just because you don’t see the other readers’ faces doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and won’t be hurt by rude comments.
When you read something that you find silly, rude or insulting, first assume that perhaps there is more to the post than you initially thought. Re-read it keeping in mind that tone and inflection is difficult to convey in written form. It may be that the person is attempting a joke or is exaggerating on purpose. It is best to politely request clarification before accusing someone of being ignorant, a liar, or worse.
If after clarification you still disagree with the person then politely outline your points. Try to avoid name-calling or even implying insults wherever possible. These tactics generally only inflame a situation and make it worse.
Making derogatory remarks about others is a bad idea. Doing it behind their back is worse. Doing it in public (in The Café) is worse still. And doing it in a way that suppresses the human side of the communication, the smile or "just kidding" shrug you might have included face to face, makes it even worse. Electronic messages are the last place for any kind of uncomplimentary remark. My advice? Just don't do it.
Remember, we are here to discuss ideas, not to trade insults. You can criticize another member's point of view without insulting the member personally. Calling someone else an idiot is inappropriate and does nothing to further your argument.
Replying to Posts
Don't include the entire length of the original message in your post when you reply to a message. I realize The Café offers the 'quote' function when posting, but please take the time to use your delete key and either select the small part that is pertinent to your post or summarize it in your response.
Otherwise, our server gets clocked with repetitious postings and the posts become large and difficult to read.
Avoid posting "Me Too," "good post," "thanks" messages.
Unless you expand on the discussion in some meaningful way, it is better to send these types of messages by private message to the original poster.
Staying on Topic
After reading and posting at The Magic Café for awhile, you may feel as though you have developed friendships with some, perhaps many, of the other posters and readers. This is probably one of the most rewarding parts of participating with our magic family here.
It is only natural to occasionally want to share information with your friends that is “Off Topic” (i.e. not related to the subject matter of the forum you are in).
While it may at first seem harmless to post a bit about off topic (OT) subjects, it can become a slippery slope. If others join in on OT posts then soon everybody has sent the discussion threads on so many tangents that it is difficult to follow the original topic. Further, posting off topic essentially violates our Café rules. People come to The Magic Café forums looking for information related to magic. It is not polite to post off topic items frequently.
Participating in Debates
What exactly does the word DEBATE mean?
According to the dictionary, the following definitions apply:
1) To consider something; deliberate.
2) To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.
3) To engage in a formal discussion or argument.
4) Discuss the pros and cons of an issue
Now that we are clear on the meaning of the word, let's consider the advice that follows.
Having a debate can be very educational and most often will help provide members with a variety of viewpoints concerning any given subject. Because persons on both sides of any given arguement may feel very strongly regarding their particular point of view, the converstaion may at times become a bit heated or even emotional.
That's okay, provided this emotion is channeled in a postive direction and does not become mean spirited or degrade into nothing more than a name calling contest.
If you are easily offended by criticism and frank observations, then perhaps you should not ask members for their opinions or make blatant statements which invite input from others?
On the other hand, you should realize that just because someone posts a negative response to your question does not necessarily mean they are attacking you. In all likelihood they just simply do not agree with your statements or approve of your proposal.
Generally speaking, asking folks for feedback will get you both positive and negative responses - so be prepared for both. Remember, you asked the question so brace yourself for what type of answers you may get in return.
Please keep in mind that there are many ways to convey your thoughts to others in our magical community and most times its not what you say that may get you in hot water but how you say it.
So, whether or not you agree with another Café member while engaged in a heated debate, please be polite and respectful of each other while doing so.
Spelling and Grammar
Although The Café has a team of folks who personally monitor and correct bad spelling and grammar (an Internet magic forum first I believe), they are only a small group, and can only do so much as it were.
Before you hit that submit button, please think about avoiding the following:
- Using small 'i' instead of 'I'.
- Using the letter 'u' instead of 'you'.
- Using 'Im' instead of 'I'm.
- Using 'cuz' instead of 'because'.
- Writing 'café' instead of 'Café'.
- Words that are not spaced apart.
- Sentences that begin without capitalization, or do not use a comma or period anywhere (i.e.,the post becomes one long giant sentence)
- Constant misuse of the word 'your'. Your means belonging to you, as in, That is your opinion.
However, it is always being misused to mean you are as in, Tell me if your going to buy it. The correct spelling here is the contraction, you're, which is, of course, short for you are.
- Confusion in the use of their, there, and they're. Need I say more?
- Using "then" for "than"
"My red silk is bigger then yours" The correct phrasing would be "My red silk is bigger than yours"
- Another problem is people who use the wrong "to." There is a difference in meaning between the following two sentences:
"Too much of the class singing can be fun"
"To much of the class singing can be fun"
- No capitalization in titles or names.
Example: dai vernon instead of Dai Vernon.
- POSTING EVERYTHING IN CAPS! This is essentially the same as yelling, and is not only rude, but is just bad form.
- Posts should be broken down into paragraphs for easier reading. Nothing worse than a long post that looks like a huge mass of text that is hard to follow.
The above list is just a sampling of the many errors that appear in The Café daily.
I do not expect everyone to be English majors, but it only takes a little time to proof-read that post, and not doing so only labels you as someone who doesn't care how his/her words are perceived. Think about it.
Content from other websites
We would prefer that you do not post entire articles from other Web sites. Doing so violates the rights of the article's copyright owner (and is therefore illegal), is lazy and unnecessary, and does little to encourage discussion. This is the 21st century: if you want to bring an interesting article to our Café community, post a link to it. Ideally you will introduce or summarize the article, or otherwise indicate why the article might be of interest to the reader. If there are particular sections you wish to call attention to, quote from them. When quoting, use punctuation or formatting to clearly indicate which material is yours, and which is being quoted.
As a member of our magical community, should you see a post that is out of line, is flaming or is not in compliance of our rules and policies, use the Report this Post link, which is attached to every post made on this website. DO NOT respond to trolls, idiots or previously banned individuals who may wander into this forum now and again - please let the mods deal with the losers, so you can enjoy the conversation.
Finally, please realize that the TEAM MEMBERS on The Magic Café are only human and can/do make mistakes from time to time, we are not perfect and don't claim to be. Our job is monumental and we try our very best to keep things running smooth. We NEVER lecture a member (who may be violating a rule) in the open forums. That is just not professional and serves no purpose other than to humiliate a person in front of their peers. That is why we handle such matters privately.
That said, if you have a problem or complaint regarding a Café team member, or a question concerning an action taken by us - do us the same courtesy and contact Dave Scribner, Steven Steele or me via PRIVATE MESSAGE. We will do our very best to help you understand WHY we do the things that we do here. Believe me, nothing is done at random here and we really are trying to help. Please take note that our membership numbers far outweigh the small group of volunteers who help us each day and we ask you to be patient in awaiting a response from us. Thank you.
The Magic Café pledge
I will respect others. If I disagree with their ideas or behavior, I will do so courteously, without personal attack. I will remember that the way I see things is not the only possible right way.
I will conserve bandwidth. If I have no value to add, I won't post.
Generalizations, analogies, jokes, sarcasm, and irony are too much fun to give up entirely, but they are often misinterpreted. I will try to imagine how others might read my posts.
If I think others' Café behavior is incorrect, I will not respond, complain, comment, or correct. I will ignore. I will lead by positive example and let the Café staff handle it.
If I am angry or tired, I will save my posting and look at it when I am clear-headed before posting it.
I will stick to the subject.
I will try my best to proof-read and check my spelling and grammar before submitting my post.
I will not post articles or graphics from other websites.
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See you there!