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Thread: Newbie Guide!

  1. #1
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Out on a limb

    Newbie Guide!

    Start Here:

    Hi new members!
    I'm Mac. I own AW, the software licenses, archived articles, and the server we run on.

    But no one owns a community, and that's what this message board is really about. Community.

    We have a whole passel of moderators. These people selflessly volunteer their time and energy, they know the community, and I trust them. Be nice to 'em. They work hard. You'll notice they're designated by the user-title under their name, and if you have a question, a mod is always a great person to ask. You can see the names of the moderators for each room in the column on the far right side, here. If you click on a name, it will take you to the moderator's profile where you'll find a link to contact that person, either by leaving a visitor message or sending a private message.

    The AW forums are pretty big, and there are a lot of people posting here about pretty much every writing-related subject under the sun. That can be overwhelming, so here are some guidelines just to get you on your way.

    You don't have to be a member to read, but if you want to participate in the conversations you'll have to register. You can register here: . It's free, and only takes a moment or two. If you don't get your email confirmation, check your spamtrap! If it's not there, either, send me an email and I'll help.

    Okay, then! So now you're all registered, and ready to post!

    Some forums have extremely strict guidelines about things like signature links. We'll ban sigline spammers, here, too - but usually only if they're spamming links to cell phones, shoes, cheap viagra, and the like.

    We actually LIKE you to link your blogs, books, writing-interest sites, and so on. We firmly believe it helps build community, creates stable information environments, improves education, and strengthens relationships. Just don't join up solely to flog your own site and services. That's spamming, and it's exploitive, and it's not cool. Don't join up just because you think it's a good way to market yourself, your book, or your blog. Again, it's spamming, it's boring, and you won't be met with a lot of enthusiasm.

    And we've had one or two accidental bannings, over the years - but a note sent via the "contact us" form at the bottom of the screen usually gets things sorted out pretty fast.

    We'd love a chance to say hello and learn a bit about you, if you're not too shy to introduce yourself. Just visit the Newbies board and start a new thread to say hello, and tell us who you are, what you write, or get to know some of the other new members. (You don't have to, no one is keeping track -- but it's a fun and easy way to meet some of your fellow community members.)

    Basics of Posting:

    To start a new thread, you just click the button that says "New Thread" -- it's towards the top, on the left side of your screen.
    It looks like this:

    To participate in a conversation that already has a thread, just go all the way to the bottom and click "Post Reply,"
    It looks like this:

    Or if you scroll down just a bit more, you can type directly into the "Quick Reply" box at the bottom of the thread.

    If you'd like to respond to one particular post out of many, you should quote it. Just click the "Quote" button at the bottom of the post you're responding to.
    It looks like this:

    If you want to respond to several posts, you can use the multi-quote button, then click "Post Reply," and they'll all be automatically quoted in your reply box, when you click "Post Reply."
    It looks like this:

    Don't forget to trim the posts you're quoting so we don't all have to read the whole thing twice! You can just delete everything except for the sentence or two you want to reference.

    Okay! Now you're posting. You're ready for some of the finer points of belonging to a large, online community.


    Getting Along on Absolute Write:

    So there's only one real rule here: Respect your fellow writers.

    If that seems sort of vague, it translates more plainly this way: Don't be a jerk.

    Respect your fellow writers covers a lot of territory: It's also why we generally don't allow a user to have multiple accounts. If someone sneaks under our radar, creates multiple accounts for the purposes of arguing with himself, or posting from multiple accounts to make it appear multiple members are supporting a particular point of view in a discussion with other posters, that's called sock-puppeting. It has an old and well-established history on the Web, and it's not good netiquette. It's also grounds for immediate banning from AW. Don't do it, even if you do get carried away and it seems like a great way to get your point across, 'kay? It's extraordinarily disrespectful to your fellow community members.

    We're not a wild-n-wooly sort of a message board. Flame wars just don't fly, here. Personal attacks on other members are right out. Just don't do it.

    We do have a lot of heated conversations about everything under the sun. Writers can get into knock-down-drag-outs over something so obvious as the serial comma being Always Correct.

    That brings us to language.

    ON LANGUAGE - You might notice that this board doesn't currently **** out curse words. That's deliberate. This is a writer's board; we certainly should each have the minimal control necessary over our own language to know how civilized adults speak in public. We strongly urge you to use that knowledge and control.

    Different rooms may have a different tolerance level for salty language. If in doubt, choose a different word. Otherwise, prepare yourself to have your post deleted, or to be asked to edit your post.

    Our intention in turning off the profanity censor was never to make profanity more widely exploited. Quite the opposite: the intention was to throw the onus of responsibility for your language back into your very own laps.

    When and if you choose to curse, please consider your words and choose them deliberately and with great care. Excruciating care, in fact. There may well be that rare occasion when a carefully chosen curse word is both effective and appropriate.

    Please don't attempt to exploit that.

    On a similar note: abuse or disrespect of any member via private message or rep point comment isn't tolerated, and if reported or discovered, will result in administrative intervention -- which may range from disabling your access to those particular features, and /or banning.

    Primarily, the complaints I get about rep points or PM abuse are almost ALL either about heated disagreements taken private, or else they're about unwelcome sexual advances. We take that stuff pretty seriously. There's always a certain amount of flirting and joking around on any message board. It's pretty normal. But it also gets out of hand pretty fast, sometimes. If that happens, a mod will be along to ask you to display a bit more discretion. It's not personal.

    Try to look at it like this: Say you went to a huge yard party, and some of the guests were single, and a bunch of them were friends, but a bunch more were total strangers, and some guests were married, and some brought kids --BUT a few people got a bit wild and thought it would be fun to take off all their clothes and dance on the furniture, and the host said, "err, hang on, folks. Not that kind of party, so please put your pants back on; in the meantime, does anyone want to volunteer to run the grill?"

    That's what we have mods and admin for.

    If it happens that there's someone you just cannot get along with, and your blood pressure rises every time you see them post -- then use the ignore function.

    You can find the ignore feature in your User CP (User Control Panel), at the top left, in the dark blue menu bar.

    I'm going to take the liberty of swiping part of the the excellent original newbie-guide post Jenna made about the User CP, and quoting it here:

    Your rep comments. If you haven't posted yet, you won't have any. But after a while, you probably will. On every post, you should see several little icons on the bottom left. One is a scale. That's the reputation scale. Anyone can click it and leave a comment. It's normally used to thank someone for a post, or say "LOL" (laughing out loud), or other short commentary that would clog up the thread. If people disapprove of something you wrote, they can leave you a negative comment, too.

    Edit Signature: Your signature, if you choose to have one, appears on every post you make. Here's what it says in the instructions: "(Please note: It's perfectly fine to link to your blog, personal site, book info, etc., but we're not too fond of it when people use this forum to try to attract traffic to other writers' forums. Thanks for your consideration.)"

    The other thing we're REALLY not fond of is big graphics. It slows down the site, eats up bandwidth (which makes it more expensive), and generally annoys the heck out of people. Honestly, this isn't the kind of board where people appreciate giant banners, photos of you and all your friends, a life-sized book cover, etc. on every post. Please keep the graphics to a minimum, or we'll remove them.

    Edit Email & Password: If your e-mail address changes, remember to update it here so we can contact you if needed. We've never sent out a mass mailing to the people on the boards. It's up to you whether or not to allow site members to e-mail you (through the board-- they don't see your e-mail address, just a form), but we'd appreciate it if you'd keep the address updated so the administrators can write you if need be. The other good reason to keep your e-mail current is that if you want to subscribe to a thread (to get notification of replies), get reminders for calendar events, or get an e-mail when you have new Private Messages on the board, the system needs to know where to send that mail!

    Passwords do sometimes go wonky for no good reason, where the board doesn't recognize someone and won't send a new password. If that happens to you, write to forums AT (formatted for email, though) and AW Admin can reset your password.

    Edit Profile: Here's where you can put in a bio, link, photo, and answer some silly questions.

    Edit Options: Here, you can decide to be invisible (mods can see through invisibility), turn off images if you're on dial-up and the pages load too slowly, choose whether or not to let people e-mail you, whether or not you want to get e-mail notification if someone sends you a private message, etc.

    Edit Avatar: When you first sign up, you can choose an avatar from our collection. Once you reach 50 posts, though, as long as your reputation score is still 10 or above (everyone starts with 10 points), you'll become a Super Member and be allowed to upload your own custom avatar. PLEASE NOTE: It takes the board a couple of hours to reset itself and realize that you've become a Super Member, so please don't worry if you're not immediately able to upload an avatar. Avatars must be no larger than 80 by 80 pixels for regular members. (Benefactors and mods get some extras; I'll tell you about that in a minute.)

    Edit Profile Picture: You can upload a picture of yourself here. People will see it when they click your username and go to your profile.

    Private Messages: All members get storage for up to 25 messages. Benefactors get 75.

    Subscribed Threads: When you post a message, you can choose to "subscribe" to that thread, which means you'll be notified whenever someone responds. You have a few options of how to be notified-- immediately by e-mail, once a day by e-mail, or just in a separate spot here on the site. You can "unsubscribe" from threads in that spot on your User CP, too.

    Event Reminders: If you see something on our calendar that's coming up and you want to be reminded of it before it happens, you can ask for a reminder to be sent to you.

    Paid Subscriptions: This is what you use if you want to become a Benefactor Member. In short, it costs us several hundreds of dollars a month just to host this website (not counting salaries, writer payments, newsletter hosting, etc.), and we're usually just getting by each month. If you can afford to contribute toward the cost of the boards, we'd really appreciate it. Becoming a "benefactor" has some benefits, too-- if you haven't made it to 50 posts yet, you can skip ahead and upload your custom avatar and user title. If you have, you'll get extra mailbox space (75 PMs instead of 25), the ability to attach photos, larger avatars and profile photos, an ability to add things to the calendar, and more.

    Buddy / Ignore Lists: The Buddy Lists don't really mean anything. Maybe it shows a little icon next to your buddies' names when they're online... I don't even know. The Ignore list is useful for when you've encountered someone you just don't ever want to hear from again. There's no need to announce it, just quietly stick that person on "Ignore" and you won't ever have to trip over his or her posts again.

    Attachments: If you've been able to upload attachments (pictures or documents), you can take them down later here.
    More to follow.
    Last edited by MacAllister; 03-27-2012 at 12:31 AM.

  2. #2
    'Twas but a dream of thee El Jefe MacAllister's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Out on a limb

    More on Respecting Your Fellow Writer

    On Respecting Your Fellow Writer

    We've always, first and foremost, used "respect your fellow writer" as our guiding principle. It's a really good one, in general. I absolutely believe in it. And we're not going to be making a bunch of rules and regulations to quote, because that's a whole can of worms with its own set of special problems. (Edit and Admin wars on Wikipedia are a perfect example of how quickly and horribly that goes awry.)

    It's really not complicated. Seriously. It means don't act like a jerk. You don't name-call, or bait, or sneer, or taunt, or generally be unpleasant to the people around you; at least, not if you want to stay here very long.

    As an example, (but NOT LIMITED TO), not being a jerk means don't commit those jerky writerly sins: Don't plagiarize. Don't shamelessly swipe facts and arguments from someone else's Wikipedia article or blog post without attribution -- and even with attribution, you don't post anyone else's copyrighted materials here in their entirety; no one wants to read entire articles or book reviews from elsewhere, either, no matter how glowing or how much that entire article proves your point. Just post a brief excerpt with a link to the source.

    So here's the thing. Many of us passionately disagree with each other, about everything from politics to religion to using the serial comma.

    But what makes AW the amazing community that it is, is that we manage to create an environment of inclusiveness, in spite of our differences. (I'll admit to a romantic notion of the Cooler as a sort of Rick's Cafe, where people from all walks and backgrounds can meet and find common ground and a relatively safe place to be. And if you don't get the Casablanca reference, I grieve for you. Also, get thee to NetFlix and put it in your movie queue.)

    So. Inclusiveness. This can be really tricky stuff. More so than it seems like it ought to be, sometimes.

    You might find a joke gets deleted, or a thread gets locked, that seems perfectly innocent, to you. Usually, if that happens, it's because there were people who were much less comfortable with it. The complexity and diversity in our backgrounds can be much more difficult to face and deal with, honestly, when things are couched in terms of "gosh, it was all just in good fun" because of the built-in refusal to examine underlying attitudes of exclusion, or "I'm normal and you're not" -- which by extension implies that anyone who insists on examining exactly that is humorless and "PC."

    Which reminds me -- accusing each other of "being PC" when you disagree really isn't cool. And what it usually boils down to is that someone is being a jerk or a bigot -- maybe inadvertently, maybe not -- and gets called on it which makes that person defensive.

    You'll notice, please, I'm also not demanding that anyone agree with my worldview. You don't have to. And you can absolutely debate and discuss and tell me you think I'm wrong, and why you think so -- PMs are usually more appropriate for that, but if it's a discussion that you honestly believe would benefit the community, I'm willing to have that discussion on the boards in public, too.

    What members (and all of us are members, mods too) don't get to do is marginalize other members. And we have Muslims and Catholics and Moral-Majority conservative Pentecostals. Republicans and Libertarians and Anarchists. We have brown people, pink people, pot-smokers, hippies, suburban moms, ex-cons, ex-cops, and Homeland Security specialists. We have married folks, and polyamorous folks, and singles and swingers and queers.

    You get the drift, I'm sure.

    I'm not inclined to try and prevent people from thinking and believing whatever they're inclined to think and believe -- whether they're fanatic adherents to the use of the serial comma, or won't use any capital letters or commas at all. It would be a fool's errand, for one thing, and this would be a rather stagnant and boring community, for another.

    I'm also not inclined to let people behave like bullies about their beliefs.

    My concern about this stuff is largely in terms of building and maintaining a mostly-egalitarian community, at least as much as humanly possible. Because what happens when you get a preponderance of members who tend to agree and share a cultural background, and they take for granted or actively put forth -- even it it's never said in so many words -- that their world view is the only "normal" or "right" world view, is that people who see things differently finally just quietly go away.

    Since I'm one of those people who would be quietly going away, if I kept my mouth shut about the stuff that really bothers me, or seems exclusive rather than inclusive, I have a vested interest in not letting that happen, here.

    That's what "respect your fellow writer" means to me.
    Last edited by MacAllister; 03-22-2012 at 06:41 PM.

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