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>> Unwritten Rules for Discussion Forums

Hey what has this gotta do with Linux?? Actually nothing..
But as seen generally when newbies start using Linux they find a lot of problems and generally use some Discussion Forum to search for solutions. But many times they get no replies and get dejected. Thats not because noone knows the answers, but because the query doesn't make the experts feel like answering the query.

Here are the unwritten rules that you should remember whenever you decide to make a posting on any Discussion Forum :

No. 1 : A discussion forum is NOT a pre paid group which will answer all your queries.

No. 2
: Never ever post any query in a forum without searching (thoroughly) for the solution yourself.

No. 3
: Searching for answers involves searching a lot of places. Firstly check the archive of that particular
Discussion Forum itself since someone else might have already posted your query before you.

No. 4
: Once you have done that, go to other discussion forums as well and check their archives.

No. 5
: Search on Google. 99.9% you will find a solution there. When searching on Google, check the cached copy in the search results, if the actual live link is dead or points to a wrong page - it helps at times. Even if you skip step No. 4 never ever skip searching Google.

No. 6
: Suppose you don't get a solution at Google, check out other search engines as well. There's always Yahoo. Also Ask Jeeves (www.ask.com) is getting pretty good at its job. Maybe you will find a solution there.

No. 7
: Once you have searched these places, if you don't find a solution do not rush to the Forum site to post your query. First check with your friends. Unless you are involved with cutting edge technology, some of your friends might have already faced a similar problem before.

No. 8
: You might feel that all this is a hassle and you are better off posting your query, since if you post one you should get some reply within a couple of hours or so. Sorry guys, you are wrong .. most of the times if you post a stupid query (stupid query = a query which can be solved by following any of the above steps) you won't get a reply at the Forum and if you repost your query, you are sure to get some hate mail. Never repost any of your queries if you didn't get a reply on your first post. No reply generally indicates that your query could have been solved by following the steps listed above (unless ofcourse you are doing something really complex or you have posted to the wrong channel within a forum. Remember forums have goups/categories/channels for different topics)

No. 9
: A very very important thing is that when you post a query the reader of your post should get a feeling that you have really tried a lot before coming to the Forum. Noone wants people who give up in 10 minutes and come running to the forum for answers. You gotta have tried for atleast a couple of days before finally approaching a Forum. Remember experts know very well whether a problem is an easy one or a tough one to crack ... so merely mentioning that you tried hard is not good enough. So don't start your query with a "I tried a lot but I couldn't find the solution..." unless you have really tried to do that.

No. 10
: People sometimes post messages asking for reference material . As in where can I find more info about this particular topic. Such postings may or may not get favourable replies. The best thing is to simply search for that topic on Google and you will find thousands of sites giving you info about your topic. You may have to do a little searching to get the best of the sites but that is worth the effort. But sometimes people do reply to such postings..and give you sites that they have been using. Try your luck on this one.. but I prefer Google.

No. 11
: Whenever you post your message read you message before posting it 'as a stranger'. What I mean is that read it as a person who has no knowledge about your machine and the software on it. You will realize suddenly that a lot more info about your software setting and configuration is required to get a better idea of your problem. So always mention sufficient details about your computer system & OS. There is no fixed details that you must provide. Common sense is enough to figure out what details (pertaining to your problem) should be present in a query.

No. 12
: Cut the crap. There is no need to include humour and other crap in your postings. Experts trying to help have no time for this. So get to the point and get your problem across as fast as possible (but it should be clear.. Not a hastily written message).

No. 13
: Wait for a couple of days for a reply. People may respond a little late to your query.. But don't repost your query. A no-reply means search elsewhere.

No. 14
: Never use words that may offend others and never get into quarrels with other members even if they have hurt your sentiments. A quarrel that carries on in a discussion forum is a waste of time for other members who have nothing to do with your problem. I have realized over the years that people who pass nasty remarks at other users never really do anything worthwhile in the forum. And its the ones who are ready to overlook such nasty comments who get help/answers from other users quickly.

No. 15
: Finally, always reply to the person who gave you a solution either thanking him or mentioning the problems you faced while following his suggestions. This might encourage him to give your further instructions (in case you faced some problems) or would make him really happy that he managed to help someone. No replies from you keeps that person wondering whether he actually helped you in any way. So its always nice to post a 'Thank You' note once your problem has been solved.

I guess these guidelines are more than enough for you to get started (and rolling) on any Discussion Forum. Most of the times you will find no need to go to a Forum. But when you indeed do so, you can be assured that you will always get a reply.

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