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Johannes Instructor
03-27-2011, 12:50 PM
How to Be a Good Forum Participant: A Guide to Web Forum Netiquette

Good internet etiquette
-- also known as "netiquette" -- will help keep forums free of conflict, arguments and other pettiness that can drive internet users away from reading or posting on the forum.

Consider the following internet forum guidelines for etiquette.

Avoid typing in all caps or all bold, as this is the equivalent to yelling on an internet forum.
Avoid posting extremely long forum posts on a regular basis.
Read all of the posts in the thread before posting on the internet forum. This will help forum participants avoid repeating points that have already been discussed in depth.
Do not "hijack" forum threads. Stay on topic and avoid directing the thread away from the current line of conversation, particularly if the original poster is seeking an answer to a question. If you'd like to discuss a different issue or problem, it's best to start a new thread on the forum.
Avoid derogatory remarks about fellow forum participants; if a forum participant has a problem that they'd like to address with another individual, it's best to discuss the issue off-forum rather than in a more public forum setting.
When posting on a professional forum, like a forum for writers of a website, it's best to avoid derogatory remarks about the website, website staff, etc. Remember, there's a fine line between constructive and non-constructive criticism in many cases, and those lines can be blurred on the web due to the absence of indicators like tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.
Remember your audience. Who's reading the web forum? It's important to keep this in mind when making forum posts, as some forum
discussions may be inappropriate depending on the forum audience.
Use emoticons and other symbols to indicate tone. When posting on an internet forum, there is an absence of indicators that help one to decipher tone and the forum poster's intention. In the absence of valuable voice tone, body language, facial expressions and other social cues, emoticons and symbols (smiley face, or "*smile*") can help make tone and intention clear to other forum participants.

More Tips to Avoid Conflict on Web Forums and to Maintain Good Netiquette

For web writers and other virtual employees/contractors, it's important to view the website's forum as a workplace and to keep proper office etiquette in mind. Making a post on a forum is like standing atop a desk one's office and making an announcement to fellow employees, supervisors/management and the company owners.

When considering whether a comment or remark is appropriate for a forum, it can be helpful to ask oneself, "Is this something I would say standing atop my desk, with my boss, co-workers, customers and company owner looking on?"

In a professional forum setting, it's also best to limit forum posts of a personal nature, whereas on other forums, personal remarks may be invited and welcome.

In the end, good forum etiquette will vary depending on the type of forum and purpose of the forum. By following the forum guidelines and basic forum and web etiquette, forum participants can enjoy effective and enjoyable exchanges on an internet forum.