The OSCard Mailing List's
Very Own Netiquette

oscard@timp.net
The highly unofficial mailing list for Orson Scott Card fans

We are a living, vibrant online community.  In order to promote the free and comfortable exchange of ideas for the broadest number of potential members of the list, we, the undersigned, have formulated and agreed to the following general rules of netiquette:

General Netiquette
Topics
When Mistakes Happen


GENERAL NETIQUETTE

1.  Respect the posts, opinions, and feelings of others.   We all have equal rights to our opinions and the expression thereof. 

2.  Assume the best of the person you are arguing with.   Just because his opinion doesn't coincide with your own doesn't mean that his motives in holding that opinion are base.

3.  We vigorously go after ideas, not people.  Personal attacks ("flaming") have no place in this community, and if a list member engages in such attacks repeatedly, and has been politely requested to refrain, the only real option available to us as a community to regulate this kind of behavior is to remove that person from the list.

4. We will preserve our flexibility to react as we see fit, but as a general rule if the list administrator feels it necessary, in consultation with other list members as s/he feels appropriate, to issue a caution regarding a particular behavior, and the individual in question repeats the offense, the list administrator may then (but is under no obligation to) remove the individual in question from the list without further warning or explaination.

5. Out of respect for people who pay by the byte for downloading mail, try not to quote previous posts excessively. Use what is relevant to your response, and cut the rest of the previous text. A good rule of thumb (not an immutable one, of course) is not to quote more than one screen full of text.  Make a sincere effort to see that your editing is representative of the views of the other person and doesn't unfairly characterize their point of view.

6. Spelling and grammar are important, of course, but OSCard at timp.net is not an English class. Don't correct syntax errors unless such a thing is specifically requested by the original poster. The one exception to this rule is if the grammar or spelling makes the meaning of the original post unclear; then simply ask for clarification.

7. Smilies/emoticons -- eg, ;) -- and acronyms -- eg, btw -- are common in any social group on the internet. If you come across one that you aren't familiar with, ask what it means. There are some obscure ones out there, and you're not expected to know them. If you don't like emoticons, don't use them.

8. SHOUTING is irritating and hard to read -- let up the caps lock key.

9. Be selective.  If you don't like a thread, don't read it.  There's no sense getting yourself all wound up discussing a topic you don't want to discuss.   The delete key is a wonderful tool.

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TOPICS

We are fairly open on topics, (which is not quite to say "completely freewheeling." Though we all have Orson Scott Card's books in common, other subjects frequently suggest themselves. For our purposes, there are five kinds of posts:

1) Personal conversations:  Reminiscing, wishing, etc. Just friendly chatter. If it gets too personal or too much, take it off-list, privately.

2) On-topic information requests:  When is _Heartfire_ coming out? Where can I get my hands on _Secular Humanist Revival_? These are straightforward. Just answer them. Check to see if anyone else has beaten you to it, or if that person's info is the same as yours.

3) Off-topic information requests:  Does anyone have a songsheet for "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from _The Little Mermaid_? This follows the same procedure as on-topic requests, though you might consider answering them off-list, since it's unlikely everyone wants the answer.

4) Discussion of Orson Scott Card books: 
bulletWhen discussing the details of a plot of a book less than five years old, use the phrase SPOILER WARNING in the topic line. That way, people who haven't read it will be able to decide whether or not to take a peek.
bulletEveryone has taste, even if it is somewhat different than your own. If you don't care for the book under discussion, it's fine to say why you don't care for it. It's not fine to take others to task for disagreeing with your assessment.
bulletIf you want to start an extended thread about another author, even a comparative thread with Card included, ask first if anyone else is familiar with the second author, and give people a chance to read a book you want to discuss.
bulletWhen we get into the ideas and philosophy of the books we are discussing, we're headed toward the most volatile of our five topics (see below). In the context of "pure" literary discussion, remember to discuss it in the context of the books, not the real world. Good test -- if you lived in that world, what would be your take on the idea in question?

5) Other discussion, such as religion, politics, and philosophy:  It used to be that these topics were simply not discussed socially, because they were too likely to cause real animosity. This was a poor solution to a very real problem. These threads are the most passionate and challenging discussions on timp.net, so we certainly don't want to ban them. Unfortunately, they are also the most likely to go hurtfully astray. It is here, at this sensitive point, that we most need to follow rules of courtesy.
bulletNever, under any circumstances, make a personal attack on someone with whom you disagree. "I find Mr. Doe's position untenable" is acceptable, especially if followed by an explanation; "Mr. Doe is an idiot" is not acceptable.  Corollary for Mr. Doe: if someone finds your opinion lacking, do not assume it is a personal attack and respond in that manner.
bulletArgue with ideas, not with groups that may hold them. "The voucher system isn't good for American education" is acceptable; "Republicans hate children" is not. For that matter, don't make any generalizations about groups you don't belong to -- and be careful making them about groups you do belong to. Corollary:  Someone may very well disagree with every plank on your group's platform. As long as the line isn't crossed into insulting your group as a group, just agree to disagree. After all, we have all presumably chosen our affiliations -- and rejected other affiliations -- for a reason.
bulletUse appropriate source material. This isn't always an easy call. Some source materials are clearly inappropriate; propaganda designed to defame an individual or group is always out of bounds (eg, one doesn't use a pamphlet from the Ku Klux Klan to argue racial issues). If such a source is brought into a discussion, no response to it is necessary (except, perhaps, a brief statement that such things are not acceptable); these are not questions raised to be answered. Other sources are perhaps not as obvious. If several members of the list object to the use of any particular source, stop using that source. Corollary for the listmembers objecting: at the first use of a suspect source, respond calmly and explain why the source is inappropriate. A rule of thumb for this is, use a source that supports your own position, not one that undermine's your opponent's.
bulletConsideration is the key. This doesn't mean you have to pretend to agree with anyone, or refuse to take a stand against ideas you disagree with, even vehemently. But keep in mind that those ideas do belong to people who have thought them out over time. Being deliberately hurtful or scornful, aside from being unlikely to win any converts to your position, is rude.

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WHEN MISTAKES HAPPEN

So you tried your best not to hurt anyone's feelings, to use respectable sources, to keep your tone cool and rational, but that one post... Oh, that made you mad. You wrote a witty, biting response, read it three times, and sent it, thinking, "That'll teach 'em." It appears, and suddenly it seems less like a battle of wits and more like a flame war. You wish you'd never started it. (Trust me, this happens to everyone eventually; we all have our "crazy-buttons.")  What do you do now?

Simple. Apologize. It needn't be a deathbed confession, just a simple apology, with no frills or hedges. Neither "I'm sorry if you were offended" (with its implied, "But if you weren't so oversensitive, you wouldn't mind), nor "I can never do anything right and am an awful person." Something along the lines of, "While I still disagree with X regarding issue Y, I regret the tone my last post took. I am sorry for [whatever specific harms you may have posted]."  Other listmembers are obliged to accept this sort of apology, unless it has become a habit to deliberately insult people and then issue a blanket apology afterward.

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-----       
First draft by:

Barbara E. Walton

Signed:

Barbara E. Walton Scott E. Tarbet A.B. McPeck Penny Freeman
Shelly Ketchum Mike Hall Jacen Carrie Pearce
Sophia Moffett Russ Andes Jennifer Nick Soucy
Patricia Frasier Greg Gaertner Simon Tanner Adrienne Metz
Tom Ketchum Steve Krodman MonkiZ Aaron Plikt
Paige Porter-Brown Vic Neves Lisa Spice Andrew Hackard
Dennis Lundblad Jessica Augustsson

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Last modified: 11/08/04 by Archive Queen &/or Scott