|The OSCard Mailing List's
Very Own Netiquette
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:
When Mistakes Happen
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.
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:
|When 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. |
|Everyone 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.|
|If 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.
|When 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.
|Never, 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.|
|Argue 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.|
|Use 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. |
|Consideration 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.|
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.
First draft by:
Barbara E. Walton