A large online community like the Scarleteen Boards can only function well when everyone follows some basic rules for online communication. I felt like it was time for a little reminder in regards to "board etiquette" which will hopefully spark all of us to take some time to remind ourselves of the basics and pitfalls of communicating online.
The main rules of this community are obviously written down in the guidelines, that everyone automatically agrees to when signing up for the use of this service. Everyone should be aware that this is a privately owned service and organization, not a publicly-owned or funded forum. As this is privately-owned forum, any cries that "the right of free speech has been violated" if a post has been edited or deleted or your user rights have been suspended because you violated the guidelines by posting material that is not within the guidelines, are not valid here.
The members of the this community come from a wide variety of backgrounds. They have different nationalities, political or religious beliefs, they come in all shapes, sizes and genders, from all educational backgrounds and have all sexual orientations.
So please, please, please: Avoid heterosexism. Avoid generalisations. Avoid posts that are sexist. Avoid stating that "you know the right way for everyone". Avoid stating that you think everyone has to "wait until marriage". If you want to, fine, but accept that others don't share that view. Do not automatically assume that because you are monogamous and hetero, everyone else is. Open topics up so that it's not about "boy/girlfriends", but inclusive – about "partners". Accept diversity and see whether you can learn from the way others do things.
As a newbie, don't be intimidated by the numbers of posts that some of the older users and some of the volunteers may have. It doesn't matter what's beneath your name or how many posts you have, it matters what you say and how you say it. Everyone's input is very welcome here.
Use the Search Function
The search function is your friend. It sure is nice to sometimes bring up issues again that have been discussed before, and sometimes it really doesn’t matter (IMHO, we can't have enough "what I like about my body" or "how do you communicate well about Safer Sex with your partner" posts), but in general, please make a search of the site and then a search of the boards to see whether your question can be solved without a thread or whether something has been discussed before.
Get a feel for the boards
As a newbie, it's usually a good idea to have a look around the boards first, just to see what kind of discussions are on and what the general manners are, so that you can judge better where and what to post, and what is not okay. Reading the guidelines is a must, too, and it also helps to have a look at how everything works (check out the forum help and the UBB code).
One identity only
Registering multiple usernames is against the guidelines. It confusing for everyone involved and can be (often intentionally) misleading. If you have a serious reason for it, or lost your email address and can not access your old username anymore, please inform everyone about the change.
Please use language which is the least likely to offend anyone, and which encourages intelligent, safe and mature discussion of the issues at hand. Slang for sexual or anatomical terms is not helpful, because sometimes no one but you will know what exactly is being talked or asked about. In addition, posting with care for grammar and punctuation is a must, so that it is easiest for everyone to understand you (remember these boards are international, and that not everyone's mothertongue is English), and easiest for users to search for subjects. And that includes oDd CaPiTaLisAtIoNs. It's very annoying and difficult to read, so please don't do it.
Writing in Capitals
Writing in capital letters is considered to be "shouting" online. It is a great way for EMPHASIZING certain words, but avoid "shouting" too much. IT APPEARS REALLY RUDE AND SUPER-AGGRESSIVE! (See? )
It's most helpful if you always write a subject line that informs the other users of the content and subject of the thread. "question" "hey" "help" "pregnant?" "scared" or whatever else do not say much, even though they might be the first thing that comes to your mind. Please try to take a sec to come up with a more detailed subject line. If the thread is a question, remember to put a question mark at the end.
Do not intentionally post misinformation, misleading information or sex myths. If you are not sure about something or post your view or perception of something, indicate it by your choice of words (aka "I think", "I believe" or "In my opinion"), so that other users can see that your information or answer is speculative and not a definite answer, do not reply at all, or – and that is your best choice: go and make a search to inform yourself about it. You're at a great place to do just that!
When quoting from a previous post, it is polite to just quote the bits you specifically mean, and not the entire post.
When you are posting something that has NOT been written by you, identify it as someone else's work and give details about the source. If possible, provide a link to the article.
Treat others as you would like to be treated. It's not very clever nor will get you friendly replies to start your topic by "don't give me the standard answer and tell me to communicate" "don't tell me I need to love my body" "get real - not everyone uses condoms" or "give me real advice this time". There is no need or excuse for being condescending or hurtful to others, and fact is that no one here gives the advice you want to get or tells you what you want to hear, our users post what they thinks is accurate and the most helpful information. Oh, and posting a thank-you to someone who has helped or tried to help you is a great way to encourage that person to continue helping and to acknowledge the time and energy they gave you.
No personal fights at the boards
If you have a complaint about another user, volunteer or staff member, contact the board administrators or just leave it. Do not post accusations to the board, this is a private matter between you and the other party. This is not about killing discussion or critique, but about politeness and not forcing all community members into the middle of personal grievances.
Privacy & Security
Please do not post email addresses, standard addresses, full names or phone number. – This is for your own safety! Do not publicly re-post private email without the permission of the email's original sender. Do not publicly re-post private discussions with others that were held oin cell phones or in chat services or any kind of contact info that is not your own, such as someone else's email address or chat handle.
"Flaming" is to rebuke another user. Flaming is not okay here. Avoid "Slamming", too. i.e. "Durex Condoms suck"/"How dare you screw around – girls who sleep around are sluts!" or whatever else. Constructive critique is okay, but derogatory statements and name-calling are not. That includes calling someone a "ho" a "bitch" or a "slut" or "gross"-ing someone else's personal choice or preference. Keep the argumentation at a low level, and avoid making your statements appear as "The Final Truth". Instead, any kind of critique should be presented politely and with follow up reasons, aka – "I do not like Trojan condoms because they feel kinda thick to me and because they tore during sex"/"I know you all like Astroglide, but I had an allergic reaction to it and like the more stickier KY Jelly because...." or "I can not agree with you that you have to wait for sex until marriage, "virginity" simply never mattered to me personally and within my belief system" or whatever else.
If there ever is an online fight that has gotten out of hand, (such as when people keep posting the same arguments in different wording accompanied by a handful of insults), just fight the urge to answer such posts and report the post to a moderator: we'll take care of it.
It is generally a good idea to use "smilies" (or emoticons) when communicating in a written forum, just to prevent mistakes and misunderstandings. You should ALWAYS add a smiley when making jokes instead of relying on the reader to "get it". But please, please, please don't overdo it. If you look at your post once it is up and there are double or triple the smilies than there are..say line breaks, ask yourself whether they are all needed. Words can express emotions, too, after all!
Post-types best avoided
[*]Multiple posts of the same message. One post gets you sorted, and that's all anyone needs to see to get you an answer. More than one of the same post makes it less likely you will be answered, not more.
[*]"Bump" posts. "Bumping" your thread by replying to your own thread with nothing but a *bump* message is not okay, especially if you have not been waiting more than 24 hours for a reply. If no one replies to your post they may not know what to say or it is simply uninteresting. And sometimes it just takes some time until someone replies. So be patient. The administrators and the Advocates can bump threads, such as each forums frequently asked questions, when they deem it appropriate.
[*]"I don't know" posts. A new message should contain new information or new opinions not previously posted in the thread (or forum). If you do NOT know the answer to a question someone asked, simply don't reply and let someone else do it. Or search for the information. But don't post "I don't know, maybe someone else does". It wastes bandwidth and is annoying. Examine the board and thread carefully before posting a new message. And most importantly: read the entire thread, and NOT just the first question.
[*]"Me, too" posts. Please do not post the exact same stuff someone else has posted before you. Let's assume that our users can read and get the "use condoms"/"take a test" or whatever message when they read it for the first time. Many users posting the exact same thing will look and be perceived like gang-bashing.
[*]Technique posts (aka "how do I give a blowjob"). We not only avoid technique discussions because this place needs to be suitable for a range of anges, but also because everyone is different and likes different things. So, unless you have been sexual with the exact same person someone else on the boards has? You're not going to be able to tell them anything about what that person likes or doesn't.
[*]Unanswerable questions. Such as "am I pregnant?". "Does (s)he like me?" "Do men/women like it when you shave your pubic hair?" - No one here is psychic. We can't guess what's going on inside someone's head nor can anyone or anything but a preggie test tell you about a pregnancy. We can talk about pregnancy RISKS and advise people to take a test, but can not give definite answers. Please don't ask things no one can possibly answer, or which you could get an answer to yourself -- like through a pregnancy test, or by asking someone if they like you -- but aren't willing to do.
Here's to lots of good, diverse, informative discussions at the boards!
(Originally posted by alaska on the old boards here: http://www.scarleteen.com/cgi-bin/forum ... 00101.html)