Forum Rules Draft - Feedback Wanted

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KB
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:46 pm Post

Hi all,

After several years, I've finally got around to drafting some forum guidelines - the "netiquette" of the L&L forums, if you will. Not that we have many problems around these parts, of course, but I figured we ought to have some guidelines that we can point to if we ever need to.

Part of the idea behind these guidelines is that, being an online company, these forums are essentially our place of work, and obviously we want to work in a pleasant environment (which we do! Thank you!). However, this forum is as much your community - it's the users who make this place such a fantastic resource and a pleasant hangout. I thus don't want to create any rules or guidelines that might upset existing users, put off new users, or seem unreasonable.

So, whether you are brand new to this forum or an old hand, I'd be really grateful if you took a few minutes to read through these rules and see what you think. I've tried to make them as reasonable as possible while defining the sorts of things that are best avoided. Please let me know:

  • Is there anything there you strongly disagree with?
  • Is there anything you think might conceivably put off new users?
  • Are any of the phrasings potentially intimidating to new users, or does anything cast us in a bad light?
  • Is there anything, from your experience on the forums, that you think needs adding?

I'll leave these up as a draft for a little while as this is a community, and I don't want to impose any guidelines without getting some feedback and ensuring they seem reasonable.

Thanks!

All the best,
Keith

-- START OF DRAFT RULES --

Community Guidelines

Anyone is welcome to join in the discussions on the Literature & Latte forums, whether a Scrivener user or not. To make everyone's life easier and more pleasant on the L&L community forums, please make sure you follow the guidelines below when creating new forum threads or replying to others.

Note: We generally don’t ban users so please don’t be intimidated by these rules. No one will jump on you if you post something in the wrong place or ask a question that’s been asked a billion times before. As long as you’re polite and friendly, you can generally skip all of these rules and expect a pleasant sojourn on our forums, we hope.

1. General Forum Rules
  1. The rule that outweighs all others is: be polite. More specifically:
    1. We are not a large corporation employing customer support operatives to buffer us from our users. When you post on the forums (or e-mail us), you will most likely hear back directly from a developer or someone intimately involved in the design process. Scrivener is a labour of love for us - we put a lot of thought and work into every tiny detail of the program - so remember that we are human (mostly) and may take things personally.
    2. We welcome discussion and debate and are happy to hear constructive feedback about features. However, please try to avoid making posts along the lines of “X is rubbish” or “I hate Y”. Instead, explain what you think could be done better, why, and how.
    3. Try to keep feedback and suggestions regarding Scrivener limited to functionality and usability. (For instance, telling us that you find a particular button or icon confusing and why is useful feedback; telling us that you hate the application icon or the colour scheme we’ve chosen for the icons in the toolbar isn’t, because that’s a matter of taste and we wouldn’t have chosen icons we didn’t like!)
    4. No diatribes. Unless they are very funny. Then it’s fine.
    5. Do not use lots of all-caps - that is universally recognised as the online equivalent of shouting.
    6. We do understand that users sometimes get frustrated if they are having technical problems, especially if important work is involved, and thus that even the most reasonable and polite human being will blow his or her top on occasion. We always do our best to help in such situations - just try to provide as much information as possible so that we can help you.
    7. We operate on a “Twelfth Night” policy. As in: “The rudeness that hath appeared in me have I learned from my entertainment.” i.e. Be polite to us and we’ll be polite back. Be rude to us and we’ll try to be polite back, but won’t always succeed.
    8. Of course, sometimes we may come across as rude, thereby breaking our own forum rules. Maybe we misinterpreted you, or maybe we’re having a bad day. Or maybe we were just busy and wrote a quick reply that came across as unintentionally terse. If that happens, try not to shout at us even if we apparently deserve it - just say, “Hey, that seemed unnecessarily rude to me.” We’ll usually apologise. Sheepishly.
    9. Remember that forums, like all electronic communication, lack the visual cues of face-to-face conversation, and so intended tone doesn’t always come across. If in doubt you can always use a smiley - it worked for Gerty in Moon and wasn’t creepy at all.
    10. In essence, what we’re trying to say is: Be excellent to each other. And… Party on, dudes.
  2. Read the forum names and descriptions before posting, to ensure that you are posting your question or feedback in the right place. You won’t get jumped on for posting in the wrong place - no one likes a forum so officiously moderated that you’re scared to make a mistake - but it could lead to your post getting missed and thus not receiving the answers you hoped for. For instance, if you have a question about using Scrivener, it should go in the “Technical Support” forum - if you post it in the “Tips & Tricks & FAQ” forum we might not see it, because we don’t check that forum very often since it is intended for sharing tips rather than asking for help.
  3. Use the forum’s “Search” feature before posting - your question may have been asked and answered already. The search feature is far from perfect, though, and sometimes there is no other way than to ask again.
  4. Off-topicking is fine. We don’t try to keep threads tidy or perfectly on-topic because that’s not the way of human conversation, and we like the conversational - and often silly - tone that pervades our forums. That said, please try to avoid steering a technical support question off-topic unless the original poster has already received a satisfactory answer. If you find that a post you started or are interested in has gone off-topic and that its new direction means you can’t find, or aren’t getting, the answers you need, just reply politely asking everybody if they would mind returning to the original topic, or asking a mod to split the thread.
  5. Try to give meaningful subject titles to your posts. Creating a post with the title “bug”, “crash” or “help” is about as enlightening when navigating the forum as listening to a conversation about your children when you’ve named them all Barry.

2. Technical Support Forum Guidelines
  1. When asking a support question, try to explain your problem in as much detail as possible, but without being overly prolix (even if we can’t manage the latter ourselves).
  2. Even if you are pulling your hair out because something terrible seems to have happened, try to explain everything that led up to the problem as calmly as you can. That way we have a better chance of being able to help you quickly.

3. Bug Hunt Forum Guidelines
  1. When reporting a bug, please try to be as thorough as possible. The most important thing to remember is that if we can reproduce the bug and so see it for ourselves, we’ll most likely be able to fix it. If we can’t find the bug, we probably can’t fix it. So when reporting bugs the aim is to give us enough information to get the bug to occur on our machines. In particular:
    1. Explain briefly what you did.
    2. Say what you expected to happen.
    3. Say what actually happened.
    4. Provide step-by-step instructions, preferably numbered, describing exactly how to reproduce the bug. It’s thus best to try reproducing it several times on your machine. Some bugs won’t happen the second time you tried to reproduce it - if that’s the case, be sure to tell us that, as that can be a clue in itself.
  2. When reporting a crash, please provide the crash log. Scrivener has its own crash reporter that pops up when you restart the application after a crash, so you can always use that to send the crash log with a description of what has happened. If you didn’t use that, though, you can find the crash log in ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter (where the tilde represents your home folder).
  3. If there’s no crash log - or even if there is - reporting any errors that appear on the OS X console can often be very helpful. This is easy to do - just open Console.app from ~/Applications/Utilities and look for any errors pertaining to Scrivener that have been generated there (you can use the search field in the Console toolbar to filter the list by typing in “Scrivener”). Copy and paste any errors from the Console into your bug report.

4. Wish List Forum Rules
  1. Please take “No” for an answer gracefully. We cannot implement every single suggestion. We’ll usually try to explain why a feature won’t or can’t be implemented, and you are of course welcome to argue your case - we have been known to change our minds - but it’s better to do so without trying to grind us into submission.
  2. Do not reply to “Wish List” threads with “+1”. We don’t implement features based on votes. If it’s a feature that we don’t think fits in Scrivener, 100 votes won’t help; on the other hand, a great feature suggestion that has been made by only one person may get implemented. If you agree with a suggestion someone else has made, instead of replying with “+1”, tell us why or how the feature would be useful to you too.
  3. Try to avoid implied threats such as, “I won’t buy Scrivener unless you add…,” “This is a total deal-breaker,” or “I’m going to steal all your shoes unless you add a coffee-maker.” Likewise, try to avoid “You’ll-get-rich-if-you-implement-my-ideas” posts that assume everyone else needs what you are asking for (e.g. “If you add a talking paperclip that helps people write letters, your life is guaranteed to be like the end of Trading Places forever onwards”). That’s not to say that we don’t want to hear from you if there is a reason you chose not to buy Scrivener - we do, and we value your feedback. Just start a thread in the “Feedback” forum and tell us about the factors that made you, personally, decide not to buy. We’re much more likely to be take feedback seriously if it’s along the lines of,”Nice idea, but not for me because…” rather than making us feel like we ran over your cat (which wasn’t us, honest).

Of course, you, dear reader, weren’t going to do any of that, and that’s why we like you. So we look forward to hearing your ideas and helping you, or just randomly shooting the breeze with you, on the forums.

-- END OF DRAFT RULES --
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

an
andygrunt
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:37 pm Post

Personally, I'd suggest having as short a set of rules as possible (a handful of lines preferably) for several reasons e.g. people are more likely to read them, less intimidating, more likely to be followed. If you stick with a more lengthy version, I’d suggest at least having a one or two line summary at the start.

My suggestion (off the top of my head) would be something along the lines of:

Please be polite and courteous on these forums and treat other users as you’d wish to be treated. Anyone found not following this rule will be removed.

Being a small company with busy users, it would be very helpful if you can make your posting as detailed as it needs to be in as few words as possible.


By the way, did you mean to post this under the Mac section? Wouldn't it be better in the more general 'Announcements' forum as it applies to all? :wink:
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KB
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:44 pm Post

"Short"? You don't know us, do you? :)

That's a good idea about having a short summary at the top. You're also right that this should be in a more general forum, as it does apply to everyone. I'll leave it here for some initial feedback and then move it to somewhere more general.

Thanks!
"You can't waltz in here, use my toaster, and start spouting universal truths without qualification."

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Sean Coffee
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:47 pm Post

Nicely written and thorough. You did forget "my name is Keith."

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robertdguthrie
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:51 pm Post

This is the very first Forum Rules that I have ever read. I only have two suggestions:
Change "misinterreted" to "misinterpreted", and make going off-topic by page 2 MANDATORY. That will keep the riff-raff here insulated from the outside world, just like we like it.
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Siren
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:24 pm Post

I like it. It seems to capture the essence of the forum, as well as serving its instructional purpose. Made me laugh, too, which takes a lot after the day I've had at work! :D
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robertdguthrie
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:45 pm Post

Also, title it something that will entice people to click on the link... like "The Lit & Lat Forums Manifesto". Nobody wants to read rules/guidelines, but a manifesto is well nigh irresistible to the types that will fit in here.
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da
dafu
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 7:57 pm Post

robertdguthrie wrote:Also, title it something that will entice people to click on the link... like "The Lit & Lat Forums Manifesto".


Excellent idea.

I do like the guidelines, Keith. But I also think a pungent summary at the top is a very good idea.

Dave

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garpu
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:04 pm Post

Hrm, if it's a manifesto, maybe a little blurb on company philosophy? All good manifestos should have philosophical rambling.

Kind of sad that forum rules need to be spelled out, though.
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Foxtrot
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:55 pm Post

And what is wrong with being called Barry? 8)
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Cjmiltko
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Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:28 pm Post

hmmm... a rather newish forum commenter myself, I may have had more of a friction point to registering and actually posting had I been presented with these.

I was a lurker for some time prior and tend to interpret these things as terms and conditions and if they appear ill-fitted, I lose interest. Worse, I impute the perceived ill-fittedness to its creator.

I don't see ill-fittedness here.

That said, had I given deference to it and read it, I'd have seen the humor sprinkled therein and laughed and been fine. Given that I'm already here, I did give it deference and read it now.


I'd like to offer a friendly amendment, if I may...
this paragraph:
Try to avoid implied threats such as, “I won’t buy Scrivener unless you add…,” “This is a total deal-breaker,” or “I’m going to steal all your shoes unless you add a coffee-maker.” Likewise, try to avoid “You’ll-get-rich-if-you-implement-my-ideas” posts that assume everyone else needs what you are asking for (e.g. “If you add a talking paperclip that helps people write letters, your life is guaranteed to be like the end of Trading Places forever onwards”). ....


I see those threads as ignorant argument and cheap persuasive rhetoric. Of course, my recent post regarding the so-called "business" template shows what I think of those requests, namely, that it is a fair inference that the person knows not of what they speak, and the proof is in the style of persuasion selected.

With that said, I suggest changing the first sentence to read: "Avoid cheap rhetoric better left for spam snail mail and a falsely premised threat, such as..."

I see throughout that you prefer some soft language on the suggestions. Nothing wrong with that and I suppose it does set an appropriate tone, but it does strike me that these ought not be called rules as much as they are more of a manifest of preferred decorum. The consequence of being out of decorum is tongue lashings, anger, and not being preferred. Hence, why bans aren't generally imposed.

Then, if you do ban someone, it's not because they weren't consistent with the decorum, but because they broke an actual rule.

dr
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:10 am Post

It's a good set of rules, but it would be far better if expressed in simple Do/Don't phrases.
At its current length, it eloquently expresses the frustrations that Keith & Ioa often face.
But it will be hard to say: please see section IV.8. sub 12 as amended 1/13/2015.
Instead of just stating what you feel: YOU PUTZ, RTFM AND DON'T TYPE IN CAPS.
In short, writing rules for folks in a forum, new or old, is like herding squirrels.
I like it when the community itself disciplines wankers with scorn & derision.
We had a lot of fun recently with white-on-blue screen preferences.
Anyway, I respect the intent here and will try to honor it.

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Sean Coffee
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:48 am Post

You should add this link.

an
andygrunt
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:52 pm Post

Although I still very much favour the short as possible approach, I just had another thought...

I’ve seen forum owners and moderators act like dicks (not round here I hasten to add) and it makes me think that perhaps you should also list what you pledge to do/how to behave (perhaps start it with that) e.g.

- Read all posts
- Answer questions within ‘X’ amount of time
- and so on.

It strikes me that the whole ‘rules’ thing suddenly becomes more balanced and less intimidating for a new user if they see what they can expect from you.
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Cjmiltko
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Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:56 pm Post

robertdguthrie wrote:Also, title it something that will entice people to click on the link... like "The Lit & Lat Forums Manifesto". Nobody wants to read rules/guidelines, but a manifesto is well nigh irresistible to the types that will fit in here.



Hey, can we mash-up suggestions and rename it something like: The Manifesto of Lit&Lat Preferred Decorum

The next line should be the threat: Heed ye, what ye read hence lest ye discover why it's preferred.