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.
All the best,
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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
- The rule that outweighs all others is: be polite. More specifically:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!)
- No diatribes. Unless they are very funny. Then it’s fine.
- Do not use lots of all-caps - that is universally recognised as the online equivalent of shouting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In essence, what we’re trying to say is: Be excellent to each other. And… Party on, dudes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- 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
- 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:
- Explain briefly what you did.
- Say what you expected to happen.
- Say what actually happened.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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