Here are some guidelines and recommendations that will make these discussion forums a friendlier and more useful place.
Lurk for a While
Hanging out and just reading the material on the forums without posting is known as "lurking." It's a good idea to lurk for a while before you jump in with both feet. Reading the material here helps you get to know the people who post here, the type of questions. answers and comments that are commonly made, and the general way things operate.
Know What You're Doing
Take the time to learn how to use the forums before you wade in. Read the FAQ's, Guidelines, and have a look at the forum setup. It's pretty simple, but you should know what you're doing before you start posting.
Your demeanour and behaviour sets the mood of these forums. If you're friendly, others will be more inclined to join and participate. We'd all much rather hang out in a friendly place than with a bunch of grouches.
Remember that Users are Human Beings
Forums like this one have the ability to connect thousands of people, forming community. They also separate people because there is no personal contact. We see only a computer monitor, not the actual person. That's the irony of the medium. When you post a response on the forums, you see only text on a screen, but that text was put there by a real, live human being with real feelings. Remember this as you post - anonymity sometimes makes it easy to say things that we normally wouldn't. Would you say it if you were face to face with the person? If not, then don't post it.
Flaming is engaging in personal attacks on the web. It's very important to remember at all times to argue the point rather than attacking the person that made the point. Debates (even heated, vociferous debates) are welcomed - personal attacks are not. You won't win any converts to your way of thinking by insulting another person. Use persuasion, not confrontation.
Choose Your Words Carefully
The Internet is notoriously bad at communicating subtleties of language. You may post something intended to be humourous or mildly sarcastic; and the recipient may perceive it as insulting or demeaning. You can use emoticons (smilies) in your posts to help convey emotion. They aren't just there to look cute - they're very helpful in conveying meaning. A "wink" after a tongue-in-cheek comment goes a long way to letting others know you're just kidding.
Don't Over-Use Emoticons
Really - one smiley will do. You don't need a string of twenty.
Free Speech Law Does not Apply
We're not being arbitrary, or petty dictators here, and we very rarely would censor a post, but it's true - free speech laws don't apply here. This isn't a public square where you can stand on a soapbox and say whatever you want - it's a privately owned forum and we as owners and moderators have the right to establish limits and set policies regarding posting here. Your involvement and participation is a privilege, not a right
Recognize Cultural and Linguistic Differences
We tend to think of all posters to these forums as being from our neck of the woods. Remember that the Internet is a global medium, and the person asking that question could be from Afghanistan or Australia just as easily as they could be from Canada or the USA. The English language is widely used, but it's not universal. Be sensitive to cultural differences, weaknesses in the ability to express oneself in written language and differences in terminology.
Share Your Expertise
That's what it's all about - it's the reason these forums exists. If someone asks a question, and you have an answer, please take the time to provide that information in as much detail as possible. One caveat - what you think and what you know are two different things. If you know something, post it as an answer. If you're not 100% sure, qualify your answer and be up front that you think so, rather than know so. People tend to take replies on forums as gospel, and it's important that you don't lead someone astray with less-than-certain information.
For example: Someone asks the question "Does anyone know if there's a portage around Death's Falls on the Dangerous River?"
Answer no. 1: "Yes - we were there this spring and the takeout is 100m upstream of the falls on river right. Look for the big rock outcrop by the stand of birches."
Answer no. 2: "Yes - I think so. I spoke with someone who did the trip and they mentioned a decent trail on the right. However, I haven't personally paddled the route, so you may want to try to find someone with first-hand knowledge."
Don't Expect an Instantaneous Reply
People don't sit around here watching the forums so that they can provide information instantly. You'll probably get an answer to your question, but it may not happen within an hour. Please don't post a question on the forums, and then an hour later, post a reply that says "anyone?" and an hour later another that says "so nobody knows the answer?" and so on. Be patient. People may be involved in other important stuff - like canoeing.
Mind Your Manners
Remember when your mom forced you to call Grandma to say thank you for the birthday present she sent? Well, we're being Mom here. Say "thank you" if someone helps you out. Really, it's not considered a waste of bandwidth. If someone takes the time to provide useful information to you, take the time to thank them.
Keep it Family-Friendly
We're not prudes - but we like to think of this site as family friendly. You don't need vulgarity to prove your point. Nobody's going to gasp and get upset if you say "shit in the bush" instead of "defacate in the forest," but we really don't like to see inappropriately vulgar language or smutty content. Your tolerance level may be far higher to this type of thing than other visitors, so it's best to err on the side of caution.
We Don't All Have to Agree
If you have the type of personality that drives you to sway everyone to your way of thinking, you'll go crazy here. If people disagree with your way of thinking, accept it as inevitable and get over it. Sometimes the best way to maintain peace is to agree to disagree.
We'll waive this recommendation as soon as there's global peace and canoeists all agree whether to put their groundsheet either inside or outside of the tent.
Be Open to Other Points of View
We may not lots, but none of us know everything. Being open to other points of view is the sign of an intelligent person with an open mind. Giving serious consideration to another's viewpoint is a great way of learning and growing. Be gracious and admit it if you've made a mistake, and welcome the knowledge if someone shows you a better way of doing something.
The use of all caps when typing is CONSIDERED TO BE SHOUTING and is generally seen as being rude. It's also hard to read. That little button at the far left of the keyboard that says "Caps Lock" will prevent this from happening if you take the time to use it
Don't be a Troll
A troll is someone who likes to stir things up just for the sake of stirring things up. Trolls post controversial, provocative or insulting material just to get a rise out of the other forum users. If you're inclined to do this, please go away - far away. We don't want you here. Trolls can kill forum communities faster than the black plague.
If you're on the receiving end of trollish behaviour, ignore it. Trolls are attention-seekers, and will quickly tire of their destructive activity if nobody responds. Really - bite your tongue and say nothing.
Count to Ten
If someone posts something that you don't like or don't agree with, don't instantaneously snap back at them. Take a deep breath, count to ten. Go for a walk around the park. Re-read the post. A bit of thought and a bit of time will almost always result in a more rational, reasoned and polite response.
Don't Post Libellous Material
The Internet isn't an anonymous free-for-all. You're responsible for what you post in a public venue like these forums, and the rule of law applies to those posts. If you post something libelous, you could could be getting yourself (and maybe us) in a heap of trouble.
We provide and pay for these forums as a meeting place for people sharing a common interest. They shouldn't be considered a way to get free advertising material out to that group. If you'd like to advertise, feel free to contact us about those banners and text ads you see over on the right side. Heck, if you're perceived as supporting these forums, the users will probably even buy your product.
Use Descriptive Subject Lines
Be as informative as possible in the subject line - it's what people see as they scan through the forums, and it's what they use to determine if they'll read (and subsequently respond to) your post.
* Good: "Need Software Info: SmartMovie v8.9 for Motorola Razr v2"
* OK, but Not as Good: "Need Info for SmartMovie v8.9"
* Bad: "SmartMovie Info"
* Very Bad: "Can Anyone Help ME???????? Please????"
Put it in the Right Place
You'll get a much better response to your post on the best 3G phone if you dont place it under the Love and Friendship Forum.
Contribute, Don't Reiterate
There isn't a lot of value in responding to a post with "I agree" or "right on." If you want to add to a thread by agreeing with a viewpoint, try to add some further examples or background on the issue.
Avoid Run-On Sentences
Your post will be much easier to read if it doesn't consist of one long sentence or paragraph with no breaks. Hit that enter key once in a while to help keep things readable.
Private Messages Deserve Private Replies
If someone sends you a question via private message, reply using that same medium. Don't post a public reply in the forums. There may be a reason that the person used the private message system, so respect that.
Don't Hijack a Thread
If someone has started a thread, don't change the subject and take it off in another direction. That's considered hijacking and it's not polite. If a particular post sparks a new question, start a new thread with that question.
Read the Whole Thread
Sometimes threads run to several pages. Don't read the first two posts and jump into the discussion without seeing what else has been said. You may be repeating information already posted, or the focus of the thread may have subtly shifted in another page.
Don't Cross Post
Don't post the same question in a number of forums. Most people use the "newest posts" page as a starting point, and if you've posted in multiple forums, they'll see all of those multiple posts. What will most likely happen is that some people will reply to one of the posts, and others may reply to one of the others. Keep the discussion focussed by having only a single place to read and reply.
Maintain Your Thread
Once you've asked a question, come back once in a while and look at where the thread is going. Someone may have asked you to clarify a point or provide additional info.
Keep Your Signature Small
Some people like to put a favourite quotation or their contact info in their signature. That's fine - but keep it brief, and hopefully in small font. Huge, bloated signatures take up room, use bandwidth and make reading the forums difficult.
Read Your Post Before Submitting It
Before you click that submit button, quickly re-read it. Are their obvious spelling or grammar errors? Does the post accurately convey your question? Could your post be misconstrued in any way? Use the Edit option and dont flood.
Don't Take Questions Off-Forum
These forums are here so that all can benefit from shared information. Don't post a question and ask that people email you with a response. The information shared in your post will probably be useful to someone else; and having it posted on the forums means that it will be permanently archived for others to use.
Don't Use the Forums to Air Disputes
If you're involved in a battle with a company, don't use the forums as a venue for publicly airing that dispute. This is simply not the proper venue to be complaining about poor service or mishandled warranty claims.
Use the Quote Feature
When threads start to ramble a bit (as they invariably do) you can help keep things in context by using the quote feature. Rather than just replying to something ten posts ago in a thread, use the reply-with-quote feature and it'll be obvious to users what part of the thread you're replying to.
You also don't have to leave a person's entire post in the quote tags - you can edit the text between the quote tags to contain only the part of the user's post that you're replying to.
Don't Bump too Often
Posts are displayed on the forums chronologically from the time of the last reply to that thread. If you've asked a question and nobody has answered it, it will gradually "sink down" out of site.
A good way of bringing your post back to the top of the list is to reply to it with a one word post, saying "bump." People will understand that you're just bumping your post back front and centre. However, it's important not to abuse this practice - don't bump your post every 24 hours to keep it at the top. It may just be that nobody has an answer to your question, and you're simply not going to get an answer, no matter how many times you bump it.
Don't be Afraid to Post
The community that hangs out here is friendly and helpful. Don't feel intimidated because you're new to the forums or because you're new to canoeing. You're welcome here, and we look forward to seeing your first post. Should you happen to get a reply that sounds a bit snooty or elitist, ignore it. Remember that 99% of the people here are great, and a snooty reply reflects only on the person who made it, not you.
NOW start SYMBIANIZING!