By Reba Collins
I'm sure most people who are reading this article have run across a messageboard or two on the internet. There are several that I frequent and they are a very valuable resource for information on a chosen topic. If you've never contributed to a conversation on a messageboard, you may feel a little scared or inadequate at first, but please, if you have information that will contribute to the quality of the board, be sure to contribute as it's those wonderful people who take the time to respond that make messageboards such a great resource.
However, if you are new to a messageboard, there are a few things you MUST do before your fingers start dancing on the keyboard. Quite often I see new people join a board and then get flamed because they didn't follow proper protocol. I don't want to scare you, please don't take it like that, it's just that sometimes a new person will come along and jump right in without even reading the posting guidelines or taking time to go through the current threads. It's obvious they don't know what's going on and haven't taken the time to do any reading. This is very annoying, not to mention, disrespectful, to the regulars on the board who take precious time out of their day to post valuable information. Typing an informed answer to someone's question takes a lot of time and if the question was answered two threads down, do you really think anyone wants to answer it again?
There are a few things you MUST do before you decide to post. Here's a short list to get you started. In addition, just pretend as if you were already part of the community and treat others how you would want to be treated. If you just do the these things, you will be welcomed with open arms.
· Read the posting guidelines. Most messageboards have a thread, usually stuck to the top of the board, that outlines the policies and guidelines you need to know before you make a post.
· Read through the threads that were started within the last few weeks. If it's really busy board, you may not have to read that far back, just be sure you get a feel for the climate of the board. Don't consider posting anything until you've at least done that.
· If you have a specific question, find the search feature and use it. More than likely you will find the answer to your question. If your question involves trends or a timely issue, consider what you found in the archives, learn from it, and then reframe your question so you get answers that are more current.
· NEVER, NEVER, NEVER advertise unless the section of the board you are posting in is specifically for advertising. Often there is a section reserved for advertising, look for that section and if it doesn't exist, then you cannot advertise on that board.
· Using a sig line with your name is normally okay, however, it's best to check the rules and guidelines for posting before using one.
· Always remember, it's better to say nothing than to say something mean.
· And along those lines, if someone says something mean about you and you feel you must defend yourself, do not do so immediately. Write what you want to say in a text document on your own computer (not on the messageboard) and wait until the next day to read it. Sugar is always better than vinegar. If you run a business, consider that your customers may happen across the messageboard and you wouldn't want your company name immortalized by something you said in a tiff. Actually, you might find it would be petty to even respond, be the bigger person.
Now that you know there are rules and courtesies to consider, go out and find a messageboard that discusses a topic that interests you. Enjoy and learn from the diversity you'll find there, just remember to play nicely.
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