Commit a80ce238 authored by Andrew Price's avatar Andrew Price

MW etiquette overhaul

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<p>Milliways has existed for a very long time and its regular users include members both past and present, as such there is a sense of community, and like any community a number of rules of etiquette have formed over the years.</p><p>The denizens of Milliways are usually polite and helpful to strangers and newcomers, but do expect those that wish to hang around to familiarise themselves with <em>&quot;the way things are&quot;</em> and play nice.&nbsp; As with most communities, newcomers need to show respect for the existing members and not expect the community to immediately adapt to accommodate them. </p><p>So the following is an attempt to describe some of the more usual pitfalls that a new user may come across.&nbsp;<br /></p><p><strong>Nothing Personal</strong></p><p>Milliways is a relaxed and informal environment, and as such there is often a lot of joking and messing around, a part of this that a newcomer may find difficult at first is the way that users will often ridicule and criticise each other, themselves, and anything else that catches their attention. If you happen to become the target of such comments then do not take it as a personal attack, it usually isn&#39;t.</p><p><strong>Spelling</strong> &nbsp;</p><p>Users are expected to express themselves using full and valid English sentences and words, the use of &quot;txt spk&quot; is not tolerated, and any bad spellings, abbreviations, and general bad use of English will typically result in corrections being offered, or scorn poured upon, as appropriate.&nbsp; Not only does proper use of English allow you to make yourself better understood, but it is good practice in preparation for the Real World (and &quot;txt spk&quot; really isn&#39;t any quicker than real English if you are practiced).<br /></p><p><strong>Meta-Questions</strong> aka Ask or Ask Not, there is no &quot;May I&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>If you have a question or something that you require help on, just come straight out and ask it, be as specific as you can, no asking &quot;can I ask a question?&quot;. Ask the actual question and anybody that is able and willing to help will do so, if you get no answer its because nobody can help you.&nbsp; Don&#39;t repeatedly ask the same question if no one is replying - if someone was able to help they would do, asking them over and over will just annoy and reduce the chance of someone helping in future.</p><p>Don&#39;t assume people know exactly what you are talking about just because your question is obvious in the context of your specific course.&nbsp; For example, a programming question like &quot;how do I do $foo&quot; is less helpful than &quot;how do I do $foo in $language&quot;.&nbsp; The former is likely to get you answers covering C, Python, Haskell, etc. rather than the language you are interested in.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Flooding the Channel&nbsp;</strong></p><p>If you have anything that you wish to share with the world (for criticism generally ;) that is more than a line or two of text then you should make use of the SUCS website utilities of&nbsp; <a href="http://sucs.org/Tools/ShortURI" title="ShortURI" target="_blank">ShortURI </a> and <a href="http://sucs.org/Tools/PasteBin" target="_blank">PasteBin</a> as appropriate, and just paste the resulting url instead. this saves cluttering up the screens of all of the users. In the case of questions on items of coursework it would be a good idea only to paste the section around the actual problem, not your entire answer, as anybody can see the result.</p><p><strong>Further Reading</strong></p><p>Eric Raymond maintains quite a good (but long) document on how to ask questions in a technical forum.&nbsp; It is worth a read if you have time: <a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html">http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html</a></p>
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<p>
Milliways regulars include society members from both past and present, and some
who just like to use Milliways but have never been part of the society. There
is a unique sense of community, and you will often find passionate debate on
all sorts of subjects from programming to politics, plus the odd pun.
</p>
<p>
It can be a little daunting when first joining Milliways as the community is so
well established, but stick around and get to know how things work and you'll
soon find out how to get the most out of Milliways. If you find any way
that Milliways can be improved, let us know. Milliways is an open source
project developed by SUCS members since 1992 and it changes regularly!
</p>
<p>
Below are a few guidelines that every user should follow so that Milliways can
be a place where people want to hang out and tell their friends about.
</p>
<p>
<strong>You're Talking To Humans</strong>
</p>
<p>
It's important to keep in mind that there are real people behind the usernames
and that they all have their own backgrounds and experiences, and perhaps some
of them are even having a bad day. Use good judgement as to your familiarity
with other users and the power dynamic between you before choosing your words,
especially when using light hearted banter.
</p>
<strong>Asking Questions</strong>
</p>
<p>
It is tempting to ask if you can ask a question on Milliways, or if anyone is
around who knows about a certain subject, but if you have a question or
something that you require help with, the best thing to do is to ask that
question straight away. Provide as much context as you can. You may have to
wait for an answer outside of busy hours and if you do not get an answer it can
be useful to other users to report back when you've found the answer elsewhere.
If the question is likely to be answered with a quick web search, try that
first to save time. Note that students asking for coursework solutions will
likely encounter silence but asking very specific questions to help you
understand the concepts you need is highly encouraged.
</p>
<p>
<strong>Answering Questions</strong>
</p>
<p>
Particularly with newcomers, it's important to appreciate that asking a
question may be a difficult thing to do. We were all new students and new to
Milliways at one point. If you think the answer is obvious or simple, it's best
to keep that to yourself to avoid belittling the asker. Not everybody has the
same knowledge in their head.
</p>
<p>
<strong>Don't Flood the Talker</strong>
</p>
<p>
If you have anything that you wish to share on Milliways that is more than a
line or two of text then you should make use of a pastebin, such as the <a
href="http://sucs.org/Tools/PasteBin" target="_blank">SUCS PasteBin</a> and
there is also a <a href="http://sucs.org/Tools/ShortURI" title="ShortURI"
target="_blank">SUCS URI shortener</a> for posting very long links without
flooding, although many long URIs can be shortened greatly just by trimming the
ad tracking elements from them.
</p>
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