The rules.. and how to break them

I consider myself in the minority when it comes to Ubuntu or Linux User gatherings. I am 35+ and I have been online since it was possible to strap a phone coupler to a BBC micro and locate the nearest Bulletin Board Service. I do not believe that age, experience or contribution should be the defining factor for what makes a member of the community more relevant or important than any other. Which is why recently I have been more aware of the issues in creating this community we call open.

As Ubuntu , or indeed any distribution , community grows it will inevitably bring with it new users and new members. Many of those are coming from either the windows community or are just totally new to the experience of operating online. As they enter our community they may make some social faux pauxs and blunders. What continues to irritate me is not the mistakes made by new members but the attitude of “older” more “longterm” members take in explaining to the new user how they might be upsetting the group or just their own sensibilities in there recent posts.

No one, unless they have some special sociapathic tendency, wants to upset a group which they are attempting to integrate with and so we should recognise that a new member does not wish to be publically admonished or upbraided for their lack of social etiquette. Email, IRC and Webforums make it far easier to distance the effect of directly contradicting or upbraiding and as a result we often critique or admonish far quicker than we would in real life.

So I would like to propose an addendum to all the netiquette rules that have or may exist both now and in the future.

When you spot an infraction which you feel breaks the accepted standard of netiquette or forum or channel rules please do not use the same public forum with which to correct the individual. It is just as rude to point out a persons failings and it does nothing to encourage others to become involved.

When responding to the individual ensure that you have a reliable and agreed upon source with which to instruct the individual. This may take the form of a FAQ or Channel Rules or other Website. It is not helpful to quote sources or ideas which the new member may be unfamiliar with.

If there are no sources or previously constructed FAQs then it may be time to create and document these. To define them as the standard by which the group will operate and agree to operate by. Ensure that any new member, if they introduce themselves, is politely and privately introduced to those guidelines.

Finally where assumptions are made that the rules and guidelines are in place for public or private behaviour be considerate that the actions of the offending individuals which do not directly harm or cause menace to the group. Good behaviours, proper communication and clear examples of expected performance are learnt actions so allow the new members time to integrate with the group and learn the correct actions.

I think it s more important how you act and introduce a new member to the rules of netiquette than the new member be able to operate according to the rules. So please be considerate and be helpful and more importantly be understanding .

Thanks for reading.

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