A Musing on Forum Etiquette

Ah, you can smell it in the air. The smell of a thousand nerds, all stressing over a clue given out by the GDC. The smell of a thousand nerds, testing new electronic toys. FIRST has grown, and this forum is showing it. This will be the single largest group of teams to ever play the game. We’re in a monumental year, folks.

With the shear size of the organization comes a downfall: The influx of what the internet has deemed “n00bs.” This is no fault of their own, only a product of the energy that FIRST embodies. So where am I going with this? Into a rant about how it is appropriate to behave on a forum of this type. We have all broken these golden rules at some time or another, and hopefully we can all strive to not break them again.

Golden Rule Number One: Search Before Ye Post. It gets thrown around a lot, yes. But how many of us actually take the time to do this? Searching is more than just spitting one key term into the search engine and only looking at applicable titles. A true search is much akin to doing research for a paper. One first identifies many general sources, then spends some time scouring them for detailed information. This detailed information can be easily found, especially with the use of a second tool. Less often mentioned, this is the search within forum. Once you identify which topic might contain the information of importance to you, this little tool greatly aids in pinpointing it.

Golden Rule Number Two: Label Thine Threads Appropriately. In short, “Help” is too vague. A forum user should be able to guess what your first paragraph should say form your topic. There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. It can’t be too hard to spend a few seconds finding the right ones to label your post.

Golden Rule Number Three: Think Before Ye Submit Post. Here on Chief Delphi, we like to think we’ve got a very professional atmosphere going. For the most part this is correct. Imagine each post as a writeup that you’d be posting on the office wall at your engineering firm. Sure you’d want to post that? Everyone can read it, and assumptions will be made about whoever’s name lies at the bottom. It’s important to be understood clearly, so spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation are paramount when trying to communicate.

Golden Rule Number Four: Don’t be afraid to take things to PM. Most times you’ll be able to get a custom tailored response if you take it to PM. Not ALL things need to be discussed in open channel. Criticisms especially. While it is important to bring design ideas, and strategy points to light in an open thread, personal criticism about methods of communication aren’t always well received in an open channel.

Golden Rule Number Five: The FAQ and Read Before Posting exist for a reason. If you haven’t read them because you think “all forums have the same stuff there,” you’re wrong. Chief Delphi is a unique community, and one that deserves some time spent to get accustomed to it.

Great rant. Please continue to embrace & educate “n00bs”. CD is a wonderful open forum, which benefits from new thoughts & members. I’m adding:

Golden Rule Number Six: Show patience as newcomers get up to speed. Save bad rep. for inappropriate, vulgar or extremely off-topic posts rather than naive, poorly phrased questions, inadequetely researched posts or differences of opinion.

Lets encourage more members from FIRST’s growing community to use this forum. Understanding the rules and having them clearly explained helps.

Rule #7: You represent your team in everything you do. Act with gracious professionalism at all times.

All the above rules are right on target. Please read them.

Golden Rule Number Eight: Spell Check. Leave the IM shorthand to your cell phone texting. If you don’t know how to spell a word, go to http://dictionary.reference.com/

Thank you for your support :slight_smile:

Don’t always read into someone’s post too much. Sometimes what’s written is not meant to be connotative.

Craig, you beat me to it. I do have one thing to add…

Rule #9: Do Thy Research. Before you ask a question, do a little bit of “digging” in the appropriate places. Try to find the answer yourself. For game and robot rules, look in the manual. For most other things, following Rule #1 should be sufficient. If there is some form of evidence that you did this, we will be much more willing to help (think “Help me with my homework, I don’t understand this problem” as compared to “Do my homework for me”).

How about rephrasing this particular “musing” to “You represent yourself at all times, so be gracious and professional. It’s the right thing to do within, and outside of, FIRST contexts.”

Also adding, “FYI, some people will mistakenly assume that you also represent a team at all times.”


Chief Delphi is a great resource for a lot of teams/the first community. Its a great place to go to get information and to check out other peoples thoughts on certain topics. People know the rules that are set out for the site and people try there best to follow them. Sometimes though when teams are at a practice and need help with something they throw things up there, come on guys is it really the end of the world?
Good luck this year to everyone!

It is etiquette, not rules, that we are discussing. They are different things. There are some things that are not exactly liked on CD, such as discussing sensitive intra-team issues or asking (or demanding) an answer to a question would have been answered faster by searching or reading the manual. These are not against forum rules. However, they are not the best-liked things on here.

We shouldn’t be too hard on rushed questions, but there are some times when we just can’t take it any more. This isn’t the first thread of its kind; nor will it be the last.

I know i have significantly less posts than most of you in this thread and have been around a shorter period of time. I agree with you people must use etiquette on the forum i agree with that 100%. However its not the end of the world when it happens. It doesn’t happen a ton. People are going to be people. It will make more of a statement, when somebody does post something not using the CD etiquette, to just not answer there post than reply a jumpy answer.

Extension to rule 8, communicate effectively. The words ‘there’ and ‘their’ are different words, use them appropriately. Also, to quote Jane Young, “communication at its best = quick, brief, clear”

Ah, yes. I forgot about this one.

Golden Rule Number Whatever-we’re-up-to-now: Don’t air your team’s dirty laundry. Open forum isn’t the place for that. If you’d like this advice of people here, I suggest taking it to PM.

Excellent thread. I notice that, with one exception, everyone here has a full set of green dots. Maybe there’s a connection ??

I try very hard to get kids to do their research before asking. Sometimes I’m even successful at it.

I’ve found ChiefDelphi to be inspiring, useful, helpful, and fun. Through ChiefDelphi, I have met people from all of the world and have grown in my personal life and my professional life because of these people and the knowledge shared so readily and freely. Opportunity makes its presence known and felt within this community. That is no small thing. If I were to make a rule, it would have to do with keeping it fun and bringing your best effort to the discussion, whether that be listening or posting.

An excellent suggestion.

Golden Rule Number Whatever: While CD is a professional place, all places have room for fun (especially FIRST!). If it’s not fun for you, you might want to be looking for something that suits your own passions more. Remember, we love having a blast doing the chicken dance mid competition!

Also do not post in an important thread just to get your post count up, this makes the thread longer and harder to read for the people that are looking for help. Also, just because it is a pet peeve of mine, do not post something in a thread that has already been said, go to the hint #1 thread if you need an explanation.

Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post
“I’ve found ChiefDelphi to be inspiring, useful, helpful, and fun. Through ChiefDelphi, I have met people from all of the world and have grown in my personal life and my professional life because of these people and the knowledge shared so readily and freely. Opportunity makes its presence known and felt within this community. That is no small thing. If I were to make a rule, it would have to do with keeping it fun and bringing your best effort to the discussion, whether that be listening or posting.”

I could not agree more!!!

Excellent thread. Many of these points have been brought up previously, but it is always good - and seemingly necessary - to review them again each year just before the season starts. In that spirit, I would like to offer up another of Grandma Lavery’s little rules that she used to pound into our heads:

**Golden Rule Eleven: There are two ways to say anything - choose yours carefully. ** How you choose to deliver a message is just as important as the message itself. Correcting someone’s mistake by saying “although it is physically possible to do it like that, could the cantilevered load over-stress the bearing? Have you considered doing it like this…” carries a completely different message than “only an ignorant git would do it that way. All us smart people do it like this…” The former recognizes the efforts of the individual, while identifying a potentially better solution. The latter just identifies you as a boor to be avoided.

**Golden Rule Twelve: You will be known by what you write here. ** Remember that your words here will live on to represent you much longer than you expect. There are those that have learned the hard way that snide answers they gave in a thread five years ago are well-remembered, and create reputations that are hard to overcome. To repeat the thoughts of an earlier post:

What you do, and what you write, is completely within your control. The “gee-it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time” bile-filled rant about the dumb restrictive decision your parents just made is going to have a life of its own after you post it on Facebook. Six years from now, long after you have forgotten about it, that really cool prospective employer that you really want to work for is going to do a search on Archive.org and read through it. They will realize how you trash talk about your family “in private” and wonder if you will do the same about their company. The “this-is-why-I-think-my-chemistry-teacher-is-the-most-moronic-person-on-the-planet” five-page diatribe that you just posted one day will be reviewed by your co-worker down the hall that is supposed to be mentoring you in your new job. Long after you have forgotten writing that blog entry about your first weekend binge as a college student, an as-yet-unmet significant other is going to read it and wonder why they should ever waste their time with someone that behaves so boorishly. And let’s not even consider the reaction from your grandmother (remember? that person that we are all supposed to be making proud?) as she reads through your latest harangue on the universal unfairness of the world and how the rest of us should all just go and stick our heads in dark places.

So please, before you make that vituperative post disparaging the “horrible, wrong-headed, my dog could have done better” post about the refs decision during your last match - think. Think about those words that you are about to post publicly. Think about the message that they convey. But most importantly, think about what those words say about you - as an author, a possible employee, a future compatriot, a potential friend, and a current family member. Because those words WILL get out. And they will have your name on them.


What i have told my students in the past is that Chief Delphi is not only a professional community of FIRSTers but a great tool and should be respected as both. The best way i explain how to create a generally helpful and high thought post/reply is to think of it as either your writing a proposal for the particular project[issue that you are working on] to your companies board of directors, or giving high end tech support. Both mentalities should be used appropriately, like using the tech support mentality when another user posts a “lacking-in-info” thread. Obviously there are some [more or less] exceptions to these with the “fun” threads but either way you need to be in your “Sunday best” mentality when posting/replying.

Just my two cents…

ps. Dave, i always enjoy reading your posts :slight_smile:

Golden Rule Twelve: I see this all the time and it really bugs me. If someone post a picture (in CD Media) of their robot, CNC wheels, Frame etc, don’t make a comment like “Team XXXX’s been doing that for years”, or “If you think that’s cool, take a look at our robot”. If you want to brag up your bot, wheels etc than create your own separate post.
No offence was intended. If you were, I apologize.