We need some guidelines for contributors

Most of us have been guilty of the following errors at one time or another. Let’s keep them in mind whenever the urge to post or comment moves us.

  • Expressing thoughts or feelings because they occur to us and not because they have real value for the community.
  • Failing to do research on a topic before talking about it. Doing research means looking up posts or comments that have covered the same ground.
  • Not taking time to express ourselves well enough to be understood, to communicate effectively.
  • Introducing a new topic–usually an app under development–without saying enough to enable people to evaluate it adequately. Just posting a few words and a link is not enough.
  • Posting a link without clarification and brief summary text.
  • Straying off topic.

Let’s remember that the forum is not a storehouse of what occurs to us on the spur of the moment and what we have a spare minute to express. It is a place for thoughtful, reasoned comment–ideas that help others, enlarge or enrich the collective understanding.

When the urge to post or comment strikes you, remember that you can draft a response and return to it later.


Great to put these together. I think Contribution Guidelines should be a page in the menu, where the FAQ also resides. I’ll make your post a wiki, so others can edit as well

(I lack the time currently to edit, but will pick this up later).


Hi @patm, I’d like to combine guidelines with how-to information on using the forum, and create the text in short, single-line sentences. So I took the liberty to re-write your input as shown below. The good points you make are all in there.

Creating contributions guidelines to keep this forum organized and efficient

This wiki post can be edited by anyone (press the ‘edit’ button), to add/improve guidelines. Once complete they will be moved to a separate page in the dropdown menu, and referred to from a headline text above the forum. Here my the draft guidelines:

Creating topics

  • Research your topic to see if others have posted or commented on it

    • Before creating new topics, use Search to see if your theme has been discussed before.
  • When you find existing topics that are relevant, then either:

    • Add a post to that thread instead, even if if older, inactive for a while
    • Create new topic and cross-reference, i.e. Copy/Paste links to other topics/posts
  • Give your new topic a descriptive title that is not too long

    • Bad: “Feedback on my thesis”
    • Good: “Thesis feedback wanted: The effect of tech on social skills”
  • Select the best forum Category for you topic, from the dropdown list

  • Add relevant Tags to the topic, or create new tags as appropriate

    • If possible choose existing tags, even if they not fully match (e.g. ‘addiction’ vs. ‘addictive’)
    • Only add new tags that describe humane tech-related terms (lower-case, dashes not spaces)
    • Do not add too many tags. Four or five should be the maximum
    • Bad: “Spain”, “MyCoolProduct”, “food”
    • Good: “network-effects”, “attention-span”, “tech-harm”, “scientific”

Creating posts

  • Before posting, ensure that your Post matches the topic at hand. Stay On-Topic!

    • Not doing so risks Moderation, and your post is either moved to a different topic or deleted
    • If you do take discussion sideways, bring it back in the end, or create a new topic + cross-reference
  • If your post is only relevant to individual(s) in the thread, then send a Private Message instead

    • You send private messages by clicking a member’s profile icon, and click the ‘Message’ button
    • Multiple people can participate in private messages, by inviting them
    • It is possible to turn private messages into a public topic, and vice versa
  • When responding directly to an earlier post, use the Reply button on that particular post

    • If the replied post is long, consider Quoting relevant text, by selecting it and pressing ‘Quote’
  • Avoid short responses that do not add new points to the discussion!

    • It is better to give a Like than say “I agree”, or “Me too” (Yes, this is time-well-spent)
    • Short replies deteriorate discussion quality, make threads ‘too long, didn’t read’, or TL;DR
  • Be DRY, or do not repeat yourself, if you made your points elsewhere. Create cross-reference if needed

    • If you repeat yourself too frequently without cause, your post will be moderated and deleted
  • Do not add your own email to your post. Posts are public and emails can be harvested by spammers

    • Instead add your email to your profile description, and refer to that, or send a private message (PM)

Wiki posts

  • On any (topic) post you can enable multiple-editing by selecting ‘Make wiki’ from the Tools menu

    • The tools menu icon may not be visible unless you first click the ellipsis ... icon
  • A wiki post allows any member to add/modify the text, just by clicking the green Edit icon

    • Whenever edits are made, and saved, a new revision is added.
    • You can see previous revisions, and revert to them if necessary


  • Always create proper links that have a title.

  • Cross-referencing posts and topics within the forum only requires copy/paste of the hyperlink (URL)

    • The forum will format the link automatically, so that the topic title is displayed
    • Pasting URL’s on their own line separated by newlines, results in a summary text to be included
    • You can get the URL of a topic/post from the browser, or by clicking the Link Sharing :link: button

Formatting guidance

  • Take your time to formulate good sentences, and re-read for understandability before posting

    • Proofread your text to make sure there are no typographical or grammatical errors
  • When using expert language and acronyms, first provide an explainer, write the full acronym’s text

    • Avoid generic acronyms that are not common, or are social media slang
    • Bad: “LMAO”, “ROFL”, “LOLZ”
    • Bad: “AFAIK they used dangerous URIs that got them pwned, LMAO!”
    • Good: “As far as I know dangerous hyperlinks (URI’s) got them pwned (i.e. their accounts hacked)”
    • Good: " This is called ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ (FOMO). In general FOMO leads to …"
  • Consider adding an excerpt if your post becomes overly long. Either at the start or in a conclusion at the end

  • When quoting text from external sources, use the quote feature from the toolbar, or prepend the > character

This is quoted text

  • Use special formatting to increase ledgibility and understanding

    • Add newlines to separate long texts into paragraphs
    • Add paragraph headers when necessary, by starting with # (heading 1), ## (heading 2), etc.
    • Highlight important points with Bold and Italic or Preformatted text
    • Use bulleted or numbered lists instead of single-sentence/paragraph enumerations
    • Add full-width separators by typing --- on a line in-between newlines
  • Familiarize yourself with the Markdown format. It is easier to use than the formatting toolbar

  • Use emoji wisely and sparingly:

    • Add emoji to convey emotion, when your text can lead to misunderstanding :wink: (only joking)
    • Do not use multiple emoji, do not overdo it: :slight_smile: :heart: :blush: :sunglasses:. A single emoji should suffice

Special formatting

There are more options by clicking the ‘gear’ :gear: icon on the formatting toolbar:

Hidden details:

Click me

This text will be hidden

Spoiler text:

Ah you spoiled it. This was a spoiler text

Create a poll:

  • I understand
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Insert a date/time or time interval (nice for Meetup planning):

September 16, 2018 (Europe: Paris), September 15, 2018 (America: Los Angeles)September 17, 2018 (Europe: Paris), September 17, 2018 (America: Los Angeles)



Very clear and useful tool !
I only want to highlight the importance of the cross-mention topics and posts.
If we develop this attitude and skill, we are first of all creating a criteria for posters in the path of give value to previous ideas .
This will facilitate a more synergy and the develop of strong shared collaboration

Yes, good thoughts, @ALFREDO. The idea of giving “value to previous ideas” is very important. Too often I see members bringing up things that have already been discussed, adding little to what was said before.

And yes, synergy and developing “strong shared collaboration” are critical to the success of the forum. You have hit the nail on the head!

A few responses to the guidelines:

I would add to this that people who respond to posts or comments by typing on their smartphones need to proofread their text. Often I see misspellings, grammatical errors, and other things that obscure the meaning or significance of what folks are trying to say.

I know that I have been guilty of this, so I am now trying to be more conscious of what I say. Every response—whether it is time well spent to read or not—gets listed. Too often I click on something only to find a member saying “Thank you,” “I didn’t know that,” or the equivalent.

For fun, I made this graphic, dedicated to the Queen of Soul.


That is a great summary you made, @patm! I incorporated 3 of these points in the text. Thank you!


See the pinned topic Forum layout changes, re-categorization and Contribution Guidelines. The guidelines have been added to the dropdown menu.

I am closing this topic. Feedback can be given on the pinned topic.

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