Posting Netiquette, "Urgent", and Helpful Mail Servers

It never ceases to amaze me what people can post on newgroups and messageboards and actually expect to receive an answer!

I wouldn't exactly characterize this as a "pet peeve", since I usually don't even bother to read them any longer.

You get tipped off to this when see things such as a post title that says "Please Help" (or, "URGENT" - in caps).

DOH! Of course you are asking for help, isn't that why you made a post? How about putting some descriptive phrase in the title that tells people what subject area the post is about?

In the C# newsgroup, Jon Skeet, whose work I particularly admire, even put together a posting netiquette piece on his web site entitled "Short but Complete"

On eggheadcafe.com , we have a "posting netiquette" page that I often refer offenders to.

Finally MVP Daniel Petri has successfully entered an MS KB Article on the same subject.

Besides providing a useful and descriptive subject line to your post, you want to consider providing information on at least some of the following, as Daniel astutely points out:

  • What are you trying to do?

  • Why are you trying to do it?

  • What did you try already, why, and what was the result of your actions?

  • What was the exact error message that you received?

  • How long have you been experiencing this problem?

  • Have you searched the relevant forum/newsgroup archives?

  • Have you searched for any tools or KB articles or any other resources?

  • Have you recently installed or uninstalled any software or hardware?

  • What changes were made to the system between the time everything last worked and when you noticed the problem?

The bottom line is, posting on groups and forums is an art. You are competing with others for the attention of responders. If you want to get the "first responders", you have to pay attention to what you put in your post.

While all of these have some element of humor in them, they all talk about the same concept: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out). and should be required reading for anyone considering making a post on a newsgroup or forum.

Helpful Mail Servers

You thought I'd forget, didn't you? One more thing that I think is really really DUMB: Mail Server software that sends YOU an email saying that something was wrong with your email that was really sent by a bot that's trying
to hijack your email address (a.k.a. "Xenophobic email attacks").

So what have they accomplished other than to further clog up the bandwidth in Paradise?