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Thread: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: an M4C Style Guide.

  1. #1
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    The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: an M4C Style Guide.

    While most of us have a bit of down time over the holidays, this seems an appropriate time to tap the brakes for a moment, and share a few behind-the-scenes thoughts on where we are, where we've been, and where we are headed. M4C continues to grow at a very steady rate, and with that growth comes an influx of new members who often aren't very well acquainted with what makes M4C different, the environment that we are trying to foster, or how things that are often no big deal elsewhere will tend to get them into serious trouble here. To that end, I have tried to assemble an informal style guide of sorts to help provide some cues as to where the left and right limits of this particular range can be found.

    Mechanics and Style.
    The Good: Proper grammar and syntax count, and the more professionally you represent yourself in writing, the better the impression that you will make upon your fellow members. We recognize that not every member has the same ability to express himself (or herself) in writing, and if you happen to fall short while doing the best you can, all will be forgiven.
    The Bad: The larger internet culture seems to embrace a much looser style of communication that dispenses with proper capitalization, punctuation or other fundamentals, and is more liberal in the use of crass language. This is not the place for such shorthand, nor is anyone here going to be impressed by your profanity.
    The Ugly: Younger members, in particular, seem to struggle with this. In the interest of perfect clarity, here's the bottom line: we expect every member to be as professional as possible, and if you have the tools in your toolbox to do it right, please use them.

    Use of Emoticons.
    The Good: Humor plays an important part in the dynamics of in interpersonal communication, and that can be especially true on a relatively anonymous internet forum. Sometimes the use of humor naturally lends itself to the use of an emoticon or two. We get it.
    The Bad: Emoticon use becomes a problem when it becomes the norm, rather than the exception. Some members seem to rely more heavily upon emoticons than others, but if you are in the habit of lacing every post with multiple emoticons, it is probably time to give some thought to (a) what you are actually communicating and (b) how your remarks are being perceived. There are other ways of infusing humor into a post, and if you are always having to resort to a bunch of emoticons, then something is wrong.
    The Ugly: Overuse of emoticons tends to suggest to more seasoned members that you are either very new, or that you probably cannot be taken seriously. While not a hard, fast rule, the appearance of an emoticon also tends to suggest that whatever preceded it probably added very little of substance to the discussion. Please use them sparingly.

    The Value of Opinions.
    The Good: One of M4C's strengths is that we acknowledge that not all opinions are created equal. To this end, we have attempted to make the Subject Matter Experts and Industry Professionals in our midst more visible, so you know when you are engaging with a heavy hitter. We also have many, many regular members who are capable of dispensing very sound advice.
    The Bad: If you honestly have no first-hand experience with the topic at hand, either learn to say nothing at all, or be very up-front about your limitations. Stay in your lane, and think twice about posting something that you believe to be true only because you read about it on the internet, or saw it in a magazine. You will earn far more respect by asking an intelligent question than by dispensing a foolish answer.
    The Ugly: Knowledgeable members are generally quick to throw the BS flag when it is warranted, and post-counts may not be especially useful here, as some of the most competent members on M4C have relatively low post counts. You may well discover that there is more wisdom in the opinion of a 2006 member with 400 posts than in that of a 2010 member with 1,400. Pay attention, and treat it as a learning opportunity should you find your views being actively challenged. (There is an associated lesson here with respect to our stance on post-whoring, but that should probably go without saying.)

    Form Follows Function.
    The Good: Perspective is an important component to understanding what M4C is all about, and our perspective on firearms as working tools can be especially instructive. We all appreciate a particularly well-executed carbine, the best new developments, and the finest accessories and gear.
    The Bad: What makes these components attractive, per the M4C definition, is first and foremost the utility and capability that they provide. While the best tools do possess a certain innate beauty, the "ooh, that looks so cool" subculture that seems to predominate elsewhere in the gun world is not really our forte -- nor is it really welcome here. M4C just isn't the place for expressions of the "pimp your gun" mentality.
    The Ugly: If you're preoccupied with carbine glamor shots and external appearances, or making your purchase and/or modification decisions based largely upon aesthetics, sooner or later you are going to get your feelings hurt. If your awesome-looking carbine is a safe queen that only sees the light of day for photo sessions, we're going to find that pretty pathetic. If your pathetic-looking carbine runs like a sewing machine in class after class, we're going to find that pretty awesome. You get the idea.

    Inflated Language.
    The Good: Enthusiasm for a new product or service that meets your needs particularly well is a good thing, and we invite you to share your impressions and findings to help broaden our collective knowledge. Reviews and range reports are always well-received.
    The Bad: Your approach to the subject matter is relevant. Brand-X may be the greatest that you've ever encountered, but if you go down the path of posting that you have "fallen madly in love with the awesomey goodness of the incomparable Brand-X," you're going to get thumped. This is not the place for creative hyperbole.
    The Ugly: Over-inflated language is a credibility killer. It turns professionals away from your post, and leads others to automatically discount your words. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and strive to be measured and mature in your prose.

    Pattern of Participation.
    The Good: M4C is a firearms discussion resource that strives to meet the needs of those who wish to increase their knowledge and understanding of the tools and techniques involved with defensive arms. We have multiple boards on the forum to provide a venue for most every conceivable topic, most staffed by knowledgeable folks who are happy to lend a helping hand.
    The Bad: There is a tendency among some newer members to bypass more substantive discussions elsewhere, and focus their involvement almost exclusively on the M4C "General Discussion" area. This is problematic for a number of reasons, and those who are most active on GD tend to draw negative attention to themselves because of the often contentious nature of the board. GD aficionados are reminded to maintain a healthy balance in their posting activity across the forum.
    The Ugly: While General Discussion has succeeded in keeping most off-topic discussion from spilling over into other areas of the site, the nature of the board is such that it is regularly a topic of staff discussion for permanent modification or removal. The importance of effective self-policing in this area cannot be overstated, and if you are not sure whether something is appropriate or not ... that's a pretty good indicator that it isn't.

    Respect for Authority.
    The Good: Our member base and staffers represent a great cross-section of our nation, from civilian patriots to industry professionals, law enforcement officers and members of the military. We come from different regions, races and religions, but we all share a common belief in the importance of the rule of law, our Constitution, and in the need to mount a competent defense of the Second Amendment.
    The Bad: We recognize that meaningful change often begins with grass-roots expressions of dissatisfaction, and that certain themes critical of our local or national leadership may strike a particular chord with some of our members; that said, M4C is not the right venue for airing most of these kinds of grievances. This isn't a matter of agreement or disagreement, but simply an acknowledgement that most of them are too complex to advance effectively as sidebar discussions on an internet gun forum. Discretion being the better part of valor, we find that it is often better to leave such stones unturned.
    The Ugly: Posts which openly question the actions of those in authority at whatever level invariably devolve into contentious debates. These debates always seem to end up with members involved in open arguments, and in unprofessional exchanges which serve no larger purpose. Given the choice between faciliating a member's need to express indignance over some troubling item in the news, or the preservation of a cohesive membership base, you can expect the latter to take precedence, every time.

    Personal Attacks.
    The Good: Like pretty much every board on the internet, we have a policy against personal attacks, and we strongly believe that it is possible -- even essential -- to be able to disagree with another's position without crossing the line and insulting them in the process.
    The Bad: Our tolerance level for "in your face" posting activity is very, very low. If you go after another member, you can expect to be dealt with swiftly and severely ... even if we happen to agree with your side of the debate. The issue here isn't who is right and who is wrong, but rather, how we have resolved to deal with each other while advancing our various views.
    The Ugly: It is admittedly difficult for the staff to apply a uniform standard in these cases, and it may seem that someone else got away with worse, when you got hammered for a lesser offense. A thinking man would endeavor to steer clear of trouble altogether, but if you are ever singled-out for correction, just take your licks and move on. This isn't about you; it's about the health of the forum.

    Youth and Inexperience.
    The Good: We recognize that these two don't always go hand-in-hand, but if you're still a teenager or a young 20-something, please recognize that M4C has a more seasoned membership base than many other sites, and we start with the base presumption that every member has been around the block a time or two, and probably has some idea what he is talking about.
    The Bad: It's kind of hard to know what you are talking about when you are still relatively new to the world of arms ownership and employment. Approach things with the usual arrogance and surety of youth, and you will quickly wear out your welcome. Admit where you need help and encouragement, and you will almost certainly get it. Age is not a discriminator here, but maturity definitely is.
    The Ugly: The best way to younger members avoid becoming a target is to tone down their approach, and to strive for a very high read:write ratio. The rest will come in time.

    Giving and/or Taking Offense
    The Good: As stated, M4C is committed to fostering a professional atmosphere with a low "white noise" factor, and we expect every member to share in that same goal. We deal with each other as adults, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and operate under the shared assumption that we are all here to improve our skills and enhance our knowledge by means of purposeful and informed dialogue.
    The Bad: One of the things that we notice early and often with newer members is that they arrive with certain behaviors, usually acquired elsewhere, which do not fit well with the site culture of M4C. The most common of these is the urge to post or reply in threads without really adding anything substantive to the the course of the discussion. The second (and more problematic) is the tendency to take offense whenever something they say or believe is challenged -- and to quickly lash out at those whom they perceive to be their attackers.
    The Ugly: We don't make things personal on this forum. If a response that you receive from another member -- or a staffer -- ruffles your feathers, then it is very likely that you have read far too much into their intent. Learn to extend the benefit of the doubt in these situations, and always strive to respond without emotion, ridicule or escalation. The odds are that you will be reacting to an offense that was neither intended, nor truly given. Should that prove not to be the case, the staff will intervene on your behalf, but take care not to be caught up in the ensuing course correction by becoming part of the problem in the meantine.

    AC

  2. #2
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    How timely of a thread. Excellent!

  3. #3
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    Excellent indeed. Some people think this is just another online forum.

  4. #4
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    Well said and shoe-in for a sticky.

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    Outstanding post A.C.
    I have been a member for some time now but try to keep my posts to a minimum unless it contributes something positive.

    Looking forward to the new year here at M4C

    S.M.
    "I'd rather have a Bloody Mary made from the bandage drippings of a dozen Ebola victims than watch BattleField Earth again."

    SeriousStudent

  6. #6
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    Indeed, this should not only be stickied, but emailed to every person who joins.

    And that's not a dig at anyone who has recently joined. I think there's a lot of healthy advice for approaching life in this.

    Seriously, I try and write posts as if I was sitting in the other person's house, as a guest in their home. This isn't my house. I'm a guest here, and I try to remember that.

    Thanks again for a very thoughtful thread, AC.

  7. #7
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    I have been tempted in the past to point out that some people appear to have "M4'd" when they should have "AR'd". This seems like a more diplomatic way of trying to explain things.
    (<-----one permitted emoticon)

    However, we have had multiple threads of this type of the years, and the truth of the matter is that most who need it won't read it, or won't think it applies to them. Ultimately, much to the chagrin of the "everyone is entitled to their opinion/posts (no matter how stupid/ignorant)" it's the beatdown they receive at the hands of the established members that jerk the leash better than anything else.

    M4C is not anti-newb, but we are without a doubt anti-arrogant, preconceived-notion, only-posting-for-validation, won't-listen-to-facts, newb.

  8. #8
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    I concur with the Chief.
    Last edited by Suwannee Tim; 12-26-10 at 21:03.

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    Excellent!

    M4C..."We don't suffer fools well".
    Never judge a man by his success, judge by how he deals with his failures!- L.E.C.

    Some People suck at being Human!- Me

    "To keep you is no gain, to destroy you is no loss."- Khmer Rouge

  10. #10
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    Great thread, should be locked, cleaned up, and stickied.

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