Netiquette FAQ

LP has been around for a while now, and over time our community of regulars have evolved certain expectations for how things are done here i.e. our particular forum-specific Netiquette which involves a few small courtesies we each extend to the LP bloggers and the other commentors.

A badge reading I &heart; netiquette

Q:What is Netiquette?

A: These are the mores which don’t fit particularly well into a Comments Policy but which nonetheless, when breached, get others’ backs up and make for an uncongenial atmosphere. The general idea is to make it as simple as possible for people to find discussions of interest and to avoid those discussions being threadjacked by distractions from the substance of the post – Netiquette keeps blog-clutter under control.

Generally, if you’re already familiar with old skool Netiquette from the BB/USENet era, you should manage just fine here so long as you abide by the spirit and don’t try to undermine our local peculiarities via semantic quibbles. For those who missed out on those golden years of the early ‘Net, the major points are outlined below:

Q: So what does LP expect regarding
Lurking | Topicality | Open Threads
Long Threads | Overflow Threads ?

A: Lurkers are Appreciated

Demotivator poster: Let me show you how to lurk more. LURKING MOAR Let me show you it

Lurking (internet): To read without commenting or contributing, therefore effectively invisible to the rest of the group or community. Generally recommended for joining any forum so that you can observe rules, attitudes and prominent personalities without jumping in and breaking a rule, making an ass of yourself, or asking a question about something obvious that you would have learned for yourself if you’d paid attention in the first place.

Online equivalent of attentive listening before speaking; potentially the solution to all Internet faux pas.

(Source: Urban Dictionary)

Those who fail to lurk before diving in will be expected to not whinge when their faux pas are pointed out. Reading the About pages and Guidelines of a web forum/blog is an essential part of proper lurking, BTW.

A: Topicality is Expected

Don’t just leave a comment on the most recent thread unless your comment is actually on-topic (the heading, category and tags assigned to the post should give you good clues as to the topic being addressed and what should be obviously avoided – e.g. don’t post something argumentative on a Levity thread).

Why not? Because it’s lazy and inconsiderate towards other contributors for you to clutter or even perhaps derail a discussion with your tangent or non-sequitur. Please use the search functions and/or archive pages to find a topical thread or if there is no active discussion of the area then by all means mention it on the weekly Open Thread, where helpful regulars may point you to a better place for debate/analysis of the matter.

Keeping active discussions in just one thread also means that those engaging do not have to divide their attention; also that pointless repetition of points already covered is far less likely.

A: Open Threads (Saturday Salon) have a purpose

Rene Descartes

Rene Descartes adorns our Open Threads


The point of our weekly Open Thread is to act as a circuit-breaker for the weekend, allowing for a more diverse discussion than has transpired throughout the week. This function is disrupted if overflow from already active threads is allowed to swamp the Salon, stifling novel topics and making those who do not wish to continue talking about the same old things feel unwelcome. Since the LP collective wants people raising novel topics to feel particularly welcome, we expect commentors to be considerate and refrain from crossing the topic streams.

NB: the Open Thread is not just for the weekends – LP welcomes people posting matters of interest which are off-topic in other threads, or sharing moments of playful exuberance in the Open Thread at any time during the week, that’s why there is a handy link to the Open Threads archive-page in the main menu.

A: Coping with Thread Drift on Long Threads

A small boat heads towards an immense storm - caption: I Like Where This Thread Is GoingIf an active thread is getting too long for easy navigation or keeping track of where the discussion has gone, please use the most recent Salon/Open thread to request that a new roundtable thread on that topic be opened, or else take your particular corner of the discussion to an Overflow thread (see below).

A: Overflow Threads

Clancy of the Overflow, painting by d'Arcy Doyle based on the poem by Banjo Patterson

Clancy (naturally) adorns our Overflow Threads

These threads are set apart for side discussions and ongoing debates, as part of our system for keeping other posts on-topic.

They are meant as constructive spaces to give these tangential engagements room to build without disrupting either the on-topic discussions on active threads or the break-from-the-routine vibe on the weekly open threads. Drape a Big Purple OzBlog haze over the combined zeitgeist of John Quiggin‘s Sandpit, Pharyngula‘s Thunderdome, and Feministe‘s #spillover – let’s see what happens on our Overflow.

Discussions deemed off-topic and/or overly contentious on other threads are liable to be directed to the latest overflow thread, so as to avoid distracting thread clutter.  Non-stoushbait off-topic side-discussions are generally better suited to our  Saturday Salon open threads.

Please help us keep discussions focussed by making an effort to not cross the streams; volunteer to shift potentially thread-cluttering side-discussions/metacommentary on other threads to Overflow. To make it clear to readers where your Overflow discussion-starter is coming from, please include permalink(s) to and a short summary of the relevant comment(s) on whichever other thread has prompted your side-discussion.


If you’ve sussed by now that the common ground covered by each of these guidelines above is to make life easier for good-faith participants by keeping conversations lightly corralled in easily found areas rather than lurching willy-nilly in disruptive sprawls all over the blog, and you are willing to do your part netiquette-wise with that goal in mind, then you probably will never need to read this page again.

Lurking | Topicality | Open Threads | Long Threads | Overflow Threads