Hail and well met, E-gentles! Although the Internet hadn't yet been invented during the Society's period of interest, it now lets those of us in the Current Middle Ages communicate much more reliably. (And remember the war cry: "If they'd had it, they'd've used it!")
But when we first enter the world of the Internet, it seems we can't do anything right! There are all these strange customs and rules that nobody tells us about until they start yelling at us for violating "netiquette", so this little article is intended to help people learn how to survive on SCA "mailing lists" and "newsgroups".
1. The louder you talk, the more people will pay attention to you. This is also true in many real-world SCA situations, such as the Knights' Circle. But since there's no way to change volume when you're typing, you need to use CAPITAL LETTERS. This simulates shouting, so if you write all of your emails completely in capital letters, people will assume you're a Duke.
|The Internet Brings|
2. People on email lists have incredibly short attention spans, so you need to do something called "quoting". This means copying the text of the email you're replying to, so that people will know what you're talking about. Be sure to copy the entire email before adding your "ME TOO!", so that it looks like you have a lot to say. It also gives people a valid reason to upgrade to faster modems, if they receive the email list in "digest form" (all the messages of the day stuck together into a single gargantuan email).
3. In addition to email lists, there are things called "newsgroups". These are like giant bulletin boards that everyone in the world can read if they want to. The biggest SCA newsgroup is called "rec.org.sca". But don't call a newsgroup a "bboard" — this will mark you as a "newbie". Instead, you should refer to newsgroups as "chat rooms".
4. If you reply privately to someone on an email list (or newsgroup), you should always announce that fact to the list, so that anyone else reading the list won't assume that you let the other person have the last word.
5. Sometimes people get touchy if you point out errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation, so it's best not to mention them. In fact, some people get mad if you use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation in your own posts, because they think you're trying to prove how much better you are. So to avoid trouble, try writing like a second-grader.
|A few simple guidelines to help|
everyone avoid conflicts.
6. When you sign your name to your posts, be sure to include the "alphabet soup" of every title and award you've ever received. People only pay attention to ideas that come from important people, so if you don't let people know EXACTLY how important you are, they'll probably just ignore you. If you don't have any awards, then list all the guilds you're a member of, so that your name doesn't seem so naked.
7. If you're a local or kingdom officer, people might wish to intrude on your enjoyment of email lists by sending you direct emails containing what they think is important business. If this happens, avoid posting to the email lists for a couple of days to lend credence to the official SCA excuse of "my email went down".
8. Before you hit "send", double-check to make sure you know whether the email is going to an individual or the entire list! It doesn't matter too much if you thank someone else publicly for something, or chat about stuff completely unrelated to the SCA, but if you accidentally tell the whole email list about that rash you picked up from the toilet seat at Coronation, you might as well quit the SCA, because it will be remembered forever.
9. Most email programs let you automatically include something called a "signature file" at the end of every email. If this signature file is longer than four lines of text, or more than 80 characters wide, some "old-timers" will start shouting about something called a "McQuarrie Limit". This harkens back to the days when 2400 bps modems were considered blindingly fast; they'll probably be the same ones who complain if you quote an entire post and only add one line of commentary, so you can simply ignore them (or better yet, tell them to get a REAL modem). Think of your signature file as your very own digital kitchen sink; you can put in ASCII art, every Web site you think is cool, every email address you own, funny quotes, whatever you feel like. The sky's the limit!
10. The most important thing to remember is: when you disagree with someone, never let them win! If you run out of rational arguments, start attacking your opponent's personal habits, looks, or breeding. This is called a "flame war", and is greatly appreciated by the other participants on the list. It's like the digital version of WWF Wrestling, or Jerry Springer — the two top-rated shows in the USA!
Disclaimer: the information presented in this article is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as genuine advice. (Unlike Mistress Abigaille's column!)