Ron Earp

Hi Folks,

It has been quite a long while since I've had to post about etiquette on the forum. For the vast majority of members here, etiquette isn't a problem at all. For many years was one of most polite car hangouts on the web where you could get real technical information without wading through typical forum egos and banter. still maintains a high level of technical content, but as of late I've noticed thread drift, arguing, and so on in the technical subforum threads and elsewhere outside of The Paddock. That is something we don't do here at, or at least, we used to not engage in such activity.

I'd like for you to consider the rules of The complete rules of the forum are located here Rules, but for most of us who are just average folks and not vending the two most important rules are shown below.

1. Enjoy The Forum: is a web forum for the hobbyist. A place to stop in and relax. Keep threads on topic. Please respect your fellow members and don’t write something that you wouldn’t say face to face to them in my living room. Notice it is written “my living room” because you are not on your own forum. If your comments are deemed inappropriate you’ll find yourself suspended for a short while. In short, don’t berate, belittle, or ridicule your fellow forum member. Offenders will find themselves banned. reserves the right to terminate any user or member at any time for any reason.

Rule number one pretty much says it all. Keep it polite, above board, and treat your fellow members with respect. If you want to engage in banter, be argumentative, call people names, then do it on another website or at the very least take that behavior down into The Paddock where it is allowed.

2. Use Your Real Name: If you have signed up with some sort of “handle” go to your User Control Panel (User CP link in the menu bar) and change your Public Name under “Edit Your Details” to your real name. does not support user handles. We wish to know who we’re talking to and who is accountable for their posts on the forum. And no, we're not bending the rules for you. If you don't like rule number two then stay away from There are plenty of other forums to join.

Rule number two is non-negotiable here at Unfortunately I've had to remove a few members this year that wouldn't respond to my requests to comply with the rule. I hate to do it, but most of us here at are firm believers in being responsible for what you write and accountable. If you've got to hide behind a screen name to feel comfortable interacting with other like-minded individuals then I'm pretty sure isn't for you.

Thanks for your time,

Seymour Snerd

Lifetime Supporter
Suggestions for Forum Health

(Sorry, meant Forum health)

Ron recently posted a couple of the fundamental forum rules, one of which can be summarized as "Keep threads on topic. Please respect your fellow members ... don’t berate, belittle, or ridicule your fellow forum member."

Without meaning to steal any thunder from that post I think it's useful to propose some preceding or "lower level" rules that naturally head off the behaviors he mentions. I think this is needed because the global rule is by necessity brief and therefore ambiguous. How do you define "off topic?" What constitutes "ridicule?".

My intent here is to crystallize my experience in Compuserve, USENET, and web-based online forums watching the progression from initial post to frayed emotions and noticing some repeated patterns of behavior that are almost inevitable. But they don't have to be. My overall intent is to provoke discussion and hopefully, at least in some areas, agreement.

1. Declare Drift. If you are knowingly deviating slightly and temporarily from the topic, say so up front, as in "sorry for the thread drift but....". Comments with that prefix tend not to take on a life of their own. When you're done, say something like "now back to the original topic" thus discouraging further development of the deviating topic. If your deviation is neither slight nor temporary, start your own thread with a different topic. It's easy, and it's way better to have many small threads of defined subjects than a few big cluttered ones.

2. Honor the original topic. It's a systemic disease of dicussion forums that someone will want to invalidate the topic itself. I don't know why this is, but it's related to the idea that "I have a right to an opinion" (not true, but more on that later). So if I ask "what's the best way to make my Superformance GT40 front wheel drive?" telling me that's a terrible idea is almost guaranteed to start a pointless fight.

My proposition is that when you read the opening question, you either know the answer or you don't. If you do, answer it without editorial comment. If you absolutely must "comment on the question" start a new thread of your own "Why FWD is bad for a GT40." And if you simply can't resist a comment in situ at least lead off by saying "I don't know how to do that, but ...".

The point is that the OP wouldn't post the question if he thought it was stupid or invalid, and just because you don't see why he wants to do it doesn't mean he doesn't have a good reason. You aren't going to help anyone by denying there is a good reason.

3. Respect Matters of Taste. Most of what takes place in this forum relates to creation or modification of wildy impractical vehicles. Arguing that your impractical conception is more logical than mine is itself irrational. So if I talk about how cool it would be to put a blown Chrysler hemi in the front of my SPF, don't bother telling me what an impure thought that is, because your rivet-perfect replica is just as impure a thought to someone else. No such discussion ever comes to a useful conclusion.

4. Don't Vote. If there is a debate going on, simply stating that you agree with one side over the other is clutter and thread drift. Argue for one side, argue for the other, or keep quiet.

5. No Schoolmarms. If people seem to be at loggerheads, telling them to "simmer down" won't help. Helping them understand where they are misunderstanding each other might. Or as the saying goes, "lead, follow, or get out of the way."

But to do that you have to carefully read each side so that somewhere in there you find a place where one person misunderstood the other. Sometimes (admittedly rarely) explaining the misundestanding might break the logjam.

Regardless, telling them both to "go have a drink" isn't going to help, and is really just establishing your own superior position "above the argument." It also presupposes you know what the other person is feeling, and you can't possibly know that without being in the same room.

6. Opinions are like what? "I have a right to my opinion" is a frequent and utterly pointless rejoinder. Of course you have a right to have an opinion. And in a public place in America, with a lot of qualifications, you have the right to express it. But you have no such right in a discussion forum. These are technical forums. Your opinion is useful if it moves the discussion forward because it includes some facts that others don't know, or if it brings a new perspective on the existing topic. Other than that, it's off-topic and likely nobody cares.

7. Name calling isn't just about names. You can call someone a name using an adjective or an adverb. Telling them that their interest in subject X is "idiotic" is exactly the same as calling them an idiot. So if you think you're going to get away with "criticizing the act, not the child," you are probably about to insult someone and to violate a forum rule.

8. Use the Quote feature. If there is a thread about GT40 auctions in which Ferrari GTO's get mentioned, make sure the reader can tell to which you are responding. The easiest way is to hit the "quote" button, edit out the irrelevant parts leaving only the sentence you are replying to. Otherwise if you say just "What did it sell for?" you're as likely to get a GT40 price as one for a Ferrari, and you won't know which it was.

9. Address your Target. Threads are multi-party affairs. If you are directing your comment to one poster in particular, say so. Otherwise the rest of us have no idea whom you are talking to. If you say "your idea has some problems" you'll have everyone arguing with you, whereas "Alan, your idea has some problems" will at least indicate which idea you are talking about.

Doug S.

The protoplasm may be 72, but the spirit is 32!
Lifetime Supporter
Good on ya, Ron!

I quit the political discussions on the Paddock for just the reasons mentioned...was guilty once of making a denigrating comment regarding the placement of one member's head......apologized for the comment, but the disrespect evident on the political discussions rendered them less than satisfying, to say the least.



Robert S.

GT40s Supporter
Re: Suggestions for Forum Health

Alan, your proposal has some problems . . . . Oppps, messy thread drift, sorry :laugh:

Very well organized and stated. A hard act to follow. I need to know what your fee is per hour to take over my mind and instill in it some of that awesome logic flow and thought organization skills you were blessed with. Or, maybe I can encourage Ron to have the smoking version of Mr. Spock perform a Vulcan mind meld between you and me.
Alan - thanks for the 'pop' at me in your 9 commandments... particularly point 5

if you don't like the way I moderate at times, take it up with Ron...

Seymour Snerd

Lifetime Supporter
Alan - thanks for the 'pop' at me in your 9 commandments... particularly point 5

if you don't like the way I moderate at times, take it up with Ron...

I have no idea why you think any of that is directed at you. I'm just trying to document what works and what doesn't. It's completely pragmatic. But if you think it's bad advice, now would be the time to make your case.
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What may not work for you may work for others. The case in point was the discussion in a certain thread where I may have used my own style, as you put it 'own superior position "above the argument"', by trying to get you and another member to stop what at that point to me calling each other out. One member said OK and backed off, you took umbridge to my style as a Moderator.

Once again I apologise for the words I used, but not the sentiment behind it. Clearly you can't let it go by having to reference the incident in your rules.

By the way, I still use the phrase in future, both as a Moderator but also with the words "Alan why don't we.." if I am ever San Diego way.



By the way, I still use the phrase in future, both as a Moderator but also with the words "Alan why don't we.." ** if I am ever San Diego way.


**Have a fight? :laugh:

Get it while it's hot folks, else it will be "moderated" ha ha...

Seymour Snerd

Lifetime Supporter
Clearly you can't let it go by having to reference the incident in your rules.

Sorry, I've heard and used those expressions all my life, especially the first one ("have a drink"). I just used them as examples. (Strange, this is sounding like a plagiarism trial). But I regret having picked examples quite so fresh; it wasn't my intent to single you out and I apologize for having done so.

Also, Keith says we should simmer down or he's going to beat both of us up. :laugh: