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the open source goats faq

written by the goats forumites
edited by Graham Robinson


1. Newbies and Culture
2. Forum Basics
3. More Technical Stuff

Newbies and Culture

I'm New Here - Where Do I Start?

We'll assume you've read the all comics. (If you haven't, go do it now. Come back here when you're done.) As with any Internet community, the best way to get started is to lurk for a while. Read lots of threads - especially the active ones. An active thread is one that's been posted to in the last day or two. When you think you've got the hang of it, pick an active thread and post something. It may be worth thinking about what you want to say. Is it likely to be interesting or amusing? There's nothing wrong with making dumb jokes (for instance) but do you really want people's first impression of you to be that you are an idiot?

Or you can just jump in. Nothing to stop you. But don't come crying to us when you get flamed to death, your karma ends up in the toilet, or all your posts get labelled "stupid".

What Sort of Behaviour is Acceptable Here?

In general, you can discuss pretty much anything you want, and little is considered in bad taste, especially in the "Ring of Fire" forum. That includes other people's right to argue with you and insult you - don't take it too personally. Show you have a few brain cells and a sense of humour, and you should get along fine.

Having said that, there are a few things that are generally frowned on. Avoiding these might save you some unnecessary flames :

  • Bad spelling, grammar, l33t speak, and other such signs of a lack of education.
  • Repetitiveness.
  • Whining self-pity.
  • Posting to a dead thread.
  • Repetitiveness.

Pretty much everything else is okay - rants, flames, bad (taste) jokes, controversy, theorising, silly games. This is supposed to be fun!

If I do post incoherently and/or stupidly, is there any excuses that will be accepted?

Excuses for incoherent and/or stupid posts are restricted to alcohol inducement only. Some study-related excuses may be reviewed by the panel, but the vast majority will only be accepted when combined with a drinking story.

Examples of these excusable posts can be found here, here, and here. In fact, any post by tor is a classic example of either excusable drunken posting or an accepted apology/pre-apology.

My Post Got Labelled "Obnoxious"! What Gives?

Also applies to posts labelled "Stupid", etc.

Karma is a measure of how valued you are by the community. Every so often, random people are given the ability to moderate five posts of their choosing. They get to raise or lower the score of each post by one, which has the same effect on the poster's karma. If people like your posts, you end up with high karma (and your posts end up with high scores). Conversely, if people hate your posts, you end up with negative karma.

When people moderate you, they have to give a reason. They pick a word from a short list that best describes the reason you deserve a karma shift. There aren't many words, so sometimes the match isn't that great. If your post has been labelled "Obnoxious" and you don't know why, it might be because the moderator couldn't find "Resurrecting Dead Threads to Make a Joke That Wasn't Funny" in the list.

My Post Got Labelled "Pathetic"! What Gives?

Pathetic is good. We're all pathetic, we like people like us. When your post is labelled "Pathetic" you gain a point of karma, and your post's score goes up.

Don't feel insulted - it means we like you.

My Karma Just Dropped! What Should I Do?

You've been posting a while. You've patiently built up a karma in the double digits. You post a few comments you thought were really funny, interesting, or intriguing. Someone disagrees. Suddenly, all your posts are getting "-1, Stupid", and your karma dropped four points.

Who cares? If the number attached to your name on a web site is really important to your sense of self-worth, get professional help. Now.

Moderation is done by pretty much anyone who happens by. Sometimes they will do something stupid with that power. But they won't have that power for long, and it might cost them karma too, through the wonderful mechanism of meta-moderation. If you are contributing to the site, you will end up with a high karma. In the long run, it all balances out.

Karma can also drop if someone mods you up and then later posts to the thread. The point values of their moderations on that thread are nullified, even though the posts retain the tags associated with the original mod.

What information is glaringly obvious to me that I haven't taken the time to extrapolate into my behavioural guide?


To begin with you'll see that each message has a count of posts and a time joined value for that user. As a quick rule look at the numbers and work out how often people post. For example currently Zamphir has posted some 1900 times in some 40 months, i.e. about 1.5 posts per day. Try not to beat him, he posts too much, hehehe.

Next, each user has a list of their most recent 25 posts with their moderated status. Have a look at yours. How many ups and how many downs? If you have less than a net 0 you are sucking big time. I like to have a +3 running for me. This one has ramifications that can take time to work out. work it out.

Forum Basics

When is a Thread Dead?

Posting to dead threads is seen as a no-no. But what makes a thread dead? Use these handy rules of thumb!

If a thread's last post was in the last two or three days, it is an active thread. Post freely.

If a thread is under two weeks old, posting to it might bring it back to active status. Post freely, but don't be upset if everyone else ignored you. We're just bored of that thread.

If a thread is over two weeks old, only post if you have something pretty stunning to say. Posting to a thread of this age just to make an obvious joke or to say "me too" is pretty dull.

If a thread is over four weeks old, it's dead. Leave it alone. If you have something to say related to the dead thread, start a new discussion and use HTML to link back to the previous discussion.

Why Can't I Start a Discussion?

You can start a discussion when your karma reaches 1. Patience, grasshopper.

What is Moderation?

Moderation has its own FAQ, which you should read when it becomes relevant to you. Basically though, everyone (1) gets to moderate occasionally. When you moderate you get five points to spend to raise or lower the score of posts, and also the poster's karma.

Metamoderation is a check on moderation. Everyone (2) gets to vote once a day on whether some random moderations were fair or not. Too many people think your moderation was unfair, and you lose karma.

(1) Everyone, that is, who has positive karma and has been here for a while. Those who post very often or very infrequently are less likely to become moderators.
(2) Everyone who could be chosen for moderation, anyway. Meta-moderation doesn't care how often you post.

More Technical Stuff

Can I use HTML Markup in my posts?

Yes, yes you can. If you're familiar with HTML, go ahead.

Permitted tags: <b> <i> <p> <a> <li> <ol> <ul> <em> <br> <tt> <strong> <blockquote> <div>

Because tags are rendered, make sure you escape < and > if you're just using them to mean greater than or less than: &lt; for < and &gt; for >

You should probably know this by now, but use bold to emphasize something. Please DON'T SHOUT!

Cool, what about images?

To use the <img> tag in a posting, you must be a premium member. Become a premium member, and you can put images in your posts. Don't, and you can't.

Some things in life have a premium, I guess.

If you are a premium member, you can use the image tag, using this format:

<img src="">

jpeg, gif, and png images are all perfectly suitable. Other graphic formats (bmp, etc.) generally don't work on standard browsers, so don't use them. Convert them to jpeg or gif first.

Keep in mind that the image should be one that you host yourself. It's generally considered impolite to point directly to the work of another person. If you want people to see a cool image that isn't yours, post a link to that webpage instead.

How do I make links to other websites?

Linking to other sites is a wonderful way to bring sources into your post without retyping them or to alert other to relevant websites/etc.

However, if your link is broken or irrelevant, you will be labeled as a fool, your post moderated lower and the rest of your educated debate over the validity of globalization will be ignored as pure drivel.

To link to another website, the following HTML code be used:
<a href="">Link</a>

This will result in: Link

To include a title, which will display on some browsers when the link is moused-over, use the following code:
<a href="" title="Goats">Link</a>

This will result in: Link

Once you have written you code and incorporated it into your post, preview your writing and test your links to make sure they work. Then, once you are pleased, submit your work and wait.

What are the categories for moderation points?

The moderation categories are as follows (you can't assign a moderation without a categorical descriptor):

Normal (this is just used in the drop down list for "no change")
Funny (+1)
Clever (+1)
Informative (+1)
Intriguing (+1)
Insightful (+1)
Compelling (+1)
Pathetic (+1)
Super-Genius (+1)
Obscure Reference (+1)
Redundant (-1)
Stupid (-1)
Obnoxious (-1)
Troll (-1)
Flamebait (-1)
Incoherent (-1)

If a post has already been moderated, two additional moderations are made available:

Overrated (-1)
Underrated (+1)


(C) 2005 Brad J. Guigar. All rights reserved. Use of content or images without the consent of the author is prohibited.