Forums are like giant online buildings full of people who want do discuss similar topics — you wouldn’t join a forum about cooking and post a topic about how rabbits don’t wear shoes, just like you wouldn’t go to a cooking class and try to start a discussion on the topic — the forum “building” has a main topic, different floors for less broad topics, and individual rooms for specific discussions. New rooms can be made by anyone, and the people can move freely between rooms. But there are police officers (moderators) that help to keep the forum building safe for everyone. They can remove rooms, lock them, move them to different floors, and change what members of the rooms said. To keep the police officers in check, there are sheriffs. The sheriffs (administrators) can remove people from the building and even change the structure of the building. The problem is that there are many more normal people than police officers and sheriffs.
This is where you come in: You can help out by reporting people who break rules to the sheriffs and off-topic rooms (or people inside rooms) to the police officers. You can help even more by following the rules and not bending them to your advantage. If you don’t spam, attack others, or go off topic (unless the area is designed for that), you’re probably following at least half of the rules!
What forums are not
Forums are not email — you should use actual email if you feel you need to contact a member directly and there is no private messaging system available. An administrator can usually work something out if you and another member of the forums would like to be in contact.
Forums are not a place to attack others — there is usually a rule against flaming (attacking other members of the forum).
Forums are not a place to advertise — if you want to advertise a website, put it in your signature.
Sometimes, a member of a forum “building” will create a room that has nothing to do with the floor or even the entire building. Usually, there is no malicious intent, and the member was very new to the forums and did not read the rules or understand what forums are for. Other times, a member of the forum might say something unrelated to the room they are in, or something that doesn’t add to the discussion in any way. It’s your job to not reply to spam. Just report it and move on. Replying only makes it worse.
When forum members get impatient while waiting for others to reply to what they said, they might repeat themselves. This is usually by accident — the person who double posted doesn’t even know they did it until they come back to the room later. Don’t make a big deal about it, just report it.
Post count — it means nothing
New members to forums usually get worked up about the number of times some of the older members have contributed to discussions. They might go through hundreds of rooms just to state that they agree with what somebody else said, even if they don’t know anything about the discussion. If you see somebody getting worked up about their post count, send them a private message (if possible), and tell them that post count doesn’t really matter and that they should slow down and think before they post. If they continue to spam for post count the next day, report them to an administrator or other authority figure.
“Can I be a mod?”
Some people who join a forum might ask if they can be a moderator. If you ask, you probably won’t become one. The best way to become a moderator is to go on the forums frequently, follow the rules, contribute positively to discussions, and report rule-breaking or offensive posts. The forum staff members will decide when they need a new moderator, and also who should be the new moderator. Asking is the second-worst thing you can do (right under rule breaking) if you want to become a moderator.
Short is not always sweet
Short messages aren’t always a good idea. While you shouldn’t put an essay in each post, but you shouldn’t post just one word. “I like your post” is also a bad post because there is no reason behind it.