Easing the transition for new users. August 2, 2002 1:28 PM   Subscribe

20 neophytes a day - and I'm one of yesterday's crop. Fresh-faced, clean-skinned...

As a Content Editor at Everything2, I'm intimately acquainted with the stickiness inherent in introducing new people to an online community (especially a content-oriented community, as opposed to activity-, hobby-, or interest-oriented ones). There seems to be a dearth of documentation. I guess this site is pretty self-explanatory, which is refreshing - I've been an E2 user for two and a half years and I still occasionally scratch my big, fat head. Also, after such a long, long time with no new users (I know it was a long time because I spent a long time checking the new user page), you guys must be experiencing something of a shock, too.

Any ideas as to what could be done to ease the transition for newbies and allay the angst, if any, of the old guard?

Feel free to kill this if I'm out of line, long-winded or otherwise. I'm a new at this.
posted by bingbangbong to Etiquette/Policy at 1:28 PM (86 comments total)

Savin' that up for a while, huh?
posted by yerfatma at 1:31 PM on August 2, 2002


Read the archives.
posted by ColdChef at 1:35 PM on August 2, 2002


And, welcome, bingbangbong.
posted by ColdChef at 1:35 PM on August 2, 2002


Prolix? A dearth hereof thereof? Ixnay!
posted by y2karl at 1:42 PM on August 2, 2002


I'm thinking an FAQ might go along well with the About page. Does anybody have a homebrew FAQ they'd like to share?

Also, referring noobs (rhymes with boobs for a reason) to the archives is like handing someone the 15,000+ pages of the U.S. tax code and saying, "Here, you figure it out, shmuck."
posted by insomnyuk at 1:45 PM on August 2, 2002


Thank you, ColdChef.
posted by bingbangbong at 1:46 PM on August 2, 2002


yerfatmama: nope, that's just what everything2 can do to the innocent human mind.
posted by bingbangbong at 1:49 PM on August 2, 2002


Also, referring noobs (rhymes with boobs for a reason) to the archives is like handing someone the 15,000+ pages of the U.S. tax code and saying, "Here, you figure it out, shmuck."

Really? That's how I figured out my way around here. (some would argue that I haven't figured it out, I'm sure)

No offense intended BBB or insomnyuk. I think the archives are a wonderful way to learn about this place. I'm not saying you should read the whole damn thing, but skim it at least. Sorry if it came across as snarky.
posted by ColdChef at 1:54 PM on August 2, 2002


I didn't think it was snarky ColdChef, I just thought it was too general. I used an extreme analogy, I admit. I got to know the place by lurking for a while and reading current posts in MetaFilter and MetaTalk. Maybe it would have been more instructive if you specified which parts of the huge archives to look through. The site has changed a lot since the early days, I think. Also, I think it would be good to read some MetaTalk archives as well. I don't know where to start in reccomendations, though.
posted by insomnyuk at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2002


I find myself mousing over unfamiliar usernames to see if they're new or just older members I haven't heard from before. Some of the newer members seem to have adjusted to the groove of the place pretty quickly, others are still need 'run in' a bit. I fit into the latter category when I joined, as evinced by my first, fawning attempt to ingratiate myself to the community. And it's only been downhill from there.

I think the best thing to ease transition into the site is for the new people to just comment/post good links like any other member and soon you'll slip into the fold. If someone writes well, has interesting, non-inflammatory (by nflammatory I mean simplistic baiting) things to say, and has verve and/or style and a bit of humor and bonhomie, they'll be regarded as assets and regulars in no time.

Welcome new people!
posted by evanizer at 2:04 PM on August 2, 2002


The post where I first took notice of evanizer.
posted by ColdChef at 2:08 PM on August 2, 2002


... my first, fawning attempt ...

Oo, thread hijack.

My first Metafilter comment: "Good lord! This isn't going to delay Tomb Raider, is it?!?"

My first Metatalk comment: "Two-thirds of the folks on MeFi live for the chance to dogpile someone who has inadvertently double-posted ... Depriving them of this petty pleasure seems unnecessarily cruel ..." Wow, what an ass!
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:18 PM on August 2, 2002


You were so naive, SK. Now you know it's all of us, not just two thirds!

bigbangbong: If you're "intimately equated with stickiness..." you should fit right in.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2002


bingbangbong: soy.

Welcome, fellow Everythingian. :-D

*whine*no one ever welcomed ME*whine*
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:31 PM on August 2, 2002


welcome wolfdaddy!

your name scares me, as i'm sure it's intended to... :P
posted by rhyax at 2:40 PM on August 2, 2002


...your name scares me...

This coming from someone whose blog is named 'chupacabra'?

:-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:57 PM on August 2, 2002


I recommend the spellchecker.
I don't think I shall ever figure my way around this scary place.

posted by Fat Buddha at 2:59 PM on August 2, 2002


Hey WolfDaddy!

Answer me this:

pancakes:MeFi :: les.mon.soy:E2?

Also:

does *every* collaborative site have it's own non-sequitur mascot?
posted by bingbangbong at 3:02 PM on August 2, 2002


For what its worth, I much prefer waffles and puppies to pancakes and bunnies.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2002


pancakes:MeFi :: les.mon.soy:E2?

Except for the death-by-vivisection penalty you pay for mentioning the p-word around here, that's about right.

Sorry your stay here was so short. It only hurts for a little while ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2002


Pancakes? Did someone say pancakes? Now where did I put that bone saw?
posted by ashbury at 3:27 PM on August 2, 2002


Far as I can tell, you can go two ways: you can be abrasive and dramatic, and you'll get lots of attention. Or you can behave meekly and politely, and be ignored. Both actually bring valuable things to the site.

Nothing more than common sense will help the newbies: keep watching. Read more than you write. Comment (in threads) more than you post (on the front page). Breathe before you rant. Email a more experienced member who you admire for advice. Don't take the bait. Give yourself the one-hour time-out. Take note of member's self-conflagrations. Look back at old threads, find frequent posters, and see why and how they left. And remember, no can see if you're laughing when you type that questionable joke, so it better be funny.

For those of you who are, like myself, without common sense, do as I do: observe the earth people and mimic.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 3:51 PM on August 2, 2002


And never, ever wear pants.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:02 PM on August 2, 2002


Nobody has gotten snarky yet about the self-link?
posted by PrinceValium at 4:21 PM on August 2, 2002


I'm aghast.
posted by walrus at 4:30 PM on August 2, 2002


And never be earnest or sincere because people will make fun of you.

And NEVER EVER wear pants while you self link! Jesus Christ, man! You're destroying our sacred internet holy place! [snicker]. So welcome, anyway.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 4:41 PM on August 2, 2002


evanizer,
Just by reading this I knew you didn't come from the northside.
posted by flatlander at 5:25 PM on August 2, 2002


And never, ever wear pants.

Unless they're ass-less chaps.
posted by briank at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2002


You people are forgetting the easiest way for a noob to acclimatize.

Send American money, in small unmarked denominations, to:

Mr. Crash Davis
12...

*strangulation noises*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:57 PM on August 2, 2002


1. Welcome, rational poster!
2. Laugh more than you sneer.
3. Flirt like ColdChef (if you are straight)
4. Flirt like WolfDaddy (if you are gay)
5. Listen to RJ Reynolds.
6. Even opinionated folks can be humble..... we all need to give as well as take on a site like this.
7. Buy a little red dress.
8. Forgive those of us who are too earnest too often!
posted by dash_slot- at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2002


ps: give us a few tips on E2 - that is one bewildering place!

posted by dash_slot- at 7:13 PM on August 2, 2002


Yeah, I was going to make a FAQ but Mozilla went all poo-poo on me and I lost all my e-mail. It didn't really matter, only two people actually e-mailed about helping me and after reading Zachmind's (I think) post on a kinda FAQ, I really didn't see a pressing need to write one.

My original goal for the FAQ was more technical and common sense and I realized that if you didn't have common sense the FAQ wasn't going to do you much good.

The only words of advice that I think would be helpful is to treat everyone as if they were guests at a wedding party (someone else said this). Try not to be snarky (it gets annoying when you open a post and before you look at it you think "Jebus, whose going to make a lame comment about this") and try to get all your facts straight before going into a thread. Make sure what you say is completely void of anything resembling emotion, because if it's not popular opinion, even the wording of the comment will be dissected.

For some reason, as I'm rereading my comment I feel as if I'm sending a bunch fresh-faced 18 year olds over the top and into no-man's-land of internet community hell.

Yeah so, I may write a FAQ in a couple of weeks when I have more time.
posted by geoff. at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2002


Ah everything2, I remember when it was just everything...
posted by joemaller at 8:04 PM on August 2, 2002


...and us even creakier oldsters recall the halcyon days when it was merely something.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:51 PM on August 2, 2002


Self Linking and Pancakes. Bad!!!!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:00 PM on August 2, 2002


I cringe when I read my first post to MF. Hell I cringe with every post I make, waiting for the impending smackdown. Like the old saying goes, "Fear in where the fun is".
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2002


..or "Fear is where the fun is".
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:03 PM on August 2, 2002


*smacks Kevin down*
posted by Optamystic at 9:25 PM on August 2, 2002


*smacks Optamystic for smacking KevinSkomsvold*

Don't do a billy maulana or you'll get run out of town and have to start a new website under a new name.
posted by ashbury at 9:32 PM on August 2, 2002


*Regards ashbury.*

"Oh, a wiseguy, eh?"

*Does that cool Stooges two fingered eye poke followed by defensive vertical placement of hand on nose.*

"Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk"
posted by Optamystic at 9:44 PM on August 2, 2002


As a fellow E2 veteran (my handle is 'waterhouse') and Mefi newbie, I feel obliged to comment. I don't see any problem getting acclimated to this place, it's just like anywhere else. Now that the internet is more than a glorified bulletin board and people are actually using it to communicate, a certain degree of street smarts is required. One has to be able to read people if he plans on becoming a member of a community. The technological particulars obfuscate good old fashioned talking, and therefore people don't function together as well as they might in the real world.

So then, the question: how does one become a member of a community like this? There is no entrance exam, or list of requirements, application is as open as an unlocked door. No one blessed any of us and gave us permission to run amok in this new and open forum. We make of this place what we want to make of it, and the only boundaries are lax and are set from on high (here, mathowie, and on e2, the gods).

I guess the crux of it then is that we're all people. We all want to talk to each other, if you can call it that. The only thing that makes us different is how we choose to represent ourselves here and how far we are willing to go to circumvent the intangible boundaries that technology presents us with.

As for dash_slot's comment about Everything2, it's basically like Metafilter but slower. There's no one to provide you with a topic, and quality is demanded, not recommended. The cardinal rule, I guess, is think before you write, which, I guess, accounts for my longwinded style.
posted by mmcg at 11:11 PM on August 2, 2002


dash_slot-:

Tips for E2?

Communicate.

Well.

Use the medium to its advantage, and poke at its limitations til you wrangle it into something you like. Take personal experience, your own bank of trivial knowledge, and whatever else you can devise and tell us all a story. One that informs, one that advises, one that pisses us off or makes us love you with frightening intensity. Do it clearly, or lyrically, or matter-of-fact(girl)ly. Just do it.

Don't be afraid.

You know you want to.

and tell dannye he's a hottie

*waves at mmcg*
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:33 PM on August 2, 2002


I don't do this normally:

But. right now I'm performing cartwheels next to the picket fence. Imagine the dust on my overalls.
posted by crasspastor at 1:04 AM on August 3, 2002


7. Buy a little red dress.

Red is *so* not my color. Will a blue one suffice?

posted by gummi at 6:37 AM on August 3, 2002


Sure it wiil, Sugar! Then the others will look like a girl group, and you can be ... Diana Ross!
posted by dash_slot- at 7:13 AM on August 3, 2002


i getting used to the days without halycon
posted by clavdivs at 8:01 AM on August 3, 2002


Noobies adjusting can't possibly be a big problem right now, because everyone getting in right now has to really work at it. I know I tried for two days before I was one of the 20 precious people let in. I wouldn't have done that if I weren't a longtime reader (as bingbangbong also seems to be). So a FAQ might be needed a couple weeks, or a month...anyway, there's time to work on it before the real noobs start getting in.
posted by emyd at 9:57 AM on August 3, 2002


What is the significance of pancakes? What started it all? I've been combing MeTa for 5 months trying to find the answer to this, and the only thing I've learned is that they're very bad. If someone can tell me why, I'd be eternally grateful. And I will never, ever mention them again.
posted by spacewaitress at 12:09 PM on August 3, 2002


Pancakes.


posted by PrinceValium at 12:30 PM on August 3, 2002


"Who here likes pancakes?" used to be a sooper-snarky way of saying "this thread is lame." Like, someone posts an article from The Onion on the front page, and the first comment is "That's enthralling!! I love pancakes! Who here likes pancakes?" (E.g., 1, 2.) It kinda took off from there.

I dunno if aaron started it, but he was a Master Of The Form
posted by Shadowkeeper at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2002


Also! All newcomers might wanna read this thread.

Also! Tuesday is ice cream day.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 12:48 PM on August 3, 2002


There's a swimming pool on the roof, but only seniors have a key.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2002


Ahhh, that was a good thread. I wish I'd been there.

Zippity BOP!

Optamystic, my defense was a little slow--may I have my eyes back please?
posted by ashbury at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2002


Thanks guys!

Now where's my pony?
posted by spacewaitress at 1:25 PM on August 3, 2002


when you make 20 interesting (non newsy) posts, you get an ascii pony.
posted by moz at 1:28 PM on August 3, 2002


So a new guy comes in here, earnestly asking for advice, and y'all spin off on a bunch of in-jokes and noise.

That's pretty disappointing.
posted by frykitty at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2002


Erm, I'm afraid I invited the in-jokes by asking what the business with the, ahem, disc-shaped breakfast objects was all about. But I'm pleased to note that I received a straightforward and informative answer - no "new guy" baiting as far as I can tell.

moz, I'm holding you to that.
posted by spacewaitress at 1:50 PM on August 3, 2002


(distributes top floor pool keys from wax impression)
just tell the life guard: "where from Plastic"
....and no chewing on the pool rings.
posted by clavdivs at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2002


7. Buy a little red dress.

Red is *so* not my color. Will a blue one suffice? - gummi


Cool, does that mean I can stick with my standard black? Yay! ;)

...That's pretty disappointing. - frykitty

Oh, come on now...for this crowd, it was pretty darn tame...and there was much useful advice given. Sometimes, you just have to see the humor in situations...really...not everything is life and death...and this topic qualifies as neither. :)

Chill. Have a pancake. :)


posted by dejah420 at 2:59 PM on August 3, 2002


spacewaitress: Erm, I'm afraid I invited the in-jokes by asking what the business with the, ahem, disc-shaped breakfast objects was all about.

Speaking of disc shaped, read my profile.
posted by skallas at 3:51 PM on August 3, 2002


Mmm... Pancakes...
posted by ninthart at 4:25 PM on August 3, 2002


To veer away from goddam pancakes: I'm surprised that so few new members maintain personal websites. I always thought of this site as heavily skewed, and most majorly of interest, towards bloggers. Are there other community sites that these new members take part in? Or... I guess there's other ways to participate in the internet. I need to get my head out of blogville, maybe.

Yes: I looked at every one of your user pages. Life? I'd love one!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 5:47 PM on August 3, 2002


I always thought of this site as heavily skewed, and most majorly of interest, towards bloggers.

A myth! A heinous myth! I think you navel-gazing filth only number about 60 or 70%. If you believe the hype, that's one of the major reasons for MeFi's downfall - it's no longer a community of bloggers.

(personally, i say: thank god!)
posted by Marquis at 9:34 PM on August 3, 2002


""Who here likes pancakes?" used to be a sooper-snarky way of saying "this thread is lame." "

actually, it was a way of diffusing potentially unhealthy situations, damnit.

and yes, i would love some pancakes.
posted by jcterminal at 12:11 AM on August 4, 2002


oh, and ignore frykitty, she's still pissed cuz a house landed on her sister.

tee hee
posted by jcterminal at 12:12 AM on August 4, 2002



posted by quonsar at 3:27 AM on August 4, 2002


Quonsar. Best. Most. Appropriate. Funniest. Inline. Image. Of. All. Time!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:49 AM on August 4, 2002


The cardinal rule, I guess, is think before you write, which, I guess, accounts for my longwinded style.
The technological particulars obfuscate good old fashioned talking, and therefore people don't function together as well as they might in the real world.

The only thing that makes us different is how we choose to represent ourselves here and how far we are willing to go to circumvent the intangible boundaries that technology presents us with.


You thought before you wrote those?
Well, there's thinking and then there's thinking...
Um... Omit Needless Words?

Some here have neither the huge monitors nor the time to scroll through acres of wasted words. Inelegant, pedantic and overlong does not a thoughtful sentence make. Some do demand quality here, too...

Not that your points are not well taken--but ya write like a college student, if that's any example.
Oh, and welcone aboard, first commenter. Now, get thee to a style manual... or something. Please.

posted by y2karl at 7:14 AM on August 4, 2002


I'm surprised that so few new members maintain personal websites.

Or don't want to reveal them right away, maybe? I can think of a few good reasons to not connect a personal site, if you have one, with a MeFi persona. One that leaps to mind: it makes it easier for people to dismiss you based on meatworld data instead of focusing on what you post.
posted by mediareport at 9:50 AM on August 4, 2002


Actually, I'm on frykitty's side. It's better that new users don't know about silly frivolous phrases used for heckling. If I were new to the site and saw this display of ponies and pancakes, I'd start thinking it's acceptable posting behavior and that noise is the norm. That only leads to degrading quality of the site, imo.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:53 AM on August 4, 2002


Oh, I almost forgot. Use the font size tag sparingly.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:54 AM on August 4, 2002


And fight the urge to have the last word.
posted by y2karl at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2002


and NEVER EVER change the colour of the font that you use on the front page. It scares people - they fear change. And red.
posted by Spoon at 4:09 PM on August 4, 2002


nice to be here at last.....

you know that bit in papillion where steve mcqueen

comes out of the jail and he's now gotten incredibly old?

well its a bit like that.

i'd be chuffed if stavrosthewonderchicken said hello ,

thats a fine handle.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:30 PM on August 4, 2002


"chuffed", eh? May I use that some day? (It does mean you'd be, like, ecstatic or something, right?)

Welcome to the rest of your life, sgt. serenity!
posted by ashbury at 5:52 PM on August 4, 2002


Chuffed.
posted by walrus at 4:23 AM on August 5, 2002


cheers !

you may use it as often as you wish !

this is so much more fun than lurking........


posted by sgt.serenity at 4:24 AM on August 5, 2002


Sigh. Occasionally there is actual signal here. You'll learn how to find it.

Please, oh please don't let this place get as masturbatory as my impressions of what everything2 is like.

(meaning: all in-jokes and cliques and in general, stuff that doesn't really contribute to making the place worthwhile)

Disclaimer: I only looked at everything2 for a little while before deciding it Wasn't My Thing.

Your mileage may vary, judgments of Quality are notoriously subjective, yadda yadda yadda.
posted by beth at 11:37 AM on August 5, 2002


Regarding newbies not having websites:

I don't list my website on my user page. At the moment my site is happily obscure. I doubt it's even on Google (although my old site was, before the bastards expired my domain name). Perhaps at some point I'll link to it. At the moment, considering that it would be trivial to derive from data on my home page my phone number, address, real name, place of employment, etc., I think I'll pass.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 1:05 PM on August 5, 2002


Beth - actually, so far, MetaFilter seems much more tolerant of in-jokes than E2. I don't know when you last took a look at E2, but we try to keep that stuff to a minimum. Some of it is tolerated, under the philosophy that a user who spends 12 hours writing about Norse mythology with no pay deserves to let off some steam now and again.

That said, E2 definitely isn't for everyone. In fact, it's really only for the obsessive-compulsive and the very, very patient.

posted by bingbangbong at 1:20 PM on August 5, 2002


Ishmael-One day and already you don't trust us?
*kicks rocks*
posted by ColdChef at 1:21 PM on August 5, 2002


Some of it is tolerated, under the philosophy that a user who spends 12 hours writing about Norse mythology with no pay deserves to let off some steam now and again.

Erm, does that scenario happen a lot?
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:06 PM on August 5, 2002


Some of us old-timers also don't blog. I already have a "web presence" in a couple of other places. Providing consistently good content on a blog would just be too much like work, and work that does not pay. I salute and thank those of you who do provide consistently good content, like Matt's a.whole, rebecca's pocket, librarian.net, girlhacker's random log and skallas' everythingisnt, just to mention a few of my faves.
posted by Lynsey at 5:15 PM on August 5, 2002


I salute and thank those of you who do provide consistently good content, like Matt's a.whole

Titter.




Sorry, but irresistable.
posted by evanizer at 6:31 PM on August 5, 2002


I was only able to join a couple of days ago, but I've lurked for a good long while. I suspect most of the "new faces" are in the same boat -- with the added twist that most of us have been smashing our faces up against the glass of "No new memberships" for such a long time we're desperate to talk now that we finally have the chance....I've read MeFi and MeTa archives as advised, but have an uneasy feeling that is not going to suffice. That "member since: August 8, 2002" scarlet letter is probably going to honk someone off. Read more than you write strikes me as excellent advice (and so's the rest of that post, as well). The tension between wanting to leap in and not wanting to get tagged as "yet another stupid n00bie" is something. But I guess that's part of the fun.

(Re blogs: yeah, I have one. But like others, I didn't put it in my profile info. Someone could probably find it in .05 seconds -- that's not the point. It just seemed too self-promoting.)
posted by redshoes3 at 2:31 PM on August 15, 2002


I thought this thread might be appropriate for my first post.

Hi, I'm Dillon, nice to meet you all. Like redshoes I've been lurking for a while. In my case, the greater part of 2 years. Now that I finally have my membership, I'm worried that I won't actually contribute anything of value. There have been times when I was reading a thread and I felt like abducting and assuming the identify of a member in order to post my $0.02. It was like burning.

Now, I'm just hoping I won't screw up.
Only time will tell, I guess.

I'll be going through my posts with a fine tooth comb for a while at least.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:43 AM on August 16, 2002


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