Forums Rule of Etiquette No. 2 and How We Flaunt It
Thread poster: Elías Sauza

Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:45
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 9, 2004

2. Stay on point

Postings should not stray from the topics introduced in each thread.

Often we read how answers to postings make a detour from the original idea and turn into lively discussions among members, resulting in topics which are probably not even interesting to the originator.

I'd like to retake this issue and relate it to the Principle of Cooperation in Pragmatics addressed previously here:

Grice claimed that people make assumptions in communication, and that the basic assumption is that speakers behaved CO-OPERATIVELY. In other words, hearers assume that speakers are abiding by the four GRICEAN MAXIMS which constitute Grice's CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLE:

Maxim of Quantity: Be as informative as required, no more or less
Maxim of Quality: Do not state what you know to be false or are unsure of
Maxim of Relevance: Be relevant
Maxim of Manner: Be clear, brief and orderly

Let's see where this one ends...


PRen (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:45
French to English
+ ...
Actually.... Aug 9, 2004

Some of the best discussions are "off-topic" - I think it's counterproductive to institute too many rules in fora that are supposed to encourage discussions.

Your quality maxims, however, apply very well to kudoz questions, particularly the one about being sure about your answer!

Paula Rennie


Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:45
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Grice should have added some... Aug 9, 2004

... but I'll help him out of this mistake:

1)Be tolerant – not always does the original poster express a clear concept.
2)Be human – after all we’re not machine translators!
3)Leave room for a smile once in a while – many of us read the forums to relax from work.

Hope I stuck to the concept!

[Edited at 2004-08-09 18:55]


Javier Herrera (X)
Agree Aug 9, 2004

Paula Rennie wrote:

Some of the best discussions are "off-topic" - I think it's counterproductive to institute too many rules in fora that are supposed to encourage discussions.

Your quality maxims, however, apply very well to kudoz questions, particularly the one about being sure about your answer!

Paula Rennie

Let this be like real conversations: you never know what you might end up talking about. Actually the rules of netiquette say you should behave in forums the way you would if the person you're talking to was in front of you, so why should this be an exception?
The only disadvantage is that the person who posts a topic receives an alert every time a reply is made and they will find it irritating if others beat about the bush. But that could be solved if there was an options of not receiving such alerts.


Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:45
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
What is wrong with straying from the point in a forum topic? Aug 9, 2004

Forum topics do sometimes stray from the original point, and interesting discussions ensue, which may or may not be of interest to whoever originated the topic, but are certainly of interest to those taking part in them, and as long as they do so amicably, I see no harm in it.
I agree with Paula that your rules are more suitable for KudoZ questions, but even there, if discussions arise in the course of answers, gradings, replies to gradings etc., some interesting points may arise, and again, it seems to me that the main thing is that neither in forums nor in KudoZ should this degenerate into angry slanging matches.

By the way, I think you mean "flout", not "flaunt".

[Edited at 2004-08-09 18:58]


Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
English to German
+ ...
Basically, I agree Aug 9, 2004

However, when a German jurisprudent says "basically" (grundsätzlich) then he wants to say: "Here comes a long list of exceptions covering nearly all of the relevant cases!"

When people stray from the topic they think that it is worth to do that. They might be wrong in most cases, but it would be a pity for those cases where they are right.

So it should be checked in each case how strictly the principles should be applied - it is much easier to silence someone than to make him talk.


Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:45
Dutch to English
+ ...
Silence leads nowhere ... Aug 9, 2004

Harry_B wrote:

So it should be checked in each case how strictly the principles should be applied - it is much easier to silence someone than to make him talk.

Well put Harry!


Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:15
English to Tamil
+ ...
Thoughts emanating from a habitual strayer Aug 10, 2004

That is me. Let me now defend myself. If you start thinking of say the high cost of living, you may remember your grandma sighing and saying how far a dollar went in those good old days. You may then think of the uncle snapping that in the good old days the salaries too were low. This uncle was a short of black sheep of the family. He went and married a chorus girl. What was her name? Cora? What a funny name? How about the funny name of Crickey? Can this name be rhymed with quicky? And so on. Before long you will think of the State of the Nation address by the President Bush. Is there any other example of both the father and the son occupying the white house (at differenttimes of course)?

Similar is the case of threads in Proz. I remember one thread, where it was a question of CAT tools and I had to go and write that personally I am not for such tools as it encourages the agencies to reduce our prices and I said I was in a minority, whereupon Susana the moderator concurred with me. Ralf had to gently tell us to remain with the original topic and both of us said sorry.

Personally I believe that straying is sometimes quite interesting. Let me take this opportunity to stray once again.

In too many of the threads I am disconcerted to note that after my posting there is no further posting. I am not naive to believe that I have the last word. It seems to be more of a conversation stopper. Believe me, it is not a good feeling. Is it so because my straying has made the others speechless?

Regards from a strayer,


Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:45
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
I wonder what Elías’ intention was posting this Aug 10, 2004

but I think that it's useful to discuss the rule.

The forum rules have 13 rules. I’d say that half of them are regularly recalled:

1. Write detailed titles: this is not recalled every time to posters but titles are edited.
2. English as working language: this is recalled whenever “lost” members post in another language. Note that English is “recommended”, so the rule could not be applied unless somebody complains or the moderator doesn’t understand what he/she must vet. But there usually is somebody to complain.
3. No advertising: most of the time posters are contacted privately, as well as for the following points unless it’s necessary to do it in the forum.
4. No politics
5. No client discussions
6. No attacks

The other rules are seldom used but exist to help whenever it’s needed.

7. No plagiarism
8. Stay on point
9. = translation workplace
10. No shouting
11. Professionalism
12. No harassing side messages
13. No misrepresentation

I agree with Harry and I think that it’s the idea and how it works.
So it should be checked in each case how strictly the principles should be applied

In fact it’s not checked in each case, but when straying from the point disturbs it’s noticed.

For instance I remember a topic in the Spanish forum to speak about the recent Buenos Aires Powwow. A member said that sadly he wouldn’t be able to go because he was getting married.
Wow! Well, this piece of news deserved a separate thread, I think, but maybe he wanted to announce it “quietly”, I don’t know. Only a few people congratulated him because those who were following that thread were not those who looked at his postings but those who were going to the PW.

I remember another case of straying from the topic that had a bad end. The thread started with a complaint about a specific problem and it finished with a list of reasons to complain about and stories that were two years old. If we aim to find solutions we have to treat the problems one by one. I learned that in a very popular book that one of my students lent to me. The title was something like “Avoiding divorce” and the title of a chapter was “How to discuss”. The rule was so simple and easy to apply: Discuss point by point, don’t let critics about other facts come together.

I think that there are several reasons for that rule to exist:

- Respect for the person who started the thread
- Facilitate a search later
- Make it easier to follow (for those who don’t want to miss anything but have too many messages in their e-box and read them in diagonal)

Now I remember that I owe an answer to Raghavan about a question that I had to ask in my bank. Do you remember, Raghavan? Well, I know now that I should pay from 10 to 100 US$ for sending the check to recovery.
Don’t you think that I should look for that specific thread and answer there, instead of straying from the point here, just because I remember now? It would be easier to follow for those who read this thread and those who followed the other one.
We have no restriction about creating threads, and we have so many forums that we need some order. It’s like speaking all at a time or one by one. Just a little bit of self-discipline.



Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:15
English to Tamil
+ ...
You are right Claudia Aug 10, 2004

I agree with you on the reference to my earlier request for information. I sent you a separate mail for that.

But my straying is not so jerky. There is sure to be some logical reason for me to go off tangent. But again, it shold not be forgotten that too much straying is not good. I do not envy the moderaotrs their job.



Lucinda Hollenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:45
Dutch to English
+ ...
There now you are not the last one! Aug 10, 2004


Now you are not the last one.

By the way, I always read your insights with great interest. Please don't stop.



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