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Hello! And Welcome to The Forge!

Started by Christopher Kubasik, March 09, 2002, 12:58:35 AM

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Christopher Kubasik

Here are some notes for people just arriving.  I'm still new here myself, but I've already found some ways that The Forge is different than other web sites.

1) Slower response times

At other sites, a lot of people post, and they post a lot.  The Forge is slower.  It encourages more thinking, less typing.  That's not pretension. It's just the habit around here.

If someone doesn't get back to you right away, don't post again.  Just wait.  You'll get a response.

2) It's not a very angry place

In general, Forge discussions discourage flaming and ill-manner of any kind. It's not about taking a defensive stand and defending it, or proving someone who you disagree with is wrong.  The goal is often to tease ideas out of a conversation.  Which is in part why posting is slow: the idea isn't to keep the exchange going, it's to mull the last post and see what interesting idea you can come up with next.

3) Fire extinguinshers are located at the entrance to every thread

Point two is the ideal.  It is, of course, not always met.

When tempers rise, there are usually three options worth considering:

 -- Don't reply immediatley.  Take some time.  Decide what response would further communication, not "win."

 -- Consider the other person's point.  Did they nail you on something?  Admit it.  Say, "Good point..."  and then move on.

 -- Let it go.  Some posts are screaming to take over the thread if you reply to them.  Sometimes it's best to let something drift away downthread as no one mentions it again and the conversation continues without any memory of it.  Not ever point need be fought over, nor ever point of honor argued.  

4) Handles aren't discouraged, but aren't encouraged either

For the most part, people here tend to talk as if they would if they were talking face to face, in a room full of people they respect.  Posting with your actual name encourages this.  While the anonymity of the internet is fun -- it's sometimes fun the way being drunk at party with someone else is fun -- you can do anything you want -- but would you have done it if you were sober?  If you'd like to try something new, register under your own name.  You lose nothing (as far as I know no one has yet stalked a gamer), and you gain backing everything you say with exactly who you are.

5) Pay attention to the Folders and Thread Topics

The Forge is pretty stringent about staying on topic.  Explore the site a while before you start posting.  You'll get a feel for how conversations work AND you'll see how topic are divided up.  It really matter around her.  Each thread exists for a purpose.  It keeps the conversation on track.  It keeps the discussion about teasing out the new idea about the subject instead of trying to cover five responses to three new thoughts.

5) People here enforce polite, stringent thought

I don't think Clinton has ever deleted a thread (though I might well be wrong about that), but if thread's either floating away or getting all hot and bothered, someone's probably going to step in and say, "Let's get back to the subject," or, "I need you to explain your position more clearly."  

Or, in extreme cases of rising tempers or circular debate, "I'm closing the thread down."  The thread in question won't be deleted.  It can be referred to.  But it's kind of an enforced cooling down period.

Feel it out and see if you can appreicate the value of this idea instead of being offended or thinking it heavy handed.  I find part of The Forge's appeal.  

6) Read the Essays

I know this seems like homework, I know it seems a lot to ask, and I know it might even seem presumptious.  But trust me...  It's worth it. There's a shared language here, a language that allows talk to move forward at a good clip without having to redefine words every ten posts.

You can ask questions about the terms and ideas (and you'll often be referred to old threads where terms and ideas were hashed out).  But if you act as if it makes no sense that you should have to learn the ideas that form the groundwork for most conversations you will, in a short while, get a cold reception.

I can only guarantee you you'll get a lot more out of this place if you read "Rules Do Matter" and the "GNS and Other Matters Essay".  Everyone else read them.  You can do it to.

Moreover: if you're really going to do this, don't read them on the web.  Copy them, down load them clean them up.  Read them.  It's how I did it, and it saved me a lot of time and let me understand the value of the discussions right off the bat.

7)  All types of games are welcome

Listen, except in ridiculously close Presidential elections, one interest of thing holds sway over other interests.  But it passes.  At any moment what you care about most may seem under represented -- and the dominence about material about matters that you don't care about may seem like a personal insult.

It isn't.

Start a new thread about what you care about.  As long as you're willing to discuss it with the same rigor as everyone else here -- and willing to *learn* how to do that as you discuss it (which will happen naturally) -- Forger members will arrive like strangely curious amoebas.  Everyone here likes talking about all this stuff -- not to prove other people wrong, but to find out new ways of approaching old ideas.

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Ron Edwards


Thanks to Christopher for this message, especially considering how many new folks have been signing up lately.

Here are a couple of other notions to consider.

1) The webmaster is Clinton R. Nixon - if you have any hassles with the software or forum management, talk to him. The content manager or Big Moderator, if you will, is me, Ron Edwards. If you are annoyed with someone specific or want to know something about what is or isn't appropriate to post, talk to me.

Clinton and I stay in close contact with one another about our respective zones of authority and we don't make any major decisions about anything without consulting one another.

2) Two of my essays - "System Does Matter" and "The Nuked Applecart" - were written over three years ago and are included for historical purposes only. The much more recent essay, "GNS and related matters," is the primary concept essay for a lot of Forge discussions, although you should know that no one is required to agree or "believe" its contents in order to participate.

An essay about the economics of the role-playing industry, essentially an update, expansion, and modification of "Applecart," is in development.

3) The Forge has its own standards for what constitutes a "flame." They're really strict - including any dismissal of another's point without fair consideration, any expression of hostility even in response to perceived hostility, or even multiply posting to someone before they have a chance to get back to you, and anything similar. In other words, politeness and rudeness at the Forge follow the rules of conversation, not the general standards of the Internet.

Most importantly, participating here means engaging in discourse. Some of the rules of discourse include:

1) Acknowledging the validity of another's point, instead of merely switching topics if you've been refuted. Even if you disagree, show that you understand what the other person is saying.

2) Giving credit to others' input if you're drawing on those ideas, to the best of your ability.

3) Recognizing the question at hand and addressing it instead of side issues - granted, no one can do this all the time, but we should all try. For instance, if you want to talk about a new issue based on an existing discussion, it's perfectly OK to start a new thread and include a link to the old one in the first post.

4) understanding that to disagree with someone does not mean disliking or insulting them. We are talking about ideas, not about one another. You'll have to separate the integrity of your ideas from your self-image; getting the first ripped apart does not constitute an attack on the second.


Tim C Koppang

Someone might want to post this, and any other thought on the subject, as a sort of faq for the site in general.