Wittiquette

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Wittiquette is the set of user guidelines for Wittenberg. They are set by the administrator of Wittenberg, a private individual (who happens to be king).

Wittiquette Rules

Wittiquette Rule 1

1: Be nice.

In the Kingdom of Talossa, we put a high premium on playing nice and getting along with each other. This does not mean that we don’t have sharp disagreements from time to time — we do, we’re famous for it. But it does mean that you will not be popular in Talossa if your posts are perceived as being abusive, insulting, or rude. Nor, except rarely and for limited rhetorical purposes, will obscenity be permitted.

Wittiquette Rule 2

2: Be polite and correct.

Talossa is a Kingdom, not a republic and not a democracy. Sometimes we just banter with each other, and at those times we’re pretty informal. Most of the time, though, Talossans pay a lot of attention to ranks of nobility, orders of chivalry, offices, titles, and civilised behaviour in general. Address and refer to people by their correct titles. We’ll understand if you make mistakes — even long-time Talossans goof these things from time to time —, and someone will probably give you a gentle correction. If you’re not sure about a title, just ask. When in doubt, err on the side of pomposity — you can hardly be too pompous.

Wittiquette Rule 3

3: No Bigotry.

Talossa has citizens from various races, five continents, and who knows how many religious backgrounds. Some of our citizens have no religion at all; others are very serious about their religion, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, “Brianist”, Buddhist, Jewish, Moslem, or None of the Above. Racism is utterly forbidden on Wittenberg, and will get your account suspended; religious, national, or sexual bigotry will be very strongly frowned on.

Wittiquette Rule 4

4: In political discussions especially, exercise restraint, respect, and moderation.

Sometimes, foreign (non-Talossan) politics are mentioned or even discussed on Wittenberg. This is OK, but keep in mind that Talossa includes people from all parts of various political spectrums. Even in purely American terms, we have conservatives, Republicans, Federalists, Democrats, liberals, socialists, Libertarians, and maybe even anarchists. (Some of us fall into more than one category.) Add in our non-American citizens, and we have Christian Democrats, monarchists, Tories, Labourites, and who knows what else. And to make things even more complicated, we have guests from the Talossan Republic. If we’re all going to get along together, and have fun, the divisive nature of political arguments must be tempered and controlled. So, without feeling you have to stifle your opinions, be aware that other people — other nice, productive, patriotic Talossans — probably disagree sharply with you about Supreme Court nominees, abortion, the Weimar Constitution, the war in Iraq, the Lega Nord, the minimum wage, the Princes in the Tower, the President’s honesty, the Embargo Act, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hillary Clinton, Québec separatism, the Electoral College, the Intifada, and statehood for West Virginia.

Wittiquette Rules 5 and 6

5: Use the various Boards appropriately.

6: Official business ONLY in The Ziu and The Courthouse.

Wittenberg is divided into eleven Boards, and they’re there for a reason. Threads do tend to drift, and it’s impossible always to keep every conversation on the same track where it began; but in general, try to use each Board only for the purpose for which it exists. These are, briefly:

1. Wittenberg. A general-purpose discussion area. Things that don’t fit onto any other Board probably should go here, or possibly nowhere.

2. Immigration. The Immigration Board is a kind of meet-the-newbies forum, used by the Ministry of Immigration to introduce prospective citizens, a place where current citizens can ask prospectives questions, try to get to know them, and welcome them to the country. Grants of Citizenship (when they’re granted) appear here. Try to avoid using Immigration as a general discussion area.

3. Provincial Boards. This is actually a group of seven sub-boards, one for each of Talossa's seven provinces. They're used for postings that are of interest to people in one province or another, but (probably) not to the entire country.

4. The Hopper. This is an informal place for discussing proposed legislation. Most of the posts here are from members of the Ziu, or from citizens who have opinions to express to their legislators about upcoming legislation. In particular, the Hopper is used to work out the wording of new laws, in preparation for their being voted on by the Ziu. Try not to clutter up the discussion with vague discussions of general principles, or with personal give-and-take; this is your legislature doing the nuts-and-bolts work of legislating.

5. The Ziu. This Board is used only for official business of the Senäts and the Cosâ; a post here is considered the Talossan equivalent of a speech on the floor of one of the two Houses. Nobody who is not a member of the Ziu may post here.

6. The Courthouse. Another Board that shouldn’t be used except for official business. The Courthouse is divided into two sub-boards — The Uppermost Cort, and the Magistrate's Cort. The two sub-boards are under control (respectively) of the Justices of Uppermost Cort and the Magistrate, so unless you have actual business to bring before one of the Corts, or unless the Cort has asked you to post something, posting here might get you cited for contempt. If you want to comment on Cort business, post in Wittenberg, not here.

7. El Glheþ Talossan. For discussions of the Talossan language itself, questions about learning the language, poems written in Talossan, all that kind of thing. This is also the place to go when you want to be given a Talossan name; your request will be discussed here, and decisions reached usually by the consensus of language-capable posters.

8. The College of Arms. This is a place for discussion of heraldry in general, and Talossan heraldry in particular. If you’d like the King of Talossa to award you a Coat of Arms, this is where to start. No heraldic question is likely to be considered off-topic; very few non-heraldic questions are on-topic.

9. l’Üniversità Talossan. Everything regarding the University of Talossa.

10. The GTZT. About the website www.KingdomOfTalossa.net and how to make it even better.

11. The Chat Room. This Board is here so that those people will have a place to post, who like to post things that might be considered annoying, off-topic, stupid, silly, time-wasting, immature , or mildly offensive if posted somewhere else. The Chat Room is not completely rule-free – for instance, bigotry and personal insult are no more welcome here than anywhere else –, but you can count on nobody getting annoyed with you for going off-topic, spelling things wrong, posting too many one-line messages, telling stupid jokes, and so on. Go wild.

Wittiquette Rule 7

7: Except maybe in the Chat Room, take it slow at first.

If you’re new to Talossa, or new to Wittenberg, go slow. Don’t think you understand everything you see. This community has existed for over 30 years now, and will (we hope) continue to exist for a great many years into the future. You’re participating in something with a lot more history and thought behind it than your average on-line forum; be a bit cautious about suggesting big changes, reorganizing the country, revamping the website, changing Wittenberg itself. Chances are that if you’ve thought of something, someone else has, too. Your ideas may have been implemented already, and found not to work, and abandoned long ago (or last week); or there may be some serious reason for the way things are. Nobody’s going to mind your asking “Why do we do X?”, but if you just say, “Hey, we should change X!”, it won’t always be appreciated.

Wittiquette Rules 8 and 9

8: Except in the Chat Room, keep the noise level way down.

9: Except in the Chat Room, take care (within reason) to write your posts as well as you can.

Talossa puts considerable emphasis on the quality of posts. Keep in mind that when you post something to Wittenberg (except in the Chat Room), you’re asking a large group of people to read what you’ve written. Most Talossans have only limited time for reading Wittenberg, so as a matter of courtesy, try to write only things that others will find entertaining, informative, interesting, witty, or challenging. (One-line posts saying “Yeah, I agree” or “That was funny” are usually not considered particularly valuable.) When you have something to say – an opinion, a joke, a comment – try to say it tersely and well. When you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it. If you have trouble spelling, use Spell-Check; try to make your punctuation reflect your meaning; capitalize as appropriate. Always hit the “Preview” button and proorfead what you’ve written before you post it. If you post something, and then see a typo, use the button to “Modify Post” and fix it. Or if you post something, and then right away think of something you should have added, use “Modify Post” instead of posting another message. Your posts don’t have to be perfect, by any means; but they should be well-enough written that it’s not a pain and burden to read them.

Wittiquette Rule 10

10: No big multi-media files.

Not everyone has a broad-band Internet connection, so do not post huge pictures, movies, or sound files. Photographs and drawings are fine, but they should be reasonably-sized.

Wittiquette Rules 11 and 12

11: Use only Talossan names for people who prefer to use them.

12: Never post anyone else’s email address.

Some people prefer to use their Talossan names on Wittenberg. Respect this preference. Even if you know that Ups Ansadarh’s real name is Joe Blow, on Wittenberg you should call him “Ups” or “S:reu Ansadarh”. Ditto with email addresses; nobody except the owner of an email address should ever post the address. (And then, caution is suggested.)

Wittiquette Rule 13

13: Prospective citizens may not modify the Display Name and other profile information set for them by the Immigration Ministry. Non-citizens must use their natural (or Talossan) names for Display Names, or at least something close. It would be nice if citizens did the same.

You can modify your Profile to set your Display Name to pretty much anything you want – if you’re a citizen, that is. While most of us would prefer to see a Display Name that is at least close to your real name or your Talossan name, still it’s a free country, and you can do what you want. If, however, you’re a non-citizen guest, you should make sure that your Display Name makes it easy for people to tell who you are, and if you're a prospective immigrant, you may not change the Display Name (or avatar or any other information in your Witt profile).

Wittiquette Rules 14 and 15

14: Prospective citizens and Guests must use the identifying Avatars and Personal Texts required by law.

15: No unauthorized use of heraldic or armorial designs or titles of chivalry.

If you are a citizen, you may set your Avatar and Personal Text to show various sorts of pictures and to display almost any short piece of text. (Obviously, you mustn’t use an obscene or offensive Avatar or Personal Text.) In general, you can set these fields however you want to, but there are three particular exceptions to the general rule. First, prospective citizens may not modify their Avatar or other profile information in any way. Second, non-citizen guests must have their Avatar set to display a Passport, and their Personal Text set to something like “Guest”. And third – this is important – you may use no armorial display, no coat of arms or heraldic device of any kind, as your Avatar, unless it has been granted to you by the King of Talossa, or unless you have the legitimate right to display the device in some foreign country and have duly registered it with the College of Arms. (But any citizen may use the Talossan flag as his Avatar.) Finally, you may not use any titles, ranks, or honours of nobility and chivalry in your descriptive text, unless those titles, ranks, or honours have been granted by the King of Talossa, or you have some other legitimate right to them, and that right has been recognized by the Royal Talossan College of Arms.

Wittiquette Rule 16

16: Except in the Chat Room, keep purely personal messages off the Boards.

Feel free to send Personal Messages to other users. (But of course, the same considerations of appropriate language, courtesy, kindness apply to PMs as to other forms of communication.) Also, feel free to communicate with other Talossans by email, off of Wittenberg. But don’t use the public forums of Wittenberg for what are essentially personal messages between you and one or two other people. Wittenberg is a public forum; use it for public things.

Wittiquette Rule 17

17: No commercial activity.

We’ve never had any problem with commercial messages on Wittenberg. Keep it that way. It’s OK, occasionally, for a citizen to offer goods or services for sale; it’s OK, within reason, to post a message to point people toward your own website somewhere; but it’s not OK to use Wittenberg as part of a serious money-making scheme. And don’t even think about gathering email addresses for spamming.