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How To Get The Best From Forums
Enjoy And Profit From Forums
Forums are amongst the best features of the internet. Forums allow you to publicise your work, let off steam, find help, give help, offer praise and support to friends and strangers or just post the link to a great Youtube clip.
Even if you're not a writer on sites like Hubpages, perhaps you're just looking for information on forums generally, read on for some useful tips on how to enjoy and benefit from your time on forums.
“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself”
Can I Really Just Start Posting On SquidU?
You can indeed but if you want to get the best out of posting and you're not too familiar with forums, read on.
Different forums have different styles and allow different behaviours. Some are like bear gardens; we at SquidU aim for a polite and friendly forum. If you've been put off by shouting, swearing and insults at other forums, fear not - we're all civilised and well mannered. Of course, that means you have to be well mannered as well - the first rule to remember is that your posts should fit the tone of the forum. Ever been in a social group when a brash newcomer arrives and shouts at all and sundry?
So, read a few posts before starting to post yourself. You'll notice, apart from the lack of swearing, we don't use txt spk and we don't speak harshly to anyone. We're all lensmasters after all, we're in the communication business. We write lenses to appeal to a broad church and so we write posts to appeal to a wide range of lensmasters.
When you go to SquidU you'll notice that there are several separate forums (it's a weakness of the jargon that individual forums within forums are usually called forums as well) . with each having a separate broad purpose. We do this as otherwise everything would be a hodgepodge of posts, a sort of Tower Of Babel with just one language. It's best to look at each forum and judge which suits your post best; that helps order and makes sure you're more likely to get a quick and helpful reply.
What forums do we have?
New? Introduce Yourself!: This will probably be where you post first. Think of it as the shallow end.
Chatter Box: General Squidoo-related conversation - all sorts of topics with the one proviso that they're somehow related to Squidoo.
Critique Me... Free advice on your early lenses - a bit more about Critique below.
Help, Please: More advice on general Squidoo issues - when do I get paid, is it just me or is everything slow today, how do I add xxx to my lens?
Tricks of the Trade: Experienced lensmasters let us in on their tricks and secrets.
Lens Spotlight: Got a good lens? Advertise it to the community.
Shopkeeper Talk: For the many who have online shops at Zazzle or CafePress or wherever, a place to discuss those and get help,
Squids Gone Wild (Randominity): Non-Squidoo posts - these can be serious or silly - we really don't mind.
"What if I post in the wrong forum?" you're asking. Don't worry, a moderator (more below on mods as well) will move the post to a better place.
Forums are a great facility
What do you think of forums in general and SquidU in particular?
The Critique Forum
One of my favourite forums and one that blows the socks off many newcomers: post a lens here and people will tell you how to improve it or help you correct errors.
"But we're all in competition for customers" you cry. Yes and no - there are plenty of people out there to entice to our lenses, plenty to go round. I had great help when I started on Squidoo, now I try to pay back some of that, and I'll still post lenses there if I want some advice - we all need help sometimes.
Venerate The Mods
Moderators are the people who control the day to day running of the forums - putting posts in the right areas, making sure rules are obeyed and so on. I'm a mod and there are, at present, five of us. We're picked for our intelligence, wisdom, sense of humour, virility, animal magnetism and various other characteristics. Most importantly, we're all posters and lensmasters - back to the communication thing - we talk to everyone and to each other so that people get what they want from forums.
Read The Stickies
At the top of several of the individual forums you'll see Sticky threads, so called because they stick up at the top of the page. They contain guidelines for success in the individual forum - so Critique has a thread advising you on how to prepare for a Crit and get the most out of it. Help forum has a few stickies answering very common questions - that saves many duplicate threads.
There's also a link "Search" on every page - you can use that to find information in existing posts - it's worth doing this rather than immediately starting a thread to ask - it'll often save you time and get interesting extra info.
Too Good To Be True So Far?
What Can't You Do?
Well, I've already mentioned swearing and txt spk. In general, avoid flaming. Flaming is being very rude to people. That doesn't mean you can't disagree but there's a right way and a wrong way.
"Don't be so stupid, you steaming pile of wombat droppings, it's spelled with an 'a' " is a no-no. "Is that an American spelling? I've always used an 'a' in the UK" is a bit better.
Spamming: overly promotional activities in inappropriate places - more below.
Thread hijacking: Don't interject a post on an unrelated subject into an existing thread. Start your own - don't be shy. However, if you see a thread and you think your issue might be related, do reply in that thread (you might even be adding helpful extra information for the problem solver).
Resurrecting threads: Don't reply to very old threads - start a new thread in preference.
Bumping your own threads Bumping means replying to a thread just to get it back to the top of the forum. If you haven't had a response it's tempting but it is frowned upon.
Shouting: TYPING IN CAPITALS. Everybody hates it and it rots your brain faster than a mobile phone next to a microwave. Please don't do it.
Silly Characters: iT's VeRy HaRd To ReAd when p~eo~p~l~e +u+s+e odd mixes of characters. Some do it on thread titles - it usually doesn't work!
The Curse Of The Internet
Spam - nasty over-commercial, over-promotional worthless garbage. The curse of forums especially as people try to drop links thinking they're great for search engines.
Gross spam - posts that just advertise knock-off Nike and Rolexes that turn your wrist green - instant and permanent ban. No decent lensmaster would dream of doing it.
Subtle spam - dropping the odd link here and there. We try to keep this out as well, else it would take over the forums. Links can go in Critique and Lens Spotlight, rarely in other forums. Persistent offenders get short bans, repeat offenders get longer bans, incorrigible recidivists get permanent bans.
Reporting Bad Posts
People do break the rules sometimes so under every post is a link to Report. If you think a post is against the rules, please hit Report so it gets flagged to mods. Nobody but mods sees the reports and we don't discuss them with anyone but other mods.
Using the Report helps everyone - it can stop threads getting out of control and it gets spam removed quicker.
Signatures, or sigs as they're often called, are the bits that are automatically put under each of your posts. Most of us use these to add links to lenses we want to highlight. The occasional non-Squidoo link is allowed as long as it's not a SquidDon't.
Change your sig by clicking on the Profile link near the top of each forums page, then select Personality. Sigs use BBCode, not HTML, so you might see something like:
There's a link to info on BBCode on most pages, especially on the posting form.
Are sig links good for search engine juice? Yes, to an extent. Not on most forums these days but okay on SquidU. (Another reason we keep out spam.) Make sure you use your keywords in the link text (on any backlink).
Come Into My Parlour
Starting Good Threads
Title and post
Unless you're just letting off steam you will want people to respond to your opening post. The best way to do this is with a meaningful title (not clever, not arch or witty). Which of the following would get you to respond?
Hurricane Irene: we're in its path
Post content is most important when asking for help. Don't just say "Squidoo isn't working right" or "I can't publish". Give enough info to let people know exactly what the problem is - "When I hit Publish the screen darkens and the cat cries and vomits in the fishbowl. This only happens on Wednesdays."
In something like Chatter you'll get a better response if you make a bit more effort with the OP:
"What do you think of cats?"
"My cat has just vomited in the fishbowl after reading my new lens. Does anyone else's pet like to criticise lenses?"
So, type a bit more and be polite?
That's All There Is To It
Not so bad, was it?
We're delighted to see new people coming into the forums and we're delighted when they start posting regularly. That may be once a week or it may be (cough, looks at own total) a bit more often - it's entirely up to you. Get over to SquidU, read a few threads, read the stickies, say hello in the Intro forum and away you go.
Some Common Questions
Lenses have a progress bar that shows a notion of completeness. Only you can see the bar on your lenses and you can't see anyone else's. To expand the information click on "See your progress" below the bar.
Most of the items that make up the list are sensible and you'll usually do them without thinking. Two however stick out like sore thumbs: 20 Likes and a Giant Squid Like, These are beyond your control - you just have to wait and see if you get the Likes, Don't waste time hunting for them. Important thing to note is that your lens is complete even if you don't have these two ticked off.
Many very experienced lensmasters have loads of lenses without 20 Likes, many of which earn money. Getting the Likes doesn't make any great difference to a lens - any Like gives a brief rise in rank, that's all.
My Lens Isn't Featured, Still WIP
Published a lens and it's still red on your dashboard? There's a sticky thread on the Help forum to explain this:
Lensrank, Tiers And Payments
Lenses earn money through rank and through sales. Read up on the basics on the sticky thread Questions - and Answers - about Squidoo Payday.
I'm Still Baffled
Don't worry - if the threads and lenses you've seen haven't helped then just post in the Help forum to ask for more explanation. Please don't be shy - one thing I believe is that there are no stupid questions and 99% of our forums members agree.
Thank You For The Music
One other benefit of forums: I was tearing my hair out trying to find images - quick search of help and I found a link to lenses by Lensmaster artbymichelle. She has created a huge amount of free clipart - many thanks to her for the images used on this lens. And thanks to the person whose post pointed me in her direction.