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An editorial view from Jason Stefanovich, Associate Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.
Back in the early days of computer communications, even before the rise of the internet, BBS chat rooms and message board were the venues for discussion and debate. From the very beginning, rules of conduct and etiquette were put in place. There were several rules that were considered universal, the most stringently enforced of these were the rules against "bad behavior". Rudeness, ad hominem attacks and baseless demands were considered such bad form that the offenders were normally "booted" from the group by the moderator. Repeat offenders were rare. Those that continued to offend were often banned for a period of time or even permanently. These rules were transparently carried over to Usenet, mailing groups and IRC as the internet became popular. Unfortunately, as the internet grew the rules changed. It was no longer practical to moderate all traffic in most groups and the new denizens of the net were never introduced to the rules of etiquette born in the scientific, research and education communities.
Several OS/2 users today regularly commit such grievous offenses online that they would have been permanently banned from any discussion just a few years ago. Make no mistake, discussion, disagreement and vigorous debate have always been welcome and expected. However, when users sink to the level of personal attacks, launch unsubstantiated accusations and make baseless demands everyone looses. The victim of such attacks is assaulted, insulted and rightly angry. The perpetrator never has his point heard, regardless of how good it is, it is drowned out by his own irrationality and bad manners. Observers are subjected to offensive language, discord and wrongheaded rhetoric, are distracted from the reason they joined the group in the first place.
This has been an ongoing issue in the OS/2 world for some time. In fact, it's been an issue for as long as I've been an OS/2 user. But things have been worse over the past couple of years. No longer having Windows and Linux users who are amused and willing to listen, they have turned their attacks inward to the community which they claim to be a part of. As is often the case in human affairs, the shrill voice of the disgruntled few often overshadows the positive unity of the silent majority. In the past month alone, I've seen users attack other users, OS/2 developers and webmasters. Though these victims know that the vast majority appreciate their contributions, that majority is mostly silent, and the constant battering by malcontents can break down even the strongest will. It's this bad behavior and lack of manners that has recently driven an OS/2 developer to take his very popular freeware project private and prompted others to vocally express their thoughts about "calling it quits".
It doesn't have to be this way. First, I encourage everyone to mind their manners, which is always the best solution. Before you shoot off that message, think about how it will be received and if its something that you want to be associated with for a very long time ( Google and other archive engines have saved decades of messages ). Understand that your passionate argument may easily be perceived as insulting on the receiving side, a result that may be opposite of your intent, and certainly won't help your cause if your trying to get help. If you do realize you got a little carried away, an apology is expected, normally in the same group in where the offending post was made. Second, help keep your fellow users in line, if they go over the line, let them know. It's not always so apparent to everyone where the line is and there's certainly some blurring around the edges. Finally, most of the groups outside of Usenet that OS/2 users populate these days have at least the ability to be moderated. I encourage the owners and moderators of these groups to not only make the rules known, but to enforce them. The worst punishment for repeated bad behavior is to put the offender in a position where they will no longer be heard.
Don't let the few malcontents and potty mouths poison the well for everybody. Let's keep our discussions civil, and enjoyable for everyone.
VOICE Newsletter Update: Our Newsletter translation team is still in need of backup. To be able to help you don't have to be a very good translator or HTML programmer. If you have profound knowledge of English or German spelling and grammar, you can also help with editing the articles. Some hints on translation activities are also available in the FAQ. If you can help please contact christian.henneckeDESPAM@os2voice.org
We are always interested in your thoughts and views on subjects related to OS/2, and would like to see opinion/editorial pieces as well as hardware/software reviews and HowTo articles. If you have an idea for an article, why not write one. It's one of the best ways, short of programming native OS/2 applications, that you can help the OS/2 Community. And anyone can do it. Few of our writers are professionals. They are just OS/2 users trying to help other OS/2 users. Please send me your ideas or better yet a draft of an article to email@example.com. Please note our guidelines for submissions to the VOICE Newsletter. There you will find suggestions for topics, hints on content, structure and formatting, as well as the legal stuff.
VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on Saturdays December 6 and 20 at 3PM EDT (20:00 GMT). Please note the change in time! Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComStation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions in #VOICE on the Webbnet IRC network. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page - http://www.os2voice.org/meetinginfo.html.
If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will try to schedule something. As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at http://www.os2voice.org/calendar.html for more details on future VOICE events.
This month sorry to say Thomas Klein's DRDialog article will be delayed until next month as he is tied up with paperwork deadlines for launching a consulting business with a partner. So to start things off we have Thomas Klein and Christian Hennecke back from Warp Weekend in Roermond this past month and you can read how it went in their WarpWeekend Wrapup.
Next we have a hardware review. Need a new laptop? Armin Schwarz reviews Installing eCS 1.1 on a Dell Latitude C510/C610.
Want to learn about the OS/2 port of the universally used typesetting application VTeX? We have Lothar Frommhold's About VTeX - Interview with Walter Schmidt.
Networks are becoming prevalent everywhere these days, even for home users. And networks are not just about connecting computers together. Beginning this month we have part 1 of a new series of how-to articles on Remote Printing by Walter F. Metcalf.
We do have a couple of letters on the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. And this month our OS/2 Tips page returns. A big thanks to David Brain for taking on the task as our new Tips page editor. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to David at email@example.com. If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
That's it for this month. Upcoming articles include a look at the Workplace Shell Toolkit by Christian Langanke; Using the HP PhotoSmart 1000 printer with OS/2, by Stuart Updike; an article or series of articles on network printing by Walter Metcalf; and interview by Lothar Frommhold with Walter Schmidt who is responsible for the port of VTeX to OS/2; and the next articles in the series on DrDialog, by Thomas Klein.
Mark Dodel, Christian Hennecke, Marckus Kraft and Jason R. Stefanovich
VOICE Newsletter editors
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