On Being a Valuable Newsgroup Contributor

I’ve been a newsgroup junkie for years, and have observed all sorts of interesting behavior. I’ve seen many users come and go. Along the way I’ve learned a lot about how to be a successful and helpful member of the newsgroup community. Here’s a tongue in cheek list of things we can all do to support the community of developers in the Borland newsgroups:

Post Test messages in groups other than the .test groups – One way to really show everyone that you are a veteran newsgroup user is to post a message in a technical group that says “Test – please ignore”. Pay no attention to the test groups.

Crosspost a message that starts out with “I know I’m not supposed to cross-post, but….” – This is one of my personal favorites. The newsgroup guidelines ask you not to crosspost. But you know better, so do it anyway. No one will mind, especially the person that takes the time to answer your question in one group, only to find that it’s already been answered in another. Their time isn’t important, and your time is, after all.

Post a message containing something like this: “It would be easy/cheap for Borland to add to Delphi.” — After all, what the heck does Borland know? Sure, they’ve been in business for twenty years through thick and thin. They’ve been developing and selling software tools successfully for all that time. But that doesn’t mean that they know what they are doing, does it? I mean, they clearly need your advice. Clearly they don’t have any idea what amazing profits would result from instituting your brilliant idea. After all, it’s stunningly amazing that you aren’t running a major corporation.

Relentlessly, endlessly, tirelessly, ubiquitously, ceaselessly, constantly, interminably, monotonously, perpetually crusade for some lost cause. — Figure out what you want, and then pester Borland for it no matter what. Pay no attention to the reasonable, rational arguments about why Borland wouldn’t or shouldn’t do it! Ignore the fact that doing it might drive Borland out of business! Be undetered by people pointing out that you’ve made your point and it might be time to move on. Steer completely unrelated threads and discussions over to your topic. Why would anyone want to talk about anything except what you want to talk about?

Argue with Danny Thorpe about most anything concerning the compiler – Danny may be one of the guys that writes the compiler, but what the heck does he know? You plan for changing the Delphi compiler could probably be easily instituted over the weekend, and would undoubtedly triple Delphi sales.

SHOUT OUT YOUR MESSAGE or use lots of exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!! — No one can hear you unless you do.

Berate someone about their English or point out typos and misspellings. — This is really key to winning friends and influencing people. Most folks respect and admire you for pointing out trivial typos and misspellings. Doing so will earn accolades. This is especially true if the typist is a non-native speaker. Be sure to berate them about their lack of English skills and point out how ignorant they sound. Doing this will earn you the respect and admiration of all the other non-native English speakers in the groups.

State your opinion as a fact – You are right anyway, so why bother with the caveat of “In my view…”.

Post code that doesn’t compile, or even illustrate the problem – Most everyone on the groups pretty much knows what the problem is after the first sentence, so there’s really no need to post code. And if you do post some code, make sure that you just hack it out in your newsreader so that it doesn’t compile. No one that wants to help will actually read the code anyway.

Spend all your time making cheap comments from the peanut gallery – This is particularly effective in the *.non-technical groups. Don’t ever make a persuasive argument or assert a well-made thought. Instead, just read a few messages in a thread, post a couple of snide, off-the-cuff responses, and then pay no attention to any reason. People will think you are a genius.

Use the F-word and other vulgar language – Nothing says “Hey, I’m a mature professional” like using vulgar language in the newsgroups. Nothing.

Just a few friendly tips to get you started on being a valuable newsgroup contributor.

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