Netiquette Rules

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How to Join VOMBO

"When thou enter a city abide by its customs." -- The Talmud

VOMBO's #1 Rule

  • Do not discuss any detail of a specific problem or problem solution for the current competition year of ANY CPS program. This will prevent the possibility of harm to a team and it's solution. 'Outside assistance' or 'interference' by anyone in any VOMBO sponsored forum is expressly forbidden.

VOMBO's #2 Rule

  • Do not violate any of the rules which can be found within the specific  program rulebooks.

VOMBO's #3 Rule

  • Anyone willing to abide by these Netiquette rules and guidelines is welcome as a member of VOMBO with all the rights and privileges of membership. However, as an affiliate of Destination ImagiNation®, most of VOMBO's activities and members are focused on boosting programs sponsored by that organization. Blatant endorsements, advertisements, banners, and solicitations for competing organizations are thus likely to be "flame bait" for many members of VOMBO. As such, they are deemed to be inappropriate and inconsistent with the intent of these rules as would be any other inflammatory communication. (See the discussion of Flames below under Netiquette Guidelines.)

VOMBO's #4 Rule

  • Insults of persons or programs will not be tolerated.
  • Penalties for infractions of Netiquette Rules:
    • Level 1: 1st Infraction, OR an infraction deemed by the List Manager to be minor or unintentional will result in a private written warning from the List Manager and notification of the Governing Board.
    • Level 2: 2nd Infraction, OR an infraction deemed by the VOMBO Governing Board to be major or intentional will result in loss of posting privileges for a period of at least 90 days. Membership will be restored to full privileges at the end of the penalty period on a probationary basis. Any further infractions will be considered 3rd Infractions.
    • Level 3: 3rd Infraction, OR an infraction deemed by the VOMBO Governing Board to be egregious and detrimental to the organization and its mission will result in immediate loss of all membership within the organization.
  • Appeal Rights: The penalties expressed under Level 2 and Level 3 above will be imposed immediately once the GB secretary certifies the result of the GB vote. The List Manager will privately notify the offending party of the penalty. The offending party has 7 days from the time the List Manager sends the notice to file an appeal. The appeal shall consist of one e-mail message from the offending party to the List Manager. By majority vote, the GB may modify the original penalty or let it stand. The decision on the appeal is final and may not be appealed. 


Remember that creative problem solving is supposed to be fun and nurture a feeling of teamwork and community...let that be your purpose in joining a conversation in a list or newsgroup.One of these days you're going to get tired of Web surfing or listening in on LISTSERVs, IRCs, Usenet newsgroups or whatever, and you're going to want to say something yourself. At that moment your life will change. Let's see if we can't make that a change for the better.


Everyone is tempted from time to time to evangelize, to stride boldly into the enemy's camp and throw down the gauntlet. We will never see the end of people who pop up on "" praising Macs and Amigas; who send mail to the SKEPTIC list that flying saucers really, truly do exist; who enlighten the Buddhist newsgroups that they're all bound for hell, and on and on.Creative problem solving too has it's evangelists...those who interpret the rules, motives, personalities, and actions of those involved. In the entire history of the Net, no one has managed to do this without looking like a complete idiot. If you believe you are the one person who will succeed where millions have failed, then you're ready to learn about...


There is nothing you can say that won't offend somebody:

>It's a bright, sunny day today.
You filthy *@!?$, what have you got against Seattle?

Flames (violent verbal expressions of disapproval), misunderstandings, overreactions, and hurt feelings are par for the course. Four lessons from experience:

  1. Hedge Your Bets. Rather than saying, "Metal rules! Death to all that
    oppose [sic]!!" try saying "In my humble opinion (often abbreviated IMHO) metal bands perfectly express my feelings, choices, and lifestyle. Your mileage may vary" (another net cliché, less frequently abbreviated YMMV).
    By the way, BTW is another frequent net abbreviation, for what it's worth (FWIW). Watch the abbreviations until you're sure of them, or you may have your readers ROTFL (rolling on the floor, laughing).

  2. Apologize. When misunderstanding is the culprit, and especially if you
    respect the person who misunderstood, take the blame on yourself for being unclear, apologize, say what you meant more clearly (if appropriate) and put it behind you. As in real life (remember that?) people who are quick to anger are often equally quick to forgive.

  3. Avoid Flame Bait. (conduct which gravely offends the norms, mores and folkways of a particular group).
    "Now wait a minute!" you say. "Do you mean that something that's accepted behavior on one list or newsgroup will draw dozens of stinging, ridiculing comments in another?" I sure do. Think about it. Do you expect the people who post on "comp.lang.ada" (about the Ada programming language) to be anything like the people who post to "rec.pets.cats?"

  4. What can you do?

    Lurk a while before you post. Read what's said like an anthropologist, trying to discover what the big "don'ts are. The beginning of a creative problem solving season is a wonderful time to do this, as you will observe the clueless newbies, who weren't smart enough to read this paragraph, being torn to shreds. There are some things you should NEVER do, and we'll list them in a minute, but let's get to the last bit of advice.

  5. Bow Down to the Groups' Gods. In every Yahoo!Group list there are old, gray heads who have earned the respect of everyone in the group. For example, amongst the subscribers to the list discussing the late American bandleader Stan Kenton are the producer of a Kenton box set and the authors of definitive Kenton biographies and discographies. You are entirely ignorant compared to those people. Never pretend you're anything else. They would dearly love to help you -- to answer a question, help you find a rare record -- but you'll always come out second best in a head-butting contest with them.

Still other group members have earned their status through long service. Friendships have developed over many years, and marriage is not unknown. By commenting abusively to or about one of these gods, you'll earn not only her enmity, but the enmity of all of her friends -- which may be everyone in the group but you!

DO'S AND DON'TS (or how to avoid most flames):

  1. DON'T include the entire contents of a previous posting in your reply.
    cut mercilessly. Leave just enough to indicate what you're
    responding to. NEVER include mail headers except maybe the "From:" line. If you can't figure out how to delete lines in your mailer software,
    paraphrase or type the quoted material in.

  2. DON'T reply to a point in a posting without quoting or paraphrasing
    what you're responding to and who said it. Reason: a dozen postings may occur between the original message and your reply. At some sites your reply may arrive before the original does.
    DO quote (briefly) or paraphrase. If the original "Subject:" line was "Big dogs" make sure yours says "Re: Big dogs". Some reply functions do this automatically. By net convention, included (quoted) lines are preceded by ">" (greater-than signs). Some mail editors and newsreaders do this automatically. Others require you to do it manually or to set the "indent character" to ">."

  3. DON'T send a message saying, "Why doesn't anybody say anything about X?" or "Who wants to talk about X?"
    It's always a risk to start a new topic (often called a thread). The
    group may have just finished a long, bitter war about that very subject. But if you want to take the risk, SAY SOMETHING yourself about the subject you're raising.

  4. DON'T quote the entire DIGEST in a reply. This is a kindness to folks
    who also receive the list in digest format, rather than individual emails.

    generally indicate that the writer is YELLING !!!
    DO use normal capitalization. Separate your paragraphs with blank lines. Make your message inviting to your potential readers.

  6. DON'T betray confidences. It's all too easy to quote a personal message by mistake in a message to the entire group.
    DO read the "To:" and "Cc:" lines in your message before you send it. Are you SURE you want the message to go there?

  7. DON'T make statements which can be interpreted as official positions of any creative problem solving association or offers to do business. Saying "Boy, I'd sure like to have one of those new supercomputers" could result in a truck at your loading dock and a bill in the mail even larger than your student loan.
    DO treat every post as though you were sending a copy to your boss, your minister, and your worst enemy. I customarily end every message I send from work with "Speaking for myself, not my company."

  8. DON'T advertise fundraisers, promotions, pin sales, etc. on the lists.
    DO use the VOMBO Classifieds Web site for your Destination ImagiNation fundraisers

  9. DON'T rely on the ability of your readers to tell the difference between serious statements and satire or sarcasm. It's hard to write funny. It's even harder to write satire.
    DO remember that no one can hear your tone of voice. Use emoticons (or smileys) like :-) or ;^) -- tilt your head counterclockwise to see the
    smile. You can also use caps for emphasis or use net conventions for
    italics and underlines as in: You said the guitar solo on "Comfortably
    Numb" from Pink Floyd's _The Wall_ was *lame*? Are you OUT OF YOUR MIND???!!!
    Some mail editors let you insert all kinds of special characters and put your text in boldface, italics or different fonts. Don't give in to the temptation to use those features unless you're certain that everyone whom you intend to read your message has the same editor.

  10. DON'T put a huge signature at the bottom of your messages.
    exercise some restraint. Remember that a large number of mail and news readers out there are set up to use proportional fonts, and your lovely ASCII art will look nothing like you intended it to on those
    readers. Remember also that there's a Usenet newsgroup out there whose sole function is to make fun of people's signatures. Try not to appear there.

  11. DON'T send a message that says nothing but "Me, too." This is most
    annoying when combined with (1) or (2) above. Ditto for "I don't know."
    DO recall that you aren't obligated to reply to every single thing you
    read. Remember the immortal words of Martin Farquhar Tupper
    (1810-1889): "Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech."

  12. DON'T send messages to mailing lists asking to be removed from the
    DO read the list FAQ or the footer on all list emails to find out how to un-subscribe.

A word to people living in the United States: the net is international. If you tell a Belgian she's being un-American, SHE ISN'T OFFENDED. OF COURSE she's un-American; you're un-Belgian. She doesn't care about being lectured on the First Amendment and American values. She doesn't HAVE First Amendment, and she thinks Belgian values are BETTER. We Americans have made fools of ourselves by forgetting this everywhere else. Let's try to behave a little better on the net.

Finally, many groups have had the sense to write down some of their norms and folkways in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list along with (what else?) the answers to frequently asked questions. Many FAQs are posted monthly . List owners of Yahoo!Groups lists are often quite willing to mail you the FAQ for the list. In fact, they may have already told you where it is in the letter you get welcoming you to the list.

With all we've said above, and with all the help newsgroup moderators and list owners are providing to newcomers, it almost seems like you'd have to work at it to go charging in with your mouth open and your eyes and ears shut, thereby aggravating and alienating some otherwise perfectly nice people. The good Lord gave us two eyes and two ears and one mouth to remind us of that very thing. But then he went and gave us ten fingers to type with, and here we are.

Copyright © 2003-2004 Lynette Crain - / Lynn Macey -