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Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

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    Forum Expert JapanDave's Avatar
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    Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Ok, being somewhat a relative noob to posting on Excel forums, could anyone explain the unwritten rules of posting and Forum etiquette.

    1. When is it ok to post in a thread where someone else has spent time answering?
    2. Relates to first question, if posting in a thread where someone has put time in, what is the polite way to post.
    3. When and at what point does anyone consider plagiarizing code to be?

    This is all I can come up with for now, but if anyones else has a situtaion that needs some sort of etiquette, feel free to post.
    To me when someone has put work in the thread I tend to leave it alone, unless I can really see a much better way of doing what they want. But, I always try to apologise for doing so to the person who has already responded. As question number 3, anything I have learnt is through studying other peoples code, and although any code that I write, sometimes it uses little tricks that I have learnt over the years. It always bothered me as to if this was generally ok to do?
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Hi JapanDave,

    My idea is that we are here to help the Original Poster (OP) get their question answered. I have the idea there is no "Bad" or "Wrong" question to ask.

    If you read a thread and have another approach, certainly feel free to join in the thread to try to answer it. I've seen where my answers are off base, and not even close to what is being asked, so another answer is welcome.

    As for code or formulas that your didn't create yourself, feel free to suggest them to the OP as answering the question is the priority.

    BTW - I'm grateful/thankful others jump in and help answer questions. BUT - when you start helping an OP, you should try to stick it out until they have an answer or another person jumps in and takes over. I find that bedtime calls me with questions unanswered. At these times I'm grateful to people on the other side of the globe who can give a timely answer.

    I also avoid questions where I don't feel I have much to give.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    1. When is it ok to post in a thread where someone else has spent answering?
    If its me posting an answer then if its a different viewpoint, someone can see an error or a better way of doing it then I always welcome it as it adds to my knowledge

    2. Relates to first question, if posting in a thread where someone has put time in, what is the polite way to post.
    I don't think apologising is necessary, a line like "Perhaps another way..." is probably adequate

    3. When and at what point does anyone consider plagiarizing code to be?
    I don't think people posting on a public forum worry too much about it, especially as most accept that is one way people learn and most posters probably learnt from other posters code (I would think there is very little "original" code).

    If the code is virtually identical is it nice to say something like "This code originally posted by ????? might suit your needs (if you can remember where and from who you got the code!)
    Last edited by WasWodge; 09-02-2012 at 10:33 PM.
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    I agree with both the previous posts.

    I would welcome support in a thread no matter how short or long it is. A different viewpoint or just confirmation that you're going in the right direction. Sometimes it's a long thread because it's running out of steam and needs a new set of eyes.

    There are times when I see a thread that would benefit from more information, or a code listing, or a sample workbook. If I ask for it, I am then linked with the thread ... but it doesn't necessarily mean I can answer it. I'm aware that people may back off because they don't want to offend me, and often I've had apologies for jumping in. Just because I have the Forum Guru title, sadly it doesn't mean I know all the answers ... I wish!

    As for the apologies, not necessary. If I want to add something, I may say "building on xxx's suggestion ..." or, "a slightly different approach/approach".

    The code posted in the forum is for everyone's benefit. Enjoy! If it helps someone else, then pass it on. It's nice to give credit, but it's not always easy to remember exactly when you got the code or from whom.

    Don't feel guilty about using or sharing code or solutions. That's the whole point of the forum

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    1. When is it ok to post in a thread where someone else has spent time answering?
    I think it is fine at any point, it's one of the reasons I not a huge fan of the SOLVED status, whilst I understand the benefits it offers, I also like that without it people are happy to post alternative solutions. I learn more from seeing other approaches to a solution than I ever have done from asking questions. I can have a habit of posting solutions that think "outside the box" for topics that interest me - usually interacting with the web. These have provoked discussion in the past (primarily from snb), whilst this has happened in PMs, I would be happy for this to be discussed in thread, even at the risk of slightly going off topic as ultimately it may help the OP/others.
    2. Relates to first question, if posting in a thread where someone has put time in, what is the polite way to post.
    I usually just put "another way", although I'll generally only stick my neb in if I feel like I've actually got something substantial to add/ a really different approach. Where I have felt more uncomfortable in the past is where someone has been helping an OP, the OP has asked a simple follow up but the person has gone offline; I'll generally answer these if they're quick and easy - but have felt in the past that it could be stepping on someone's toes - though I wouldn't mind if someone did the same for me.
    3. When and at what point does anyone consider plagiarizing code to be?
    Hmmm, this is an interesting one as there are generally established ways of doing things, that are established since they are effective ways of doing things e.g finding the last used row, adding unique elements to a collection/dictionary. I don't think anyone would consider this plagiarism and as above it is difficult to produce truly original code where someone hasn't used something before you. However, I do consider the posting of complete sub routines of others' code whilst trying to pass it off as your own impolite. I have posted other people's code because it was particularly relevant but have made it clear that it wasn't mine (I did it recently over at MrE for a binary search question), I think so long as it is done in the spirit of helping people and acknowledge if you're posting other people's code, eveything should be all good

    In summary I like to see different approaches to a given problem and then discussion around those approaches. That's why I like the Stack Overflow format - though you don't get many Excel questions

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Thanks for posting guys, it is good to hear a few opinions from you guys. Sometimes I just get concerned I am offending someone somehow. This internet forum stuff can be a little confusing , especially when you are a member of a completely different forum where the unwritten rules are different.

    The main one I was concerned about was posting similar code to someone else, b/c you have learnt a few tricks from what they do. So I guess it is ok to put those tricks in your arsenal and move forward. Thanks again for the help.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    1) I'm jumping in far less than i used to on busy threads, but if I do see a thread going astray, as noted above, I will offer "A suggestion based on xxx's post".... or "one other approach to give you multiple options".

    When I was first posting here, it BUGGED me to no end when someone jumped into a thread I was working on. I've unlearned that, I value the input from all, I learn from posts every day, so to me it's all good.

    -----------------
    3) I would offer that if you see a question and you have access to a link or post that has code that is almost 100% ready to go... link to it and let the OP learn by examining it.

    If you have to substantively edit this base code to apply it to the OPs situation, link to the original code and post your suggested edits. The OP can learn from the before/after.

    But you are the ultimate judge of when you are applying techniques you've learned and when you're copying whole codes enmasse and making minor tweaks. Give credit where it is due in those instances, or write the code yourself using what you've learned and be proud you've internalized it. No apologies are needed or credit required if your code is now coming from your brain and hands, regardless of where you learned it.
    Last edited by JBeaucaire; 10-10-2012 at 03:01 PM.
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    1. When is it ok to post in a thread where someone else has spent time answering?
    • I try to only post when I have an alternate solution that may not have been considered. Personally I really like it when others jump in on a thread I've posted in. The sheer amount of creativity I've seen is just staggering sometimes, and I don't think a single day has gone by where I haven't learned from others.


    2. Relates to first question, if posting in a thread where someone has put time in, what is the polite way to post.
    • Usually I just say "Here's another way" or "Alternately...".


    3. When and at what point does anyone consider plagiarizing code to be?
    • JB said better than I could have:
      Quote Originally Posted by JBeaucaire View Post
      But you are the ultimate judge of when you are applying techniques you've learned and when you're copying whole codes enmasse and making minor tweaks. Give credit where it is due in those instances, or write the code yourself using what you've learned and be proud you've internalized it. No apologies are needed or credit required if your code is now coming from your brain and hands, regardless of where you learned it.
    Hope that helps,
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    3. When and at what point does anyone consider plagiarizing code to be?
    I used to copy a fair amount of code from the web (Andy Pope, Chip Pearson, Charles Williams, others), and added attribution to the author if it wasn't already there. If I change it (and I usually do, it's a compulsion), I change the attribution to "Derivative to ...").

    I have the odd dozen DLL date/time formulas that I keep in my notebook with attribution, along with others from other folks. I don't know that they are necessarily original to the the author, but when I see a clever and unusual construction for the first time, the one thing I know for sure is that it wasn't mine.

    JB could relate an instance when a forum member took his code, changed nothing but the name (to his own!) and then posted a workbook with the code embedded asking for more help. I know which side of the line that falls on.
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Heh, JB can relate several of those instances, always interesting how gutsy that is. But I do publish the codes I've constructed meant as a base for others to create their own versions, I would just like to see SOME actual changes, hehe.

    Makes me smile with they do that, but I still poke 'em a little.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    If I see that the OP has posted last and is waiting for an answer (often a clarification), I look to the bottom of the page to see if the person who's been assisting in there. If so, I usually move on. If not, I will post. Often I'll say something like "As Dave was explaining in Post 3....." I'm guessing some of the more competitive people might not like that I jump in and if I get a sense of that, I'd just not jump in on that person's threads. If I have a completely different solution, I definitely will post. If I know where I got code (which I usually don't), I give credit.
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    I don't believe that in responding to a thread anyone acquires any "ownership", and anyone, everyone, is welcome to respond, as long as they don't make me look too bad.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    It is good to get the thoughts of people who have been on these for forums for years. I always thought that once a person replies to a thread it was common courtesy to leave that thread alone unless they ask for help(Call in the cavalry thread).

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by JapanDave View Post
    I always thought that once a person replies to a thread it was common courtesy to leave that thread alone unless they ask for help....
    Hello Dave. No, I wouldn't say that was the case.

    If I feel I have something to contribute then I usually do so, whoever has replied previously - employing whatever tact I can muster while doing so

    In the main this is a place that people come to get answers, giving a better or alternative answer is nearly always a good thing in my view, I don't pay much attention to whether the thread is "Solved" or not either......

    As shg says, you don't want to make him look too bad, you never know when he's going to do the same back to you.....
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    I would say if a thread is going stuck or astray or if you now of a really better solution or a contributor has apparently abandoned the thread, jump in if you can help.
    Otherwise I would be very restrained. And if you feel you must jump in explain and not just take over.
    From a OP's point of view it doesn't matter who solved his/her problem, but for a contributor who has been spending spare time helping the OP it will be frustrating and demotivating if one just plonges into a thread. I got to know how that feels quit recently.

    Additional question on which I would like your opinions: how to respond if your thread gets stolen?
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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    how to respond if your thread gets stolen?
    I think this has been addressed earlier, see my answers in post #7.

    Things like that used to bug me a lot and no longer do. It's not just growing a thicker skin, it's realizing it's not personal when someone does that. I don't own the threads I've helped on, so smack me if I indicate otherwise.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    This seems to be a popular subject that pops up from time to time.

    To quote JBeaucaire
    Things like that used to bug me a lot and no longer do.
    But a year ago with only 200 postings to my name ........

    http://www.excelforum.com/the-water-...-courtesy.html

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Humans are inherently competitive. So, with nothing else to guide our thinking, we tend to gravitate toward wanting to be the winner, the best, the most points, whatever. All completely normal.

    But an interesting thing happens the longer you hang around a place like the ExcelForum. This is intrinsically about helping others. The longer you're here the more you "help" (and learn, BTW), and you'll find that the stress of winning or being right or any of that is slowly replaced by a sense of interest in all that everyone has to say/offer on any topic. The intrusions that bug you now become the comradery you appreciate later.

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    Last edited by JBeaucaire; 10-10-2012 at 04:57 PM.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by JBeaucaire View Post
    Humans are inherently competitive. So, with nothing else to guide our thinking, we tend to gravitate toward wanting to be the winner, the best, the most points, whatever. All completely normal.
    Sounds pretty cynical and I certainly don't recognize that kind of appetite. Seems like you'r condoning thread stealing.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Put the rest of my post back in with the quoted section to see what I'm condoning. Also read post #7.

    There is no such thing as thread stealing. I am condoning contributor's develop an inviting and welcoming spirit. All who care to can contribute in any thread at any time. This is what I'm saying exactly. It has been said before and it will be said again to anyone who offers up ideas that hint at contributors owning threads in any way.

    Come one, come all, and welcome.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    The thread belongs to the OP and stealing it is against the rules (Rule #2). It does not belong to the people who are helping the OP.

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    Sounds pretty cynical and I certainly don't recognize that kind of appetite.
    Perhaps it does but this is the driving force behind evolution. Compete, win and survive!

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    Re: Forum etiquette: unwritten laws of posting on an Excel Forum... Discussion

    There is nothing wrong for me also about the issue. Let the participants join and answer the question the way they want. They have their own way of understanding and answering the question.

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