The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19340   Message #197009
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
17-Mar-00 - 10:12 PM
Thread Name: Mudcat FAQ - Newcomer's Guide
Subject: What's NOT Allowed

See the Posting Policy thread for recent developments.

And there might be a request to people not to do undesirable things - that way when they start doing them it would be possible to refer back to this, which would make it less of a personal dispute.
What the undesirable things would be might need thinking about.
They'd fall into two classes - technical things that can mess things up - e.g. slowing down loading, by inserting pictures; and manners, like making personal attacks, or carrying out quarrels in public instead of maybe through Personal Messages.
I refer most questions of etiquette to a truly wise person, Miss Manners, whose basic premise is the Golden Rule, that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us, etc., etc. I fully agree with Miss Manners on this.
The Washington Post's website also contains an archive of Miss Manners' columns.
We believe that Mudcatters are blessed with common sense and admirable judgment, and should have little need of rules. The Powers That Be at Mudcat are tolerant of just about everything but intolerance.
As for technical things, Mudcatters should refrain from posting embedded pictures and sounds from other sites because this slows down the loading of threads (use clickable links instead). Also, we usually try to discourage the posting of messages that are posted elsewhere and lyrics that are already in the database (clickable links or searching directions are usually better, with some common-sense exceptions). It's also usually better to avoid starting multiple threads on the same subject, as this tends to divide and confuse and duplicate discussions. It's usually better to resurrect and add to an old thread on a song, rather than starting a new one. There's no need for separate threads to request, post lyrics, post tune, and add comments on a song - all of these fit together quite nicely and make for a better discussion.
We also do not permit the posting of lengthy non-music articles from other sources. If they fill more than a screen's worth of space, post a summary of the article in your own words, and provide a link to where the information can be found. Although Mudcat is a music forum, we welcome discussions of politics and other subjects, as long as discussion participants use their own words and ideas.
-Joe Offer-


Joe: I think there should be a paragraph or two on "Mudcat-equet". Alison made the first step with her request that requests for lyrics be more informative. One of my pet peeves is a title like "Please Help Me" with no reference to the problem. It would be nice to think of rules of behaviour that will avoid flame wars; but I don't have any concrete suggestions.


Murray, your point is well taken, but I'm staying away from giving guidelines on etiquette. I figure that whatever I say, the nice people will be nice and the nasty ones will be nasty. I've given some guidelines above about selecting appropriate thread titles, but we will always have some dumb people who will start dumb threads with dumb titles. Ya gotta love 'em. I'll leave matters of etiquette to one of the true idols and inspirations of my life,
Miss Manners (click).

One other thing - Please be careful not to post information you want to keep private. The Mudcat is part of the Internet, and there are nasty people out there who study every word you post. There's no need to be paranoid about the nasty guys - but it is wise to be prudent. Don't post your date of birth, your address or phone number, or other personal information. If you need to convey that information, send it by e-mail or personal message - but only to people you trust. The Protecting Your Privacy section of this FAQ gives pointers on privacy. By the way, Mudcat will not release your membership information or IP address to outside parties or to members.

Some people have suggested that there should be more rules around here, so that people know how to behave properly; and that this or that should be better-organized or have instructions that are clearer. Mudcat is governed by a principle of civil anarchy, and that principle gives Mudcat much of its spontaneity, intelligence, and friendly spirit. We don't want to see anything here that's too organized or too slick. It's OK for people to have to use their heads and explore a bit. There's a well-known Mudcatter who occasionally sends me a personal message to remind me how much this place resembles Golding's Lord of the Flies. There are times when I agree with him, but I generally find our anarchy and lack of organization to be quite wonderful.

What about Censorship?

We try very hard to preserve freedom of expression here at Mudcat, so we edit and delete messages as sparingly as we can. However, part of that freedom is that people should feel safe to be here and express their ideas without fear of being bullied or threatened. Heated discussions are generally considered "protected" around here, but if you find a post that is seriously offensive because it is a threat or a personal attack, let Max or one of the moderators know about it and they'll take a look at it.

Generally, we expect people to settle their own differences, and we will ordinarily refuse to delete a message unless there is a serious reason for us to do it.

There are some people who use the Internet as their platform for hatred and racism. We will not allow Mudcat to be used as a vehicle for hate information, and we will delete all racist information as soon as it comes to our attention.

If you post a message and there have been no responses, we'll usually honor your request to delete your own message. Same thing if the message is a personal attack against you. If people have responded directly to the message, it may be inappropriate for us to delete it. We do the best we can, but at times we have to make unpopular decisions.

And of course, we're willing to fix mistakes you've made.

The Mudcat Cafe is a music discussion forum. Other activities are permitted and encouraged, but the primary focus of the Forum is music. The discussion of music is to be given special protection. Harassment which discourages or attempts to prevent the requesting, posting, or discussion of a song will not be tolerated, no matter how controversial the song may be.

Sometimes, the posting of a song may arouse controversy that can be intimidating to some. If you wish to post lyrics in the Forum without being identified, feel free to send the lyrics to Joe Offer or Max Spiegel by e-mail or personal message, and the lyrics will be posted.

Editorial Policy

We occasionally get requests for information about what we delete and why we delete it. Most of the principles we follow are stated above, but let me try to state it more succinctly:

Dealing With Flamers and Trolls

Here are some definitions from "Troll" is a bit more subtle, and I had a harder time finding it. Here's what I found in the Jargon Dictionary:
troll v.,n. 1. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which in turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. See also YHBT. 2. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, "Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll." 3. [Berkeley] Computer lab monitor. A popular campus job for CS students. Duties include helping newbies and ensuring that lab policies are followed. Probably so-called because it involves lurking in dark cavelike corners.

Some people claim that the troll (sense 1) is properly a narrower category than flame bait, that a troll is categorized by containing some assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial. See also Troll-O-Meter.

I have to say that I have become a bit cynical about people who make a big show of leaving the Mudcat because of flamers - many of these people might warrant the title of "trolls." The people who attract flamers are often quite obnoxious themselves, especially those who leave with a long farewell message that usually generates a hundred "don't go" responses or more. I am concerned about those who quietly slip away, or those who never even start to participate because of the nastiness. Those who make a show of making martyrs of themselves are every bit as bad as the flamers, I think. They prey on the sympathy of good people.

I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it many times more: the best way to deal with both flamers and trolls is to ignore them. Give them silence, and they'll go away. They feed on attention - don't give it to them.
There is another problem that occasionally arises here - people who are threatening in their behavior. It is of utmost importance that you do not try to deal with these people. If you ignore them totally and inform Joe Offer or Big Mick about them quietly with a personal message or e-mail, we can quietly make them disappear (to an extent).
If people seem dangerous, LEAVE THEM ALONE.

Who's In Charge Here?

Mrrzy asks: Hi, nother question that might be frequent - who does what here? I mean, there are occasional references from people who post frequently, who all seem to know that X will fix this or they hope Y will get rid of the duplicate posting or... it would be nice to have a Contacts list, like ask Joe for tech help but ask Max for whatever he seems to be helping about.
Also, I seem to have read in this thread that the Help option for posting is for technical help; I've been using it whenever asking for input on anything that isn't specifically lyrics, so I didn't think the Lyrics Requested was the right topic. For instance, that lost book, or the jargon terms for folk singing. Should those have been BS? I would now say the latter Yes, but the former No; how about another category like Favors? Information Requested? Offline Help? Or something...
Thanks, as always,
Hi, Mrrzy -
Max runs Mudcat and is the Ultimate Guru of All Things Technical. The Digital Tradition Folk Song Database is operated by Dick Greenhaus and Susan of DT. Since Max and Dick and Susan don't have time to handle the day-to-day problems like duplicate posts and bad HTML and registration problems, Max gave "edit" buttons to some of us. The identity of those with "edit" buttons is a bit of a mystery - the only person actually known to have a button is Joe Offer, because somebody caught him in a moment of indiscretion. {grin} So, since Joe is a known quantity, people have asked Joe for help. Joe is now known as "Senior Archivist," and handles things like archiving and indexing music information, helping people with technical problems and registration, and other information-related matters.
For a time, a mysterious individual with legendary technical ability was around, the man known as Pene Azul, Blues Pianist. Pene (Jeff) did a lot of programming for Mudcat, and we're grateful to Jeff for all he did for us and we wish him well in the new career that has taken him away from Mudcat. Also, Big Mick Lane has joined the leadership team, and can be contacted for assistance, complaints, or advice. If you need help on something technical, post a message in the Forum (or send Joe or Big Mick or Max a personal message if it's something sensitive), and somebody will take care of the problem. While Max is the Ultimate Authority, remember that he has to work for a living, so you may get a quicker response by posting a general message in the Forum, so the problem can be handled by those of us who have more time than money. Our e-mail addresses are:
our Moderators handle the day-to-day operations and problems, and are the best ones to contact first. They can handle most problems.

The Mudcat Help Forum was for technical stuff - registration problems, asking for help with duplicate posts, communication when Mudcat is not operating, and stuff like that. Unfortunately, the Help Forum was taken over by Spam and trolls and general nastiness, and we had to close it.
The thread categories are an attempt to make some sense our of our discussion, but there are no solid rules regarding their use. The "BS" category seems to be misunderstood - that category is for chit-chat and goofing off, and you should not use the "BS" category if your thread has to do with music or things related to music. The "BS" tag is supposed to warn off those of us who don't have time or interest for that sort of thing. "BS" is not a lesser form of communication, but it is placed at the bottom of the Forum Menu because we want to make our music information easier for visitors to find.
Basically, though, I think the general principle here at Mudcat is "civil anarchy." Max, Dick, and Susan have shown no desire to set rules for operation of the Mudcat. They are very gracious hosts, and it would be nice if we'd all follow their example. That should be the only rule we need.

Hope that helps.
-Joe Offer-

Explicit Lyrics Alert

Explicit Lyrics: Some people have suggested that there should be a warning posted at the beginning of threads that include lyrics that are sexually explicit. Bawdy songs have always been an integral part of folk music, and you'll find lots of dirty ditties if you do a keyword search of our database for bawdy. There is no set policy on this sort of thing, but Standard Mudcat Policy is that freedom of expression is to be encouraged and protected. If you're going to post something spicy and think you should label it, that's fine - but there is no requirement for labeling here and visitors are advised that they read at their own risk.
There was a message in the Help Forum one day, complaining that a bawdy parody turns up when you click on the title of Grandfather's Clock. Well, we fixed that-partially. Trouble is, the Henry Clay Work song is listed as "Grandfather's Clock," and there's another song titled "My Grandfather's Cock." Maybe that's not such a horrible thing. If we can help people learn to explore life on their own and to think for themselves, we've taught them a valuable lesson.
A worthwhile caveat from the late, great John in Brisbane:
Some material on these pages is intended for a mature audience, and may irritate parents of children under the age of sixteen.
Keep in mind, however, that
(a) if they don't understand it, it's not really much of a problem
(b) if they do understand it, they almost certainly did not learn it here.

The Big, Bad Troll
Lately, we have had an unusual amount of activity from one or more very tenacious and clever trolls, people who are trying to make our participants outraged, indignant, and hysterical. This troll (or trolls) has taken out dozens of false Mudcat memberships, and many of these memberships closely resemble the names of longtime Mudcat participants. Much of this troll activity has taken place in Personal Messages sent to Mudcatters. It is very important that you do not respond to or acknowledge these trolls in any way, because this feeds them the attention they crave. If you suspect troll activity in the Forum or in Personal Messages, please report it to Max or a moderator by personal message. Forum discussions of troll activity are prohibited, because this tends to give trolls exactly what they want. Trolls are like rattlesnakes - if you leave them alone, they usually won't bother you.

Updated July 2015