Tips on using the forum
An Internet forum is a community. Like its "real life" counterparts, it is witness to human nature in good times and in bad. People often are kind and helpful. They provide each other with useful information. They joke and help each other over disappointments and tragedies. And sometimes they tread on each others' toes.
This article has been created to help us smooth over the rough spots if at all possible.
- Please be polite. Remember that the people who respond to you on this forum are volunteers. In responding to you, they are donating their time. Their feelings may be hurt if they get the impression that you think of them as staff / servants / slaves. Many of the tips that have been provided in this article are aimed at giving forum members the impression that you appreciate their efforts, that you respect their time, and that you don't take them for granted. The occasional thank you would not go amiss.
- Please be patient.
- Sometimes questions are answered in minutes, and sometimes it takes longer.
- The UK's time zone is different from Canada's several time zones. If you ask a question when it's morning in the UK and the middle of the night in Canada, it'll take a while for Canadian members of the forum to respond.
- Occasionally a question is so unusual that no one knows the answer to it. The BE moderators do not look kindly on obvious attempts to bump your thread back up to the top of the list.
- Please post a message once. Please don't post the identical message on multiple forums.
- Please confine yourself to one topic for each thread you start. Things will get messy if you launch a new thread that asks about job prospects in Kamloops, schooling for your special needs child, transportation of your dog to Canada, and a TV channel on which you can follow Manchester United.
- If you have a new question, please start a new thread about it. Please do not "hijack" someone else's thread with a question of your own.
- Please give your thread a relevant title. It is not useful to create a thread entitled HELP! HELP! HELP! The purpose of most discussion threads is to ask for help. It would be useful if you indicated what kind of help you wanted.
- Please read websites to which other posters refer you. It's annoying to provide someone with a link to a website that would give them exactly the information they want, only to have them come back and ask questions that could have been answered by a quick look at the website in question.
- Please use paragraphs to break up a long message.
- TYPING IN ALL CAPS FONT ON THE INTERNET IS INTERPRETED AS SHOUTING, AND IS CONSIDERED RUDE. if you cannot use both capitals and lower case letters, it is considered more polite to type all lower case.
- Be careful about using abbreviations and acronyms. When you're asking a question, don't assume that everyone knows the acronyms that you know. If you're asking a question, you'll expand the number of potential responses if you use plain English. For example, a question about customs is likely to attract more answers than a question about CBSA (which stands for Canada Border Services Agency). But, with that having been said, if you run into acronyms that you don't know, you can look them up in the Wiki article entitled Abbreviations.
- Generally speaking, it is considered to be poor netiquette to resurrect an old discussion thread. If there is not a current thread in progress about the topic in which you are interested, it's better to start a new one.
- It really is a good idea to lurk and read previous posts before diving in and asking a question the minute you've discovered a forum -- any forum. Lurking has several benefits:
- It quickly answers a bunch of your preliminary questions.
- It helps you to avoid asking the kinds of frequently asked questions that sometimes drive regular members of the forum bonkers.
- It helps you to get a feel of the forum's culture, so that you can fit in better.
- While you're lurking, it's a good idea to use the forum's search feature and read its Wiki articles. With a bit of preliminary information under your belt, you'll be able to ask more focused questions and to receive more useful answers, and it also means that you may find your question has been answered before. A quick look before asking questions is advised and appreciated.
- Please read the Site Rules of the British Expat Community.
Help us to help you
- Whenever possible, please provide background information about yourself. If you ask a question, knowledge of your circumstances can make a huge difference to a forum member who may want to respond to you. In many cases it helps to know what your family situation is, what kind of work you do, etc.
- Even if you have provided background information about yourself before, repeat relevant background information when you post a new question. For example, repeat the name of the province to which you're going. A poster who may want to answer your question may have forgotten your particular circumstances or he/she may not have seen your previous posts.
- You are responsible for weighing the information you find here and combining it with information from other sources. People's opinions differ. Canada is a vast country. Few people have travelled across all of it, much less lived in all of its regions. People's opinions are influenced by which part of Canada they live in. Their views also are shaped by their personal experience of Canada, how long they've been in Canada, etc. So always be aware that other forum participants are giving you subjective information. Also be aware that you may have to assemble a mental picture of Canada from a patchwork of information provided by posters in different regions.
- Always check the information that you receive here. The members of the British Expats forum can give you some introductory information and point you in the right direction as you embark on more detailed research. But always check with official and original sources of information. The more crucial the issue, the more vital it is to check. It is particularly important to find reliable sources of information about legal and taxation issues. Remember the saying that free information is worth every penny you spend on it.
- Try to be patient.
- Try to remember what it was like when you were new and learning your way around.
- Please try to stay on topic. But it must be admitted that this recommendation is honoured more in the breech than in the observance.
- Please try to read what a poster has said about him/herself. Yes, it's true that posters sometimes don't provide background information about themselves, and that can make it difficult to respond to them. But, by the same token, posters sometimes do provide contextual information, and the people who respond to them overlook it. Yes, we're all busy, and we fit our participation in this forum around the rest of our lives. But, whenever possible, it's considerate to try to read what a poster said.
- Please try to be clear about the source of your information. State whether you're speaking from your personal experience, from anecdotal evidence, from something you've found on a Google search, or whatever. Avoid pronouncing as an undisputible fact something about which you are not absolutely sure. Remember that something that is true in one jurisdiction may not be true in another jurisdiction.
- Try to clarify whether you are stating a fact or sharing an opinion.
- If you have to correct another poster's misinformation, please try to be tactful.
- If you've been wrong, please try to be gracious in accepting correction.
- If you find yourself getting hot under the collar, consider taking a break from the forum.
- Please avoid being pedantic. It is not customary to take as much care about spelling and grammar on an Internet forum as it is in writing a hard copy document. As long as you can understand the message, that's good enough.