This is just a reminder that OTFPOTD is still LL and thus LL rules still apply. These off-topic threads are meant to allow miscellaneous topics to be discussed with no real structure, but please remember that the Off-Topic threads were not started as, and are not meant to be, a chatroom. Self-policing of OTFPOTD's is fine and encouraged, but the mods would like to take a few minutes to reinforce that there are rules, and to remind you of what those rules are.
This has been in formation for some time now, so please, do not feel that these or any part of this applies only to one person. These are general guidelines that all people are instructed to heed.
NEVER ACCEPTABLE: Politics or personal religion. Our stance on this is more published than Joe Morgan's affinity for consistency; there is no politics discussion. No allusions to political figures. No partisan talking points or slogans. None. Don't even use the "No politics" tagline as a cover. There is a zero tolerance policy on this. Punishment will vary depending on severity, but repeated violations will result in a banning so that you will be motivated to join a political blog instead.
Also no chatspeak. NO chatspeak. NO CHATSPEAK.
REGARDING LIVEJOURNALING: What is and is not LL LJ needs some clarification, as the lines dividing an off-topic thread and a chatroom have been blurred quite a bit in the OTFPOTD. Off-topic threads are threads that almost anyone reading LL should feel welcome to participate in, and should not be a place where you communicate with friends about specific things only you and that friend know or care about.
An easy way to make sure others feel welcome is to tack a question on to the end of whatever you want to say. By making it a question instead of a statement, you invite other people's opinions to come along.
OKAY, BUT COULD BE IMPROVED: "I watched Crapping with the Stars last night."
The prompt, a tv show, is open to anyone, but instead, try phrasing it like this "Did anyone (else) watch Crapping with the Stars last night?" Making it into a question further opens it up.
NB: In the specific example of TV shows, however, keep in mind that not everyone watches shows as they are broadcast and some of us are in different time zones, so try not to say things like "Wow, did you see how Jimminy Gribble won Crapping With The Stars last night? That BLOWS!", because it's not certain that everybody in the thread has watched the show in question. It's just common courtesy.
GETTING CLOSE: "My job sucks. I had to deal with <Problem>"
This is likely narrowing the list of responders to people with similar experiences in a certain industry or field of work. You can open it up to everyone with a generalized question. "My job sucks. I had to deal with <Problem>. What's your worst work-story?"
A litmus test that I try to keep in mind is to imagine that I am talking to somebody that I just met five minutes ago. I wouldn't want to make a statement like "My job sucks." to that person. That's not conducive to conversation. By framing it with a question, I would encourage a response.
LL LJ: "I had roast beef for lunch today."
Nobody that matters cares. If you are that intent on gaining internet-based approval for your lunch choice, try saying something like "Wow - I went to the Delicious Deli and had the roast beef sandwich, and it's really good! What other sandwiches would I like if I liked that one?" This turns a bland statement of not-at-all-interesting fact into a topic for discussion that may be of some value to someone.
MOVING BEYOND THE PROMPT
The dangers do not stop after the first comment in a subthread. Be aware of the type of responses you give as well. Here are some completely made up subthreads that will hopefully provide an illustration. (LL does not condone any of the following activities except beer drinking)
Poster A: So last night, I ended up killing a hooker. Was it wrong for me to go have a beer immediately afterward?
Poster B: What beer?
Poster A: Blah Beer
Poster B: Where'd you find that?
Poster A: Boring Bar
Poster B: Oh, I really like Awesome Ale there.
Poster A: Hmm, never tried that, but I have had Amazing Amber from that same brewery.
Poster B: Yeah? How was it? I've been trying to find that forever.
This is fine. The discussion is between only two people, but the topic at hand (beer, beers at a specific bar, beers from X brewery) is an open one. Anyone who's been to that bar, had beer from that brewery, or has an informed opinion about beer can make a contribution to the discussion.
GETTING NEAR THE LINE:
Poster A: I need a new book to read while sitting in the elderly seats on the bus, any suggestions?
Poster B: No, but what route do you take?
Poster A: The 666 between Hades and Douchebagville.
Poster B: Meh, I hate that route, too many white people. Oh, by the way, how did your tax audit end up going?
Poster A: They threw me in prison where I was violated by Arthur Rhodes and John Olerud.
Poster B: That sucks, sorry to hear it. Do you want to go throw rocks at homeless people Friday night?
Poster A: Made plans already to drown kittens. Maybe later, I'll call you.
This example illustrates a benign topic getting sidetracked into a personal back-and-forth that's of interest to only the two people involved. It becomes a closed discussion. This is inevitable at times, but by finishing the discussion within one or two comments and taking any further talk to another venue, we can limit how much it clutters up the thread.
OVER THE LINE:
Poster A: Hey, Poster B, hows it going?
Poster B: My foot hurts.
Poster A: Oh, ouch.
Poster B: Yeah, it's my curb-stomping foot too. I'm pissed.
Poster A: Too bad, wasn't last night fun though?
Poster B: Yeah, it sure was great having fun at that thing we did with just us and nobody else here.
Poster A: Agreed, we should make plans to do something else with just the two of us, and discuss them here on LL!
Poster B: Totally! What do you think about square dancing?
and so on...
This is two people chatting back and forth about a topic that isn't open to other people. It belongs in a private discussion whether that be in person, over the phone, e-mail, IM, facebook, Pony Express, twitter, smoke signal, etc, it belongs there and not LL. If you see this developing, keep it from going over the line and move it to a private forum like Poster A did in the "getting near the line" example.
OFF TOPICS ARE NOT A CATCH-ALL
If an event is forthcoming that you think more than one or two LL'ers would want to participate in (the football/baseball/bowling days are examples of this) make the information about that event its own diary/fanpost, and post details of the event in that thread.
If baseball news breaks, and is something more earth-shattering than the latest NRI by the Nationals, make it its own diary/fanpost. Actual baseball news belongs in places people can find it. This is important.
A NOTE ABOUT DRUNK POSTING
There used to be a certain novelty to drunk posting. As with any meme however, the more that it is used, the less funny it becomes. LL is notorious for killing the humor in any meme in record time and drunk posting has reached that point. That is not to say that it cannot still be funny, but it is now off the protected wildlife list. If it bugs the mods, it is going to be hidden. There's nothing wrong with having a beer or two and commenting, but if you're not sober enough to drive, you're probably not sober enough to post.
Following these simple guidelines as best as you can will help make the off-topic threads more open and inviting to others and more participation only means a better community. That's what we're striving for. If you have questions or concerns, e-mailing us is the best way to get our attention.