Thu, Jun
4 New Articles

Forum Decorum

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

As the midrange world continues to get more interesting, we're going to need to work together even more, and a good place to start is the forums.

Editor's note: This article is a rerun of an article that originally ran in 2007.


This article is entirely devoted to the idea of making the forums a kinder, gentler place for people to share information, and doing so is going to require that regular contributors learn to adhere to a slightly more civil demeanor, especially when dealing with "outsiders" or "newbies."

Anybody who knows me is going to point out that this is about as blatant a case as you are going to get of the pot calling the kettle black, and they would be right to do so. But just as the seasons change ("Turn, turn, turn.") so too must all things, including newsletters and online forums.

Why All the Concern?

As I said in the first sentence, the idea comes from the concern that forums aren't exactly the most welcoming place, especially for newcomers. Even though the tone in MC Press is nowhere near as unforgiving as what sometimes appears on mailing lists or other forums throughout the Internet, too many posts exist of the kind that we might consider unprofessional or, at the very least, unfriendly.

Today, one of the most important goals of any System i advocacy, be it a local user group or an online magazine, should be to foster the participation of newcomers. The fastest way to alienate those newcomers is to present an atmosphere that reflects elitism or condescension.

How to Be Mean

In general, I don't think anyone on the MC Press forums ever means to be mean, but instead it just sort of happens in the course of conversations, especially between posters who have known each other for awhile. The most common result of this sort of long-term antagonism is the ad hominem attack, in which someone might try to argue against a position by discrediting the person holding the position. Not only is this unprofessional, it's simply bad logic; the veracity of an argument ultimately has nothing to do with the person making the statement.

And while I try to avoid this sort of behavior, I still engage in it occasionally, and it's an activity I need to curtail. In the past, I have let personal feelings get in the way of my objectivity, and I've said things that were more personal than professional. When that happens, the personal issues become the central point of the discussion, and any real issue gets lost in the clutter. This causes people to tune out of the conversation and makes newcomers reluctant to say anything lest they get pounced upon.

So, if you find yourself typing a phrase that focuses more on another poster and less on the post, then it might be a good idea to step back for a moment and reassess what you are trying to accomplish with your comments.

And bad manners aren't limited to blatant actions such as personal arguments. Sometimes even the simplest phrases can be seen as offensive. Many "cute" little acronyms have crept into the lexicon of online banter and should be eradicated from civil discourse. One of my least-favorite phrases is "RTFM," whose meaning is well-known and needn't be repeated here. The gist is that the question is something that the poster could have found the answer to simply by reading some document or other. And while it's true that a very small percentage of posters use the forums as their own personal training and mentoring service, even seeing that phrase used "appropriately" might cause a newcomer to decide not to ask a question, and that's the exact opposite of the atmosphere we want to foster.

Smiley Faces Don't Make it Right

Another important point is that just sticking a smiley face—that little ":)" thingie—on the end of an offensive phrase doesn't suddenly make it professional. Or in my case, using an emotion tag such as "<grin>" doesn't somehow turn an uncivil comment into a civil one. While emoticons of various types may help to convey your mental state, they are no substitute for common courtesy and professional behavior.

So Why the Diatribe?

Well, it's because MC Press is trying to make sure that the forums are a little more amenable to professional discourse, especially to the newcomer. Up until this point, the forums have been largely unmoderated, with only truly egregious behavior invoking the wrath of the forum moderating deities. While I can't tell you the exact actions that might now trigger a visit from on high, nor can I tell you exactly what those actions might entail, I do know that decorum in the forums is a top priority moving forward.

We who are involved with the publication want to make sure that everyone who works on or around the platform feels comfortable posting questions and making comments. The old elite guard is no longer the only source of relevant information. Our primary goal ought to be to make sure that everyone—including first-time posters and "lurkers"—feels that these forums are the best place to exchange ideas and information without worrying about typing a name wrong or asking a question that has been asked before.

In short, MC Press wants to make sure that forums participants label no questions as "dumb" and that the most important subject is the future of the platform. To do that will require a new level of professionalism. We've perhaps let that slip a bit over the months and years, but it's nothing that a little self-policing can't fix. And if we can't do it ourselves, I suspect that MC Pres may decide to do it for us, and do we really want big brother (or sister) watching?

Joe Pluta

Joe Pluta is the founder and chief architect of Pluta Brothers Design, Inc. He has been extending the IBM midrange since the days of the IBM System/3. Joe uses WebSphere extensively, especially as the base for PSC/400, the only product that can move your legacy systems to the Web using simple green-screen commands. He has written several books, including Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i, E-Deployment: The Fastest Path to the Web, Eclipse: Step by Step, and WDSC: Step by Step. Joe performs onsite mentoring and speaks at user groups around the country. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MC Press books written by Joe Pluta available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i Developing Web 2.0 Applications with EGL for IBM i
Joe Pluta introduces you to EGL Rich UI and IBM’s Rational Developer for the IBM i platform.
List Price $39.95

Now On Sale

WDSC: Step by Step WDSC: Step by Step
Discover incredibly powerful WDSC with this easy-to-understand yet thorough introduction.
List Price $74.95

Now On Sale

Eclipse: Step by Step Eclipse: Step by Step
Quickly get up to speed and productivity using Eclipse.
List Price $59.00

Now On Sale



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: