Finally, after all that negativity, some positive advice.
The strength of cyberspace is in its numbers. The reason asking questions online works is that a lot of knowledgeable people are reading the questions. And if even a few of them offer intelligent answers, the sum total of world knowledge increases. The Internet itself was founded and grew because scientists wanted to share information. Gradually, the rest of us got in on the act.
So do your part. Despite the long lists of no-no’s in this book, you do have something to offer. Don’t be afraid to share what you know.
It’s especially polite to share the results of your questions with others. When you anticipate that you’ll get a lot of answers to a question, or when you post a question to a discussion group that you don’t visit often, it’s customary to request replies by email instead of to the group. When you get all those responses, write up a summary and post it to the discussion group. That way, everyone benefits from the experts who took the time to write to you.
If you’re an expert yourself, there’s even more you can do. Many people freely post all kinds of resource lists and bibliographies, from lists of online legal resources to lists of popular UNIX books. If you’re a leading participant in a discussion group that lacks a FAQ, consider writing one. If you’ve researched a topic that you think would be of interest to others, write it up and post it. See “Copyright in Cyberspace” on page 133 for a few words on the copyright implications of posting research.
Sharing your knowledge is fun. It’s a long-time net tradition. And it makes the world a better place.