PLEASE READ: Forum Rules

If you’re new here (or even if you aren’t), please read the following threads before posting on the SDMB:

FAQ - Rules for Posting at the Straight Dope Message Boards
How and when do I report a post?
What’s the policy on copyrights?
How do I know which forum to post in?
Are there any forbidden topics, like sex and drugs?
What happens to rules violators?
What are the rules about file-sharing software?
Must I post in English?
What links are permitted? What’s “workplace safe”?
Are there any rules on insulting the other posters?
Can I modify other posters’ quotes?
Can I edit my own post?
What’s with ignore lists and buddy lists?
What are the rules on profile signatures?
What if I want to change my username?
FAQ - Guidelines and Etiquette on the SDMB
Good manners and common courtesy are expected
Use descriptive titles when you start a thread
On resurrecting old threads
Reporting inappropriate Google ads
Use of spoiler tags
How do I find out what happened to a thread or poster that’s vanished
“Private Messaging” and meaning of “private”
FAQ - Technical issues for Posting
New User problems
User titles
Changing username, password, or email address
How do I report a bad post (one that I think is rules violation?)
Board speed/performance
vB Features
vB coding and tips (bold, italic, spoilers, etc)
Displayed time
Ignore lists
Funny abbreviations
How to post pictures and links
How to search the Straight Dope Message Board using Google
How to use the automated polling feature
Contacting the staff directly
Beginner’s Guide to Glossary of Terms on Straight Dope Message Boards
Variations specific to this forum:

When starting a thread, provide a link to the appropriate column or Staff Report
Linking helps keep readers together, saves lots of search time, and avoids someone repeating something already stated in the Column or Staff Report.

How do you post a link? The easy way is just to include the web page location in your post (make sure there is a space before and after the text of the URL).

The fancier approach is to type: [url=“”]Your Text Here … (including the equal sign and quote marks, but using the real url, obviously) and you’ll get the words Your Text Here as a link.

And, please, be sure that the link is clear and obvious. A simple link might be missed, especially for newer members. Please be obvious about it, like this: or Why do I sneeze afer every orgasm?

Thanks for your cooperation.

Generally speaking, the Straight Dope Message Board frowns on resurrecting very old threads, primarily because the posters may no longer still be members, and it’s “unfair” to respond to someone who is not around to reply. How old is “very old”? As a guideline, more than six months old. However, each forum has its own rules. Cecil’s columns and Staff Reports tend to be timeless, so it certainly reasonable to post new information or new ideas, or perhaps a new member wants to talk about something in an old thread.

So, in this forum, we permit people to respond to old threads and to resurrect them, with some constraints:

– Don’t resurrect an old thread unless you’ve really got something to add. Just saying “I just saw these comments, and I agree with you!” on a two-year old thread is not useful.

– If you start a thread and get no (or few) responses, you may re-post to it once (ONCE!) to put it back on the front page. After that, let nature take its course. You may not continue to resurrect your own threads, hoping for a response THIS time.

– If you’re really starting a new discussion about one of Cecil’s columns or a Staff Report, but think that a reference to an old discussion might be of interest, then start a new thread and provide a link to the old thread.

The Straight Dope Message Board tends to be more strict than legal necessity in protecting copyrights. Our sponsor, the Chicago READER, applies the Golden Rule: they don’t want other people abusing Cecil’s columns, Staff Reports, or other READER material; consequently, we don’t want persons on their Message Boards abusing the copyrights of others.

If you want to quote outside material, the proper approach is what’s called “Fair Usage” – you can quote a small bit and give proper attribution. If you need to reference more than a small amount, provide a link to a site that has the rights to publish the entire work.

You may of course continue to question and dispute what you see as ill-founded posts or ideas, but in this forum let’s pretend to be reasonably polite to each other. Thus avoid in this forum the use of “fighting words” (including but not limited to “moronic,” “crap,” and “stupid”) when directed against thoughts and beliefs that SDMB posters have previously expressed in the same thread, or against the thoughts of any SDMB poster identified by user name. This guideline does not apply to attacks on the thoughts and statements of public figures who do not post on the SDMB.

Naturally, direct personal insults (insults directed at a poster’s person rather than the idea he or she expresses) remain strictly forbidden in all forums outside the BBQ Pit.

Cecil’s Columns are not prophetic

Three or four days each week, we run one of Cecil’s old columns, called “classic.” These are run for amusement and a sense of history, but are not generally revised to reflect the time lapse. So, sometimes they contain a statement that is now outdated. We’re happy to get comments about that, and updates; feel free to post such here.

On the other hand, sometimes they contain a statement that makes Cecil seem prescient, or prophetic, knowing in 1983 about something that would happen in 1992. It’s no such thing, it’s just that there has been some editing since the original column appeared. There is editing when a column is revised to appear in a book, there can be some editing when something is posted as classic, whatever. Basically, if you think that Cecil appears to know the future (based on column date), the answer is no, but at some later point, one of the editors knew the past. So, if you’ve posted something like, “Hey, in a column dated 1987, how does Cecil know about the Bush-Gore election fo 2000?”… the answer is, “He didn’t, someone later did.”