authoring etiquette

In my short time as an IF author, I’ve made some mistakes in regards to authoring and am sure I will make many more. However, in an effort to minimize that, I was wondering if there’s a list or something I can refer to that shows general guidelines to follow. For example, I learned that it’s inappropriate to say “Now, now, don’t be greedy.” when preventing the player from using “TAKE ALL”. I also learned that I shouldn’t kill the player at random without telling them what it was that killed them or letting them use the undo command (I’d had a timer that killed them after five turns of doing something).

I also very recently learned (while trying to search for etiquette guidelines) that it’s not appropriate to jump in on an inactive thread. Is there also some other guidelines I can refer to for the forums?


I think most of the authoring etiquette rules fall under one umbrella. In early IF, the narrator was sometimes seen as the opponent of the player, and would tease and cajole the player.

In modern IF, the narrator is usually helpful or neutral. When it is combative, it’s for a story-based purpose (like in the Primrose Path.

With forum etiquette, I think it’s just a social construct that changes depending on who’s active. If a moderator (with a green name) tells you a rule, then it’s a rule. Because it hanged over time, there’s nothing set in stone. But the code of conduct applies, which essentially says that you can’t harass others.

Forum etiquette is, I agree, specific to a given forum. Other than the code of conduct, only really aware of the permanency principle (my name for the informal understanding that for the convenience of later readers, once a post is made and replied to in a thread, that post should not be substantially altered).

As for IF, there’s the player’s bill of rights. It puts a finger on many practices that have fallen into disfavor in Interactive Fiction.

Oh man, I totally forgot about the Player’s Bill of Rights! That was actually mentioned to me by either Andrew Schultz or Chris Conley when they told me about the forgiveness rating (immediate kills versus timed kills). Thanks, Eleas! Also thanks, craiglocke! That’s a good, general, easy-to-remember guideline for me to keep in mind while writing descriptions and such.

I don’t see why that would be an etiquette issue, though it might not be the best way of getting people to read your post.

Jumping in on a very old thread (more than a year or two) is a faux pas on a lot of forums, but how serious it is varies a lot. On some forums, people do it but apologize when they do. On others, you get asked not to do it again.

I think around here it’s considered mildly annoying.

That’s how etiquette always works. :slight_smile:

The issue for me is that a “necro-post” implies that I need to read back through the thread to understand the context of the new post. Which is potentially a lot of old posts to remind myself about. A new post has the connotation of “I’ll explain the context myself so you know what’s going on.”

I suppose the reason this particular topic on etiquette (replying on outdated posts) came up was because I’m always afraid of starting a new thread about something if a thread for it already exists (I liken it to a bunch of my kiddos asking me the exact same question all at different times, so I have to repeatedly give back the same answer instead of covering it all at once). So I try to search for it to see if I can find an answer first (which almost always proves unfruitful for me, but then I end up discovering other things i.e. I searched for “authoring etiquette” before starting this thread and came across another one where someone was told it’s considered poor etiquette to comment on old posts). Since I usually can’t find the answer, I end up starting the new thread.

The impression that I have now though, is that this would be considered more socially acceptable when in comparison to finding an old thread and commenting on it.

I’d say, regardless of etiquette, there’s rarely much point in resurrecting old threads. If one is relevant to your question, you can just provide a link to it.

It doesn’t hurt to do a quick search first before creating a new thread, especially if your question is basic “how do I make a room in Inform 7?” (Also, if you can’t be bothered to crack the manual past chapter 2, people may soon get very frustrated with you and just link you to chapter 3 with mutters of RTFM…)

Otherwise, make a new thread. Probably the thing we need to fix the most is topic titles. Don’t call a thread “I have a question…” Include the actual topic content in your thread title: “Help with creating a room in I7” is better so people don’t have to view the thread to know what it’s about.

An exception is for threads announcing a game or libary/extension - if you have a question about someone’s extension it’s usually best to reply to their original post about it, no matter how old.