However, the off-topic area should see a little more action than it currently is receiving. These are guidelines in order to best instruct on how to properly post and act when talking about non-Nerf content on a Nerf forum.
Here is the important summary I will give:
Off-topic is not for all content that it is not Nerf related. Its title is a misnomer. It is not a place for discussion of topics. There are many, many things you should not ever post about, which includes, but is not limited to: religion, politics, laws, drugs, philosophy, humor. Do not post threads about these things. Post threads that give information or have a distinct purpose. Almost no thread should be conversational. Attempt to limit yourself to one post per thread, and only use that one post when you're sure you won't need to use it ever afterwards.
Here are some good examples of threads that are okay (I'll explain why in a bit).
Official Steam/PC Gaming Thread: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=18231
Xbox Live Recreational Community House: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=14544
Harbor Freight Coupon: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=21044
SOPA/PIPA and the Site Blackouts: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=22048
These are generally "good form" off-topic topics. The first two serve a purpose of using the NIC to organize not-necessarily-NIC-related events. If you want to try and get a local game of paintball going, asking people you already associate with through the hobby to join you in the off-topic forum is not a bad idea. Playing games with people you converse with online is also a good idea. However, also note the behavior of the people within this thread; generally, each person posts exactly once, which is as frequently as they need to in order to communicate their information. Generally, these types of thread don't need constant updates, so consider a limit on posts per thread per member to be one, unless an update is urgently necessary.
The next thread is one that alerts the NIC to a useful service. Harbor Freight offers many items useful to modders and builders, and savings for members of the community is a generally useful thing to do. Also note that this thread is relatively barren except for the original post. Unless there has been some change, or some unnoticed restriction on the service or deal, there is no reason to continue a discussion about it. Do not post unless it is vital that you do, and even then, prepare to be judged harshly.
UPDATE: Langley has now started a new thread, in trading, that will give a place for people to post deals and coupons. Here it is. This is where you should post retail coupons, deals, and other assorted product-relevant information.
The final thread type is the most dangerous of the allowable type. Before, when the forum was much smaller and less busy, this probably would have floated better, but notice that a forum administrator was the one who posted it in order to relay information about the state of the site (and a few other issues as well). Political topics are NOT welcome in off-topic; this is an exception due to exceptional circumstances. Partisan discussion is not welcome, and people should restrict their posting in these types of thread to be especially civil, and only post when information relevant should be shared. In summary: Don't post political things.
The summary of posting here is, generally, "don't." But that's only the general case. As you can see, there are some entirely okay scenarios in which the off-topic subforum can be used to post off-topic material, and you will not be punished for it.
Now, this would not be much of a guideline if I did not also provide examples of people doing the exact wrong thing.
Happy Birthday Ted: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=22510
The World Is Yours: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=16000
New Member from Florida: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=22091
Jessica Alba or Meghan Fox?: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=19991
The first thread is wrong in a largely different way than the rest. Birthday threads are generally not worth posting, and will generally lead to punishment. Quite frankly, there are extremely few birthdays that are worth celebrating in the NIC, and there were extenuating circumstances leading to the posting of that thread. Do not take the posting of that thread as an invitation to wish that person a happy birthday. While it is a nice gesture, for the most part you are an anonymous stranger on the internet to them, and they have other people they should probably be talking to on their birthday.
The next case is one I included primarily because it's an incredible example of how things can go wrong very quickly. Clearly that topic had no business being on NerfHaven in any capacity to begin with. If you're going to attempt to post creative works on a forum like this that do not directly relate to Nerf, do your best to make them interesting (and even then it will probably not be okay). Basically everything the original poster posted is against the COC as well, so, don't do that.
Introduction threads are not useful. Introduce yourself by posting Nerf-relevant material, like modifications or homemades, or that you will be attending a war in the near future. We generally do not need to get your life story before you begin posting.
Polls are generally a recipe for disaster. Clearly this topic is useless at best, and there exist literally zero reasons for its existence. It is a waste of bandwidth to have to load that page. Before you post, ask yourself: "Is this really something that is worth putting out?" If you have to genuinely think about it, at all, especially in off-topic, it is not, and you should discard it.
Off-topic can be scary, and rightfully so; the subforum is littered with the carcasses of threads and members who lost their digital lives because they couldn't follow basic rules and common sense. With a little common sense and the rules outlined above, one may post in off-topic with a significantly reduced fear of being struck down by a banhammer.
Edited by Ice Nine, 15 May 2012 - 03:04 PM.