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Here is the text of the greeting:

Welcome to OTC, [[troper]]!

Before I start, I should introduce myself. I'm Best Of, the Herald for OTC and a Mod. Actually, as a Mod my primary focus is OTC - so in this message, I'm speaking as a Herald and as a Mod. (So when I say "we," I might mean "we the posters in OTC" or "we the Mods.")

What is OTC?

OTC stands of On-Topic Conversations. An OTC thread has a (usually rather specific) topic, and participants in the thread are expected to stick to that topic. This is the main difference between OTC and Yack Fest.

People who want a relaxed chat about a very broad subject that is often forgotten when an interesting derail beckons go to YF, while those who seek a more serious and focused discussion are invited to post in OTC, where derails are strongly discouraged.

In this subforum, we try to encourage a friendly, mutually respecting culture with elements of a debate (though we're not as formal as an actual debate,) and thus we don't want random posts that disrupt the flow of the discussion.

OK, so staying on topic is important. What else should I know?

We've got some standards as to what discussions we want to have. Threads that are likely to cause a flame fest by their very premise are not hosted here. This doesn't mean that we (the Mods) ban controversial subjects, but we do remove threads that are set up to be negative, such as threads about why something sucks. Experience has taught us that threads like that tend to descend into personal attacks.

A note about civility

It's entirely possible to have a perfectly enjoyable heated discussion or argument while remaining civil. The discussion is ruined when someone decides to make it personal, or to argue in bad faith. This is something that we try to keep in mind at all times. If you feel that you're offended or angry or upset, you should take a break until you calm down. If you feel that someone is being uncivil, Holler about it.

OTC threads have to be approved by a Mod.

There's a special rule for OTC: when a new thread is made, it starts out without the "add a post" button. The system automatically sends a Holler about the thread to the mods, and our job is to read the OP (Opening Post) and decide whether or not we want to open the thread for discussion. This way, we avoid the damage that a problematic thread would cause if it went unnoticed. We might send you a suggestion as to how you can improve the thread, or we might edit the OP directly.

No "link-discuss" threads

Another rule we have about new threads is that we don't allow "link-discuss" threads. A "link-discuss" thread is one where the OP has a link, You Tube video, long quote or other such source and little to no discussion or explanation as to what the subject is, usually followed by the word "discuss."

Ideally, you should be able to enter any OTC discussion by reading the OP. Thus, a good OP provides definitions and any other information that is needed to frame the discussion and to put things in context. This doesn't mean that you have to explain what a car is if you want to talk about traffic, but if you're bringing in terms that are probably not familiar to people who aren't already involved in the general discussion about your broader subject, you should make it easy for anyone to enter the discussion.

Framing the discussion

If a thread's topic is too specific, it will usually be buried in the archives before it gets more than a few posts. So try to frame your discussion broadly enough that there actually is something to discuss. On the other hand, if the topic is too broad, it will derail a lot. You should keep this in mind when you're creating a thread.

So, to recap:

  • OTC means On-Topic Conversations.

  • Derails are strongly discouraged.

  • The general tone of discussion here is more serious and focused than the other subfora.

  • As with any other subforum, you're expected to keep things civil. Be polite and respect the other participants in the discussion.

  • Needless to say, the forum rules apply here, too.

  • OTC threads are subject to review by the Mods before they're opened. This is to improve the quality of OTC threads and to avoid incivility.

  • Have fun!


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