Guidelines for the Grammar Exchange Newsgroup


For smooth functioning, and for easy and enjoyable interaction, the Grammar Exchange asks you to follow these guidelines:

1. Subject

Enter your subject in the "Subject" field. Please make it clear and specific. Here are some good examples of subjects:

  • 'He' or 'him'
  • Which preposition Ė 'in' or 'on'?
  • When to use the subjunctive
  • Present or present perfect
  • Cleft sentences
  • 'Over the hill' or 'over a hill' [These are phrases the writer wants to talk about]
  • What does "outside of" mean in this sentence?
The follwoing are not good subject titles because they don't give readers an idea of the topic:
  • What is the correct answer?
  • What's wrong with this sentence?
  • Which sentence is correct?
Try to find a specific topic within the question you are asking about. The moderators can help with this.

2. Content

Our discussions are limited to the English language and its grammar, vocabulary, usage, and idioms.

It goes without saying that both the topic starter and all the responders must stay on topic.

The Grammar Exchange welcomes discussion, but reminds members of this: It doesn't serve a useful purpose to post just ďI agree,Ē or a similar message to any topic. If you have extra information that supports your agreement and that would be of interest to others, go ahead and post it.

Messages from the original poster, acknowledging an answer or comment, are fine.

3. Posting links

You may, if you like, post a link that gives relevant — very relevant — information. Make sure that when you post, you answer the question appropriately and then, perhaps, give the link.

Please make sure that the link provides answers to the question, or adds related material. Please do your best to make sure that the link is reputable. Please do not just post a link as a response to a question.

Links that are deemed unreliable or irrelevant will be removed by the moderator.

4. Whom to post to:

Please post your message for the entire Grammar Exchange to read. It's OK to reference another writer in the posting, but please keep all correspondence and all references collegial and polite.

If you want to write directly to an individual, ask the moderator to request permission from the person you want to contact.

Occasionally, a member has a question or response that s/he may feel uncomfortable about posting to the entire group. You may send an occasional question directly to the moderator, who will try to address it privately, as time and appropriateness permit. Please do not send repeated private questions to the moderator, who will not be able to answer all of them..

5. Form

Please use appropriate language, and standard English, spelling, and punctuation. While our Newsgroup is not like an essay contest, neatness does make the site more pleasant to look at.

At the same time, our group has some special features. One is that our readership consists of people whose English is at different levels. Do not feel shy if you are not a native speaker and believe that your written presentation needs to be perfect; the moderators will help you by editing it so that it is understandable and acceptable.

Please don't use all capital letters in the titles, and use them sparingly in your postings (probably just for target words and phrases). You can also format your posting with occasional italics and bold letters for emphasis and quotation marks where appropriate.

Please keep the content of your postings relevant and of reasonable length.

6. Tone and collegiality

The Grammar Exchange wants to encourage participation from interested readers. It is especially important that respect, politeness, and collegiality be observed at all times for the comfort and benefit of all.

There are standard "Netiquette rules" that most lists and newsgroups follow. These are published, among other places, at this site:

The Grammar Exchange excerpts here from those rules:

  • "Think for awhile before sending a snappy reply." (Not a 'rule' but saves a lot of grief later!)
  • Be conservative on what you send and liberal on what you receive.
  • Don't post messages just to point out spelling errors or typos.
  • Just as in any other group, certain unwritten customs and "rules" must be learned by [newcomers.] Take your time posting messages or jumping into a discussion. See how the participants interact.
  • Every service provider, mailing list, newsgroup, chat group, online discussion group, etc. has rules. Serious violators of these rules will be advised privately [it may be that they are unaware of the rules] but with repeated violations, will be removed from the list.

7. Length

Please keep the context relevant and of reasonable length.

8. Signature

Please sign your messages. If you wish, include your affiliation, and the state or country you are writing from — this is generally interesting to others.

9. Number of postings

You may post as many questions as you like, keeping in mind the guidelines for content. Sometimes, however, there may be a large number of postings from one poster at a time. If this number is deemed excessive, some of these posts may be removed and reposted at a later time. If there are many unanswered questions on the board, it may take longer than a few days to get a response.

When you respond to postings, choose carefully the topics you wish to respond to. The Grammar Exchange encourages informed response, but wishes to discourage writers who feel compelled to address every question.

10. For the record

We include the following doníts, just for the record:

  • Donít send chain letters, anti-virus warnings, jokes, greeting cards, or attachments of any kind.
  • Donít send defamatory, nasty or obscene remarks or references of any kind. These references will be removed and the sender will filtered off the Newsgroup.
  • Donít send commercial messages, advertisements for your services, job announcements, news bulletins, or send any other information that is irrelevant to our purpose.