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TL;DR: This is a long one. It's about thinking before posting. Most won't read it because social media has killed their attention span. If you've read this far? Woohoo! Just be kind to others and use your brain. And read the rest of this because some of y'all really need a reminder or two. Be as detailed as possible. Don't dismiss beginner questions. Try to post in the right area when possible.

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Welcome new (and old) members! Glad you've (re)joined us here in plant nerd land. The water is... a very specific chemical makeup that we monitor and test regularly. :cool: (insert any other bad/dad joke you prefer)

The forum has experienced an uptick in traffic from new and returning members the past several months and it's become necessary for the moderation team to throw out some tips and reminders for posting:

Not everything you post belongs here in the General section. If you have a specific question about lighting? Please post in the Lighting section. Wondering something about a specific species of shrimp? Want to identify an unknown invertebrate in your planted tank? The Shrimp & Inverts section is your friend. Need help dialing in your fertilization or understanding something specific about your tap water? You should probably go directly to the Fertilizers and Water Parameters section.

Not everything is specific enough to go into specialized sections and that's why the General forum exists. This area is for posts that can't easily be directed to a specific sub-forum. Maybe you've got multiple issues/questions, want to discuss planted tank books, talk about fish rooms or planted tanks in general? Maybe something that can't easily be categorized? You're in the right place.

Taking ten seconds to think things through prior to posting helps prevent clutter, creating less work for your moderators and results in better responses for you. That's all it takes. A little forethought goes a long way. Please also keep in mind that some lighting experts only check the Lighting section. I know a ton about shrimp, so I always check the Shrimp section first. Your very specific question about shrimp posted in the General section may not be noticed by people with answers for hours or days.

If you mess up or make a mistake? Message a moderator or, ideally, use the report function to let us know. We'll help. Don't merely reply to your post asking moderators to do something - we may never see it.

See someone being a jerk? Spammers? A very specific question in the wrong area? Report it. We'll resolve the problem without anyone else knowing you reported it.

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With that slight chastising out of the way, let's talk about the OMG HELP ME!!!1! posts. Some of y'all have got to try harder. Put in at least a modicum of effort if you want others to deem your post worthy of a response. This is a beloved hobby for many and having the decency to be as clear as possible about what you want is considered the bare minimum. It's the same in other hobbies, sure, but this hobby frequently involves the lives of aquatic pets you'd ideally like to keep alive. So try to be clear. It probably won't cause physical pain for you to try.

This should be common sense but try not to emotionally exhaust those attempting to help you by forcing them to wrestle specifics out of you. Include as many details about your tank as possible when you want to get to the bottom of something. Got an algae issue you can't conquer because you're just starting out? Include some specifics in your post. Share your water parameters ("normal" is not a parameter), specific lighting & photoperiod, any details about fertilization, temperature, stocking, pictures of your tank are usually helpful. Whatever you can share will be helpful.

If a longtime member asks you a series of questions about your tank that may not seem relevant to you, that doesn't mean they're not important. It could be that they recognize a problem you're unaware of or they're trying to glean as many data as possible to give you the best advice they can. Take advantage of it and try to answer their questions. Most people will explain things to you if there's something you don't yet understand. Never hurts to ask because no question is dumb.

Here's a good example: If you create a post asking why your shrimp or fish died but don't say much else? More experienced hobbyists are going to ask you for specific details about your tank... if they don't ignore the post entirely. They'll almost always ask for the size of your tank, water temperature, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, sometimes water hardness (kH & gH), specifics about feeding, tank mates, water change history, et al. So if you know some of those details? It's helpful to include them.

Going round and round for several posts when being repeatedly asked for more specific information will result in a bad experience for everyone. They're not asking to embarrass or frustrate you. Don't make people feel like they're pulling a sword from a stone when you want their help.

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For the old timers and long haulers of the forum... stop directing newbies to random YouTubers and other questionable sites without putting in the bare minimum of effort. We all get tired of the same thing over and over but it's just rude to dismiss people. Sending newcomers elsewhere unless it's necessary is exclusionary and lazy (I said it!) and a quick way to turn people away from the hobby. They're asking questions here on the forum. Help them on the forum! Sometimes those links are helpful but more often than not? They're the cause of confusion and information overload. They cause more harm than good nine times out of ten. I'm a moderator - I see it dozens of times per week. All because someone deems beginner questions as unworthy of a real response. This is a discussion forum. Discuss things. If you don't want to answer a question? Don't answer. Really simple. Let someone else help.

There's almost never a reason to send someone to an off-forum guide if that information already exists on the forum. Redirect them here on the forum when possible. Use yer noggin. Think it through. Use the search function if necessary. Constantly sending people elsewhere can be grounds for suspension.

The big exception to this should be links to other forum posts. If someone is having trouble understanding the very basics of 'cycling' a new tank, it makes sense to share a link to one of, say, Diana's old posts that break down the process. They're concise & in plain language. Do that. Don't just send someone packing off to YouTube to watch a 20-minute advertisement. If someone asks for YouTube suggestions? That's a different beast entirely. Use your best judgment there.

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Finally, be friendly. Bite your tongue occasionally. Be welcoming and open to discussion. We can all have calm conversations - even when we disagree. This isn't Twitter or Facebook and there's never a reason to demean someone else. This may be tough for some to appreciate but this hobby won't exist if everyone is constantly dismissive and cruel. Daily life is crazy enough as it is. There's no need to take your unresolved stresses out on another person - at least not here on the forum.

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On a personal note, it's really exciting to see so many newbies. This hobby can provide tons of peace and relaxation if you let it. Planted tanking can be almost therapeutic for some. Enjoy it! Keep it fun. You'll experience burnout if your tank becomes a hassle.

Also cool to see old, familiar screen names popping back up. Glad so many of you have returned. Even more glad to find so many have stuck with the hobby or rediscovered its benefits. It's made my own life a heck of a lot more enjoyable and hope it can do something similar for everyone else.
 

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Excellent post. I thought I had noticed an uptick of new and old members posting, which is a great thing.

With that slight chastising out of the way, let's talk about the OMG HELP ME!!!1! posts. Some of y'all have got to try harder. Put in at least a modicum of effort if you want others to deem your post worthy of a response.
This can't be stressed enough. The best advice comes from taking a holistic approach. Each tank is different and needs to be looked at in it's entirety. The more information someone provides the better response they will get. If you really want help, then take time to post as much information about the tank that you can. And a full tank shot is worth a thousand words. Doesn't have to be pretty. We all start somewhere.

stop directing newbies to random YouTubers and other questionable sites without putting in the bare minimum of effort.
The funny thing is I am in frequent contact with many of the best plant growers from around the world. Not one of them is a "youtuber" and not one of them watches youtubers.

I don't want to paint with too broad of a stroke but the vast majority (there are exceptions) of them don't seem to really know much about growing plants. And many times things they say are just flat out wrong.

And hey, I read the whole thing. Feel like I should get a prize or something!! :D:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Several posts have been removed. It's nothing personal. No one really did anything wrong, so don't get worked up about it.

None of these points are up for debate, however, and some of you didn't even read the entire post. 🤦‍♂️

So let me say it again: Please think before you speak. That's all. It's really, truly necessary on a discussion forum. Not every discussion needs your input if you aren't willing to put in some effort. Don't dismiss people or their questions. Take these things to heart because the point is to make others feel welcome instead of ostracized, as the gutters of social media so often do. And newcomers? Put in some effort of your own to explain your problem or situation and don't play difficult or coy when the people you're asking for help ask you for more information.

Not every tank circumstance is the same or similar. The same information or detail will not be necessary for every tank. There's no template for asking questions because every situation is different, not everyone has access to the same test kits, not everyone uses the same products, nothing at all is cookie cutter in this hobby. The point is to provide whatever detail is available in your specific situation so the people reading can better help you if they have the knowledge and experience. We shouldn't dismiss someone with a link to some random blog trying to sell their fert salts they buy on an auction site & stick in a ziploc bag for 50x the money. We should be encouraging them to read and dig around here on the forum unless it's necessary to send them elsewhere. Sometimes it's necessary but most of the time it's not.

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When we help newcomers to the hobby and encourage them not to be afraid of digging in, they're more likely to stick around. When you're a newcomer to the hobby and put in some effort of your own instead of expecting things to be handed do you? You'll be more likely to find success and enjoy the hobby like the rest of us do. Learning really is half the fun with planted tanking.

This is a hobby - not a jobby. Some of us slip into serious mode way too frequently and forget to enjoy our glass boxes of water.
 
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