The idea here is to a encourage useful and fun discussion of hang gliding, and issues raised in the Oz Report, and other venues, and not drift into other extraineous off topic areas, just because there is a silent audience.
So I will manage this forum to accomplish that, with your help.
1. No "off-topic" postings. Postings must directly relate to hang gliding or paragliding.
2. I will remove people from any forum on the Oz Report forum who violate this policy.
3. This is not a free speech zone, as I may be held liable for statements that you write here. At the moment I don't care to test this assertion in court.
4. Be civil or you will be banned from all of the Oz Report forum.
How to quote parts of a message:
Hit the "quote" button on the right of the message you want to quote a piece of. You'll get a "Post a reply" box with stuff in it that starts with [quote=(the user's name) …] and ends in [/quote]. Be sure to leave those bits intact! Since it's both useless and rude to quote someone's entire message (since it's available for everyone to see anyway, usually not much above where the message you're writing will end up), you'll want to click & drag & hit Delete on the parts of the message that aren't relevant to what you're commenting on. There might be more [quote] - [/quote] pairs in the quoted message, you'll usually want to remove those too since they're from a message being quoted in the message you're quoting, but be sure to remove them as a pair! (Both of them, and whatever's in between.) It's also a very bad thing to change the meaning of what the quoted stuff means, or even to show only parts of it in a way that would change the meaning, like messing with the context. The usual practice is to replace chunks that don't apply with an ellipsis "…" (… for "horizontal ellipsis", if you want to show off your digital mojo, otherwise just three periods) to indicate something was there that you've removed. Then add your comment after the [/quote].
If you want to get fancy and comment on several separate parts, you can insert your comments into the quoted part if you put [/quote] before your comment (to break out of the quoted part) and [quote=(the user's name)] (you can copy it from the top) or just [quote] afterwards, to get back in to it.
Simple, eh? Designed (not by me!) to be simple enough for even kiddies to use.
About 2,000 Oz Report readers have registered with the Oz Report forum, but, of course, not nearly as many are active participants in the ongoing discussions, which is fine by me. 2,000 talkers is way too many, and I'm happy if many remain lurkers coming around every now and then to see how things are going. Of course, some have never come back, finding the Oz Report forum not to their taste.
I started the forum, and got Scare to put it together, with the idea that pilots might want a way to discuss articles that I publish in the Oz Report. Hence the link from each article to the forum. I thought of it as essentially the comment area, without having to publish the comments along with the articles as some (most?) blogs do. It provided a separate area for those who wish to take further the concerns raised in the articles. For those who didn't, they need not bother with the forum.
This allowed me to continue publishing the Oz Report as a email publication, as well as an issue archive on the Oz Report web site. Later Scare added blog functionality to the Oz Report web site, with enhanced functionality to allow you to open just one article at a time (unlike the endless streams seen in blogs). He also added automatic publishing so I could blog to the Oz Report web site, have the articles displayed immediately, and then have them automatically published as email (pushes) the next morning at 8 AM Eastern time.
The Oz Report forum has evolved through reader actions and input to we administrators into more than a comments area. It is an area where readers can and do begin thread (topics of discussion) outside anything raised in the Oz Report. It also has an Off Topic area (the cesspool) where those wishing to discuss concerns not related to hang gliding can go and get abused by Warren.
The Oz Report forum is moderated (it is not a free speech zone). If folks get abusive I step in and calm them down (or cut them out). I also monitor for quality. For example, if threads go off in odd directions, I split them up so that their content has some relation to their title. This, I believe, helps the reader navigate the forum.
I also pull off topic items into the Off Topic section so as to not have to clutter the hang gliding area with irrelevant material.
I encourage quality posts, posts that actually help the reader and would be of interest to the readers. I discourage drivel, nonsense and lazy, just hanging around, here-I-am-with-nothing-really-much-to say posts. There are other sites that encourage such behavior, this is not one of them.
The Oz Report forum is not a campfire. It is not a place to hang out with your bud and have a beer while slurring your words. It is a serious forum for pilots who wish to write cogently and engage the intellect of others. It is not for everyone, and not everyone has something useful to contribute.
For the new pilots who come here in your blazing ignorance (and your burning desire for a hint of acceptance), I say, humility is a fine cloak for your obsessive egos. Lurk, listen, read (past issues - using the search function in the Oz Report itself and the other (non Google) search function in the forum), and, if you must, ask questions, without explaining to us first how you know everything already.
I value my reader's time. One way I do this is to discourage readers with nothing useful to contribute from contributing it on the forum. Please, don't post there unless you really have a contribution to make to your fellow pilots. I realize that the forum structure makes it easy to ignore others (unlike the mailing list format), but still, use good judgment.
If you can't, please take those low quality comments elsewhere where I'm sure that they will find a ready audience among those with too much time on their hands.