[Note: Many of the pages explaining how this forum works (like this one) were originally written before changes to the forum management and structure in April 2013. The information below has not yet been updated to reflect those changes. EP is a large site and there are plenty of pages that need updating, so please bear with us - we'll be amending this page as soon as we can!]
This is intended to be for forum/Internet newbies rather than experienced people who happen to be new to EP (what is EP - and other abbreviations/terminology - covered here).
It's not unusual for newbies to be a bit overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available on EP. This often results in something similar to paralysis by analysis and they simply don't know where to start. This can result in a variety of actions from the newbie.
Sometimes they just slink away with their tails between their legs, dejected because it's all too difficult, and we never see or hear from them again. And that's a shame because we do actually like helping people and the newbie has missed out on a wonderful opportunity to be part of this environment of learning and sharing information.
Sometimes they realise that there's so much to learn that they want to try to grab for it all at once. This leads to general postings such as, "How can I make money online?", "What should I do?", "What do you think of this business-in-a-box?", and other such types of postings. And these are often too complex for us to answer usefully. No one can tell you in one forum post what it maybe took them a decade to learn.
And sometimes the confused newbie will PM an admin or a mod for advice on the "Where do I start?" question. We discourage this because admins/mods have enough to do with their own businesses and with helping to run this forum. We don't really have the time to spare to give individual attention to the growing number of newbies who request it. In any case, these matters are usually better discussed in the open forums so others may also share and benefit from the information.
As a result, there's a heck of a lot of great information here but the onus is still on the newbie to dig it out. This is an attempt to create a Quick Start Guide For Newbies to help you get the most out of being a member of Experienced People.
1. Read the forum rules.
2. Understand what fluff is and why it's not acceptable here.
3. Introduce yourself. Tell us a bit about yourself, what you're doing, and what you hope to achieve. Start a new thread. Don't hijack someone else's introduction by adding, "I'm new here too", or similar. Don't post fluff - introduce yourself properly. And whatever you do, don't post a link to your site or try anything silly like a fake signature. You'll get your signature privileges in due course if you earn them
4. Be patient. Your first posts will be pre-moderated, which means they won't go live until one of the mods has approved it. (Admins do lots of modding work too, so for brevity I'll just say "mods" from now on.) If you have made a good introduction, then it's likely that you'll receive some replies. Answer them! This is a good way to get going on here. It opens a door for further discussions and possibly raises some more specific questions for discussion.
5. On the subject of specific questions, they can be much more useful for all concerned than general ones. And to be more specific, you need to show that you've done some reading and research. For example, it's more useful to ask, "I've read different opinions on the subject and I'm wondering if guest blogging really is a good way to get traffic to my site?" rather than "How do I get traffic to my site?"
6. Read! It's especially useful to read the sticky threads in each forum before jumping in with questions. The threads are stickies for a reason, ie they're especially worth reading, so don't overlook them. Here is an example of a great thread about ideas for getting traffic.
7. Join in. By all means join in on an existing thread if you have something useful to add, but don't hijack threads by taking them off topic with your own questions, or simply to say that you're new and would like to know the answer too. If your question is relevant to the topic, it's fine to add to the discussion by asking it, but think before you post. Does this add to or detract from the discussion?
8. Don't butt in with questions such as "Where is...", "What is...", "How do I..." The vast majority of these have already been answered in the FAQs or perhaps in our list of abbreviations used on this forum.
9. Don't be afraid to ask questions (subject to what I've said above). Many good discussions have come out of someone asking a good question.
I hope this is helpful to all our newbs who are overwhelmed by EP or feel the need to PM mods with their "Where do I start?" questions.
And you know what? I didn't say a single thing in the above guide that isn't already here if only you had taken a little time to find it for yourself.