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General Considerations:

  1. Ad hominem / slanderous / hateful attacks on other list members, or criticizing other peoples' religious, ideological, or political beliefs, or their race, ethnicity or the like, will not be tolerated by the Moderators of this forum.
  2. We ask that you do not join if
    • having familiarized yourself with what the OAUP is about, you find yourself in disagreement with our approach, and your intention in joining is simply to criticize the project.
    • participating in a hard science setting with transhumanist themes is somehow distasteful to you.
  3. Be familiar with the information found on the How To Contribute page.

Handling Onlist Message Traffic:

  1. Posting Messages / Starting a New Topic:
    1. We ask that you introduce yourself prior to posting new material or ideas. We would especially be interested in what brought you to OA. Ultimately how much you share is up to you.
    2. When posting articles we ask that you post a link to an article rather than the contents. Please mention why the membership might find the article interesting. "Here is a link to a working railgun" for example. Do not post a link amended with a vague note such as "Here's a good website with some ideas for the technology section" or "for the history section." Be specific as to your intentions.
    3. Use normal capitalization. Separate your paragraphs with blank lines. These practices make the content much easier to read, and hopefully others on the list will return your kindness.
    4. Break up long bodies of text into paragraphs. Long blocks of text are very hard to read.
    5. Try to get the spelling right (it doesn't have to be perfect, but just try to tone down on typos and spelling errors).
    6. Sarcasm is lost in text form. Other members cannot hear the tone of your voice. Feel free to use emoticons, or put actions in asterisks like *grin*. You can also use caps or italics for emphasis or use standard net conventions for italics and underlines. This can lead to "Flames" as described below.
    7. DO NOT SEND AN ENTIRE MESSAGE IN ALL CAPS. This is considered "shouting". It is annoying to others to be shouted at.
    8. Do not post material that is inappropriate for OA including:
      • Extended-Off-Topic (EOT) discussions about anything in particular - e.g. American foreign policy, what you had for breakfast, soapboxing, etc. This applies to posting off topic links as well. If you simply must discuss these topics we suggest posting them John's Great Big Group of Everything (GBGoE) - "a friendly forum for everything".
      • Detailed discussion of subjects in direct conflict with OA Canon. (Faster Than Light (FTL) travel being a common one). Repeated attempts to start these types of discussions will result in administrative action by the Moderators. This does not mean that links to new scientific articles on these subjects cannot be posted.
      • Detailed discussion on any of your own or other preferred non-OAUP projects / scenarios.
  2. Replying to Posts:
    • You are not obliged to read, or reply to, every message.
    • Read through the entire post / thread before responding to it. Someone may already have raised the same point, or your concern may be addressed further down in the post.
    • Watch for <adm> headers. Do not respond to threads that have been closed by the Moderators.
    • Remove (<snip>) out those portions of a post / thread that are not relevant to what you are replying to. This is especially important with long posts, or when replying to a thread being heavily discussed.
    • Be sure to quote what you are responding to, and who said it. Failure to do so can cause confusion. This is especially true for those members who receive posts as email, which may or may not arrive in sequential order.
    • Keep your replies concise and to the point. This does not mean you cannot submit a long post if a concept requires it.
    • Do not post long commentaries going over things that have already been explained in the setting.
    • Do not continue posting material on a subject the group has decided is not applicable to the setting.
    • Do take notice of any questions or critiques others raise regarding material you have posted. Try to either answer their question, or else admit you do not have an answer and ask for help. We have all had to do it at one time or another.
    • Do not reply simply to acknowledge your agreement, or praise, of a previous post. If you feel the need to post a compliment, please send it directly to the member whose ideas you are complimenting rather than to the list as a whole. If you want to compliment and add additional thoughts to the idea being discussed, please do so.
    • Please respect the senior membership. Their dedication to the project has earned them their positions. One day you may be counted among their ranks.


  1. In order to aid in communicating the intent of a post, the following subject prefix headers have been developed:
    • <oa> Generic discussion about the Orion's Arm universe.
    • <eg> Encyclopaedia Galactica articles and anything specifically intended for inclusion in the OAUP.
    • <adm> List Administration - and general Moderator announcements.
    • <ot> Off Topic discussion.
    • <que> A Query / Question about information not found on the site in the discussion list archives.
    • <link> A non-OAUP website that may be of interest to the membership.
    • <humor> Humor.
    Note: the use of these headers is recommended, but certainly not mandatory.
  2. Using the prefix headers:
    1. Include the prefix headers in angle brackets before the subject description. Examples would be <eg> Widgets or <link> Black Hole Discovered.
    2. When posting in response to a current thread, but taking it in a new direction or line of thought, change the header/ subject accordingly. Use the previous subject as a footer. An example would be <oa> Godtech (was: Widgets)


A listing of terms used within the Discussion Groups but not directly associated with the material on the site:
  • Unobtainium — Term for technology in Hard SF that requires material that is unobtainable in the real universe
  • Vingularity — Pertaining to the singularity as described by Vernor Vinge.
  • Handwaving — Term used by scientists when they aren't sure of the answer and have to fudge things. Sometimes referred to jokingly by the statement "and then a miracle occurs".
  • Handwavium — A term that refers to postulated tech or physics that is impractical or impossible but included because there is no other way to explain things. Hard science fiction tries to minimize handwavium [a play on "handwaving" + unobtainium].
  • Hard SF — [1] Science Fiction that tries to be loyal to the known laws of physics, and avoids or minimizes sillytech; [2] Science Fiction that emphasizes the technological side of things, as opposed to the humanistic. Orion's Arm belongs to the first rather than the second category.
  • Sillytech — Humorous term for technology that is ridiculous in terms of the known laws of physics. Hard SF tries as much as possible to avoid (or at least to minimize) sillytech.

Moderator Warnings

At times it may become necessary for the list Moderators to step in to address a variety of issues. Occasionally individuals will ignore the standards of conduct outlined by OAUP policy (Netiquette, How To Contribute, and the Terms, Copyright, and Submissions agreement). At best this is just list noise, at worst these are hateful attacks that reduce the enjoyment of other members — perhaps even making some members feel unwelcome.

Moderator control is exercised in the form of posts using the <adm> prefix header. Posts bearing this header should never be ignored. This may be used for administrative announcements, warnings to disruptive individuals and the closing of disruptive / inappropriate threads.

Closing Threads:
  1. A thread deemed inappropriate will be closed with an <adm> tag and the words "This Thread is now closed". Inappropriate behavior on the list will also get an <adm> tag
  2. You will receive a 3-hour grace period once a thread is closed. Posting to a closed thread after the grace period will result in being temporarily suspended from the list.
  3. The Moderator may or may not contact the individual concerned off-list, explaining their actions.
  4. Posting on a closed thread after this gets a second <adm> tag. At this stage, the following will get one temporarily suspended.
    • Continuing inappropriate behavior after at least 2 public warnings as indicated above.
    • At least 3 more posts in the same vein from the same person after the second warning, no grace period.
Specific Inappropriate Behaviors:
  1. Deliberately trolling will be subject to temporary suspension after the first warning. A repeat offense gets you permanently banned.
  2. Spamming gets you banned without warning.
Types of Suspension and/or Ban:
  1. Temporarily Suspended — This is not a ban and you may rejoin at any time. Members being temporarily suspended should consider it a very strong warning. It also means that the Moderators will be focused on their activity.
  2. Permanent Ban — The member is removed from the OAUP and may not return.
Mistakes can be made and if you feel you have been unjustly punished please feel free to contact the Moderators or Senior Membership to plead your case, and/or explain your actions.

We ask you to pay attention to the standards of netiquette, but slips do happen. These are usually overlooked and the policy is enforced only when it is deemed such behavior is becoming disruptive.


Inevitably, something you say will be taken out of context, or will be considered an insult or invitation to argue by someone else. If that person responds in a negative, emotional, or personally insulting way, this is called a flame. When you reply in kind, it becomes a flame war.

We suggest taking the following steps in order to avoid being flamed, and how to handle yourself if you are flamed.
  • HEDGE YOUR BETS. Rather than saying, "Metal rules! Death to all that oppose #insert_name_here!!" try saying "In my humble opinion (often abbreviated IMHO) metal bands perfectly express my feelings, choices, and lifestyle. Your mileage may vary" (another net cliché, less frequently abbreviated YMMV).
  • APOLOGIZE. When misunderstanding is the culprit, and especially if you respect the person who misunderstood, take the blame on yourself for being unclear, apologize, say what you meant more clearly (if appropriate) and put it behind you. As in real life people who are quick to anger are often equally quick to forgive.
  • AVOID FLAME BAIT, or conduct which gravely offends the norms, mores and folkways of a particular group. "Now wait a minute!" you say. "Do you mean that something that's accepted behavior on one list or newsgroup will draw dozens of stinging, ridiculing comments in another?" I sure do..