As with any community, OA has developed its own culture, norms, taboos, and ways of doing things over the course of its history. When taking part in the OA Forum, please keep the following in mind:
Transhumanism and transhumanist ideas play a significant role in the OA setting. Most, but by no means all, members of the community tend to take a pretty optimistic view about the potentials of technology and technological progress in the future.
Orion's Arm is fiction and the views and mores presented in the setting do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire OAUP membership. We are a diverse group,often with differing opinions on different topics. Rather than assuming what members believe about any given topic based on the setting, it is generally better to just ask.
When considering an update to an existing EG article, it is considered good manners to seek the input or permission of the original author of the article, assuming they are still active with the project. Active authors are generally accorded significant influence when considering potential additions or updates to their articles or the subjects they discuss. If unsure about whether or not a given author is still active with the project - ask.
Some elements of the OA setting (generally technology related) are deliberately conservative in their discussions of performance or numbers or similar issues. This is often a deliberate decision on our part, reflecting either:
- Our general belief that in the real world it is rare for any technology to operate at the maximum limit theoretically possible.
- A compromise that was reached when we could not achieve complete consensus on the subject and so came to a description that everyone could live with, even if no one agreed with it completely.
This doesn't mean we will never make changes - but we aren't inclined to do so just because one new scientific paper has been published somewhere and may make an existing setting element unworkable - or in need of a radical upgrade. Waiting to see if a given new development pans out or sticks around is a common response here.
Adding new ideas and content to the setting is generally pretty easy in terms of getting agreement to make the addition.
Revising existing content is often more challenging, particularly if the subject matter touches on multiple elements of the setting and any change could produce a large number of 'ripple effects' requiring updates and retcons to multiple articles. Examples of this include things like the size and capability of brains or computronium, dates of colony missions in the early timeline, etc. While changing such things is not impossible, we generally want a really exceptionally good reason (preferably to include references) to do so.
Removing existing content and ideas is generally hardest. We tend to be a bunch of packrats around here and flat out removing something from the setting can often take weeks of debate and discussion. And even then our preferred course of action is to make it a myth or a rumor or something rather than flat out delete it.
OA tends to move slowly. We've been around for 20 years now and taking weeks or months to make something happen generally doesn't bother us much or at all.
OA operates on volunteer labor and has a very strong ethos of 'if you want something done, do it yourself'. For anything much beyond the level of correcting typos or making relatively small adjustments to existing articles, the staff (who are also all unpaid volunteers) are not here to write up your ideas for you. Neither are the other members of the community. While we are happy to provide help and advice, we generally expect you to do the actual writing, whether that involves creation of a new article or significant rewriting of an existing one. Very rarely, if an idea is extraordinarily compelling or if there are extenuating circumstances (e.g., English is not your first language), we may make an exception to this principle.
Within very broad limits, OA tries to be big enough to accommodate almost any new concept that doesn't flat out violate Canon. A new concept may require some (possibly extensive) modifications to fit, but culturally speaking we're usually willing to consider it.
We tend to point out challenges or issues with a new idea first and figure out how to solve them second. A good rule of thumb: If you are told that a given concept isn't workable in the setting - ask if there is any way that something close to it could be made workable based on setting canon. Also, ask if the topic can be revisited in a couple of days - during which people may think up possible solutions to the problems first seen. Finally - never forget that it's not personal.
If there is some aspect of the OA setting, or a specific article, that you feel needs modification or replacement, it is generally better to ask the community about the article (what it says and why it says it) before presenting a critique and advocating that a change be made. Often it is the case that the current version of the setting or an article is the way it is for very specific reasons that may not be immediately obvious.
We are not impressed by a big and flashy entrance - It is not uncommon for new members to try to make their first contribution to the project a large and complex article with a lot of different elements (or at least terms) pulled from the EG. Sometimes the intent of the article also seems to be to drive a fundamental change in how the setting itself works or is put together.
None of this impresses us or leads us to a positive impression of the new member doing it. Mostly because we've seen it many many many times before and 9 times out of 10 the end result is not well done and either crashes and burns because the author didn't take the time to really understand the setting or requires massive amounts of time and effort on the part of other members to wrestle the new article into something that will actually work. Which takes time away from all the stuff we are already working on.
We are more likely to be positively impressed by a well written and designed description about the Y11k equivalent of a tea cup then a badly written and designed treatise on an entire empire that promises to consume hours and hours of time we would rather use for something else.
Of course, if you can produce a large and impressive article that doesn't run into any of the issues above, we certainly won't complain.
We do not measure social capital here by number of articles produced. Some of our most highly respected members have never written a single article in the EG - but the quality of their ideas or their willingness to help others develop theirs has earned them a place of great respect in the community. In other words - just because you don't or can't write articles doesn't mean you can't be part of OA.
You do not need to be a scientist or engineer to be a member of the community or contribute to the project or have your ideas taken seriously. We proudly count everyone from scientists and engineers to building custodians among our membership. Having a certain background or a bunch of letters after your name may lend your ideas additional weight in certain circumstances. In other situations - not at all.
You do not need to be an adult to be a member of the community or contribute to the project or have your ideas taken seriously. We proudly count everyone from retirees to school children among our membership. Generally speaking we don't concern ourselves with anyone's age unless they choose to bring it up. That said - OA occasionally deals in mature or adult themes. Bear that in mind and participate at your own risk.
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