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Readers write....


 Dear Mister AWWoS,  

I can see, like many others newpapaers in the past about AW, you couldn't refrain from addressing the problem of courtesy in language.
 This is a huge task and you understand it calling your article  Part 1.
 But I'm afraid you don't see how much useless it can be at the end. There are so many way to be courteous depending of your mother tongue, your skill to translate it in English if needed, your culture, the vocabulary of your social or age class.
 Of course, Part 1 shows how much your immense culture is able to deal with it. (nice courtesy, isn't it? :) ). But there are little chances most of your readers are able to master it all. This would probably lead to some uniform, "pasteurised" clever language, losing all the benefits of diversity. 

 On the other hand the devilish side of human nature (you know, what brings spicy fun to life..) helps so people have less problems to find understandable, universal rude and offensive expressions.
 Listing what we shouldn't say seems more affordable and understandable. And you refer to it as the "don't".
 Alas, you know the drawback of it. Giving details of what we *shouldn't say* will provide the missing vocabulary (the one you don't find in dictionaries) to some pervert mine. Not the goal, really:)

 So, is there any clue finally? Yes, if we accept to go back to the starting point. Where does the problem come from at first? 
 Because we are on the internet, supposed to offer more freedom in behaviours. Therefore it emphasises the need to teach but to enforce like in RL. Also to insist on the fact more freedom doesn't mean no borderlines because they are farther than what we are used to.

 (Please, notice I consider here AW shares the aims of the internet so to simplify the debate, but this would need to be demonstrated).

 One characteristic of the internet is to benefit from tremendous progresses in softwares. We could then imagine the management of "courtesies" could be helped by some data base software, a useful tool to learn while practicing. 
 More! the keyboard could be disable for use in chat. (a proposal I made in the wishlist newsgroup, you know, this newsgroup where wishes are carefully stored so to remain as wishes..). No more foul language!
 We would have to click on a list of words and expressions carefully selected.
 More, it could translated from one culture to another. One would click 
on "My respects, Madam" or a French on "baise-main" so it's translated in "(((hug)))" one wouldn't dare to select for its brutish rusticity.

 (and the software would put equal numbers of parenthesis both sides without having to worry about it).

 Still more!! You know offense may come from misunderstanding without using foul language.
 A foreigner, still at the basic scholar English vocabulary from academic examples (Shakespear et al) would answer to some:

 " Hi sweetie!! You look great!! Hey! What's up?"

 " Beg your pardon, Madam, looking at my flies gives you a trivial image of my sentiments, may we change the topic?"

 I let you imagine the rest of the dialogue. A disaster.

 The software could then analyse the chat and find the appropriate answer for you. And this would allow us to chat while quietly building!! End of the rude silences.

 You think all this is fantasy? Not sure. Isn't it where we go with bots talking or welcoming for us? 
 Now, your newspaper would really outdo competitors, if you started to 
consider bot courtesies. The famous Three Laws for bots were just the beginning, let's go ahead! 


 Simon Says :

Dear mgib,

First of all, we atAWWoS, would like to thank you for your courteous reaction, from which we derive a true and warm concern on the matter of courtesy. We agree on almost every detail of your letter. We think however you under-estimate our readers by saying the most of them couldn't master the presented "free to follow" guidelines. But besides that....... all you mention is true, too true in some aspects.

Now, as far as knowledge of english is concerned, there are enough examples in AW of  ppl having a native language that differs from english that master it enough to express themselves in a courteous matter. Ergo : the ideal situation (i know..... ideal) would be that if a user detects the lack of knowledge of english, that the detecting user tries to put him/herself in the other ones shoes.So, when the people in your example both are courteous, the lady would immediately understand that her conversation partner doesn't intend to be cold, but actually trying his best to be courteous and respectful.

We would like to emphasis that this series on AW-tiquette is not a law book. Indeed this is the internet. Everyone is free to accept and adopt some, none or all of the advice in those articles and in that respect it shouldn't kill diversity.... 

As for your idea of writing "rules" for bots, it really kicked us off our socks (meaning that the whole AWWoS team was very enthusiastic). Some of our reporters even wear orange socks now (an expression of the devilish side of human nature). Feel free to send in your ideas on that. In fact we would back you if you were to start up a project to actually build such software. It might be included  in the SDK. 
Even more : all the guidelines found and to be found in this series, could help in designing such software.

Finally, we don't seem to disagree on the basic issue here. We're just looking for different ways in the same direction :).

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