[This is a fast-access FAQ excerpt.]
Things you may want to consider avoiding when posting here:
(1) re-opening topics (such as singular "they" and "hopefully") that
experience has shown lead to circular debate. (One function of the
FAQ file is to point out topics that have already been discussed ad
nauseam. You can find an archive of articles posted in
alt.usage.english and other newsgroups at <http://www.dejanews.com>.
Type in a search string in the form "alt.usage.english AND keyword".
Note that Deja News offers a choice of two databases: Current or
Old. "Current" contains the most recent few weeks of articles;
"Old" goes back to the start of the archive in March 1995.)
[See additional comments about deja.com.]
(2) questions that can be answered by simple reference to a
(3) generalities. If you make a statement like: "Here in the U.S.
we NEVER say 'different to'", "Retroflex 'r' is ONLY used in North
America", or "'Eh' ALWAYS rhymes with 'pay'", chances are that
someone will pounce on you with a counterexample.
(4) assertions that one variety of English is "true English".
(5) sloppy writing (as distinct from simple slips like typing
errors, or errors from someone whose native language is not
English). Keep in mind that the regulars on alt.usage.english are
probably less willing than the general population to suffer sloppy
writers gladly; and that each article is written by one person, but
read perhaps by thousands, so the convenience of the readers really
ought to have priority over the convenience of the writer. Again,
this is *not* to discourage non-native speakers from posting;
readers will be able to detect that you're writing in a foreign
language, and will make allowances for this.
(6) expressions of exasperation. In the course of debate, you
may encounter positions based on premises radically different
from yours and perhaps surprisingly novel to you. Saying things
like "Oh, please", "That's absurd", "Give me a break", or "Go
teach your grandmother to suck eggs, my man" is unlikely to win
your opponent over.
You really *are* welcome to post here! Don't let the impatient
tone of this FAQ frighten you off.