Welcome to the Mote FAQ page

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mote?
Who's in Charge?
What are the Rules?
How do I get Started? I can't login!
How do I post?
How do I set the date/time to my own zone?
How do I start a new discussion?
How do I start a new thread?
Do I need to know HTML?
Does the Mote ban members?
What and who are threadhosts?
What is the Inferno?
My post was deleted!
The Mote rules seem kind of....arbitrary.
How do I change my login?
Can I have two login ids?
The Mote is Down
How do I order books through a Mote "franchise"?

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What is the Mote?

The Mote is an online forum built and maintained by volunteers dedicated to discussion, debate, and information exchange. For a more detailed accounting read The History of the Mote.

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Who's in Charge?

MsNo, PelleNilsson and Arkymalarky are forum moderators. Wabbit was the first forum moderator and is now moderator-emeritus. They ensure that everyone abides by the Rules of Engagement, delete any posts that violate the RoE and, when necessary, suspend or ban Mote members for violations. Moderators also create new threads, assign thread host responsibilities, and crack heads when they deem it necessary.

Thread hosts run the various discussion threads. They set the tone for the thread, maintain the sidebar links and depending on the thread may lead or guide discussion. They may move or delete off-topic posts or posts that violate the tone or purpose of their thread. If a Thread Host abuses his privilege he will be removed by the Moderators and a new host appointed.

The Gatekeeper is the person who validates userids and assists in any login or other userid problems. The responsibility of Gatekeeper moves throughout the community, but can always be reached via email at motegatekeeper@yahoo.com.

AlistairConnor is the developer of the site.

The server for our site is provided through the generosity of Sigi, friend of Alistair.

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What are the Rules at the Mote?

The Rules of Engagement define the limits that you don't want to approach. Other than that, there are no hard and fast rules, but if you make a pest of yourself you'll hear about it.

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How Do I Get Started?

Create a login id.

Moniker This is the ID that will appear on your posts.
Email addressAn ISP email address; due to potential abuse, web-based accounts may be revoked at any time without notice.

You don't have to use your real name, but you can't use anyone else's name, either.

In point of fact you CAN register with a web-based email. The system allows it, but if you register with a freemail address your ID may be deleted without notice. The Mote does not release email addresses to anyone. We are happy to correspond with you through free-mail accounts once you have registered with an ISP email, but your registration is only valid with an ISP-based address.

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Login Problems

Every so often people have difficulty logging in. Remember passwords are case-sensitive. AOL users may have unique problems. Please email the Gatekeeper if you need help.

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You must have a login id in order to post, and you must be logged in. (You can set your profile to automatically login. Just click the little box at the bottom of the login screen.)

To post, just type your comments into the posting window which is at the bottom of every thread page. You can use HTML to format your posts -- please see our HTML Hints page for help. Even if you know HTML, please check the Hints to make sure you understand how our particular implementation of HTML capabilities works.

Once you've finished typing, click on the "Post" button to post the text. Your post will appear on the thread page.

If you want to preview the appearance of your post, just click on "Preview". The post preview window appears, and you can edit your post from there. Repeat as needed, and click "Post" when you've finished.

If you want to practice posting, go to the HTML Practice thread (also available from link on front page) which is designated for this purpose.

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Mote Date/Time

The Mote runs on GMT time, but everyone can view post date/time in the zone of their choice.

First, you have to know how many hours to offset GMT. Check out our Mote Clock and subtract the number of hours between GMT and your own time zone. We have tried to ensure that the Mote Clock represents most Motie time zones.

Once you know the offset in hours, go to your profile. Set the Time Zone value to a negative number, representing the number of hours to subtract from New Zealand time. Save your profile and return. All dates and times should now appear in the desired time zone.

If you have problems with this, post in the Mote Matters Thread.

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Starting New Discussions

The Mote has a varying amount of threads, as well as any number of longwinded debates on the need to purge/merge them. Many of the threads are "perennials" -- permanent threads that house all discussions on that topic. Any new discussions on that topic are started in that thread.

How do you start a new discussion? Make a post, and see if people join in. Sometimes your post will be ignored. This happens to everyone, so don't take it personally. Weekends tend to be slow, as do school vacation months.

If you have a subject for discussion that doesn't apply to any existing thread, then suggest a new thread.

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Starting a New Thread

Only the forum administrator can start new threads. You can suggest a new thread in the Mote Matters thread -- if others are interested, the forum administrator will usually start a thread immediately. You may even end up being a host.

New threads are usually "annuals" -- they have a shorter life span and a more focused topic.

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Using HTML

You don't have to know HTML to post. If you want to learn, check out HTML Hints.

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The Mote will ban members for repeated or egregious violations of the RoE. There are other possible violations that might incur a ban; however, as a general rule we avoid bannings and only occasionally suspend people.

All decisions are made by the forum moderators.

No one has any "pull" -- any discussions supporting or opposing a decision will appear in New Threads and Feature Suggestions. Anyone can participate in policy discussions, no matter how recent their arrival.

If you are worried about doing something that might get you banned, chances are you won't ever have to worry about it. The RoE is short and simple, because the inventiveness of a small minority forces us to keep our options open.

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Thread Hosts

All threads have an assigned host. The host has the responsibility to set the tone in the thread, delete posts that are inappropriate (based on their judgment). In focused threads, they also set the discussions. In general threads, they have less of an immediate role and often may do nothing other than participate in the thread discussions. Most threads don't require much in the way of maintaining -- in large part because the thread host is there to step in if things get off topic.

Anyone can be a thread host; in general, if you suggest a thread, we ask that you consider hosting it.

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Post deletions

A thread host can move or delete a post for being off-topic or violating the tone of the thread. If the forum administrator determines that a thread host is abusing this privilege, he or she will be removed from that position. Most thread hosts delete only posts which are abusive or violate the RoE.

A thread host can move posts to the Inferno, if they feel it is appropriate for that thread.

The forum administrator can delete any post that violates the RoE, and will often delete posts that are wreaking HTML havoc. In general, the forum administrator will not delete posts that violate the tone of a thread, which is a host privilege.

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The Inferno

The Inferno is our spat thread. If you wish to have an off-topic knockdown dragout fight, that's where to go. If an off-topic discussion persists in a thread, the host may move the posts to the Inferno as an alternative to deleting them.

Anything goes in the Inferno except RoE violations.

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Is the Mote a "free speech" site?

Not really. The Mote administrative policies allow arbitrary deletion of posts. We find that this works much more effectively than allowing pranksters, trouble makers, or hot tempers to ruin the focus of a thread or the overall quality of discourse.

Thread host behavior is monitored by the forum administrator. If a host becomes abusive, censorious of unwanted topic opinions, or just starts playing favorites, it is within the purview of the moderator to remove the host. Again, this determination is made solely by the moderator.

Does this all seem arbitrary? It is. Rather than draw specific abuse lines that all individuals must follow in every thread, we find it makes more sense to let each thread find its own equilibrium and expect our members to abide by these rules -- just as if you might behave differently in the sports bar of a hotel than you would the posh four star restaurant that makes you wear a damn tie for no good reason anyone can see.

Is it unfair? That is a determination everyone has to make for themselves. We aren't interested in deleting criticism or suppressing unpopular opinions. We are interested in a forum that, while sometimes rough and tumble, is not out of control. We find that our federal/state structure and a sensible assignment of thread hosts does a great deal to decentralize power without creating a potential for abuse.

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Login Name Changes

Contact a moderator or the Gatekeeper.

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Multiple logins

One of the reasons that we don't allow web-based email accounts is to discourage multiple login ids. We call these "multiples" (aka pseudonyms, or "pseuds"). We don't prohibit the use of multiples outright, because many people make use of them for the enjoyment and enrichment of the forum and we prefer not to curb the majority because of the antics of a few. However, multiples don't enjoy the same protection as duly registered monikers and may be deleted without notice.

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The Mote is Down

Periodically, either the Mote server or its network will have an outage. Usually the staff will notice it, but it's always a good idea to notify the manager as well. Please confirm first that the Mote is actually down. Check out some other sites to make sure that it's not your ISP. If you still cannot reach the Mote, please send an email to wabbit. Make sure the subject header says "Mote Down" or something along those lines. Include the time it went down, or the time you noticed, and if you wish, include your email address.

What if fifty people make a notification?

Historically, that hasn't been our problem. If it ever is, we'll change this procedure. For now, don't send more than one notification.

When will it come back up?

As a general rule, outages are short. Every so often, we have a long outage. In that case, you will generally be notified as soon as there is status.

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The Mote Franchise

The Mote participates in a partnership program with Amazon . We get a small percentage of the price of your purchase (at no cost to you) if you order through these programs.

To order from Amazon:

Use the Mote Amazon link to enter and shop as usual.

If you have entered Amazon without using the Mote link:

  • Find whatever item you want. The URL for that book will be in the window and it will look something like this:


(the numbers will vary)

  • Wipe out everything after the first numeric string and type in "themote". It will look like this:


  • When you hit enter, this URL should bring up the same book. The webpage will change slightly, but don't panic.

You can link the URL into the Mote (or anywhere else) -- everyone who buys using that link will then generate the same commission.

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