Tips & Guidelines for Victory

If it doesn't Edify, if it doesn't Lift Others Up, if it doesn't Honor God,

then don't say it in this forum.

Steady Growth

Since starting our ChurchSoundcheck discussion group in September of 1997, God has brought thousands of members together worldwide. We absolutely love the dialog that takes place in this group each day.

We rejoice in that growth, yet the bigger we grow the more important it is for all of us to be good stewards of the bandwidth that our email messages take. We've counseled with several members of the group and come up with a list of guidelines that we believe will bless everyone involved.

If you've been involved in email discussion groups before, you've probably made a few mistakes that you later regretted. I've sure made my share. Like a couple of times when I intended to send a personal, confidential response to one of our members and hit the Send button just as I realized that my message was addressed to the entire group. Oops!

Nobody likes rules. But it has become obvious that without establishing some basic policies and guidelines these groups would at times get out of hand. There are several issues of email etiquette that can help keep these discussion groups fun and efficient ways to communicate technical excellence. Please read the following comments carefully, and decide in your heart that you're going to honor our requests.

Important Housekeeping Note

Please remember that we're here to help you. If you discover that you're having problems with your subscription, please write to us directly. Don't write messages to the group about a problem you're having with your email. It's a waste of bandwidth and their time. Instead, let us help you resolve the problem.

Responding to a Message

1) Filter every comment you send to the group through the Word. Remember our policy regarding the content of your messages to the group: "If it doesn't Edify, if it doesn't Lift Others Up, if it doesn't Honor God, then don't say it in this forum."

Please make every effort to keep the spirit of that phrase alive in every word you say to the group. It may help to make up a sign and tape it to your computer monitor as a reminder.

2) Your tone of voice may not come across very well in print! When in doubt, don't hit the Send button yet - sleep on it and re-read it the next day. Also remember that you can also soften your message at times with the use of a smiley face :>), or including abbreviations like EBWG for "Extra Big Wide Grin".

3) Humor in a post is always okay to lighten things up. This does not mean we want to turn into the Joke of the Week Club.

4) In Email, the use of CAPITAL letters is considered shouting. It's okay to use on occasion but please use this sparingly, and certainly don't send entire messages with the caps lock on! A better way to put emphasis on a particular word is to use an _underline_ before and after the word.

5) Personal attacks are never okay. We can disagree and debate a subject, which is fine. You'll find no audio gods here. No one on this list is in a position where they can't be questioned or disagreed with. We should all employ critical thinking and ask "does this make sense?" When it does not, ask for clarification, disagree, or even argue, but keep things civil and Christ-like. If Jesus were sitting next to you as you wrote your response, would you use the same choice of words?

6) Obviously we all have our opinions, and we welcome your opinions with this one caveat. All we ask is that you not leave us with an opinion without filling us in with the details that brought you to that conclusion. We trust your ears and your experience. For example, don't say to the group that "Brand "X" consoles are way better than Brand "Y" consoles." That means nothing, and can be damaging and misleading especially to a beginner church sound engineer! Instead, share your proof along with your opinion.

7) No manufacturer bashing allowed. Resist the temptation to pass along rumors that you've heard about Brand "X" mixing consoles or Brand "Y" loudspeakers. If you're going to make a comment like "Brand "Z" mixing consoles are always falling apart", expect to be asked for firsthand proof that this is indeed the case.

8) One of the reasons the CSC Network exists is to dispel myths about audio, video, and lighting equipment and their use in tech support ministries. Please endeavor to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

9) This is a Christian forum, and from time to time you'll find prayer requests posted to the group. We encourage that prayerful environment, although at times and depending on the nature of the prayer request it may be best to communicate with that individual directly rather than through the group. Remember that this forum exists to communicate technical excellence to the church, not debate doctrinal issues. (If you're tempted to talk about politics, don't!)

10) Please resist the temptation to send "me too" responses. Short responses like "Go Fred!" or "Hah, hah!" are simply a waste of bandwidth. If you don't have anything new or worthwhile to add to the thread, then remember that the wise man stays silent.

11) Kindly set your email program to NOT quote the entire message you are replying to. Doing so causes tremendous problems, especially for those who subscribe to the Digest version. If you use Gmail, remember that you will need to manually trim off the "extra" text.

12) Please DO quote enough of the message you are replying to so folk can understand your reply. New members are joining this group every day and might not have seen the message you are replying to. Even those who have been here since the beginning can't remember everything, so give us a hand.

13) Please DO NOT send email in any form other than plain text (ASCII). If you send messages in any encoded form such as Base64, MIME, or HTML, our members who subscribe to the Digest version get to scroll through often pages of gibberish trying to find the start of the next message. Those on text-only services have the same problem. Just check your email software to be sure you're sending messages in plain text.

14) We want you to be able to share photos or drawings with the group, but some email servers don't allow their subscribers to receive attachments. In particular it poses problems for people who receive the digest version. So it would be better not to attach files or anything else to your messages, and turn off features (like VCards) that create attachments. If you have an attachment that should be shared with the group (e.g., a photo of your stage setup), the best solution is for you to post it to our Facebook group called ChurchSoundcheck 3.0. If you are not a member of Facebook, another solution is to write to us directly and we will consider posting it to our web site for other members of the group to download from there.

15) Discussions in this group cover all areas that touch church tech support volunteers including audio, video, lighting, staging, acoustics, and ministry. In the great majority of churches, the tech support volunteers are responsible for all of those areas. So those individuals are interested in learning and sharing their knowledge in each of those areas.

16) Your email from ChurchSoundcheck will cover a variety of topics each day, but you'll notice that several subject headings will come up throughout the day and over several days. Those messages together make up a "thread" of discussions on a particular topic. It's easy to let the discussion drift off to other subjects or side discussions, and there's nothing wrong with that. When you respond to that discussion thread, please don't change the Subject name unless you really want to take it in a new direction. In other words, let's say that the subject heading started out as "Audio - Choir Mics", and somewhere along the way the discussion reminded you of a question you've had about the sound from acoustic drums spilling into the choir mics. At that point, you might want to change the subject heading to "Audio - Drum Spill (was Choir Mics)", or something like that.

17) For very long posts to the group (more than a couple of pages), kindly put the word "Long" in the Subject line.

18) Please don't use an Auto-Reply program if you go out of town unless you can set it to not reply to this group's mail. If that's not possible, try these solutions: Some ISP's allow their customers to establish multiple email addresses (e.g., Gmail), and that offers a no cost solution to this problem. If not, you may need to open a second email account to use with this group.

19) We have had some people in the past try to play the "I can top that one" game. It's always counterproductive and typically ends in a downward spiral. At that point I have to step in and quell the riot, soothe some ruffled feathers, and remind everyone Who we're doing this for. Please don't get drawn into that game. (Matt 6:33)

20) If someone says IMHO they mean "In My Humble Opinion". ROFL means "Rolling On the Floor Laughing". A MoM is a Minister of Music, and FOH means Front of House which is either the main sound system covering the congregation or the location of the mixing desk where that portion of the sound system is controlled from. (CSC) Listserv Disclaimer or Taipale Media Systems is not responsible or accountable for any communications or actions regarding content of the CSC Network. Messages displayed on the Network do not necessarily express the views or opinions of or Taipale Media Systems. All communication and participation is at will. Membership in the CSC Network is a privilege and your membership in this group may be revoked at any time for any reason at the sole discretion of Taipale Media Systems.

Falling From Grace

The character of this group has changed in the past two years - in many ways for the better, in some ways not. We started this as a purely educational effort. Communicating technical excellence to the church is not just a catchy phrase - it's been the core philosophy of our company for over twelve years. In recent months we've had some specific problems that seem to crop up in cycles. Those would include individual soap boxes, the "I can top that one" scenario, personal agendas, the occasional overt sales tactic, unauthorized forwarding of email content, and two cases of tattle-tale-itis. The bottom line is that each of those attempt to distract the group from the ultimate task at hand. And they distract me and Jeanna because we have to stop what we're doing and invest time quelling riots instead of teaching and encouraging. Allow me to explain our viewpoint and policy on a handful of those issues.

Don't be a tattle-tell. I can't believe that I have to say this, but don't go telling on other members of the group. I can think of two instances in recent years when someone said something to the group about a particular product, and someone else took issue with that. Instead of bringing their complaint directly to us, they decided to forward that message to the company in question with the intent of causing that person embarrassment and other problems.

I don't have a clue why someone would do such a thing, unless they're up to no good. Luke 6:37 NLT says "Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. Stop criticizing others, or it will all come back on you. If you forgive others, you will be forgiven." This is a private group. The comments expressed by others in this forum do not belong to you. If we learn that you have taken part in such a practice, at our sole discretion you may be removed from membership in this group.

About forwarding listserv content. Again, this is a private group. Your membership in this group is a privilege, not a right. The comments expressed by others in this forum do not belong to you. Comments made in this forum are not to be used in any articles, books, videos, recordings, web site materials, other email forums, or in any other manner without the express written permission of Taipale Media Systems and the original author.

Now that we have your attention, keep reading. The reality is that we have developed our web site and CSC Network as an educational forum to share knowledge, opinions and ideas. Several of our members head up the tech support team of their local church, or serve as a volunteer in that group. And many of them have written us to say that they've shared lots of the information they've read in our group and on our web site with their fellow volunteers and even with other churches in their area. We love to hear stories about how this sharing of knowledge is helping people all around the world. Still others of our members are consultants or sound contractors who often work with churches, and some have told us that they have printed our articles and interesting discussion threads and keep them in a file. When they hear from a church with a particular problem, they will often make a photocopy of a related article or thread and send it to the church as a help.

Those who have been members of the group for a while know us well enough to realize that we encourage that exchange of information within the local church. In fairness, all we ask is that when you send that information to your friends, or share it on another forum, be sure to keep it in context, and please make certain to credit the CSC Network and the authors by including our web site URL in the message.

Lose the Overt Sales Tactics. Another reason this forum exists is to spread the news about interesting new products and discoveries. Therefore, commercial announcements are allowed, within reason, because we are such a niche-market and it's sometimes hard to get the word out to people about new products & services related to the industry. Please send your announcement to us and we'll forward it on to the group for you.

Unfortunately a small handful see this forum more as a way to market their products than to join in an educational pursuit. We have had to stop a couple of people from harvesting email addresses from the group and spamming those individuals with sales announcements. Overall our members have honored our request and been good stewards of the spirit we've developed here.

We simply don't want that kind of thing to get out of control. We encourage churches in particular that may want to sell their old audio, video, lighting or staging equipment to post that information to the group. All we ask is that you run it by us first, and let us approve your post.

The same goes for manufacturers. We're open to sending your press releases to the group. In fact we encourage it. But please email the information to us first so that we can forward it to the group.

Internet Hoaxes. To quote the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC) office of the U.S. Government, "The Internet is constantly being flooded with information about computer viruses and Trojans. However, interspersed among real virus notices are computer virus hoaxes. While these hoaxes do not infect systems, they are still time consuming and costly to handle. At CIAC, we find that we are spending much more time de-bunking hoaxes than handling real virus incidents."

Chain letters are also a problem. Again to quote the CIAC, "The Internet community is constantly being bombarded with chain letters in the form of e-mail messages. They claim all manner of warnings and dire notices of doom and gloom for your computer systems or for some poor soul somewhere, all of which will be saved if you just send this message on to all of your friends."

Just like the internet hoax messages, these chain letters clog the internet and interfere with your receiving legitimate email messages. If you factor in the time lost reading and deleting all these chain letter messages, you start to see the real cost to organizations and individuals from these seemingly harmless messages.

As urgent or important as these may seem to you, messages about Virus Warnings, Virus Hoaxes, Satanism in the workplace, voodoo in rock drum beats, Chain Letters, free trips to Disney World courtesy of Bill Gates, and other similar unsubstantiated rumors are not acceptable in this forum.

If you have a concern, research it first before spreading more rumors. You can also, email us directly and allow us to determine if it's appropriate to share with the group.

No Audio Gods Here

We are continually amazed at the caliber of people who have become members of this CSC Network. Some of them are prolific writers, eager to share their hardwon knowledge. Others lurk quietly in the background and voice their thoughts only on occasion. But not a one of them thinks of themselves as having all the answers. So, contrary to some of the rumors we've heard floating around, you'll find no audio gods here - just good friends who have some experience in doing church audio, video, lighting, staging, acoustics, and running a tech support ministry, who are eager to share their hardwon knowledge with anyone who is teachable.

We learn something new every day both from folks who have been doing this for a while and from others who have little technical experience but a lot of common sense. We haven't seen anyone stump the group yet, so go ahead - bring your most difficult question or problem to the group. We think you'll find that there's someone in the group who has already been victorious in that area.

So Let's Review

How do we stay on the high road instead of falling into the traps the devil tries to set for us? How do we take this group to the next level and impact the world with technical excellence? Simple. We each need to remember to filter our comments through the Word, stay sensitive to the feelings of our fellow members, and take our motto to heart: "If it doesn't Edify, if it doesn't Lift Others Up, if it doesn't Honor God, then don't say it in this forum." Memorize it. There'll be a test later.

Be Blessed!
Taipale Media Systems

Curt & Jeanna Taipale
Founders of the CSC Network and web site

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