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Twilight floated a second fritter up to her mouth when she realized the first was gone. “What is in these things?” “Mostly love. Love ‘n about three sticks of butter.”

More Blog Posts545

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Bookplayer’s Guide to Shipping Etiquette · 1:01am Jun 5th, 2013

Okay, first a disclosure. I was a young teenager when I first read Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. I recommend that everyone read it. Seriously. It’s the size of a dictionary, but Miss Manners (aka Judith Martin) is a wonderful, witty writer who makes things like the proper ways to address letters seem amusing. The most important thing I learned was that manners are not about honesty. They are not about making sure your opinion is heard. They are about making other people comfortable. In a civilized world, everyone should be doing this, so no one becomes a doormat because others are trying to make them comfortable.

Now, I have a reputation as a rabid and argumentative shipper, but at the same time I have friends who ship many different things, and I have had interesting, friendly conversations with even more people who ship other pairings. I have a personal set of guidelines that I follow with regards to shipping conversations, and I feel like they’ve served me well in terms of keeping the subject open for discussion while keeping things friendly and polite.

At the same time, there are a few folks I’ve run into in various ways that I consider less-than-friendly. It’s a waste of typing to expect that they might read this and change their minds or attitudes, but I feel like having this out there will give people a better idea of what to expect from me, and what I expect from other people.

Let me begin by highlighting my two Golden Rules of FiMfiction:

First: Grammar and punctuation are important in any written communication where you expect people to consider your opinions. They are a sign that one's opinion has merit, and a sign that one respects the people one is talking to. It’s the equivalent of clothing in the real world; it’s impolite to wear only one's underwear to a wedding, and it’s impolite to ignore punctuation in a comment. If one is on a cellphone, or English isn’t one's native language, or one's keyboard is broken, one should make a note of this so that people are aware. Typos should be ignored, of course, but there's a difference between having an unnoticed spot on one's shirt and wearing a shirt one hasn't washed for a week straight.

Second: It is almost never a good idea to call a specific story or author bad in any public place, or make ad hominem attacks against anyone. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, just don’t do it. Individuals are not their ships, authors improve all the time, and one never knows who might be the person who was thinking about following one, or is friends with someone one admires.

Those things hold throughout the entire site, whatever one may be discussing. The rest of this is divided into the different areas of this website where shippers tend to interact, and focuses on things I've seen them engage in. I feel that there are different levels of acceptable behavior in different places, and most of these concepts are based on things I've actually seen people do in these specific places.

One’s Own Userpage:

This is one’s personal space, including comments, blog, pictures, bio, and anything else you care to put there. Whatever opinions one expresses there, whether about ships one likes, hates, thinks are canon, thinks canon has sunk, or is indifferent towards are totally acceptable.

People visiting one’s userpage should act like they’re knocking at the door of a home or bedroom- whatever they think about what they see inside should be kept to themselves and politely ignored, or commented upon with the understanding that they are visitors in someone else’s space. Polite questions or disagreements are acceptable, but flaming, disgust, or accusations of mental defect should be directed privately or made on the blog or page of the visitor (if one must make them at all.)

On one's own page:
Correct: I'm gonna rant about BlossomArmor for a minute. I really really really really hate this ship!
Correct: [Any opinion you want to express.]

On someone else's page:
Correct: I really like your fics! Not many people ship LightningPie!
Correct: I’m not sure I agree with what you said here about Mayor Mare x Granny Smith.

Incorrect: What’s with all the Lyra x AJ pictures? What are you, retarded?

Story Comments and Ratings:

It is impolite to downvote or leave negative comments on a fic just because it features a ship one doesn’t like. Shipping can be a contentious subject, but we are all authors here. Having a different opinion from the author doesn’t make a story bad. If one reads the story, and found that it was not a good story for some other reason (the characters were OOC, the plot didn't work, there were grammar and spelling errors) by all means point this out. But in a shipping community, where rivalries run deep, one should hold oneself to a higher standard of civility than in other matters of opinion.

Also, the comments of a ship fic are not the place to ask an author if they are willing to write a different ship, or tell them one’s personal opinions on the ship they chose (unless this is phrased as a compliment.) Comments on a story should be about the story at hand, not questions about unrelated future stories or debates about shipping. Address those privately to the author in the first case, or in an acceptable venue in the second case.

Correct: I enjoyed this story! SnowMac is my favorite pairing, and stories like this one are why.
Correct: I don’t normally enjoy LyraCord, but this story wasn’t bad.
Correct: I didn’t really feel like this plot in this fic went anywhere, and I couldn’t understand what Spitfire and Derpy saw in each other.

Incorrect: I don’t like LunaTavia. Can you write LunaCord instead?
Incorrect: Another dumb FeatherSnails fic? Why is this so popular?
Incorrect: RariWhooves? Insta-downvote.

Groups (Specific Ships):

These are like the public offices of a political party. One is invited in, provided one has polite, relevant questions or things to share. Opinions can be expressed, discussed, and disagreed with on any subject except the ship to which the group is dedicated. There is an assumption that by joining the group, one supports that ship, and it is impolite to express opinions to the contrary.

In such groups, one should expect a certain amount of complaining about other ships. If one enjoys both the ship for which the group is named and the ship being complained about, by all means speak up. But if for some reason one is reading the thread and doesn’t enjoy the ship for which the group is named, stay out of it.

At the same time, members of a group should remember that there are lurkers out there from other ships, as well as people who multi-ship. Keeping the conversation even and intelligent, and avoiding straight up bashing of other ships, is always a diplomatic idea.

In any group, it’s a good idea to make oneself familiar with the admins, and pay attention if they comment that your posts are out of line with the general tone of the group. They’re the ones who set the tone for the discussion, and different ways of expressing oneself are acceptable in different places, or even on different threads. Backtalking people with the power to ban a user rarely ends well.

Correct: Hey, guys, I’m so glad I found a group for CheeriBon! I had this great idea for a fic...
Correct: I know a lot of people here on the FlitterDash group also like CloudDash, but I don’t. For one thing...

Incorrect: You people who ship SombraLight shouldn’t be talking shit about SombraShy! SombraShy is best ship!
Incorrect: We all love FancyFinish because we’re smart. They all love HoityFinish because they’re morons who can’t see that Hoity Toity is gay.

Groups (pan-shipping):

Groups like Shipping, The Fillyfoolers, or Intelligent Shipping Discussion are public places. One can expect to be interacting with people who have many different opinions, so manners should always be on. Ship-bashing is a complete faux pas in this kind of forum, and even discussion of ships one doesn’t like should be approached carefully.

When discussing a ship one doesn’t like in an open forum, it’s always smart to wait until someone specifically asks one’s opinion on it. Sometimes this question is the point of the thread, sometimes one might make a post about a different ship or subject and be asked to weigh in on a ship. Sometimes the conversation just drifts in that direction.

When making any statement, good or bad, on a public forum it’s always a good idea to point out that it is one’s own opinion. No matter what you think canon says, there’s probably someone who interprets it differently, and usually these different interpretations are the reasons for different ships. At the same time, pointing out where ones interpretations are coming from can be helpful; citing specific episodes or actions that lead to your opinions is the best way to convince those who can be convinced, and gives those who can’t be convinced an understanding of at least why one thinks the way one does. Just always remember that one might not be seeing things in the same way another is.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the general rules of speaking in public apply here. People will be looking at your actions and reactions. Things that seem rude will be judged as such. People will be offended by comments they find offensive. If one wouldn’t shout it to a bar or coffee shop full of strangers, don’t post it to an open forum; and if someone points out that something one said offends them, nine times out of ten the correct answer is “I’m sorry.” This is not a matter of political correctness, it is (pick one): good manners, good form, or home trainin’. (And if someone apologizes for giving offense, that is the end of the conversation about it. Accept it gracefully and move on.)

Correct: I was wondering what people think about CadanceCora? I don’t really understand it, can someone explain it?
Correct: Since you asked, I’m not a fan of BlinkyFritter. I don’t like ships where the characters have never met in canon.

Incorrect: Who here hates BraeScratch? Everyone knows Braeburn is a faggot, and Vinyl Scratch is way too cool for him.

What this all comes down to is good manners. You may be sitting at home naked, but you are posting things in a public place. We feel about our ships the way that other people feel about sports teams, or their home town or country; we get possessive, we feel that they’re superior to others, but at the end of the day we should recognize that other people’s opinions are equally valid, at least to them. But it’s not just a matter of accepting that; it’s a matter of engaging in conversation or debate while making it clear to other people that you accept that, through words, tone, and actions.

Report bookplayer · 1,689 views ·
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Comments ( 31 )

You people who ship SombraLight shouldn’t be talking shit about SombraShy! SombraShy is best ship!

Man, what fucking dipshit would say stuff like that? :trollestia:

Lucky for you I'm not the internet police. I'm the internet legislator.

(That's not true. Actually, I'm the internet old-woman-writing-letters-to-the-local-paper.)

manners are good, but an annoyance and sometimes a problem. especially when someone is wrong, you can't go making them comfortable. especially when there flawed idea can get someone killed.

in daily life manners are good to use, but for long term relationships and projects they should sometimes be forgotten. it's important to know when to use them and when to not. i for one actually hate it when people are too nice then when they are too rude. because someone who tell you you always do good isn't helping you out, but the guy who gets in your face over every little thing you do might have a few good points. so i think good manners is telling people you like what they are good and what they are bad at....hope that makes sense.

as far as bookplayer, your text is a bit unclear, but i think your saying people should be honest and voice there own opinion or you think people should do neither. Its kinda can be read both ways. not sure if i agree with you because one way i would and the other i wouldn't. either way this is my two bits. you brought up some interesting topics on different areas of the site.

Site Blogger

Very well said.

You may be sitting at home naked, but you are posting things in a public place.

How did you...? That's the last time I leave my webcam uncovered while I browse ponyfic.

Manners are for general public situations. Specific situations, workplaces, and intimate relationships of all sorts might have different rules. Being honest isn't a bad thing, but it has nothing to do with manners- you can't ignore manners because you're just being honest.

What I was saying here is that there are different things that are good for different parts of the site: Being totally bluntly honest if fine in your blog, where the people who read it probably are interested in your opinions. But it's not as good on public forums, where nobody really cares about your opinions unless you're expressing them in a useful, friendly way.

Most rude things I've seen on the site would have been fine if they'd been posted in the right place. People need to be aware of who they're likely to be talking to.

1124891 true, yeah i wasn't sure if you where saying use only manners or not to:twilightblush:
yeah knowing your crowd is important with any communication and manners and being honest fall in communication somewhere.

Well articulated and intelligent write-up here.

Bonus points: mentally read the post in Rarity's voice :D

Mayor Mare x Granny Smith.

:rainbowhuh: :pinkiesick: :rainbowlaugh:
Would read out of morbid curiosity. I'd have to leave if it got raunchy though.

The most important thing I learned was that manners are not about honesty. They are not about making sure your opinion is heard. They are about making other people comfortable.

The problem is, there are enough different kinds of people, who are comfortable with enough different things, that it's not really possible to come up with a single definitive set of Manners that will make everybody comfortable. Or if it is possible, it won't look much like what we know as 'manners'.

Hear hear!
But these aren't just rules for shipping etiquette, it's for all forum and commenting etiquette. You should write up one of those and it should be posted everywhere, because this is the best explanation of what's right or wrong that I have ever seen.

Couldn't agree more with what you said about offense, too. I was offended by what someone said once, and I told them privately, and instead of saying sorry, they went to their moderator boyfriend to get me in trouble in another part of the site.Sigh.

I'm gonna be all proofreader here and say

(unless this is phrased as a complement.)

should be compliment. :)

While this is true, it's also why manners are a two way street. If someone is obviously trying to make you comfortable, you should try to make them comfortable by accepting their attempt, rather than pointing out that it's not working.

It's kind of like giving and getting presents in that way- you won't like every present you ever get, but it's the thought that counts, and you show that by not pointing out that you don't like that particular present.

With the rules of etiquette, not all of them will actually make you comfortable, but if someone is following them they are trying to make you comfortable. And if you're following them, and someone seems uncomfortable, you need to adjust them to try to make them comfortable (while at the same time they should be doing their best to make you comfortable.)

Thank you for the correction. Fixing it now. :ajsmug:

You have piqued my curiosity, what was the cause of this blog? PM if you don't want a public callout.

So very well said. Too many people in my life have lived by the rule 'it's okay to be rude as long as I'm honest,' and they are wrong.

Etiquette isn't about which fork to use, (start from the outside work your way in) it's about not creating conflicts that aren't necessary.


If someone is obviously trying to make you comfortable, you should try to make them comfortable by accepting their attempt, rather than pointing out that it's not working.

Which is exactly the problem. As someone who values openness and problem-solving, the idea that keeping my problems to myself instead of trying to fix them is the default way for me to act is Not Acceptable. The very concept of manners itself makes me uncomfortable.

Manners aren't incompatible with openness, they just aren't designed to help (or hinder) it.

There is a polite way to say or do almost anything, other than insult someone or try to make them uncomfortable.

Polite: I'm afraid I have to disagree with that opinion, because [reasons].
Impolite: You're an idiot, because [reasons].

Polite: Oh, I'm afraid I can't attend your wedding, I have a prior engagement.
Impolite: I'd rather stay home for the new MLP episode. Sorry.

In both cases, you're expressing the same idea in the polite and impolite versions, but doing it in a way that makes the other person comfortable. You're not being totally honest in that you're not throwing the full force of your opinions at them, but you're achieving the same results. And, if the other person is polite, they won't try to force you to be totally honest because they know you're trying to make them comfortable.

Think of it as a matter of problem solving in the sense of preventing something from becoming a problem, rather than creating a problem and then working it out afterwards.

I feel morally obliged to comment, because I like this blog post. I don't have a whole lot to say beyond that, though.

Oh, except maybe that I'm quite fond of my personal style of, "be blunt and opinionated in the most genial way possible". I quite like wandering around Fimfiction saying, "I'm an arrogant jerk and an elitist, so I'm going to give you all an unvarnished opinion and phrase it as God's own truth. I hope nobody minds."


Hmmm...I think I follow most of these. Success! Except for the opinion-expressing-only-mostly-on-blog-thing. People get my opinion, and usually a load of other random waffle with it, whether they like it or not (like right now, for instance). But I think I do it politely. Most of the time. Eh, its hard to tell how tone of voice/text gets translated over the internet. Am I sounding like a self-entitled douchenozzle, or informative? Is this funny or offensive? Thus why I abuse my powers over the derpytongue and rainbowlaugh icon-majiggs. :derpytongue2::rainbowlaugh:

Enjoy those. You will see them again.

Also, as a cashier/store-helpy-person I vote that you should write these up and distribute them to the general populace. Don't get me wrong - there's a ton of nice, friendly people out there. But one or two sideways-stick up their butts cranky-pantses can really throw off a string of good mojo.

This, along with this whole post. Being "honest" is not synonymous with being a good person. Not that people should lie, of course, more like "that dress makes you look like a beached whale" and "honey, that colour just isn't right - how about this nice black one?" are two very different things. Tact is a very useful skill, one that a lot of people seem to disregard nowadays. Aaaand, I basically just repeated what the blog said. I'm out before this gets any longer.


The opinions-go-on-blogs thing is mostly for if you have opinions that it's not really polite to express anywhere else. You're pretty laid back, so I doubt that it'll ever apply to you, but if you're ever suddenly overcome by your burning hatred of Apple Bloom x Twist shipping, and you have to rant about it, the correct thing to do is make a blog post (or PM it to a friend) rather than randomly announce it to a shipping group or post it in the comments of someone's Apple Bloom x Twist story. It's pretty much common sense, but some people don't have that.

I am in full agreement here (and for a bit of amusingly rude-ish behavior, I was reading this blog the first time on my mobile in a movie theater. :rainbowlaugh: I was a good boy and put my phone away before the matinee lights dimmed, though).

Odd question that just sort of...well, happened to me about two minutes ago. If you post a blog that's tangentially connected to a ship, say...a thank you blog concerning a competition for a specific ship you were a part of, and someone decides to post a comment there, on that blog asking a question about the ship and what folks see in it, that although polite and not attacking, really isn't particularly on-topic in any way, shape, or form...what's the etiquette there? I don't really feel like responding to it at the moment, because that's not what the blog is about. It kinda feels like walking into an acceptance speech for someone who won, like, a wrestling match, and asking them what the appeal was in wrestling. :rainbowhuh:

I'd say that's a little bit of a faux pas. Staying on topic is polite, but it's obvious that the person was trying to be polite about it, so they probably just didn't realize. You have the right to ignore it, or leave a note saying you'll get to it later if it's something you don't mind answering, or direct them to someplace like Intelligent Shipping Discussions where someone is likely to give them an answer.

'On topic' can be a little fuzzy, people who are playing host often have different opinions about it, and folks like you and I do have a history of going into rambling comment discussions.


We certainly do. And it was polite; they're a follower I picked up from my Pinkieshy story, I believe, so I don't think they came in lookin' to start anything.

What I ended up doing was linking them to that comment I wrote on the Intelligent Shipping Discussion forum in which I went into detail about my take on what they saw in each other for Twidash.


Damn Twist/Bloom. Why can't everyone see that Twist clearly belongs with Spike? :raritydespair:

Me and common sense are in an on-again-off-again relationship, so its always nice to check in with others to see if the definition is still the same. :derpytongue2:


As to off-topic - just read your story, and it was friggen adorable. And thought provoking. I didn't vote (obviously, I'm late to the party) but feel free to have this meaningless and belated vote of confidence in the form of disembodied Twidashery: :twilightblush::rainbowwild:


Rambling comment discussions are best discussions. Its like the random talk that tends to crop up at 3 am when everyone's tired yet motivated to talk about how the government should be run and why the universe is the way it is.


Haha, thank you. :pinkiehappy:

Additionally, part of what makes manners comforting, and something I think a lot of people miss therefore actually hindering manners, is that manners are the original "open-source" system. The purpose of manners isn't to be obtuse of difficult. It's to set out a rough series of rules for general interactions so people feel comfortable and don't have to worry about offending someone. By understanding things like "use your silverware from the outside in" or "always taste the food before applying additional seasoning," people don't have to worry about these things and can focus on other stuff. Are there unique manners to various cultures? Of course, but if those are coming up, you should have had warning to read about them. General manners, for the most part, transcend cultural boundaries.

Manners are the base rules for social interaction. Going without them would be akin to herding a dozen people onto a pitch, chucking baseballs, basketballs, schlitters, volleyballs, hockey pucks, tennis rackets, golf clubs, and a greased pig at them and telling them to get playing.

SIGWolf, King of the Tortured Metaphors.

I couldn't agree with you more especially about your second golden role of not bashing a story which had been a golden rule of mine to never down vote a story just because I didn't like it. Personally I feel that if I didn't like a story it just wasn't meant for me and I won't vote at all. The only exception is if a story is just inherently bad wether it be through terrible grammar, spelling etc. or just not really being a story at all with nothing to tell or no sense of direction.

Well, sure, but now you've boiled things down to 'don't be a jerk'; and that's not 'manners' or 'etiquette', that's 'not being a jerk'.

But... having a rule about which order to use your silverware in, that people will look at you funny if you don't follow, is the opposite of 'not having to worry about it'. :rainbowhuh:

1126036 The issue is that manners as we know them have become so convoluted that they no longer serve their original purpose. Manners are intended to be basic guidelines, easy stuff to follow. Take the silverware example. If you stop to think about it for just a second, it's really not that difficult a concept. The outside silverware is more accessible so you would obviously use it first. As the dishes are replaced, the old silverware is taken with the old dishes, leaving a fresh set as the "most outside." It is in this construct that manners were designed and in this manner, pardon the pun, that manners still function. Intentionally obtuse and obscure manners fly in the face of their purpose, which is to make socializing easier. Quite frankly, Penn and Teller do a much better job explaining this than I do, so I shall leave it to them.

Sure, I can totally see the value of having a 'default' way to behave in awkward situations. But that has little to do with 'politeness' or 'making other people comfortable' or the common conception of 'manners'. And then people start treating these friendly-advice guidelines like hard rules, and whoops we can't have nice things anymore.

1126036 The silverware rules are more about maximum enjoyment of the food and eating without making a mess. A soup spoon is designed to allow you to get the correct amount of soup to your mouth without splashing, a teaspoon is designed to allow you to stir tea without clincking. So you can eat without being messy or noisy.

Anyone who calls you out for using the wrong fork is being a pendant, btw, but that doesn't mean the cook /chef wouldn't want you to eat the food in the best possible way. (It also affects how people perceive you: if you don't know which fork to use first, you look uncouth and ignorant. Especially because it doesn't take a long time to learn this stuff)

Still, the main point is about not annoying other people for no reason. At a protest or football game, you should yell. In an airplane...

Which is a really important point: context matters a lot here. The mistake that gets my goat is the honesty excuse. "I really believe this" doesn't mean you're not being an ass for saying it, if the context doesn't allow for the statement. You just don't walk up to people and tell them their outfit is hideous. No matter how true the statement might be.

1126081 What he said: if you're being considerate, you're being polite and nobody cares about napkin technique anymore.

It is entirely unacceptable that I can't upvote this. :applecry:

I wish I could upvote this :applecry:. So much yes.

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