Everyone was, at one time or another, a newbie. Fortunately most newbies outgrow their status and become Regular Joes. Even AOLers. (Really.) It's the ones who never move beyond their newbieness that worry me. You know the types, those who have been online for at least three months but have not yet learned the rules of Netiquette:
The Mee Toos, who quote entire posts (or even digests) without snipping, address them to sundry and all, and then add at the bottom: me too. Of course they may agree with what was posted, but do they have to share it with all of us? Again?
The Forwarders, who send along any and all snopes that lands in their mailbox. Sure they're cute or poignant the first or second time you read them, but when you've been online as long as I have, there is very little you haven't seen. Sure, there may be some kid in England who is dying of cancer. Sure, he'd like to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having received the most greeting cards. What newbies fail to realise that this poor cancer-ridden kid was cured ten years ago, and he's now a twenty-something adult on the run from the laden postmen from hell.
(Note to newbies: before you send me that dire warning about the Good Times virus, check the date. If this virus is as nasty as you claim it is, don't bother sending me the warning. If I haven't already defended myself against this horrible plague, then it has already wiped my hard drive clean, and I won't be able to read the warning.)
The Flame-Bait, who have yet to realise the difference between a good debate and being trolled. A good debate consists of both sides stating their facts in a logical and polite manner. Eventually, they agree, even if they agree to disagree, and very rarely do tempers rise. The problem with Flame-Baits is that they haven't learned that the best way to end an argument is to suddenly agree with everything their opponent says. (What? Whaddya mean you don't agree? If you're unwilling to accept your opponent's point of view, what makes you think they're going to accept yours? Quit while you're ahead.) Some trolls are so painfully obvious, I can't believe anyone falls into their trap.
The Stationers, who, upon having discovered that Outlook will let you format your email so it looks ever so pretty, have failed to realise that not all email programs will render these lovely little extras. Nothing is more annoying than opening PINE to discover a rather large-sized email of nothing but HTML, with several graphics attached (at least, I assume they're graphics, and not Visual Basic Script).
The Typhoid M@rys, who have failed to update their virus scanners. Nuff Said.
One can forgive true newbies who have just discovered the Internet. They are polite, introduce themselves as newbies, and ask for help. These little darlings learn quickly, and make few, if any gaffes. They are not newbies for long.
As for the rest, buy a clue. I'll sell you one for a buck and I do accept PayPal.
"Lilith Demhareis is an expat bunny living in Australia. She's been online longer than the World Wide Web, and was only a newbie herself at a time when everyone else was a newbie. Lili loves chocolate and it is rather fond of her. Next issue: The Thankless Job of World Domination."