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23 October 2006

How to Rule at the Internet: A Guide by Musophobic

Most of you reading this are already somewhat skilled when it comes to using the Internet. Hopefully this manual can help you in your quest for Internet glory, as these methods have served me well for almost a decade.

First, let's talk about your physical setup. We aren't even talking about the Internet yet.
Bodily preparation and maintenance:

You should be alert at all times, and the only way to do this is to eat nutritious meals and drink plenty of water. Or just consume extreme amounts of caffiene. This is the easier option of the two. Your body will become tolerant of caffiene quickly, so finding consumables with higher concentrations of it becomes increasingly crucial to your performance. Caffiene will eventually become such a big part of your life that you may find it necessary to collect the cans, bottles, and other packaging of your favorite medium of caffiene intake.

Your environment:

Efficiency is the name of the game. Aesthetics don't really matter unless you plan on taking pictures of your desk for a "post your desk" thread on a forum and want to impress some Internet females. Keep a well-stocked mini fridge within reach of your desk chair. IRC discussions can get heated, leaving no time to get to the fridge. Also, solitude is your best friend. It's nerve-racking to browse japanese image boards when there's the possibility of your mom or little sister walking in on you. Lock your door, get an apartment, live in a single dorm, anything to keep people from pestering you. Also, lights are inviting to others, and can reveal the true state of your habitat. There's no reason to have them; your monitor provides all the light you really need anyway.
Your computer:

The absolute most important thing you own. It is the bread and butter, meat and potatoes, peas and carrots of everything you do and stand for. Make sure you build it yourself. Dell/Gateway/HP will not be able to meet your demands, and will charge you twice as much. Maintain it properly. Run Linux if you really know what's up. Or use a Mac if you're an artist (because it's better with graphics and music, obviously). If you must use Windows, be sure to run XP Professional with a custom minimalist theme that utilizes a lot of dark colors. At the VERY MINIMUM use the Windows Classic theme. On the tower, make sure there are at least three or four different LED lights emanating from somewhere; they eliminate the need for a desk lamp, making your workspace more efficient.
Essential Software:

Here's a very rough list of the software you'll need in order to be able to keep up-to-date on your work.

* an IRC client
* foobar2000 (Or Winamp if you're still not confident with computers)
* spreadsheet software (more on this later)
* MSPaint
* Adobe Photoshop
* torrent software (µtorrent is recommended)
* a 3rd party IM client
* ftp client
* ventrillo/teamspeak/skype

This list is by no means complete and will be slightly different for each person as he/she develops a personal style and taste.

On the Internet, you are what you make yourself out to be. People can only judge you based on the information YOU allow to be available. Be mindful of what you tell people, and when/how you tell it. Trust no one and nothing, except yourself and your abilities.
Your connection:

Make sure you have the fastest and most reliable connection to the Internet as humanly possible. If you have dial-up, throw your computer out the god damn window right now because it will be of no use to you.

This person has dialup
Textual Interaction:

The majority of communication on the Internet is text. It will be your primary medium of interaction. Take plenty of time to learn correct spelling and grammar. If someone else on the Internet is using incorrect spelling and grammar, they are a complete idiot whose opinion doesn't matter. You are not an idiot. Also, learn to type quickly and efficiently. This is perhaps most crucial while using IRC, or any other real-time text communication medium.
Personal style:

Let's face it, text is inferior to speech when communicating ideas and emotion. However, it's the safest medium of interaction. Text looks the same no matter who types it. Text doesn't reveal your freakish looks or your thick lisp. To help make up for this lack of character, a few different techniques can be used.

Bold text

See that? Grabs your attention. Use it often. Also, use a lot of periods.

Puts a lot of emphasis on what you're saying. Oh yeah. That. Use a lot of phrases with no subject. Especially good at disguising when you're talking about yourself. Hides the "I" that you'd otherwise have to constantly type, making yourself look like a self-centered boring asshole. Also, if someone asks you a question that requires only a "yes" or "no", always capitalize your answer and end it with a period. Yes. Right. Not a sentence. Still serves as a reminder that you take text format seriously though. Be sure to always capitalize and punctuate everything. Oh yeah look at this, I'm utilizing italics at the end of a paragraph. It's like I'm yelling at you but not really.

ABS forums user "Forged" is currently pioneering a synthetic hybrid variant of the bold text method in the #albinoblacksheep IRC channel. For example:

13:32:36 kremit: are you offering yours up? LD

The results are still not in on whether or not Forged looks like a bigger jackass than usual for doing this.

Occasionally you'll be in a situation where you interact with your fellow Internet users via speech. This immediately puts more pressure on you to maintain a professional composure. However, you don't want to come across as too uptight. Feel free to engage in laughter and use slang. If you are confident with your ability to talk, you shouldn't have many problems.

However, if you have an abnormal voice, autism, asperger's syndrome, or a thick tongue, do not engage in voice chat. Just say you don't have a microphone, or you'll wake up your parents by talking. You may be able to idle in the speech server. If so, listen to the speech techniques of others and listen to what works.

Very rarely will you ever engage in a webcam session with another Internet member. I say rarely because most webcam sessions are with the opposite sex. Webcamming reveals a lot of about you and can be quite risky, but it can also be very rewarding (read: real life female breasts). You need to do a bit of preparation before ever making yourself available to engage in a webcam session. If your room is not clean or decorated well, do not have any lights on. If you aren't attractive, again, don't have the lights on, and take any other measures necessary to ensure that your features aren't very discernable to your webcam partner. Test your webcam long before you ever actually webcam with anyone. Test different lighting, clothes, accessories, props, and background ambiances.

Other things to keep in mind for webcamming: Would you look cooler or more badass if you were smoking? Would occaisionally sipping a can of beer make you seem more manly? Do you have any embarassing personal habits that might be noticeable to your webcam partner (nose picking, slouching, picking zits, licking lips, etc.)?

A properly configured webcam
Information Harvesting:

There's a pretty good chance someone you know on the Internet is currently bad at hiding facts about themselves, or they were at one time. Google,, myspace,, yahoo people search,,,, and plenty of others are excellent means of gathering information about someone. This kind of "Internet detective" work has recently come under scrutiny by some communities, but in my opinion, people should be more mindful of what they do and say, and if I don't have to pay to attain personal information about them, then it's fair game.
Data Organization:

This is why you need spreadsheet software (or some other way you can keep all your info organized; spreadsheets have worked well for me though). Make a spreadsheet for every community and Internet realm you visit. Someone dropped a hint about where they work? Record it. If they didn't want people to know about it, they wouldn't have said anything. With this method, you can keep track of whether or not people are lying about themselves. Keep track of everything that pertains to their habits, lifestyle, location, physical characteristics, etc. Make sure to keep several backups of your hard work. You'd be surprised how useful such databases are months and even years from now. Here's a very small example (my real ones contain too much personal information, and contain records on hundreds of people).

This isn't Internet stalking. Stalking is such a harsh word with many negative connotations. It's more of a "memory aid" than anything else. It's almost never used to do any damage.

Being on the Internet all day can devalue your presence to your online peers. There are several ways to get around this if you don't have much of a social life (I'm willing to bet you don't, and that's okay). Find a game you like to play and log out of IRC, IM clients, and all websites. Now, play your game all night. Watch TV, watch a movie, really anything will work. You might even be able to tell your IRC buddies that you're going to a party, but make sure you have a good story or maybe even pictures (stolen from facebook/myspace) to back yourself up when you return. Besides, the time away will help you "recharge", helping you keep up your motivation and drive when you reconnect.

With all of these techniques and resources, don't be afraid to use it on yourself (in fact, I recommended that you do so). Record everything you post about yourself. If you've been irresponsible in the past, find out where you went wrong, record it, and study it.

All of these techniques have been gathered from many different schools of thought concerning Internet operation methodology. I am eager to hear about your experiences and techniques when it comes to using the Internet. Got a more efficient way of doing something illustrated above? Am I missing something? Please tell me what you think

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posted by VaTsAl at 10:59 pm | Permalink