Hi there. So, you've found this site, E2, and it looks interesting. You've surfed around a bit, read a few writeups, gotten yourself a nickname and a home node, and you're ready to join in. Participate. Share your two cents.
Go for it.
Now, there are signs all over the place about Everything University and reading Everything FAQ, but hey, you can write. You've read enough (or know enough HTML) to know that putting brackets around a word or phrase creates a hard link, and you're ready to go. You probably won't even use the E2 Scratch Pad, you'll just type what you want to say at the bottom of a node, where it says Enter your writeup, and hit the "Sumbit" button.
Go right ahead.
We learn by doing, right? So do, and learn. Chances are good that your writeup will be deleted by one of the powers that be; if so, you'll hear from Klaproth. (He's a 'bot, by the way; don't bother to write to him and complain.) Your writeup may have been too short, or too "Getting to know you", or redundant or cut-and-paste; it could be unacceptable in a host of other ways. (Maybe more than one of your w/u's appeared in "New Writeups" in a short period of time... this often brings about unwanted negative attention.) So, now you've got a bunch of downvotes and snide soft-linked comments or you're looking at a negative number where it says "number of writeups/experience", and you're ready to take your football and go home.
Don't leave quite yet.
In life, when you make a mistake, you learn from it, and you gain experience. The same thing happens on E2, except you actually lose experience points. Well, those points are imaginary numbers meted out by anonymous others. Don't pay any attention to them. Don't bother to compare yourself to others—some of those people named in the "Other Users" list have been here for YEARS, and have THOUSANDS of experience points. Some have even written over a thousand w/u's.
If you want feedback, pick a name off the "Other Users" list, preferably a god (@) or an editor ($), and type "/msg username" and your message in the chatterbox. (Try Jet-Poop, if he's around. Or at least go read his homenode.) This way, your question will go to that one individual, rather than appearing where everyone can read it. Gods and editors are almost always helpful, as long as you ask politely. Chances are good, you will be directed to one of the nodes featured in your Epicenter. But the cold, hard truth of the matter is, even if you've read as much as you can absorb, you're still going to mess up.
Get over it.
While surfing around E2, you'll see one-liners, GTKY nodes, stupid or inflammatory writeups. You're going to wonder, why am I being targeted/ picked on, when this other drek is allowed to stay? Well, see, E2 is very big. And the number of editors and gods is relatively small. And they've recently raised their standards; quality control is a work in progress. But when you write something new, and it appears in "New Writeups", it's open for scrutiny. And if you add to an inflammatory node, the whole node is brought back into the public consciousness and might well be nuked.
E2 is equally unfriendly to everyone, especially new noders.
Everything is a community. It has its own etiquette and rules and style. Everyone here was new at one point; everyone here has screwed up. If you like what you see here, and you want to be a part of it, the dues you pay will be in the form of the time you invest, the writeups you lose, and the revisions you make. You are joining a show already in progress; you're going to have to do some assimilating.
You can do this.
Don't give up.
Most of the links in this writeup are pipe links; run your mouse over the underlined words and watch what it says at the bottom of your screen. All of the nodes referenced contain excellent guidelines for making it here on E2. Use them in good health. And remember, even if you're a raw beginner, You have as many votes as you want.
I'd like to point out that I'm not condoning the noding of crap by ANYONE. I'm just acknowledging the fact that most people are too impulsive to read all that they should before jumping in and trying things for themselves. When all else fails, read the directions, right? So this w/u is my shorthand for when I try to give newbies some friendly advice — for as long as this w/u is allowed to exist, I'll just send them here. Feel free to do the same. And it wouldn't hurt any of us to go back to school every now and then. Keep that in mind...