Forum Guidelines

We’ve kept our guidelines as simple as possible while covering the most important things you should know as a user of the Cracking the Code Forum. Please read through them and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

For further detail, see the Universal Rules for Civilized Discourse, created by Discourse (makers of our awesome forum software) as a “simple default set of guidelines for civilized discourse”, which we’ve drawn on heavily in drafting the guidelines below.

Discussion Topics

The Cracking the Code forum exists for discussing musical instrument technique and related subjects, like improvisation, songwriting, musical instruments and music in general. To keep things focused and free of drama, we’d like to avoid discussions on the following subjects:

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Spam
  • “NSFW” (Not Safe For Work) content
  • Links to pirated software or illegal torrents

Comments and threads on these subjects may be removed after review.

Finding What You’re Looking For

We get it, there’s lots here, and we don’t expect you to read every single thing on the forum. But before posting, please try a quick search first to see what topics already exist. Chances are you may find some helpful information, and this will help avoid redundant / fragmented discussions.

To make sure you get the answers you’re looking for, try to make your posts as readable and easy to find as possible. To that end: post in the appropriate category, use clear topic titles, and format your posts properly using Markdown.

Pro Tip: paste a YouTube link as a new paragraph, with a blank line before and after, and it will embed nicely right on the forum!

Technique Critique

While most of the forum categories are regular discussion, the Technique Critique category is special: a place to share video and get direct personal feedback on your playing.

We ask that before you post video for feedback, you have a) at least basic familiarity with our material, so we don’t repeat ourselves explaining things we’ve covered at length elsewhere, and b) have read our Getting Started Guide, which covers how to create your post in a way that makes it easiest to get you useful feedback.

Please make sure to start your own topic for this, rather than adding on to what others have posted.

Keeping it Civil

This forum is a public space and a shared community resource that relies on us all doing our part to keep the quality of discussion high and the drama to a minimum. We expect discussion on the forum to be respectful, for disagreements to be thoughtful, and for personal attacks to be…well, nonexistent.

Be respectful even when you disagree: no name-calling, ad hominem attacks, or combativeness. Don’t antagonize others, even indirectly; if an argument gets heated, step back rather than escalate. Don’t post things that are offensive, obscene, or otherwise disrespectful. Basically: be nice; don’t be rude!


We love it when people share helpful links and videos, but we want to always keep the focus on discussion, not promotion.

If something you’ve made includes an example of what is being discussed, then it’s ok to link to it. For example, if the subject of the thread is a particular overdrive pedal, and you used it on one of your tunes, then linking to it is totally relevant to the conversation.

But if you want forum members to read or watch something you made just because you think they’ll like it, that’s not enough to justify creating a thread on it. This includes threads that serve as running compilations of your stuff. Other people can post links to your stuff because the implication is that they find you or your work discussion-worthy. But the bar is higher when you are the creator.

Instead, if you have expertise you think someone can learn from, go ahead and say it in a thread on that subject. You can include supporting examples from things you’ve made, like clips of your playing. But don’t require the reader click through to an article or video to get the expertise itself.

In general, don’t just post a link to a video or blog article you created as a substitute for having to say it in the thread. This is true even if you’ve written or spoken on a particular subject frequently or in great detail elsewhere. If you don’t feel like discussing those points again here, that’s totally fair — just sit this one out.

Finally, please don’t post links for the purpose of generating traffic or trying to sell something. Even without links, don’t post about commercial products you represent, and why you think they are great.

Show and Tell

While Technique Critique is for specific technical feedback, Show and Tell is for posting progress updates, songs you wrote, and other sorts of playing examples.

We encourage you to post audio or video of your playing — songs, covers, licks, etudes — and picking footage, if applicable! Try to include some commentary or written explanation as well. For example: Why are you sharing? What techniques or musical ideas are you exploring? Anything you’d like feedback on?

Please make a new topic for each thing you want to share (rather than continually adding to an ongoing mega-topic), and limit new Show and Tell items to one per user per week.

It takes courage to share your playing publicly, and we want everyone to feel comfortable here. To that end: Posting? Please indicate if you’re looking for constructive criticism. Replying? Keep it positive unless feedback is specifically requested.

Consequences for Bad Behavior

We will not tolerate bad behavior on the forum. While the line between disagreement and incivility isn’t always black and white, it’s usually clear when it’s been crossed.

The first time this happens, we’ll give a warning. A subsequent offense will warrant a one-week suspension, and if the behavior continues, a third strike will result in a permanent ban.

If you see a post that violates these guidelines, please refrain from the temptation to feed the trolls. Instead, flag it and we’ll address the issue as soon as we can.

Feedback? Let us know!

This site is operated by your friendly local Cracking the Code staff, and you, the community. If you have any further questions about how things should work here, open a new topic in the Site Feedback category and let’s discuss!

If there’s a critical or urgent issue that can’t be handled by a meta topic or flag, contact us via PM or email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


May 5, 2023 – Added “Discussion Topics” section
April 29, 2019 – Added section for Show and Tell category
September 9, 2018 – Clarified self-promotion guidelines with examples
August 15, 2018 – Rewrote guidelines from scratch to incorporate the most essential elements of those default guidelines while adding things specific to the Cracking the Code Forum, including sections on technique critique, self-promotion, and consequences for bad behavior
May 23, 2018 – Added changelog
February 5, 2018 – Initial version created, copied from Discourse defaults with some Cracking the Code customizations added