Forest of Arden

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Welcome to the Forest of Arden, a group devoted to discussions of the Shakespeare authorship controversy, the Shakespearean canon, and Elizabethan/Jacobean theatre and literature.

Anybody can read the discussions, but only members can post.

Applications for membership will be liberally granted, but approval is not automatic. To become a member, see the link at the right of this message. When applying for membership, it is a good idea to introduce yourself and to have a posting history. Applications will be reviewed and answered within a reasonable period of time.

Members pledge to adhere to a higher standard than that of a regular newsgroup on penalty of speedy revocation of membership privileges if those standards are violated. 

Listed below are the rules of conduct of the Forest of Arden.

1. While we encourage lively and even sharp debate, insulting remarks, name calling or other ad hominem behavior is not tolerated. Comparisons or mentions of Holocaust denial are explicitly banned. Those who violate these rules will have their membership revoked after one warning. 

2. No spamming or posting nonsensical or cryptic messages. One warning followed by suspension if the offense is repeated.

3. All offensive posts described above and all replies containing the original messages will be removed from the archives.

There are some good discussions in the Forest of Arden archive. We hope more will take place and that you enjoy participating. 


The Forest of Arden Grand Possessors

Absey Book:  Forest of Arden (Google Group) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


            And then comes answer like an Absey book:

                        (Bastard, King John, Act I, Scene 1)


FAQ Revision History

1/31/07         First release published (as part of Charter)

3/1/07           Frequently asked questions and "Group Conventions" amplified and moved to separate document

Thereafter      The FAQ will be reviewed about once a month, and edited and republished as necessary.

FAQ Conventions

GG is an acronym for Google Groups, the sponsoring body for Forest of Arden.

FOA is the acronym for Forest of Arden, also known as "Arden".

Arden-specific questions

Who's in charge here (the moderators)?

The owners and any other managers can be identified via the Members listing.  The term "moderator(s)" will be used to identify all members with management capability.

What is Arden all about?

See the Charter for a full explanation.

Is Arden exclusionary and elitist?

Arden is exclusionary by design - see "Rationale" in the Charter for the justification.  It is not inherently elitist, however (after all ... we invited you, didn't we?), and anyone who can abide by the minimum requirements of civil debate is welcome as a member.

Before setting up FOA, the founders investigated alternatives, such as a moderated Usenet Group (which would have allowed anyone to post and to view posts, but would have enabled group-level management of posts to exclude spam and trolling).  It turns out that creating and maintaining such a group would have been extremely difficult.  Setting up Arden seemed like a reasonable compromise.

Can my Arden posts be seen by non-members?

Yes, the posts to Arden and the archives are visible to non-members. However, only members can post to Arden.

When a post is deleted, it is removed from the group archive as well, and thus will not be visible even to members.

Are there any conventions for posting at Arden?

Generally, no, but see below.  Any posts related to Shakespeare, his work, and his world, including questions of authorship, are welcome.  There are no rules for "proper abbreviation", act-scene references, etc., although clarity in these matters is of course welcome.

Off-topic posts are NOT discouraged, but if you know you are posting off-topic, please prefix your post with "OT:".  If a thread goes off-topic, please revise the subject line to reflect that, or, even better, start a new thread.  Many forums have a separate playground area for off-topic posting, but we don't have that luxury in Google Groups.  This seems to be the best alternative.

Play of the Month posts should be titled in the form "POTM - year month play-title", e.g., "POTM - 2007 March 'Famous Victories' " (those are single spaces surrounding a single hyphen).  This will enable those looking for the current or former discussions to find them easily.

What is HLAS?

The Usenet group humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare is a public group devoted to the same topics as Forest of Arden.

Where can I get more information?

See the group Charter ("Greasy Aprons, Rules, and Hammers ...") for additional information on the group's rationale and practices.

Can I use an e-mail interface?

New members, by default, are set to view the group via the Google Groups browser interface.  If you prefer to have the group postings emailed to you, sign in to the group and modify the settings under "Edit my membership" (on the right-hand panel in most browsers). Arden email posts now have the prefix "[Forest of Arden]", which makes it easier to find them in your email inbox, and should make it possible for you to file them in a separate folder automatically.

Is my Arden profile visible to non-members?

Profiles are a feature of Google Groups membership and they are not exclusive to FOA.  Under the right circumstances, they may be visible to anyone in the world.

Can I use an alias or nickname?

Group members can establish or change a Google Group nickname by editing their Profiles.  Be aware that these may change abruptly on the whim of the member.

Some individuals may have two different accounts in Google Groups, and thus they may appear under different "personae" under different circumstances.  This can happen either because they post using different network/email accounts, or because they post to Usenet groups such as HLAS using a newsreader, but to Arden under an account created when joining the group (to Google these appear to be different people).

What are the ratings?

The rating you see in your member's Profile can be misleading.  It is a rating of you only in a very roundabout way, and it is probably based on very incomplete and inaccurate information.

You yourself are not rated.  Individual posts to all newsgroups may be rated and accumulated for a "profile" rating, and you may have different ratings under different aliases (q.v.).  You can see the ratings for individual posts when looking at them individually (e.g., in your Profile or a Discussion).

Ratings are notoriously inaccurate.  Very few people bother to rate individual posts, so the rating can be based on an extremely small sample, and swayed by a few highly negative or positive responses.  It is not unknown for vindictive readers to organize campaigns of down-rating against people they don't like.

What's with the compressed responses?

In its initial public release, the current version of GG had some trouble quoting text with multiple responders - the last reply was not necessarily separated by a line break and a caret.  This bug seems to have been fixed, but early posts to the group may still show evidence of it. 

Why didn't my post show up?

Several members have noted that posts of theirs have not shown up.  There are at least two possible reasons: 

1)  GG has lost the post (given the volume of lost posts, this is plausible);

If you are creating an elaborate post, you may want to save it outside the GG interface (e.g., in a word processor or text editor), in case it needs to be reposted.

2)  It's very easy to hit "Reply to Sender" (instead of simply "Reply") in the browser interface or "Reply" (instead of "Reply to all" or the equivalent) in an email interface.  It is unfortunate that the browser and email interfaces operate in opposite manners.

We ask that anyone receiving an unexpected email (that appears to have been intended as a post to the group) reply to the sender with "Did you intend to post this?"

Forest of Arden (Google Group) Charter

            Tis a Greek invocation, to call fools into a circle.

                        (Jaques, As You Like It, Act II, Scene v)

Group Description

Forest of Arden is a group for discussions of Shakespeare, his work, and his world, including questions of authorship.  Open by invitation only, it was created and is moderated by former posters to the Usenet group humanities.literature.authors.shakespeare. In the summer of 2008, the group was opened to the public for viewing, but posting privileges were still restricted to members.

The group is sometimes known as FOA, the Forest, or Arden.  Members are sometimes called Foresters, or Ardenites.

Charter posting and corrections

Corrections and suggestions can be posted to the group, or sent directly to the moderators.

The Moderators

The owner-manager and other managers can be identified via the Members listing.  The term "moderator(s)" will be used to identify all members with management capability.

Charter Revision History

1/23/07      Posted in draft for discussion

1/30/07      Second draft

1/31/07      First release published

3/1/07        Frequently asked questions and "Group Conventions" amplified and moved to separate document

4/1/07        Minor revisions to membership sections.

9/7/08        Revised to reflect new developments.

1/19/11      Revised to reflect new developments.


The Forest of Arden was founded by people who had grown dissatisfied with the atmosphere at the Usenet discussion group humanities.lit.authors.shakespeare (HLAS).  Neil Brennen created the group after lengthy discussions with Lynne Kositsky, Mark Cipra and others.

The reasons for dissatisfaction with HLAS are many.  They include:

1) Spammers:  Those making long, pointless posts which are of interest only to themselves, and which are so far from the mainstream that they are on-topic only in the technical sense that the posters frequently quote Shakespeare before mounting their hobby horses.  Although they may not seek financial gain like a traditional spammer, they do seek personal gain in the form of self-aggrandizement, and they contribute nothing of consequence to the discussion.

2) The clueless.  Although these posters may be on topic and appear to be sincere in their attempts to contribute to the group, they are incapable of sustaining rational conversation with people who value scholarly debate.

3) Trolls.  This group includes (quite improperly, given the formal definition) not only those who are posting solely for the purpose of raising hackles, but also those who are incapable of engaging in extended civil discourse.

4) Wrangling.  Long and (to some) pointless discussions which drift off the main subject of the thread and dwell on arcane or non-germane topics - in other words, nit-picking.  Discussions which devolve into wrangling frequently take a wrong turn into near- or perceived- abuse.

The first three of these are relatively easy to take care of.  The clueless, spamming, trolls have simply not been invited to join.

Item 4 is not so easily dealt with.  Almost everyone engages in it from time to time - one-man's nitpicking is another man's fact-finding.  But "wrangling" is explicitly the reason some of our members avoid HLAS.  For suggestions on how to avoid wrangling or methods to deal with it, see "FOA Etiquette" below.


Of course, members of FOA should not feel as if membership in Arden precludes their continuing activity at HLAS.  Foresters posting to HLAS should remember, however, not to quote or paraphrase FOA postings on HLAS (or elsewhere) unless they first obtain the original poster's permission.

We have no control over Google's use or display of private information (see Google Groups Privacy Policy).  Any personal information shared with the group moderators will remain private, however.


New Members

New members are encouraged to post a message in the "Hi everyone!" thread to advertise their arrival.

New member applications

Potential new members use the link on the front page of Arden to apply for membership status, which confers posting privileges. Applying for membership constitutes an explicit agreement to abide by the rules of the Forest of Arden, which are posted on the front page also. The default membership policy is approval. However, some applicants may be discussed by the managers and the application may be declined. In the event an application is declined, the applicant is notified and the matter is considered closed until he or she applies again. In all cases, the applicant's privacy is respected and the application is not discussed with anyone besides the managers.

Ending membership

The moderators have the ability to remove members. In case of an encroachment of the rules by a member, that member will receive a warning. A repeated offense will result in the suspension of membership.

You can unsubscribe from the group through the web interface or via email.  To unsubscribe through the web interface, click the "Edit my membership" link on the right-hand side of the Home page, then click the "Unsubscribe" button on the page that appears.  To unsubscribe from the group via email, send an email to

FOA Etiquette

            Here shall he see no enemy

            But winter and rough weather.

                        (Amiens, As You Like It, Act II, Scene v)


Everyone posting to Arden should be treated with equal dignity, no matter what accomplishments they might or might not have (the "might not" is important).  We have a shared love of the works of Shakespeare, regardless of our opinions on other matters, or whom we think wrote those works.

To avoid the problems associated with public groups such as HLAS, members are urged to observe the following etiquette:

Be civil.

Be sensitive to others.  Observe the reactions you get to a post.  Is your opponent in the debate responding badly or as if offended?  Perhaps your debating tactics need some work.  Are several people telling you that you are out of line?  Perhaps you are; at least, your approach doesn't seem to be working.

There is an inherent value to encouraging and simply offering ideas.  Those who prefer not to engage in elaborate argumentation should not be, in essence, discouraged from posting thoughts or observations by being made to feel as if their posts will be picked over by hungry wolves.  Let Arden be considered not a debating forum but rather a glade where calm discussion among friends takes place.

Avoid logical fallacies such as ad hominem attacks and guilt-by-association.  Even the most careful posters will fall into these forms of "debate" in the heat of battle.  If you are accused of them, consider whether the accuser is right.

In general, be diligent about revising subject lines or starting new threads when the subject changes, particularly when engaging in long debates about semantics, statistics, the behavior patterns of your opponents, etc.

The general topic of offensive postings is fair game for the group, but discussions of a personal nature should be avoided.  If you believe a member has intentionally engaged in a form of trolling or spamming the simplest thing to do is simply to ignore it, since attention is what a troll or spammer seeks.  If you believe the improper posting is persistent, contact the group's moderators, or discuss the issue directly with the offending party via email.

If we follow these guidelines, it should not in any significant way restrict debate, but it will allow members to evade the sort of threads they're not interested in and will maintain a civil atmosphere.