Being a newbie is a great leveler. I mean, a person could have a Phd., and be real rich, and all that stuff, but when you're a newbie...you're just as uninformed as any newbie before you.
When I was a newbie, I would talk to anybody. I would just click on somebody's name and try to chat. I asked the ususal newbie questions, "Where are you?", "What time is it there?", and the others all newbies ask. Of course some of this never goes away. I have a wonderful black cat friend in New Zealand, I always have to check with him on what time it is there. It's not even the same day, when I'm talking to him, and I get confused.
Overall, I learned that most cyber-folks will talk back. Even if it's to tell you they are busy or don't want to chat. My feelings would get hurt if they didn't. I'd think, "Oh gosh, is something wrong with my nickname? I hope they didn't think I was one of those cyber-perverts trying to get them or something!" Hey, just cuz you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!
In my section leader position in the forum, I talk to newbies a lot now. It's my job. I'm like the information booth at the mall. I help with directions on how to get places. I check schedules for conferences they want to attend. I tell them how to write and send a message. I decode emoticons and abreviations (S). I tell them how to work the library. I explain my nickname and my profile, (Especially the 'definately human at this point' part. I get asked about that a lot, for some reason). I discuss their interests with them, and point them to a section that is appropriate. I get to talk to newbies a lot.
One of the times I feel the most sorry for newbies, is formal conferences. You can really spot a newbie at an online conference using "formal" rules. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. With formal rules, the conference has a moderator and sometimes a guest. When a lot of cyber-folks are in a room, it can be really hard to follow conversations. Everyone is typing and sending at once, and things get jumbled. It takes a bit of practice, but one can get used to reading it and follow it. In conferences that are formal, this just isn't done. One speaks when one is spoken to. If one would like to ask a question, one posts a "?" and waits for their name to be called, then asks it. A "!" indicates one would like to post a comment. It works very well, and I've been in online conferences with over 260 cyber-folks in the room, where you really need moderation.
A clear indiction of the presence of a newbie, is when you are into a formal conference. The discussion is going right along, then suddenly, somebody posts, "Hi", or "What's up in here?', or "Is this the conference?". Bingo...newbie. Most often this post will then be followed by a pre-typed message about formal conferences rules, sent by the moderator (and if it's wordy, you get a case of whiplash, when it scrolls on the screen), then the discussion will continue. Newbies who are cyber road kill jerks, will continue to post, often posting comments about your mother or something. This is what gets one kicked out of a conference. Thank goodness.
Ahh..newbies. Be kind to them.