Author Topic: The Rules  (Read 7707 times)

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Offline Sigmaleph

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The Rules
« on: August 08, 2013, 01:58:14 am »
[Due to the changes in administration, The Rules have been updated and rewritten. They are not that different from the old rules; if you haven't been banned before, just carry on as usual and there should be no problem.]


Most of this stuff should be covered by The Primary Rule, but do take the time to read through and ask any questions or suggest any modifications you find reasonable.


The Primary Rule: Use your common sense. Rules are a tool to keep this community running and fun to be a  a part of. As such, I reserve the right to take official measures against anything that might be excessively disruptive/annoying/stupid, regardless of the existence of a specific rule on the subject. Similarly, I reserve the right not to take action against something that breaks the letter of the rules if I don't think it's appropriate, at my sole discretion.


The Serious Stuff: Don't mess around with these. For many of them, violations will be cause for instant permabans.

Don't post content that breaks the law.

Don't post pornographic material. There's an entire internet's worth of porn out there, no need to put it here

Don't spam. That includes starting threads with the sole purpose of advertising a product, repeatedly making the same threads, flooding the boards, etc.

Don't post other people's private information without their consent. If you're posting a screencap from Facebook or similar, black out the names of the people involved.

Don't use sockpuppets (multiple accounts by the same person). If you must, for whatever reason, create a new account, make it clear that you are the same person.
    -In particular, sockpuppets for the purposes of ban dodging are cause for an instantaneous permanent ban.


Don't be a dick: Guidelines to make sure we don't piss each other off too much. You might be given a pass for breaking these, depending on context. Note: The list is not exhaustive, try to be guided by the general spirit rather than specific rules alone.

Don't post in ALL CAPS. Similarly, don't abuse formatting (huge fonts, scrolling text, colors, etc). Doing it occasionally for effect is fine. Doing it in all your posts is not.

Huge pictures should be either resized or placed behind a spoiler or link.

Don't make your signature too long. As a rough rule, if your average post is shorter than your signature, consider fixing it.

Potentially disturbing or NSFW images should be behind a spoiler or link and clearly labelled as such. Don't put them in your avatar or signature. Posts in threads clearly labelled as containing such (e.g. 'Disturbing Images') are exempted.

Don't make sexist, racist, homophobic or transphobic remarks.

If you disagree with someone's philosophical or religious beliefs, attack the belief, not the person.

Don't harass other users.

Don't tell people to commit suicide.

Disagreements will happen. Try to argue in good faith and don't immediately leap to the worst possible interpretation of your opponent's words.


Flame and Burn: The F&B subforum has its own special rules

Insults, name-calling, violent disagreement and other such things are allowed in Flame and Burn, and only there. Don't post it elsewhere.

Don't expect an otherwise civil thread to be moved to F&B, start your own.

Threads about venting anger not related to the forums should not go in F&B. Keeps things better organised, and stops them from turning into personal attack threads.

[new] Certain controversial topics cause a lot of unnecessary drama. If you really want to talk about them anyway, do it in F&B. At the moment, the only topic that can only be discussed in F&B is Gamergate.


Miscellaneous rules: Because I didn't want to make more categories.

The Skyfire clause: If someone asks you a direct question, acknowledge it. You may answer, or state your refusal to do so, just don't ignore it.

Don't use disposable or temporary email accounts, we might need to contact you (such as about a ban, forum change, etc.). Free email accounts, such as with Yahoo or Google, are fine.

Necroposting: Don't post on a thread several weeks after the last post, unless you have a relevant update (New information on a story is fine, 'haha that's so funny' is not). Stickied threads, or threads with a specific purpose ('Best political cartoons', 'worst of social justice', etc) are exempt.

Backseat moderation: Don't call for bans or other official action. The proper action to take when seeing a post you think is breaking the rules is to use the report button, or PM a moderator. If, after doing so, you think the problem wasn't dealt with adequately, contact that moderator or the admin.
Pointing out an inadvertent violation in another user's post and asking them to correct it is fine. Try to be nice about it, we all make mistakes.


Moderation:

Official action by the mod team includes warnings, temporary bans, and permanent bans. If a moderator gives you a warning, that means you (possibly inadvertently) broke one of the rules above. Simply don't do it again and everything will be fine. Repeated violations will result in temp bans of increasing length, and then a permaban. Normally, this might be a week, then a month, then permanent. These are general guidelines, however, and individual cases will be treated differently.

If you disagree with the actions of a moderator, either sort it out with them or contact the admin (that's me) and argue your case. If you disagree with the admin's actions, well, make the best argument you can. I do try to be open to reason.


Changelog:

Added the backseat moderation rule

Removed a section on the F&B rules regarding thread locking.

Chewtoy rule struck as redundant.

[2015/11/09] "Only discuss Gamergate in F&B" rule added.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 07:32:38 pm by Sigmaleph »
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Offline Lithp

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2013, 04:39:53 am »
As someone who is afraid of change, it is unsurprising that I have some concerns about some of the new stuff. Let's bear in mind, I was initially a skeptical about the Direct Questions Rule (now the Skyfire Clause), but after seeing how useful it was in action, I'm now one of its biggest supporters.

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The Primary Rule: Use your common sense. Rules are a tool to keep this community running and fun to be a  a part of. As such, I reserve the right to take official measures against anything that might be excessively disruptive/annoying/stupid, regardless of the existence of a specific rule on the subject. Similarly, I reserve the right not to take action against something that breaks the letter of the rules if I don't think it's appropriate, at my sole discretion.

I understand that the idea here is to prevent Rules Lawyering, but there are some pretty good reasons for complaining about things not being upheld to the letter of the rules. How is one supposed to know what not to do if there are invisible rules? "The funny thing about common sense is that it isn't common," after all. Even assuming one won't be banned under this rule, how is one supposed to avoid getting questionable warnings & watchlist statuses? Plus, looking to see if the rules are applied in a consistent fashion is pretty much the only way to know if one is being treated fairly.

Yeah, I'm taking a mighty harsh interpretation here, but when I first came here, I got burned a lot in the past, so those are exactly the things I would have asked myself. I want new members to know that's not the way we do things around here.

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The purpose of Flame & Burn is to provide a venue for venting on disagreements when they happen, and ideally solving them before they get worse. As such, the mod team may at their discretion lock an F&B thread that has devolved into screaming back and forth with no actual effort to move past the issue.

Flame & Burn really gives a release to the pressure. That is presumably why certain rules are waived within its borders. If we're going to keep putting limits on it, I don't know why would even have it. Flame & Burn, to me, seems to be a brilliant compromise between not stifling users with oppressive anti-flame rules, while at the same time not allowing them to muck up the boards with constant, vitriolic back-&-forths. The few disagreements that don't simply burn out have proven to not be stifled by locking threads, either. I think it requires few, if any, alterations to the way it operates.

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Chewtoys: If you show up to the forum to proselitise or troll, you may or may not get immediately banned depending on how amusing it is to argue with you. That doesn't mean we won't ban you if you cross the line, as determined by us.

The reintroduction of an old idea. I really do see the temptation, here. I have a fond nostalgia for certain wannabe-trolls, but I also didn't like the sense of entitlement that it engendered in the board. Trolls that irritated the shit out a number of people & probably could have been axed were left around just because some found them funny, & if a "chewtoy" finally was banned, there would be an uproar. At the same time as they benefited from this entirely undue leniency, there was also an implicit encouragement to dogpile the "chewtoy" & the label was seen as invalidating what they said to many people, regardless of the context.

I just don't see why we need some kind of designated forum bitch. If people collectively find a member amusing, & the member isn't doing anything wrong enough to get banned, shouldn't that be enough?

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Normally, this might be a week, then a month, then permanent.

This one I'm not sure how I feel about. A year can make a lot of difference in a person's outlook. At the same time, if you've already had 2 chances, who the fuck cares? I guess you do say that there are individual cases. I don't know, what motivated you to remove the year ban?
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 04:43:04 am by Lithp »

Offline Sleepy

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2013, 10:12:59 am »
I can agree somewhat with Lithp's concern about the primary rule. While I don't think it'll be abused, it does leave a lot of room for mods to issue a warning for things that may not be deserving of one.
Guys, this is getting creepy. Can we talk about cannibalism instead?

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Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2013, 10:45:45 am »
First of all, thanks for the feedback. I expect The Rules to go through a number of revisions, to reflect things I haven't thought or general consensus, especially at a point where the forum is in shift.

As someone who is afraid of change, it is unsurprising that I have some concerns about some of the new stuff. Let's bear in mind, I was initially a skeptical about the Direct Questions Rule (now the Skyfire Clause), but after seeing how useful it was in action, I'm now one of its biggest supporters.

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The Primary Rule: Use your common sense. Rules are a tool to keep this community running and fun to be a  a part of. As such, I reserve the right to take official measures against anything that might be excessively disruptive/annoying/stupid, regardless of the existence of a specific rule on the subject. Similarly, I reserve the right not to take action against something that breaks the letter of the rules if I don't think it's appropriate, at my sole discretion.

I understand that the idea here is to prevent Rules Lawyering, but there are some pretty good reasons for complaining about things not being upheld to the letter of the rules. How is one supposed to know what not to do if there are invisible rules? "The funny thing about common sense is that it isn't common," after all. Even assuming one won't be banned under this rule, how is one supposed to avoid getting questionable warnings & watchlist statuses? Plus, looking to see if the rules are applied in a consistent fashion is pretty much the only way to know if one is being treated fairly.

I understand your concerns, and I didn't write that lightly.

a) In the general case, most posters on an internet forum acting in good faith manage not to do anything unusually disruptive. Common sense in general may not be common, but people tend to have the required minimum not to fuck it up too badly. I am appealing to this fact, and to the notion that people who manage to disrupt the forum without violating a specific rule are generally trying to do so.

b) This was already a part of the rules, effectively. The original don't be a dick rule was ambiguous enough that nearly anything someone disliked could be construed as an offence. I worded it the way I did because I think it's worth spelling out that a list of rules cannot hope to capture everything that might come up, and that at some point you have to trust the mods to be reasonable.

c) On that note: if you can't trust the moderators to behave reasonably, the text of the rules is no safeguard. An admin can choose to entirely disregard the rules as written at any point anyway, and you can't really appeal to the Supreme Court on the matter.

That doesn't mean the text of the rules is irrelevant, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered to write any. The rules above should capture the general spirit of the sort of thing that might be objectionable. The cases dealt with as exceptions should be exceptional, not the norm, and if I find myself ruling on exceptions too often then clearly something is wrong and the rules need updating.

As for fairness in enforcement, yes, it's a concern. All I can say is, if you think the rules are being inconsistently applied yell in my general direction and try to provide examples.

And finally, I believe the alternative is worse. There's simply far too many ways to be an asshole to even begin to cover them in the rules, and if I did the resulting document would be a thousand pages long and nobody would read it. Refusing to act because one asshole in particular wasn't covered, or treating different situations the same way because it's in the text of the rules and we didn't factor in relevant context, will be worse.

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The purpose of Flame & Burn is to provide a venue for venting on disagreements when they happen, and ideally solving them before they get worse. As such, the mod team may at their discretion lock an F&B thread that has devolved into screaming back and forth with no actual effort to move past the issue.

Flame & Burn really gives a release to the pressure. That is presumably why certain rules are waived within its borders. If we're going to keep putting limits on it, I don't know why would even have it. Flame & Burn, to me, seems to be a brilliant compromise between not stifling users with oppressive anti-flame rules, while at the same time not allowing them to muck up the boards with constant, vitriolic back-&-forths. The few disagreements that don't simply burn out have proven to not be stifled by locking threads, either. I think it requires few, if any, alterations to the way it operates.

That's actually a relaxation of the last version of the F&B rules, which specified a maximum number of posts per thread. Which reminds me, that's still up in F&B, I should fix it.

Still, on reflection, my wording here wasn't the best. Flame & Burn won't serve its function if people feel threads might be locked at any minute, but at the same time flaming threads can give people more excuses to be angry rather than help them vent. I'll probably be rewriting this section in the future.

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Chewtoys: If you show up to the forum to proselitise or troll, you may or may not get immediately banned depending on how amusing it is to argue with you. That doesn't mean we won't ban you if you cross the line, as determined by us.

The reintroduction of an old idea. I really do see the temptation, here. I have a fond nostalgia for certain wannabe-trolls, but I also didn't like the sense of entitlement that it engendered in the board. Trolls that irritated the shit out a number of people & probably could have been axed were left around just because some found them funny, & if a "chewtoy" finally was banned, there would be an uproar. At the same time as they benefited from this entirely undue leniency, there was also an implicit encouragement to dogpile the "chewtoy" & the label was seen as invalidating what they said to many people, regardless of the context.

I just don't see why we need some kind of designated forum bitch. If people collectively find a member amusing, & the member isn't doing anything wrong enough to get banned, shouldn't that be enough?

That's mostly for the benefit of people who ask why obvious troll X hasn't been banned yet (It already happened with Atheism Exposed, even though since his last ban he's not done much beyond say stupid things). "Trolling" is one of those things that's hard to quantify and we'll always have people arguing whether something falls under Don't be a Dick or not. It has to be dealt with individually, so a blanket ban on trolling doesn't really work. At the same time, we also need to clarify that trolling can be worthy of a ban in itself without consideration for further rules.

Since disruptiveness to the forum is the fundamental principle of the rules, and a troll's disruptiveness does in fact depend a lot on whether they are amusing or infuriating, it seems that it's a valid criterion to consider.

That, and having someone else to rage at can be a decent way to distract people from internal drama.


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Normally, this might be a week, then a month, then permanent.

This one I'm not sure how I feel about. A year can make a lot of difference in a person's outlook. At the same time, if you've already had 2 chances, who the fuck cares? I guess you do say that there are individual cases. I don't know, what motivated you to remove the year ban?

The year period seemed superfluous. If I recall correctly, the only person ever to make it to 'year' without getting permabanned for some other reason was Skyfire, and he didn't bother to come back after his time was up. Since the week/month/perma pattern is intended to be a basic guideline to base the duration of bans on, it should be based on what has actually worked in the past. So far, year has been functionally identical to perma, so I scrapped it.

The possibility for bans longer than a month remains, if we think it might help.


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Offline Sleepy

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2013, 10:55:47 am »
That sounds fair to me, overall. The "don't be a dick" rule was broad, so I guess this is essentially a more explicit version of it. I also agree that it's best to change the F&B rules, as it was silly to cap threads at an arbitrary number of posts.

Trolls seem to be best evaluated on a case-by-case basis because some may engage in amusing or legitimate debates, and others may do drive-by spamming of porn or other random things. If they're not breaking the rules, then I don't see why they should be banned.
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Offline m52nickerson

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2013, 11:36:39 am »
I like the primary rule idea.
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Offline Radiation

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2013, 12:41:16 pm »
Quote
If you show up to the forum to proselitise or troll, you may or may not get immediately banned depending on how amusing it is to argue with you. That doesn't mean we won't ban you if you cross the line, as determined by us.

A little nitpick here but the word is spelled proselytize.

Also, I think there should be a rule about those on here not calling out for a ban of someone or saying that someone is going to be banned and to report to the moderators if they see something that is breaking a rule or rules.


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Offline Sleepy

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2013, 12:46:54 pm »
Quote
If you show up to the forum to proselitise or troll, you may or may not get immediately banned depending on how amusing it is to argue with you. That doesn't mean we won't ban you if you cross the line, as determined by us.

A little nitpick here but the word is spelled proselytize.

Also, I think there should be a rule about those on here not calling out for a ban of someone or saying that someone is going to be banned and to report to the moderators if they see something that is breaking a rule or rules.

Are you saying that there should be a rule against posters saying "I think this person should be banned"? Just trying to clarify.

Also, while it's nice to have posters report stuff like spam, you can't really enforce a rule stating that we must report rule-breaking.

Edit: Oh, nevermind. You're saying rather than people being all "Ban him!" we should just report it to mods. While that's a decent idea, again, I don't think you can enforce it so well since people may've already reported it to a mod via PM and others may not know.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 12:51:49 pm by Sleepy »
Guys, this is getting creepy. Can we talk about cannibalism instead?

If a clown eats salmon on Tuesday, how much does a triangle weigh on Jupiter? Ask Mr. Wiggins for 10% off of your next dry cleaning bill. -Hades

Offline Auri-El

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2013, 12:52:46 pm »
I think it's more along the lines of "leave the ban threats to the mods. If you see something you think breaks the rules, report it, don't call the person out."

Offline Leafy

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2013, 12:58:18 pm »
These all seem good to me...Should be "Da Rules" though...

Offline Sleepy

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2013, 01:17:08 pm »
I don't think people should be threatening others with bans, but it's perfectly fine to call someone out and say "Hey, don't post personal info," or "Put that under a spoiler," because that gets the job done faster and lessens the damage.
Guys, this is getting creepy. Can we talk about cannibalism instead?

If a clown eats salmon on Tuesday, how much does a triangle weigh on Jupiter? Ask Mr. Wiggins for 10% off of your next dry cleaning bill. -Hades

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2013, 01:20:32 pm »
I like the primary rule idea.

Maybe it should be called the Primary Directive. :P
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Offline m52nickerson

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2013, 01:23:54 pm »
I like the primary rule idea.

Maybe it should be called the Primary Directive. :P

Let's just go with the "Prime Directive" and cut to the chase!
It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. ~Macbeth

Offline Sigmaleph

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2013, 03:50:15 pm »
Quote
If you show up to the forum to proselitise or troll, you may or may not get immediately banned depending on how amusing it is to argue with you. That doesn't mean we won't ban you if you cross the line, as determined by us.

A little nitpick here but the word is spelled proselytize.

Oops. Thanks for noticing that.

I'm actually amazed that's the only major spelling mistake so far, I wrote the entire thing with spell check turned off.

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Also, I think there should be a rule about those on here not calling out for a ban of someone or saying that someone is going to be banned and to report to the moderators if they see something that is breaking a rule or rules.
I don't think people should be threatening others with bans, but it's perfectly fine to call someone out and say "Hey, don't post personal info," or "Put that under a spoiler," because that gets the job done faster and lessens the damage.

Added the backseat moderation rule. It was supposed to be in the original draft, somehow it wasn't. Also made it clear that it's ok to tell a poster to fix a mistake.


Also, after some reflection, I've removed the "locking threads in F&B" rule. That doesn't mean F&B threads are exempt from being locked, but I don't think a specific rule on the subject was necessary, and the way that one was worded seemed counterproductive. If I can think of a better way to put what I had in mind, there might be something on the subject later on.

I like the primary rule idea.

Maybe it should be called the Primary Directive. :P

Let's just go with the "Prime Directive" and cut to the chase!

I was tempted.
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Offline Radiation

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Re: The Rules
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2013, 07:40:20 pm »
About the locking threads in F&B, would it be ok to lock threads after so many posts and/or the argument has become pointless/unresolvable? I believe that we had that provision set at 700+ posts.


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