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So... rules, anyone?

#1
When we Scatched™, we scratched everything. And that does really mean everything. Including the rules. I'm not sure if anyone's noticed, but we don't actually have any real rules at the moment. There's no rules thread, even... It's worked pretty well until now, but it's probably better to make rules before the lack of them becomes an issue, no?

So, I figured it's about time someone makes a thread about this.

Generally the lack of anyone noticing is a good thing, because it means everyone's been getting along and not being jerk. But I'm sure everyone can come up with a few things that should not be allowed, and therefore should appear in the rules. To start this off, let's answer some questions:

- Double posting: allowed or not allowed? Are there special cases?
- Spamming: what counts as spam? Should it be allowed?
- Bumping threads: is there a cut-off time? Shall we simply allow thread necromancy?
- Content rating: what's the general rating of the board? Do we want warnings for content (posts/art/fics/whathaveyou) that contain mature stuff? Do we allow mature content in the first place? What is mature content, anyway? How about intentionally offensive content?
- Flaming/trolling: what counts as flaming/trolling? Is it allowed? What do we do with people who do this?
- General drama: what's our stance on obviously drama-affecting stuff, like threatening to leave, creating threads accusing other users of various things, making private fights public fights, stalking other users, demanding staff member x to be demoted? What do we do with people who do this?
- Staff: how is someone made staff? What should the criteria be? What should be the criteria for demoting someone? Do all rules apply to staff exactly like to everyone else?
- Banning: which offenses are bad enough for banning? Should there be a warning before outright banning a person? Should there be a temporary ban before a permanent one? Are some offenses bad enough to warrant a permanent ban right away?

To make things as fair and, well, democratic as possible, we're going to need opinions from as many people as possible - so, even if you only have strong opinions on one of these, please do post and state your five cents. This is the best chance any of us has at affecting the rules of the board, because changing them afterwards is always trickier than just setting them in a specific way in the first place. So, it's probably worth posting.

Or, let me put it this way: if you ignore this thread and don't post now and then end up complaining about some rule later, it's going to look a whole lot less convincing... And probably less effective. Kinda like not voting and then complaining about what the government does, if that makes sense.

So... Your thoughts on this, everyone?
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#2
UHHHHHH...yeah this could be a problem! XD I just assumed they carried over from the old boards.

Double posting: there's an edit button, so double posting isn't necessary in any instance I can think of. Unless it's a fanfic or art thread of course. So banned, except in those two cases.

Spamming: posting off topic stuff should obviously not be allowed except in designated threads. I also think eyesore text (capspam, colors, capitalizing every other letter) should not be allowed.

Bumping threads: Two or three months should probably be the limit (again, aside from creative threads). By then most people have probably moved away from the discussion.

Content rating: I lean in the PG-13 direction but I think we used to be R. As long as it's not pornographic or excessively gory, it's probably okay. I would consider intentionally offensive content to be spamming and/or trolling.

Flamers/trolls: Trolling is doing things to intentionally get a rise out of people. It can be overt or more subdued: some trolls take a while to insinuate themselves into the community before revealing themselves. In all cases, I recommend politely introducing them to the ban button.

Drama: this is similar to trolling in that it's typically a bid for attention, though it may not be intended to affect other people. I'd recommend a warning or two before banning.

Staff: Criteria for staff should probably be people who are dedicated to the community, contribute a lot, and/or generally have a welcoming attitude towards others. Staff selection can either be done by members or staff, each of which has inherent strengths and weaknesses. Each option can get a bit clique-y; otherwise, selection by staff may cause butt kissing, whereas selection by members may cause unqualified, popular people to be selected. We could do a compromise, where staff picks a group of candidates and members select from those people.

Banning: Trolling should be insta-permaban in my humble opinion. We've wasted a lot of energy and allowed people to get hurt in the past because we were so loose with this. Also, just because someone is cool "sometimes" doesn't mean they aren't a troll. That's called a tactic. Anyway, repeated offenses in other categories should also result in bans, though we should have a system of warnings and temp bans in place. Something like warning > warning > temp ban > permaban. Most sane people who are actually trying to contribute to the community will figure it out before the fourth offense.
Δ
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#3
Pretty much agreeing with what Latios said. Only thing I want to add is I like the idea of the staff picking a group of candidates and then the members select from those people.
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“Now my friends, I think this calls for a toast. We’re embarking on something truly great here. Be prepared for what’s coming.”

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[Nothing, Everything and Heart of the Sea (coming soon): My stories]
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#4
I was honestly waiting to see how long it would take for people to notice we have no rules thread. XD High five!

That being said, side hint before I actually (gasp!) get all opiniony up in here: remember to make rules for everything that directly relates to The BBS community. Things like bits that have hashtags as prefixes. That are accessed via IRC. That we call the chan.

With that in mind...

Quote:- Double posting: allowed or not allowed? Are there special cases?

Should be allowed in cases of creative work, as per standard for fanart/fanfiction communities. Sure, we should hope peeps are reviewing, but that just doesn't always happen. Creative folks need to be reassured their threads don't get shut down just because of a double-post.

Should also be allowed if you're doing things like making an announcement on threads you're running. Mafia threads, for example. Dungeon threads for another.

Disallowed otherwise.

Quote:- Spamming: what counts as spam? Should it be allowed?

It comes in three flavors!

1. Off-topic. Anything that doesn't directly relate to a topic at hand or to the spirit of a thread. (It's not spam, for example, if you suddenly talk about the weather in the General Chat Thread when the post before yours was talking about potato chips. It is spam, however, if you talk about the weather if you're in a thread specifically about potato chips.)
1a. This also includes posting shock images and general trolling.

2. Advertisement. While you can post links to discuss things, it's bad form to post links to sites for the sake of advertising them. I'd imagine that it'd be a good idea to frown on people posting their own websites outside of their sig besides for the sake of getting web development help as well, and we most certainly are not interested in what you have to sell, too. (So no posting links to sites where we can buy cheap shoes or Viagra.)

3. Hickory smoke flavored. *shot!*

No, it shouldn't be allowed. Especially the hickory smoke flavored. Do you know how much sodium is in that stuff?

Quote:- Bumping threads: is there a cut-off time? Shall we simply allow thread necromancy?

Given how active our board is at the moment, it might be a good idea to hold off on a bumping rule until later on down the line. When the average forum still has threads from July on its first page, it's not that difficult to imagine how easy it'd be to violate a no-necromancy rule by complete accident.

Quote:- Content rating: what's the general rating of the board? Do we want warnings for content (posts/art/fics/whathaveyou) that contain mature stuff? Do we allow mature content in the first place? What is mature content, anyway? How about intentionally offensive content?

We used to be R, and I'm okay with continuing to be R and placing trust in the users to be responsible enough people not to be complete dumbasses in terms of what is and isn't tasteful posting. (As in, I'm trusting the older users to be sensible enough to understand that higher rating is not an open invitation to include gore and adult language in everything they post here, and I'm trusting the younger users and parents of the younger users to understand that this is the internet.) We're not a porn site, however, so from an executive standpoint, I'm putting my foot down and insisting that we don't have porn or adult content (NC-17 or higher) on the board, as I'm not taking the risk of getting in trouble by my own country's laws for giving access to that stuff to minors (and I'm sure Kelly wouldn't appreciate taking that kind of risk either). But I do like the idea of saying to users, "Okay, I'm going to assume you're mature and responsible." At least in past iterations of the board, barring a few hiccups, that sort of helped to make the community comfortable. And it doesn't patronize users, either.

I do like the idea of warning for content either way, just because it's plain common courtesy to do so.

Quote:- Flaming/trolling: what counts as flaming/trolling? Is it allowed? What do we do with people who do this?

Flaming/trolling = posting material specifically for inciting a negative response from users. This includes insulting other members or generally being a jackass.

No, it should not be allowed, and I'm all for handing out bans to anyone caught doing it. How long the ban lasts is up to you (although in the past, I do believe it depended on how many times you did it, with the third time being a permanent ban).

Quote:- General drama: what's our stance on obviously drama-affecting stuff, like threatening to leave, creating threads accusing other users of various things, making private fights public fights, stalking other users, demanding staff member x to be demoted? What do we do with people who do this?

Oh, the fun rule.

Depends on what kind of drama it was and what effect it had on the community.

For threatening to leave, especially publicly, the past rule was that the staff would "help" you along. With a ban that would be lifted if you grew up a little. (Then again, the people who did it were notorious for passive-aggressively attacking the site, so their behavior was also interpreted as trolling.)

Drama flailing by making threads accusing users of whatever? I agree with Latios that there should be a warning issued, coupled with thread closure and the statement that the staff is certainly open to talking civilly about issues (if it's directly related to the board) or mediating a fight (if it's member-to-member), provided that the accuser approaches the issue maturely themselves.

Private fights public = if it's reciprocal (i.e., if both parties escalate the fight), warning to both parties and similar offer for mediation. If no resolution is reached, banning will happen because it'd be clear that the parties dgaf about the rest of the community if they can't stfu about their love-hate for each other.

If it's one-sided (i.e., one party tries to take a private fight/discussion public and the other is pretty much, "WTF is this?!"), the side that brings it to the public gets warned.

Demanding staff gets demoted = we remind you that staff is always open for suggestions/feedback about the site but that we need a civil discussion and evidence to take action against any member. This is because we can't exercise our modly powers to punish users -- even if that punishment is demotion -- unless we can give a solid, reasonable answer for doing so. Otherwise, it can easily be interpreted by other members as power abuse, and people lose faith in us as a staff. That being said, it depends. If you demand that a staff member needs to be demoted because they're being a massive dick to you and a lot of other people and you have the evidence to back it up, we'll most certainly hear it and take action, but we'd prefer it if you'd talk to us privately about the issue so we don't have to clean up a drama war. It'd be best to approach a thread like that, then, by closing and politely reminding users about how we handle staff demotions in general. If you demand that the nicest staff member we've got needs to be demoted because you have a personal vendetta against her (not that this is a specific example or anything) or if you can't provide a reasonable explanation/are cryptic in your reasoning for why the staff member needs to be demoted, excuse us while we laugh at you in the staff forum.

Stalking other users: Depends. If it's online-only and if a user has proof, then we consider banning the stalker to protect the stalkee. If the stalking bleeds over to real life (example: if you call or text a member at 4 AM their time without their permission to do so to demand that they be online for you -- which, yeah, is an example that will never get old because what the actual), we take down your IP and location and consider sending that material to the proper real-world authorities because that is legit illegal in certain countries (including the United States, Australia, and the UK, where a nice chunk of our userbase currently lives).

Fun fact: This is already an unwritten rule because there have been massive creepers in communities I've run, and I consider real-world law to supersede board rules in cases of harassment and assault (and a few other things -- but mostly harassment and assault). If you do commit the act of cyberstalking to levels that affect a user profoundly -- as in, they fear for their safety for any reason because of actions you take against them -- the user will be advised to file a report with your local authorities. If part of it is done on The BBS, I'd like to make it a requirement for all staff (and not just me) to collect logs, take down IP addresses, and be prepared to submit it to the authorities according to the law of the stalker's country. That is a massively serious issue, and I will say right now that I'm not going to tolerate any Luvdiscing around in terms of safety on this board. Users should feel safe to post in this community, no questions asked.

Quote:- Staff: how is someone made staff? What should the criteria be? What should be the criteria for demoting someone? Do all rules apply to staff exactly like to everyone else?

Generally speaking, the criteria I've used in the past to promote users were:

1. Activity. If you disappear off the face of the earth for months at a time, you're not mod material. If you contribute a lot to the board as a whole, you are. Activity in particular sections also helps us choose what you're a mod of. When we still had mods, anyway. (Generally speaking, we currently only have s-mods and admins because of the general activity of the board and how well-behaved everyone is already. It just makes more sense to have all staff members watch over the entire board, not just a part of it.)
2. Honesty/integrity. You need to be a good person -- or at least trustworthy. We've had an issue with staff members lying and plagiarizing, and... it wasn't that fun to clean up afterwards.
3. Work ethic/maturity/responsibility/dependability. If it looks like you'd put a lot of hard work in maintaining your section because you seem mature and get Grimer done even without the shiny mod badge, you get a shiny mod badge. This also goes partly under activity: you're willing to work and capable of actually working. If you go for long periods of time failing to maintain your section despite the fact that it needs maintenance, for example, you get demoted. Especially if you're also on frequently.
4. Creativity. You have a lot of ideas and are more than willing to implement and run them.
5. Friendliness without doormattiness. People just like you, but you're still willing to lay down the mod hammer when necessary. It helps you to do your job if people respect you, but you'll have to remember that you can't let them sway your opinions on what needs to be done for your section.

To be perfectly honest, I'd prefer it if the current modding/demodding system was to remain constant: I choose candidates and propose them to the rest of the staff or announce to the staff that I'm looking for new mods and would like suggestions. This is because although I'm not always posting, I am frequently stalking the board and take notice of not only whether or not we need new staff members but also member/staff member performance. We don't always need staff members, and not everyone is what I believe to be the right person for the job, even if the general public thinks so.

Yes, it's not particularly democratic, but I don't view the mod process as being democratic except on the staff side of things. It's more of a job; I'm an employer looking for the right employees to do what the job description says. Anyone can say they're the perfect candidate, but unless you impress me with your "interview" and resume, I'm going to be uncomfortable giving you that position because what if you're the kind of employee who sleeps on the job or fails to come to work on time? Sure, a lot of things in this board are left up to you (like what forums you want, what bells and whistles you'd like added, even what rules you think we should follow), but I'd rather trust the actual running of the board to very select candidates I've pre-approved. That's why when I ask the staff for opinions on who needs to be modded, it stays within the staff: because if I have a list of names, the candidates have already been filtered and just need to be whittled down to the perfect choice (and if I don't, I can look over the candidates that the people I absolutely trust with running the board already have elected).

Demoting is a process that works exactly opposite to the criteria of promotion:

1. You're not active on the board at all.
2. We have reason to believe you can't be trusted. (Read: We think you're undermining the rest of the staff/the spirit of the board, you've broken the plagiarism rule without telling us, or you're leaking staff-confidential information to non-staff members.)
3. You refuse to do any work in your assigned section for no apparent reason, especially if it needs work done to it. (Note that "I'm busy in real life" is a good reason, but you may still be demoted/replaced temporarily if you go an extended leave and if we need a full staff for some reason.)
4. (There is no creativity analogue except "way to violate the plagiarism rule, jackass.")
5. You're a jerk who power-trips, and two or more users can prove it. Alternatively, you let users whine their way out of punishment/you play favorites. This is the usual reason for demotion (besides activity). If we get complaints about you, we warn you. If we warn you multiple times, you get demoted, and then the regular punishments for users will be applied to you.

Yes, absolutely, the rules apply to staff members too.

Quote:- Banning: which offenses are bad enough for banning? Should there be a warning before outright banning a person? Should there be a temporary ban before a permanent one? Are some offenses bad enough to warrant a permanent ban right away?

Generally speaking, it'd probably be better to warn first and then ban for most offenses, as Latios has mentioned. Insta-bannable offenses would be the ones where it's pretty damn clear that you have no intention of being a civil, productive member of this community. (If you're a troll, if you're a spambot, if you cause massive amounts of drama when you weren't a non-drama-llama before then, and so forth.)

Edit: While I'm here and have mentioned it a few times, plagiarism rule. Needs to be defined and added. Y/N?
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#5
To be fair I mentioned it to you a while back, Jax. XD

Uh, not much to disagree with really. In short, double posting is okay for me in cases Jax stated (running event threads, creative threads e.g. posting chapters, etc). Leave out bumping rules until we're actually properly active. Content max of R, let people be reasonable + ratings as appropiate for stuff. Trolling/drama - heavy warning/ban based on each case, not for being soft here. In general warnings before bans though.

As for mods, I prefer keeping it to as-is as well. I think that way works best in general.
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#6
Oh yeah I completely forgot IRC rules and creative stuff rules, which I imagine the bit about plagiarism would fall under.

I am in agreement with what has been said, especially Jax's posts. I agree with the staff promotion thing, because there basically is no need or requirement for this to be particularly democratic in any other sense than that we should probably not have the sort of stuff every single non-staff user hates but the staff is buddies with. That would probably be a pretty bad policy, but I have no fear of us really ever going into that.

I'd personally like the warning thing (warnings for particularly mature/triggering material, namely) to be required for creative threads, not only because it's just good form, but because it's also useful in determining what you do and don't want to read at a given time (some days, you're really just not in the mood for stories about suicide or something). But, also, I think it would be cool if we had a thing about adding warnings to regular threads where they're necessary. For instance, if someone happened to post about suicide in a thread about some issue or another, or make a thread about animal cruelty in relation to Pokémon (lol PETA), or what have you, it would be sort of cool if we were the sort of community that actually warns people of what's to come. That would also make it easier to keep the board R-rated but still have and reasonably "protect" younger members - y'know, there was a warning there, and you passed it, so it's really not our fault if you were forever mentally scarred.

But before I write a novel about what I think (though most of it is actually what Jax and Latios already said), I'd like to see what non-staffers think about all this. Anyone?
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#7
I like the way things are going so far in terms of defining the rules.
And that's about all I have to say on it. xD
(Good job, you guys!)
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#8
Pretty much what LB said. I also didn't notice there weren't any rules posted. Oh well, I guess I've been behaving properly I suppose? /shot'd |D;;
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#9
Okay, so, then we have IRC rules and signature rules to figure out. Do we want size limits on signatures? What should those be? I can't remember what we had before, to be honest... But I guess that doesn't particularly matter. Also, do we want to put in rules about what the signature can and can't contain? What about avatars? And so on and so forth.

With regards to the IRC channel, we'll probably need some rules about the links you can and can't post, the nicks you can and can't choose, and other such stuff like that. If spamming isn't allowed, what constitutes as spamming on the channel? Flaming and trolling we've already defined pretty well, so that we can just stick in there. Is there something else we should note?
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#10
I think we had banners/images at most 500x300, though I don't mind having it slightly shorter. Otherwise I guess we don't have to worry about signatures being too cluttered for now. For both avatars and signatures pretty much no nudity (or something too sexual of nature)/something offensive/gore, the usual.

As for IRC, links and nicks also more or less nothing too offensive/violent and such. Spam might be if you keep repeating a link or question in the chat for starters.
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“Now my friends, I think this calls for a toast. We’re embarking on something truly great here. Be prepared for what’s coming.”

[Avatar found image at LJ] [The Black Cat's Stains: My gallery] [The Ruin Maniac: My ASB-Neo Trainer Profile]
[Nothing, Everything and Heart of the Sea (coming soon): My stories]
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#11
Yeah, again I don't feel hard and fast limits of signatures should be too worried about. 'Within reason' (ie nothing stretching not-tiny screens) should be a given, and also appropiate stuff only (in line with board-wide rating, etc).
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#12
You know, nothing particularly bad has actually happened so far without rules... Except for my horror of a signature image. xD

Can we just be trusted to behave in a reasonably responsible way and govern by consensus of distaste when unwanted things actually do happen?

Most new people are probably going to assume we have a fairly standard ruleset anyway, and they'll also probably ask questions if they want to do something dubious and don't know if it's acceptable?

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#13
People can always be expected to behave reasonably as long as they do so. It's more about having ammo when it inevitably does happen - and it will, it always will, because this is the internet. It's happened before. Several times, actually. So, ultimately, we need to be prepared for that, even if it seems really unlikely something stupid will happen. That's kinda just how it goes. Going by the consensus of distaste also sounds kind of clique-y and rubs me slightly the wrong way, but that might be just me.

Also, I would like to note that since the obliteration of the former rules, nothing silly has happened probably mostly because almost nothing has happened to begin with. Since this isn't supposed to be how things stay forever, it's likely that silly things will happen once we get our wish of non-silly things also happening. When that happens, I'd like to have rules, personally. But they don't have to be all strict and "WE ARE IN CHARGE HERE HAVE SOME DISCIPLINE" or anything. Pretty much what we've talked about so far, I guess. But, granted, this is my opinion, and that's just a single opinion. Other thoughts, anyone?
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#14
I think that the rules should be as basic and intuitive as possible. Things like don't be a dick, don't derail threads, make quality posts, and keep sigs less than a page long. Keeping things slimmed down and easy to understand should help new members stay comfortable.

It's easy to keep rules simple because there's a well-meaning core community at the moment, and there aren't really any members that need to be told off for being disruptive.

If needed, things can be handled on a case by case basis due to the high ratio of moderators to members, and if that issue happens to not be covered by common sense, rules can be set in place on a need be basis. Bombarding people with a wall of rules isn't really needed unless the community is much larger and has more diverse opinions.
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