Author Topic: Forum Rules (October 13)  (Read 55686 times)


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Forum Rules (October 13)
« on: October 14, 2013, 10:11:31 PM »
Introduction (by Jakswan)
When the BBC forum closed I thought it would be a good idea to set-up an alternative and see what happened! I was, and remain, delighted that many of the BBC members decided to register here, and it has been a great pleasure to see the Forum settle down and mature since then.

The aim of starting this board was in order that people could still have a place to exchange views on ethics and religion but where the ethos could be a little more relaxed compared to the BBC. By the very nature of what goes on here not everyone will agree, and things can get a little heated and go beyond banter, but I hope that even so being here is usually interesting and enjoyable, and that there is the minimum of hassle.

The ethos here is important, and I'm quite clear that we can't run this Forum as a democracy. A better approach is to see it more as a club where attendance is voluntary, and where being a member here requires people to engage in discussion in a civilised way and be prepared to accept the Rules that have been created with this in mind.

I also think that it is highly unethical for me to run this Forum it in an autocratic way so, on balance, the approach that I've decided on is that all the operational aspects and decisions are for the Moderation Team to deal with - they do this voluntarily, so your support of them and their efforts is appreciated.

1. General Conduct
R & E is an adult forum about issues that involve personal commitments and/or strong views. As a result, there may be differences of opinion and/or disagreement; this is, of course, the life-blood of debate, which is why we are all here. It is hoped that these Rules, which were widely discussed as they were being compiled, will provide a workable basis that all can regard as being reasonable in terms of their expected conduct here. It is anticipated that these Rules will be regularly reviewed, possibly after 3 months initially to take account of any early lessons learned, and thereafter on a regular basis.

Therefore, members are asked to bear the following rules in mind.

1.a Members are free to choose and change their user-names but are asked to avoid names that may be considered provocative or might lead to confusion with other members: originality is welcomed though! Should there be complaints from other members about user-names then moderators may require that the member concerned amends their user-name.

1.b Members are expected to only operate a single account at any one time. 'Sock-puppetry' is unacceptable and members found to be operating multiple-accounts can expect to be banned.

1.c PMs are private communications between members and should NOT be posted without the consent of the relevant member.

1.d Members are asked not to abuse the PM system, and especially by not sending unsolicited PMs that have a content that could cause concern to the recipient(s). Any members in receipt of PMs that they are concerned about are requested to report these to the moderation team (including a copy of the relevant PMs).

1.e Members are asked not to reveal any personal information about other posters without consent.

1.f Posting large chunks of text from external web-sites is discouraged in favour of posters including the link and their summary of the points they think worthy of discussion.

1.g It is expected that there may be a degree of ‘banter’ in threads, and this can sometimes be useful in reducing tensions. However, members are asked to ensure that any banter is not unduly disruptive (since PMs or a new thread are options here).

1.h While it is expected that some exchanges will be ‘robust fair comment’, members are asked to avoid comments (in posts or PMs) that may be considered to be: overtly aggressive or threatening, that are demeaning to others and specifically advocate discrimination solely on the basis of personal taste, that involve questionable sexual content, that involve gratuitous swearing or contains abuse or insults directed towards specified members, or that might reasonably be assumed to imply certain members (such by reference to a 'group') to the extent of causing offense or alarm. Members should report any posts or PMs that involve such content.

1.i Members are also asked to note that the dividing line between reasonable pressure during discussions, on one hand, and feelings of being harassed on the other is at best imprecise and largely depends on the feelings and sensitivities of the members involved. Members who do feel harassed, in relation to either posts or PMs, should inform the moderators.

1.j Members are asked to ensure they report any posts that they wish to bring to the attention of the moderators, and members should feel free to make such reports even if they are not directly involved in the thread/discussion. Whether moderators act on reports depends on the circumstances and, in some cases, on the previous history of the member(s) involved.

2. Specific Issues

2.a Swearing
Swearing is not banned, since this is an adult forum and in some senses swearing can be an appropriate form of expression. However, when directed towards an individual in a threatening and abusive manner, or where it is thought to be gratuitous, then there may be an issue.

There is obviously a degree of value judgment here but, it is suggested, we should all be adult enough to recognise where the boundaries lie and where they have been exceeded. An example would be:

1. ‘Shut the f*** up’ – this may be an expression of frustration and is impersonal: would probably be considered as fair comment.

2. ‘You are an f****** imbecile' – this is clearly personal and would be moderated.

2.b Persistent Questioning

This does not include where members reasonably press other members for clarification as part of a discussion. However, where this becomes excessive (such as a poster repeatedly posting exactly the same question in a series of posts) then it may be considered as harassment. When such incidents are reported the moderator team will look at the wider posting history of those involved as opposed to just the reported post.

2.c Thread Derails
There are two aspects that are recognised as being generally permissible.

1. Where the discussion moves from the original OP to related issues BUT this is consistent with flow of the preceding discussion.

2. Where there are some ‘banter’ posts (as noted earlier), since these more light-hearted exchanges can be a transient part of a serious discussion.

However there are other forms of thread derail that are questionable and should be reported.

a. Posts that are clearly intrusive and bear no relation to the on-going discussion.

b. Clear attempts to introduce a different topic in a way that isn’t part of the discussion at that point or appears to be an attempt to 'sabotage' a discussion (e.g. asking a poster on a given thread a question about their posts made on other threads).

Members should generally resist the temptation to knowingly disrupt on-going exchanges between posters that already have a clear focus of discussion. Moderators may remove or edit off-topic posts that are reported to them and that can be reasonably considered to be sufficiently out-of-context as to be disruptive to the thread.   

2.d Persistent Disruptive Conduct
There may be situations where the behaviour of posters can be problematic on a cumulative basis, in that while they may not make a contentious post that is immediately moderated there may be other reasons for concern; such as when the moderators have complaints from members (e.g. about harassment or PM contents) or have issued repeated warnings in respect of recurrent problems.  In cases like this, action may be taken for persistent misconduct.

It should be noted here that this may involve issues that the membership at large may be unaware of (such as from the reporting of posts or PMs to the moderation team).

2.e Suicide Threats
We are a discussion forum, and do not have the knowledge or qualifications to deal with suicidal posters. Any attempts to do so may result in making things worse.

This forum's policy follows the recommended best practice. Therefore, posters threatening suicide will be prevented from posting or sending PMs, and will be given details of appropriate help and support e.g. The Samaritans.

Posters who see suicide threats on the forum, or receive them by PM, should alert the moderators immediately.

2.f External Websites/Links
Members can include these as references provided that they are relevant to the discussion. Members are asked to avoid posting links that are pornographic, are advertisements or involve a commercial transaction – any such links will be removed once identified.

Please note that long URLs may affect the layout of pages. URL-shortening sites are available, such as If you do post a long URL and it causes problems with page formatting, the moderators reserve the right to replace or remove the URL.

2.g Copying Text/Copyright
With regard to potential copyright issues that might arise from the copying and pasting of large chunks of text, members are asked to attribute the source of any such material, lest they be accused of plagiarism. If posters choose to copy and paste from their own site they are asked to acknowledge this, so as to avoid others being concerned about copyright issues where there are none.

2.h Block Quoting
The practice of simply quoting the whole of the post being responded to (especially if this is a lengthy post that itself contains other quotes), rather than isolating the particular bit one wants to respond to, can be very off-putting generally, and especially so for those who have readers working for them.  Even multiple-quoting, where a poster responds to a section of a post at a time can also make life difficult for members who use visual aids. As a result posters are asked to avoid such quoting layouts if they can.