Here is the proposed rewritten set of rules:
Official Board Policies
This document is intended to describe the rules of this forum. Its terms are subject to change in future, but are currently agreed-upon by the administrative staff.
- Use Proper English. This is an English language forum, and we expect a decent attempt at proper English. This means decent spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. In particular, do not use annoying SMS-speak such as "ur" instead of "you are" or "b4" instead of "before". We understand that not everyone has English as a first language and we can make allowances for that, but you should at least make the effort.
- Do Not Flout The Law. This is not an "underground" forum. Do not brag about criminal activity, incite criminal activity, solicit or offer pirated software, etc.
- Be Honest. Around here, dishonesty is much worse than rudeness. We take a particularly dim view of anyone who pretends to be someone he's not, or who brags about false accomplishments.
- Grow a Thick Skin. People are allowed to insult each other and use profanity on these forums. Do not run to a moderator or dismiss someone's argument just because he's insulting or rude. The best way to respond to a rude person is to show him up by producing a better argument than he can.
- Do not "Pile On". Also known as the "me too" or "dogpiling" rule. Don't post in threads just to say you agree or disagree with someone, or that you like or dislike something, without bothering to explain why. Put some effort into your posts.
- No Hate Speech. We try to have relaxed rules about what you can discuss. However, there are certain exceptions: do not promote pedophilia in any way, Nazism, or white supremacism. This board is physically located in Canada, so do not violate Canada's hate speech laws. And finally, do not discuss the notoriously misogynist "Gor" books.
- Avoid the History of Israel vs Palestine. Feel free to discuss news from that part of the world, but we have a special moratorium on debating the history of that conflict, since such debates always go round and round in the same endless circles. If you wish to discuss IvP issues, stick to current events.
- No Pornographic Pictures. This rule is self-explanatory.
- Stay On Topic. Make posts in the relevant forum. When posting in a thread, try to stay on the subject of the thread.
- Let Dead Threads Lie. Do not post in old, inactive threads (eg- no activity for more than a month). If you want to resurrect an old subject, it is preferable to make a new thread with a URL reference to the old one. Note: we can be flexible on this rule in very low-activity forums where most of the threads on the first page are old.
- Use Meaningful Thread Titles. Thread titles are only useful when they describe the contents. Misleading or vague thread titles are not permitted.
- No Advertising. In other words, we hate spammers.
- Don't Over-Use The Smilies. This is a subjective rule, but let's just say that it's definitely over-use when more of your post is composed of smilies than text. Lesser examples will rely on more of a judgement call.
- Reference News Sources. If you create a thread about a news article, always provide a link or a text reference to the source. Also, provide enough text excerpts from the source to permit meaningful discussion even if readers don't visit the URL.
- When to use the "Report" Button. Please click here for guidelines.
- No Thread Hijacking. By this we mean that you cannot change the subject of a thread in mid-stream. We are aware that discussions can meander of their own accord, but there are times when someone deliberately tries to change the subject, and that is unacceptable.
- No Vendettas. Do not "follow someone around" because you dislike him, hijacking threads to carry on your feud with him or dragging arguments from one thread to another. Try to debate the ideas, not the people. We know this is easier said than done, and everyone has been guilty of this at some point, but that is the ideal to strive for. In particular, do not start a thread solely to attack or challenge some other member of the forum. The only type of "calling someone out" threads permitted on the forum are in the Senate, where disciplinary hearings are held.
- Miss Manners Does Not Live Here. Do not whine about other people being rude. In particular, do not use someone's rudeness as an excuse to ignore his arguments.
- No "Broken Record" Tactics. Do not employ the "broken record" debating style of continuously repeating yourself until other people give up.
- Back Up Your Claims. If you make a contentious statement of fact and someone asks for evidence, you must either provide it or withdraw the claim. Do not call it "self evident", restate it in different words, force the other person to prove your claim is not true, or use other weasel techniques to avoid backing up your claims.
- Vengeance Is Mine. If you think someone has broken a rule, contact a moderator in the forum where the alleged offense took place. Do not be a "back-seat moderator" and attempt to take him to task yourself. Please note that this complaint should reference which of our rules you believe the offender has broken.
- The Rules Are The Rules. If you dislike our forum's policies, either keep it to yourself or leave. This is our forum, these are our rules, and if you don't like it, there are plenty of other forums out there.
- Leave The Staff Alone. The moderators and administrators and Senators are unpaid volunteers with their own lives and demands on their time, and they do not need to be whined at every time a user thinks poorly of them or their actions. If you believe you have a serious grievance, you should use the PM button to contact a Senator. The Senate exists to discuss such issues. Obviously, if your grievance is with a Senator, then contact a different Senator.
- If You Hate The Board, Leave. Self-explanatory. There is no good reason why someone who thinks the board is a terrible place should stay and post about how much he hates it. If you think it's that bad, just leave instead of whining about it. That also goes for whining about "prevailing attitudes", "board culture", etc. If you think the majority of us are wrong about some topical issue, make some good arguments to show why we're wrong. Don't just whine that few of us agree with you.
- No Harassment. If you are found to be harassing another member (particularly a female, especially one less than 18 years old) via PM or some other means, particularly in a manner that makes the other member feel threatened, you will be summarily banned. Do not pester female members for personal info, do not ignore requests to leave them alone, do not proclaim your interest in them on the forums, etc. We are aware that some of you are young and may think it's cute or amusing, but we don't.
- When to Insult the Staff: you can insult the staff with respect to their arguments in a discussion, but not their performance of their duties. Some people think they can cleverly discourage administrative action by accusing the staff of abusing their power; this will not be tolerated.
Your User Profile
- No Inflammatory Avatars. If the staff feels that your avatar is offensive or overly irritating, you will be asked to change it. The rules for avatars are much stricter than the rules for discussions, because your avatar is everywhere you go. A post in a discussion is made only once.
- No Huge Signatures. Excessively large sigs take up too much screen space. As a general rule, your sig should be no taller than mine, and should not contain images larger than 500x100 pixels or bigger than 75 kB. As with avatars, signatures are subject to much stricter rules than discussion posts. If the staff feels that your sig is oversized, offensive, or visually irritating, you will be asked to change it.
- No Sock Puppets. Do not make "sock puppet" accounts (ie- multiple accounts) for yourselves. This is inherently deceptive. Users who do this to evade a prior ban or who help someone else evade a prior ban will be immediately banned themselves.
- If You Want To Leave, Just Leave. If you keep threatening or promising to leave, we'll eventually get tired of the melodrama and just ban you. If you ask us to ban you or dare us to ban you, we will. If you demand that we erase all your posts, we will laugh at you.
- Name-Changes. We might grant name change requests, depending on whether we like you. But if you keep asking for multiple consecutive name changes, we can't guarantee that your new name will not be Shit-Eating Fuckface.
- My House, My Rules. I own the forum. I pay for the hardware, I maintain the software, I pay for the bandwidth. As a guest in my house, you must recognize that I set the rules, not you. If you think that is unjust, TOO FUCKING BAD.
- Let The Staff Decide. The administrative staff and Senate will decide what is an appropriate punishment when someone breaks the rules. Sometimes we may be in a lenient mood, but that does not tie our hands for the future.
- No Lawyering. These rules are here to tell you what you can and can't do, but they do not define "rights" which you can throw in the faces of the staff if they agree that you've done something wrong. We have clarified rules or even added retroactive rules in the past (eg- the harassment rule) due to certain peoples' actions, and we are quite willing to do so again. In other words, this is not a court of law. Don't nitpick semantics or look for legal loopholes.
- Strike One. For a low-level offense, we will typically give you a warning. In some cases, we might give you an insulting title. Removal of said title can be handled by petitioning a Senator, if you can make a case for it.
- Strike Two. If you ignore warnings (particularly repeated warnings), we will typically start removing privileges such as private messaging, editing, avatars, signatures, etc.
- Strike Three. If the violations continue after warnings and privilege removal, or if the offense is deemed serious enough, we will escalate to a banning vote in the Senate. Bans may be either temporary or permanent, but most bans are permanent.
- Insta-Ban. Certain serious violations can lead to instant summary banning. These include, but are not limited to: stalking, hacking, sock-puppeteering, ban evasion, and picture trolling.
Please compare them to the existing rules and then vote. I personally think the new rewritten rules are much easier to read, and feedback elsewhere so far has been uniformly positive. I'll leave the poll open for 2 days.