Code of Conduct. Read Me First. (Updated: February 25, 2008)
If there is one universal truth to this outline it is that we retain the right to change these rules at any time. These are guidelines of what we generally expect, and simply because we haven't explicitly stated here that you can't do X doesn't mean you, by default, can. Generally I don't like Codes of Conduct because it implies that the forum members don't know the appropriate way to act in a public forum. My feeling has always been that if you need these rules to know how to act, then you're probably not going to be here long. And to my great enthusiasm, the vast majority of you have not needed to be told how to act.
A larger problem I have with CoCs is that a great many people see a code of conduct and then have a letter of the law to follow instead of the spirit, meaning they exploit the loopholes and hide behind the argument 'well, it wasn't in the CoC to act like an unmitigated jerk in this surprising and new way, so it's fine.' Let me put that argument to rest now.
Certis and I retain the right to freely edit, delete, moderate, and ban for any reason.
With that said, here are some general guidelines:
1) Treat all forum members with respect -- The best way to get along well here is to be respectful of everyone you speak with. This is not to say you can't argue, debate, and discuss, but that you do so with all the recognized conventions of personal and public interaction. In a very general sense, imagine that you're having these discussions face to face in a restaurant. You wouldn't shout across the table, spout constant profanity, or even hurl food across the table, and if you would then these are not the forums for you.
2) No personal attacks -- I can't believe I have to explicitly state something that should be patently obvious, but we have no interest in folks who can't turn a phrase without attacking someone. If you simply can't respect opinions that differ from yours, then you've got the whole internet to spit vitriol, but you're not going to do it here. This is easily the quickest way to get banned.
3) No Excessive Profanity - We're not so Draconian or Polyanna as to think people don't curse when they get passionate about a topic, and this is one of those gray areas where it very much depends on the context. The general rule is that if your statement is largely predicated on the fact that you've used an obscenity, that is if the obscenity itself is the thrust of your statement then it doesn't belong. A good measure of this is by percentage, which is to say if you have two sentences, and they both have profanity then you're on the wrong side of the line. If however you've crafted a passionate argument and use profanity to augment a genuine statement then it's not a problem. Further, tone is a serious consideration here.
4) You Must Attempt to Follow English Standard - This is not a rule meant to squelch the voices of those who do not use English as a first language, but to remove those for whom English is their primary language but can not be bothered to form coherent sentences. We won't ban you if you choose to haphazardly split infinitives, but the basic conventions of the language are a requirement, I think, for intelligent discussion. That means employing punctuation, capitalization, sentences, paragraphs, subjects/verbs, and the recognized and proper use of alpha/numeric characters (meaning W is not \/\/). Elite speak, except in the most ironic of circumstances, is forbidden, and internet acronyms like LOL, WTF, and AFAIK are to be used at a minimum.
5) No Links or Requests for Pirated Material or Warez Sites - I will not necessarily squelch an intelligent debate on the topics of piracy, fair use, ripping, downloading music, and so on, but we will not permit any links to illegal sites. Furthermore, publicly asking for permission or invitation to private pirate communities is not an appropriate post for our boards.
6) No Pornography - Let's just assume that everyone who uses the internet knows how to find porn if they want it. Thus, posting links or images here is really unnecessary, so let's just not have it. This includes links in your profile.
7) No "I'm Leaving!" Threads - That's not to say that if you've been a contributing member for some time and developed relationships here that you can't tell us what's going on in your life. If you're leaving for reasons that don't have to do with being a petulant whiner, then we're not going to hold you back, but if you feel like you've been unfairly treated by admins or that too many people disagree with your opinion, then just leave and don't bother telling us what jerks we all are. We really will get on without knowing that you're leaving because the admins suck. It's not that we're squelching your freedom to speak (though, you really have no 'rights' here), it's just that we don't care. On a similar note, if you've been warned or even just mildly reprimanded by an admin in private, then don't make a thread just to bemoan your mistreatment or to suggest that you'll be banned soon. We've had that thread once, and I hated it. We're not having it again.
8 ) Avoid 'I'm New!' Threads - We're ecstatic that people feel like joining the discussion, and we're happy to have you, but you'd be best served just joining a discussion and not starting a new thread.
8.5) No 'Read The CoC' Responses to I'm New Threads - It may not be ideal, but we do want to be welcoming to new members, and having the posse ride out with guns on hips is not exactly a fruitbasket of Welcome to the Site. If it's a problem, moderators will handle it.
9) Usernames are not to be vulgar or ridiculously childish. You may think it's funny to name yourself after shocking body parts or acts of coitus, I think it's just apropos, and is precisely the kind of material that you're welcome to share somewhere else with someone who wants to read it.
10) Don't register on the site simply to advertise a product or service in the forums, we get bombarded with enough ads as it is on a daily basis.
11) Be descriptive with your thread titles. People should be able to glance at your thread title and determine what it's about. It keeps repeat posts to a minimum and lets people know if they'll want to read your thread. For example. Bad: Best Thing Ever! Good: My New Viper: Best Thing Ever!. The first will either get skipped over or offtopic quickly, the second will let Viper lovers come in and give you great advice or possibly buy you a drink.
12) No images in signatures, no distractingly animated avatars. We don't really want the clutter.
13) The use of a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) tag is required on threads that contain links to questionable, crude, vulgar, or pornographic material, or direct member contributed material of an explicit nature. It is also required on threads where the use of traditionally vulgar language becomes excessive. NSFW threads are not exactly in the spirit of Gamers With Jobs, as we are a site that, by nature, is supposed to be as much for people at work as casual browsers, so the tolerance for these types of threads is low. NSFW tags should be used sparingly and with the understanding that they will be open to closer moderation as needed. Explicit material should be clearly labeled when linked to, and not exposed directly by image or quote on the site itself, particularly when more explicit. We reserve the right to make judgment calls on moderating, locking, or deleting Not Safe For Work material, and our level of moderation is likely to increase in times of greater NSFW posts, which means that if there's already a fair quantity of explicit material floating around, it's probably best not to bother.
In short, Not Safe For Work should be saved for truly clever material, and used with great discretion and consideration for all members of the community. We do not want to walk over everyone's fun, but all things in moderation.
-- The Intangibles --
Let's be honest. This is not a commercial site, and we have a fairly small community. Since Certis and I pretty much run this site out of our own pocket and with what free-time we have, then we can really be as Draconian or free-spirited as we like. For the most part, the less we have to moderate, the happier we are. So, if we have edited or modded you, then we feel like you've solidly crossed the lines of the kind of discussion we wish to foster. This is not to say that we now hate you or wish to persecute you, though we will become increasingly troubled with those we have to regularly moderate.
The official structure is this:
First Offense) A private warning
Second Offense) A public warning
Third Offense) Gone
Naturally this depends on the severity of the infraction, and if you do something unpleasant enough - or even catch us on a really bad day - you may very well be banned the first or second time out, particularly if you act in retaliation to a warning. More likely, you will be given several chances to straighten up and conform to our liberal expectations (don't like to conform? Look at all that Internet out there where you don't have to).
Not every moderation or edit we do will be accompanied by a warning. Sometimes we just feel like the tone isn't appropriate for the forums. If this happens to you, don't take it personally, and don't assume you're now on some list. If we're giving you a serious warning, we promise that you'll know it. Otherwise, we'll just make a slight change and move on. It's nothing personal. It's just meant to ensure that this remains a worthwhile place to discuss all issues.
Further, there is also an issue of credibility and reputation. If you've been a long standing and contributing member of this community then you're going to get a lot more leeway. I freely admit that we will have double-standards for those who have contributed to a healthy discussion in the past and those who we've seen as 'trouble'. I'm no paragon of justice here, and if I like you then you've got a much better chance of not getting warned or banned than those who don't. This doesn't mean you need to agree with everything I say, but if you demonstrate some capacity for intelligent discussion I'm not going to be nearly as quick to show you the door. I think it's only fair to state this explicitly, because it's the truth:
If you've been given a warning in the past, then your behavior will be held to a higher standard than everyone else. If you have been given a warning, particularly a public one, then you will have to work harder to repair your reputation.
Is that fair? I don't know. I never promised complete fairness. I'm a human being, so is Certis, and you're not paying for a service here, so this is pretty much our house. We don't like how you act in our house, we ask you to leave. It's the cold hard facts fellas. The good news is we generally like people so this isn't going to remotely affect the majority of you. The even better news is it means we will ensure there is flame-free and intelligent discussion here. If it sounds like too much work for not enough reward, we're fine with that and assume you know how to find your way to another website.