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Old 10-26-2018, 03:41 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10,583


The first rule of the Straight Dope Message Board remains, “Don’t be a jerk”. While there are other rules covering posting behavior they derive from that one rule. Moderators in all forums are here to ensure the rules of the board and each forum are followed. Violating any of the board rules as outlined in ATMB and the various forum specific rules may result in various levels of sanctions. Context is critical when interpreting the rules and moderation will take such into account. If you suspect a rule violation, please report it using the “report this post” button in the top right corner of each post - it looks like a triangle with a exclamation point inside it - and all moderators of that forum will be notified.

Rules for all Forums
  1. Forum Descriptions – Threads are separated based on the type of discussion. A description of each forum can be found on the main page. Moderators will move threads as appropriate.
  2. Copyright – Do not use copyrighted material without permission. Fair use guidelines apply and are interpreted conservatively. If you are quoting material it is good etiquette to provide a link to the source. We construe discussion of P2P and file sharing violative of copyright laws. Do not ask questions of the type "How do I get this peer-to-peer sharing software to work?" or "Can someone help me find a copy of (song or movie clip) using peer-to-peer sharing software?" Debates on the legality of this practice are allowed.
  3. On discussion of VPNs
    Allowed: General discussion of VPNs. Questions about legality and debates about legal and other issues. Discussions about using a VPN to hide your identity for security purposes
    NOT Allowed: Discussions about VPNs for P2P and file sharing, copyright violations, or illegal purposes. Discussions about using a VPN to hide your identity for purposes such as ban evasion, socking, trolling, and spamming.
    Specific VPN service providers should not be mentioned by name or linked to without permission from the moderation staff.
  4. Illegal activity or material – Do not post material that fosters or promotes activity that is illegal in the U.S. For example, discussing the effects of illegal drugs is okay, where to obtain them is not.
  5. Calls to Action - Do not instigate members to take action for or against any issue or entity. Do not post phone numbers, email addresses or any other personally identifiable information of any entity in this regard. Threads calling for folks to take actions (political, charitable, personal, etc.) are prohibited unless there is prior approval from a moderator or administrator.
  6. External Links – Links must be descriptive and should be workplace safe. Observe the two click rule such that no one gets to a website unintentionally; it requires TWO clicks, rather than just one click, to get to a site that is not safe for workplace. Do not post “jack in the box” links – those that have an image that suddenly changes or has a loud sound.
  7. Personal Insults – Do not directly insult or personally attack other posters. The general rule is to attack the other poster's arguments, rather than the other poster him- or herself. This rule applies to all insults, including jokes and quotes from books & movies, as others may not get the joke. There is an exception in the BBQ Pit forum where insults are permitted. Please see specific rules for the BBQ Pit here.
  8. Hate Speech – Do not post hate speech directed against any race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, or gender in any forum.
  9. Trolls and trolling - Do not accuse other posters of trolling or being a troll. If you suspect someone is trolling or is a troll, please report them. Identifying a troll is a question of motivations, which aren't objectively verifiable. There really is no "bright line" that distinguishes a troll from someone who expresses an unpopular opinion forcefully. It's ultimately a judgement call if a particular poster is doing one versus the other. Do not troll. Trolling is posting solely for the purpose of riling others up.
  10. Quote Box – Do not modify another poster’s words inside the quote box. For SDMB posters, the quote must be accurate, whether displayed using [QUOTE] tags or ordinary quotation marks. Normal editorial rules apply: that is, you may indicate omitted portions of a quote by the use of ellipses "..." or devices such as [snip]. You may add text to clarify a word using square brackets (e.g., "her [the sister's] friend"), but you may not add editorial comments or edit a quote so as to change the substantive meaning; nor may you substitute text such as "some blather" or "more nonsense" inside the [QUOTE] tags or quotation marks. We encourage accurate quoting of off-board individuals in a serious discussion; links are recommended. If it becomes apparent you're derailing a discussion with fake or misleading quotes of off-board individuals, we reserve the right to take action. Unattributed parody quotes are permitted in all forums provided they don't violate other SDMB rules. In the BBQ Pit forum only, parody quotes may be attributed to a parody username, provided that (a) the parody username is obviously satirical - we'll be the judge of obviousness; and (b) no other rules are violated. Quotes attributed to parody usernames are not permitted in other forums.
  11. Ignore List – Do not hint or state that any particular person or group of people is on your ignore list. Revealing the usernames of people on your ignore list is forbidden outside of the BBQ Pit forum.
  12. Thread Titles – Do not use vague thread titles. Use descriptive thread titles.
  13. Thread Bumping – Do not bump your thread more than once. Posting a thank you to those who responded is not considered a bump.
  14. Private Messages – Do not violate any existing rules in private messages. Since they are treated as postings, the rules of conduct for private messages are the same as those of the general forums of the Straight Dope Message Board, starting, but not ending, with our most basic rule: Don't be a jerk. There is no guarantee of privacy in these messages, and you assume the risk that any PM you send might be made public by the recipient.
  15. Junior Modding – Do not Junior Mod. If you feel a post is in violation of the rules, please report the post and let a moderator deal with it. If you are not a moderator do not act as one.
  16. Threadshitting – Do not threadshit. Threadshitting is belittling the topic or the people discussing it. It typically takes the form of a dismissive comment, like "Who cares?" or "This is stupid!" or similar. The implication of the threadshitter is that discussion of such a topic is beneath them, and should be beneath everybody else. If you really do think that a discussion is inane or pointless, the appropriate thing to do is to not participate in it. And, of course, if you see someone threadshitting, please do not respond with personal insults or accusations: instead, REPORT the post to a Moderator.
  17. Threats - Do not post threats of any kind against the SDMB, Sun-Times Media or their affiliates, including without limitation SDMB posters, staff, advertisers or other entities, regardless of where and how expressed. This includes threats of legal action even if not directed specifically at the SDMB.
  18. Socks - Do not use more than one screen name. We reserve the right to refuse postings from screen names we find objectionable.
  19. Spam - Do not post spam, including but not limited to advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, solicitations, offers to trade or barter, charitable appeals, or other messages primarily intended to promote a cause, venture, organization, event (except Straight Dope-related events), website, or other entity or activity, whether or not money is involved. Do not post spam in your signature or send it via the SDMB's "private message" feature. Do not post the same or similar messages or threads to multiple forums; multiple threads on the same topic; or an excessive number of threads on any topic within a limited period of time. Do not start threads expressly for the purpose of meeting other posters for romantic or sexual purposes. We will notify the Internet service provider of any party posting objectionable messages.

Each individual forum may have specific rules that apply to that forum. If this is the case, those forum specific rules will be noted in a sticky at the top of the respective forum.

Warnings, notes and other moderator actions

Moderators may act in several ways to ensure the rules of the forum are followed. When moderators act it will be clearly indicated that the moderator is acting in an official capacity. Types of moderator actions:
  • Warnings - An official warning on the Straight Dope Message Board acts as a permanent record of a poster’s breaking the rules of the forum. While there is not hard and fast rule, sufficient warnings over a period of time - both the number of warnings and the timeframe are intentionally left vague - may result in further, more permanent sanction. Unless rescinded by moderation staff, a warning remains on a poster’s record indefinitely. However, older warnings are given less weight when considering additional sanction.
  • Moderator Notes - A moderator note is usually provided to a poster, group of posters, or all thread participants to give guidance in a particular thread. This guidance is generally given to promote an environment where discussion can take place. Unlike Warnings, mod-notes are not tracked in any official, permanent way.
  • Thread or topic ban - After discussion among the moderators, a thread or topic ban may be issued for specific posters. These tend to come about when a pattern has developed indicating a specific poster cannot be trusted to remain within the rules on some topic or other. It is hoped that placing topic or thread bans will enable discussion to continue constructively for other participants.
  • Suspensions - Posters may be sanctioned with a temporary suspension of posting privileges. Continuing to break rules following suspension may result in a ban from the SDMB. Suspensions are not made lightly - nor unilaterally - and are discussed among the moderation staff and voted upon.
  • Banning - Repeated violations of the rules - or indications that a poster has no intent on ever following the rules - can result in a permanent banning from the SDMB. As with suspensions, the moderation staff as a whole votes on whether a poster will be banned.
  • Other actions - These are not the only potential sanctions available to the moderation staff. We reserve the right to get creative in the future.

Right to appeal - For all questions, comments, and complaints about the SDMB or its moderation, please post in the About this Message Board sub-forum. The moderation staff will do their best to participate in these threads to explain the reasoning behind the action.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 11-02-2018 at 10:51 AM. Reason: added VPN rules