Forum Rules: Prior version

We’ve consolidated and slightly revised the Rules for Cafe Society. If you want to comment, please do so in Comment on New Forum Rules.

NOTE ADDED 11/05/05: We’ve revised this slightly, basically it’s the same info but in a better format. It’s here: Forum Rules: PLEASE READ

I’m leaving this post up, because there are lots of old links to it.

**On posting song lyrics, poems, etc **

Our sponsor, the Chicago READER, has a strict policy on respecting copyrights and copyrighted material. They don’t want their stuff used by others without permission, and so we don’t use stuff created by others without permission. Basically, The policy is : don’t do it.

It is okay to post a small snippet of song lyrics or poems or whatever, and include a link to another site which contains the complete text. But posting any material completely and verbatim is a violation of our rules and a potential violation of copyright laws.

This policy applies throughout the Straight Dope Message Boards, but it’s especially relevant in Café Society.

On Spoilers

If you wish to discuss or ask a question about a story, and you are unable to do so without revealing a ***vital piece of information ** * which might ruin a surprise for those experiencing it anew, please use a spoiler warning.

We can’t really set forth exact rules for when to use spoilers. It’s mostly common
sense and being considerate of others, but we do have some guidelines.

When do you need to warn of spoilers? [ul]
[li]Obviously, if the material is new, some people will want to experience it for themselves without knowing the ending or the secrets or whatever. Remember that the TV show you see on the east coast will not be seen for three to four hours later on the west coast. And perhaps not for weeks or months in a different country.[/li][li]Although a work may have been well known for quite a while, some folks may still be unaware of particular plot points of various works. Agatha Christie has been dead a long time, but there are still new students and others coming to her mysteries for the first time, who don’t want to know that the butler did it. On the other hand, anyone who doesn’t know that Dorothy could have gone home anytime by clicking her heels, well, the hell with ‘em. [/li][/ul]

It should be evident from these examples that we can’t give hard-and-fast rules about when to use spoilers. The guidelines must be common sense and courtesy: if you’re revealing a major plot element that could ruin the first-timer’s experience, then DON’T. If it’s a brand new work, be careful about revealing minor plot elements, as well.

Also, please don’t put a spoiler in a thread title. “New mystery by Lawrence Block: the wife did it!” is NOT a nice thing to do.

While there are obviously grey areas here, there’s also black-and-white. Deliberately revealing a major plot element of a new TV show in the title of a thread is being a jerk, and a violation of our rules.

Now, how to do spoilers:
When starting a new thread, the easiest (and probably the best) way to warn for spoilers is simply putting the word “spoilers” in the title of your thread, like so:

*Question about “Smarmy Tucklas” (warning: Spoilers!) *

This approach means that no one will stumble into the thread by accident, who doesn’t want to see spoilers. It’s therefore the recommended approach when you’re starting a thread. (You can also ask a Moderator to change the thread title by adding “warning: Spoilers!” later, but that’s already ex post facto.

Within a thread, use the spoiler tag that allows you to put spoilers within darkened boxes that must be manually highlighted to be read. To use spoiler tags, enclose the text you want to conceal between a tag, and a tag. Here is an example of how to do this:

Here’s what I want to know about “Smarmy Tucklas”:

It’s all Ganoush.

This will appear like this:

Here’s what I want to know about “Smarmy Tucklas”:

It’s all Ganoush.

Note that within a thread, anything that might be a spoiler from some other work should be hidden with spoiler tags, even if the thread title says “Spoilers.” Someone seeing thread about the movie PSYCHO, even with a Spoiler Warning, might be upset to find information about the surprise twist in this week’s West Wing, for example. So, be especially sensitive if you are revealing plot information about one work in a thread devoted to a different work.

Similarly, in threads not about a specific work, use spoiler boxes when you think it necessary, and all boxes should be labeled outside the spoiler box.
Incorrect usage: :

Correct usage:

Resurrecting Old Threads

Each forum has its own rules. Generally speaking, we don’t like resurrecting very old threads because the posters may no longer be members. How old is “very old”? As a guideline, more than six months old.

However, there are times when new information or new ideas come to light, or a movie appears on DVD, or a U.S. TV show is seen in the U.K., or even a new member wants to talk about something in an old thread.

So, we permit people to respond to old threads and to resurrect them, with some constraints:[ul]
[li]Don’t resurrect an old thread unless you’ve really got something to add. Just putting an “I just heard this album, and I agree with you!” on a two-year old thread does not accomplish anything at all.[/li][li]If you start a thread and get no (or few) responses, you may re-post to it once (ONCE!) to put it back on the front page. After that, let nature take its course. You may not continue to resurrect your own threads, hoping for a response THIS time.[/li][li]If you’re really starting a new discussion, but think that a reference to an old thread might be of interest, then start a new thread and provide a link to the old thread. [/ul][/li]

On good manners and common courtesy

Personal insults are not permitted in this forum. You can insult an artistic work, you can say what you’d like about an awful movie or poem or TV show or concert. Within reasonable limits, you can insult the artist/creator/writer. But you may not insult the posters. (Note: If a member posts their own poem, for instance, then the rule about “Not Insulting Posters” takes precedence over the permission to insult the writer. “Reasonable limits” for insulting the artist mean that if the artist is also the poster, no personal insults permitted.)

This forum is about entertainment and arts, and there’s rarely a “correct” answer. Multiple viewpoints about entertainment and art are to be expected.

Violations of good manners and common courtesy constitute jerkhood, and are a bannable offense.

There are lots of threads, and most people don’t have the time or inclination to read through every one to discover which ones they’re most interested in. Please, when you start a thread, be sure the title you create is reasonably descriptive of the topic.

Bad title: “This is neat!”
Good title: “The new CD by Enya is neat!”

Bad title: “This ain’t so bad…”
Good title: “This cabernet ain’t so bad…”

Bad title: “What do you think?”
Good title: “What do you think about GONE WITH THE WIND?”

OK, got it? Your cooperation is requested and required.

And yes, it is possible for people to see the first sentence of a thread by allowing the mouse to roam over the title and get a quick preview. But we really want the thread title alone to be sufficient guide.

And please, don’t put spoilers in thread titles!
Bad title: “In Harry Potter 8, Hermione is killed by a falling house” … that’s just not nice.

Some comments on the use of Spoilers:

  • Using quotes inside a spoiler tends to make the material visible. Be sure to preview!

  • Just a suggestion: If you have multiple levels of comments within a spoiler box, you can use colors to differentiate them. For example:

In “Citizen Kane”, Rosebud is a sled.
Pure speculation: In the upcoming “Citizen Kane II”:, the sled will be rescued from the fire by Kane’s illegitimate daughter, who has been hiding behind the suit of armor in the hall.

Even more on spoilers:

Please note that there is a mouse-over feature. When the cursor pulls over a thread title on the main forum page, you see a little box that contains the first few lines of the first post. This is useful for seeing whether you’re really interested in the thread.

However, that mouse-over doesn’t respect the spoiler tags.

So, please, be sure to put a couple of sentences of text (just hitting carriage return won’t do it) in your OP, before the spoiler box.


There are a number of issues where the line between entertainment and politics becomes somewhat fuzzy. A movie like MILLION DOLLAR BABY brings up the issue of euthanasia. An episode of LAW AND ORDER gets involved in abortion issues. Even the old movie, INHERIT THE WIND, is about the evolution vs creation argument. And tv comedians, like Jon Stewart on THE DAILY SHOW and Bill Maher on REAL TIME, certainly are involved in political satire.

Cafe Society is for discussion of issues about arts and entertainment. Thus, a discussion about political satire is acceptable here. A discussion about politics is not: Great Debates is the appropriate forum for discussion of the political issues of our day.

The Moderators are the first to admit that the line is fuzzy, but there is a line. We therefore establish the Rule*:

Thus, acceptable:

  • “Wow, Jon Stewart’s line comparing George Bush to Thomas Edison was so, so funny!”
  • “The NY Times Cartoon depicting Bill Clinton as a racoon was the best drawing I’ve seen, what great shading and contour with a minimum of lines!”
  • “Al Gore was on Leno last night, and his fly was open! what a hoot!”

Not acceptable:

  • “Yeah, Stewart really nailed Bush as a stupid, moronic, useless President.”
  • “Clinton has no moral standards whatsoever, does he?”
  • “Al Gore is such a loser.”

Got it? Again, it’s a very fuzzy line, but if you’re just out to bash a politician, it belongs in Great Debates or the Pit. If you want to discuss the art/entertainment of the show, Cafe Society is the right place.

Just because something is on TV and is comic doesn’t necessarily mean that the thread belongs in Cafe Society. Just because a question is about astronomy doesn’t mean it belongs in General Questions. We’re organized based on the type of discussion, not on the subject matter per se.

  • [sub]OK, it’s more a guideline.[/sub]

SDMB policy – in all forums – is that all direct links should be “workplace safe.” This is especially true for Cafe Society, where there is more tendency to provide links to art or entertainment that may NOT be “workplace safe.”

Please understand: we’re not trying to impose censorship. We just don’t want anyone inadvertently clicking on a link to something that could be career-limited if their boss happens to walk by. Lots of our members read the boards during work hours, and it’s easy to accidentally click on something when you scroll or mouse-over or whatever. So, we don’t care where you link as long as no one gets there accidentally.

SO, the idea is to set things up so that no one gets to such a website unintentionally. One approach is to require a second click: the first click goes to some innocuous entry screen, for example. While a first click might be unintentional, you probably know what you’re doing with the second click. Another approach is to deliberately mess the link – for example, putting in extra spaces. Anyone who wants to go the site can do so, just by cutting and pasting and removing the extra spaces; but no one can click there inadvertently.

Note that being “workplace safe” doesn’t just mean that there’s no nudity or explict visible sex. A page with a banner that says, “Hot Nubile Young Teens” would NOT be workplace safe. The criteria is: if you boss walked by while that was on your screen, would it cause her/him to stop and stare, and would it potentially cause problems at work? If yes, then don’t provide a direct link.

We’ve had a bunch of problems with people overusing or underusing spoilers.

General guideline: outside the spoiler tags, you need to say enough so that people know whether they can look or not! That is, you need to identify the work, for instance.

GOOD: In CITIZEN KANE, “Rosebud” is a sled.
BAD: At the end of GONE WITH THE WIND, Rhett leaves Scarlett.

For the bad example, notice that a reader doesn’t know whether to open it or not, because she don’t even know what work it’s spoiling. Get it?