New rules and corrections june 27, 2020


We are expanding and clarifying some of our current rules today, with corresponding user action involved.

No formal betting is allowed on the Straight Dope site. Not for fun, not for charity, not for argument, not for any purpose whatsoever.

In the past this was only a rule in the Great Debates and Politics/Elections forums. But now it applies everywhere.

Because of the limited application of the rule prior to today, the warning for UltraVires will be rescinded.

Do not post animated or flashing graphics on the Straight Dope site.

We will take action against users who post animated, flashing, or inappropriate images. We are the arbiters of what is appropriate.

If you have a problem with an action or a site function or anything here, the person you talk to is me.

If you find an inappropriate or problematic post you can flag it and send us a message.

As has been our policy since always, if you disagree with a moderator action you can post about in ATMB. We will consider your request. Many times we have changed decisions through this process. It is not a big deal. Moderators are human like most of the rest of you and can make an error. It can always be corrected if need be. Moderators are also human in that they have real lives and need to sleep and work and talk to their families occasionally. and are not here 24/7. They do their best in the time they have available.

Moderator decisions are often made by consensus and it takes a little bit of time and sometimes a lot of time to round everybody up. You should know this and expect that we will get to resolution as soon as possible but it’s not an instant thing.

If you feel your ATMB thread is not getting proper attention, SEND ME AN EMAIL.

You can disagree with an action but we ask you to be civil as you go about the process. “I disagree with this action because” is much more effective than yelling at the moderator or being ugly and insulting. Mind your manners in About This Message Board.

Handling grievances and complaints. If you have a problem or an issue of any kind, do not contact Chicago Sun-Times management or the Development Team about it. You send me an email about it.

They will not reply to your email. They are not the Straight Dope Police. It is my job to handle these issues. So save time and trouble and send it to me to begin with.

Like the moderators I am not here 24/7, though lately it sure feels like it. I will answer you as swiftly as possible.

This is a bannable offense. So don’t do it.

Please pay attention to our rules. They are currently being updated to reflect our changing status but if you are ever in doubt about anything here, ask a moderator or me and we will steer you straight. It’s always better to ask permission than to beg forgiveness.

your humble TubaDiva

I’m not sure what you meant to point out was a bannable offense? Contacting the Sun-Times management or the Development Team? Something else?

I took it to mean both the Sub-Times management and the Development Team.

This and this alone.

I will edit my original thread.

your humble TubaDiva

Thank you for the update, TubaDiva.

We need to know whether Chronos was correct in this specific moderation. We understand that this is delicate but we also need your assurance that a post declaring itself to be disallowed but is not in violation of the rules is OK. This is a yes or no thing.

When Chronos issued his warning he was of the belief that the ban against betting applied to all forum areas.

At that time, it was only to be applied in Great Debates and Politics/Elections. The post was made in The Game Room.

I do not know why the initial ban against betting was only confined to two forums – it should have been placed on the entire board – and that is what has been done.

If this correction had been in place when UltraVires made his comment, the warning would have been appropriate. Since it was not, the warning has been rescinded.

Moderators have many rules to apply and not every forum is the same. (As was in this case.) Memory is a tricky thing sometimes.

I hope this is resolved to your satisfaction.

your humble TubaDiva

I think we all understand that Chronos just made a simple mistake initially. Looking at the other posts regarding this topic it’s clear that there was a lot of confusion about the betting rules.

What I believe jnglmassiv is asking about is Chronos’s stated justification when he first announced that the warning would not be rescinded. He said:

in the post in question, UltraVires clearly stated that it was his belief that it did apply. By engaging in behavior that he stated to be against board rules, he undermined the rules of the board and was unnecessarily provocative.

So, the question is: If you imagine that you are posting something that might be against the rules, and it isn’t actually against the rules, is that “undermining the rules of the board” sufficient to receive (or sustain) a warning?

One clarification might be needed regarding contacting any of the Development Staff: I noticed that at least one of the Discourse developers has participated in some of these threads.

I must assume that makes it permissible, at least, to respond to any such remarks on this board, or at least in the same thread?

Yes; if they’re active in a discussion, that means you can interact with them. Of course it does.

Sometimes they’re soliciting data for a problem and they need your input.

They might even be plain ol’ Dopers from to time, I don’t know.

But if you have an issue or a technical problem or a burning question or a grievance or anything that requires customer service that’s my job and I’m the person you need to bring your questions and problems to. The Development Team does not deal with these issues, that’s not their job.

Let me do my job and get your problems solved if I can. I can’t do it if I don’t know about it.

your humble TubaDiva

Thank you for the rule clarifications TubaDiva, and of course for all the hard work you and the whole team have been doing. If I could trouble you for one more bit of clarification–

Is this a blanket ban on any animated images? Or is the intent here that we avoid spamming the board with “reaction gifs” (the dreaded facepalm image) or super flashy gifs that seem designed to cause epileptic seizures, but something like the slightly animated Times Magazine cover someone posted in another thread, or an info graphic with some animation that’s relevant to the discussion at hand is OK?

Technical point, @TubaDiva: in the OP here, it looks like you attempted to bold the key points (which are the new rules), while leaving some of the elaboration in plain, non-bolded text. That’s helpful - I appreciate drawing the reader’s eye to what’s most important in the post. However, the contrast between bold and non-bold is quite minor, at least with the SDMB Dark theme and my aging eyes. I barely noticed it. Might I suggest doing something to highlight it a little more? Colorize, increase the size, use a bulleted list, etc?

Thanks for your consideration.


I have an example that I think fits. Sometimes you see folks preface a link or reference to an otherwise innocent message board with language suggesting they’re uncertain whether it’s allowed. It’s allowed, of course, and a vestige of some mostly long forgotten ‘board war’ from decades ago that probably seems really, really silly today. Would a post like this in a relevant thread be subject to discipline?:

I know of a great salsa recipe but I don’t think we’re allowed to link to other message boards. But it’s sooo yummy, I just -have- to! [links to salsa recipe on food related message board]

We realize you don’t want to paint yourself into a corner or embarrass staff, but, again, this is a yes or no question that isn’t about betting or gifs or any other specific rule.

I’ve been using Straight Dope Light, and the bolding shows up quite well. But I turned on Dark long enough to see if I could see what you were talking about, and you’re right: the contrast between bold and non-bold text doesn’t seem to appear nearly as strong in the white-on-dark.

This thread is going to be reviewed and then added to the FAQ most likely.
I just pinned a short time ago as it was hard to find.

Could all the forums rules be pinned in Site Feedback?

I don’t see a mirroring option but maybe I’ll make a thread that links to all of the Forum Rules. Actually that might be a good post addition for the Registration Agreement, Rules, and FAQ

ECG recently added the Moderator List to it.

Just to be clear, since we posters can now ‘unsticky’ stickies (something I did to reclaim the screen real-estate in all the fora) the rules can now be much harder to find.

Having just one (maybe not unpinable?) sticky with all the rules would make reading the rules, and finding them to check ‘Was that really a rules violation? I should check the rules before I report that post!’ much easier.

Take a look at this post, it should help: