The agreement below spells out the rules by which SDMB users are expected to abide. The purpose of the present revision is to add the language in bold regarding threats. This clarifies longstanding policy and is not a new rule.
We have one guiding principle: Don’t be a jerk.
Registration is required in order to post messages on the Straight Dope Message Board (“the SDMB”). Registration is free. We don’t request personal information other than your e-mail address (although you may include such information in your user profile if desired). Registrants are given the user title “guest” and are shown advertisements. If you do not wish to see advertisements, you may purchase an annual subscription. Subscribers are given the user title “member.” For more information about subscriptions, click on the “Subscribe” link in the menu bar at the top of most SDMB pages after you register. A subscription is required if you wish to post a picture in your user profile.
The following rules apply to all participants on the SDMB:
Considering the real-time nature of this bulletin board and the volume of messages received, it is impossible for us to verify the information posted. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. Users should be particularly wary of medical, legal or other professional advice posted on the message board and recognize that it is no substitute for in-person consultation with a competent professional. Messages express the views of their authors, not necessarily the views of the operator of the SDMB, namely Sun-Times Media, LLC (“STM”), or any entity associated with it.
You agree, through your use of this service, that you will not use the SDMB to post any material that you know or should know is false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, threatening, invasive of a person’s privacy, or in violation of U.S. law. You agree not to post material that in our opinion encourages activity that is illegal in the U.S. We reserve the right to revoke the posting privileges of persons misrepresenting themselves on the SDMB.
Minimum age for registration on the SDMB is 13 years. Registrants found to be younger than 13 will have their posting privileges revoked and forfeit any subscription fees. SDMB content is intended for mature audiences; parents or guardians paying subscription fees for children aged 13 through 17 are responsible for determining whether the SDMB is a suitable environment for their child.
You agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or by the operator of the SDMB, except as permitted by the “fair use” provisions of the U.S. copyright laws (in general this means brief excerpts only). You agree to abide by the wishes of the board moderators in interpreting and enforcing these rules. Refusal to cooperate with board moderators or to abide by these rules is grounds for revocation of your posting privileges.
This message board is intended as a medium for public discussion. 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. We allow exceptions for worthy causes (in our sole opinion) if you obtain prior permission from a moderator or administrator. We do not require prior approval for non-commercial gift exchanges, e.g., “secret Santa” exchanges. STM and its agents, including the administrators and moderators of the Straight Dope Message Board, make no representation that they have investigated or vetted charitable appeals, gift exchanges, and similar activities promoted on this board or groups or individuals associated with them. We do not vouch for, monitor, sponsor, endorse, or have any formal association with such activities. Proceed at your own risk.
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.
You are free to express your views in a forceful manner provided you remain civil. Hate speech, insults, and purposely inflammatory remarks (i.e., trolling) will not be tolerated. Do not post threats or state or imply that any individual or group is deserving of harm. We recognize that this rule cannot be strictly applied in discussions of war, capital punishment and the like but urge users to express themselves in moderate terms nonetheless. If we tell you to refrain from behavior that we regard as uncivil, or that in our view detracts from productive discussion, do so or face revocation of your posting privileges.
**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, are not permitted. Users making such threats are subject to banning without notice. This includes threats of legal action even if not directed specifically at the SDMB.
**The board is not intended to furnish you with a forum for promoting your personal agenda. We reserve the right to ask you to limit postings on a particular topic, or to refrain from posting on such topics altogether. Please do not ask other members to do your homework or provide input for your article, paper, or other off-board project. We may waive this rule if you obtain prior permission from a moderator or administrator.
Do not post links to pornography - we will be the judge of what constitutes pornography. Links to nudity or other potentially shocking or offensive material are permissible only in the context of a mature discussion - gratuitous posting of such links is grounds for revocation of your posting privileges. When posting a link to potentially shocking or offensive material, observe the “two click” rule - don’t link directly to the item, but rather to an intermediate page that in turns links to the item. If you’re not sure whether a link is appropriate, contact a moderator or administrator before posting it. Any user who feels a posted message is objectionable should contact the moderators of the affected forum by e-mail.
Only one screen name is permitted per user. If you wish to change screen names please email an administrator. Use of multiple screen names is grounds for revocation of your right to post under ANY screen name. We reserve the right to refuse postings from screen names we find objectionable.
Vandalism, tampering, or any other abuse of the site is grounds for immediate banning. We reserve the right to report violators to their Internet service provider and law enforcement.
We reserve the right to delete any message for any or no reason whatsoever. You remain solely responsible for the content of your messages, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless STM, vBulletin Solutions, Inc. (the makers of the bulletin board software), and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of your message(s).
All postings and other material on the SDMB are copyrighted by STM. Republication of material appearing on the SDMB without express written permission of STM is prohibited, except that users retain the right to republish their own work. By posting on this board you grant STM and its successors and assigns a nonexclusive irrevocable right to reuse your posting in any manner it or they see fit without notice or compensation to you.
STM and its agents, including the administrators and moderators of the SDMB, are not responsible for anything associated with any real life meeting of our members. While we permit SDMB users to post announcements and other discussion of meetings and events on the Straight Dope Message Board, we don’t organize, sponsor, endorse, approve, or have any formal association with such events or any activities that may occur at them. We don’t vouch for any individual or group organizing or participating in an event. Attend at your own risk. SDMB moderators and administrators who attend events do so as private individuals and not as representatives or agents of STM. We encourage all attendees at these events to obey the laws of the jurisdiction in which they are held.
From time to time we may acquire nonconfidential but sensitive information about you, some of which you may have posted yourself to our board. We won’t disclose or repeat such information except as (a) reasonable and necessary to manage our business, or (b) required by law, or © consistent with good citizenship, e.g., to prevent or report a crime or to respond to inquiries from law enforcement.
If you privately provide us with sensitive information related to the SDMB, we’ll act on it as we feel prudent, with the understanding that we’ll take reasonable measures to prevent your being identified as the source of the information without your consent, provided we’re not shielding a wrongdoer or acting against the public interest in doing so.
You are required to submit and maintain a valid e-mail address. If you do not wish to receive e-mail from other SDMB users you may so indicate in your user profile. However, we retain your e-mail address in our database and reserve the right to have SDMB staff contact you. We won’t give or sell your e-mail address to bulk mailers, brokers, or similar entities.
We log your Internet address (IP number) each time you post. The IP number tells us your Internet service provider. We reserve the right to reveal the IP numbers and e-mail address (but no other confidential information) of chronic SDMB rule violators to other bulletin board operators. We do this to identify guests registering under multiple screen names. One of our third-party advertising providers, Google, uses IP numbers to customize ads served up to SDMB users.
Please remember that postings on this board are visible to anyone with access to the Internet, and are retained in a database indefinitely. In addition, the SDMB is open to third-party search engines (“spiders”). Please do not post personal revelations or other information that may come back to haunt you. In particular, do not post your telephone number or address.
Please remember that you are our guest here, and that we reserve the right to exclude you at our whim, for any or no reason whatsoever. Subscribers who are banned forfeit all subscription fees they have paid. If you have been banned from the SDMB and resubscribe, you will be banned again without notice and forfeit your subscription fee. By registering and using the board you acknowledge this right and agree to abide by our rules and to submit to their interpretation and enforcement by our moderators and editors.
Rule enforcement is the responsibility of SDMB staff. If you believe a post violates a rule, report it using the “report post” function - this is the triangular icon at the right end of the time/date bar above each post. Do not take it upon yourself to chastise others for perceived rule violations.