Rules and Forum FAQs

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by poisonedpenny, Nov 19, 2007.

  1. poisonedpenny

    poisonedpenny Aspirant

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    The ones on my site need a serious re-write. Too many things are vague and subjective with the rules, and an in-depth FAQ doesn't quite exist. I'm thinking about just starting completely over with these two things.

    Would anyone be willing to post either their forum rules or FAQ as a good example of where to begin?

    Or, do you have any tips about how to go about writing rules and/or FAQs so they are more likely to be read and understood by members without being too stuffy and overbearing?

    Thanks in advance!

    (PS. I could have sworn I had seen an old thread about this before, but I could not for the life of me find it through various searches.)
     
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  2. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    You're welcome to base your rules on the Turbo Island Charter. :tup: The key imo is not to give managers all the rights and members all the duties. :unhunh:

    ai98.photobucket.com_albums_l272_annakey_2006_TurboIslandCharter_Page2of4.jpg

    ai98.photobucket.com_albums_l272_annakey_2006_TurboIslandCharter_Page3of4.jpg

    ai98.photobucket.com_albums_l272_annakey_2006_TurboIslandCharter_Page4of4.jpg
     
  3. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    have many people signed up to this charter?
     
  4. gogoblender

    gogoblender shiny happy pantless

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    This is ours:

    http://darkmatters.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=3754

    It took us a few months to write up, and we're pretty proud of it. It's a mix of the heavy handed legales with a touch of spoof from Scary Movie 4.

    ai90.photobucket.com_albums_k271_gogoblender_scarymovie4.jpg

    And lots of hugs from the mod team with offers of how we can be bribed :lildevil:

    Use it if you want and good luck with yours!

    :)

    gogo
     
  5. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    Why, do you want to? :)
     
  6. s0lidgr0und

    s0lidgr0und s0lidgr0und.org admin

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    I wrote mine in about three minutes. I don't think anyone has ever really read them, but I have them to refer to when people violate them.
     
  7. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    i doubt it, i'm kinda struggling to see the actual point in it all

    but back to my original question:-

    have many people signed up to this charter?
     
  8. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    480. It covers each Turbo Island member. :)

    I see. Is any one bit causing particular problems?
     
  9. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    sorry i may not have made myself clear

    in the blurb under article 12 'adoption of charter' it states

    'any message board may adopt the charter, wholy or in part, or use it for guidance purposes, subject only to aknowledging the authorship of turbo island and displaying any awarded charter mark'

    so to refine my question, how many other message boards have signed up to this charter?

    there's no particular problem with any part to be honest, as i said, just kinda struggling to see the point of it all
     
  10. dragon_fire

    dragon_fire Adherent

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    I have set a whole thread dedicated to FAQ's. I add them as I go. If a member has a question they can PM admin or post in the thread, I can then answer it and keep the question for future reference.
     
  11. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    I'd say roughly 30 forums have adopted bits of it or have been guided by it. The anti-PM snooping clause, opposition to cyber-abusers and 100% retention of copyright provisions are particularly popular.

    We'll also award negative charter marks. Only one so far - on a forum permitting a renowned cyber-abuser to operate - and it worked very well. He left within 24 hours of the award being served. It also made a lot of people laugh, very hard indeed. Presumably you favour cyber-abusers getting their come-uppance? Or do you permit them to operate on your forum?

    Do you allow PM snooping, cyber-abuse and copywrite theft on your forum? If so, you're welcome to sign up to the Charter and put matters right.

    :)
     
  12. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    and do these 30 forums that you speak off comply with article 12

    how many of them turned up at your last AGM and how many do you expect to turn up at the next AGM? what kind of motions were discussed/passed at said AGM?

    also for the 30 odd forums that have singed up or have been guided by them, i presume the members of said forums democratically decided that it was in their interests to do so prior to the forum bosses signing the oath so to speak, i'd hate to thing that these kind of things were done on a boss to boss basis, behind closed doors and shutting out the ordinary members from the decision making process. do you have any mechanisms in place to stop rogue forum bosses signing up without appropraite deliberation on the part of the actual members?

    apologies if these questions seem nosy, however a quick perusal of your posts here indicate that your not shy at coming forward when it comes to this 'charter' so (perhaps somewhat presumptiously) i assumed you wouldn't mind being questioned on some of the actual substance of them
     
  13. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    No need to apologise. The Charter goes to the heart of what many on TAZ have spent a great deal of time thinking about. It's also controversial, so will tend to provoke debate (and amusing knicker-wetting in some cases). You ask precisely the right questions imho, which I'll answer, in detail, asap.

    But you've failed to answer mine. No problemo. Perhaps, like me, you're busy today. But here they are again (marked in red) should you have a few minutes to spare.

    :)
     
  14. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    No answer? I'm damned if I'm going to spend time answering your questions if you won't answer mine. :)
     
  15. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    indeed

    anyway anna key, the only reason i asked the questions in the first place is because you seem to tout this turbo island charter concept all over this board (a quick search of your posts reveal you post it up or refer to it on numerous occasions), if your reticent to actually answer any questions that are put you on it then i'd say that's a bit unfair, as it appears that it's only you who is allowed to define or frame the context around which discussion relating to this charter takes place within

    now yes you've asked me questions about the discussion forums that i help to run, however i havn't once mentioned them on these boards or pushed the model as to which they are run on as being something that others should aspire to, so i'd say i have less requirement to respond to your questions than you do to mine. if you'd rather not answer questions on them (or only end up answering questions when cajoled into like now) then i'd suggest you don't promote this charter concept so vigorously if a few simple questions on them send you into the kind of impatient fit that we've just saw in your last post

    anyway, as you asked, and in the interests of fairness, i'll do my best to answer your questions

    on the whole yes (in terms of come-uppance), it can be a subjective area however, one person's cyber abuse is another person's harmless banter. i think on the whole adults who use discussion forums shouldn't be nannyed all over the place and told what they can or cannot say, yet at the same time if forums are set up for a specific purpose there has to be a balance set between ensuring that that purpose gets a reasonable opportunity to be pursued. additionally i think the people best placed to judge that balance are both the people who run the discussion board and the members who post there, where 'authority' as such ultimately lies along that spectrum is always going to be different dependent upon the objectives & aims of the individual discussion forum. how beneficial it is for people outwith of that dynamic (i.e. your charter for example) to superimpose ideals from outside that current into said discussion forums i'm fairly skeptical off, however to be fair your charter on the whole doesn't really say that much of substance so i can't really see it altering that much to existing dynamics

    i.e. your ban policy says nobody should be banned unless they break the rules, so pretty much nobody should be banned unless they should be banned, it's reasonably empty of content

    i.e. your democratically owned policy says 'boards should be owned by their members, but can adopt different ownership arrangements according to their structure', so again another fairly contentless statement, i.e. they should be this, but they can be that - any board could comply with this statement

    i.e. your democratic control policy, 'message boards should be controlled by their members, as far as reasonably practical but will adopt different governance arrangements according to their purpose' - again this, to me, just seems an empty statement as it allows either end of the extreme

    so overall i guess i'm just a bit bemused as to how you think this actually moves anything forward as it seems to give scope for massively differently run boards from both extremes of the spectrum and with completely different approaches or ideas as to how discussion boards should be run to be in compliance with, i.e. it's lowest common denominator stuff which doesn't really differentiate at all - pretty much any discussion board going could probably demonstrate compliance with it

    we don't allow 'PM snooping' no (although anyone who has access to the database could realistically 'snoop' as you put it, this point has been pointed out a few times by mods to members on our forum), cyber abuse i've covered above, 'copywrite theft' i'm not sure what you mean by the phrase. our forums are fairly public so anyone can lift what's been written by others and use it i guess, there's little one can do to prevent that i'd say, although most people who post on discussion forums know that it's not exactly private or secret so i suppose only post what they are happy for others to see, and potentially use elsewhere

    anyway, i hope that's answered your questions, i apologize for the delay in getting back to you - however as pointed out above not even 24 hours had passed between your asking the question and your subsequent prompt, considering you took nearly 6 and a half days to answer my question to you, i'd say your intervention was somewhat presumptuous
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2007
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  16. lordtopcat

    lordtopcat Adherent

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    Ok, so someone signs up to the Charter, what do you do to make sure they stick by it?

    One point I strongly dis agree on Anakey. No private forums? How do you propose the staff communicate? I have one private forum on my forum for staff members. This is where we can all communicate so we know what is going on. I, being the site owner let my staff know if i am going to install a modification. I will briefly explain what the mod does, and why I am installing it. If we didn't have staff forums, how else do you propose we communicate? Maybe I should set up an entire forum just for my staff? I do not agree to that point at all, and I guarantee many people agree with me.

    Also about the PM Snooping...I am going to really dramatize here, but hey I am a dramatic person!
    I have received word from one of my members that he has been physically threatened by another member on the board. I am signed up to the charter, so I cannot look at his PMs. All I can do is wait for him to physically strike my other member? How would you feel Anakey if this was true? Maybe you should add something like "Under extreme circumstances"?

    A few of your points need to be looked at Anakey...because while members should have freedom of speech, there are some occasions when this gets out of hand, and locking/deleting of threads needs to happen.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2007
  17. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    Apologies. I was keen as mustard to know your position. Please forgive my breathless enthusiasm.

    :tup:

    I make it 44 hours, 58 minutes, but point taken. It's great our exchange is now reciprocal.

    I agree one shouldn’t be too precious about these things. But the cry of the bully down the ages has always been: “It was only a bit of harmless fun!” the aim being to wriggle out of having been caught abusing someone and to imply that the victim is to blame for complaining. So I’m suspicious of the “harmless banter” argument. Also, how does the victim, and third parties reading the cyber-abuse, know it’s just “harmless banter”? Say, poster A informs poster B that he intends to track him down in real life and violently assault him. Unless poster A makes clear, simultaneously, that it’s only a bit of “harmless banter” i.e. that he’s lying, how can you tell?

    True, but presumably you’d join me in defining the above example as cyber-abuse? What about the following definition, happy with that?

    That only works if the forum managers aren’t themselves cyber-abusers, or cyber-abuse enablers. In which case they’re last people you want dealing with the problem. You don’t appoint a corrupt policeman to take charge of a corruption inquiry.

    Some forms are notorious for banning people who have broken no posting rule. Here’s a TAZ thread about it. So far from being “empty” it would be a major advance on some bulletin boards for the management to acknowledge that bannings occur only when a rule has been broken. It would represent a fundamental shift of site policy. That's not "empty".

    Some of the worst trouble I’ve seen on bulletin boards has been when members demanded a stake in their ownership and control. Look at it from the point of view of the owner. He’s spent his money on domain names, a software license, hosting costs; he’s devoted (sometimes) thousands of hours tweaking the code, chasing off spambots, recovering from hacks, installing mods; he’s painstakingly built up the membership, while managing the site through thick and thin (sometimes involving blood-on-the-walls in the mod forum as power struggles occur). Then a bunch of members come along and demand he hands it all over, to an uncertain future. Or they seek a broad statement of intent of the sort you quote. I’d estimate that c. 95% of forum owners would resist, tooth and claw, signing up to those clauses. They’d see them as (a) conceding the principle, (b) being the thin end of the wedge, and (c) representing a fundamental assault on their alleged ownership rights.

    Now, that would be quite a strong reaction to “empty statements” wouldn't you say? People notoriously fight to the death to defend what they consider to be their property.

    It’s a criticism of the position adopted by many forum managers: the claim that as they own the database, which includes PMs, they can do what they want with their property, i.e. can PM snoop till the cows come home. In fact, it’s not even (so the argument runs) PM snooping: they’re simply inspecting their property. As well as the obvious privacy implications such a claim drives a coach and horses through copyright law and weakens the third party defence.

    So to give members 100% control over what they post, with a formal, unhindered right to amend or delete their posts, in perpetuity, would be a radical departure for many forums. Just check the numerous TAZ threads on the subject, and note some of the (frankly extraordinary) attitudes of some forum managers.
     
  18. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    :geek:
     
  19. annakey

    annakey Charter? What Charter?

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    Answer the last lot first! :unhunh:
     
  20. sena

    sena Aspirant

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    i think you've demonstrated that you are clearly reticent to answer questions on, or discuss areas of, this 'charter' that have not been initiated & framed by yourself in the context that you want and feel comfortable on - that's fine, it speaks volumes in itself and indicates, to me, that there's not much more value to be had in continuing with this.

    good luck with your charter though and hope the next AGM goes well
     
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