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Board Rules, Long Version

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LancTalk Discussion Forum Rules- The Long Version


This is a detailed explanation of how we define and enforce the basic board rules.


Last updated May 11, 2010.


Who We Are


Who is Welcome on LancTalk, and Who is Not


LancTalk is an online community for those who live, or have lived, in Lancaster County, PA, as well as those who just love our area. The site is founded and operated by community member volunteers, and seeks to provide a venue for a wide variety of discussions on many topics related to our area, as well as the rest of the world.


People who repeatedly and willfully break the rules, or who generally engage in rude, anti-social behavior, will be banned. It doesn't matter if you are a founder, a long-term member of this community, or a donor.


If you have been banned from LancTalk, you are not permitted to log on again using a different username. Previously banned members will be immediately banned, regardless of behavior.


Relationship to other media or web sites


LancTalk is a completely independent community. LancTalk is not affiliated with any other media, government, news organization or company. LancTalk's sponsors hold no stake in the management of the community, nor do they support or endorse any opinions or content expressed on LancTalk.




Personal Attacks, Civility and Respect


The administrators of LancTalk are working to provide a place where the community can share ideas and debate in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Despite our best efforts, some of our members will stray from this ideal and cheapen the quality of discourse for everyone else. Unfortunately, it is simply impossible to write a comprehensive set of rules forbidding every type of antisocial behavior.


The fact that the rules do not forbid a certain type of post does not automatically make an uncivil post appropriate, nor does it imply that the administrators approve of disrespectful behavior. Every member of this community has a responsibility to participate in a respectful manner, and to help foster an atmosphere of thoughtful discussion. In this regard, we strongly advise that our members exercise a little common decency, rather than trying to parse the message board rules to figure out what type of antisocial behavior is not forbidden.


Do not post personal attacks or engage in name-calling against other individual members of this discussion board. Even very mild personal attacks are forbidden.


Do not hurl insults at other individual members of this message board. Do not tell someone, "shut up," "screw you," "fuck off," "in your face," or some other insult.


Do not call another member of this message board a liar, and do not call another member's post a lie. You are, of course, permitted to politely point out when a post is untrue or factually incorrect.


Do not publicly accuse another member of this message board of being a disruptor or troll, or otherwise imply they are not welcome on LancTalk. If you think someone is a disruptor, click the "Report" link below their post to let the moderators know.


DO try to be welcoming to new members, and encourage them to become familiar with the rules, both written and unwritten.


Do not accuse entire groups of people on LancTalk of being disruptors or trolls, or post messages which spread this type of suspicion. Do not post topics that arouse suspicion against new members, or members with low post counts.


Do not say that you are hitting the alert link to report another member. You are permitted to tell someone that you are adding them to your ignore list, provided that you actually do so.


Do not "stalk" another member from one discussion thread to another. Do not follow someone into another thread to try to continue a disagreement you had elsewhere. Do not talk negatively about an individual in a thread where they are not participating. Do not post messages with the purpose of "calling out" another member or picking a fight with another member. Do not use your signature line to draw negative attention to another member of the board.


We do encourage self-policing within the community, as long as it remains polite and civil. You are permitted to post polite behavioral corrections to other members of the message board, in direct response to specific instances of incivility, provided that your comments are narrowly focused on the behavior. But you are not permitted to make broad statements about another person's behavior in general, and you are not permitted to post repeated reminders about another person's mistakes.


You are permitted to criticize public figures, who are not protected under our rules against personal attacks. However, if a public figure is a member of our community, that person is protected by our rules and you are not permitted to personally attack that person. (You are permitted to offer constructive criticism of their activities as a public figure, not their families, friends or acquaintances.) Creating threads solely to criticize a public is permitted, but is subject to the final approval of LancTalk staff. LancTalk reserves the right to remove any thread and/or post(s) concerning a public figure which LancTalk staff feel is inappropriate; violates local, state and/or federal laws; or for any other reason.


If you do not like someone, please be aware that you have the option of putting that person on your ignore list. Just click the ignore icon on one of their posts.


There are no exceptions to these civility rules. You cannot attack someone because they attacked you first, or because that person "deserved it," or because you think someone is a disruptor. We consider it a personal attack to call a liar a liar, to call a moron a moron, or to call a jerk a jerk. While LancTalk does not monitor every post, if you feel you were attacked you should utilize the "Report" button so that staff can evaluate the remark.





Be aware of the type of language you use when posting, the context you are using it in, and who might likely be reading the topic you are posting in. Mild swearing and use of general expletives has become common enough that we don't want to waste valuable time policing profanity and inventing new filtering schemes. If you absolutely feel the need to use mild profanity to make a point, express yourself or share something humorous, please use discretion.


We won't publish an absolute list of what constitutes "mild" or "vulgar" swearing, but our Moderators and Admins exercise the power of "I know it when I hear it" in enforcing common decency practices. Generally speaking, if you "had a really shitty day", it's alright to share that news. If something in the news absolutely compells you to declare "Wow, did they ever get fucked over!", we might wince but hey, we hear you.


If, however, you think someone is "a big fat shit head", we'd strongly advise you to keep that to yourself. And unnecessary, profanity-laden statements like "this shit is all fucked up, those fucking asshole cocksuckers need to eat shit and die" will easily earn you a big time-out while you re-think how to express yourself. Sharing thoughts like this repeatedly will get your skanky ass shown to the door.


Do not use ANY form of swearing or vulgarity in topic or thread titles. This is an absolute rule.





Disruption and Inappropriate postings


Do not post messages that advocate harm or death to anyone, threaten the livelihood of anyone, or otherwise harass anyone. Do not send email, snail mail, phone, fax, or other messages to anyone if your intent is to threaten or harass, and do not encourage others to do the same. Do not take your disagreements offline, and do not do anything to try to harm or harass any member of this message board offline. We reserve the right to notify law enforcement if staff determines that threats and other forms of harassment violate any law; and likewise, LancTalk will cooperate with law enforcement and attorneys with or without court orders, subpoenas or other orders issued by a higher legal authority. See the Legal section for procedures. Any threat of violence, criminal behavior, and obvious criminal harassment is grounds for immediate dismissal as a member.


Do not post personal information about any other person, even if that information is publicly available. Do not "dig up" information about any other visitor to this website. You may post the public contact information for public figures, but you may not post anyone's private information without their consent. Conversely, if your information is published hit the "Report" button immediately and notify staff as soon as possible. LancTalk staff will make every effort to remove your personal information as quickly as possible.


Do not use our message board for personal business deals, for-profit advertising, or selling products or services, except in the specially-designated "LT Marketplace" forum, which requires permission to post. We will occasionally make an exception in cases where the product or service contributes to the community or a charitable cause, provided that you ask an administrator for permission before you post.


DO NOT POST MESSAGES THAT ARE ENTIRELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS, unless you are trying to indicate yelling or intense emotion. The best way to express your emotional state in posts is with emoticons.


You are permitted to discuss political or social issues relating to human sexuality, provided that you exercise the appropriate level of maturity, sensitivity, and discretion. If the content of sexuality is directed towards another member is particularly vulgar, unwarranted or unwanted by that member, the post will be removed and disciplinary action may result.


Do not post graphic images of violence, gore, pain, or human suffering. If you have a legitimate political purpose for posting graphic images, you may do so provided that you include a clear warning in the subject line of your post. LancTalk reserves the right to remove any such photograph without warning or notice.


Do not post messages asking for medical advice. If you know a poster is a medical professional, you may send them a personal message (PM), but LancTalk holds no responsibility for any medical advice you receive anywhere within LancTalk.


Stay on topic. Do not jump into an unrelated discussion and introduce a barely-relevant tangent.



Bigotry and Broad-Brush Smears


When discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or other highly-sensitive personal issues, please exercise the appropriate level of sensitivity toward others and take extra care to clearly express your point of view.


Do not post messages that are bigoted against (or grossly insensitive toward) any person or group of people based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, lack of religion, disability, physical characteristics, or region of residence.


While specific words are not automatically forbidden, members should avoid using racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted terminology. A common exception that is permitted is the use of words like "whore" or "prostitute" in cases where public figures or the media do favors. (For example: "That Network is whoring for the That Party again" or "That Politician is a prostitute for corporate interests.")


With regard to religion (or the lack thereof), LancTalk is a diverse community which includes Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and others. All are welcome here. For this reason, we expect members to make an extra effort to be sensitive to different religious beliefs, and to show respect to members who hold different religious beliefs. Members are welcome to discuss whether they agree or disagree with particular religious beliefs, but they are expected to do so in a relatively sensitive and respectful manner. As a general rule, discussions about ideas are usually permitted, but broad-brush bigoted statements about groups of people — either religious or non-religious — are not. If you are easily offended by discussions about religious beliefs, or if you take pleasure from offending or ridiculing people with different beliefs, or if you consider people with different beliefs to be your enemy or your inferior, do not participate in religious discussions on LancTalk.


Have a thick skin. Please be aware that just because you consider a post to be offensive does not mean that it is against the rules or bigoted. As a general rule of thumb, posts about ideas are generally okay, but posts about groups of people are often inappropriate.



Duplicate Topics and Spamming


Do not post duplicate topics that have already been posted. There are different levels of enforcement in different forums. Cross posting of duplicates in the two discussion forums is not permitted. Cross-posting of duplicates in two forums is occasionally permitted if there is a clear reason for doing so and you obtain permission from a Mod or Admin first.


Do not spam the message board by posting the same message repeatedly, or by posting a flood of different messages. Repeatedly posting the same message in different threads over time will be cause for post deletions, warning and possible suspension.



Inflammatory or Flame-Bait Discussion Topics


Do not post "flame bait" discussion topics. While there is no clear line regarding what constitutes flame bait, the moderators have the authority to shut down threads which they consider too rhetorically hot, too divisive, too extreme, or too inflammatory. Please use good judgment when starting threads; inflammatory rhetoric does not normally lead to productive discussion.


Do not start a new topic in order to continue a flame war from another discussion thread.



Restrictions on Linking to Other Websites


Do not post or share links that are off-topic, or that lead to other competing forums, product advertisements, affiliate sites, subscription-based services, illegal or illicit activities, pornography of any kind, hate sites, hacking or phishing sites, financial scams or other frauds are strictly prohibited, whether posted in a forum, your signature, your profile or sent to another member by PM.


Members are permitted to link to highly partisan websites, provided that they are doing so in the proper context.


If you would like to know if a particular website is restricted, please contact an administrator.


If you click on any link anywhere on this board, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK. LancTalk cannot police links and is not responsible for any content, malware or viruses that you may encounter as the result of following a link. Should you discover that a link is malicious notify LancTalk staff immediately by utilizing the "Report" button.



Where to post various discussion topics.


LancTalk has a large number of forums on a number of different topics. We encourage you to take time to familiarize yourself with all of the different forums so you have a better idea of where to post various topics.


If you choose to start a discussion thread, please make sure you start it under the appropriate topic or category. Similarly, if you wish to post in a thread, please make sure your post is directly relevant to the topic being discussed in that thread. Moderators may either move or delete threads or posts that are off-topic or in the wrong category.


Questions about LancTalk policies should be emailed to the administrators. Discussion topics pertaining to specific enforcement actions by the moderators are categorically forbidden. Discussion topics relating to LancTalk policies, procedures, enforcement, etc., are sometimes permitted if they are respectful and not disruptive to the administration of the website. We reserve the right to lock or delete any such topics for any reason.



Posting Restrictions on New Members


New members are restricted from starting new discussion topics. We require you to first post responses to a few existing discussion threads before you are given the privilege to do so. We wish we did not have to enforce this rule, but we have found it very helpful to keep disruptors off of our message board. Please do not email us to ask what the minimum number is; we won't tell you, and it's not very high.


New members are similarly restricted from using the private messaging function or emailing other members through their profiles.



Your username, signature line, and avatar image


All registered members must select a forum username which will appear with all of their posts. Members are expected to take care when selecting their usernames, which cannot be changed once they have been selected. Do not select a username that could be considered inappropriate or disruptive to the community.


Members are not permitted to have more than one account on LancTalk.


Members have the option of including a short signature line at the end of each post. Your signature line and your avatar image must adhere to the community standards for this message board. Do not use your signature line or avatar image as a means to disrupt the message board. If either your signature line or avatar image is judged to be disruptive, you will be asked to remove it or change it. The administrators have the final authority to decide what is considered disruptive.


Your signature line may not exceed 400 characters. This 400-character limit includes all characters, including spaces and URLs for links and images. You may have no more than one image (.jpg or .gif format) in your signature line at any time. This image may not exceed 400 pixels wide, 100 pixels tall, or a file size of 20 kilobytes. If you do not know if your image is in compliance, right click on it and select "Properties." You may not use any HTML code in your signature line except the special message board code for: bold, italics, links, center, and line breaks. You are limited to a maximum of two line break [br] tags.


Your avatar image should be in either .jpg or .gif format, and should be no more than 3 kilobytes. We recommend that you crop your avatar to exactly 48 pixels wide and 48 pixels tall.





Copyright issues and Bandwidth Theft


Do not post entire copyrighted articles. If you wish to reference an article, provide a brief excerpt and include a link to the original source. Generally, excerpts should not exceed three or four paragraphs. If the owner of copyrighted material notifies LancTalk that they wish to have their material removed, in most cases we will honor those requests.


Do not plagiarize.


Do not steal someone else's bandwidth by posting images that are hosted on another website, unless you are the owner of that site, or the image is owned by you, in your personal account, at an image hosting site such as photobucket.


LancTalk has the ability to block remote linking to images hosted on other websites. If you are a website administrator and you would like images from your website blocked, please send us an email to let us know.


Do not link or share copyrighted digital media such as mp3s or DVDs.


Wherever possible, please make an effort to link directly to the original source of an article, instead of linking to sites that have re-published someone else's content.



Forum Administration


General Rules


We reserve the right to ban anyone for any reason, to delete any post for any reason, to shut down any discussion for any reason, or to do whatever we feel is appropriate to run this website.


The rules listed here cover the most common disruptive or inappropriate postings, but this is not a complete list. We reserve the right to remove any post that we consider disruptive or inappropriate, even if that post is not specifically forbidden by our published rules.


All of the rules for posting on the discussion forum also apply to messages sent through our private messaging system, or by any other method of communication on this website.


If you think someone is breaking any of the rules listed here, or if you think someone might be a disruptor, please click the "Report" link on the offending post so the moderators can deal with it.


Generally, moderation begins with a personal message(s) to the member requesting that the violation ends. If the member does not cease such violations, moderators will begin to issue warning point(s) depending on the severity. If the member continues to violate the following will occur in the following order:

  • 12 hours of post moderation - meaning that your posts will have to be approved by a moderator before the post is visible to others. You may post as much as you want, and you will be able to see your post, but the rest of the community will not until the post is approved.
  • 24 hours of post moderation
  • 24 hours of total restriction from the board - meaning that you will not be able to access the board for a period of 24 hours.
  • 48 hours of total restriction from the board
  • 1 week of total restriction from the board
  • 1 month of total restriction from the board
  • Banned from the board indefinitely

This is not an all inclusive list, just a general guideline. Each violation is reviewed on it's own merit, and each member shall be evaluated based on the frequency of discipline or any factors that LancTalk deems appropriate. If you are looking for consistency in punishment, don't. You will never be privileged to know the extent of a member's punishment or even if they are punished at all. That is between LancTalk and that member. Do not pretend to know that LancTalk does not routinely or uniformly enforce rules since you have no idea how and/or when moderation is conducted due to the fact that it is not public information.


The administrators have the final authority on all matters relating to this website.



The Moderators and Administrators


Treat the moderators and administrators with respect.


Do not post messages attacking the moderators or administrators.


Do not publicly accuse the moderators or administrators of bias.


Do not send rude messages to the moderators or administrators, by email, by private message, by use of the "Report" function, or by any other means.


Do not publicly post correspondence you receive from moderators and administrators, and do not share it with other members of this message board.


Get off my lawn.


If you have any questions about the rules of this message board, please contact the website administrators by sending an email or personal message. The administrators of this website are Citydweller (Steve) and Maffimuk.


Questions about LancTalk policies should be emailed to the administrators. Discussion topics pertaining to specific enforcement actions by the moderators are categorically forbidden. Discussion topics relating to LancTalk policies, procedures, enforcement, etc., are sometimes permitted if they are respectful and not disruptive to the administration of the website. We reserve the right to lock or delete any such topics for any reason.



Please be aware of the following


Messages posted on our discussion board are the sole opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of LancTalk Administrators, Moderators, other volunteers or our sponsors.


Any information disclosed on our discussion board becomes public information. Anyone who visits our website is able to read any of the messages posted here. Also, many of the messages posted here are indexed by search engines, including Google.


By default, your profile is available to other registered users. You can hide your profile using the features available in your control panel.


LancTalk does not have a policy of checking the veracity of messages posted by users of our discussion board. Use discretion when evaluating unsubstantiated claims.





All moderator actions are logged by our software, and can be reviewed by the administrators.


All of our moderators are unpaid volunteers. They are selected from the membership of our community, and represent the full ideological spectrum of our membership. Moderators are selected based on their willingness to serve the community, the level of trust they have earned within the community, and a proven ability to look at views and ideologies that differ from their own objectively. If you wish to volunteer the serve as a moderator, contact an Admin after you have become well-established in our community.


Your Freedom to Leave


All visitors to the LancTalk website are here voluntarily. Nobody is forcing you to post on this message board. The administrators try their best to be fair, and to make LancTalk a welcoming place for members of the Lancaster County community who want to be here. If you do not like LancTalk, or the members of LancTalk, or the way we run LancTalk, then we strongly suggest that you exercise your right to leave. If we decide that you do not like this place very much, then we reserve the right to show you the door ourselves.

Edited by Maffimuk
It seemd like a good idea at the time.

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