The WWGHA Administrative Team has approved the following rules for this Forum:
WWHGA Forum Rules
The purpose of this list of Forum Rules is to provide you with the information you need to (with a little applied common sense) avoid running afoul of the Forum Administration or Forum Moderators. It does not represent a "constitution" for the Forum or a "legal" document of any sort. A better analogy would be to the rules momma used to make. Lawyers need not apply. The Forum Administration reserves the right to revise, rewrite, add to, subtract from, or abolish these Rules without notice. Any changes may be announced as a courtesy, but nothing in these Rules shall be interpreted as requiring that notice be given.
0.1: Enjoy Yourself, Learn Something and Respect Others' Right to Do the Same
This Forum is a place to create and engage in productive, educational, and entertaining discussion (usually) on issues that matter, with emphasis on the issues addressed by the GodIsImaginary.com and WhyWontGodHealAmputees.com websites. It is not a place to engage in personal animosities, grudge matches, soap opera dramas, or Forum politics. The Forum is not about the Forum!
Rule 1: Administrator and Moderator Discretion
While all reasonable efforts will be made to avoid arbitrary and/or biased actions and rulings by Administrators and Moderators, the Forum Administrators, and Moderators acting under their direction retain the sole right of interpretation and application of these rules in the event of a dispute. See also Appeals
Rule 2: Illegal, Threatening, Libelous, and Inappropriate Material
The Forum Administrators and Moderators reserve the right to delete or edit out (see Moderator Edits) illegal, libelous, and inappropriate material, and to initiate disciplinary action against members who post such material. These categories include (but are not limited to) things like child pornography, threats of physical harm, instructions for making bombs or other improvised weapons, instructions for producing and using controlled substances, libel, racist, sexist, and homophobic comments, and excessive vulgarity. Forum Administrators and Moderators reserve the right to initiate disciplinary action, up to and including summary permanent bans depending on their judgment of the severity of the violation.
Rule 2.1: Moderator Edits
Forum Administrators and Moderators are entitled to edit posts to remove objectionable and/or disruptive material including but not limited to oversized pictures, animations, and non-substantive comments (such as racist, sexist, or homophobic slurs). Moderators may also insert a "Mod Break" to issue a warning or comment on a post. A "Mod Break" looks like this:
[modbreak="Post edited by Moderator_0XX]Moderator comment here[/modbreak]
Members who attempt to edit or delete a Moderator Edit are subject to Disciplinary Action. Moderators may not edit a post in such a way that the Moderator's words are made to appear as the poster's. A Moderator Edit may only be done for administrative or disciplinary purposes. A Moderator's comments must be clearly distinguished from a poster's comments by use of a Mod Break tag. Deletions of part of a post must be specified by the use of a Mod Break tag so members can tell where a Moderator has edited the post. The Moderator should also present a succinct reason for the Edit. Moderators must identify themselves when engaging in Moderator Edits.
Rule 3: Spam, Advertising, Porn, Chain Letters, Warez, Etc.
Spam, advertisements,* porn, chain letters, warez, executable programs and other content deemed destructive or disruptive of the Forum's function will be summarily deleted by Forum Administrators or Moderators. Disciplinary action may be taken by Administrators or Moderators (see Disciplinary Action). *Members may include a link to their business in posts or signatures, and may discuss their business when relevant to a topic (such as a thread dealing with work or personal life situations), or when information is solicited by another member. However, posts that are primarily for the purpose of advertising will be subject to Disciplinary Action and/or Moderator Edits.
Rule 4: Sock Puppets
A "Sock Puppet" is a secondary account created by a member to hide their identity, circumvent disciplinary actions, create a faked "agreement" with the puppeteer (usually done en masse to simulate a supportive crowd) or masquerade as a person of opposing belief for purposes of trolling. Forum Administrators reserve the right to summarily ban sock puppet accounts. Secondary accounts may be created by Administrators or Moderators for administrative functions, or by members with the expressed permission of a Forum Administrator.
Rule 5: Account Registration/Sharing
Your account is the "face" by which other Forum members and the Forum administration recognize and interact with you. You are prohibited from registering an account using an anonymous proxy service. You also may not share your account with one or more other members or non-members. Forum Administrators and Moderators may initiate Disciplinary Action, up to and including a summary ban of shared accounts. Reasonable efforts will be made to validate charges of account sharing.
Rule 6: Bots
The WWGHA Forum employs captcha and other technologies to prevent automated software applications ("bots") from obtaining membership accounts. Bots that manage to circumvent these measures will be summarily banned.
Rule 7: Multiple Accounts From a Shared Computer
If you and another person such as a family member or roommate wish to join the WWGHA Forum using a shared computer, please send a Private Message to a Moderator or Administrator so that your situation can be taken into account. Please be careful to insure that you are using your own account, and that you are not logged in under the name of a family member or roommate before you post.
Rule 8: Plagiarism
Plagiarism is not permitted on the WWGHA Forum. "Plagiarism" is appropriating another person's writing and presenting it as if you were the author. If you wish to quote from a source, indicate this clearly in your post, by using the Quote function, quotation marks, or other clearly visible means of separating quoted material from your own writing. Whenever possible, cite the source and/or provide a link to the source document. If you do not recall the author's name, say so and clearly distinguish the quoted material from your own writing.
Rule 9.0: Personal Attacks
This Forum deals with controversial issues, arguably the most controversial issues there are. There will be heated discussions here. Your most dearly-held beliefs and ideas, particularly on issues of religious faith vs. reason, will come under attack. Expect this, and be prepared to deal with it in a mature manner. You do not have a right not to be offended. However, all Forum members will be expected to regulate their own behaviors in an adult manner. Before unleashing a post laden with vitriol into the Forum, ask yourself: would I say this out loud in a restaurant? Like a restaurant, this Forum is a public space. Whether you like it or not, how other patrons perceive your actions will reflect on their perception of the ideas and values you are trying to defend. And like a restaurant, we (the Forum Administrators and Moderators) reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Recommendation: Always proofread your posts before hitting the "send" button, and if necessary, take some time to back away from the computer, do something else, and restore your emotional calm. Be sure the post you're about to send says what you really want it to say. Personal attacks deemed to be unacceptable will be dealt with in accordance with the system of Disciplinary Action, and may be subject to Moderator Edits.
Rule 9.1: Attacks on Beliefs and Positions
In this Forum, there will be posters who treat religious subjects irreverently, such as referring to Jesus as "Jebus." There will also be believers who state that atheists are immoral, make references to "sinners" burning in Hell, etc.. Cherished ideas, values, and beliefs will be subject to biting criticism and attack. You do not have a right not to be offended. But as with personal attacks, Forum members will be expected to behave as adults in conversation with other adults, even when the debate gets heated. One of the main goals of this Forum is to facilitate spirited discussion of these ideas, without degenerating into a flame-war blast furnace. Posts deemed to be unacceptable will be subject to Moderator Edits. Forum Administrators and Moderators may also initiate Disciplinary Action.
Rule 9.2: Setting the Limits--the Banana Nut Bread Rule
While perceived "offense" is inevitable in debates over issues where beliefs and ideas are passionately held and sacred cows from everybody's herds are barbecued and served with mashed potatoes and cole slaw, Forum members should strive to keep attacks against people or beliefs to a minimum in ratio to valid content such as argumentation and evidence. The term "attacks" refers to comments like "Belief X is stupid" or "you are a moron." Even in the most fervent arguments, these should be relatively few and far between in comparison with evidence and argumentation provided to support your position. Think of them as the nuts in a loaf of banana nut bread, with the bread representing the evidence and logic employed in support of your ideas. Keep your signal-to-noise ratio high, instead of resorting to schoolyard taunting, and you will avoid the ire of the Administrators and Moderators. Like the banana nut bread, this will also keep your position from crumbling.
Rule 10: Challenging Administrators and Moderators
Members may not publicly argue with the decisions of Forum Administrators and Moderators. Posts that do this are subject to immediate deletion. Members who do this are subject to Disciplinary Action. See also, Appeals
Rule 11: Trolling
"Trolling" refers to a set of behaviors that are deliberately disruptive of Forum discussion. Examples include "derailing" a thread, posts that contain attacks and insults without debatable, topical content, and a pattern of refusing to address counter-points made by other participants in a discussion. Trolls are subject to Moderator Edits and Disciplinary Action.
Rule 12: Original Content
You are expected to provide original content, in your own words in each post. You may cite sources, Bible passages, and other quoted material, but each post should be mostly your original work. Posts containing extended quotes of Bible passages or long blocks of quoted text from other works may be subject to Moderator Edits and if done repetitively, Disciplinary Action.
Rule 13: Personal Messages and Private Areas
A Member may not publicly post the content of Personal Messages they have received, or posts made within any Private Areas that may exist within the Forum without the expressed permission of the sender of the Personal Message and/or the permission of a Forum Administrator for material contained in a Private Area. Members (including Moderators, but see 13.1) who do this are subject to appropriate Disciplinary Action.
Rule 13.1: Exceptions
Personal Messages containing threats, harassment, or inappropriate material should be forwarded to a Global Moderator or Administrator so that appropriate action may be taken - check member list for current Admins and Global Mods. Personal Messages sent to a Moderator or Administrator that are related to operation of the Forum (such as complaints, suggestions, or reporting other members for Disciplinary Action) may be shared with other Administrators and/or Moderators for the purposes of working together to find the best response to the issues raised.
Rule 14: Staying on Topic
Members are encouraged to keep the topics of their posts close to the topic of the thread. If a discussion moves off-topic for a thread, Administrators and Moderators may choose to split the thread so the new discussion can take place in a thread that is accurately labeled for it. This helps members find threads they are interested in talking about. It prevents members from missing a discussion they would want to join that is hidden (off-topic) in a thread with a topic they're not interested in. It also helps insure that new posters joining a thread will be able to get a reasonably accurate understanding of what the thread is about by looking at the topic. If a thread is split, this is not a Disciplinary Action against the participating posters. It is a mechanical "fix" to help keep the Forum running smoothly.
The system of Disciplinary Action at WWGHA takes place in the following stages:
Stage 1: Informal Warnings. This will take the form of a polite warning or request from a Moderator or Administrator asking the poster to refrain from a given behavior. Its purpose is to define the behavioral limits for the poster. An informal warning states that a given behavior is unacceptable, but does not threaten further Disciplinary Action. Any number of informal warnings can be given at the Moderator or Administrator's discretion.
Stage 2: Formal Warning. If Informal Warnings are insufficient to deter further disruptive activities, or the poster's violation is particularly blatant, an Administrator or Moderator will issue a Formal Warning. This warning will explicitly state that it is a Formal Warning, and include a statement that further Disciplinary Action will occur if violations continue.
Stage 3: 72-hour Suspension. The Member's account is suspended for 72 hours. The reason for the suspension must be specified so that the Member will understand the reason (e.g. a specific post) for the Action.
Stage 4: One Week Suspension.
Stage 5: ICU Session. The member will be sent to the Isolated Conversation Unit for talks with the forum staff. In the ICU the member must start a thread and explain why they think they were banned, and engage with staff members in an attempt to ensure that the member will not repeat previous violations or commit any future violations. Once the staff decides the member understands what has caused them to be banned, they will be allowed back into the forum again. If no understanding can be reached, then the member will be banned. The ban may be lifted upon any administrator receiving an email stating the member wishes to return and that they now will follow the WWGHA rules.
If you wish to appeal the decision of a Moderator or Forum Administrator, send your appeal to a different Moderator or Forum Administrator in a Private Message in order to discuss the issue. Public complaints about Administrator or Moderator decisions will result in Disciplinary Action. Public gloating about any Administrative or Moderator decisions will also result in Disciplinary Action. The Forum is not about the Forum.