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Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Old 06-12-13, 06:23 AM
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Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Given some of the things that have recently been going on, I decided to refresh myself on the forum rules. In doing so, I noticed that some of them are out-of-date and/or partially or wholly unenforced. I thought it might be worthwhile to bring some of these up for discussion/clarification, as it might help avoid situations where someone ends up disciplined for something that's perceived to be routinely allowed or other situations that would be to the detriment of the community that's made this site the great place that is.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting of any form of advertising including: URL's with affiliate codes, referrer tags, tracking numbers or anything which actively promotes a site or company. Paid advertisers are obviously excluded from this rule.
Under this language, any posting of weekly ads, store-specific deals or positive experiences with a retailer is not allowed. Perhaps 'anything which actively promotes a site or company' could be stricken, or additional clarification could be added? As it stands, the entirety of the deals forums violate this rule. Technically, even a thread on a specific E3 press conference violates the letter of this rule.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting a coupon or promotion for a company you work for under the guise that you are a consumer.
I'm not sure how accurate the account of a recently disciplined member is, but assuming it is factually correct, it would seem this rule may need to be updated to have 'under the guise that you are a consumer' struck from it, though I think it's better as currently worded.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting Information on how to defraud any company or promotion of any kind of illegal or unethical activity.
Perhaps 'or unethical' could be removed? It serves no purpose protecting the site from a legal standpoint and is open to broad subjective interpretation.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Anything aimed at defrauding or taking advantage of another company, exploiting flaws or weaknesses in their systems or sites.
Maybe 'or taking advantage of' should be removed? Purchasing any loss leader technically qualifies as taking advantage of a company, even though they're encouraging it themselves. Defrauding adequately covers barring talk of illegal activity.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Anything that violates the trademark or copyright of another company including anything that may violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
At a bare minimum, it seems there'd be benefit to adding the word 'knowingly' to this. I'm not sure what could be done to further clarify this, but as currently worded, the rule is broken constantly via the posting of pictures & posters for films, album covers, photos that posters don't own the rights to, screenshots of video games, etc. Even posting an article for discussion in the Politics forum is likely in violation of this as worded. With the exception of files of albums/tv shows/films, the site seems to take a YouTube approach, where it's fine to post copyrighted/trademarked materials until a holder files a complaint, but the rule doesn't reflect that at all.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting links or information about where to purchase or sell drugs, guns or ammunition.
Technically, I think the word 'illegal' was probably supposed to appear before drugs. As it stands, posting where someone can purchase a specific type of liquor is a violation. Posting that you can buy aspirin at CVS would be as well.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Using DVD Talk Forum to post any material which is knowingly false and/or defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise violative of any law.
It might be worth changing 'knowingly false and/or defamatory' to knowingly false and defamatory'. Otherwise, posting 'the sky is green' breaks the rules. I'd suggest striking 'inaccurate' for the same reason, as well as to keep many posters in the Political forum from getting banned. 'vulgar', 'obscene', 'profane' and 'sexually oriented' should all be clarified or removed. None of them are enforced, to the point where we had a collective laugh, mods included, at a member who suggested they should be.

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you.
This seems redundant to a previously mentioned rule. Perhaps it could be wrapped into that when revised.

Originally Posted by The Rules
No nude or explicit, sexually-suggestive pictures, no links to nude pictures, no links to sites primarily having a sexual theme (excluding XCritic.com in general, however don't link to specific threads, forums, or anything else there).
It may be time to just remove the XCritic reference. The current position of you can technically link to there, but not to anything there at all, makes no sense and is confusing. It's also kind of a moot point by now.

Originally Posted by The Rules
DVD Talk has a zero tolerance policy for personal attacks. Posting something to the DVD Talk forum which personally attacks another forum member or contains profanity or any type of racial or ethnic slur may result in immediate suspension of your user account.
I'd suggest removing 'or contains profanity'. As worded, jokingly posting 'you crazy motherfucker' is a violation of the rule. Personal attacks are already covered, whether they contain profanity or not. I don't think this rule is intended to limit non-attack or joking profanity to another member, but that's covered by the current wording of it.

Originally Posted by The Rules
If you post advertising or promotions for your company or a company you work for or pose as a consumer discussing your product you will be charged for advertising on DVD Talk and hereby agree to pay in full and advertising fee for your posts up to $5,000.
I understand the reasoning behind this, but would argue the community would benefit from the wording being expanded to be more specific. A longstanding member who's identified themselves as also being a Gamestop employee giving a heads up about an upcoming preorder or current sale is just sharing beneficial info with the community. It's quite a bit different than someone from Del Monte establishing an anonymous account and trying to reverse perceptions on how they treat pandas.
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Old 06-12-13, 08:42 AM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by The Rules
Posting of any form of advertising including: URL's with affiliate codes, referrer tags, tracking numbers or anything which actively promotes a site or company. Paid advertisers are obviously excluded from this rule.

Under this language, any posting of weekly ads, store-specific deals or positive experiences with a retailer is not allowed. Perhaps 'anything which actively promotes a site or company' could be stricken, or additional clarification could be added? As it stands, the entirety of the deals forums violate this rule. Technically, even a thread on a specific E3 press conference violates the letter of this rule.
Under that rule why is there even a forum for blu/dvd bargains? Or hot deals?
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Old 06-12-13, 09:11 AM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Bye maxfisher.
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Old 06-12-13, 01:34 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by Rockmjd23 View Post
Bye maxfisher.
ohh boy. now we are next.
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Old 06-12-13, 01:36 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

A couple of rules/policies I'd like to see changed:

Name changes. My understanding of the rule against them was that it took too much moderator time handling these requests back when the forum was bigger and more active, and that it was confusing/deceptive to have a long-time member suddenly start posting under a new name. The first doesn't seem like it would be an issue anymore, and the second seems ameliorated by the rule of having your old username in the Location field for awhile. Identities are very important to people, and usernames are a big part of our identity in an online forum. I can understand not letting people change them constantly, but I don't see the harm in letting people have a single name change if they feel their name no longer accurately reflects them and how they want to portray themselves. (For the record I have no desire to change my username, but I've always felt bad for those that wanted to and weren't allowed.)

Suspension lengths. 3 months is an eternity in an online community. Maybe I just don't understand the full ramifications of this, but it seems to me that a 2- or 3-week maximum for suspensions would be in order. If we, as a community, don't want someone around for longer than that, just ban them and get it over with.

Rules against self-promotion. I don't want to see this rule go away, but I would like to see it relaxed. If a forum member in good standing (someone who has been registered for at least a couple of years or has reached some minimum threshold of posts/involvement) has written a book or released a song or an app, it would be nice if they were allowed to make a thread about it. Obviously we don't want constant schilling and suggestions to buy something, but a quick "Hey I released a book on the Kindle store, it's called XXXX and my name is YYYY. If anyone feels inclined to read it I'd love to hear any feedback!" in the Book forum would be welcome. We are a community here and it's nice to know what other members are up to and support them if we can. (Again for the record I don't imagine this ever applying to me, I'm not in a position where I'm likely to release something for sale to the general public.)

Last edited by WallyOPD; 06-12-13 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 06-12-13, 01:36 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Some of these points are semantics and pretty lawyer-y, but there are two broader points that I think being addressed would be helpful.

Regarding defamatory/harassing/etc. posts - Presently, there are at least a few regular posters who are known to bandy about sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic remarks with impunity. More than one scuffle has taken place because another forum member - not a moderator - becomes rightly upset and stands up to those uncalled for, disparaging remarks. These posters in question may not direct their offensive posts at a specific member, but that misses the point: They take nasty swipes at whole segments of the population. I'm a heteronormative, cisgender white dude but that doesn't mean I'm not appalled by a lot of what's said on this forum with impunity by some members.

We can say that anyone who has a problem with something someone posts should report it, but there are two counterpoints worth acknowledging and admitting:

1) Moderators are themselves sometimes seen to be participants in these threads and say nothing until someone else speaks up. The moment a moderator sees such language, that's the time to step in and quash things - not to see how much tolerance there is within the thread for it.

2) These things are upsetting. In theory, everyone would "count to ten" before replying but tempers flare, and when someone reads where another poster has made such remarks, we should remember that tempers were originally fine...until they encountered an antagonist spewing the kind of hate speech that would merit disciplinary action in most work places. Punishing only the party who is incensed because they used "the magic word" is an outdated disciplinary doctrine. The provocateur needs to be held accountable for saying such things in the first place.

The other main issue at present concerns the nature of promoting a specific business. Come on; this entire site is dedicated to promotion! That's okay. What isn't okay: spam and sock puppets. It's pretty obvious when a forum member is guilty of either of those two charges. Otherwise, it's time we lived in the 21st Century where people sometimes have information they believe could be beneficial to the community at large about a place where they work.

And it's worth remembering that it's the community aspect here that's most important. I just finished revising a novel I began writing in 2011. If I ever actually find a publisher willing to take it, I'll be pretty excited about that. After years of being on this site, I've gotten on well with several other members and I would enjoy sharing my enthusiasm here with my pals. At present, I couldn't do that.

I would not go around creating or posting in multiple threads or PMing other forum members just to raise awareness, because that kind of behavior is clearly spam. I'll readily admit I've thought about being a writer for quite some time but to think that I joined DVD Talk several years ago just so that I could eventually pimp a book is ludicrous. I'm not a sock puppet.

I would never think to join another website just to share that, but I would want to share it with my pals here - whom I (like to) believe would be happy for me and encouraging. Isn't that really the ultimate goal of any forum? To foster community among people with a shared interest?
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Old 06-12-13, 01:42 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by WallyOPD View Post
I don't see the harm in letting people having a single name change if they feel their name no longer accurately reflects them and how they want to portray themselves.
I came out from behind the anonymity of a screen name a few years ago, but it was after I had joined DVD Talk. My blog, Twitter, Disqus, email address...they're all in my name now. I got to thinking about something country music artist Aaron Tippin once said. It started to bother him that when he played in bars, his young son couldn't come to the show. "If my son can't be there, then maybe I shouldn't be there, either," he reasoned. I feel the same way about posting online. If it's not something I'm willing to stand behind with the whole world knowing I said it, then I shouldn't be saying it. My screen name here no longer reflects that philosophy of transparency.
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Old 06-12-13, 01:55 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
Some of these points are semantics and pretty lawyer-y...
I agree and I'll clarify because I don't want to seem like I'm just being petty. The general current perception is that someone was suspended, at least initially, for something that's technically a violation of the rules, but typically is allowed and not a big deal. In looking at the rules for the first time in ages, I realized there are quite a few that fall into that category with the way they're worded.

It seems like an invitation to problems to have a bunch of rules that are partially or completely ignored as they stand. I'd guess the majority of the forum (if not all of us) could technically be suspended based on the rules as they're worded now. That creates a situation where a poster could be 'justifiably' suspended under a rule that's not really adhered to, when really it's just arbitrarily punitive and personal, or based on something else entirely. Note, even with the general perception of the current incidents, I'm not claiming this has happened. It just strikes me as a bad idea to leave the system open for it to happen, especially when it's not particularly difficult to fix.
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Old 06-12-13, 02:00 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by maxfisher View Post
I agree and I'll clarify because I don't want to seem like I'm just being petty.
I understood your intent, and I think most of us will. Shoring up specific wording is important if specific wording is what has encouraged and enabled the recent rash of controversial disciplinary incidents and you're entirely right to make note of such clauses that could easily be read as applicable to most of us.

I suppose my perspective is more "big picture", where there are really just a few fundamental things that, if addressed properly, will negate even getting to the point of quibbling over specificity in the wording of the rules.
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Old 06-12-13, 05:24 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by MinLShaw View Post
I'm a heteronormative, cisgender white dude
Is that the accepted neologism for Straight Caucasian Male?

I have not noticed any of the sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic remarks of which you wrote. Sure, there are a few über-Christian members, whose names we all know, but, as an agnostic--->atheist, I believe they should be permitted to voice their socially conservative views, as long as they don't express them in a scurrilous, personally affronting manner.
I suppose there is some sexism, or objectification of women, in threads where folks post pictures of "hot chicks" or talk about body parts, but is that really so terribly offensive as to be forbidden? Is that scaring off female members?
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Old 06-12-13, 05:35 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Wait... you can get suspended for posting something "inaccurate"? How is Grundle still here?
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Old 06-12-13, 05:37 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by WallyOPD View Post
A couple of rules/policies I'd like to see changed:

Name changes. My understanding of the rule against them was that it took too much moderator time handling these requests back when the forum was bigger and more active, and that it was confusing/deceptive to have a long-time member suddenly start posting under a new name. The first doesn't seem like it would be an issue anymore, and the second seems ameliorated by the rule of having your old username in the Location field for awhile. Identities are very important to people, and usernames are a big part of our identity in an online forum. I can understand not letting people change them constantly, but I don't see the harm in letting people have a single name change if they feel their name no longer accurately reflects them and how they want to portray themselves. (For the record I have no desire to change my username, but I've always felt bad for those that wanted to and weren't allowed.)

Suspension lengths. 3 months is an eternity in an online community. Maybe I just don't understand the full ramifications of this, but it seems to me that a 2- or 3-week maximum for suspensions would be in order. If we, as a community, don't want someone around for longer than that, just ban them and get it over with.

Rules against self-promotion. I don't want to see this rule go away, but I would like to see it relaxed. If a forum member in good standing (someone who has been registered for at least a couple of years or has reached some minimum threshold of posts/involvement) has written a book or released a song or an app, it would be nice if they were allowed to make a thread about it. Obviously we don't want constant schilling and suggestions to buy something, but a quick "Hey I released a book on the Kindle store, it's called XXXX and my name is YYYY. If anyone feels inclined to read it I'd love to hear any feedback!" in the Book forum would be welcome. We are a community here and it's nice to know what other members are up to and support them if we can. (Again for the record I don't imagine this ever applying to me, I'm not in a position where I'm likely to release something for sale to the general public.)
Well said!

On another large forum I used to run... we made the rule that occasional name changes were allowed, but the user was requested to leave "The user formerly known as...." as their sig for a time...like 3 months. Which is indeed a long time.
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Old 06-12-13, 05:46 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by WallyOPD View Post
A couple of rules/policies I'd like to see changed:

Name changes. My understanding of the rule against them was that it took too much moderator time handling these requests back when the forum was bigger and more active, and that it was confusing/deceptive to have a long-time member suddenly start posting under a new name. The first doesn't seem like it would be an issue anymore, and the second seems ameliorated by the rule of having your old username in the Location field for awhile. Identities are very important to people, and usernames are a big part of our identity in an online forum. I can understand not letting people change them constantly, but I don't see the harm in letting people have a single name change if they feel their name no longer accurately reflects them and how they want to portray themselves. (For the record I have no desire to change my username, but I've always felt bad for those that wanted to and weren't allowed.)

Suspension lengths. 3 months is an eternity in an online community. Maybe I just don't understand the full ramifications of this, but it seems to me that a 2- or 3-week maximum for suspensions would be in order. If we, as a community, don't want someone around for longer than that, just ban them and get it over with.
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Old 06-12-13, 09:44 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by Norm de Plume View Post
Is that the accepted neologism for Straight Caucasian Male?
The last I checked, anyway! :P

I have not noticed any of the sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic remarks of which you wrote.
Then the last thing anyone needs is for me to start retroactively citing them. What's come and gone has already come and gone and I don't think there's a lot of value in going back to showcase such things. I hope the fact you hadn't previously taken note of those kinds of things is indicative of how uncommon they are.
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Old 06-12-13, 10:01 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

The promotion stuff definitely feels like something that should have a lot more leniency here; it's one of those situations where common sense should win over any strict adherence to the rules. The rule should be designed to stop new accounts from constantly hocking goods or advertise their website, but take in to account whether someone is doing so just profit, or if the post is genuinely just trying to help the DVDTalk community (or in some cases, allow the community to help the poster).

It's also a fine line if you take some of those rules in the strictest sense, as i've seen plenty of people link to their own blogs and websites for reviews of different media. Myself and others that I know here also work at companies that produce products that are discussed regularly, and I wouldn't want to feel like I need to stay out of threads or topics that discuss the company or product. We've also seen plenty of posts asking people to vote for them or family members on random contests that have always been allowed.
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Old 06-12-13, 10:13 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by fumanstan View Post
It's also a fine line if you take some of those rules in the strictest sense, as i've seen plenty of people link to their own blogs and websites for reviews of different media.
Yeah, I've linked to a few things of mine but very rarely and not in at least a year or so. My Rank 'Em list and all my challenge posts link directly to my Letterboxd diary, but 1) I have no affiliation with Letterboxd, 2) I copy and paste the review itself so no one has to go to Letterboxd to read what I have to say and 3) I truncate the section at the end of all my reviews, where I walk through either adding or re-ranking the movie at hand on my Flickchart because I *am* affiliated with that site. I leave the final rank position, though, because I feel that helps give some context to my review at large.

We live in a world of social media. A lot of forum users maintain their own blogs, contribute to other sites in ways that are at times relevant to whatever conversation is taking place and, yes, they even (gasp!) draw a paycheck from some corporation that sells things. As has already been said, it's about the *spirit* of the law, not the *letter* of law, that should matter.
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Old 06-13-13, 01:30 AM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

I see this discussion thread, and I think, hey I have some ideas for rules that maybe should be changed. I also read all your posts and see you have great ideas as well.

And yet I know, that this thread will be locked or deleted, and the reason being that TPTB are thinking things over and the thread has "outlived its usefulness", or considering changes, when we all know they aren't. They take things into their private board, where we have no input or knowledge of why they come to their decisions, and ask us to just accept it.

Why is the banning of members so secret? Why can't we know what happened? Don't you think those things are something we as a community should be privy to? Maybe it will keep other members from being banned?

Another example is discussing guns. It is a legal activity in this country. The only discussion allowed is whether to ban them or not. When this has been brought up in the past, the answer has been, that's the rule, deal with it. Why is it a rule? Because the former owner didn't like guns? He's the former owner. Why do the members have zero input in a decision like that? It's that kind of, we know better than you attitude, that is becoming more prevalent here and making this community seem like a place I question spending so much time on.
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Old 06-13-13, 09:39 AM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by Navinabob View Post
Wait... you can get suspended for posting something "inaccurate"? How is Grundle still here?
That's a bitchslap of reality there. How is he still here?
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Old 06-13-13, 12:16 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Grundle transcends.
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Old 06-13-13, 12:25 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

I agree that "three month suspensions" are fucking absurd and unreasonable. A week, two, maybe even a month, depending on the severity of the issue? Fine.

For a one-time issue that ruffled someone's feathers but harmed nobody? That's just petty.
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Old 06-13-13, 12:51 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

^ Agreed.

After three months, most people will find somewhere else to post and dedicate their time, so it may as well be a ban.
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Old 06-13-13, 01:37 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

I got a month for what comes down to goofing on Metallica.
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Old 06-13-13, 01:44 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

I'd be surprised if anyone suspended 3 months bothers to come back. Not with all the other options out there. Maybe that was the ulterior motive, though.
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Old 06-13-13, 02:18 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by Mikael79 View Post
^ Agreed.

After three months, most people will find somewhere else to post and dedicate their time, so it may as well be a ban.
I also agree. A three month ban would probably leave a bad taste in your mouth and in that time you could find another site to make into a new Home for your enjoyment of Dvd's Movies blurays or vijagames. I'm not saying to undo what has been done. It is what it is. However moving forward more thought can be put into the length/severity of suspensions.

And as far as premium members having the ability to perhaps discuss bans or moderator actions in their forum - Why not? they have the dedication to not only be active members but to hand over money to help the site out and show their appreciation for the usage of the site.
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Old 06-13-13, 02:32 PM
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Re: Discussion of Potential Updates to/Clarifications of Forum Rules

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I got a month for what comes down to goofing on Metallica.
And I got a month for calling you an asshole. Funny how that works
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