xrunner

  • Posts: 192
Forum Rules
« on May 16th, 2013, 01:27 AM »
Do you bother writing a lot of rules for your forum? Considering, in my experience, most members don't read them until it's too late, I wonder sometimes if it's worth it. I have a fairly long rules write up (I'll post it here if you want to critique it or steal parts of it) I've had for years. I used a "party" analogy which seems to fit the bill at my place.

If you've written rules, did you do it on your own or did you borrow parts from other forums?

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #1, on May 16th, 2013, 01:46 AM »
Yep I usually write rules as i figure to enforce rule there's gotta be rules rather than just hoping for an understanding. I reviewed rules from several sources and made them fit my purpose as best as possible.

I agree that many do not read the rules but I still think the rules should be there. There's an smf mod called "read the rules" or something.of the sort which i use as it shows a link to the rules while a user making a post so even if they hadn't read the rules before, it's there before they submit that post. This was if i need to take action there is no excuse for not knowing the rules.
Stick a fork in it SMF

xrunner

  • Posts: 192
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #2, on May 16th, 2013, 02:08 AM »
Quote from spoogs on May 16th, 2013, 01:46 AM
Yep I usually write rules as i figure to enforce rule there's gotta be rules rather than just hoping for an understanding. I reviewed rules from several sources and made them fit my purpose as best as possible.
I've had to deal with some members over the years who are masters at what I call "lawyering". That is, they will read the rules and proceed to do things that are disruptive - but not specifically against the rules. They love rules because it's somewhat of a challenge to do things between the lines. They can be very, very good at this. Because of this, I sometimes wanted to just do away with my rules and tell members "If you do anything I don't like, I'll let you know".
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I agree that many do not read the rules but I still think the rules should be there. There's an smf mod called "read the rules" or something.of the sort which i use as it shows a link to the rules while a user making a post so even if they hadn't read the rules before, it's there before they submit that post. This was if i need to take action there is no excuse for not knowing the rules.
Yea I've used to use that mod before, but it became clear that people were just clicking through it to get to the forum. If I say to read the rules in the TOS, they have been warned (nobody reads the TOS either do they? :sob:)

I recently had a falling out at another forum (forum name withheld for the sake of peace) because what I did wasn't against any rules, yet it was certainly all in good faith; but I got into trouble anyway. That's where good administering and common sense comes into the picture. As a matter of fact, sometimes what you may consider to be a disruptive member can end up being one of your best helpers if you try to mend fences. One of the Global Moderators at my forum now was banned at one time by myself. :o Yes it's true. We're a team of rivals you might say. :)

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #3, on May 16th, 2013, 02:40 AM »
I get the legalese as well but even so myself and the moderators resort to judgment calls if needs be and essentially update the rules if needed and announce it.

I've been to such forums as well where the rules are supposedly just understood or only apply per situation per person and i cant see how thats a good thing.

I write, review, and update rules and needed and its up to the members to keep themselves updated. When there is a revision I ensure the revision date is noted and usually try to provide a link to the expired rules. I also make it  news item and post in the announcements board as well. After taking all those steps i have yet to hear an argument that justifies circumventing the rules.

Oracle

  • Posts: 78
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #4, on May 16th, 2013, 07:31 AM »
I'm somewhat perplexed as to why additional rules are sought as the majority are covered during signup via registration agreement?

Nao

  • Dadman with a boy
  • Posts: 16,063
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #5, on May 16th, 2013, 10:50 AM »
I think that most of the time, you just want people to understand that they should be... "not evil", and "not stupid".
The rest is up to the moderator's taste, but that's what 'warnings' are for.

I'm afraid I left 95% of the forums I registered to, and while most of these 95% are for the simplest of reasons (lost interest), so many of them were due to being uncomfortable posting there... Either because I felt the rules were too harsh, or simply because I didn't feel welcomed (or no longer welcomed). And I know it's also the case in the forums I run... Many people left here because they felt threatened or ignored; on my French forum, I had a prominent member leave because some users complained that he was posting too much, and that most of his posts were like a RSS feed of other forums. I tended to agree with them, but once he left, we also lost a lot of discussion ideas...

So, what's best..? Nothing. Just ask your users not to be evil and stupid, and more importantly, don't be evil or stupid yourself. Because ultimately, your forum is also what you are...

xrunner

  • Posts: 192
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #6, on May 16th, 2013, 06:34 PM »
Quote from Oracle on May 16th, 2013, 07:31 AM
I'm somewhat perplexed as to why additional rules are sought as the majority are covered during signup via registration agreement?
Certainly the registration agreement is a set of rules. Are the majority covered? That depends on the forum and it's tone and subject matter. Let's take a look at just the first sentence from the default SMF Registration agreement - [1]

"You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, adult material, or otherwise in violation of any International or United States Federal law."

There's a lot of reading between the lines you could do with that sentence. What does "defamatory" mean with respect to a forum? How about "hateful"?

For example - "invasive of a person's privacy". What does that really refer to? Their real name? Their birthday? How many cats they own? Where they live? What they said on a completely different forum under a different membername? Anything at all you can manage to dig up about a member you can just dump it all in a post?

I've had pages of discussions about that meaning as regards what is and isn't acceptable to post about members, such as information gathered from other sources about people. That's the problem. That's what the rules are for - to explain between the lines. Yes, yes I know, it could all be jammed into the registration agreement, but if nobody reads it now, then surely nobody would read it if it was even longer.

So, the rules explain more of what is expected after you register. That's how I've always looked at them. Like a Federal Agency. They pass laws that create the agency, and top level laws it has to operate under. But no set of laws can possibly explain all the things the agency has to act on. Those other things are the regulations and guidelines the agency makes under the law that established it.

Registration Agreement = Top level "laws"

Rules = lower lever regulations and guidelines
Quote from Nao on May 16th, 2013, 10:50 AM
I think that most of the time, you just want people to understand that they should be... "not evil", and "not stupid".
The rest is up to the moderator's taste, but that's what 'warnings' are for.
Perhaps that's a way to go. I've never tried it.
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I'm afraid I left 95% of the forums I registered to, and while most of these 95% are for the simplest of reasons (lost interest), so many of them were due to being uncomfortable posting there... Either because I felt the rules were too harsh, or simply because I didn't feel welcomed (or no longer welcomed).
I know exactly what you are taking about. :-/
 1. Yes I'm aware it can be modified

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: Forum Rules
« Reply #7, on May 16th, 2013, 06:57 PM »Last edited on May 16th, 2013, 07:15 PM
I'm of the belief if there is something most ppl do not read is the registration agreement. I know I have not read the agreement for every forum I've registered on,some I just scan, but some I do read.

Problem is after you have registered there goes the agreement, I'd be dammed if I actually remember much from the agreements I did read let alone which forums they were for.

What about when the agreement changes, how are already registered members affected, how?

While I agree with @Nao that rules can bea deterrent, still they are necessary (well depending on the purpose of the forum) and it's the job of the administrator(s) to find the balance between the purpose of the forum and the rules of said forum and communicate it in a way for the users to understand and moderators to manage.

@xrunner, i agree with yours points there and have moderated a forum where all hell broke loose on especially the point of users' privacy.

When i present my rules I tend to try to give examples of what constitutes violation of each rules and disclaim it with "including but not limited to": this to me makes it somewhat clear that you may try to tow the line on the vagueness of a rule but keep in mind the examples provided and note that they are not the only reasons that apply.

In addition to the overall forum rules at times i find even specific boards may need to have additional stipulations as to what can and cannot be posted etc.