Forum Code of Conduct update - October 2020

We have updated our Code of Conduct to include the following:

The Staff of intfiction.org have made the decision we will not silently condone these behaviors wherever they occur if the content can be verifiably linked to a member here.

As always, our goal is not to curtail free speech here or anywhere. We have no desire to fight your Twitter battles, or jump into flamewars on other forums, or ban someone for writing a bad review of your game on their blog, or silence someone due to personal beliefs or political affiliation.

We’re primarily concerned with real-world threats, egregious examples of hate speech, and targeted campaigns of harassment directed against our forum members and any member of the IF Community, past or present.

Forum membership is a privilege, and Staff reserves the right to revoke this privilege based on review of any public behavior online brought to our attention.

Please private message @moderators if you have any questions or concerns, and continue to flag any content here that needs review by the Staff.

Thank you!
Forum Staff

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A bit of an explanation as to why we think this is required:

The Interactive Fiction Community Forum committee want this to be a healthy and safe place for anyone in the IF community. This is why we have our Code of Conduct which lays out acceptable and unacceptable behaviours for this site. But the IF community is distributed; there are many other dedicated IF sites, as well as generic forums and social media.

This has led to the complex question of how we should think about offsite communications. The committee does not have the resources to police the entire internet, nor do we want to. This forum has always been an open one, we don’t have a closed vetted membership. We act when we see abusive behaviours, not pre-emptively.

Up until now the line we have taken on offsite communications is that we will act on evidence of offsite harassment. If someone is doxxed, or harassed for an ongoing period of time on one or more other sites, then the offender will be suspended or banned here. Our definition of harassment has been largely focussed on abusive statements said either directly to someone from our forum, or in a place where there is a reasonable expectation that the target would see them.

But we have come to realise that this is not enough. If abusive or hateful things are said about someone in a place where there is a reasonable expectation the target will not see them, that is no guarantee that the messages will be hidden forever. Secret things get revealed, whether deliberately or accidentally, and messages said behind someone’s back get repeated to their face. We now feel we need to act in situations such as these, for this forum will not be a welcoming place if you know that someone who has said horrible things about you to other people is welcome here without consequence. Likewise, if we only act when the targets are already members of this forum, we risk alienating people and growing a reputation of an insular forum which only cares about its own.

So we are announcing this change to our Code of Conduct. From now on abusive hate-speech directed at members of the IF Community at-large will not be tolerated. We hope that this will assist with our commitment to making this a welcoming and safe place for the whole IF community.

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So… If I speak poorly of someone I dislike anywhere on the internet, someone not even a member of this forum, I run the risk of getting booted from this forum? Are you sure these rules aren’t overstepping?

The rules say “verifiable threats, egregious examples of hate-speech, and campaigns of harassment” which feel like they go several ticks past speaking poorly of someone. Obviously any set of rules could be misapplied but as written this seems like it’s reasonably well-cabined (if anything, the implicit indication that non-verifiable threats, non-egregious hate-speech, and one-off acts of harassment are not grounds for discipline could be seen as a bit lax!)

EDIT: and to be clear, I think this is a good step and glad y’all are taking it, even if it does potentially create more work for you.

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Depends what you mean by “speaking poorly of”. Calling someone an idiot is one thing; doxxing, harassing, or threatening them is quite another. And the latter is what this policy is about.

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Isn’t that all stuff that the previous policy covered? I guess I am just confused why a more aggressive policy was needed.

The previous policy stated/implied that anything not on this site was outside our jurisdiction. We can’t monitor the whole internet, after all, and didn’t want to get dragged into flamewars on other forums.

But it was pointed out to us (quite rightly) that while rudeness and arguments on other sites can be ignored, hate speech, death threats, and so on really shouldn’t be. So we want to make it clear in our official policy that these sorts of things are completely unacceptable, even if you’re doing them somewhere else.

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And as stated - we do not have jurisdiction over other sites. The extent here is if someone is - let’s say continuously racist on Twitter and it’s reported to us, we can decide to not allow them to maintain a squeaky-clean presence here as a form of intimidation to their potential victims who may also be here. These will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and must be verifiable.

Also, we aren’t planning to scour other websites looking for bad behavior. This will only apply if someone reports it to us

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And we’re not promising that if you report someone to us who said something offensive that we’ll act, but if they call for violence against someone, then we would. We’re not looking to “ban all the bigots” or anything like that. We’re not going to ban Trump supporters or Biden supporters, we’re not going to ban religious conservatives, or climate change sceptics, or anyone who supports the Chinese Communist Party. You can tell the world you hate me, that Hanon’s writing is worse than your dog’s, or that all Twine stories are nothing but queer propaganda. This change is not about any of that. We won’t ban people for saying offensive things or holding different political affiliations, but hate speech and calls for violence are way over the line. This change is about saying that if you write “I hope X trips and breaks their neck” you won’t be welcome here any more.

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Thank you for clarifying. I may have read into it too much. :slight_smile:

No worries at all. We knew that this would be controversial, that some would think we’re going too far, and others that we need to go much further.

If anyone else does have concerns they’d like to raise privately do feel free to message the @moderators. We will listen and weigh up what everyone says.

It’s hard to speak speculatively about this as it’s a new process for us that we haven’t had to put into practice extensively. We cannot police speech on other websites. What we can do is be responsive to the concerns of our members here and take each specific case on its own. If someone’s posts on Facebook threaten you but they don’t have an account here, there’s not a lot we can do - we can’t get them kicked off Facebook for that. We can prevent that person from making or holding an account on this forum to ensure our community feels safe here.

We do recommend putting out fires where they burn: If someone is abusive on another forum or website, report them there. We can only specifically moderate our own member base. The Staff here are five volunteers and as much as we’d love for everyone to feel safe everywhere online, this forum is the only bit of the internet we can actually control.

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I like the idea that abusers would not get a free haven just because their victim(s) might lack an account here. Abusive is abusive, no matter who the victim is.

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I believe there is a back story that happened during the last year that may have instigated this change. If I recall correctly an individual went far overboard.

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