A guide to civil conversation

Extensive, yet polished community ruleset, aimed at reducing the work of moderators

Last changed: 28th February 2022

Words are to be interpreted as in the definitions page.

I. General Guidelines

I.1. Violations

(i) Inciting a violation

If a user incites or encourages violating the following guidelines, they shall be punished to the extent of the rule they encouraged others to violate.

(ii) Attempts of a violation

An attempt to violate any of the following guidelines should be punished to the same extent as a successful violation.

(iii) Scope of a violation

The following and previous guidelines apply to any aspect of your community membership. This includes text messages, voice communication, profile cards, and any other visible, invisible, direct, or implied item linked to the community.

I.2. What to do when there's no specific rule

(i) Think about your own actions

As a rule of thumb, "Act in such a way that the maxim of your will could always hold at the same time as a principle of a universal legislation." (Kant, Critique of Practical Reason)
The previous rule must only be interpreted and used as a deciding factor when there is no other rule covering the subject.

(ii) Think about others

Always consider other people in the community. Think about how your words and actions might affect them, and have empathy toward them.

(iii) Think about the community

If faced with a difficult decision, decide on what is best for the community. If theres's something that will negatively impact the community, you should decide against it.

I.3. Being part of a community

(i) Be fair

You should gracefully accept constructive criticism and you should not criticize anyone in a hateful or (purely) personal way (e.g. ad personam or ad hominem). This includes staff members. Even though staff decisions are not perfect, you must abide by them until ruled otherwise. You may exert any constructive criticism on a staff member's decision after complying with it. Said staff member should not leave the criticism unevaluated, given it is valid and constructive. If you believe the decision was made in bad faith, refer to section IV.1. (iii).

(ii) Be thoughtful

You shall not intent to make any other user feel unwelcomed or uncomfortable in the community. If you're unsure whether something you'll be doing will negatively impact someone, you should refrain from it. You must refrain from any behavior that is socially unacceptable, hateful, toxic, harassing, racist, sexist, or discriminating in any other way. You should avoid topics that could fuel such behavior, such as religious or political discussions.

(iii) Be patient

A lot of people might have trouble partaking in a community. Be that missing knowledge of it, language barrier, or any other factors that limit or hinder them. You must at all times stay welcoming, instead of gatekeeping and destructive.

(iv) Be respectful

Interpret the arguments of others in good faith, you must not simply seek to disagree. You shall respect the different viewpoints and experiences of others and should be empathetic toward them. Everyone matters just as much, you should not show disrespect to any members of the community or outsiders, competitors, partners, or even other communities.

(v) Be welcoming

You must use language that's neutral and inclusive of all members in the community, as well as free of any hatred.

(vi) Be positive

You shall not actively seek out argument and disdain. Trolling can be fun and enjoyable, yet you must not troll in an attempt to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Toward others, you should start with a positive attitude.

(vii) Be honest

a. Under no circumstances must you lie or give untruthful statements about others or yourself. You shall not unfairly influence public opinion on a person, community, entity, or topic or suggest to do so.
b. Further, you must not accuse anyone with unbackable claims or give wrong feedback to or about someone. You shall especially not defame, libel, or slander someone.
c. You shall not impersonate or misrepresent anyone.

I.4. Respect intellectual property

You shall only use content that is original to you, or that you own the usage rights to where usage is permitted by fair use or similar laws.
No licenses or rights are granted to you by implication when content is posted in a community. Therefore, you may not distribute content posted in a community unless you own the usage rights or where permitted by fair use or similar laws.
You shall not use content where your usage is explicitly disallowed by the copyright owner unless you can extensively prove fair use.

I.5. Integrity

(i) Do not abuse automated systems

You must not and must not allow someone to reverse engineer, disrupt, or interfere with any automated systems in place to support the community. You must also refrain from misusing places built for feedback, suggestions, or support.

(ii) Do not circumvent security mechanisms

You must not and must not allow someone to reverse engineer, disrupt, interfere with, circumvent, bypass, or exploit any security mechanism in place to keep the community safe or moderated.

(iii) Do not put yourself in the spotlight

You shall refrain from actions that are meant to fuel your desire for attention at the cost of disturbing others. This includes tasks such as hoisting or unmentionable nicknames.

II. Conversational Guidelines

(i) Disruptive content

You should refrain from posting low quality or meaningless content. Examples of this are the use of spoiler tags where none are needed, bye-messages, dead-chat-proclamations, dotposting, or posting in a language not widely spoken across members of the conversation and moderation. You must not participate in or organize raids.

(ii) Misleading content

You shall not, at any point, post content whose purpose or side effect it is to mislead or scam users.

(iii) Inappropriate content

You shall not post content that is negatively shocking, sexually explicit, or otherwise not safe for work (except in zones marked explicitly for that purpose), offending, irritating, or otherwise hurtful. You should avoid cursing whenever possible.

(iv) Irrelevant content

Most chatrooms, spaces, subcommunities, or whatever sections of communication are marked to have a topic. You should stay on that topic at any time. You also shouldn't interrupt an ongoing conversation for the sake of bringing your topic into it to the disdain of the previous participants.

(v) Unpleasant content

a. You should not necropost, minimod, spoil, or generally ruin or impair fun and enjoyment for other members.
b. You should not inquire for or suggest a moderative rank in the community unless via an official form.
c. You must not use the community to advertise, share referrals, share or promote revenue producing links or codes, or promote external communities or competitors, unless explicitly asked to do so in the natural flow of conversation without your prior mention.
d. You should not use the community to inquire for anything of personal gain unless explicitly asked to do so in the natural flow of conversation without your prior mention.
e. You should reserve mentioning users or otherwise increasing the notification priority of a message for relevant or urgent circumstances.

(vi) Controversial content

Non ad-hoc discussions about intrinsically subjective preferences should be avoided. This includes discussions about the superiority of different manufacturers, companies, political motivations, religious guidelines, products, people or concepts, as well as the quality of the beforementioned entities. Any massive and not objectively solvable disagreements, as well as personal and community-based drama, should be resolved directly and outside of the community.

(vii) Confidential content

You should keep anything that happens inside the community or limited group of conversation participants private to said community or conversation participants. You shall not produce unauthorized records of any conversation. On the other hand, you shall not post any confidential or private information regarding a user, group, community, or other entity without their explicit or strongly implied agreement.

(viii) Hateful content

You must refrain from sharing content whose purpose it is to negatively shock, insult, belittle, or spread hate toward a specific person or a group of people.

(ix) Harmful content

a. You must not, in any situation, at any point in time, under any condition, post content that promotes, glorifies, or justifies rape, sexual harassment, gore, abuse, self-harm, or suicide or could easily be interpreted as such.
b. Further, you must not make any threats whatsoever to any user, especially not of the aforementioned topics.

III. Operational Guidelines

III.1. Handling moderative actions

(i) Discussing actions

You shall not discuss or argue about current or past moderative actions, outside of dedicated channels for doing so.

(ii) Dissociation of action and actor

You shall not, under any circumstance, attack, harass, slander, insult, or offend a moderator of a community based on their moderative activity.

(iii) Moderative integrity

As a moderator, you shall act faithful to the rules, but if necessary for the best interest of the community. In cases where the decision to be made is not clear or possibly subjective, you must either decide on favor of the user or request an arbitration. If there is no arbitration committee in place, a third-party opinion by a moderator may replace that process.

III.2. Arbitration process

(i) Arbitration necessity

An arbitration committee is an optional but recommended process to solve unclear disputes.

(ii) Arbitration committee

Actor of any arbitration actions shall be the arbitration committee. A group of well-known and respected members of a community that are trusted to decide difficult disputes in favor of the community as a whole.

(iii) Arbitration requirements

To request a decision from the arbitration committee, both parties in a dispute must agree that the subject matter cannot be easily solved by objective interpretation of the rules. The subject matter must also be relevant and abstract enough that a general decision is possible.

(iv) Arbitration

Upon a request for arbitration, the arbitration committee shall decide on the action to take based on the subject matter. While both involved parties can make suggestions, the arbitration committee does not have to adhere to either sides request.

(v) Future relevance

A decision made by the arbitration committee is immediately binding and valid for all future similar cases.

(vi) Request for reevaluation

If any party in a similar case (not the same case the request for arbitration was issued) has good faith to believe that the decision made by the arbitration committee does not apply, is inaccurate, or is invalid, they may issue an additional request for arbitration on that subject matter.

Summary

Especially on Discord, there's sometimes places where you don't want to put the whole ruleset. For this purpose, you can find a summary below:

  1. Be fair, don't act in bad faith towards others, and don't seek to disagree.

  2. Be kind and respectful to others, don't spread hate or act negative for the sake of it. Don't glorify bad actions and don't incite dangerous activities.

  3. Be honest, don't misrepresent yourself or others. Don't impersonate anyone.

  4. Don't try to circumvent any moderative measures. Don't interpret rules or messages in bad faith.

  5. Try avoiding content that is inherently fuel for destructive discussion, e.g. personal preferences in brands or politics.

  6. Don't put yourself in the spotlight. Be that through hoisting yourself, randomly mentioning users, or by posting content that's meant to draw unnecessary attention.

  7. Don't advertise. This includes links, references to other communities or projects with intent to draw traffic, nicknames, and custom statuses - even if they don't generate you any revenue.

  8. Stay on-topic if possible. Don't try disrupting the conversation with spam or meaningless content.

  9. Keep confidential content secret. This includes spreading content from the community outside of it, as well as spreading outside content in the community.

  10. For a full and detailed list of rules, check out https://conversation.guide