Author Topic: Forum PM rules  (Read 1857 times)

dinotoyforum

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Forum PM rules
« on: April 09, 2018, 12:52:01 PM »
After discussion with the moderators, I have generated a draft statement about Forum PM rules, which I have added to the Forum Rules thread:

Quote
Forum PM rules

Only forum rules 1-3 apply to PMs. This means the PM system can be used for private off topic discussion. PMs that break forum rules 1-3, if flagged to the moderators, will be acted on accordingly.

PMs belong to the sender and recipient. The Dinosaur Toy Forum therefore holds no responsibility for private messages subsequently shared publicly on the forum, or elsewhere. There is no rule to inhibit such sharing, which is down to the discretion of individual members. Therefore, please note that members use the forum's private message (PM) system at their own risk.

I'm opening this up to the floor for discussion. Basically, We're taking the lead from email providers and the postal service. But I'm interested in feedback. Especially from anyone with a legal background, which I'm seriously lacking.



SBell

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2018, 01:32:52 PM »
I'm mostly disturbed that these rules weren't considered de facto rules for all communications, private or not, until now.

But putting it in writing is a start.

ImADinosaurRARR

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2018, 02:32:23 PM »
Yep. I think those rules are sound.

dinotoyforum

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2018, 02:34:53 PM »
I'm mostly disturbed that these rules weren't considered de facto rules for all communications, private or not, until now.


They probably were in effect, unwritten but common sense. Did you consider all the forum rules applicable to PMs when you were a moderator?

I'm just stating it now explicitly, because - for the first time in a decade(!) - the topic came under scrutiny. And in doing so, we realised that the forum rules couldn't be applied, whole cloth, to PMs. There are many key differences. For example, on some occasions we suggest members use PMs to discuss off-topic themes, or to continue a heated debate, which are against public forum rules. Secondly, PMs, private as they are, are not visible to moderators, so it is impossible to moderate them in the same way we would the rest of the forum. Two members might have a bitter private argument, break lots of rules, but never share them with a moderator. Or, they might share them by cherry-picking. Without going all FBI on members, we might only ever have part of the story. Also, PMs can't be edited, once sent.

So, while we do currently regard the most serious rules applicable to both public & private posts, on the other hand, let me play Devil's advocate...

What right do moderators have to get involved with members' private affairs? We don't have access to them, so should private messages really be subjected to rules? Do any other systems of private communication services you use have such rules about what you can and can't say? Work emails? probably. Gmail? No (I think). Postal Service. No (I think).

There are all sorts of interesting hypothetical situations to consider.

If member A calls member B an idiot...in an email. And member B flags it to the forum moderators. Does that break forum rule 1? Can the Dinosaur Toy Forum be held responsible to take action on the forum in response to someone's actions outside the forum? I would argue that it should only consider actions on the forum itself - the DTF rules don't apply to "the real world". Swear all you like in the real world, just don't do it on the forum. In this sense, is there a case to make that the PM system is "outside the forum"?

I'm just thinking out oud, now!  :)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 02:37:26 PM by dinotoyforum »


SBell

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2018, 03:49:42 PM »
I'm mostly disturbed that these rules weren't considered de facto rules for all communications, private or not, until now.


They probably were in effect, unwritten but common sense. Did you consider all the forum rules applicable to PMs when you were a moderator?

I'm just stating it now explicitly, because - for the first time in a decade(!) - the topic came under scrutiny. And in doing so, we realised that the forum rules couldn't be applied, whole cloth, to PMs. There are many key differences. For example, on some occasions we suggest members use PMs to discuss off-topic themes, or to continue a heated debate, which are against public forum rules. Secondly, PMs, private as they are, are not visible to moderators, so it is impossible to moderate them in the same way we would the rest of the forum. Two members might have a bitter private argument, break lots of rules, but never share them with a moderator. Or, they might share them by cherry-picking. Without going all FBI on members, we might only ever have part of the story. Also, PMs can't be edited, once sent.

So, while we do currently regard the most serious rules applicable to both public & private posts, on the other hand, let me play Devil's advocate...

What right do moderators have to get involved with members' private affairs? We don't have access to them, so should private messages really be subjected to rules? Do any other systems of private communication services you use have such rules about what you can and can't say? Work emails? probably. Gmail? No (I think). Postal Service. No (I think).

There are all sorts of interesting hypothetical situations to consider.

If member A calls member B an idiot...in an email. And member B flags it to the forum moderators. Does that break forum rule 1? Can the Dinosaur Toy Forum be held responsible to take action on the forum in response to someone's actions outside the forum? I would argue that it should only consider actions on the forum itself - the DTF rules don't apply to "the real world". Swear all you like in the real world, just don't do it on the forum. In this sense, is there a case to make that the PM system is "outside the forum"?

I'm just thinking out oud, now!  :)

To answer the part about the Post Office--actually, in most places, there are some pretty severe penalties for obscene, harassing or threatening materials being sent. They aren't responsible--but the people sending are.

And while Gmail, etc isn't responsible for messages, they can be subpoenaed for details in instances where their platforms are used to harass, spam, threaten, etc This has even happened to 4Chan, a bastion of anonymity (and they have complied). And often buried in the EULAs are points regarding those issues.

So, unfortunately, that puts the DTF in a position of providing a platform for communication--and that often means having some responsibility to the users.

One way to mitigate (not completely eradicate) responsibility would be to create/enforce adoption of a terms of service--outlining what the DTF responsibilities, and the members' responsibilities, are. Of course, who doesn't love boilerplate and such? This may also mean having some system to allow access to Admins at least to PMs (not every PM, that would be awful). And of course the privacy concerns would also have to be addressed in the same EULA.

When it comes to emails...I suppose, again, the EULA comes into play--if you make an email available publicly, that's your business and no one can help you. So the default should of course be private.

As for my time as Mod--if someone had complained that they were somehow being harassed privately, I would have found some way to act. Those rules 1-3 are particularly important since they not only make things safe and friendly, but encourage people to discuss freely while respecting others.

IRL I have fired people for posting on SM sites about coworkers. The same day. So to act in a forum would not be outside of what I'd be willing to do to let a threatened person feel safer.

Ravonium

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 04:34:01 PM »
I think what you've decided on is agreeable.
(a.k.a. Badger, on the ATF)

IrritatorRaji

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 05:59:24 PM »
But I'm interested in feedback. Especially from anyone with a legal background, which I'm seriously lacking.

No full-on legal background but I've got a bit of legal knowledge. In short, the new rules pretty much echo the laws standing on this issue.

Once you send something to someone it's no longer considered "private", and both holders of the information are free to do with it as they please. Privacy is not something that should be expected once an email is sent. I've seen some people say that sharing PM's or emails can be a violation of the Fourth Amendment and its protection against unreasonable search and seizure (a few people reference the case of Matthew Palmieri and his defence), but I don't believe emails, texts, and PM's are protected by this since one can't really have a reasonable expectation of privacy once they post anything on the internet. I think the same thing also applies to letters, but that's besides the point.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:39:48 PM by IrritatorRaji »

SBell

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 06:44:49 PM »
But I'm interested in feedback. Especially from anyone with a legal background, which I'm seriously lacking.

No full-on legal background but I've got a bit of legal knowledge. In short, the new rules pretty much echo the laws standing on this issue. Once you send something to someone it's no longer considered "private", and both holders of the information are free to do with it as they please. Privacy is not something that should be expected once an email is sent. I've seen some people say that sharing PM's or emails can be a violation of the Fourth Amendment and its protection against unreasonable search and seizure (a few people reference the case of Matthew Palmieri and his defence), but I don't believe emails, texts, and PM's are protected by this since one can't really have a reasonable expectation of privacy once they post anything on the internet. I think the same thing also applies to letters, but that's besides the point.

Keeping in mind that this is an international forum so amendments and laws become tricky...the admin is in the UK, in this instance one person is in the US, and another (I think) is in Canada. So that makes the laws go crazy!

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2018, 06:49:13 PM »
[
...Two members might have a bitter private argument, break lots of rules, but never share them with a moderator.
...What right do moderators have to get involved with members' private affairs?
...If member A calls member B an idiot...in an email. ? Can the Dinosaur Toy Forum be held responsible"?


I think you raized the dilema as bright as one could.
And having quoted those 3 phrases above  - I think the right way is NOT to get involved !

You don't want to be dragged  into a fight of "who called who 'Idiot' first" .

As it seems unlikely anyone is using our good forum for child pornography or trade with illegal substance ( sadly, 'Chinasaurs' are still considered legal ...  ;) ).

If one is not enjoying to continue PMing with another - he could always end the debate at any time.
That is my opinion.

IrritatorRaji

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2018, 07:22:23 PM »

Keeping in mind that this is an international forum so amendments and laws become tricky...the admin is in the UK, in this instance one person is in the US, and another (I think) is in Canada. So that makes the laws go crazy!

Yeah, law gets complicated when it's overseas, I myself am English and US laws don't effect me much, but I just thought I should mention US law since this forum is built using Simple Machines (based in Nevada) and has an American domain name.

SBell

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 07:48:58 PM »

If one is not enjoying to continue PMing with another - he could always end the debate at any time.
That is my opinion.

The issue could be when one member repeatedly PMs another with aggressive or unwanted comments, even if they never get a response. That in itself is harassment. Unless there's a blocking mechanism...I don't know!

Of course, the real question would be why someone would send harassing messages.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 07:49:42 PM by SBell »

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 10:57:21 PM »
Wouldn't repeated unwanted PMs becomes jurisdiction for DTF, and a mod can enact a ban, if brought into light of the situation?

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2018, 01:23:10 AM »
Please remove: "There is no rule to inhibit such sharing, which is down to the discretion of individual members." -> The statement may/will be interpreted differently by members.

This is sufficient and concise: "PMs belong to the sender and recipient. The Dinosaur Toy Forum therefore holds no responsibility for private messages subsequently shared publicly on the forum, or elsewhere. Please note that members use the forum's private message (PM) system at their own risk."

dinotoyforum

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Re: Forum PM rules
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2018, 01:28:03 AM »
Please remove: "There is no rule to inhibit such sharing, which is down to the discretion of individual members." -> The statement may/will be interpreted differently by members.

This is sufficient and concise: "PMs belong to the sender and recipient. The Dinosaur Toy Forum therefore holds no responsibility for private messages subsequently shared publicly on the forum, or elsewhere. Please note that members use the forum's private message (PM) system at their own risk."

Good call.