Welcome. Read this first!

Discussion in 'That's So Meta!' started by the_admin_seebs, Apr 2, 2017.

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  1. the_admin_seebs

    the_admin_seebs Benevolent Dictator

    If you don't feel like reading everything else, just read this post.

    The rest of the thread is clarification. You won't be punished for not knowing things here. (Or, in fact, for anything else.)

    The name "Kintsugi" comes from the art of finding the beauty in broken things while still fixing them. People who have mental health problems or have been abused often view themselves as "broken" and think they can never be as good as other people. We reject this unequivocally; putting yourself back together after being hurt doesn't make you less good than people who were never hurt that badly in the first place, it makes you different. Sometimes beautifully so.

    This forum’s goal is to allow anyone to be who they are, to have a healthy community where people can talk about what’s troubling them, be heard, and get help with the problems they have.

    There will be slip-ups along the way, because we are human. There will be people who say hurtful things. Maybe they're too angry not to. Maybe they're uninformed or insensitive. But they won't get banned from participating and neither will you. Mistakes will not result in punitive action. There is no punitive action.

    Here's our basic premises:
    1. Everyone (who isn’t a spambot) is welcome here.
    2. Even if you've repeatedly done very harmful things in the recent past, you are still welcome here. No matter what you do, you will not be forcefully kicked out if we are able to communicate with you about your behavior, and you acknowledge that the harm is a problem.
    3. If you want to ignore people for your own wellbeing, that is always acceptable, no matter the circumstance. Take care of yourself first, always.
    There is one fundamental thing we ask you to keep in mind when posting here:

    There is nothing anybody can do or say or be that will make it okay to treat them like trash. This includes treating other people like trash.

    That's the basis of this community. You won't always be able to follow this principle. That's okay. We all do it. It's understandable. Expressing emotion is far better than letting it fester into something toxic. However, it’s important to remember that people may be hurt by your words and, when you feel better, you should own up to it. If possible, apologize. Do your best to improve and do better next time.

    Moderation is not about enforcing the principle; it's about keeping the forum functional.

    It can't be; the principle is by nature unenforceable. Moderation is about providing an environment where people can try to follow the principle and get better at it. Some users have their posts reviewed by moderators before those posts appear. This isn't a punishment; it's a disability accommodation. The forum founder/admin (seebs) is one of the users whose posts get reviewed, because they have a short temper and no tact.

    These are the standards that we are setting in order to make this the best Kintsugi it can be. By participating in this forum, you are agreeing to do your best to act according to these standards.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2019
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  2. the_admin_seebs

    the_admin_seebs Benevolent Dictator


    Kintsugi is a forum which originated as an outgrowth of my overloaded tumblr inbox, but has become a different thing with time.

    The Kintsugi forum is named after the Japanese art form. People who have been through traumatic experiences often think of themselves in very negative terms, viewing themselves as broken or undesireable, and we tend to view repaired things as inherently inferior. But kintsugi pottery is, sometimes, more beautiful than the original piece. Furthermore, the history and the care for the piece that make it into a new thing have value. Kintsugi is, fundamentally, about finding the beauty in broken things, and fixing them.

    The question asked by the forum is this: can we fix people through kindness and community support? The people are the broken bowls and the kindness is the gold in the kintsugi metaphor. If you wish to use any other tools to fix people or be fixed by people, this is probably not the forum for you. Here, if you are habitually unkind, you must treat that as a problem to be fixed by kindness, not an inherent and justifiable part of your being or a thing which ultimately prevents you from having worth. When other people are unkind, you must also treat that as a problem to be solved, not an inherent part of their being or a thing which ultimately prevents them from having worth.

    This is a forum specifically intended to be of service to people who might not feel they are good enough for other forums. That includes people who would be banned from other forums for hurting people. Our aim is not to create a lawless anarchy where anyone can do anything, and people must defend themselves, nor a rigid structure constraining all actions. Harmful actions will not be ignored or allowed to pass uncontested, but they will also not result in punishment.

    As of this writing, we've got no actual users banned except by their consent. (A couple of spammers, and one account that a bunch of people were using to troll each other for reasons I don't quite get, but no actual participating users.) And that's despite a lot of users who have done things that, in other forums, would be ban-worthy.

    UPDATE (June 21, 2019): Since that was written, we've banned two people. In both cases, extraordinary measures for accommodation had been tried and failed, and ultimately we reached a situation where we couldn't sustain the extra workload required.

    There's a lot of forums you can go to where people will get banned for acting up.

    There's a lot of forums you can go to where people won't get banned for acting up, and nothing else gets done about it.

    I am only aware of one forum where people will acknowledge that behavior is bad, and is a problem, and work to fix it. And that is not negotiable. It is not subject to approval or voting or anything else. That is what this forum is for.

    Rules and Non-Punishment

    The founding principle extends to everyone, including people who have broken the founding principle. Because of that, we have as of yet banned almost no one except by their request if they felt the forum wasn't working out for them, or for being a spambot. Users who regularly act in harmful ways may get restrictions placed on their posting, but this is fundamentally intended to be a disability accommodation, rather than a punishment. As of this writing, the forum founder is one of the users whose posts are reviewed by moderators before posting.

    Our policies are not focused on specific allowed or disallowed behaviors, and moderators exercise judgment and take individual posters into account when dealing with concerns. We seek a balance between intrusion on a user's participation, and distress caused to other users. Users are encouraged to talk with the rest of the community about ways to address problems. Some users request bans from specific forums that tend to distress them, so they are less likely to get into a bad mood.

    People have reasons for acting the ways that they do. Knowing someone’s reasons is not the same as condoning their reasons, or thinking that their action is acceptable. But it is often more productive to engage with someone’s reasons rather than their actual behavior.

    Guidelines for Behavior

    The guidelines here are not "rules". They are suggestions for ways to behave that work better than most of the alternatives.
    • Respect people's experiences, including your own.
    • Be kind. Be forgiving. Be compassionate.
    • Focus more on understanding people than judging them. Again, including yourself.
    • Show respect for boundaries and privacy.
    None of these are rules. You are not required to do these things. You do not need to forgive people if you don't want to. You will not be banned or punished for "failing" to do these things. If your actions hurt other people, we may take steps to limit the effects of those actions, such as moving posts to a forum where those people don't see them. However, you will still be regarded as a member of the forum, entitled to the same protection against being hurt that anyone else would get, entitled to participate in discussions, and so on.

    We encourage users to refrain from screencapping posts in areas of the forum marked ‘private.’ While privacy is not something we can guarantee on a software level, we can work to respect it on a social level.

    No Ostracization

    Individual users are not required to interact with people they don't want to interact with. However, the community as a whole will not exclude you or reject you. Posts that seem likely to drive people away are likely to receive moderator attention to prevent or reduce harm.

    Privacy and Security

    We can't make meaningful privacy or security guarantees. Nonetheless, remember that people are talking about things they may not want shared. Please don't take information from this forum and spread it around, especially not from the private areas that only members can see.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 21, 2019
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  3. the_admin_seebs

    the_admin_seebs Benevolent Dictator


    Basically, "moderation" is about "how do we minimize flame wars, harassment, feuds, and people getting triggered", and/or "how do we maximize the degree of participation possible for people".

    Moderation: Handling things that hurt people

    Moderation is not really about enforcing "rules" for user behavior. It's about addressing things that hurt people. To summarize: If we think doing a thing will prevent someone from dying, we will probably do the thing. Usually we'll try to engage with people before doing things. Sometimes we won't, but we'll still be open to talking about things afterwards. Moderation doesn't necessarily imply that posts edited or moved were "wrong" or "bad".

    Things moderators might do to try to address a thing:
    • Users being put on moderation queue
    • Removal of PM privileges
    • Regulation of subaccounts
    • Individual conversations with the people doing the thing, so they can be helped to get better.
    • Moving posts to a separate forum ("The Pear Wiggler") where you can see your own threads, but not other people's threads.
    • Temporarily locking threads which have gotten angry.
    • Putting triggering material inside spoiler tags.
    This is not an exhaustive list.

    Attention paid to users who are causing problems does not mean they are more important than those harmed by their actions.

    Moderators do not read every single post anywhere on the forum. Please use the report feature when you think moderators should do a thing. Try to explain specifically why a thing is a problem, it won't always be obvious.

    Moderators are also people; they are members of the forums, and trying to hurt moderators isn't going to be treated better than trying to hurt other people. While obviously moderators are going to notice more reliably when they're the ones attacked, it's not more prohibited to attack moderators.

    Moderation: Administrivia

    Moderators can also do things like split threads, lock threads that have gotten really large, and so on. Admins (mostly seebs) can also rename accounts. Account deletion is not really an option for software reasons, and because some people have memory-reliability triggers.

    When moving or hiding posts, moderators will try to remember to post notes about this so people can see that a thing changed. We aren't reliable about this, but we'll try. You can always ask whether a thing happened.

    Moderation: Feedback and criticism

    Go right ahead! Please try to be charitable. Ask what we're doing before attacking us, 'k? But it is absolutely permitted and even sort of encouraged to criticize and argue with moderators. You can contact mods directly via "conversations"/PMs, you can post in That's So Meta!, or you can post in Howling Into the Caring Void. The Void allows you to see your threads, but not anyone else's, and can be used for private communications with mods. (Also for venting when you're too upset not to say a thing, but don't want the person it's about to be hurt by it.)

    Moderation: Secrecy

    There's a joke private forum which will probably go away. There are no Secret Staff Forums. Each report has a small conversation thread for mods, and the mods have a discord chat. This sucks; there shouldn't be any secret stuff. But consider how we handle a report of "this post includes a user's home address"; if everyone gets to see the discussion, that doesn't really help! But we try to keep this stuff productive and focused.

    If you want to know whether mods are talking about you, ask. We'll tell you. The answer is usually no.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
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  4. the_admin_seebs

    the_admin_seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Best Practices and Social Protocols

    There's a few things which aren't rules, but are useful expectations to keep in mind. We've had conflicts in the past which resulted in part from people not having compatible expectations or boundaries.

    18+ Content

    If a thread is expected to have 18+/NSFW content, please indicate it in the title. Please use spoiler tags for such content if you need to post it in a thread not so tagged.

    RP Content

    Please try to keep RP activity in the RP forums. It is really confusing to other people otherwise.

    Getting mod attention

    Use the report feature, please. Direct PMs are limited by the spoons or presence of a specific person.

    Venting and Vent Threads

    There's an inherent conflict between people who are paranoid about what's being said about them, and people who need to say really mean things when they're angry. Some people use "vent threads" to have a place to complain. Using these to complain about other people on the forums can be pretty mean. On the other hand, getting yelled at for expressing anger also sucks.

    So, if you absolutely have to say the thing, first, consider posting it in Howling Into the Caring Void, because then at least fewer people have to see it. Second, understand that if you say the thing, the thing really did get said. Even if you don't feel that way after you calmed down. If people are hurt by a thing you said, that's not their fault. It's on you, because you're the one that said the thing.

    How you deal with that is up to you. You might apologize. You might edit things. You might just say "yeah I'm an asshole".

    If someone says a thing about you, and you're hurt, first consider waiting a bit for them to calm down before approaching or asking about it. Second, if you really do need to reply, consider posting in That Could Have Gone Better. Please don't reply in someone's "vent thread".

    Mods will try to help with things like this, and may move some posts around or something, but we have no general policies here, it's too complicated. It sucks. People will get hurt, we can't totally prevent it, all we can do is try to mitigate. Please try to be tolerant of the inevitable missteps.

    Spoiler Tags and Content Warnings

    We don't have a general requirement of tags and warnings, but please consider trying to put content in spoiler tags if it seems likely to be unexpected in context, and also likely to be triggering. For instance, if you want to talk about specific examples of violence or abuse in a thread that's mostly been relatively light, it would make sense to put them inside spoiler tags. If you're in a thread specifically about such experiences, it may be less necessary, because people might be expecting them just from being in the thread at all.

    Moderators will in some cases do stuff to make it less likely for people to run into stuff accidentally. This is not a condemnation, and it's not intended as a punishment. The intention is that you can say what you want, but it would be courteous to other users to make it easy for them to avoid sudden and unexpected triggers.

    Of particular note, the "profile post" thing on the front page is shown to everyone and doesn't have any real tools for tagging, please try to keep triggery things out of that. Again, mods may intervene in some cases if there's a specific concern.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2017
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  5. Beldaran

    Beldaran 70% abuse and 30% ramen

    (Bunp so it's on top.)
    • Like x 1
  6. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Have updated the opening posts to reflect that, yes, people can get banned, under unusual circumstances. The exact circumstances aren't totally nailed down, and won't be, because trying to make a definite rule for something like that seems unwise to me. But the approximate boundary that moves things from "I will keep working on this" to "this is not going to happen" is somewhere in the vicinity of whether we have some ability to work with a user to address their issues. So, basically, can we communicate with them well enough to work on accommodating their needs while mitigating harm to other people?

    That said, we are also leaning in the direction of affirming more strongly that you have to actually be willing to try to cooperate with us on things. I don't know whether the question is likely to come up again.
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