Board rules

These rules are disclosed to clarify the various responsibilities of all community members here on Friends of Captain Awkward. They shall be adhered to by everyone to ensure that our board runs smoothly and provides a fun and productive experience for all of our community members and visitors.

  1. This forum is Friends Of Captain Awkward. While we are big fans of the Captain, this is a separate website maintained by a separate group of people. Do not assume that the Captain or the people reading and commenting on her website are aware of the discussions here, and try to keep any arguments from this site off of that one, and vice versa. This means:

    Do not ask the staff at Captain Awkward about a dispute on this forum. Ever.

    Do not ask the mods/admins of this forum about a dispute on Captain Awkward unless that dispute is leaking into the forum.

    In general, information should flow from Captain Awkward to the forums, not vice versa. You can safely assume that the participants here are up-to-date on Captain Awkward's blog. It is much less of a safe bet to assume readers of CA are participating in this forum.

    Each section has its own guidelines as well as these universal rules.

    Review each section's guidelines before posting.

    Each forum should give you a pretty clear idea what is and isn't acceptable inside. Topics that might be perfect in one forum would be ill-received in another. 101-level topics are more than welcome inside the 101 forums, but are not received terribly well in the other discussion areas. Use your discretion. Topics posted to the wrong forum may be moved.
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  2. Respect and Generosity

    1. Do not make assumptions.
      Users are not allowed to assume others' intentions without asking them. Users are not allowed to assume their interpretations are correct and all others are wrong. Users are not allowed to tell other people what they think. Users are not allowed to complain that the OP isn't asking the right questions.

      If a statement from another user can be interpreted in more than one way, and one of those ways is privileged or insulting, assume they meant it the other way. When in doubt, ask.

      Users should not presume to know the thoughts or intentions of others unless those thoughts or intentions have been stated explicitly. Users should not presume their interpretations are any more correct than anyone else's. Users should never, under any circumstances, presume to tell another user what that user actually means or thinks.

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    2. Give advice in good faith.
      Advice should come from good faith, and you should try to assume the best about your fellow posters and their intentions. Just as you can't complain about not liking the advice you're getting, commenters shouldn't complain that the thread poster isn't asking the right questions. People seek help from the level that they're on. If someone needs help with basic concepts, try to gently guide them towards our 101 Space , but needing an education doesn't make someone a bad person.

      If you see a topic that you cannot engage with in this way because it displays overt privilege or unabashed ignorance, please refrain from posting, or alert the staff.

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    3. Each user is the expert on their own circumstances and life decisions.
      To respect this principle, advice given to other users should be suggestive, not prescriptive. If you find yourself taking an authoritarian tone, or using words such as "must," "have to," or "need to," take another look at what you've written before posting. Unless a user explicitly asks you to do so, telling someone what to do is usually not helpful.
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  3. Forum Decorum

    1. Respect your fellow users.
      Treat the other posters on the forums the way you would like them to treat you. That includes, but is not limited to, the following:
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    2. No discriminatory language.
      a)No misogyny, racism, slurs, homophobia, transphobia, gender essentialism (Boys will be boys, you can't expect men to X, all women are Y), ableism, ageism, harassment, or mansplaining. This includes coded and dog-whistle versions of the same ("misandry," "beta-male," "thugs," "savages," etc). Other isms are also prohibited, even if they are not mentioned here. We also require that users use "trans person" with the space rather than "transperson" out of respect for the preferences of the trans people on this board. We have no time for rules-lawyers and will ban those who refuse to respect this rule and their fellow posters.

      b) A small number of slurs and problematic language may be produced by typos or otherwise subject to the whims of grammatical errors (for example, transperson vs trans person). We ask our users to be particularly mindful of potential errors when using these phrases. The moderation team will correct these slurs but will not issue warnings for their use.

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    3. No body shaming or diet talk.
      FoCA is a body-positive site. We do not permit fat-shaming, implications that some bodies are better than others, or generalizations that assume that what is good for one body is good for all bodies. No food is healthy for everyone, no eating plan works for everyone, no exercise is better for everyone than another exercise, and no specific body conformation is always better. Specifically related to food, what might be nutritious and healthful for you might be deadly for another person. And a person dealing with a food shortage might see any food as beneficial, even if that food would not be beneficial to them if they had access to a wider range of food. No individual food is "junk" just as no individual food is "healthy."

      We do not allow the use of specific numbers regarding bodies or the maintenance of bodies: no weights, sizes, calories, or other numbers. We do not permit generalizations about muscle being better than fat, or about "healthy eating", or anything else related to bodies. If your body prefers some kinds of food to others, or you find some kinds of exercise more appealing, you may say so, but you must always focus on what is good for your body. Avoid framing your body's needs and preferences as being generally more healthy or better, since you are the expert only on your body. Remember that what is good for you may be literal poison for someone else.

      In general, this is not the best site for discussions of diets, exercise plans, specifics of ED treatments, or HAES (Health At Every Size) programs. You may discuss your own body, your own goals, and your feelings about these things, but you must follow the guidelines in this rule when you do so. Putting numbers or judgments about bodies in general under tw tags is not enough — these things are never acceptable here.

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    4. Ignorance is not an excuse to be an asshole.
      For starters, check out Harriet J's post. If you make a mistake, that's fine; someone will gently direct you to the 101 Space so you can read about why the thing you did was insensitive/insulting/bad. If you are not willing to correct your behavior, expect to be banned.
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    5. Being correct is not an excuse to be an asshole.
      Be gentle with your fellow users. When they make mistakes, try to say so without resorting to personal attacks or spitefulness. There is a difference between "spirited debate" and "being a jerk." You don't owe anyone an education, and feel free to guide people to our 101 Space, but remember that nobody is perfect and we all had to learn, once.
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    6. Manage your sarcasm.
      Sarcasm, irony, cursing, foul language, gentle mocking, criticism, and vehement disagreement are generally allowed, as long as the overall spirit of the comment is constructive and in good faith.
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    7. Mods may shut down an uncivil discussion.
      If a discussion does become uncivil and/or devolves into personal insults, threats, or a pile-on, the moderation team reserves the right to close or delete the thread and warn those responsible. If you see a discussion taking a bad turn, don't make it worse - get the attention of a mod! When in doubt, refer to the staff.
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    8. Regarding white supremacists/nazi's

      In response to certain events in the world, and particularly in the US, we now require that any post discussing white supremacists/nazi's include a warning in the thread title, and a content note in the thread explaining what the discussion will be about.

      If you want to discuss feelings of discomfort over violence towards white supremacists/nazi's then (this support thread) and (this general discussion thread) are the only places on this board where that topic can be discussed.

      For the full details please read this (Admod Post) that explains the policy and why we have put it in place.
  4. Accessibility

    1. Use trigger warnings.
      If you are posting something serious (say, about abuse, mental health issues, or sexual assault), please provide a brief, clear description for the content being TW'd for, to allow users to make an informed decision about viewing content. Example: (TW: adorable bunnies) My friend owns some adorable bunnies, and they fill me with joy! They have long soft fur and little wiggly noses, and love cuddles. Unlike Captain Awkward, we cannot put more sensitive content behind the jump, so please be aware of the feelings of your fellow participants and try to give them a heads-up.
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    2. Provide a text description of images.
      When you post a picture, please write a matching image description. We want to be as accessible as possible and not everyone can, or wants to see, images. This is a simple description so that these people don't miss out on your contribution!
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    3. Hide animated images with the "hide" tag.
      While it is fine to have animated gifs in your post, please put them behind a hide tag and warn about them above the tag, so that people for whom animations are overwhelming or dangerous can choose to not see them. Animated gifs are not allowed as avatars as they cannot be hidden.
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  5. The Moderation Team

    1. Respect the mod/admin team.
      The moderation and administration teams are all volunteers donating their time and attention to keep the forums safe and clean. When a problem comes up, we try to make fair judgments to the best of our abilities. If we make a decision that you disagree with, you are more than welcome to say so -- just please do it without resorting to personal attacks or unnecessary snark.

      If you think a mistake has been made, a quick message to the team member in question might clear things up without having to make a forums-wide announcement. If you have a problem with a specific mod or admin, contact Jane_the_chicken, our current ombudsperson. If you have a problem with Jane_the_chicken (link) , contact boutet (link)

      That said, the forums are not a democracy. While the mods and admins will review decisions as needed, their decisions are ultimately final.

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    2. Behavior vs content.
      The staff of Friends Of Captain Awkward make moderation decisions based on user behavior + content, not on content alone. There is no rule against being wrong or having unexamined privilege, but there are many, many, many rules against being a jerk to your fellow users. This includes violating rules regarding isms, fat-shaming, and other content that violates our guidelines.
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    3. The limits of volunteer labor.
      The moderators are doing all in their power to maintain this board as a cooperative and supportive space for all kinds of people. However, they are also human beings with their own lives, histories, and triggers, and they are not able to deal with everything.

      The moderators reserve the right to close threads that require an undue investment of mod time and emotional energy. This is not a reflection on the validity or legitimacy of any user's problems, but an acknowledgment of the humanity of the mod team.

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    4. We are not equipped to handle crisis situations.
      There are limits to what we as a board can offer, and we want you to access and receive the kind of care and support that will actually help you through a crisis situation. If you are in need of an immediate listening ear, a safe place to stay, a resource for crime victims, etc., please find + call a local, appropriately-staffed & trained resource that can help you.

      Your troubles are real and important, and you deserve the help and support of professionals.

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    5. Moderation is done in public
      We do this in the interests of transparency, so users can see what the team does and to avoid having a shadowy cabal acting behind the scenes. Moderating in public means everyone can learn more about the rules of the board by watching them be enforced.
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    6. Moderation is not personal
      Being moderated is not a personal attack or a statement that you are a bad person: it's an indication that you misstepped. Members of the moderation team make mistakes and are subject to moderation just like everyone else.
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    7. Asking for moderator help
      If you need moderator help, or would like to have a moderator look at your post and make sure it's okay, click on the Report button and ask your question there. Just putting a sentence like "Mods, if I did anything wrong let me know" is not ever okay. It's too easy for us to miss that kind of request for assistance. Using a report means we will be sure to see your request. When you file the report, be as specific as possible about what kind of help you want ("did I do my trigger warnings right?" vs. "If this post is in the wrong area, please move it" vs. whatever other concern you may have). #
  6. Noise vs Signal

    1. Do not diagnose.
      Do not attempt to diagnose a stranger's potential mental or physical illness over the internet. Even if such a thing were possible, it does not equip that person with the means to do anything about it. Be constructive: talk about changed behaviors and tactics for coping. If you are truly concerned about a person, try to lead them to the appropriate resources and encourage them to seek help from trained medical professionals.
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    2. No advice in the Jedi Hugs section.
      We have a forum called "Jedi Hugs" where users can ask for support and affection without being handed any advice, homework, or to-do-lists. No advice can be given in the Jedi Hugs forum. This is non-negotiable.
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    3. No derails.
      That includes making everything about you or using any other derailing tactic. The community here is very welcoming and friendly, and will try their best to explain things to ou, but no one here is obligated to explain to you exactly why you're wrong if you can't be othered to at least attempt to educate yourself. Check the 101 space forums for help with basic topics.
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    4. Do not correct for grammar, spelling, etc.
      If you are correcting another poster's spelling or grammar without actually making a point, you are not contributing to the discussion. This isn't a forum for pedantry. That said, please take some time and care in writing your posts; it makes the forum more pleasant to read for the other posters.
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    5. No duplicate topics.
      Before you post, please make sure there isn't already an active thread on your topic in the forum. Duplicate threads are very likely to be deleted. Before you reply, ask yourself whether your reply contributes in a meaningful way to the discussion at hand. If it doesn't, consider keeping it to yourself.
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    6. Don't flood the board.
      While it's generally ok to start different threads in different fora, or about different issues, starting multiple threads in the same subforum about highly related issues, or the same ongoing issue is not allowed. If you have a lot of related issues to talk about, please create an ongoing Ballad of [username] Master Thread where you post regular updates and variations on your theme. This way people who want to keep track of what's going on in your life/with that specific issue can easily follow along without missing stuff, and users who are not all that interested in your life/that specific issue won't feel swamped.

      Ok: 1 post in Jedi Hugs 'I need hugs because I was stared at by a squirrel', 1 post in I need help 'how to stare back at squirrels'.

      Not ok: 5 posts in Jedi hugs: 'I need hugs because I was stared at by a squirrel', 'I was stared at by a hamster', 'I'm scared of hamsters', 'my hamster and my squirrel are fighting again', 'please tell me it's ok to stare back at the hamster'.

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    7. Do not make posts that consist of nothing but a link,
      especially in the 101 space. Either explain the content of the link in at least a short paragraph or just summarize your own ideas.
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    8. No advertising.
      We are not a good place to advertise. This board can only be so much and our energy is better used elsewhere. Any posts looking for dog walkers or casual sex or roommates will be removed. We aren't looking to be the next Craigslist any time soon! If you want to post a survey, such as for school, please run it by the moderation team first.
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  7. Account and Post Management

    1. Having more than one account is okay. However,
      using those accounts as sock puppets or to avoid a ban is not okay. If you do attempt to sock puppet or evade a ban, we will ban the account in question and all of your other accounts. So, please, don't do it.
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    2. No shared accounts.
      All users need to have their own account. One reason we allow multiple accounts is so that you won't have to share one. That means no couple accounts, shared friends-accounts or family accounts please.
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    3. Contact a mod if you need help editing.
      Forgot to add a trigger warning? Spotted a hideous typo? Users now have limited editing privileges on their posts (although admins and moderators can view your post's past history.) For a short time after posting you are able to edit your own posts. When you edit a post, please tell us why. Just a quick "edited for typo" is fine! That way we won't have to look through all the logs.

      After your editing window has closed you will need to ask a Mod to help you with edits. If you see a necessary edit please contact a Mod with a link to the comment and a description of the changes you want made. Please keep in mind that we generally do not delete content unless it is rule-breaking.

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    4. Signatures
      URL codes in signatures are fine. We have a 255 character limit. Signatures with lots of different types of writing (cursive, bold etc) are not allowed.

      Feel free to add a link to your blog, twitter, Etsy store, or whatever else you want people to visit.

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    5. Usernames must follow all forum rules.
      Please make sure that you username abides by the same guidelines as your posts do.

      Your username shouldn't contain discriminatory language. If you wouldn't write it in a post, don't use it as your name!

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  8. Safety

    1. Do not disclose another person's information.
      In this forum, we strongly believe in every forum member's right to control the disclosure (or lack thereof) of their own personal information. Please refrain from guessing and/or disclosing other forum members' personal information.

      This rule includes not showing FOCA posts to people who are not members of FOCA. Posters make themselves vulnerable here on the assumption that only other community members will be able to see their posts; therefore, it is not acceptable to share their posts outside the community without their express permission.

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    2. No sharing of private messages.
      Absolutely no sharing or quoting of private messages without explicit consent from all parties. Private messages are private, and breaking this rule gets you a ban. Period. Mods and admins may share PMs amongst themselves to assist with moderation issues.
      This rule against sharing private messages is waived in the case of harassment or otherwise rule-breaking messages when reported privately to mods.

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    3. Look to your own safety.
      Remember: this is The Internet. Anything you post here can be read by anyone else with a forums account, and while it's not very nice, there's nothing to stop those people from posting your content all over the web. Before posting, take a moment to consider the content. If you are about to post something with identifying information using the same pseudonym you use everywhere else on the web, either edit your message or register an account under a different name.

      Anything you post on the internet is essentially public. Be aware of what you're posting.

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  9. In Conclusion

    1. This is not a comprehensive list.
      Not seeing a specific rule here is not a free pass to do whatever you like. Please be respectful and try to make this community better, not worse. While we are not designating the entire site a Safe Space, we are going to make it an Asshole-Free Zone as much as possible.
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