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Community Rules and Guidelines

We have three classes of rules that are simple and easy to follow. Here is a description of the three different rule classes.

I.) Mandatory Rules
Description - These rules cover malicious behavior in general, and will be strictly enforced.
Punishment - Each mandatory rule infraction will accrue one warning point. The warning system is described below.

II.) Judgement Rules
Description - These rules cover non-malicious but generally annoying posting behavior, and the moderators and admins will decide if the offense warrants punishment.
Punishment - Punishments for these rules are not as severe, since the offenses are far more subjective. Several infractions of these rules, enough that the Admins notice a real disruption in topic flow, will result in one warning point (multiple links will be cited in the warning). Continued violation of these rules may result in Level 4 Parole status, but never a ban.

III.) Guidelines
Description - General guidelines to follow.
Punishment - Guidelines are not really rules, but rather advice and tips on what you can do (and not do) to make things on our forums flow more smoothly. You will not be punished for failing to observe these, but please make a note of them nonetheless.

What constitutes an infraction of these rules is entirely left to the discretion of the Admins; they outline general cases, not specifics for you to find loopholes to get around. In general, it should be enough to simply use common sense. It is unwise to test the limits of the language here. If we feel you are trying to subvert a particular rule, we will deal out punishment accordingly.

1) No flaming, or trolling. You may not harass or attack any member of this board; this constitutes flaming.

2) Respect the boundaries of good taste; you may not post or link to any vulgar/obscene, hateful, inflammatory, or sexually explicit material. Exception: Original artwork threads containing tasteful nudity. If this is the case, please include "(18+)" or a similar warning in your thread's title or description. Admins have the final say on the vulgarity/obscenity of all material.

3) No objectionable avatars (such as porn) or signatures.

4) You may not post illegal material (IE: warez, crackz, roms, etc.) This includes links to pages that contain that content. You may not post any material that is copyrighted, unless you own the copyright.

5) No deliberate re-posting of messages that were edited or removed by an administrator. Each admin prefers to post in a specific color, which you will learn to recognize. Do not attempt to spoof admin edits using these colors.

6) All rules that apply to the forums also apply to reviews posted in the game archive. Submitting malicious or non-serious reviews can get you in trouble just as quickly as making malicious posts in the forums would.

Violations of these rules will result in a permanent ban, regardless of the number of offenses.

1) You may not attempt to 'hack' our forums; this includes trying to access our Control Panel, attempting to recover members passwords, or attempting to corrupt our forum.

2) Do not ban evade or help someone else ban evade.

3) No spamming - this is of course common sense. Those who are obviously here to spam with no intent to contribute to the boards will be, of course, removed fairly quickly. Well-established members, posting something construed as spam in perhaps a temporary lapse of good judgement, will be dealt with more as a judgement rule offense.

4) Any infraction of the rules that would be enough to result in a warning, before the member in question has become established as a "regular" on the forums will be taken as indication that the member has no desire to contribute to the community, and will result in an immediate and permanent ban. The point at which you become a "regular" is an ephemeral thing, of course. The Admins will decide whether you fall under this special clause or not. Generally, though, you will KNOW when the community has decided to accept you as one of their own.

1) Do not revive dead threads unless you have a good reason for doing so. A dead thread is generally considered a thread that has not been replied to in over a month. Pinned threads are an exception to this rule.

2) Don't drag threads off topic. IE: If the thread is about a game, don't steer the conversation toward another subject.

3) Don't post any kind of annoying, nonsense, and/or useless messages, such as all-caps messages and long "lol" strings, excessive amounts of emoticons, huge images, or an excess of one-worders.

4) Try to post in the correct forum.

5) Don't heckle others for breaking the rules, sometimes called "backseat modding" - that's nearly as annoying as breaking them. The admins will do their job.

6) Try to be reasonable about your signature length - when your signature regularly consumes three times as much vertical space as the content of your posts, needless to say, this can get a bit annoying. No huge images therein, please.

7) Regarding images, hotlinking is strongly discouraged, because we don't want you stealing people's bandwidth, especially since there are websites out there that will go out of your way to replace your hotlink with obscene imagery. We highly recommend you upload any images you want to post to PhotoBucket or ImageShack or a similar service. If your image is replaced by something obscene, it will instantly be deleted, and will be subject to our rules regarding obscene material as if you had posted it yourself.
Also, any images you post are to be no larger than 800x600 in image size, or 500k in file size. Any posts that violate this rule will be deleted.

1) Please do not ask to be a moderator; we will ask for volunteers when we feel that another moderator is needed.

2) If you experience a problem with the board, let us know so that we can fix it.

3) Feel free to report any posts that may be in violation of our rules.

4) Please understand that we are not monitoring these boards 24 hours a day, and that many of us have classes and/or jobs, so we can not always immediately address problems with the board.

5) If you have a good idea that you think would improve our forums, don't hesitate to let us know, we may just add your idea to the forums.

6) When you post, consider whether your post will be meaningful or useful to the discussion. Posting just to say "Yeah, I agree" for example, is not really helpful. Tell us WHY you agree, let us know what you really think about the topic.

Barkness is a "special" forum where posting standards are relatively free. Here are some special guidelines for Barkness:

1) Just because you can get away with more stuff in Barkness than otherwise does not mean that you can get away with everything. Mandatory rules will be enforced in Barkness, like they are in the other forums.

2) Just because Barkness is a less-restrained forum does not mean that it is entirely unmoderated. Some threads will be locked, moved, renamed or otherwise acted upon as deemed fit by the staff.

3) This liberty of posting also extends to the moderation side as well. Some posts and threads will be edited, spliced, and otherwise mutated by the staff.

When you commit an infraction of the rules of enough severity, you will be issued a formal warning. A PM will be sent to you, and you will notice the warning bar that you see in your post information has increased. You can read the details of your warning history by clicking on this bar. Each warn will tell you a) the rule(s) that you broke, and b) the location(s) where you broke the rule(s). There may also be additional information explaining the exact nature of the infraction, if it isn't immediately apparent. In general, your warn level will be reduced by one point every month since the last warning, except when previous bans are involved (see below).

The warning meter is divided into five levels. Level 0 is where you want to be, it means you're on our good side. Levels 1 and 2 count as chances, and are sort of "strikes" on your record. If you were enjoying Elite status, you will lose it, but no other restrictions will be imposed. On strike 3, you won't be immediately thrown out, but you will be placed under a disciplenary measure we call Parole, where your actions will be more closely observed, and your privileges on the boards greatly restricted. Parole will last for two weeks, after which your warning level will be dropped back to 2, pending no further infractions. Take notice, however: on the third consecutive Parole (where consecutive means that your warn level has not dropped to Level 0 in between) we will will go straight to a Ban.

Alternatively, if things continue to Level 4, then we will make a collective discretionary call on whether you should be be immediately banned, or if another chance is merited. An example of this second case would be if the level 4 warn was accrued entirely through Judgement Rule violations. At the very least, Parole will be extended to one month. However, at Level 5, you will be immediately and unconditionally banned. If you reach Level 5 entirely through Judgement Rule violations, this will simply be an indefinite Parole, and probably a Mod Queue as well to keep you from continuing to annoy the members of the board with light offenses, without threat of further punishment.

Much as three consecutive warns results in a Parole, and three consecutive Paroles results in a Ban, your third Ban will be "permanent". That is, the first Ban will last for two weeks, the second Ban for a month, and the third will be indefinite. It should be noted that after your first Ban, your warning level will not drop below Level 1 for six months. After your second, it will not drop below Level 2 for six months, and will not drop to Level 0 for an entire year. However, following both of these Bans, just as with Parole, your warning level will be set to Level 2. The third Ban is effectively permanent. There IS a chance that it may eventually be repealed (and this has happened before), but it will not be for a long time, and we will not do so without careful consideration into whether your character and attitude is sufficiently matured and reformed.

On the subject of Mod Queues, where an Administrator is required to approve or deny every post you make, this will be handed out and removed when they are deemed necessary, independent of warn level and based largely on the nature of each case. If you are using your posting privileges to be continually disruptive by post flooding, for example, you will likely be placed on Mod Queue (and likely warned, as well) until we approve enough of your posts to decide that you have learned your lesson.

It's not all punishment and reprimands in this community. For those who have demonstrated over time their value and merit as distinguished members of these forums, there are rewards, which are conferred in the form of Elite status. More than just a title, as Elite you will enjoy expanded posting privileges, access to private areas of the board, and of course, the respect of your peers. In the past this coveted status was almost impossible for any normal member to achieve, but we have since decided to extend the fold beyond the set of close Admin confidantes that it once was, and set more attainable requirements for induction.

Elite status is now granted based on two things, Involvement and Conduct. The conduct part is simple: stay out of trouble. You must have no record of disciplenary action taken against you for at least six months. Note that it is possible to LOSE Elite status if you are warned. Involvement is a bit tricker. First, you must have been in the community for at least a year. We must also be able to look back at your posting record and find a solid year's worth of posting that contributed to forum discussion in a meaningful way. This means that you can't just sign up for the forums, wait for a year, and suddenly get Elite privileges. Nor can you contribute posts that amount to little but fluff or noise over the topic. Finally, we must be able to point to evidence of your activity within the past month (this really only applies to bar older members who have contributed in the past, but are no longer here). Again, it is possible to lose your Elite status, if you stop contributing or leave for more than three months, though it is easier to get back, as it will be regranted when it is clear that you have returned.

With these requirements, and the benefits of living up to them, we hope to engender an community that strives for meaningful and interesting discussion, and which will stick around for a long time to come.

If you feel that you have been unfairly punished by a administrator or moderator, you may e-mail, and let us know. We will evaluate each case, and may overturn a punishment if we deem it necessary.

Our staff of moderators and administrators are there to make sure that everyone can enjoy these forums. Please treat them with respect, and if you have a problem with a moderator e-mail OR the moderator/Administrator in question. Do not abuse, attack, or harass any admin or moderator; it will do you no good, and will result in being banned from our forums.

These forums are a constant work in progress. As such, we reserve the right to modify this ToS without warning; however, we will make every effort to notify members of any changes.