The Background Behind All of Our Rules

With very few exceptions, our rules, guidelines and requirements have been proven to be required.  That is, they weren't in place until those who tread the halls before you refused to consider others or listen to our requests.

Thus, herein, they are all outlined.

Terms of Use
These  already existed when RPoL went live in 2000, though it only consisted of the first few paragraphs originally.  Most of what is in applies to common sense and courtesy, with a lot actually dedicated to your rights and our responsibilities.

A few sections were added during the years, namely:

Framing Techniques:  Some lovely random Internet personality decided to frame RPoL completely within their website, making it look like their own.

Copyright:  Users expressed concern about copyright so this was inserted to confirm we don't try to do anything crazy like modify international law.

RPoL's Public Forum Rules

A lot of these are common sense, or at least should be.  Yet many needed to be said anyway.  A few extra points of note.

Only quote relevant text:  A futile attempt to stop people quoting a four paragraph essay to say "I agree".

Mention individual games only where appropriate:  This will be detailed more later, but members used to hijack threads (which also isn't staying on topic or being constructive) to mention their game wherever possible.

Do not spam or cross-post:  Somewhat obvious, but read the above to get an extra reason why this was needed.

Do not take moderation into your own hands:  There's a fine line between sage advice and trying to moderate other members.  Many a flame war have started because users don't like being told what to do.  It's bad enough when a moderator has to step in, but when a member is pseudo-moderated by a peer it can invoke a very bad reaction.  Also, sometimes the advice is incorrect.

Do not post questioning moderation:  Public arguments regarding moderation were common during the early years of RPoL, and though I enjoy a good argument, it eventually became apparent that the average member did not appreciate these spat-fests lighting up their message indicators, nor the bad vibe that it spread throughout the site.  I got the message, a lot too late, but this rule has been in place since.  We are more than happy to have a constructive discussion (compared to, say, a spiteful abuse-session) about moderation via rMail, but we will not accept what is often a knee-jerk reaction post in public forums.

If a thread is closed or a post removed do not re-post the same material:  Oh yes, this needed to be written in.

RPoL's Adult Games Policy

These policies were written by the moderation team with heavy input from several adult members (including Shannara, who was not a moderator at the time).  Some of the more abase rules, which I don't want to go over here, were proven to be necessary over time.  The moderators still shudder when we recall some of these unwelcome threads.

Adult and Mature Ratings:  Just outlines the difference between the two.

Restricted Content:  See the introduction paragraph.  This tries to clarify those things that, if you think about it, aren't going to be allowed on most sites.

Artistic Merit:  The above said, we do recognise that most adult gamers are responsible and positive contributors; though the topic in games might stray into uncomfortable territory, we know they'll treat the subject matter with maturity and respect.  This rule is for them.

Fantasy World Exclusions:  This had to be said to close off loopholes that members were trying to exploit, or argue about.  It also clarified some confusion with other members, but they were far fewer in number than the exploiters.

Sexual Assault:  It's a great shame that such a sensitive topic needs this, but unfortunately this is one of the rules that was quickly highlighted as desperately needed.

Responsibilities of Adult Gamers:  This is all about GMs knowing that the members they submit are of appropriate age and, yes, it's also about covering RPoL's virtual posterior.

Age and Legality-to-View Statement: We require not only that a user post their age when they apply to an adult game, but also that they are "legally permitted to view adult content" in their "current place of residence".  This is because there are many jurisdictions where no one, regardless of age, is permitted to view adult content.  In other communities, merely being of the age of majority is not enough and in yet others, individuals may have restrictions placed on their internet use due to court orders, being registered sex offenders, and so on.  Thus, merely being a specific age is not enough to reassure us that a user should be allowed to access adult content on our site.

RPoL's Mature Games Policy

Nothing really needs to be said here, this just tries to define the difference between the two and where we consider the line in the sand to be.  It should be noted that this was created due to many questions about the exact issues the FAQ covers.

Multiple Account Policy

RPoL was designed, from the ground up, to allow you to create one account and then play autonomous characters in separate games with no way for anyone (except the GMs that admit you) to know what other games you were in.  GMs have the ability to post as ordinary characters, and GMs and players alike can have unlimited aliases.

With the powerful capabilities of RPoL it became apparent that members, with very few exceptions, did not need more than one account.  Alas multiple accounts did start appearing... to get around posting limitations, be disruptive to the site, be a sock puppet, and generally make life difficult for the moderators (and users).

So it was decided; though a few members created extra accounts due to unawareness of RPoL's functionality, duplicate accounts were, by and large, a very bad thing.  The unaware could be educated, but additional accounts would not be tolerated.

This is not an unusual rule for a web site to have.

General RPoL

This forum doesn't really have any rules in addition to the Terms of Use.  There's a few common-sense implied rules (e.g. if there's a better forum to post this in, do it), but so far nothing worthy of making more rules over.

Wanted - Players

Prior to the functionality of this forum being rewritten and customised to avoid really rude behaviour, this was the source of most of our woes, bar none.  Not only was their problems in this forum, but it spilt over to others.

I will highlight that member behaviour in this forum not only required us to take the time to write, introduce and enforce rules (which takes considerable moderator time), but it also required significant time to change the underlying code to force members to obey the rules (there used to be more rules).  Even with the forum rules in place and considerable moderation time members refused to obey the rules.  More than upsetting the moderators, this behaviour upset other members who just wanted a fair go to advertise their game.

In a nut-shell, members (especially those running a dozen or so games) used to bump or post new adverts multiple times per day.  This did not give other members a fair go, and at one stage it was impossible to have your advert stay on the first page for more than 30 minutes.  This was not because of the volume of unique game adverts, but due to the number of bumps or repeat game adverts.

But enough lamentation.

Ensure your ad is suitable to all ages:  Members thought that because their game was adult their game advertisement could be the same.  The W-P forum is for all ages and some of the language or descriptions that were posted were not appropriate (this is partially a duplicate of the Terms of Use, but it had to be reiterated).

Only advertise the game which was used to create the ad:  Members would create additional games and do nothing with them except as a platform to advertise their main game (or games).  The header section that's now part of the advert did help alleviate this, but it had to remain.

Make criticism privately; deal with game issues in the game:  Goes back to being constructive in the ToU, but needed repeating.  In-game disputes would spill over and bitter members would sabotage GMs posts.

Do not post or bump advertisements for a banned user:  Possibly not quite as self-explanatory as you'd think as to why this is here.  Before the coding changes we had several rules (which are now done via the code) which members would ignore and break, so we used to suspend their posting access to the forum.  Unfortunately they'd then either create a duplicate account to bump/post their adverts, or get another member to do it on their behalf.

Post only one ad for each game:  Thankfully mostly enforced by the coding now, but as previously outlined was desperately required before.

Advertise only three games per day:  As per the history above, members used to bump a dozen (or more) games dozens of times per day.  Multiple members did this, resulting in the inability to have your game advert on the first page during peak times.

Wanted - GMs

A little bit of background with this forum is that when Wanted - Players was getting hectic and we were enforcing rules that (IMHO) merely gave other users a fair go, the GMs in question didn't like this so started to post fake requests in other forums, just so they could get a hook in about their game.

That isn't to say that all GMs who posted in the wrong forum were intentionally doing so.  Some members failed to understand that every GM who needs players would like to get their ad seen by as many users as possible.  When not controlled, forums would get blanketed in ads by well meaning, but very eager GMs who are sure everyone would want to join their game if they only coud see the ad for it.

This forum is only for users looking for GMs for games that are (or will be) hosted on RPoL:  Really summarises what the forum is for, but also highlights one prior issue - people used to create accounts on RPoL to advertise game that was running elsewhere (this also used to happen in Wanted - Players before the functionality was changed).

Do not request to be contacted by email or otherwise offsite:  Links back to the first point.  RPoL is for running games on RPoL.

Provide a link to your game if you are seeking a co-GM:  Members used to deliberately leave out details on their posts (this applies to W-P as well) so that they'd get queries back in the thread, which would bump the thread.  Sometimes they'd arrange with existing players in their game to have this discussion, replies would to-and-fro between the GM and a player in the game, each reply bumping the thread.  Most of the time this was a GM that didn't really want a Co-GM, they just wanted to advertise their game (because we no longer allowed them to bump their W-P add thirty times a day).  This premeditated manipulation really did happen.

Only GMs of games may advertise for existing games here:  This was separated from another rule (two below) as players would post requests of "come GM our game", ignoring the problem that players can't add GMs to games!

Do not advertise for players here:  When suspended from W-P, GMs used to then post advertisements for their games, looking for players.  Sometimes the member would actually get the hint that we were watching W-P closely, so they spammed other forums instead.  Sometimes they just spammed every forum they could find.

Do not mention games -- in any way -- that you do not personally GM:  When posting privileges were suspended to the forum, GMs used to get others, or duplicate accounts, to post for them.

Do not advertise to someone who is already in your game:  Another way of advertising your game.

Advertise within reason:  Common courtesy wasn't so common.

Never tell a user to search, browse, or hunt for a game:  Goes way back to the ToU - Be constructive.  It was surprising how many times this advise was given, and then the subsequent firing back of "that's not helpful", and the slow escalation from there.  Nips potential problems in the bud.

Threads here must remain on topic and as succinct as possible:  Members can tend to continue to discuss the game after it's been created and members added as players.  The forum is for advertising, not for discussing games.  This is in as a courtesy to other members - they don't want to see a new message indicator for a discussion about a game they're not interested in, especially when the discussion can easily be moved to a more relevant location; the game.  The rule is also there to prevent the fake discussion bumping.

If you are posting about an Adult or Mature game, you must indicate the game's rating in your post:  Many members do not wish to join such games, and some are sensitive to the topics that these games can involve.  Members expressed emotions from surprise to genuine outrage when confronted with an adult or mature game.  This rule was also added as some members were conscious of the red adult warning on the game menu and didn't want to accidentally browse an adult game when in a public place where they might be embarassed.

Game Proposals, Input, and Advice

Note that this forum also suffered heavily from Wanted - Players advertising overflow.

Only propose games you intend to create and run yourself:  Wanted - GMs is dedicated to what this outlines, this rule is more a FYI - there's a better spot to post (FYI, but still required).

Be ready to receive your feedback on this board:  Again, a heads up.

Do not post game plugs or ads in this forum:  See all the guff about outlining Wanted - Players to find out why this was required.  Members used to try and post all sorts of 'helpful' stuff ("hey, my game is vaguely close to what you're looking for, check it out here...").  As with many forum rules, this was required due to an incredible amount of game advertising.

Do not do character creation or selection here:  Common courtesy to stop the new message indicator from highlighting too frequently for a thread that most members are not going to be interested in, also to stop the fake discussion bumping that used to be rife.

Do not link to an existing game to request feedback:  This was another technique used to advertise games.

Use the Game Systems forum for rules clarifications:  Another "there's a better forum" informational.

Do not use this forum for games which are not run on RPoL:  We used to get all sorts of advertisers...

Do not ask for general thoughts on game systems or game worlds here:  A few members would have discussions about random RP related topics, going back and forth, while the majority of members would curse that their new message indicator was lit because of some thread they had no interest in.  This rule isn't in because members were doing something wrong, per se, but they were not using the forum for what it was intended, and they were ignoring (or oblivious to) the impact on other members.

Do not bump threads:  Common(?) courtesy.

Game Systems

Keep your post narrowly focused on the specifics within a published game system:  Like a few other rules above - forums need to be focussed on their core topics.  General chit-chat is fine in Community Chat, but in a forum such as this it just puts members off, and did.

Do not mention, link to, name or allude to individual games here:  Yet another forum with another rule to stop the advertising spammers.

Beginners, Technical Discussions and RPoL Development

These don't have any rules, amazingly, other than the standard forum rules.

Community Chat

Stay within our acceptable topics:  While some may consider our taboo topics contentious, we have proof (via general feedback as well as posting statistics) that the changes have had a positive effect on Community Chat and RPoL in general.  A free discussion area is key to building a community, but when a subject only manages to breed ill-will (as well as consuming considerable moderator time) then it must be avoided.  Changes are always going to receive complaints, but overall they have been very well received (as well as stopping complaints about the topics).

Do not post here to advertise a money-making enterprise:  Used to happen.

Do not post email forwards:  Ditto.

Do not link to, name, or identify any game on RPoL:  I think this is the last time you'll see this rule mentioned.  Again because of GMs advertising their games anywhere and everywhere.

Last updated: 18:01, Sat 29 Oct 2011.
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