Forum Charter

Discussion in 'How to Use the Forums' started by Daniel Mosquin, Jun 8, 2004.

  1. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Hello all,

    I'm inviting contributions (additions, comments, etc.) to a Forum Charter from the registered members of the UBC forums. Please post any comments to: Forum Charter Discussion.

    What is a forum charter?

    The charter will detail the guidelines, philosophies, courtesies and "rules-of-(green)-thumb" for the participants on the forum.

    The Forum Charter (to be fleshed out)

    1.0 The Mission Statement
    1.1 UBC Botanical Garden's Agenda​
    1.2 Plants, Not Personalities​

    2.0 Guiding Philosophies
    2.1 Use of the Forums for Commerce​

    3.0 Rules of Conduct
    3.1 Restriction of Commercial Content​
    3.2 Multiple Accounts​
    3.3 Username Restrictions​
    3.4 Bending of Rules / Decisions​
    3.5 Undesirable Conduct​

    4.0 Copyright and Use
    4.1 Copyright​
    4.2 Image Use Policy​

    5.0 Rules of Thumb
    5.1 Posting Guidelines​

    1.0 The Mission Statement

    The mission of the UBC Botanical Garden forums is to create an online community of plant, gardening and natural history enthusiasts with participation from around the world, for the purposes of appreciating the diversity of life on Earth, interpreting the natural world and aiding people to improve local environments and communities.

    1.1 UBC Botanical Garden's Agenda

    The politics and biases of the administrators of these web site forums include:

    1.11. Promotion of university and government web sites as sources of information and references. Excellent commercial sites may be mentioned, but only when equivalent university or government sites do not exist. Our intent is to break down the perceived barriers between academics and members of the general community.

    1.12. Promotion of the precautionary principle, particularly as it applies to pesticide or chemical use: The Precautionary Principle.

    1.2 Plants, Not Personalities

    At their core, these forums are about plants & closely related topics.

    Topics and discussions about specific people, particularly forum members (including yourself) are generally undesirable, with looser restrictions in Conversations. Constantly drawing attention to yourself through non-plant related topics is also undesirable, including in the Conversations forum.

    2.0 Guiding Philosophies


    2.1 Use of the Forums for Commerce

    It is the wish of UBC Botanical Garden that commercial transactions and offers-for-sale using the forums software be limited to the private messaging system. Exceptions will be examined on a case-by-case basis, such as here.

    2.11 Posting Affiliate Links

    Please don't post any affiliate links.

    3.0 Rules of Conduct

    Imagine you are a guest seated at a table for a dinner party of infinite potential size. Certain courtesies and formalities exist because all guests are (initially) equally welcome to join the conversation until their behaviour suggests otherwise: be courteous of others; be respectful in your disagreements; be gracious; be engaging and encouraging of others to join the conversation; and be charitable.

    3.01 Dinner Party Dynamics

    If you are at a dinner party and find that a number of different people decide to belittle or attack you, then it is likely that they are not the only ones with lack of social grace.

    3.02 Dinner Party Dynamics II

    Involving the host of a dinner party in disputes & attacks means taking the host away from other guests. Some guests who deserve attention -- perhaps they want to be educated about something? -- may not receive it. The whole dinner party suffers.

    3.0.3 Dinner Party Dynamics: Talking To Yourself

    Forums are created for the back-and-forth discussion between multiple individuals. If you are making multiple consecutive posts in a thread without anyone else replying, you are "talking to yourself" and dominating the dinner party with your presence. This can be considered spamming the forums in some situations.

    Use the edit functionality to make additions to a previous posting (particularly if yours is the most recent posting). Of course, this isn't always possible, particularly for time-sensitive information, e.g., updates to how a plant is growing.

    3.1 Restriction of Commercial Content

    3.11 Use of signatures linking to commercial sites is conditionally allowed, providing:

    1. that the commercial site being linked to is somehow associated with the individual in question
    2. that the area of commerce is somehow related to the topic of these forums at the discretion of the forum administrators
    3. that the member of the forums has achieved a member level with permission to use signatures (see this thread)

    What's acceptable (examples): linking to your plant- or garden-based small business

    What's not acceptable (examples): affiliate links for services such as "Sign-Profit" (e.g., a pay-per-click forum signature ad system) or linking to a cosmetics small business

    3.2 Multiple Accounts

    Multiple accounts are discouraged. One user, one identity is preferred. The creation of multiple user accounts will be assessed by forum administrations, and may result in the removal of accounts and associated threads.

    3.3 Username Restrictions

    Usernames that clearly represent URLs (i.e., web site names) are not permitted. To clarify, thisismywebsite is permissible, but is not.

    3.4 Bending of Rules / Decisions

    When decisions are made either by an admin or general consensus, it is important that you recognize the spirit of the rule / decision as opposed to the letter. As an example, this forum does not use smilies. To circumvent this by either posting gifs or jpgs of smilies as attachments would be considered a bending of the rule.

    3.5 Undesirable Conduct

    When you registered for the forums, you agreed you will not post any messages that are obscene, vulgar, sexually-orientated, hateful, threatening, or otherwise violative of any laws. This extends to private messages, as well.

    3.5.1 Abuse of "Report Post" Functionality

    When someone spams the forums, it is appropriate to use the "Report Post" functionality (the little exclamation symbol within a triangle at the upper right of their posting). This sends an email to all administrators of the forum about the offending post. There are a minimum of 5 staff members who have the ability to shut down the forums in case of a spam attack, so all 5 of these staff members receive these notification emails.

    It is sometimes appropriate to use "Report Post" when a person-to-person discussion or issue first erupts and an admin needs to immediately step in to keep things from getting out of hand. In this scenario, use the functionality with care. A private message would work nearly as well.

    It is not appropriate to use "Report Post" when a person-to-person conflict is ongoing. Use private messaging.

    It is definitely not appropriate to use "Report Post" to contact the administrator with a question that doesn't have to be immediately dealt with. We like the occasional work-free weekends and evenings like everyone else.

    Please post any comments to: Forum Charter Discussion.

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Likes Received:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Please post any comments to: Forum Charter Discussion.

    4.0 Copyright and Use


    4.1 Copyright

    4.1.5 Respecting the Copyright of Others

    For many reasons, a court of law would interpret that this is a Canadian-owned site (e.g., the server hosting this web site resides in Canada, it is managed by a Canadian institution). This means that the site is subject to Canadian copyright law.

    Canada does not have the equivalent of a Fair Use provision that would allow use of copyrighted material on these forums for educational purposes. Instead, Canada has the far-more restrictive Fair Dealing.

    Long story short: avoid posting copyrighted material on the forums. Instead, use links to material to support something you've said in your own words.

    4.2 Image Use Policy

    4.21 Images posted by the University of British Columbia or its employees (typically designated as such by having a logo next to the username on posts with attached images) may be used with credit to UBC and the photographer by educational and nonprofit institutions. Notification of use, although not required, is a welcome courtesy.

    Commercial and for-profit organizations may not use images posted by the University of British Columbia or its employees without permission of the University of British Columbia or UBC Botanical Garden.

    4.22 Images posted by non-UBC affiliated members of the community are solely the property of the person or organization attaching the image to a post (unless otherwise stated). These images may not be used by anyone without permission of the owner of the image.

    It is understood that UBC Botanical Garden is being granted a limited-use privilege to display the images on its web site forums by the owner of the image. The University of British Columbia and UBC Botanical Garden and its employees may not use these images for any other purpose.

    5.0 Rules of Thumb


    5.1 Posting Guidelines

    5.11 Reviving Old Threads

    Please revive old out-of-date threads with care. In particular, if you are replying to a thread of the question-answer type, and the questions in the thread have already been answered, ask yourself if it is necessary to add to an out-of-date discussions. For informational threads (e.g., photo gallery threads), it is rare that this rule would be applied.

    5.1.2 Posting Duplicate Threads / Posts

    Please, avoid duplicate threads or posts, as no one wants to read the same information twice -- and it contributes to "thread-forking" (multiple discussions on the same topic). Make your thread or posting in the most relevant forum.

    If you deem it justifiable to draw attention to a post you've made in a different area of the forums, write a short informative post and use the ability to link to posts / threads to point people in that direction.

    5.1.3 Posting Animated GIFs

    Animated GIFs often distract from the exchange of information in threads. Rarely are they used for a purpose that directly supports the mission of the forums. While not banned, they should almost always be used in cases where illustration is necessary, e.g., biochemical pathways.

    5.15 Balancing the Flow of Conversation with the Ability to Edit

    It is desirable in some areas of the forum to be able to use a single post to gather information and make subsequent edits to add, remove or clarify information. For this reason, we currently allow retroactive editing of posts for a span of 90 days (a minor reason is to allow small corrections).

    However, this also allows the ability to retroactively change the natural flow of a conversation. It is considered poor form to alter a post such that a reader approaching the thread for the first time would be deceived into believing that the modified conversation represents an actual sequence of posts over time. Please use the ability to reply to add or retract information if the edits you are considering would alter the natural flow of conversation.

    To be continued...

    Please post any comments to: Forum Charter Discussion.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010

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