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Current time: 21st January 2017, 23:40

Rules
Atheist Forums (hereafter also referred to as "the website", "the site", "the forums", "atheistforums.org") reserves the right to enforce the following rules on its membership according to staff interpretation. This disclaimer is put in place to allow the spirit of the rules to trump any literal interpretation of the rules. The wording of these rules is chosen to decrease the number of misinterpretations, however they do arise and the final determination on how to interpret these rules is left to the staff. Nonetheless, discussion of potential changes to these rules is always welcomed and encouraged.

The Purpose of Atheist Forums

The forums were created for the purpose of providing friendly discussion and debate between atheists and other like-minded individuals, as well as theists. Theists are more than welcome to join and enter into discussions but please bear in mind the nature of this community when entering into a discussion.

We believe in freedom of speech and freedom of expression, which means members can discuss their ideas without fear of censorship or limitation, provided they are not breaking the rules & guidelines below. In the interests of communication, we ask that members do not diverge from definitions of words that are found in established dictionaries, unless a thread's specific purpose is to discuss various alternative definitions.

General Forum Rules

The following rules apply to the forums as a whole. These are our core rules which exist to keep discussions as civil as possible and protect our members.
  • Spamming
    Spamming is not allowed. We consider any of the following behaviors to be spamming:

    • Repeatedly creating multiple threads with the same or similar thread subject in a short space of time.
    • Repeatedly posting responses to existing threads which are unrelated to the current discussion(s) in the thread.
    • Repeatedly posting links, copy / pasted content, or scripture verses, unless they are relevant to the thread and have the member's own comments added to them.

    Note that the word "repeatedly" used above should be taken to mean "more often than not" within a member's most recent posts. Staff have the final decision on whether the majority of a member's recent posts meet this requirement.

    Posting prewritten content (i.e. content which was written by the user for reasons other than posting on these forums) is allowed provided it is relevant to the thread, however it is advised to keep the use of prewritten content to a minimum in order to keep discussions fresh and unique. Staff reserve the right to treat prewritten content the same way copy / pasted content is treated if they feel that a member is using prewritten content too often.

    The punishment for violating this rule will be a permanent ban.

  • Threats
    Threats and threatening language are not allowed. We consider a threat to be a statement of intent to cause harm to a specific member by the member making the statement. Threats that are based entirely within scripture or religious doctrine do not violate this rule.

    The punishment for violating this rule will be a permanent ban.

  • Doxing
    Doxing is not allowed. We consider doxing to be the act of posting private or personally identifiable information about any person, whether they are a member of these forums or not. Private or personally identifiable information includes but is not limited to: real names, ages, locations, details about personal lives and relationships, unless this information has been shared by the person in question via a publicly accessible post, or on their profile page. Further exceptions will be made to information which is already deemed "public knowledge" such as information regarding famous people. Staff reserve the right to determine whether the information is public knowledge or not.

    The punishment for violating this rule will be a permanent ban.

  • Disrupting Forum Functionality
    Attempting to disrupt or disable forum functionality, through any means possible is not allowed. This includes but is not limited to the following behaviors:

    • Removing all content from posts.
    • Attempting to bypass the permissions system to gain access to forums which are restricted.
    • Attempting to access other member's accounts.
    • Uploading malicious files, either by using the attachment functionality, or by storing the file within the database.
    • Attempting to exploit bugs or vulnerabilities in the forum software or the server on which the forums run.
    • Organizing or participating in denial of service attacks against the forum.

    The punishment for violating this rule will be a permanent ban.

  • Sockpuppets
    Registering multiple accounts (sockpuppets) is not allowed. We define "multiple accounts" as more than one account registered and / or used by the same person, regardless of whether the accounts are actively used or banned.

    Since IP address detection is one of the methods used to find members with multiple accounts, this may result in staff suspecting innocent members who happen to share the same IP address (e.g. two members living in the same house). To avoid suspicion, please contact a member of staff if more than one member shares an Internet connection.

    The punishment for violating this rule will be a permanent ban of both the sockpuppet account and the original account.

  • Flaming
    Flaming is not allowed. We consider flaming to be the act of creating a series of posts that are either entirely or mostly comprised of insulting language aimed at another member, whether they are involved in the thread or not. This rule is intended to prevent members from using the forums to attack other members repeatedly.

    As discussions that involve controversial or taboo subjects often tend to get heated for those involved, the occasional insult is to be expected, and will not violate this rule. Staff will take into consideration the context surrounding the insult when determining whether this rule has been violated. More generally, a violation of this rule occurs when a member's posts are repeatedly inflammatory or insulting without adding anything to the discussion at hand.

  • Trolling
    Trolling is not allowed. We consider trolling to be repeatedly doing any of the following:

    • Making provocative posts.
    • Making posts that are unrelated / irrelevant to the thread or conversation subject.
    • Disrupting normal discussion.

    As discussions that involve controversial or taboo subjects often tend to get heated for those involved, not all provocative posts will get classed as trolling. However, if a member is found to be making such posts more often than not within their most recent posts, they will be in violation of this rule.

  • Pornography / Pedophilia / Nudity
    Pornographic content, pedophilic content, and nudity is not allowed. We consider pornographic content to be an explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity. We consider nudity to be the display of uncovered sexual organs, buttocks, and female breasts. This includes images, videos, and any other medium, as well as hyperlinks which link users to external content. Discussion of pornography / nudity is allowed, provided it is not explicitly sexual in nature (e.g. sex stories). The staff will make the final decision on whether content is pornographic or not, and will take into consideration whether the content is more artistic than pornographic (e.g. depictions of Venus de Milo or Michelangelo's David are not in violation of this rule).

    We consider pedophilic content to be any content which contains sexual undertones relating to children. This includes images of naked or semi-naked children, images of child models in "provocative" poses, underaged themed sexual jokes or memes (e.g. pedobear), stories which describe pedophilia as a fantasy, or other content which is deemed by the staff to be pedophilic in nature. Discussion of pedophilia is allowed provided it does not include any of the aforementioned.

    A general exception to this rule (applying only to pornography and adult nudity) is when members are posting in the adults only subforum "Area 69". Pornographic content nudity is allowed in this subforum, provided it is legal in the United States of America. Whilst discussions concerning pornography / nudity are allowed elsewhere in the forums, if the discussion is intended to be sexual in nature, it should be posted in Area 69. In order to gain entrance to Area 69, members must be at least 18 years old, have at least 60 posts, have been a member for at least 60 days, and should request to join the 18+ user group. Members should then take a photo of a photographic ID with their username written on something in the same photo. The member can black out all identifying features of the ID, except the photo itself and the year of birth. The photo should be sent via a private message to a member of staff, who will either approve or reject the request.

    There are no exceptions for pedophilic content.

  • Graphic Content
    Graphic content, such as photos involving gore, dead people, etc. are allowed provided they are placed between [hide] tags and have an appropriate warning posted alongside them to let members know what the content depicts:

    Code:
    Warning: Photo of motorcycle accident with blood / gore:

    [hide]
    [img]http://...[/img]
    [/hide]

  • Advertising
    Advertisements in posts are not allowed without prior staff approval. If a member wishes to promote a product or service, they must contact one of the administrators or moderators via the private messaging system. The staff member they contact will consult with the rest of the staff and let the member know whether they have permission.

    Please note that this rule also applies to people conducting research, surveys, or asking for members to sign petitions or join causes.

    • 30/30
      In addition to the advertising rule, new members must make 30 posts and be a member for 30 days before they are allowed to post external content, such as links, images, or videos. This is to ensure that advertising is not the sole purpose for the member joining the forums. Any posts where the sole intention is to link to external content may be removed by staff, and will not count towards the 30 posts requirement. Once the 30/30 requirements have been met, members are free to post external content, however the advertising rule will still apply.

      An exception to the 30/30 requirements is when external content is used within a discussion or with the intention of discussion. For example, a member who has not yet met the 30/30 requirements is allowed to post external content if they are using it as evidence in a discussion, or if it is relevant to the ongoing discussion.

  • Calling Out
    Calling out specific members is not allowed. We consider calling out to be whenever someone creates a thread which is aimed at a specific member in order to insult them, complain about them, or put them in an awkward position (such as challenging their views or asking questions). Threads which call a specific member out but do not mention that member by name are still in violation of this rule if it is obvious to staff who the member is. Malicious intent does not have to be present in order for a person to violate this rule.

    Threads which call out a specific member for positive reasons (e.g. birthday announcements, congratulations) are allowed. Likewise, threads which do not call out specific members, but are instead generic complaint / insult threads are allowed.

  • Posting Private Correspondence
    Posting the contents of private correspondence of any kind is not allowed. This includes but is not limited to private messages sent on this site, and email messages. This rule applies even if identifying information such as the sender's name / username is removed.

    The only exception to this rule will be if the sender has explicitly agreed that the correspondence could be posted. Staff will make the final determination over whether permission was given.

  • Protecting Rule Breakers
    Protecting members who break the rules is not allowed. We consider a member to have protected a rule breaker if the member was aware of the rule violation before staff became aware of it, and failed to report it to the staff within a reasonable amount of time. This rule does not apply in situations where the rule being violated affects publicly posted content such as posts, shouts, etc.

  • Quoting Others Inaccurately
    When quoting another member of the forums, whether using quote tags or putting quotes between quotation marks, members may quote them in whole or in part, but may not change the quoted text by adding, modifying, or deleting words. An exception to this rule is where the member is paraphrasing, provided that the paraphrased quote does not change the meaning of the original quote, or takes the quote out of its original context.

    Adding formatting for purposes of clarification or highlighting (e.g. making certain words bold, adding reference numbers, etc.) is allowed, provided that the member indicates that the additions are their own and not in the original quote, and provided that the formatting does not change the meaning of the quoted text.

    Changing quoted text for the purpose of parody is allowed, provided that the parody is clear to members. In the case of ambiguity, staff will err on the side of preserving the author's original words rather than preserving a member's artistic license.

  • Ignoring Staff Members
    Attempting to add members of staff to an ignore list is not allowed. This action is disabled and all attempts are monitored.

  • Report System Abuse
    Posts which violate the rules should be reported to staff in an appropriate manner. Creating a thread to complain about a member or a post is not allowed.

    Members should not abuse the report system. Staff will often notify the member who made the report of the outcome, and if staff reject the member's report, the member should take care not to report similar content again. If staff receive multiple invalid reports from a member in a short period of time and despite being told repeatedly that their reports are invalid, staff will punish the member for abusing the report system.

  • Plagiarism
    Plagiarism is not allowed. We consider plagiarism to be the act of posting another person's words and trying to pass them off as original, or failing to properly cite their source. Academic integrity is important to many of the members here, and it is only fair to give credit where it is due. When members quote from a source other than themselves, they should use citations, links, and names / references where possible.

  • Limiting Thread Participation
    Putting limitations on who is allowed to post in a thread is not allowed. Unless a member is unable to post in a thread due to the permission system, all members are allowed to post in all threads.

  • Necroposting
    Necroposting is not allowed. We consider necroposting to be the act of posting a new reply to a thread which hasn't had any new replies for 30 days or more. A warning notice will appear if you are about to necropost, however you will not be prevented from necroposting due to limitations with the forum software, and also to allow certain exceptions to the rule as outlined below.

    Exceptions to this rule are granted by staff on a case by case basis. Usually if the thread is popular and intended to be an ongoing discussion, rather than one related to a specific event, necroposting is allowed. For example, in a thread where members are encouraged to post photos of themselves, necroposting would be allowed, but in a thread which is a discussion about a recent event or news article, necroposting would not be allowed.

  • Username Restrictions
    Members are free to choose any username they like, provided it complies with the following restrictions:

    • The first part of the username must be comprised of regular keyboard characters (i.e. characters which are easily typed on an English keyboard).
    • At least part of the username must be pronounceable in the English language.
    • Usernames should not contain any of the following characters: ' (apostrophe) , (comma) [ (left square bracket) ] (right square bracket)

    These restrictions are enforced to allow proper functioning of the site, easier searches, and clarity for other members. Staff reserve the right to reject a username on these grounds.

    Due to the need to maintain clarity and consistency when reading through threads, members are limited to only one username change per year. Members may change their username for any reason, but it is recommended that great consideration is taken when doing so.

  • Quoting Large Posts
    When replying to a large post, members should not quote the entire post in their response, as this tends to make threads difficult to read. Instead, members should split the quote up into smaller quotes to which their response is aimed, provided the meaning of the quote is not changed by removing it from context. Alternatively, hide tags can be used inside quotes to make the quote smaller whilst preserving the actual quote content:

    Code:
    [quote]
    [hide]Section of quote a member wants to hide.[/hide]
    Section of quote a member wants to respond to.
    [/quote]

    Posts which violate this rule will be edited to either remove the large quote or hide it.

  • Posting External Content
    Members should be cautious when posting content which originally came from another website. Copying and pasting a small paragraph is allowed if the content adds weight to your post, however for anything larger, please provide a link to the original material instead by using the [url] tag:

    Code:
    [url]http://example.com/article.html[/url]
    [url=http://example.com/article.html]Click Here[/url]

    Posts which violate this rule will be edited to replace the external content with a link.

  • Unicode Restrictions
    Posts should be written in English and be comprised mainly of characters from the Basic Latin Unicode block. For the non-technical, these are characters that you can type on a keyboard using single key presses, or using the shift modifier. For the technical, these are Unicode characters U+0020 to U+007E inclusive. Using other Unicode characters which resemble English alphabetic characters is not allowed. This is due to limitations in some mobile applications which do not render these characters correctly.

    Unicode characters which do not come from the Basic Latin Unicode block are allowed if used in moderation.

Forum Specific Rules

In addition to the rules above, certain forums have rules which are specific to that forum. These are found at the top of each forum:

Minor Protection Policy

Staff at Atheist Forums take the protection of minors from predators very seriously. As the membership consists of both minors and adults in a relatively unrestricted environment that also features private communications, the following policy is enforced in order to protect members who may be minors. For the purposes of this policy, we consider a minor to be any person who is under the age of 18.
  • Staff Responsibility

    • The staff are committed to keeping the forums free of predators.
    • The staff will cooperate fully with any official investigation of inappropriate contact with minors on the forums.
    • The staff will respond to reports of inappropriate contact promptly and in good faith, in accordance with this policy, and will conduct their own investigation and take whatever action is deemed necessary.

  • Member Responsibility

    • Members are responsible for maintaining lawful, age-appropriate contact with minors.
    • Members are responsible for reporting any suspected inappropriate contact as soon as possible after being made aware of said contact.
    • Persons under a court order restricting contact with minors are not authorized to use the forums.

  • Reporting Process

    • Any staff or member that is aware of possible inappropriate contact with minor members should notify a staff member via the private messaging system or via the reporting system. It is never appropriate to do so in the public forum.
    • Any staff member who receives a report of possible inappropriate contact will immediately share the report with the rest of the staff.
    • Administrators will investigate the allegations, and will take appropriate action, including notifying proper authorities if necessary.
Any violation of this policy will result in an appropriate punishment, up to and including a permanent ban from the forums and/or notifying the appropriate authorities.

Reporting Posts & Users

If a member feels that a post has violated a rule, they should do the following:
  1. Double check the rule to make sure that the post violates it in some way.
  2. Click the "Report" button on the post you want to report.
  3. In the field that appears, type a brief but detailed reason why the post violates a rule. Make sure the name of the rule is mentioned.
  4. Click the "Report Post" button.
If a member wishes to report a member's behavior rather than a specific post, they should go to the member's profile and click the "Report User" button, filling out the field which appears in a similar manner to the above.

Although the report system is preferred, members are also allowed to report posts / members directly to a staff member via the private messaging system. Please use this as a last resort, or if you wish to report behavior of a member which has taken place in a private message.

Punishments

Members caught breaking any of the above rules will be punished by the staff. The type of punishment will depend on numerous factors, such as the rule being violated, whether the member has violated the rule before, whether the member has been punished for rule violations recently, and the amount of time the member has spent on the forums. Staff discuss all rule violations privately and vote on which type of punishment to use.

The following types of punishments are used on the forums, ordered by increasing severity:
  • Speed Bump
    A speed bump is a short statement issued by a member of staff within a thread, usually directed at the thread participants as a whole rather than at specific people. Speed bumps are used by staff if multiple members are breaking rules or about to break rules within a thread. The speed bump serves as a reminder of the rules and gives members a chance to cool down. Members who ignore a speed bump and continue their actions will receive a more severe punishment.

  • Thread Closure
    Staff will close a thread if it violates the rules, or if members participating in the thread continue to break rules and ignore staff speed bumps.

  • Verbal Warning
    A verbal warning is a statement issued by a member of staff to a rule breaking member via the private messaging system. Verbal warnings alert the member that they have violated a rule, but give the member a second chance. If the member ignores the verbal warning and violates more rules, they will receive a more severe punishment.

  • Official Warning
    An official warning is a statement issued by a member of staff to a rule breaking member via the private messaging system. Official warnings also add 25 warning points to a member's account. Points expire after a month, but if a member accumulates 100 points at one time, they will lose posting privileges for a week.

  • Temporary Ban
    A temporary ban disables a member's account for a specified amount of time, usually between a week and a month, depending on the rule being broken and the member's previous behavior. Attempting to thwart a temporary ban by creating additional accounts will result in both the main member account and any additional accounts being permanently banned.

  • Permanent Ban
    A permanent ban disables a member's account forever. Attempting to thwart a permanent ban by creating additional accounts will result in the additional accounts being permanently banned.

Appeals

If a member receives a punishment they feel is unwarranted, they may appeal the punishment by contacting a member of staff, preferably one of the administrators. Members should use the private messaging system to make their appeal, and include any information that might be relevant. If the member was banned and therefore unable to use the private messaging system, they may instead email their appeal to .

Staff will consider appeals on a case by case basis and respond to the member with the decision. The decision made by staff will be final, and subsequent appeals will be rejected.

The Staff

The staff are members of the forums who ensure that the community runs smoothly, by enforcing the rules and appropriately punishing rule breakers. The staff are comprised of Administrators and Moderators. Administrators are the highest level of member, and are in charge of the running of the forums. Moderators are the level of member below administrators, and help the administrators by enforcing the rules of the forums.

New moderators are chosen by staff from a shortlist of regular forum members whom the staff believe both deserve the position and would carry out their duties fairly. New administrators are chosen from the current list of moderators.

Privacy Policy

Our Privacy Policy can be found at the following URL: https://atheistforums.org/privacy.php.

Copyright

Whilst members own the copyright to the content they post or upload to this website, by posting the content they agree to allow the website owner to publish this content, and to edit or delete it in any way they see fit.

Legal Disclaimer

Members agree not to post any content which may violate the laws of their own country, the country where this website is hosted (United States of America) or international law. The website owner will comply with any police investigation and may submit information relating to the member to investigators if it is required.

You agree that the website owner has the right to edit or delete any content posted by a member at any time and for any reason. As a member, you agree that any information you have entered into the website will be stored in a database. The website owner shall not be held responsible for any hacking attempt that may lead to your data being compromised.

Finally

These rules are still a work in progress. If members have any suggestions, please feel free to contribute by creating a new thread in the Questions, Problems, Suggestions, and Feedback forum.