This forum makes no effort to be entirely kid-friendly. Users should expect to find uncensored swearing, PG-13-rated discussion and some mature threads (usually marked as such). Children under 13 are advised to get parental permission before joining and to show discretion in what threads they view.
The Infractions System
Like many other forums, the Cave of Dragonflies forums employ an infractions system. Moderators can give infraction points to users for certain behaviours defined in the rules, with different behaviours giving different numbers of infraction points depending on the severity of the infraction. Some infractions give a predefined number of points that expire after a predefined number of days, but minor infractions vary between one and ten infraction points and lasting one or two weeks depending on the moderator's assessment of the severity of the offense. Warnings, verbal notifications of rulebreaking that do not actually give any infraction points, are also possible.
If you reach 30 infraction points, you will lose access to the Serious Business forum; if you reach 50 infraction points, you will be banned from the forums for three months (long enough for all your infractions to expire, so that you can start over with a clean slate if you choose to return). We generally welcome people coming back after a ban, provided they have learned their lesson; if you repeatedly come back without changing your behaviour in any perceptible fashion, you will end up simply being banned permanently as a troll.
The rules define four types of offenses:
Inadvertent offenses: Behaviours that are annoying or potentially harmful but usually unintentionally so. Slipping up occasionally will just get you a verbal warning to edit your post and watch out in the future, but if you persist in the same behaviour despite repeated warnings, you will start to receive minor infractions of increasing severity, with the basic level and rate of increase depending on the disruptiveness of the behaviour.
Minor offenses: Offenses that are not seriously disruptive to the forum atmosphere but should be easily avoided by any conscientious member. A first offense or two give a warning, but further offenses net a 10-point infraction lasting for two weeks.
Major offenses: Serious infractions speaking poorly of your moral character or ability to be a civil member of the community. These will net you a warning in the case of a first, borderline offense, but otherwise you will get a 30-point infraction lasting for three months. Note that this means you will be unable to access the Serious Business forum after one blatant major offense and will be banned if you repeat the offense.
Bannable offenses: Blatant troublemaking that makes it obvious you simply have no intention of being a productive member. This yields an immediate 100-point infraction, leading to a permanent ban.
If you believe that you have been given unfair infractions, please contact me about it.
RULE #1: Be Respectful
We are all trying to have a good time here. Behaving in such a way as to make other members feel unwelcome is unacceptable.
1a: No flaming.
We differentiate between opinions and the members who express them in this regard: you can say ForumMemberX's argument is stupid (though see the rule about excessive bashing below), but you can not go a step further to say ForumMemberX himself is stupid for making that argument.
1b: No excessive bashing.
1c: No bigotry.
We realize that people are used to talking in certain ways and may say things without even knowing they have unfortunate connotations, and we do account for that - it counts as an inadvertent offense, so you will not be infracted for just slipping up without the appearance of any conscious bigotry on your part. However, we do expect members to be mindful of our intent to make this forum something of a safe space: if you say something inadvertently offensive and subsequently refuse to edit it or continue to make similar comments even after a moderator has explained to you why it is so, you will be infracted. If you strongly disagree that your comment was potentially offensive, you may take it directly to me.
1d: Be understanding.
Being annoyed sometimes is okay, but you should not make people feel like they need to tiptoe around you lest you explode at them; that creates a negative, hostile atmosphere that is harmful to everyone. Civilly trying to educate members when they do something wrong is encouraged, even if you aren't a moderator; repeatedly lashing out in overt hostility at other members is not, even if you technically avoid direct personal insults. This counts as an inadvertent offense, but a serious one: when it gets to the point of infractions, they'll increase quickly in severity.
RULE #2: Make Useful Contributions
Forums are about organized discussion, but certain kinds of posts go contrary to this goal by lowering a thread or forum's signal-to-noise ratio or making it difficult or counterintuitive to find the discussion you're looking for. This means it is important for members to try to adhere to certain standards in posting.
2a: Try to stick sensibly to the topic of the forum/thread you're posting in.
While it's natural for the subject of a discussion to evolve over the course of the thread and we don't want to stem that natural flow of conversation, it can become quite confusing if threads end up discussing something completely different from what they started with. If you find yourself in a thread called "What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?" debating the merits of socialism versus capitalism, step back and consider that it might be a good idea to make another thread where other people who are interested in politics but not in ice cream might be able to join in.
As these distinctions can be fairly subtle and needing to move or fork a thread isn't a big deal, this is only a mild inadvertent offense.
2b: Make sure your posts have substance.
When replying to threads, your posts should make a worthwhile contribution to the thread. If all you have to say has already been said, and the discussion is not some kind of an opinion poll, chances are your post would be spam (i.e. pointless and cluttering up the thread). For example, if the first post asks a simple, factual question (such as "Where do you get the Master Ball in Pokémon Emerald?") and it has already been answered, there is no need for you to answer it as well, unless you have something substantial to add or elaborate upon the previous answer. Similarly, if you are in a debate thread, simply quoting somebody else's post and adding nothing of your own besides "This" is not contributing to the debate. And while we don't have a rule against members pointing out when other members break the rules ('mini-modding'), we do expect that any such comments be included only as an aside in posts that make a relevant contribution to the thread; don't post just to point out somebody broke a rule unless you're a moderator. If you just want to bring a rule-breaking post to the moderators' attention, use the Report feature.
Note that dredging up extremely old, highly topical threads - i.e. threads discussing particular incidents that are now long past - tends to be spammy, so be extra sure you're contributing something important and worthwhile that would sensibly revive the discussion before bumping such a thread.
Most flavors of this are classed as minor offenses, though the more accidental kinds (like making a thread about a subject there is already a thread about) can count as inadvertent.
2c: Don't make many posts in a row.
Posts making important, discussion-reviving updates on the subject of a thread after a reasonably substantial amount of time has passed since the previous post are exempt from this rule, on the basis that without the new post, members would not realize the thread had been updated. This includes new chapters of stories posted in the Writing forum, new artwork in art threads, or other relevant new developments regarding the subject of a discussion.
2d: Present your posts in a readable way.
2e: Tag threads sensibly.
2f: Read and follow the rules of specific forums.
RULE #3: Mind Spoilers, Triggers and General Tastefulness
First of all, while we'll cheerfully discuss mature subjects including sex, there are limits. Sexually explicit images and text do not belong here in any form, nor does any material that is obviously pornographic (i.e. geared towards inducing sexual arousal). Posting such content here is a grievous enough lapse of judgement to constitute a major offense even in those cases where it isn't done on purpose to shock people (which would fall under rule #5).
We also strive to not subject people without warning to material that is spoilery, disturbing or very distressing. To facilitate this, we have an inline spoiler BBCode ([spoiler=Pokémon]Ash has a Pikachu![/spoiler]) that hides text from view until highlighted, and a click-to-show BBCode ([hide=Disturbing revelation]Victreebel digest their prey alive![/hide]) that hides a block of content completely until a button is pressed. The former is good for hiding small sections of text, whereas the latter can effectively hide long text and/or images. Images can also be linked rather than posted directly. Finally, if a thread is deemed generally likely to contain spoilery/disturbing/distressing material, it can make that clear in its title and that will be sufficient warning for the thread as a whole. In all cases, a warning describing what kind of content has been hidden/linked must be provided so that viewers can accurately judge whether they want to see it.
Content covered by this rule includes the following:
Failing to hide or warn for such content constitutes an inadvertent offense, varying in severity depending on the nature of the material. Note that this rule applies to signatures as well as posts.
RULE #4: No Plagiarism
Do not claim to have created anything that you didn't or post it in a context that clearly implies that you did (e.g. in your own art thread, without an explicit disclaimer saying it's not yours). This is a major offense; lying to get praise and popularity is low and extremely disrespectful to the original creator.
In general, posting or having in your signature anybody else's artwork or text without appropriate credit is considered a fairly severe inadvertent offense, though exceptions will be made if the artist can sensibly be considered obvious (such as in the case of official video game art, screenshots and the like) or if the creator explicitly allows the work to be used without attribution.
RULE #5: No Trolling
If you are obviously deliberately attempting to stir up trouble, be a nuisance or cause people distress, or if you otherwise clearly have no real intention of becoming a productive member (such as if you fail to change your behaviour at all despite repeated bans), it is considered a bannable offense, regardless of whether your infractions would technically warrant a ban normally. Of course, we will make every attempt to be conservative enough with this to ensure that you don't need to worry about this rule if you really aren't out to stir up trouble and are doing your best to follow the rules.