Your Persona: Avatars, Signatures, Icons etc.
All of these things can be set up in your Control Center. Along with your username, they appear in every post, and so they make up a big part of the impression you make on other boarders. They can also, as a result, take up a lot of bandwidth, especially if you post a lot. There are certain rules for these things as a result.
Avatars/Personal Photos and Personal Icons
The fixed rules for avatars are that they should be 60 x 60 size or smaller, in a .jpg or .gif format and should not be images that other users will find offensive - this would include (but is not limited to) sexually explicit imagery, iconography associated with hate speech (e.g. Nazi insignia), graphic violence, or certain depictions of criminal activity. Bear in mind that the site is viewed by minors and by people at work. Some things that we might tolerate in other contexts (e.g. swearing) won't always be appropriate in avatars.
In the end this is a judgement for the moderators, but if we get complaints about your av from other boarders you will probably be asked to remove it.
In general, animated gifs are acceptable as avatars or icons, but if you use one and it causes problems for other users you may be asked to remove it. It's a good idea to test the image in different browsers, if you have more than one: this can give you an idea of whether it will cause problems for others. If such problems are reported to the moderators, you might be asked to amend or take down the image.
Try to find a personal storage place for your image: it's not advisable to link to other people's sites without their permission, or if you don't know the source site is safe or not. There are a number of free picture hosting sites on the web.
At the moment, personal photos (on your profile) will only appear if you use Facebook Connect.
The main hard and fast rules for sig lines are that they should not contain images, should not contain font larger than 18pt, and should not be excessively long. (We'd normally interpret this as more than seven or eight lines long on a typical screen setup, including breaks and blank lines.) If you break these rules, you will be asked to edit your sig.
Different colours or different fonts in your sig are fine. Your sig should (of course) not contain anything offensive to other boarders, including but not limited to sexually explicit content, hate speech, comments endorsing certain illegal activities, personal attacks on other boarders, or links to sites promoting hate speech or illegal activities. You may be permitted to include links to sites with sexually explicit material if you label them as such, but this is not always allowed. Again bear in mind that minors read the site.
As with avatars, test your sig with different browsers to try to ensure there are no compatability issues for other users. If such problems are reported, you may be asked to amend your sig.
Be very careful that any links posted on the site - and particularly in your sig - do not cause problems for other users in terms of viruses, etc.
In the book threads, you are required to hide information relating to preview chapters, etc., which have not yet been published. This is because other boarders may not want to know what's in them, and don't want to be 'spoiled' for when the book comes out.
Sometimes, books are published earlier in some countries than others (generally, GRRM's books are published earlier in the UK than the US, for example). If this is the case, you should take this into account when considering whether information should be treated as a spoiler.
On other forums, information about unreleased books, films, etc. might be treated as spoilers also. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but it's polite to do so if in doubt. If other boarders ask not to be spoiled (eg on a new film, or a book they have not read) you should respect their wishes. Some of the subforums have specific guidelines about spoilers posted to help you.
General Style Tips
These are optional tips, except where noted, but can help and should be read through before you start posting.
1. Write in short sentences, and short paragraphs.
This breaks up the text and makes it easier to read.
Studies show that a sentence 27 words long is typically fully understood by only 4% of readers: one 17 words long is fully understood by 75% of readers: and one 8 words long is fully understood by 95% of readers.
In general, paragraphs should be about eight to ten lines or less if you want people to read them, rather than skim them.
You should also use short, simple language if you can. Don't use a long or obscure word where a short one will do just as well: it does not impress and can confuse users whose first language is not English.
2. Spell as well as you can.
No-one, especially non-native English speakers, should be mocked for bad spelling, but you should make an effort to get it right. Also, check for typos and spelling errors before you post. There is a 'preview' box that enables you to check how your post will look under the text entry box. You can preview after editing too.
3. Your posts should have actual content.
Posts that do nothing except agree with a previous post, for example, or posts that consist of nothing but emoticons are usually a waste of time and contribute nothing. There are exceptions according to context, so this is not a hard and fast rule: but mods may delete posts that seem to them to contribute nothing but an addition to your post count.
On a similar note, please note that there's a difference between criticism and simply saying negative things. That difference is content. Posts that do nothing but say 'I hate that character' or 'that book is awful' without any reasoned arguments as to why may also be deleted, as they don't contribute to the discussion and tend to create a bad atmosphere.
4. Quoting posts to which you are responding makes your point clearer.
If quoting another person's post, however, always attribute it to that person's username. Unattributed or wrongly attributed quotes lead to confusion and arguments.
Some people quote by using the "multiquote" box on the bottom right, others prefer to italicise or put quote marks or use the [ quote ] command. However you do it, always make sure that anything in your post that was not written by you is distinct from your own contribution and is properly attributed to the original source, whether it's on this board or elsewhere. Give credit where it's due!
If you are responding to several posts, try to include all of your responses in one post if possible. Don't respond to them one by one in separate entries, unless your post would otherwise become excessively long. Again, this might be viewed as padding your post count.
5. Don't quote excessively
Whether you're quoting a post, a linked article, or an interview, quote only the bits that are relevant to your post - for example, the bits of a post to which you intend to directly respond.
Excessive quoting wastes space, makes your post hard to read, and could potentially fall outside 'fair use' if the material is copyrighted. For similar reasons, don't quote linked articles in full, even if they're short.
Excessive quoting may be edited by the mods and may lead to a warning if done repeatedly.
6. Be careful about posting links.
If the link goes to a site you think might offend, or be unsafe for checking while at work, warn people. If the link goes to a site that tries to install spyware or viruses, it will be deleted.
7. You can't post images.
Posting a link to an image is fine, but images as part of posts are not allowed and you won't be able to do this. In general, it should rarely be necessary to post an image rather than a link. If there is some reason why you absolutely must use an image, PM a moderator for help.
The reasoning behind this policy is that multiple images slow down the performance of the board, it's a great deal of work to police the use of images and animated gifs (in relation to permissible sizes, links to viruses etc.) and that the look and feel of the board is generally spoiled by prolific use of images. In our opinion, anyway.
8. Don't reveal personal information.
Unless you are very sure you don't mind the information being publicly available, and that nobody else who might object to it being revealed is going to be upset, think very carefully before you disclose personal details. (What is a 'personal detail' varies, of course: some people use their real names in part or in full as their user ID.) You are responsible for such disclosures, so think.
Remember that this is a public forum, and material posted here is available to more than just the registered users: it's available to anyone who cares to look. Never post personal information about others without their consent. This includes contact details. Consider carefully before revealing things such as contact phone numbers, details about your family life, etc. And think before asking for anyone else's personal information, too. This should never be done if you suspect it would be unwelcome.
If you are legally a minor in your jurisdiction or you are talking to someone you believe is a minor, this goes double.
9. Do not post things that might offend others.
We're a pretty broad-minded lot, but there are some things you should avoid, if only because some boarders are under 18.
Especially do not use terms or references that other boarders have told you they find offensive, no matter whether you meant them to offend or not, or whether you yourself find them offensive or not, or even whether you feel they are just the 'simple truth'. Offence is often in the eye of the beholder: and persisting in expressing yourself in a manner others have told you upsets them, and earns you no points in the eyes of the moderators. Find an alternative.
Material that is judged offensive by the mods will be removed. Note that whether you consider it offensive, or are offended by it,is not the test, even if it's a remark directed at you: the test is whether the moderators believe it is offensive in general. This may include gratuitous use of graphic content; hate speech; comments endorsing certain illegal activities; personal attacks on other boarders; or links to sites promoting hate speech or illegal activities. We define 'hate speech' to include (but not be limited to) attacks on groups or individuals on the basis of skin colour, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexuality, disability status, or age. This applies whether those groups or individuals are fictional or not. Advocacy of rape will be taken as 'hate speech' on the basis of sex, and again this also applies to fictional characters. Attacks on groups or individuals on the basis of religious, political or philosophical beliefs that they hold, as distinct from legitimate criticism of those beliefs themselves, may also be taken as hate speech. We define 'illegal activities' to include but not be limited to drug abuse, copyright infringement, assault, sexual offences, and theft. It's fine to discuss the morality of these activities, but that is quite distinct from advocating or facilitating the commission of a crime.
It is worth pointing out also that although GRRM himself is not a member of this board, many of his friends and family are, and as a result we treat posts about him as if he were a member. So personal attacks on GRRM (as distinct from legitimate criticism of his work) will be deleted, as would personal attacks on a member. We may also adopt a similar position on other public figures with a close connection to the board, including authors, actors, etc.
Finally, note that we have zero tolerance for anything we perceive as harassment.
Ultimately, the moderators will decide what the appropriate scope of discourse for this board will be. We will do our best to explain these standards and to enforce them consistently, but be reminded that each case will be evaluated separately.
10. If you make a mistake, or offend someone, say sorry.
People will remember, and listen to you more in future, if you admit when you are wrong.
11. Do not personalise debates.
If you disagree with someone's view, even very deeply, don't treat that as disliking that person. Personal arguments are a waste of time, and likely to lead to breaking board rules. Besides, you will probably find another topic later on which you agree with that person. Argue with the view, not the person: in footballing parlance, play the ball, not the man.
12. Don't moan.
We discourage people from using the open forums to complain about the behaviour of other boarders or about the decisions of the moderators. Such posts are unnecessary in any case. Use the Report and PM functions: it's what they're for. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] - but please don't use this to report misbehaviour by others, as there is usually a delay in response.
Edited by mormont, 28 July 2012 - 05:30 AM.