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Chat Guidelines and Conflict Resolution

Discussion in 'Help Desk' started by Tiko, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. Tiko

    Tiko Demon Goat Staff Member Administrator Chronicles of the Omniverse GM


    Due to the live nature of the chatroom, and its purpose as a general hangout zone we maintain a slightly laxer set of guidelines over it than we do the forums. This does require an element of user cooperation to ensure the chat can be smoothly maintained though, so please be familiar with our chat policies and how to handle issues should they arrise.

    First and foremost, be familiar with the site rules. They do apply. This post is merely a guide to assist people with conflict resolution within the scope of the site rules, not a list of rules in itself: http://www.storytellerscircle.com/threads/the-site-rules.6/

    That said we understand that chatrooms in particular are locations with a high risk of annoyance and confrontation between users. Because of this, the chatroom allows users to make their own rooms if they wish to split their discussions off elsewhere, or feel that the General Chat is too spammy. There are ignore and report functions available as well. If users find other user actions to be excessively irritating to them personally, they can discontinue seeing them with a simple click. A simple report function is also available if individuals feel that rules are being broken. A moderator will review the situation as soon as one becomes available.

    Because of these available functions we don't live moderate the chat 24/7. Instead we maintain a policy that people who can partake in the chatroom in a mature and respectful fashion may do so. Those that cannot, or who are regularly being reported for misconduct or behaviors that are deliberately directed at disrupting chat for other users will lose their access to the chatroom for a period of 1 month, 3 months, or permanently.

    We don't believe in a system of escalating kick durations and tallying warnings over every individual minor issue that eventually leads up to a site ban. This invariably inflames situations, stresses users and moderators both, results in knee jerk responses from both parties, fosters an environment in which every slight annoyance is expected to be handled with moderator intervention, accusations of bias, and in general becomes a constant string of frustration for users and moderators alike.

    We instead offer tools for users to personally neutralize factors that upset them and we look at an accumulation of issues to determine if someone is or isn't integrating into the chat properly and offer feedback and private warnings if an individual's conduct is inappropriate for chat on a general level. This allows all users to be met with the same degree and duration of repercussions for an accumulation of misconduct while allowing for the understanding that sometimes people lose their cool and snap about something. It also means that patterns of misconduct in chat can be handled through allowing/disallowing chat access, rather than escalating a situation into banning a productive user from the entire forums because they struggle to handle a live-chat.

    If a user opts to not use the available functions to relieve themselves of a situation that annoys them, then that user has willfully chosen to be exposed to the content in question. This means that personally lashing out or attacking the individual(s) is not an appropriate reaction, because other options ARE available.

    Example 1: Someone is posting gif images that you personally find annoying and/or eat up your bandwidth. Instead of telling them to 'stop posting stupid gifs, you asshole', you can toggle the setting in chat to display gifs as links, or put the user on ignore. If they're genuinely and outright flooding chat with said gifs, they can be reported before the above actions are taken. If a moderator is present at the time, the user may be removed from chat if they don't stop flooding. Alternatively a moderator will contact the offending party later and inform them that doing so again may result in them losing access to the chat. If the user accumulates a pattern of flooding chat, they will no longer be permitted to use chat so as to not be an issue to other users in the future.

    Example 2: Another user has an opinion that you find absolutely ridiculous. By engaging the user in discussion you are willfully choosing to participate in a conversation that may upset you. This makes you responsible for your actions during the conversation. It rests on you to step away and say 'I'm dropping this' if you feel you can no longer retain your composure. It equally rests on you to express your stance in a factual and respectful manner, not an abusive one. Know the difference between 'I personally think that show isn't any good because: [insert reasons here]' and 'Wow... you seriously like THAT show? That show is so fucking stupid I don't know how ANYONE could like it. Only idiots think that show is any good'.

    If a users opinions are blatantly against the rules regarding racism, bigotry, and intolerance, the matter can be reported and the user put on ignore until a moderator can assess the situation.

    Example 3: Someone is calling you a fucktard, and to stop wasting their air by breathing. Put the user on ignore and report. It's simple. Retaliating in kind just means that both parties will be receiving warnings instead of one. If you choose to not ignore the user and engage them back, you become responsible for any actions you take as well.

    Example 4: A user is copy paste flooding the same post hundreds of times so no one can talk. The user can be put on ignore, and the post reported. If a serious issue like this is ongoing in which EVERY user in chat is being impacted - and there is no moderator present and active - then it is also reasonable to send a group PM to our chat mods, global mods, and administrators. This means that we'll all be pinged immediately via our phones and the first one available can handle the situation.​

    Chat Specific Policies

    • Misconduct: We understand that chat is more likely to become inflamed and heated than the forums. As a result we offer more leeway on occasional clashes, spats, and minor altercations. However a chronic accumulation of such things may run the risk of losing access to the chat. There's a difference between losing one's cool in the heat of the moment once or twice, and making it a goto response to lambaste others on a regular basis.

    • Common Sensitivity: Chat is a place for people to unwind, goof off, and in general relax outside of the more rigid expectations of the forums. That said, we still expect people to avoid excessive levels of vulgarity and obscenity, and to not post pornographic images or images that may be deemed as not safe for work. On a more general level though we're far more relaxed. Things will not always be politically correct, and there may be risque humor and mature discussion. This is permissible within reason.

      This laxness comes with an element of judgement though. If people can maintain good judgement, then we can continue to maintain these lax guidelines. If people are pushing boundaries to the point of making the entire chat uncomfortable, or resisting moderators asking things to be toned down then we will need to write more stringent guidelines

      In the event that a moderator does ask for something to be toned down, respectfully doing so is expected. Please be mindful that these calls are often influenced by each individual situation and may not always be the same. Being asked to tone something down isn't a disciplinary action, nor a sign that a user is in trouble. It's simply a notification that such content is not appropriate at that given point in time.

      Example: It's late at night, there's only five people in chat. Humor is getting a bit more risque than normal, but no one minds. A moderator is lurking, and they might even join in. Next morning there's twenty people in chat, humor is getting a bit risque, numerous users are getting upset and someone just left chat. The very same moderator from the night prior may ask for it to be toned down. This isn't a moderator being hypocritical, it's a moderator adapting to the needs of each situation and understanding that in the first instance no one was being harmed, but at the peak of the day it's upsetting many people. Please respect these requests as informative, not disciplinary.

    • Heated Disputes: As long as rules aren't being broken, we allow people to debate and argue to their hearts content. However if a dispute is growing heated, dominating chat and preventing others from using it, or making large numbers of people uncomfortable a moderator may request it be moved to another room. Please be respectful of your fellow users and do so. This is not to punish anyone, but rather it is to allow both the debate and general chat activity to resume. Furthermore if a heated dispute is reaching the point where one or more parties feel they cannot maintain their cool and choose(s) to disengage from the debate, do not pursue that user, poke, prod, or provoke them to re-engage.

    Understanding the Role of Chat Moderators

    Chat Moderators are not in place to police each and every line of chat as it occurs in real time, at all hours of the day. Sometimes a chat moderator may be immediately available and that's great, but sometimes they may not be and users will be expected to utilize the tools outlined in this guide to resolve an issue until a chat moderator is available.

    When a chat moderator is actively in chat they're there to offer guidance, assistance, and to read the mood of chat. It is the role of a chat moderator to ensure the general comfort of the users, and to ensure that no one individual is exceeding the threshold of what is reasonable conduct in a manner that detracts from other users ability to use the chat. They are equally responsible for educating users on appropriate handling of situations in the event that an active chat mod is not available during an altercation.

    It should be noted that chat moderators will not enforce personal gripes and dislikes. They do not maintain the mentality that if one user doesn't like gifs, no one can use gifs. They guide users to making use of site functions to make the most of their personal chat experience, they redirect topics to other rooms that may be disrupting chat, they guide the flow of chat if general users are becoming uncomfortable, and they ensure that everyone is upholding the rules of the site.

    Deliberate refusal to allow a moderator to perform their job, or refusal of moderator requests regarding active chat conduct may result in that moderator removing an individual from chat temporarily.

    If a chat moderator is not present in chat at the time of a reported altercation it is the responsibility of the entire chat mod team to ensure that someone follows up on the altercation and to make reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure it doesn't transpire again, including educating users and dolling out warnings appropriately. It is the responsibility of the users to make use of the tools we offer to resolve the situation until a chat moderator is available.

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