[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Jilitse on June 23rd, 2010, 2:54 am

I haven't stayed in chat for a long while, but I've encountered a few where people had really big clashes in reasoning. I don't want any disrespect to anybody, but I think it'd be fair if people are allowed to discuss what they want. Religion, politics, sexism may already be taboo topics for some, but I believe I've also had seen quite good intellectual debates on these subject, so why not? These are sensitive subjects, but with the right kind of people they don't become flamebaits.

I think Chat allows us to have "Channels". I've tried this before but it had always been empty on other channels. Syliras has its own channel, etc, etc. Pretty soon we'd have hundreds of people in chat and it's gonna be hard trying to find someone else's reply. It's an idea, maybe we should have our own channel for newbies in the future. Especially when they're too many to handle.

Is there a way to "screen" certain words? I think some chatrooms and messageboards have a list of taboo words, that show up as ****** instead.

Age, I think, can also be sometimes an issue. Say if there were 3 adults online, they can maturely talk about sex or work or adult stuff. If there was a minor there conversation must automatically be PG-13, right?

It somehow saddens me that we now need guidelines in chat, but I guess it can't be helped, and we do need to set up "chatiquette".


Here are some of the common issues I'd like to be included:

1. Avoiding talking in native languages. It alienates other people in chat. Unless its simple words that can be easily translated or quickly explained, I think these things should go through PMs.
2. Do not excessively use ALLCAPS or 733+ talk.
3. It's better to properly address the one you're talking to. Mention their name or whatnot so that any comments in jest or whatnot will be directed to the person.
4. Avoid flamebaiting and triggering sensitive topics including: suicide, rape, sex, etc. As these topics may not be entirely avoided, and in moderate discussion may provide a healthy conversation, if you are highly sensitive to the topic try your best to have a strategy to cope up (ignore chat for a while, do not burst in flames, politely ask that you're being offended). Moderators must actively observe that conversations do not get out of hand (fudge my brain is almost sleeping, but I hope the point gets across)
5. Joking and having fun (which may lightly cross the taboo topics) are allowed, provided that it was not specifically said to offend somebody else.
6. Something about sarcasm, etc.
7. Respect people in chat. When you argue with someone, finding the middle ground, does not necessarily mean letting go of your beliefs. When someone shares an opinion or ideology different from yours (ex. Justin Bieber does not deserve that award) do not go into mad rage.
8. Moderators should moderate chat. If the mods are sobs themselves, the chat should be logged and posted at the Help Desk. Report them!
9. Warnings should be given. A reminder, a warning, and then you get booted out of chat. Getting booted out of chat for five times will earn you a... uh. Medal. Saying you're a bad man or woman. I'm not sure about the punishment. I mean, come on, is there someone too daft to understand the rules?

My eyes are half-closed now. Nevertheless I think there's something that could be squeezed out of what I said, I'll just return here if there are things that need clarification.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Abashai on June 23rd, 2010, 3:45 pm

First, I admit guilt to some of the offending material in chat as well so, though I may be climbing on a high horse, his legs aren't very long.

Its already been stated the difficulty of regulating chat conversations, and the nature of some of the foolishness and, frankly, idiocy that has appeared in chat is not always easy to qualify. Likewise, not everyone's sensibilities can be appeased at once. Nevertheless, Jen is right, with some form of documented guidelines, offenders have little recourse when they are called on the carpet for abusing our chat room.

From my observations, the most common form of offenses are these:

Vulgarity- Whether its overtly sexual in nature, graphic, obscene (by general public's standards) or overuse of 'swear' words. Perhaps a guideline keeping content to a specific rating, perhaps movie ratings, will give everyone an idea of what is expected.

Insults- There gets to be a fine line in chat between well-meaning teasing and insults. The subtleties between the two are lost in an emotionless medium such as chat. I get teased about my age, and I laugh about it, because I know who is saying it and that they are not being mean-spirited, and they know I will not be offended. But, if you dont know someone enought to tease them, dont poke at them. Certainly abusive language, of which I have witnessed lately, is never tolerable. I am not sure how to regulate it other than a demand for a certain amount of respect. I have sat in chat where someone offended someone, not understanding the problem because they claim it was it was not intended to offend .Hey, if 95% of the people in chat say you are offensive and insulting....you are. Adding the disclaimer "Not to be offensive..." before you speak does not get you off the hook to insult someone.

Disparaging remarks
or jokes aimed at race, religion, sexual-orientation or any number of identifiers can easily go on a no no list. We are a globally diverse group. What is funny about someone to you and your friends may very well be exactly what I am. The lack of discernment in chat is appalling.

Arguments- In the name of all that is good, please take your arguments out of public chat. Debates are OK, if it is not hijacking chat. But there is a difference. Some people may get a kick out of gathering around a fight, but chat is a place for people to engage each other in conversations. Your argument steals chat away from the rest of us and it pi...makes me very angry when chat is hijacked by a couple hotheads who will in no way resolve their issue in a public chat forum. Regulating fighting in chat can be as simple as ...no fighting.

Granted, some of these are going to be subjective, based on a mod or consensus of folks in chat.

OK...gone on long enough! I am not standing here saying this is all absolute, its just my opinion. Hopefully taking in all our thoughts will help come up with some concrete rules.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Gossamer on June 23rd, 2010, 4:07 pm

I'm about to come up with a 'basic outline' to run by you guys for Chat rules. However, I wanted to address some of Jilitse's concerns and suggestions first - just to make sure she's clear on a few things.

We run on a shoestring budget here - keeping the site up and running on donations and volunteerism by the Founders and players. If people didn't donate, we'd probably have even less features than we have now. We very shortly after opening ran out of space for a lot of accessory things we installed and had to upgrade.

Nevertheless, because of this, we use a FREE chat program. It is very limited in its operational ability. There's no way we can 'alter' the code to screen out cuss words, and all the channels are generated automatically by the Forums we install into the game. It mirrors them perfectly. Thus, there's Public (which we all use) and then there's whatever else - which we have to put up with. The other chat programs out there available cost hundreds or more a year to lease and use. So, because we operate cheaply and keep everything free... we're stuck with AJAX chat. :P

That means no editing out cuss words, no unique private channels other than whisper messages, etc. We sorta have to work with what we have - and truthfully it gets the job done nicely no matter how much we complain about it and abuse it with kicks.

Truthfully, I'm with all of you that we even have to have this discussion. But when we have routinely attracted a 12-14 year old crowd I get a little protective and I really think you guys can take the filth and debase attitudes elsewhere. Which is why when these rules come up, there will be a straight shot to an uninvite right out of chat. We already have one individual who's no longer allowed to play in chat... and if they are seen in chat again, they are not going to be welcome on the game any longer.

Thats it. That's the bottom line. We're doing this because PLAYERS have forced us to do this by acting like idiots. I'm not happy. I'm not even remotely impressed. But I want a true mechanism in place for people to follow set guidelines because obviously the whole 'common sense' theme hasn't worked out well for us.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Tarot on June 27th, 2010, 4:33 pm

Just to add to Goss' assessment, I'm the first to admit that AJAX chat isn't the best piece of software in the world. Indeed, judging by their support forums, a lot of people can't even get it to work. :) I picked it for a few reasons, namely that it's free, it doesn't require anything to run and it works on the standard http port (meaning it's unlikely to get firewalled at work). There are alternatives, of course, but http chats do pretty much the same stuff.

Could I implement some more features, like starring out cusswords? Probably, but it's not worth anyone's time. First, because every time I've fiddled with its code, somewhere else something broke. Second, censoring words is really beneath my opinion of Miza's community (not to mention, you can insult others even with filters on). I am not a fan of adding censorship, and I say this coming from a game that starred out the names of its competitors (including us, now).

Third, there will come a point eventually when we have to retire AJAX chat and move to another solution. I don't know when, but we'll have to if we keep growing. Http chats like this are, in fact, web pages that get refreshed every 2 seconds. This is a very inefficient way of doing things and fires tons of requests to the web server. If it gets too many, our real web pages (forums/wiki) start loading slower and slower. With our configuration, I don't think we can handle more than 30 or 35 people in chat at any given time without the forums suffering. What will happen then? I'm not sure yet. External applet-based chat is an option. IRC isn't. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But I'm not going to code features for a piece of software with an uncertain future. :)

As for the discussion itself, I think the terms of use we have in the wiki could work for chat with minimal changes. Don't break any laws, don't offend, don't be a troll, don't be too explicit. Break it once, you get a warning from an admin. Break it twice, temporary chatkick. Third time and you're chatbanned and on your final warning for a full ban. That's the way I see it anyways.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Gossamer on July 4th, 2010, 5:54 pm

Proposed rules:


Chat Rules

The Mizahar Chat feature exists for the sole purpose of supporting of Mizahar as a writer’s roleplaying game. Chat provides a safe family friendly place for real time question and answer or planning sessions between both players and moderators, players and players, and to add an instant additional ‘help’ feature to the game that is very important. New players can drop into chat, get to know some of the existing players and ask for advice or help in getting started.

Like all chats, there is no set subject matter or topic. The discussion can flow randomly between one subject to the next or have multiple conversations going on in a singular moment. Chat is open to just about any topic or interest, even those outside of the game.
However, there is a need for a code of conduct within chat that includes rules and clearly outlines penalties for ignoring those rules. All Mizahar players are invited to join chat and actively participate within its boundaries. The following are the chat specific rules for the game:

  • Ignorance of the Chat Rules is no excuse for not following them.
  • All [[Rules]] and [[Terms of Use]] within Mizahar’s community will be followed. This is the condition one agrees to in order to receive an account here and being given permission to playing within our environment. These rules shall be firmly enforced to provide a safe and positive environment both within the game and within chat itself.
  • Respect your fellow chatters. This means no vulgarity, disparaging remarks, arguments, or insults. We have a very low tolerance of this and you will be warned instantly if this is witnessed by an admin.
  • Please use English in chat as it is the required language of Mizahar.
  • Avoid flames, flooding, trolling, and sensitive topics as outlined by the Terms of Use.
  • The use of cryptic or innuendo-type language to 'skirt' chat rules is not allowed.
  • All chatters will be treated equally regardless of their status as a moderator or player, length of duration on Mizahar, or knowledge level.
  • Feel free to report chat abuses that occur when an Admin is not present. Do so by submitting a log to the help desk including a time and date on the report. Your report will remain anonymous and can be verified by reviewing the chat logs.
  • All Administrators (denoted by red usernames) shall be acknowledged respectfully when they ask for a change in behavior. If an admin asks for a behavior change, they will expect these changes to happen immediately.



Noncompliance to Chat Rules


  • Upon first incident, a chat user will be verbally warned and the rules explained.
  • Upon second incident, a chat user will be kicked from chat for the duration of that day.
  • Upon third incident, a chat user will be permanently uninvited from chat.
  • Upon an additional appearance within chat after an uninvited has been issued, the player will be uninvited from the site.

The Admins are keeping track of who has been warned where and why, and any interactions of kicking users from chat. If behavior shows a trend towards negative interactions, an uninvite to chat may be issued immediately.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Cayenne on July 6th, 2010, 12:48 am

These certainly work for me.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Dusk on July 11th, 2010, 6:16 pm

I can see how all these are necessary and all - we've got a lot of new trolls coming in - but here's my question:

Does this mean I'm not allowed to say "Hello, whore" whenever Dani signs on? Because that would make me cry.

Also, can we add a rule about never saying "I'm bored" in chat? Because that infuriates a million different people. Including me. If you're bored, go read an article or write a scene or something.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Gossamer on July 15th, 2010, 7:26 pm

That's what a whisper is for. I personally don't see that as 'appropriate' in chat nor necessary. Casual use of words like that, either if they are private jokes or meant to be funny, often come off as just... well in poor taste and debase to everyone except the people they are between. So its best to keep that in whispers if you absolutely feel the need to use language like that especially in just a simple greeting.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Dusk on July 16th, 2010, 6:15 am

I know this is going to come off as (bleep)y and I don't mean it to at all, I'm really just trying to figure this all out. But are we going to have to start censoring our posts as well to make them more kid-friendly or appropriate? Like, cutting down on violence or sex or sexual assault or any of the numerous adult themes that we've all been exploring in our posts in Mizahar? I'd just like a little warning now, because some of the stuff I'm planning for future plots will get violent or explicit, and if I need to adjust that I'd rather do it in the planning stages than afterwards. :) Or are we just keeping the language and innuendo down in chat and not on the boards? Again, not trying to start a debate, but I want to know where we all stand right now.
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[Discussion - Please Weigh In] Chat Rules

Postby Cayenne on July 19th, 2010, 3:02 am

Dusk - the way I look at it, no one is forced to read a thread. If they don't want to read it, they have the option of not reading content they may find offensive.

They do not have that luxury in real-time chat.

The forums, therefore, will stay the same... the NC-17 level that it has always been.
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