Several months into doing the podcast a group of listeners basically demanded a forum. That core group along with new people who were hand selected over the years evolved into an amazing staff of moderators who run, manage and enforce the forums rules. The rules on the forum are not my rules, they are not the rules of any individual moderator they are in fact the community’s rules or what we call the Terms of Service or TOS.
The TOS is really more than a list of rules it is in effect our community constitution. To be a good member of the community it would be a great idea to read our TOS for the forum before making your first post. They are not long, not written in legalize and anyone posting is expected to have read them before joining in on the community discussions. Do that and you will have great experiences in the forums.
Getting Along in Forums in General
Our forum is extremely welcoming and made up of a great group of more than 6,000 people. Many have become great friends and even connected off line and work together on prepping, modern survival or just hang out and drink a beer or grab a bite to eat together on occasion. Like any community there are existing relationships and existing etiquette that the group has come to expect. It isn’t a clique and everyone is welcome, there is no “good old boys club” that excludes others but it is a social group, being online doesn’t change that.
Often in internet forums a new person comes in with a thought or idea or something to share and just tries to ram rod it into an unrelated discussion or makes the same post in 5 different sub boards and gets upset if not quickly responded to. Sometimes they come off rude, even if they do not intend to. Many times they post a link to their personal website as a first post which is generally seen as spam.
Think about it this way, if you walked into a bar, a business mixer or a PTA meeting for the first time, would you start off by shoving business cards in people’s faces or telling everyone the way you think everything should be run at the event? Of course not, if you did you would probably be unwelcome and sent packing, trust me it works exactly the same way on any well run forum.
What people tend to do in social meetings offline like a business mixer or a PTA meeting is listen more than talk at least a bit at first. Then, they introduce themselves, they add to existing conversations, they ask questions, etc. This can be a very short process as the point is simply to learn the feel of the group, what they are all about and where you have common ground. Along with that you also get a feel for basic etiquette and that allows you to fit into the group as you contribute to it.
Most people would never show up at a business mixer and say to everyone they see, “hey go to my website and buy my stuff” or show up and pick a fight about religion or politics with folks they just met. Those same people though sometimes do exactly those types of things online in a forum as if basic courtesy don’t apply simply because the group is “virtual”. Please remember our virtual group is made of of real people. I promise you that if you approach our forum with the same attitude you would go to a first meeting of a church group, business mixer or social club with, you will have a wonderful experience with our forum.
Rules are Rules – Free Speech Does Not Apply
We believe in freedom of speech, we just don’t believe you have a right to your free speech via the private property of another person. The forums are not a public resource, I pay for them and their upkeep, your free speech doesn’t give you the right to break the community’s rules. No you can’t just say anything you want, if you are in doubt of the rules, again just read the TOS. Let me explain this in an easy to understand analogy if you find this an oppressive attitude.
I believe in your free speech and if you wanted to spray paint something in big red letters (even something that highly offends me) on the side of your house I would defend your right to do so. Why? It is your house, it is your property, you can use it as you see fit. But, should I be required to allow you to spay that message on my house as part of supporting your free speech? Very few people with an IQ higher then 14 would ever expect that. So why should you expect the right to use my site or my community’s forum free of our rules under the auspices of “free speech”?
Your free speech applies with your right to speak and be heard via public resources and your private property. You can say anything you want on your website or your blog. You can say anything you want that complies with our TOS on ours, we hope that makes sense.
Fighting the Moderators and the Rules a Bad Idea
On occasion we get a person joining the forum with their own ideas of how our community should be run and what the rules should be. Most of the time these folks are swiftly warned by a moderator that they are in violation of the TOS and asked to refrain from such behavior in the future. Many understand that rules are rules and either comply or find a community more in tune with their particular agenda.
Then we have the occasional assclown that insists on trying to tell the moderator staff the way things should be. They generally tell the moderators no less then screw off and state some version of “I will damn well do as I please”, such users get banned permanently and swiftly.
Humorously such people often appeal directly to me via email and plead either ignorance of the rules or more likely that they were falsely accused. I do not run the forum the moderators do, if you violate the TOS and get banned emailing me is a complete waste of your energy.
Lastly on this, snipers have a old saying, “if you run you will only die tired” on the forum we say, “argue with our moderators about rules and you will only be banned and frustrated”. Simply put if you are advised that a post of yours is a TOS violation, it is a TOS violation. Arguing the point is not advised. If you state that you will continue to post similar posts, we will believe you at your word and ban you.
We Really are Friendly People
The above sounds strict but only for the benefit of the community. The forum and our moderators are very friendly and open people. There are boards on many subjects and odds are no matter what part of prepping you are most engauged in is discussed in the forums in one of the boards.
Don’t let the tone of the above put you off, 99% of the people who join the forum probably don’t even need to read this page. I put it up for the 1%. This 1% is the group that takes up 90% of the moderator staffs time, energy and resources. To provide the best forum we can for the 99% that understand basic courtesy and rules we have decided that the 1% need a cut and dry explanation and therefore get a very short rope as it pertains to the community’s rules.
In other words the rules don’t exist to oppress the majority, they exist to prevent the minority from ruining the community for everyone. In essence, we are a constitutional republic where the rights of all are protected. We are all bound by the rules even me. That is true equality in a community.