Of Noses and Fists

So, I read a lot of Heinlein when I was growing up (read: young and impressionable). I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed all of his works (or their derivatives – there is a special place in hell for everyone associated with the Starship Troopers movie) or even agreed with all of his thoughts and stances. But for someone like me, coming from a deeply religious family and going to a hard-line Roman Catholic school, there were certainly some eye-opening premises postulated.

One of his hobbyhorse topics was the limits of individual freedoms by society and government and one of his most memorable quotes on that topic is:

Your right to swing your fist ends at my nose.

This is something that I really took to heart long ago and far away when I first read it, and something that I have to remind myself and others of from time to time. I’m sure I’ve even posted it here and there in the blogsphere. I found myself with cause to preach that message to my guild over the last little while – mostly due to some conversations over the forums and over our vent and chat channels* With the political and economic situation in North America being what it is, there have been a few heated discussions about it over vent and some of our chat channels. My ERP post generated some interesting conversations too. And we had some issues with people brining those conversations into the raid – which, no matter how enlightening and edifying they are, do not belong in our raid chat.

I don’t like to make rules for no reason, but I figured that perhaps if I could spell out exactly what was allowed in each vent and chat channel, as well as defining who was the final moderator for each and what exactly the repercussion for someone who refuses to follow the rules would be – maybe that would help us continue to have engaging and interesting conversations as well as to help people feel more free to voice their thoughts. The other thing I wanted to do was to provide clear delineations so that people who do not want to hear conversations on matters outside of Azeroth would have a place to be where they could enjoy their game unsullied.

So, here are the guidelines I posted.

1. Raid Vent Channel/Chat Channel
(Please note that this only applies during an actual raid – be it scheduled (ie for EP) or not. If you just happen to find yourself in a raid vent or chat channel ‘hanging out’ and there isn’t a raid going on in that channel, please treat it the same as the General Chat Channel below.) These channels are reserved for on-topic raid discussion only. If you are in a raid, you are expected to be in these chat channels, so please respect the raid leadership, the membership that is trying to listen to raid directions and those specific members who may need to communicate certain information at critical raid times (i.e mind controllers during the Raz fight.) Off-topic chatter over both vent and chat channels should be kept to an absolute minimum. Posting damage (or other) meters over raid chat channel is not allowed. Moderator of these channels is the raid leader and raid assist, with final moderation being given to any officer, and preference for that final moderation being given to officers in these channels.

2. Class/Role Specific Chat Channels (i.e impossheals)
These channels are for the flow of raid-critical information. If you are not a member of the class/role that the channel is designed for, you are still more than welcome to join, but you are not allowed to disrupt, side-track, spam, hijack, troll or otherwise interrupt the flow of information on these channels. The responsibility for moderation within these channels is given to whatever officer is in them. If there are no officers present in the channel, then self-moderation is expected of the members within that channel, with the option to call in any officer to mediate any problems that arise.

3. Party and PvP Vent and Chat Channels.
These channels are by default on-topic channels. If you are in one of them for a specific purpose (i.e Battleground or 5 man instance), the default topic of conversation should be that purpose. Beyond that, off-topic discussions are done at the discretion of those within the channel, with final moderaton given to the officers that may be present in the channel, or any officer if needs be. Any member of the specific group that is in that channel for that specific purpose may request that the topic of conversation be brought back to the original purpose of the group and this is a general call to all guild members to respect those requests if they are made. If you decide to join a vent channel and are not a member of the group that is gathered there for a specific purpose, then you must defer to them on matters of conversation topics and speaking order at all times. As with the class-specific chat channels above, you are not allowed to disrupt the conversation in any way that will hinder the members of the group from accomplishing their purpose for being in the channel. If guild members are in these chat or vent channels for non-specific purposes, then these are considered to be General Chat channels, and should be treated as such.

4. Class Forums.
These forums are for the use of all of the members of the guild, but the topic should be of relevance to the class or the roles of the class that these forums are designed for. Extremely off-topic discussion and any spam/trolling/disruptive posts will not be allowed and will be removed. All officers will have final moderation privledges.

5. The 2 Channels (vent) and Private Chat Channels (whispers or created chat channels).
These channels are entirely moderated by the people within them. Should abusive or otherwise unacceptable behaviour occurr within these channels, please contact an officer and we will deal with that behaviour, but we will not be moderating what are in essence private channels.

6. General Discussion forums, General Vent Channels (The Lobby and The Cafe) and Guild Chat Channel.
These are general avenues for general discussion on any topic. There are no restrictions on discussion topics, language or images. These channels are by no means mandatory and participation in them is up to the discretion of the individual member. Because participation in the guild forums as a whole (but not specific posts) is a requirement of our members, subject lines of posts should be as descriptive as possible so that people may choose to avoid posts that are of a controversial nature. Officers reserve the right to moderate posts as we see fit and this includes but is not limited to locking, deleting or editing posts. A good rule of thumb is to put a small warning or a descriptive word in the subject of your post if you feel it may be on a sensitive topic (for example politics or religion). Officers are the final moderators for all general channels, and reserve the right to call an end to any topic at any given time, should the need arise.

Interestingly enough, when I posted these guidelines on the guild forums, I opened the floor to conversation and debate about them. I wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to comment on what they thought were the appropriate uses for all of our vent and chat channels. And I didn’t get a single response. Not one.

These guidelines were moved into the “Important Info” forums and are now part of the canon of rules that we have for Imposs. It saddens me a little to think that people had nothing to say about them – but then again maybe no news is good news. I am glad that we have a specific set of rules for use of our chat channels, but again I’m kind of annoyed that we had to set out those specific rules. If we could all abide by the simple rule regarding noses and fists, it would mean a lot less fussy administration sort of work for us. But I guess it’s true what they say about ‘common sense’ these days.

*when I say ‘chat channel’ I mean any text-based channel like /g or /r or whatnot, as opposed to a vent channel.



  1. Holy Dueg! said,

    March 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Excellent post, I hate when people don’t realize that our raid channel in Vent is not the place to hang out just cause everyone else is in there. People seriously need to understand where they can talk about what kind of cereal they’re eating and where to discuss raid issues.

  2. Tessy said,

    March 24, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I read Heinlein during my formative years too! That quote of his really sums up everything that needs to be said about how to behave and interact with other people.

    I think that no comments on your guidelines is idd good news, that people don’t object because that is the way they want the channels etc to be, and they maybe just needed a reminder.

  3. HP said,

    March 24, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I think who gets to talk on vent can be a sensitive issue because if the vent is dead quiet and no one really interacts during a raid for 3-4 hours, it makes the guild seem a bit robotic. At the same time, there must not be too much distracting chit chat so raiders can get down to the business at hand. It’s a very fine balance imo. Well, I guess this is a balance most casual guilds must manage to finesse.

  4. HP said,

    March 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Hope you don’t mind but I nominated you!

  5. kyrilean said,

    March 25, 2009 at 8:12 am

    “there is a special place in hell for everyone associated with the Starship Troopers movie”

    LOL! I actually liked that movie even with how bad the acting was. 2nd one was boring and haven’t seen the third.

  6. Oriniwen said,

    March 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

    @ Holy Dueg: I totally agree. I love to chatter as much as the next person (maybe more!) but there needs to be a time and a place for it. And I had granola and yoghurt this morning. You?

    @ Tessy: Thanks 🙂 I’ve really tried to make that my motto. “Live and let live” as it were.

    @HP: I’m not calling for dead silence over vent by any means, I’m just calling for a limit the the amount of vocal “clutter” on the channels that distract from what we’re there to accomplish. I suspect that this balance is something most guilds accomplish – “hardcore” or “casual” or something else entirely (not opening that ‘hardcore vs casual’ can of worms. Imposs is ‘progress oriented’. 😀 ) And thank you for the nomination, I’ll get to work on that right now!

    @ Kyrilean: Oh good grief it was *awful* lol. And made ever the more awful for the contrast between the quality of thought in his books and the lack thereof in the movie. But then again I loved “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” so who am I to talk? 😀

  7. Aleathea said,

    March 25, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    I may have to jog over to the library this weekend and check out some of Heinlein’s writing. Judging from that quote, he seems like an author I would enjoy. Do you recommend the Starship Troopers book?

    I think it is a fantastic idea to have vent/chat channel guidelines laid out in a public manner. It lets people know what is expected and gives the officers something in writing they can direct people to when/if questions as to what is appropriate arise.

  8. Oriniwen said,

    March 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    @ Aleathea: I’d really suggest starting with “Stranger in a Strange Land” (the extended edition, if you can get it.) The Starship Troopers book was allright, but certainly not his best. “Friday” is also a good one. Check the Wikipedia entry on him, and see what they have to say about his “Future History” series, because those are really some of his best works!

    And yes, as much as I am loathe to have loads and loads of rules and regulations all written out, it’s nice sometimes to have it ‘in writing’ so that I can point people at it. If only more people took it upon themselves to self-regulate!

  9. Ruarc said,

    April 22, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    The only issues I have in chats is I really don’t need the nitty-gritty of people’s sex lives.

  10. September 16, 2009 at 7:45 am

    […] have a policy in place that details the behaviour that the guild community expects from its members. Generally, […]

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