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Heroes Community > Other Side of the Monitor > Thread: OSM Posting Guidelines and Information
Thread: OSM Posting Guidelines and Information

Hero of Order
The Abyss Staring Back at You
posted June 20, 2013 04:58 AM
Edited by Corribus at 05:25, 20 Jun 2013.

OSM Posting Guidelines and Information

Mission and Scope

Heroes Community is a message forum dedicated to the Heroes of Might and Magic series of computer strategy games.  However one of the great things about this community is the active off-topic "real world" discussion that goes on.  There are several off-topic forums at Heroes Community.  The Other Side of the Monitor (OSM) is one of them.

Threads which belong in the Other Side of the Monitor are those pertaining to real-world events, scholarly topics and very personal stories.  Less serious off-topic discussion and generally light-hearted banter that isn't spammy enough to be considered Volcanic Wastelands material belong in the Tavern of the Rising Sun forum.  The Other Side of the Monitor is intended to be dedicated to discussions about politics, religion, philosophy, science, literature, culture, current events and serious stories of a personal nature which touch upon these topics.  We realize that there is some overlap in scope between the Tavern and the OSM, but these are the general distinctions.

The Mission of this Forum (and the moderators who are its stewards) is to provide a place where community members - most of them HoMM fans - can come to discuss these real world topics in a friendly environment, a place where a person can share his viewpoint without fear of being flamed by other members or persecuted by the management.  As such, this is an open forum.  Any topic is allowed, so long as it does not violate the HC Code of Conduct and fits within the scope defined here.

What are Quality Posts?

The nature of this forum is such that it encourages thoughtful discussion on a range of topics.  The OSM moderators wish to encourage positive posting by permanently rewarding deserving posts with +QPs.  The moderators also encourage OSM members to play an active role in determining which posts are most deserving of these honors, by making suggestions to moderators via the HCM function.  

Because it may not always be clear what constitutes an award-worthy post, a few criteria that are used by the moderators are listed below.  These are good guidelines for positive posting in general, and the moderators encourage OSM members to keep these in mind always.  

1. QP-worthy posts are well written. This doesn’t mean the English has to be perfect, but it does mean that posts should be thoughtfully organized and argument logically presented.

2. QP-worthy posts are respectful in tone. If it doesn’t look like something you could have written to a friend, it doesn’t deserve a QP.  If you put down or make unwarranted generalizations about people, or groups of people, it doesn’t deserve a QP.  Even if you are responding to a post to disagree with it, the post’s author should still feel good that you read what they had to say and responded to it in a pleasant manner.

3. QP-worthy posts do not excessively quote other posts. Aside from making threads hard to read and excluding outsiders from participation, relying on excessive quoting makes your posts reactionary, choppy, and discourages independent thinking.  We like to see original thinking and fresh ideas.  Quoting, while useful in moderation, almost always leads to repetition and escalation of hostility.

4. QP-worthy posts voice new, independent ideas.  Cutting and pasting something you read elsewhere, even if it provokes discussion, is not a QP-worthy post.

5. QP-worthy posts provoke good discussion. No post exists in a vacuum.  We will be looking not only at the post itself, but at the kinds of posts it inspires.  If your posts tend to attract a lot of negative attention, most likely your posts are not very high quality.

6. QP-worthy posts say positive things about other people and other posts. This doesn’t have to be the land of Care Bears, but quality posts thrive in a positive atmosphere.  People write good, inspired prose when they’re happy.  Even disagreements can be written in a positive way.  If someone makes a good point, even one that you are about to refute, say so.  If someone made you stop and rethink about an issue, even if you didn’t change your opinion, thank them for it.  Such little things really make for high quality posts.

What are the rules of posting here?

The rules of the OSM are no different from those outlined in the site-wide Code of Conduct.  All people posting at HC - and the OSM in particular - are required to read this document before posting, and they will be held to this standard in their behavior.  

It is common for people to have strong opinions about subjects such as religion, politics and spirituality. For this reason, it is important to show as much respect to opinions of others as you expect to be shown to yours. Our Code of Conduct lays out practical guidelines for what respectful forum behavior looks like.

There can sometimes be misunderstandings about how the Code of Conduct applies in certain situations, and what some of the language in that document means.  To help OSM participants understand better, the following clarifications are provided:

(1) Off-topic posts.  It is important for OSM threads to stay on topic.  It is understandable if threads veer into unexpected areas at times.  However, off-topic posts should still have some connection to the central thread's purpose.  If off-topic digressions persist for more than ten consecutive posts, moderators will politely ask thread participants to turn the digression into a new thread so that the primary thread can continue uninterrupted.  Moderators also reserve the right to delete large sections of posts they judge to be off-topic.  Deliberately off-topic posts are not allowed, particularly when they are made to intentionally derail discussion or foment chaos.  Such posts are against the Code of Conduct.

(2) Insults.  Insults are statements made with the intent to hurt or undermine another person - either directly by assaulting their character, or indirectly by ridiculing some idea, belief, or characteristic closely related to said person (or group of people).  Insults are not tolerated at HC and they are not tolerated in the OSM.  There has, in the past, been some disagreement by OSM regulars about what exactly constitutes an insult.  Admittedly, there is no real objective criteria that one can use to determine this.  But as the US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once remarked, when asked what constitutes pornography, "[You] know it when you see it." The administrator has given Moderators the right to determine what constitutes a quality post, and moderators also reserve the sole right to determine what constitutes an insult.  In many cases this will be obvious, but sometimes not: posters cited for insulting other members are welcome to ask moderators why their posts were considered insulting, but they should not expect or demand moderators to lay out precise definitions of everything that might be considered an insult, because this is impossible.  Nevertheless, the moderators do consider the act of ridiculing posts by calling them "loony", "hogwash", "poppycock", "bullcrap", "idiotic", "inane" and other obviously negative appelations insulting behavior.  As such, posters should try to avoid posting in this fashion.

(3) Provocation and aggravation.  Provocation is behavior which deliberately tries to create a negative feeling or response from another individual.  Aggravation is - either intentionally or through neglecting to recognize the effect of your behavior on others - disrupting the ability of other people to enjoy themselves.  Both are forms of fomenting trouble.  As with insults, there is a degree of subjectivity to identifying these behaviors, but moderators reserve the right to define when and where posters are being chronic provocateurs or aggravators.  

(4) Use of foul language. The OSM policy on profanity and swearing exactly mirrors the Code of Conduct.  Words which are automatically censored by HC's language filter must remain censored or replaced with all asterixes.  (This still does not entitle them to be used as insults, however.)  Any other words which are not automatically censored by the language filter may generally be used as members see fit as long as they do not violate other Code of Conduct rules (racial slurs, insults, etc.).  Moderators have discretion about what words are considered slurs - if you are unsure about whether a word is considered a slur, send an HCM to a moderator before you use it.  Please note: intentionally misspelling disallowed words, bypassing the language filters by using hyphens or spaces, or using corrupted forums of disallowed words is considered the same as using the disallowed words.

In general, the OSM moderators will have a reasonably liberal policy when it comes to insults and provocative behavior.  It is impossible to maintain an off-topic forum that spans incendiary topics and expect that insults will never fly.  As such, not every insult will be punished or edited out, not every instance of provocation will earn a warning, and not every off-topic post will be deleted.  The moderators are primarily concerned with behavioral trends and posters who consistently aggravate other members by stepping over the line too often.  The moderators reserve the right to determine the point at which isolated incidents become habitual behaviors and will apply an escalating scale of disciplinary actions, starting with public warnings.  Nevertheless, posters should be aware that any time they engage in negative behavior which violates these rules, they expose themselves to possible disciplinary action, even if it is the first time they have gone against the CoC and even if other infractions are going on simultaneously that are not penalized.  It may seem unfair if there are twenty people on a highway speeding, and you are the only one pulled over by the police.  But remember the police cannot pull over everyone, and if your behavior is above reproach at all times, then you have nothing to worry about!


If you have feedback on the behavior of your fellow OSM inhabitants (complaints and suggestions for +QPs), they should be sent to OSM moderators by private message.  Moderators will consider the complaints and +QP suggestions - with the rest of the Mod Squad if necessary - and make appropriate decisions.  Outcomes of moderator decisions based on community complaints and suggestions - as well as those not motivated by community feedback - will always be posted in the Announcement Thread as soon as the decisions are made so that the community is kept up to date on these goings-on.  

If you have feedback on the behavior of the OSM moderators or general feedback about/suggestions for the OSM, you should send them to one of the moderators, whereupon they will be discussed in the Mod Squad.  Alternatively, you may send them directly to the System Administrator (Valeriy), who will make an executive decision if a decision is required.

In most cases the identity of an individual making a complaint will not be revealed to the community, as is common practice among forums which use "flag message" methods of feedback.  The only thing that will be posted in the Announcement Thread will be results of decisions made by moderators.  Complaints that are judged to be baseless will be dismissed without further comment or airing to the public.

Individuals who are subject to warnings or penalties may, at their discretion, give voice to a defense, which will be posted along with the announcement in the Announcement Thread.  This defense must be sent to a moderator for posting, due to the posting restrictions in the Announcement Thread.

Posters may also petition the OSM moderators to allow discussion of a particular complaint or feedback item in the Policy Discussion Thread (see below).

Complaints and arguments about alleged infractions of the rules that erupt publically will be treated as off-topic behavior and possible aggravation or provocation, and penalized accordingly.

Thread Management

The Code of Conduct charges moderators with the task of keeping the community up to date, peaceful and organized, and grants them the rights to move, edit or delete any message to accomplish this task.  Typical reasons why posts may be edited or deleted include violations of the Code of Conduct, or determinations that the posts are off-topic, spam or junk posts (as defined in the Code of Conduct).  

Occasionally whole threads will be judged to be outside the scope of the OSM or to have outlived their usefulness and capacity to entertain.  In general, moderators will give a new thread a chance to "mature" into meaningful discussion, provided it is within the scope of the OSM's subject area.  This maturing time will typically be approximately 1-2 pages (20-30 posts).  If after this time the thread is filled mostly with one-line responses, spam, silly pictures, and generally light-hearted, partially on topic banter, the moderators may move the thread to the Volcanic Wastelands, whereupon it will be deleted in accordance with the deletion policy there.  If OSM users make a compelling case for why the thread deserves a longer life, they may petition a moderator to move the thread back via HCM and the moderators will make a decision.

The OSM has a Thread Retirement System, whereby old threads that may not be worth preserving indefintiely are occasionally retired (deleted).  However the Community has final say over what old threads stay and which ones go.  More information about this System is provided in the thread dedicated to it, found here.

As a final remark, posters should keep in mind that threads are not the property of thread openers.  Individuals should not expect that moderators will delete or close threads which they have started simply because they desire it.  They should also not take it personally if threads which they have started are moved to the VW, deleted, or go in a direction which they did not intend or desire.  Individuals may act as stewards to their threads and try to nurture a productive conversation there, but if a thread ultimately does not flourish, thread openers should not take it as a personal affront or attack when the thread is moved or retired.

Policy Changes

The OSM Moderators recognize that there is no perfect system for the administration of an off-topic message forum.  Therefore from time to time OSM Moderators will change the policies set forth in this document.  When this happens, an announcement will be made in the OSM Announcement Thread (see below).

However, the OSM Moderators feel that the Community should be allowed to suggest policy changes as well as provide feedback on proposed policy changes.  Policy changes will therefore be conducted as follows:

(1) HC members who wish to propose any change to administrative policies at the OSM should send an HCM to one of the OSM moderators.  

(2) If the OSM moderators feel the suggested policy change has potential merit, it will be posted in a special, stickied Policy Discussion Thread in the OSM that will be open to posting only when a policy change is up for discussion.  Policy changes proposed by moderators may also be posted there for discussion, although in some situations moderators may change policies without discussion.

(3) The Policy Discussion Thread will remain open during a specific comment period, where HC member are free to discuss the policy change and post suggestions for improvement.  This thread will operate under a specific set of rules, which are elaborated at the beginning of the thread.

(4) After the comment period has expired, the Policy Discussion Thread will be closed and the comments will be discussed in the Mod Squad HQ.

(5) A final determination will be made and the relevant policy will be changed (or not changed).  An Announcement will be posted in the Announcement Thread.  After this time the new policy is considered in effect.

More details about this process are provided in the OSM Policy Discussion Thread.


All +QP awards, disciplinary actions (warnings and up), thread maintenance and policy changes will be announced publicly in the OSM Announcement Thread.  This thread is not open to posting by the general OSM users.  It is there for your information.  

Final Thoughts

The OSM is supposed to be a fun place to come and relax and discuss meaningful topics with fellow HoMM fans.  Let me state that again more succinctly: the OSM is supposed to be a fun place.  Ensuring that it stays that way takes work from both the moderators and the OSM posters.  In particular, it starts with respect.  In fact, this is the beginning of the Code of Conduct, which I reproduce here for impact:

The Foundation: Respect.
* An attitude of consideration and appreciation.
* Courteous regard for people's feelings, opinions and actions.

If everyone followed these two rules only, none of the other rules would be necessary.  Think on that before every post you write.
I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later. -Mitch Hedberg

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