Forum Rules Updates and the Infraction System

  • #1
    Forum Rules Updates and the Infraction System

    Every once in a while the MTGSalvation Forum Rules get a make-over. The last time this happened was when Goblinboy was made administrator and the rules got a complete overhaul. Gone were the times of “four warnings is always a suspension” and “eight warnings a banning”. The new rules left more room for members to make mistakes and punished members with longer suspensions instead of permanent bannings.

    While these rules were a gigantic step in the right direction some parts remained vague and unclear and open to abuse. After the rules went up we were contently busy trying to patch them up the best we could. For instance some stuff was added about not posting messages for banned users, the backseat moderation rule was added and later changed, and other rules were cleared up. Still the Forum Rules remained a hotchpotch of newer and older rules and add-ons with ever-changing interpretations.

    Because there was a general feeling among the staff that the current Forum Rules weren’t clear, strict and, well, readable enough for the common person, it was decided that it was time for a revaluation of the rules. Because we were also expecting to use the Infraction System that was included in the new vBulletin version we have been working on a new version of the Forum Rules to go simultaneously up with the Infraction System for quite some time now.

    I will discuss the new Infraction System and its implications for the common user below, but I will first take a look at the new Forum Rules, which you can find in full here. Ignorance is never an excuse and I suggest you go read the Forum Rules entirely before continuing to read this News announcement, because otherwise you will probably not be able to follow what I will be discussing below.


    At the Core

    During our revaluation of the Forum Rules a lot of ideas and suggestions were thrown left and right. Although as you can see in the end much has stayed the same, some new stuff has been added and attention has shifted a bit. As a result the staff feels it’s important to explain these changes and the motivation behind these changes to the members of MTGSalvation the best we can.

    The basic idea of the MTGSalvation Forum Rules has always remained the same. We, at MTGSalvation, want to create a community which is pleasant to visit and encourages posting and involvement. We don’t think there should be a difference between behaviour in real life and posting on a message board. Politeness, common sense and respect are and should be key ingredients when posting on Sally. Goblinboy once added the following to the Forum Rules: “If you're doing something that wouldn't be acceptable if the person you're talking to was sitting at a table with you, chances are it also isn't accepted on MTGSalvation” and we still feel this is the way it should be.

    Because a lot of members seem to have forgotten this aspect and because there wasn’t much attention in the older rules for the general behaviour of members, the new version has been much more about getting members to behave in a fitting way on this forum. Posting on MTGSalvation is a privilege, not a right, and we demand and expect something from members and are prepared to be stricter when members fail to live up to the requirements of the community.

    Problematic Warnings and Loopholes

    A lot of the problems with the older rules were a result of vagueness in definition of rules that left all sorts of loopholes. The staff had various encounters with members about problematic warnings. As a result we have been trying to make the new Forum Rules as clear as possible. Take for instance a look at the new definition of “Flaming”:

    Flaming
    "Flaming" is a broad category consisting of various forms of malicious attacks directed on another person. Flaming can consist of, but isn’t limited to racism, sexism, trolling (attempting to get another user to flame you), derogatory statements, inappropriate language or other forms of communication that lack the manners and decency needed when posting on this forum. Flaming is not allowed in posts, avatars, signatures, locations, custom titles, etc.


    Flaming isn’t just “you are an idiot and I hope you die” anymore, but inappropriate language or hateful communication now also falls under this definition. The change may look small, but the staff is often confronted problems when we warning people for posts that fell just outside the common definition of flaming. Now flaming is general misbehaviour and we will give Infractions to members for it.

    We also included some new rules to encourage members to increase the quality of their posting. See for instance the following rule:

    Repeated Bad Spelling and/or Grammar
    Continuous bad grammar, "text speak" or bad spelling in posts will not be tolerated. If you aren't perfect with language or foreign and may use some words or grammar out of place, don't worry. Only members who show no improvement or a total lack of interest for the English language will receive an Infraction.


    As said posting on MTGSalvation is a privilege, not a right. We expect something from our members. Continuously bad writing is just as bad as spamming and flaming. This new rule gives us the chance to give Infractions to people who after numerous suggestions keep insulting the English language. As the rule states, we are not out to get members for putting a comma at the wrong place (if that was the case I myself would have been warned way too many times), are dyslexic or for whom the English language isn’t their mother language. We just feel that there are enough good ways to check and better your grip on the English language and fix your posts beforehand so they are good enough for posting on MTGSalvation. If we feel a specific member isn’t putting enough effort into fixing his posts he will get an Infraction.

    Clearing up Specific Rules

    Some rules always remained pretty vague in the older version of the Forum Rules. With the current version we tried to make every rules as clear as possible and give strict guidelines when users break the rules. See for instance the new definition of “Necroing”:

    Double Posting, Bumping and Necroing
    Please do not post two times in a row on the same topic. Instead, edit the post using the button to add to the first post. As an exception, the Market Street forums allow you to "up" your own thread to the top of the forum every 24 hours. Also it’s not allowed for members to post on old inactive threads which have effectively died and have dropped to the bottom of the forum page or beyond ("necroing"). As an exception, the Articles forum allows you to post on an old article if you have a contribution to make to the topic.


    There were a couple of threads in Speak Your Mind about what was necroing and when a thread was too old to post on. In the new Forum Rules posting on all threads which have become inactive, dead and which have dropped to the bottom of the forum page is necroing.

    Scams, or Ripping
    Attempting to cheat people out of their money/cards subversively. If you are confirmed as a ripper in the Market Street forums you will be banned and lose all your positive references.


    Another problematic situation came to the surface as a result of the Lance-scandal. Ripping was never part of the Forum Rules. We now have included Ripping in the Forum Rules and made it clear how we are going to react to such conduct. A Ripper will be banned and all his positive references will be removed, furthermore a clear message will be included in the ripper’s profile to let people know of his reputation on MTGSalvation.

    Suspensions and Bannings

    After long discussion we decided to keep the Infractions required for suspension and banning the same as they were. So that means that around three Infractions over the course of about a month of active posting will result in a suspension. The first suspension will be two days in length and each suspension after the first will be longer than the one before it.

    We did feel that the older rules resulted in some members getting too many suspensions and not learning from their mistakes. The idea of giving more suspensions, instead of going straight for the banning was to give members the time to make mistakes, but because we had no fixed number for banning a member, problematic members could make mistake after mistake after mistake before we were finally able to ban them. The new Forum Rules try to address these troublemaking members more effectively.

    The first addition in the Rules is the “Month Probation” rule:

    Note that if you get suspended within a short time after your latest suspension (around a month) your account will be banned instead of being suspended.


    This means that if you get another suspension within a month after your last suspension you will be gone, simple as that. Three warnings in a month is a suspension, six warnings within two months is a banning. We don’t think this is harsh at all. Members can go months without warnings. If you get six in two months, you haven’t learned from your mistakes and don’t belong here. It of course is fine if you get a two day suspension in say January and then maybe a four day suspension in June. But, if you would, for instance, follow that suspension in June up with a third suspension in July, you will instead be banned, because you were still on probation from your suspension in June.

    We didn’t want to set a specific number of Infractions for banning a member and therefore a banning is always at the discretion of the MTGSalvation administrators. Some members didn’t understand this. To make it as clear as possible we have added the following note to the Forum Rules:

    The staff of MTGSalvation holds the right to suspend or ban any member at any time, regardless of Infractions accumulated.


    This isn’t meant as a power abusing rule, we just want to be able to ban the troublemakers as soon as we are sure they shouldn’t be here. We are sick of people getting suspension after suspension after suspension. If you don’t follow the rules, if you don’t learn, you don’t need to be here.


    Infractions System

    The new vBulletin version comes with a build in warning system called “User Infractions”. The Forum Rules already explain how it system work pretty clearly, but I will take this time to go in some deeper and give some more information about how we are going to use the system at MTGSalvation.

    This Infraction System is very easy to use for both moderators and members. When we see a post that breaks the rules, we can click a button, add an Infraction and send a pm all in one move. When a post you made has been found to be problematic, we can either give you an Infraction or a Warning. In both situations you will get a private message linking you to the post and explaining why your post was found problematic.

    If you were given a Infraction, your post will have a Red Card () in the bottom right corner, if you were only Warned, you will have a Yellow Card (). You have to understand that with this system Infractions are what we used to call “Warnings” in the old “User Notes” system, while Warnings are just warnings in the sense of the English language: a friendly reminder to check the rules and stop doing whatever you were doing.

    Infraction are listed in your profile
    Members can check their Infractions in their profile.
    Each Infraction will have a couple of stats listed:
    1. Name of the post which earned you a Infraction
    2. Date of the Infraction
    3. Date the Infraction expires
    4. Points the infraction is worth
    5. Reason the post earned you a Infraction
    6. Name person who gave you the Infraction
    Note that Warnings are also listed in your profile, but lack a point value. They as said before don't count towards your Infraction count, but are just pointers in the right direction:

    At MTGSalvation moderators have access to the following standard Infractions and to the option to make custom Infractions when offences fall outside the boundaries of the common Infractions:
    1. Spamming the Forum
    2. Flaming or Other Forms of Misbehavior
    3. Signature and/or Avatar Offences
    4. Doubleposting, Illegal Bumping or Necoing
    5. Inappropriate Language, Repeated Bad Spelling and/or Evading the Censor
    6. Illegal Use of Modtext or Backseat Moderation
    When a post you made is problematic, one of the above Infractions or a custom Infraction is chosen by the moderator in question and you will receive a PM notifying you of your Infraction. Also the Infraction will show up in the User Infractions box in your User Profile. Every Infraction has an expiry date and a point value. Because at MTGSalvation you get suspended for receiving three Infraction in the course of about a month, every infraction has an expiry date of around a month, to be exact, 40 days. It is also possible to give different point values to Infractions, but the MTGSalvation staff decided to set the point value for every warning at 1 point. The points of your not-yet-expired Infractions stack and that means that if you reach three points or more, you will have broken the rules three or more time in the course of about a month and you will likely be suspended soon.

    It’s important to understand that the interpretation of Infractions is always at the discretion of the MTGSalvation staff. That could mean that if you receive two Infractions within the 40 days and a Infraction one day outside the 40 day limit you could still be suspended, just like it always has been. The Infraction system is just a handy tool for appointing Infraction and Warnings and tracking your own Infractions, but that doesn’t mean it is an exact science.

    I hope I have informed you enough about the new Forum Rules and the Infraction System. Feel free to ask further questions in this thread and via pm, although I would advice you to first reread the Forum Rules and this news announcement, because answers to most questions can be found here.


    On behalf of the MTGSalvation staff,

    sneakyhomunculus
    Last edited by sneakyhomunculus: 8/17/2006 10:55:48 AM
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  • #2
    Wow. The new rules, and this new yellow and red card system are a very good move. And that was an extremely well written explanation, by the way.

    Smileup
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  • #3
    Good job on the new rules. Smile I have a question, though. Will warnings accumulated under the old system be reset or intergrated into the new system?


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  • #4
    Quote from Danbanzero
    Wow. The new rules, and this new yellow and red card system are a very good move. And that was an extremely well written explanation, by the way.

    Smileup


    Big thanks to our editors for reviewing the announcement beforehand.

    Quote from Salubrious
    Good job on the new rules. Smile I have a question, though. Will warnings accumulated under the old system be reset or integrated into the new system?


    The old warnings will be transferred into the new system if they are still relevant. So if you received a warning in the last month or so and now get another one, the old one will be made into a Infraction, because it could be relevant, but warnings that are way too old to be relevant for further suspensions will not be transferred into the system.

    That of course does not mean we will forget about them. We will still have our old threads to review when needed. It just means that they will not be transferred to the Infraction System and that they will thus not show up in your profile.
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  • #5
    Great job, I do however have a small nitpick at a misspelling in the forum rules:

    Infractions and Warnings
    MTGSalvation has a number of rules that when broken will result in you receiving an Infraction or a Warning from one of the MTGSalvation moderators and your post being deleted or edited. If it is your first offense or if the offense wasn’t as sever, you might only receive a Warning. These Warnings are just meant to help you desist from your current undesirable course of action and don’t count towards more serious punishments like suspensions and bannings.
    I believe you meant to say severe, no sense in severing the hands of those rule breakers. Wink

    Smileup

    EDIT:
    I'm not sure if this was intentional, being in the bad spelling/grammar section, but it never hurts to say:
    Repeated Bad Spelling and/or Grammar
    Continuous bad grammar, "text speak" or bad spelling in posts will not be tolerated. If you aren't perfect with language or foreign and may use some words or grammar out of place, don't worry. Only members who show no improvement or a total lack of interest for the English language will get a Infraction.
    The "a" should be changed into "an"

    Glad to see that this is finally a rule, though. I can't stand "aolspeak" & company.
    Last edited by Mirari: 8/17/2006 11:52:25 AM

  • #6
    Wow, I was gonna come and say the same thing Mirari. Swear Sarnathing me...

    I like the new changes and all that.

    But, I still have the user notes thing in my profile? Confused
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  • #7
    Quote from Mirari
    Great job, I do however have a small nitpick at a misspelling in the forum rules:

    I believe you meant to say severe, no sense in severing the hands of those rule breakers. Wink

    Smileup

    EDIT:
    I'm not sure if this was intentional, being in the bad spelling/grammar section, but it never hurts to say:
    The "a" should be changed into "an"

    Glad to see that this is finally a rule, though. I can't stand "aolspeak" & company.


    Both are fixed.

    Quote from TripleThreat1121
    Wow, I was gonna come and say the same thing Mirari. Swear Sarnathing me...

    I like the new changes and all that.

    But, I still have the user notes thing in my profile? Confused


    The User Notes have not yet be removed. I guess they will be soon enough.
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  • #8
    I am a little confused about the Infraction system:

    What is the difference between a warning and an infraction?

    If I understand correctly, Warnings are Cautions, and Ifractions are what warnings used to be...
    Last edited by Patron of the Nerds: 8/17/2006 1:01:10 PM

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  • #9
    I am a little confused about the Infraction system:

    What is the difference between a warning and an infraction?

    If I understand correctly, Warnings are Cautions, and Ifractions are what warnings used to be...


    You've got it right. Perhaps you guys should use "formal warning" and "informal warning" instead of "infraction" and "warning." It is kind of confusing, especially since "warning" is almost ubiquitously used to mean a documented violation that "counts" elsewhere. Just a suggestion.

    Otherwise, rock solid.
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  • #10
    Overall sounds good. If we are nitpicking sneaky though, the bulletin should say "further" not "furth."
  • #11
    Quote from Yare
    You've got it right. Perhaps you guys should use "formal warning" and "informal warning" instead of "infraction" and "warning." It is kind of confusing, especially since "warning" is almost ubiquitously used to mean a documented violation that "counts" elsewhere. Just a suggestion.

    Otherwise, rock solid.


    While one of the guys who actually performed the upgrade can probably expand on this, it's my understanding that the word "Infraction" is pretty much hard-wired into the vB 3.6 software... so calling it a "formal warning" isn't really practical.
    I am no longer on MTGS staff, so please don't contact me asking me to do staff things. :|
  • #12
    Great job on the rules, I like em!
  • #13
    I'm impressed,

    Good explanation and it happened quick.

    Nice work.
    This member has been found guilty of ripping a number of users on MTGSalvation. As a result he has been banned on this site and all his positive feedback has been removed. The MTGSalvation Staff wants to strongly encourage you NOT to trade with this member ever again in whatever situation might come up.
    Spread the word.
  • #14
    Quote from Binary
    While one of the guys who actually performed the upgrade can probably expand on this, it's my understanding that the word "Infraction" is pretty much hard-wired into the vB 3.6 software... so calling it a "formal warning" isn't really practical.


    Indeed and I also think it's actually logical that a warning is called "warning" etc.

    EDIT:

    Quote from SorryGuy
    Overall sounds good. If we are nitpicking sneaky though, the bulletin should say "further" not "furth."


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  • #15
    Everything looks good. Good job sneaks, and the editors that helped him.
  • #16
    Thank you for the in depth breakdown of the new rules Sneaky. As always, it's much appreciated.
  • #17
    Very cool... just one thing that I don't understand (sorry if I just missed it).
    Say someone gets an Infraction every few months... does it add up to a periodic suspension, or do the Infractions have to be in a set period of time, or... is it just by discretion of the moderators?
    Last edited by Solace: 8/17/2006 3:21:56 PM

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  • #18
    Quote from Solace
    Very cool... just one thing that I don't understand (sorry if I just missed it).
    Say someone gets an Infraction every few months... does it add up to a periodic suspension, or do the Infractions have to be in a set period of time, or... is it just by discersion of the moderators?

    Infractions can be set to expire after a given amount of time, but I think the mods will set them to never expire, and use their own discretion for suspensions/bannings.
  • #19
    Quote from Solace
    Very cool... just one thing that I don't understand (sorry if I just missed it).
    Say someone gets an Infraction every few months... does it add up to a periodic suspension, or do the Infractions have to be in a set period of time, or... is it just by discersion of the moderators?


    I think I explained this clearly in the announcement, but let me repeat. The Infractions work just as the older warnings. Three warnings in a month is suspension, because Infractions work with expire dates, we set all infraction on a expire date of 40 days (that's around a month). Expired Infractions don't count (don't have point value anymore), just as older warnings don't do anything if they are further then a month apart.

    EDIT:
    As I mentioned here:

    Quote from sneakyhomunculus
    When a post you made is problematic, one of the above Infractions or a custom Infraction is chosen by the moderator in question and you will receive a PM notifying you of your Infraction. Also the Infraction will show up in the User Infractions box in your User Profile. Every Infraction has an expiry date and a point value. Because at MTGSalvation you get suspended for receiving three Infraction in the course of about a month, every infraction has an expiry date of around a month, to be exact, 40 days. It is also possible to give different point values to Infractions, but the MTGSalvation staff decided to set the point value for every warning at 1 point. The points of your not-yet-expired Infractions stack and that means that if you reach three points or more, you will have broken the rules three or more time in the course of about a month and you will likely be suspended soon.

    It’s important to understand that the interpretation of Infractions is always at the discretion of the MTGSalvation staff. That could mean that if you receive two Infractions within the 40 days and a Infraction one day outside the 40 day limit you could still be suspended, just like it always has been. The Infraction system is just a handy tool for appointing Infraction and Warnings and tracking your own Infractions, but that doesn’t mean it is an exact science.


    And no, not even expired Infractions disappear, they all remain, but they just don't have a point value anymore, thus don't count towards your Infractions points per month.
    Last edited by sneakyhomunculus: 8/17/2006 3:00:40 PM
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  • #20
    I love the new rules! Especially the one about spelling and grammar, as that should help eliminate the annoying, unpunctuated, mispelled posts that plague the forums.

    One thing: A few months ago I asked Craven in the Casual forums if this type of thing was OK:

    I get a bunch of suggestions on a deck, then say I'm going to assemble it. A month later, after I've assembled it, even though the thread is dead, I come back with new suggestions after I've tested it.

    He said it was OK. I think the point of this was supposed to be that I don't have to keep the thread active with non-useful posts just to be able to use it again later after I've assembled the deck.

    Does this still hold true in the new Forum Rules? I definitely think it should, because it seems fair. And if it does, you may want to put it beside the the thing about how you can necro an Articles thread.

    Let me know.
  • #21
    Nice job on The forum rules sneaks. Wink
  • #22
    Thank you sneaky and the editors and actually the whole staff Smile I don't thank them often enough. ;_(
  • #23
    I got a problem, I can't see the warnings and yellow tags and stuff on my account, it only shows the old user notes.
  • #24
    Quote from Hannes
    Thank you sneaky and the editors and actually the whole staff Smile I don't thank them often enough. ;_(


    Staff hug!!! Grin

    Quote from Moxman
    I got a problem, I can't see the warnings and yellow tags and stuff on my account, it only shows the old user notes.


    You haven't made any recent problematic posts so you haven't had any Infractions yet, so there was no need to transfer the old warnings to Infractions. We only transfer recent and relevant warnings to Infractions anyway.
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  • #25
    Quote from sneakyhomunculus
    Staff hug!!! Grin



    You haven't made any recent problematic posts so you haven't had any Infractions yet, so there was no need to transfer the old warnings to Infractions. We only transfer recent and relevant warnings to Infractions anyway.


    But I do, at least they were realavant about 2 weeks ago. (you remember ;))
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