Rule Interpretations

Rule Interpretations

The purpose of this document is to provide clarification for users on how we enforce our rules. This document will be updated over time if there are any changes.

§1 Follow the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.

As a user of Discord you are bound to follow the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines of Discord at all times, even if they are to change. Should Discord update their rules, causing a contradiction with our own rules, we will default to enforcing Discord’s rules.

Our reason for taking on the position to enforce Discord’s Terms of Service and Guidelines should not be seen as approval or commitment to their values, interpretations or lack thereof. It is a rule we have and keep because of the way Discord treats servers that do not. Open Debates intends to endure and continue the facilitation of its users, and we can not tolerate behaviours that are antithetical to that goal. We are going out of our way to ensure fair rule keeping for our users, in return we only ask that you follow and act in accordance with them.

Discord remains notoriously ambiguous and inconcise in their rule-keeping. It never was for a lack of trying to get a clear answer out of them, as we have inquired many a time about grey areas with their interpretations. Our response to this ambiguity is not to cower in fear of retaliation from Discord, but to disambiguate interpretations and instead cover the edge cases with our own versions.

The best that you, as a user, can do is to evaluate your own actions and choose to act in ways which best represent yourself. Discord’s Community Guidelines are so incomplete that fairly interpreting edge cases is often impossible. That’s why we decided to make complete interpretations where we could, in order to ensure your fair treatment. If you have questions about what the Discord Community Guidelines would mean for your behaviour, feel free to ask by contacting us via the Support bot.

An example of such an interpretation is the Community Guidelines’ section 2 which deals with what Discord labels as attacking a person based on certain attributes. The attributes are fair enough, and we hope we do not see a lot of Ad Hominems which would utilise qualities like these to justify beliefs. The problem lies with the similarity of what colloquially can be understood as an attack. We never intended to police based on what is perceived as an Ad Hominem to ensure unbiasedness. That being said, we encourage users that feel attacked to set and declare personal boundaries.
We designed another rule, namely §1.4 to help tackle this issue as best we can.

Discords Community Guidelines’ section 2 deals with what they call attacks against individuals and communities. Whilst Open Debates never intended to police fallacies or the content of arguments, we have no choice but comply with the Discord tyrants’ ambiguous definitions if we wish to survive. As such we have to either enforce the rule inconsistently or to expand upon their lacklustre definition; we’re forced to choose the latter.

This is because Discord’s guideline clearly states that attacks can apply to both individuals and communities. As such the best clear definition we can use is to discourage these behaviours with fairly enforceable understandings of what constitutes an attack. We see no other alternative than to distribute warnings for Ad Hominems and Sweeping Generalisations. This allows us to not differentiate our treatment of users based on subjective understandings of their content. In other words, we achieve more fairness by doing more overreach.

Members of staff therefore reserve the right to warn any member which uses Ad Hominems or Sweeping Generalisations to justify especially negative views about a person or group of people with traits other than the one generalised. To disambiguate, this does not mean we are able to police statements about a particular person that an individual perceives as negative, nor does it mean we can hinder people from speaking in generalities. Insults are, in other words, not arguments. However, insults with attempted justifications often enter into the realm of hidden argumentation, and should as a general rule of thumb be avoided.

We wish our users the largest amount of liberty we can grant them, therefore we choose to warn for infringing on this part of the community guidelines. Warnings give ample time and chance to readjust unlike mutes or bans, and we truly believe that our community can thrive even with these rules. Other ambiguous parts of Discord’s rules will be addressed under their own sections.

§1.1 Do not post gore, poop, porn, animal cruelty or NSFW.

Discord’s Community Guidelines clearly state that they have a stance against sadistic gore, animal cruelty and NSFW content in places it doesn’t belong. Open Debates is no place for any of these types of content, with the addition of poop as we also consider that NSFW. That being said, it is again difficult to understand what Discord means by these labels, so we have had to construct our own definitions.

These definitions will be met if the content posted includes even one of the described parts in the definition:

We define gore as the mutilation of body parts. That includes injuries, disfigurement and irreparably removing or damaging body parts. This also includes disfigurement, dismemberment and injuries on or of dead bodies.

Animal cruelty:
We define animal cruelty as needless action that would normally not be seen as conducive to the animal’s well being and health. Cases where animal cruelty enters into gore territory it will be classified as both. In the context of an argument or discussion, documentation of animal cruelty is permitted as long as it is spoilered and includes an unspoilered content warning of what the content is. This is to ensure an effective opt in system for those who may not want to see such things. Staff members are arbiters of what is deemed conducive behaviour in terms of handling animals.

Any content where any of the following attributes or parts are visible: Nipples on a boob, vaginas, penises, ballsacks, anuses and any aroused aforementioned part. This includes wet spots or erections.
This rule also applies to any content where defining features of the aforementioned parts can be seen, including any presence of camel toe, clitoris, corona (the ridge of the gland) and penile or nipple erection.

Any content in which NSFW labelled items are interacting is considered porn.

We use a know it when I see it policy.

Depictions of poop are considered NSFW. Bringing up poop outside of the context of an established conversation is considered NSFW. Bringing up a sexual organ outside the context of an established debate and specifically relating to a particular person’s relation to this organ is considered NSFW.

§1.2 Do not sexualize minors.

Portraying children in sexualised contexts or sexualising children is strictly forbidden. This rule relies heavily on interpretations and context. The staff team employs a better safe than sorry policy on the matter.

§1.3 Do not gather or spread user data without explicit consent.

Discord is an online service where we meet other people hidden behind custom avatars, usernames and mannerisms to act and be whoever one wants to be. That is however not without its potential ramifications. In some places being yourself is illegal. Open Debates takes an unwavering stance that we will protect people from having their account and its actions associated with their real life person. The knowledge that you could be recorded even if nobody is actually recording hinders engagement. It is a real concern that one’s personal information may accumulate over multiple unknown recordings to paint a picture of one’s real life identity. We currently have no effective and unambiguous system to ensure users are opting in to being recorded, and therefore can not allow it.

We have a genuine concern for users’ safety, and we encourage users to take steps to protect themselves from being associated with their account. Once your information is out there it is hard to remove it.

Any recordings of anything in the server are therefore forbidden. We range between the punishments of banning or muting for breaching this rule, favouring harsher punishment should we be unsure. This also applies to the distribution of personal attributes like age, height, physical presentation, real life affiliations, places of origin and other information. The fact that a person trusts you with, even tidbits of, personal information about themselves in a space online is something you should consider a secret.

Please inform the Staff Team of the non-consensual public sharing of user information by contacting Support. Users contacting support may also request that their concerns only be handled by the Directors, 5 highly trusted members of staff. All staff communications between users and Staff are confidential, and Staff are held to a much higher degree of accountability than regular users.

Threatening to reveal personal information about another user is against Discord’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.

§1.4 Do not harass users.

Harassment is unwanted attention given to a person when they have stated they do not want to receive this kind of attention. We have this rule in order to allow users to effectively opt out of specific interactions. If you can’t manage someone’s declaration you will be just fine if you no longer speak to them in VC or do any action prevented by blocking them in the server.

Users may declare that another user may not call them specific things, mention them or ping them with a reply. These declarations also apply to VC. A user may also request they only be referred to in specific manners. The following list of words can not be restricted by users irrespective of their declarations. That is not to say you may forgo the restrictions on pings, replies or voice chat regulations if you decide to refer to them in these manners. Users may for instance request that you not address them at all. You may still talk about them, but never directly contact them.

The list:
I, me, we, us, you, thou, thee, ye, yo, they, another, anybody, anyone, each, either, enough, everybody, everyone, everything, less, little, much, neither, nobody, no one, nothing, one, aught, other, somebody, someone, something, both, few, fewer, many, others, several, all, any, more, most, none, some, such, suchlike, plural, et al, this, that, these, those, idem, who, whom, whose, what, which, each other, one another, every, every one, none, em, dem, ya’ll, you’uns, yinz, youse, ones
And any of their following forms: objective, subjective, possessive, plural, interrogative, intensive or reflexive.

In order to invoke this rule the following criteria need to be met for your declaration:

  1. You mention the user you make the declaration towards. If they have made a declaration for you to not mention them you send it to us via Support, and we will inform them on your behalf.
  2. In the text you mention that your request is a formal invocation of §1.4
  3. The message may not be edited. It is nullified if it is edited.
  4. You send the message link for your declaration to Support with some text explaining that it is an invocation.
  5. The declaration may not require interpretation on our part. For instance, you can not declare that people may not use fallacies when they address you and expect us to enforce it.

We’re very strict with this rule. If you can’t follow the declared boundaries a person has, it is better to not engage them.

§1.5 Do not threaten to harm users.

Harm to a user includes their Discord and real life person. It means that any damage to their user or their personal property falls under what you are not allowed to threaten. No amount of excuses or context will change our interpretations. If threats are reported, we will treat any threat made, be it a joke or not, as if it is a real threat with the intent to harm. Our user’s security is more important than jokes about harming others.

§1.6 Do not advertise or spam.

Advertising is defined as the promotion of material or content that is associated with oneself. Links to publicly available content is fine as long as the content is posted or mentioned in the context of a conversation. All Discord invites are considered advertisements and are disallowed by default.

In addition, spam is considered anything that involves trying to send repeated messages or garbled text and links with the intent of disrupting conversations. Disrupting conversations also involves posting disconnected ramblings and large walls of text that don’t revolve around a topic. Staff can interpret intent and have discretion over what is disconnected rambling. If staff determines some content is better suited for a thread on the Open Debates Forum, then the user must comply.

As for other types of spam there are already automatic spam filters in place, so the rule about spam is rarely enforced.
Spam includes the mass creation of threads with no particular approved of niche. Thread niches may be determined by members of staff.

§2 Follow the restrictions found in the descriptions of each channel.

If a channel has a description, then it will list the purpose of that channel. The goal of moderators is to steer conversations to meet those criteria. Make sure to read channel descriptions!

§2.1 You may declare that another user is not allowed to follow you into another empty voice chat and speak.

They may join and listen, but speaking when such a declaration has been made about their presence will be seen as against the rules. If someone declares in a voice channel to another member that they do not wish to be followed into an empty voice channel, and someone does so and starts speaking then it will be considered harassment and punished accordingly.

§2.2 Memes belong in #meme-dump only. Nowhere else.

Staff members may interpret anything as a meme. There exists a Meme Council which can be contacted via Support who will review the content that you were warned for. The Council will determine whether your content was a meme or not. The Council may never say a specific genre of images are not memes and may only ever pass interpretations about what they positively would consider to be a meme should someone appeal to them. The past decisions of the council, as well as its policies will be made available in this forum post.
Any decision made by the Meme Council requires unanimous approval.

Memes may be posted in any thread under the following channels:
#: General, meme-dump, debate 1-20, lounge rooms.

Memes may be posted in any of these channels:
#: Meme-dump, debate 1-20, lounge rooms

§2.3 Do not locally mute users in debate rooms and other community channels. You can still turn them all the way down as long as you do not interrupt conversations.

Interrupting others and overtalking them is only legitimate if you can hear what they say back. If you lower a user’s volume appropriately, but do not respond to a question from them about whether you hear them, the lack of response will be treated as indication of muting and will be punished as such.

§2.4 Do not disrupt conversations by hot miccing.

Hot-miccing stifles the exchange of ideas by disrupting the flow of content. This rule exists to allow mods to take action against members that do not make efforts to better the problem via for example turning on push to talk or muting themselves in between speaking. This rule does not target poor mic quality, but poor microphone etiquette.

§2.5 All !lfd pings require the pinged topic to be set in a debate room for at least 30 minutes or until debated.

It will only be considered to be debated if a debate is made where two or more people become debaters on opposite sides of the topic. This requirement is void if 30 minutes has passed since the ping. We check if this has happened one hour after the ping. The debate does not require to speak in the voice chat, as it can be a text debate as well.

§2.6 #Serious is for only for threaded debate

We define a threaded-debate as a discussion taking place in a thread in the #serious channel. To be allowed to create a threaded-debate you must first find a partner in another channel and post the list of participants as a regular message in #serious.

To create a threaded-debate users must make a thread on the message naming the people in the debate. The first message in any threaded-debate serves to document the participants’ agreement on the list of participants (not to be confused with the message you made the thread on that is now visible in the thread). Proposing a list in the thread and having every proposed participant reply to the message with (specifically and only) “I agree” is considered participants agreeing on the list of participants. If the message is ever edited it’s nullified. If a vote is ever edited its caster is punished and removed from the thread.

New participants that wish to join the threaded-debate during the discussion must ask outside #serious and the threaded-debate, and await the proposal being brought forth in the threaded-debate, and the current participants’ approval via replying “I agree” to the proposal. Only upon unanimous agreement does the proposal to add a participant pass. Attempts to create a threaded-debate fail if not all originally suggested participants reply to the original proposal with the text of approval within 24 hours of the creation of the thread. Attempts to add a participant to the threaded-debate fail if there is not unanimous agreement among the current participants within 24 hours from the proposal. It’s up to the current participants to propose the addition of a new participant, but they have no obligation to do so upon request.

§3 Staff communications happen through our Support bot.
The Support bot (Modmail) is a feature rich communication avenue for communication with staff. It may be used for reports or questions concerning these rules and their interrpetations, server members, rule enforcement, staff misconduct, partnerships or other official server queries.
The bots features allow us to sort, compartmentalise and restrict access to different threads, ensuring our users concerns can be met. Baseline all new threads created with Support are visible to the entire staff team. Users may request that only directors may see their thread, which is excellent for reports about staff behaviour they wish to call into question.
Support also allows us to log interactions between our users and staff, which ensures accountability and prevents mod abuse. Your interactions with Support are logged for yours and others safety.
All separate concerns brought up with staff will be handled irrespective of previous interactions with staff.

§3.1 Do not contact members of staff directly about support issues.
Even our staff are humans, and keeping the sanctity of the reasons they are on Discord is important to us. The Support bot alleviates that.

§3.2 Communication through Support is still subject to all other rules.
Just because you are not technically talking on the server does not mean you are exempt from rules. Breaking rules when contacting the Support bot can lead to punishments and ultimately being banned from communicating through Support if the case is severe enough.