As promised, today we are launching the new Terms and Conditions/Terms of Service for Pam's House Blend. With the discussions generated by free speech comment week ranging from “we love the lack of moderation” to “I want strong moderation back, pronto,” there's no earthly way to satisfy everyone.

The blog was launched as a personal online journal in July 2004, with no expectation that anyone would find it, let alone comment on it. PHB had about 300 daily readers for about a year. Then it steadily grew on Blogger, moved to the Soapblox community form in 2007 (that allowed for user diaries), and the community grew from 5 registered users to over 8300 today. Over that period of time the traffic and number of contributors and active commenters also grew. With that came the numerous, trolls, sockpuppets and various bomb-throwers that  attempt to derail the mostly pleasant conversation and debate you would expect to have at your local coffeehouse. 

The dilemma I faced (along with the Baristas) was how to make moderation less onerous — since none of us are chained to our computers to read through every thread and do whack-a-mole every day and still focus on content. In the new TOS, the community of regular Blenders take a more active role in keeping the coffeehouse safe and still a haven for vigorous debate by 1) setting an example, the high bar for discourse in the comments, and 2) bring to moderators' attention the commenters who fail to adhere to the TOS that everyone receives and has agreed to when signing up for an account.

The complete TOS can be found here. What you will read below the fold pertains to the general operating policies and community guidelines. It outlines violations of the TOS and how they are handled by moderators — and readers.

 

 

Section A: Operating Policies and Community Guidelines

Your participation in on-line communications occurs in real time and is not edited, censored, or otherwise controlled by PAM SPAULDING or the Baristas. PAM SPAULDING and the Baristas cannot and do not screen content provided by users of the Service. Notwithstanding the foregoing, PAM SPAULDING and the Baristas reserve the right to monitor content on the Service and to remove content which PAM SPAULDING and the Baristas, at their discretion, determine to be harmful, offensive, or otherwise in violation of these Operating Policies. PAM SPAULDING and the Baristas reserve the right to terminate the account (ban or delete) of a user of the service for any reason at any time.

For the purposes of Section A, commentary in the document of articles written by PAM SPAULDING, the Baristas, or Blenders shall be referred to as “Diaries.” The Service may or may chose not to allow comments for specific Diaries posted to the Service. The collection of comments for each Diary will be referred to as “Comment Thread.

The term “Moderator” in this section refers to PAM SPAULDING or any individual Barista. The moderator makes decisions to warn, suspend, or ban any user regarding adherence to community guidelines.

The term “Reporter” in this section refers to users of the service that use the Blend's online complaint reporting system to alert Moderators of a TOS violation.

In order to maintain an informative and valuable service that meets the needs of the users of the Service and avoids the harm that can result from disseminating statements that are false, malicious, violate the rights of others, or otherwise harmful, it is necessary to establish the following community guidelines to protect against abuse:

Community guidelines

1. You must maintain a valid email account in your registration for the service.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban if a dead email address is in your profile.

2. Unless you are participating in an area of the Service that requires or encourages anonymity, use your real name in online communications. Misleading Activities related to online identities including (but not limited to): sockpuppeting, meatpuppeting, and astroturfing, are prohibited. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with these terms using the provided links.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban, along with a public notification of that prohibited activity to the Blend community.

3. You may not post or transmit any message which is libelous, defamatory or which discloses private or personal matters concerning any person. You may not post or transmit any message, data, image or program which is indecent, obscene or pornographic.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment may also be immediately deleted upon discovery by a moderator without any notice.

4. You may not post or transmit any message, data, image or program that would violate the property rights of others, including unauthorized copyrighted text, images or programs, trade secrets or other confidential proprietary information, and trademarks or service marks used in an infringing fashion.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment may also be immediately deleted upon discovery by a moderator without any notice.

5. You may not interfere with other users use of the Service. This includes any harassment outside of the service as a result of activity on the Blend.

Moderator Action: A user will be banned for harassing another registered user via the service, private email communications or another service if the complainant confirms that it is related to commentary shared on Pam's House Blend.

6. You may not use any robot, spider, or other automatic device or process to monitor or copy our web pages or any portion of the content contained herein without our express written permission.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban with or without notice.

7. You may not post or transmit any file which contains viruses, worms, “Trojan horses” or any other contaminating or destructive features.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban with or without notice.

8. You may not post or transmit any message which is harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful, or defamatory (defamatory anti-lesbian, anti-gay, anti-bisexual, and anti-transgender language will include, but not be limited to, the language identified as defamatory within the current online version of the GLAAD Media Guide). Excessive use of profanity is discouraged, epithets directed at community members are grounds for suspension or deactivation (banning) at any time.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment(s) may also be left intact as proof of the violatio
n, or deleted at the moderator's discretion.

9. Activities such as (but not limited to) flaming, trolling, comment-spamming, and threadjacking are prohibited. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with these terms using the provided links.

It is not the Service's intent to discourage you from taking controversial positions or expressing vigorously what may be unpopular views; however, PAM SPAULDING and the Baristas reserve the right to take such action as it deems appropriate in cases where the Service is used to disseminate statements which are deeply and widely offensive and/or harmful.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment(s) may also be left intact as proof of the violation, or deleted at the moderator's discretion.

10. a) You may not post or transmit charity requests, petitions for signatures without prior consent of PAM SPAULDING or the Baristas.

Moderator Action: Requests for fundraising or petition comments/posts must be submitted to tips@phblend.com for review before being submitted as a live diary or comment by a Blender.

b) Chain letters or letters relating to pyramid schemes are prohibited.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban, with or without notice, banned content will be deleted.

c) You may not post or transmit any advertising, promotional materials or any other solicitation of other users of the Service for goods or services except in those areas (e.g., a classified bulletin board) that are designated for such purpose.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban, with or without notice, banned content will be deleted.

11. You may not post off-topic comments or list off-topic articles in diaries (aka threadjacking). Open threads, or diaries designated for discussion of any topic, provided daily, are the appropriate venue for this content.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban.

12. You may not list or send unsolicited mass emailing to 10 people or more if such e-mail could reasonably be expected to provoke complaints from its recipients.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban, with or without notice, banned content will be deleted.

13. You may not use the facilities and capabilities of the Service to conduct any activity or solicit the performance of any illegal activity or other activity which infringes the rights of others.

Moderator Action: Immediate ban, with or without notice, banned content will be deleted, law enforcement authorities will be notified.

14. Users of the service are expected take an active role in maintaining civility between commenters in diaries, both in your own behavior and by encouraging and informing fellow Blenders. You should report violations of the TOS you encounter via the service's online form. There is no guarantee that pointing out TOS violations in the comments will be seen and acted upon by moderators. Moderators are not responsible for full-time review and action on any comment threads, so Reporters will provide first notification in the cases where a moderator is not be available to review a thread.

Moderator Action: Reports received will be addressed by a moderator within 48 hours. False reports filed will result in a ban of the Reporter. Filing a report is not a guarantee that an action will be taken by a moderator of the service. Reports that are disputed by the Blender alleged to have violated the Service TOS will be reviewed by the moderators to reach a decision.

 

You will be able to report TOS violations by clicking a “Submit Report” button in the right hand column. A note: filing a false or misleading report is grounds for banning as well. 

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding

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