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This list of Guidelines, like Passions, is still a "work in progress." It covers only the most general philosophies of the site, with no pretense of being a comprehensive set of rules.
Each of the forums, where applicable, will have their own set of Guidelines (and maybe even a few rules). I encourage everyone to read those individual Guidelines before posting in a forum and, if you have any questions, to email one of the Moderators of that forum. And, as a "work in progress," I welcome any suggestions or additions to this list.
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The underlying philosophy of Passions is one of respect and tolerance. Writers are a diverse group. And, very often, they are also a very opinionated group. We welcome opinions, and we thrive on diversity, seeing both as tools for growth.
Obviously, you're not going to agree with everything you find written at Passions. We consider that a good thing. How you express your disagreement, however, can too easily become a bad thing. Arguing against a concept or idea, even vehemently, is a good thing. Attacking the supporters of that concept or idea is a bad thing (even if the attack is subtle and indirect). Asking others to listen to your viewpoints and consider your arguments is a good thing. Refusing to listen to the viewpoints and arguments of others, simply because they contradict your own beliefs, is a bad thing. Conveying positive emotions (this is what X does for me) is a good thing. Conveying negative emotions can also be a good thing, but all too often becomes a bad thing (I hate Y).
Respect and Tolerance are simple words to say, but not always simple to live. It's not easy to respect a person that represents the antithesis of your value system. It's not easy to tolerate something you strongly feel will lead to disaster and hurt. But everything another person says, does, and believes is the result of their individual history. People who do bad things (by our own definitions) aren't always bad people. Sometimes they are just misguided (by our own definitions). And sometimes (hard as this is to believe), they aren't bad or misguided at all, and it is our own definitions that need to be reevaluated.
We can only learn and grow through understanding. And understanding is the real key to respect and tolerance.
Our belief in the strength of diversity means we try to not disallow any group of individuals - and that includes both the young and the innocent (not necessarily the same). That's simply another way of saying that Passions is a Family site, and you should assume there will be young people reading your posts.
We have the Adult forum for more mature topics that won't fit into this framework, but every other forum adheres to a GP rating. No vulgarity. No sexual innuendoes or suggestions. Just good, clean poetry and prose. Most of our Members are proud of the fact they can invite anyone, be it family or business acquaintances, to Passions and know they need not be ashamed or try to explain away the vulgarity. We would very much like to keep it that way.
It should always be remembered that our inherent diversity extends not only to what we write, but also to why. Everyone here writes for different reasons, and most of us post our work for equally different reasons.
Some are here to share what they've learned about this craft we call writing, some to learn (and we would hope those two groups overlap), some to simply express themselves, some to find support and understanding from others of like spirit, some to appreciate and participate in the beauty of writing, some to enrich and further their understanding of life, some with the hope of touching the lives of others in a meaningful way - the list extends nearly to the limits of human differences. Any reason for reading or writing is a valid reason. And all are welcome at Passions.
It is perfectly acceptable - desirable - to help your fellow Passions Members fulfill their reasons for being here. Just don't be surprised, confused, or offended to discover they may not be here for the same reason you are.
In most free countries, including the United States, there are laws that preclude a government from passing statutes abridging the freedom of speech. But that doesn't mean your boss at work can't abridge it, nor does it preclude the principal of your school from doing so. Your mother or spouse can still tell you to shut up (and at some point, probably will). Freedom of speech doesn't mean you have the right to print your views on the front page of your local newspaper regardless of the wishes of the publisher. In point of fact, the only right you have to Freedom of Speech exists solely between you and your government.
But legalities aside, there is still a strong social current in the free world providing for Freedom of Speech. And Passions, we think, is very much a supporter of that philosophy. We strongly believe you should have the freedom to speak your mind. To a large extent, that's precisely why Passions exists at all - to provide a forum for free expression (with the obvious hope it can sometimes be beautiful expression, as well).
But Freedom of Speech doesn't exist in a vacuum. With your Freedom of Speech also comes everyone else's Freedom to ignore you. And "ignoring you" can take many different forms. Yes, you have the legal right to say whatever you wish to your boss. And he has the right to fire you, insuring he won't have to listen to your tirade again. You have the right to cuss and swear in church, and the Members of that church have the right to ostracize you and ask you to never return. Freedom of Speech means you can speak your mind - it doesn't mean people are forced to listen.
At Passions, we sometimes exercise our right to ignore you by deleting posts.
We have never deleted a post in the forum because someone disagreed with our policies. We have deleted posts that attacked or derided a Member. We have never deleted a post because someone found fault with our decisions. We have deleted posts that were vulgar or glorified violence and hate. We have never deleted a post because someone constructively disagreed with another Member. We have deleted posts that served no purpose beyond the venting of hostility. Deleting posts, you see, is our way of not listening. And we suspect it's a lot less painful than losing your job.
How often does this happen? Not very. We're actually pretty proud of the fact that, with over 70,000 posts, the deleted ones would likely number less than a score. We think it's a tribute to our Members and to the atmosphere they've created within our forums. The number wouldn't even be that high except that we invariably warn people and wait for a second unacceptable post before banning them from the forums. And, yes, that happens, too. 'Cause we really don't have to listen.
I've spent a lot of time talking about the strength we find in our diversity, so in closing I'd like to talk a little bit about our similarities.
As writers, we all care about our craft, about expressing ourselves, about the human dependency on language. Words flow through our veins, providing warmth for our souls and life for our dreams. As writers, we care about knowledge, understanding, and insight. We care about beauty. But above all and more than most, writers care about people. It's why we do what we do. It's why we're here, together, at Passions. Our nationalities may vary, our skin color differ, our backgrounds diverge, and our thoughts and beliefs and viewpoints be as night to day - but what we hold in our hearts, as writers, is really not so very different.
It is our differences that make us strong. But it is our
similarities that have helped make Passions a family.