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The pipTalk Guidelines

For the greater part of two years, these forums survived under nothing more than our Philosophies, with very few hard and fast rules. We survived, and even flourished, by simply following the dictates of common sense and operating within the confines of Respect & Tolerance.

Many feel that our incredible growth now makes it necessary to better delineate acceptable and unacceptable behavior within the forums. And they have a point.

In the "old days," problems were few and far between and we would often spend hours and even days discussing why a poem or post had to be pulled. You will, in fact, find links below leading to many of those long discussions. We are still willing to discuss those philosophies, and I hope we always will be. But with thousands of active Members, we find that many of them simply want to know what to expect, without a lot of discussion of why.

These, then, are the "Rules" as they have evolved over the course of our growth. They are not and probably never will be all-inclusive. These rules are, instead, a reflection of the guiding philosophies behind pipTalk and Passions, philosophies that will continue to provide our true leadership.

Our Rules In Summary

The BIG Rules

Personal attacks are absolutely forbidden!

Posts depicting suicide as a solution to life will be removed!

Posts advocating harm to a human being (including self-harm) will be removed!

Adult Content (including profanity) should be posted only in our Adult forums!

Sensationalistic violence in any forum will be removed!

Everything you post MUST belong to you. Copyright infringements will be removed!

Note: Sex, death, violence, and even suicide can all be explored in responsible ways and that kind of exploration is encouraged. Please use your best judgment, but be willing to accept the final judgment of the Moderators.

The Little Rules

* Do not post the same poem in multiple forums.

* Use the appropriate forums for discussions and save the poetry forums for poetry.

* Mass Deletion of poetry is strongly discouraged.

Personal Attacks are absolutely forbidden!

It is perfectly acceptable to disagree with concepts, ideas, themes, or choice of words. It is even okay to do so vehemently. What is not acceptable and will never be acceptable is to turn disagreements into attacks against an individual. Personal attacks will not be tolerated.

This policy is an obvious extension of Respect & Tolerance, and in most cases it is unambiguous. At times, however, there is a fine line between attacking an idea and allowing it to become an attack against a person. If you explain why a particular post makes little sense to you, that is fine. If you simply call someone's words stupid, by inference you are calling them stupid and turning it into a personal attack. Attaching derogatory labels, even to a concept, will often result in exactly the kind of behavior we are trying to discourage.

Treat other people with Respect and diverse ideas with Tolerance, and you will rarely find yourself crossing that line.

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Posts depicting suicide as a solution to life will be removed!

More than any other rule at Passions, this one seems to draw the most controversy. We believe that people who would harm themselves need professional attention, not the advice of untrained writers - no matter how well intentioned those writers might be. The recurring depression that leads to thoughts of suicide is the result of a medical condition and is treatable. Writing poetry, catharsis, and talking to our writers about "events" (which do not cause depression) is no substitute for getting that treatment.

Sadly, too few people realize the need for professional help. We believe a large part of this is because writers habitually romanticize suicide, making it seem like a "good thing." Passions will not provide a venue for this glamorization, and you'll find no "I died for love" poems or "They'll be sorry when I'm gone" stories posted in our forums. We recognize the problems faced by people, whether lost love or a feeling of insignificance, but will not condone suicide as a valid answer to those problems.

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Posts advocating harm to a human being (including self-harm) will be removed!

We believe that words have power. We also believe that ALL human life is precious and should be protected. Any poetry or prose that condones or promotes hate or violence will be removed from the site immediately.

Open promotion of hate or violence is pretty cut and dried, and rarely a problem. But advocating harm to a human being can also be subtle. Depicting a scene or scenario where a human is harmed, without showing any repercussions, is often just as dangerous as open promotion. Viewpoint characters must be seen to pay for their crimes, else the reader is given no guidance to the difference between right and wrong. When the viewpoint character is a victim of crime, the reader must still be left with a sense of what is right and what is wrong. This isn't easily quantified, but generally, the reader should end up sympathizing with the victim and not the perpetrator of a crime.

If you have a question about a specific work, you should contact a Moderator and ask them to read the piece before posting. This rule applies to all forums at pipTalk, including the Adults Only forum.

Note: As a matter of policy, activities that break the law will almost always be interpreted as "harm to a human being." And, yea, that's going to include illicit drugs. Even if you believe a particular substance is harmless, breaking the law brings consequences which are rarely harmless, either to the individual and to the society. That is not to say a writer can't explore drug use, or can't advocate that the laws be changed. Anything that advocates or glorifies the breaking of a law, however, will likely be removed.

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Adult Content (including profanity and suggestive graphics) should be posted only in our Adult forums!

Most of our forums are very much family-oriented. Contrary to what many keep trying to say, that is NOT to protect the kids (even though our youngest reader is nine years old), but rather to protect ALL of our readers. We believe that people, whether nine or ninety, should have a choice.

Our Mature Content section contains a number of forums where those who choose to read and write poems or stories of a more adult nature can feel comfortable. While adult content will certainly include sexual themes, it is not by any means limited to sexual themes. Poetry that uses adult metaphor or adult language will also often center on many social issues that have very little to do with sexuality. Content that might be characterized as "angry poetry" usually falls within Mature Content bounds, and can include some of the best and most important literature in Modern history. Such writing is very much encouraged at pipTalk, so long as you remember to give our readers a choice. 

The MC forums at pipTalk are NOT a license to break our other Guidelines.

More about Profanity

As a family-oriented site, we discourage the use of gratuitous profanity. That doesn't mean you won't find a cuss word here and there, but those instances should be relatively rare. In most instances, we find the use of profanity is little more than a sign of laziness. Writers should be able to convey an idea without resorting to an offensive vocabulary, and those who don't usually just aren't trying very hard.

Of course, we certainly recognize there are times when profanity or rough language is used for characterization, when the words reveal something about a fictional character rather than about the author. We understand this and accept it as a valid writing technique. However, unless the language is fairly mild, the character being revealed probably isn't suitable material for a family-oriented site and we ask that these works be posted in the Mature Content forums. Generally speaking, if a word is unsuitable for prime-time TV, it's probably unsuitable for our open forums, too.

Misspelling a word, using asterisks to mask some or all letters, acronyms or abbreviations, or ANY other attempt to disguise profanity doesn't make it any less profane. If we can discern your meaning from your content, you obviously didn't disguise it enough.

In a few instances, our software will automatically replace a particular obscenity with asterisks. That doesn't make the replacement acceptable, but rather should be considered a warning to the author to take a closer look at their choice of words or choice of forum. Ignoring the warning from the software will probably just generate one from a Moderator.

The Mature Content forums, while certainly more relaxed about adult language, is nonetheless sensitive to the needs of our readers. There are a few words that many people find offensive even in an adult context, and our software will still replace those words with asterisks -- meaning you need to find a substitute word or a forum where the word is acceptable. There is only one forum in MC, Behind Closed Doors, where any and all language restrictions are lifted. The readers who enter BCD do so with an understanding of what to expect.

Sensationalistic violence in any forum, Mature or otherwise, will be removed!

I'm not even going to try to define the word "sensationalistic," but rather will hope everyone has an intuitive understanding of where the lines must be drawn. We encourage - strongly - the exploration of all aspects of life, but will not tolerate poetry or prose written more for shock value than for real discovery or revelation. Realism is good. Titillation is not.

I'm not going to tell you how to write, but will remind everyone that graphic descriptions are rarely necessary to make a point. Indeed, such descriptions will usually detract from your real theme. If you have a poem or story you feel may be borderline, you are encouraged to contact a Moderator and ask them to read it prior to posting.

The Mature Content forums, of course, are a suitable venue for poetry and stories dealing with erotica.

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Everything you post MUST belong to you. Copyright infringements will be removed!

We try very hard to protect your copyrights and expect you to respect those of other writers. Please do not post any poetry or prose unless you are the author and hold the copyright to it. That includes:

Poetry or Lyrics by a published author. You may think you are sharing and even advertising, but that's not your decision to make. Only the author can decide where they want their work displayed.

Poetry by a friend or relative. Even if you have permission from a person, the poem should not be posted at pipTalk. Ask your friend to register and post for themselves.

Anonymous poetry. Just because you found a lovely poem on the Internet marked "Author Unknown" doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't belong to someone. On the contrary, many of our poets have found their own poetry posted somewhere with similar wording. Usually, if it's anonymous, that just means someone in the chain didn't bother to give the author credit.

Using a small portion of a copyrighted work, such as a line from a poem, movie or television show, is acceptable and not uncommon. Professional courtesy would demand you credit the source of your inspiration and, where appropriate, provide a link to the original source.

Treat other authors as you would hope they treat you.

More about Graphics 

Please remember, too, that graphical artists enjoy the same copyright protections that writers enjoy. While pipTalk allows images to be posted that don't necessarily belong to the poster, we nonetheless take the rights of the artist seriously. It is your responsibility to both obtain permission and to give the artist the credit they are due. Failure to do so will often result in complaints from the artist, and repeated complaints will affect your posting privileges.

Similarly, images that reside on a web site you don't control probably should be avoided. Bandwidth on the Internet is like a long distance phone call, where someone at some point has to cough up money to pay for it. If you hot-link to an image on someone else's web site you should be sure to obtain permission from that web site owner. It's not a copyright issue, technically, but it can still amount to stealing, something all of us want to avoid.

Cross-Posting

Cross-posting is defined as posting the same poem or story in multiple forums within a short time span. This is an unnecessary strain on our resources and is generally discouraged. Please don't post a poem in The Corner Pub, then post the same poem in Open a day or two later. If you decide you posted in the wrong forum, ask one of the Moderators to move it for you.

The exception to this rule centers on our Workshops, whether the Poetry Workshop or the Critical Analysis forum (or any future forum where the intent is to improve upon a work). It is perfectly acceptable to use the workshops to fine-tune a poem prior to posting in another, more open, forum. It is also okay to bring back a poem previously posted, but now sitting in an Archive (to be courteous, the title should include a note indicating it is a repost, so those who have already read it will have the opportunity to read something else instead).

Appropriate Forums

While we encourage everyone to use the forum most appropriate for the tone of their work, there is no rule saying you can't post a Dark poem in Open or a Spiritual poem in Teen. That's your decision and we will rarely override your judgment. The only exception to that is that we may move your work into the Mature Content forum if we decide it is inappropriate for a family audience.

We do, however, try very hard to keep our poetry/prose forums separate from our Discussion forums. If you post an announcement or news message in a poetry forum, it will almost certainly be moved into one of our many Discussion forums. 

Mass Deletions

When you joined the pipTalk forums and clicked that "I Agree" button, you granted us publishing rights to the work you decide to post. You own the copyright, but submitting it to a forum gives us nonexclusive right to publish it in perpetuity.

Nonexclusive means you can publish anywhere else you like, including your own web site or other forums or even in an off-line book or magazine. 

In perpetuity means there is no implied or explicit time limit on our right to publish it. As long as pipTalk exists, your posts will remain a part of it.

Of equal importance to the publishing rights granted is the open invitation issued. When you post to a forum you are implicitly asking all of the other Members of the community to comment. The instant someone accepts that invitation and posts a reply to your work, the thread becomes a collaborative effort. You still own your material and, as far as pipTalk is concerned, always will. You do not, however, own the thread within which you decided to post it. The thread belongs to everyone.

Occasionally, we get requests from Members who want to have all their posts deleted. About 99 percent of the time these come from disgruntled people who've decided they don't like the rules they originally agreed to follow. Like children on a playground, they want to take their marbles and go home. Others might want their work deleted because they broke up with so-and-so and don't want their new so-and-so to read about how they once felt. Or they discover the username they selected is showing up rather prominently in a Google search. Ad infinitum.

There are two problems with mass deletion of posts.

First, they take a lot of time. The only reliable and safe way to do it is on a forum-by-forum basis, and we have a LOT of forums. 

Second, and far more importantly, deleting a thread doesn't just remove the originating post, but also removes all of the comments. The people who replied to the work , investing their time and good will, find their efforts unappreciated and unvalued by the very person who invited them to participate.

We are under no obligation to remove anything YOU decided to post, and in most cases, we won't. On the infrequent occasion we decide to comply out of courtesy, it will be done as time allows and under the stipulation that you NEVER make another post at pipTalk. We have to assume if you ask once, you'll just ask again later, and the easiest way to forestall that is simply to insure there's never anything to delete again.

Publishing on the Internet isn't greatly different from publishing in the real world. You can't expect a book or magazine publisher to recall your work after it's gone to the printers. What you say in real life can't simply be unsaid. Decisions made are decisions you will live with the rest of your life. 

Think before you post and make darn sure you can be as proud of your words in five years as you were when you wrote them. You are creating a legacy and should treat it as such.

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