Websleuths (WS) Etiquette & Information
It is VERY important that all WS members read and understand the concepts listed below. Everyone will be expected to follow them while at WS.
Freedom of Speech:
While we believe very much in the freedom of speech & expression, you DO NOT have an absolute right to say whatever you want in this community. WS is based in the United States, but is not an agency of the Federal or any State government - so the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution and similar State amendments regarding your right to free speech DO NOT APPLY HERE. Anything that goes against our core beliefs and the purpose for which this community was designed may not be allowed. Posts and comments that are meant to incite conflicts between members or outside parties are strictly prohibited. WS Administration has the absolute right to edit, modify, close or delete any content found in this community. While this rarely, if ever happens, we will not tolerate individuals or groups creating problems with the overall membership.
Advertising & Promoting:
WS has a NO advertising policy (with the exception of our community sponsors if and when we decide to have some). This includes discussion forums, message boards, chat sites, commercial businesses & services, personal websites, etc. (You may however post a direct link to an outside site given that the information is RELEVANT to a question someone else has requested, or you believe it will be helpful to others.) This also includes links in signatures which cause commercial popup windows to pop up in threads. Sneaky advertising will not be tolerated. If you have a business or service that you think will benefit the members of WS, please email email@example.com and a member of WS Administration will contact you.
Soliciting Financial Assistance:
Soliciting financial assistance in the forums, chat or via PM is strictly prohibited. This means both overt ("Send me money") and subtle ("Poor me, I could really use some money") forms. As much as we would like to assist in helping those who are in grave need of it, there is no way to easily and effectively determine the accuracy of someone’s financial situation. Countless people have been scammed on the Internet and message boards, perpetrated by people who come into a community with nefarious motives and preying upon others who are kind and want to help people in need.
Organized Efforts- Email Campaigns-Boycotts-Petitions:
Obviously members are free to take up any and all causes that are important to them in an effort to bring about change. But using Websleuths as a platform to promote organized efforts such as email campaigns, boycotts, letter writing,etc. are strictly forbidden without the consent of the forum owners.If you have written a letter or taken any action in support of a cause, please refrain from posting about it. Support of a particular cause must be approved by the owners prior to posting links or information regarding any such effort. Causes can be questionable in nature, even though they appear to be honorable on the surface.As it relates to using WS as a platform for promotion,the owners investigate the nature and source of such campaigns and make their own decisions as to the legitimacy of each cause. Please do not suggest,directly or indirectly, that members support any type of organized effort without getting approval from forum owners first.
Websleuths is a victim friendly forum. Attacking or bashing a victim is not allowed. Discussing victim behavior, good or bad is fine, but do so in a civil and constructive way and ONLY IF IT IS RELEVANT TO THE CASE. Additionally, sleuthing family members or others that are not suspect is not allowed. Don't make random accusations or post personal information (even if it is public) like parking tickets, address, or first and last names of all their relatives and their neighbors. Also, never "bash" or attack them, or accuse them of involvement. However that does not mean that family members or others cannot come into discussion as the facts and issues of the case are discussed.
Verified / Professional Posters
We are lucky enough to have posters from all walks of life with a broad spectrum of expertise. Some may have special inside knowledge about a case or be directly related to a player in the case. This is all extremely valuable information for the forum. However, we like to make sure that anyone posting as a professional in a specific area (doctor, lawyer, search and rescue, etc.), or as someone with inside information, truly is what/who they claim to be. Verification is 100% optional. No posters are required to become verified unless they wish to post inside or professional information. If you wish to become verified, please contact the owners at firstname.lastname@example.org with your Websleuths name, your real name, the case, and your phone number and a good time to call. If you have any questions, contact a moderator.
It is illegal to use the sex offender registry information to harass anyone. We would never condone that at Websleuths. However, it is okay if, when a child goes missing or is harmed, we look at the sex offenders in the area and post their information, along with maps to show how close they live to the victim. Never even hint at harassing anyone on the sex offenders list. Any posting here about a sex offender should always be within the law.
Inviting outside contact or alluding to "private" additional information:
“Inviting” is termed as a post where you invite other members to contact you to find out more information, rather than post it in the forum. This is not allowed and any posts with emails or invitations to contact for more information will either be edited or deleted entirely. This includes use of the Private Message system via comments such as “Check your PMs” or “PM me” posted in discussion threads. Think about it - it's like whispering into someone's ear while you are at a table full of other people. If you want to have a private conversation just have it, don't announce it. Additionally,please don't drop hints or post on the board that you know something or are privy to inside information but you won't or can't post it.
If you can't post it, don't.
Regarding Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and other social networking or blog websites: Links may be used to direct posters to view something on a social networking page. But postings on social networking sites are not considered fact; they are rumor. Copying and pasting, or taking screen caps, directly from these pages is not allowed. Paraphrasing is okay. (Exception: If the Twitter or Facebook post belongs to a verified news station, it may be copied. But a link should still be provided.)
Also, social networking pages may only be linked if they are directly related to a case, i.e. the victim or suspect. We don't want to post to someone's mother, brother, employer, milkman, or postal carrier just because they know the main player. We also NEVER link to minor's pages (unless they are the victim). And be sure that the page actually belongs to the person being discussed. Do not link to someone if you are not 100% sure it is the correct person. And if a social networking is set to private and you get in the back way, you may not post what you find. Private means private!
Abuse / Flaming / Derogatory Comments:
Abusive Comments, Flaming, or derogatory insults or comments are strictly against the rules. If you disagree with another member’s point of view, do so in a mature and civil manner. If someone posts to discuss their personal problems or seeks help from other forums members, please do not respond unless you have something positive or helpful to add. If you find yourself being flamed or insulted by another member, please do not dignify that person with a response. Notify a moderator and let us handle it.
Derogatory Name Changes to Case Players/General Name Calling
In an effort to keep case discussion constructive, name calling, general bashing and using derogatory name variations for any of the case players is not tolerated. Regardless of how we may feel about many of the people that are the focus of our discussion here,it is always best to elevate the conversation and avoid this type of posting behavior. Feel free to express your displeasure with individuals that are being discussed, just avoid petty nastiness,name calling, name changes and over the top rude posts directed at case players.
Spamming & Cross Posting:
Spamming and Cross Posting is defined as posting the same information or content (full or partial) in two or more posts. We understand that some topics might fit into more than one forum or category but we ask that you please pick the best one and stick with it.
Any member found perpetrating a hoax in order to gain sympathy and/or attention from the members of WS will be banned and the hoax will be exposed publicly to all members. We will not tolerate fraudulent posting on WS and take this matter quite seriously.
Language & Profanity:
While we understand the majority of members are grown adults, we do occasionally have young adults and children that visit WS to communicate with others in similar circumstances as their own. Further, many people are offended by vulgar language. Please refrain from using it.
A maximum of ONE account is allowed per person. If you are found to be using two or more accounts, one or more of them will be deleted and you may be banned from WS all together depending on the situation. The bottom line here is to register one account and stick with it. If you have account problems, contact a WS Admin and state the problem you are having. We may recommend that you re-register if the problem cannot be solved but in most all cases a problem with an account can be corrected by an Admin.
Impersonating Members & Accessing other’s Accounts:
You may not impersonate another board member or create an account for the purpose of provoking other users. This includes creating an account very similar to another member so as to confuse others by the similarity in names. Accessing or using someone else’s account or attempting to access another member’s account is strictly prohibited. It is extremely unlikely that WS staff will ever need your password to resolve a problem with your account, but there is NO circumstance under which you should give your password to another regular user.
Trying to Circumvent a Ban / Block:
If you log onto the WS forums and receive a message that you have been banned, please submit an unban request and wait for a WS admin to get in touch with you. You may NOT re-register under a new name - if you try to sign up again and we catch you, you subject yourself to a possible permanent ban.
Posting Links / URLs / Email Addresses:
While we prefer that all content be posted in the forums themselves (unless it is a copyright violation to do so) so our members will always be able to access it, we realize that some information must remain on remote sites as it may be too extensive to re-post. Posting links/URL’s in the WS forums is allowed as long as they substantiate a post, or are summarized. Don’t post links with a comment such as, “Check out this link”. Let members know what the link is about, rather than surprising them with it. We also do not permit the posting of personal email addresses in public forums due to privacy issues. The posting of your personal email address in ANY public forum invites SPAM from people creating mass email listings. Believe it or not, there are people who get paid to spend all day searching newsgroups, message boards, discussion forums, and chats just to collect email addresses that are posted. Websleuths does not prohibit linking to other sites but reserves the right to remove the link if we decide it is inappropriate.
Posting Personal Contact Information (Address / Phone Number):
Members may not post personal contact information such as home address, work address, home telephone number, work telephone number, etc., in the public forums. ANYONE, including guests to WS, can read the public forums - this policy is in place for YOUR safety and protection.
Contacting other members to meet in Real Life:
While members are always free to contact each other to meet in person, via telephone, or in other ways, Websleuths will in no way be responsible for any actions or events arising from such contact. Websleuths staff does not read or otherwise monitor Private Messages and has no way to monitor private emails, telephone calls or other such communications. It is up to each individual member to decide if they desire such contact and the resultant loss of anonymity. Websleuths neither condemns nor condones such meetings and it is up to the individual members to decide if they wish to get together.
Posting Harmful URLs:
Any Member of WS that posts malicious or harmful URL links that cause:
- other Member’s computers to become locked or have to be rebooted in order to regain functionality; or
- NSFW/screaming, (cannot be viewed safely for content or sound at work)
- commercial/advertising "popup" windows
may be subject to action. This includes signatures, which may not have links embedded which cause commercial popup windows to pop up in threads, play music videos or other things that will cause sound on another member's system while viewing, or directs one to another website.
Linking to Blocked URLs
If, when posting a link to another site, the address is replaced by asterisks ****** in your post, this means it is a blocked site and should not be linked or posted here in any way. We understand that many do not know a site is blocked until they attempt to post the address. So,please delete your post if you inadvertently post a blocked site, or contact the forum moderator for assistance. Remember, if you cannot link to the source, you cannot copy any information from that site in your post. There are various reasons for blocking certain sites and attempts to circumvent these blocks by altering the link to bypass the censor will be met with zero tolerance and a potential permanent ban.
Threats, Racism & Sexism:
Threads or posts promoting or expressing intolerant views towards groups based on their characteristics (such as race, religion, sexual preference, etc.) will not be tolerated.
Baiting /Trolling / Inciting Conflict:
“Trolling” or making posts with the intention of creating problems on the forums is obviously against the forum guidelines. This includes registering an alternative ID for the sole purpose of creating problems on the forums. “Troll ID’s” will be locked immediately and permanently, and the primary account holder may be banned from WS. Members that visit WS only to participate in “conflict” threads may be designated as Trolling and have their account temporarily or permanently suspended. WS also reserves the right to require a certain number of posts, length of membership, or other criteria be met to allow posting on certain topics. We have zero tolerance for members that create posts with the sole purpose of antagonizing other members.
Attacking WS Moderators & Administrators:
Posting a thread to comment on, question, or criticize moderator or administrator action is not appropriate in a public forum. Please utilize the board’s Private Message function, or email, staff if you wish to discuss these issues. As long as you bring up your concerns maturely and civilly to the moderator or administrator in question, we will do our best to address your concerns fairly and promptly.
Here are the “Dos” and “Don’ts” of addressing your concerns to moderators or administrators:
Do be civil and polite. Bring up your concerns in a mature and respectful manner. If you are contacting us because you violated forum guidelines, be adult enough to admit your mistake. If your ID has been locked for some reason, talking politely to us about it in private, via e-mail or private message, can get your ID reinstated in many cases.
Do not be derogatory or insulting towards us. You will not get what you want by name calling or bashing us.
All we ask is that you treat us the way you would want us to treat you. If you treat us with respect, we will do the same for you.
Realize that a lot goes on behind the scenes. If you are thinking to yourself "Those moderators are either total idiots or they know something I do not", it's safe to assume we know something you do not.
Threads and posts attacking WS Policies will not be allowed. Further, any member found to be bad mouthing the WS community at an outside location will have their membership blocked. If you do not care for this community, you really have no business here anyway.
OTPs are posts that do not relate to the original post/topic, or are placed in the wrong category. While we realize threads often expand into different topics, we encourage members to do their best to stick with the original topic, or start another thread. Off-Topic posts are subject to editing or removal at administrative discretion, and without notification. Members that continuously post off topic may have their posting privileges suspended.
Posting in the Appropriate Forum:
Please post your topics in the most appropriate forum. If you post a thread that would be more appropriate in another forum, a moderator will move it for you. However, please do not make the moderators do this for you on a regular basis. Use your judgment to determine which forum best suits your topic. If you are dealing with a topic that could appropriately fit in more than one forum, please pick the one you feel is closest to your topic.
Thread Subject Titling:
As WS grows, it becomes increasingly important to properly title the subject of new threads. People find the threads that they are interested in mostly by scanning the titles, even when searching with our site search engine. Titles/Subjects that are misleading are not allowed. WS Moderators may change the title of any thread to assist in describing the content of the thread without notifying the member who started the thread. In some cases, a moderator may also contact the member if it is evident the member is having a problem with titling to give tips. Titles such as “Help!”, “Can you believe this!”, “This makes me so mad!”, etc. provide no clue as to the content.
Referrals / Commissions / Affiliate Links:
Members are NOT allowed to post links that lead to any type of affiliate program where points are given or any type of prize or monetary value is awarded.
"I am leaving WS" threads:
It is the policy of WS to disallow threads that are purely to announce that you are 'leaving the site' for any reason. Posts of this nature will result in the following action: 1) The post will be removed from general view. 2) Your membership will be suspended without notice. 3) If you wish to have your membership reinstated then you may contact an Administrator or Moderator to request this. If you find it necessary to 'leave' WS for any reason - or just take a break from the site - then you are welcome to notify your WS friends via personal Private Message.
Private Messaging (PM) System:
ALL of the general rules listed in this forum apply to the Private Messaging system, especially soliciting, advertising and sexually related PM’s. Violating any of these rules in the PM system will result in immediate removal from the community. The vBulletin software provides no way for the WS staff to read users' PMs, but if you send an offensive PM the recipient can forward that PM to the Staff for review - and then we will be able to read it.
If you have not known the family or friends prior to the incident, you most likely will not need to be verified as an insider in a case. There are certain instances where this becomes necessary like in the case where a private investigator is hired and wants to post as an insider. Websleuths does not condone our members getting involved in crime cases unless there is something the member can do that will make a difference. Please contact law enforcement with any tips.
WS also has a chat room available to its members. All WS policies apply to the chat room. Abuses within the WS chat room will be treated the same way as abuses on the Boards.
Deleting Posts and Closing Threads:
WS Administration has the right to close or remove any post or thread we deem inappropriate. The decision to close or delete a post/thread is solely ours. We have a strict policy of keeping the posts in this community constructive. Posts that create an unnecessary amount of conflict and serve no further purpose may be closed at the moderator’s discretion.
Further, it is the policy of this community NOT to delete posts unless the information in a post may put someone in jeopardy. It is the member's responsibility to think of the potential consequences of the post they are about to make prior to doing so. This is the Internet and anyone in the world can read what you post on WS - it is the member's responsibility to be careful regarding what personal/identifying/etc. information they post on WS. Removing a post will often destroy readability of the thread by making it unreadable. Deleting the first post in a thread will cause the deletion of the entire thread. Members do not appreciate spending their time responding to posts only to have the post they make disappear, so we make it a point not to delete posts just because people change their mind after making a post. The process of removing posts from the board and reviewing threads that need post(s) deleted is also extremely time consuming for staff members and removing even a few posts takes a great deal of time and effort. For that reason also, it is the policy of this community not to delete posts except in very extreme, emergency circumstances.
Administration Dispute Resolution:
If you are having a problem on WS that you feel you cannot solve by any other means available to you, we invite you to contact one of the WS administrators via PM or email. Administrators have the final say with anything in this community.
When a journalist or member of the media posts on the site, they are expected to explain the purpose of the request to the members and to encourage members to post their stories in the thread.
Members of Law Enforcement regularly read at WS. Generally they contact WS Admins when they register, but there is no requirement that they do so. Unless they ask us to, we do not publicly identify them, but all posters should be aware that public comments about illegal activity could bring them attention they may not want. WS receives subpoenas on a regular basis from various agencies. WS will comply with all valid subpoenas received.