Websleuths (WS) Etiquette & Information It is the responsibility of each Websleuths member to understand and abide by the rules and policies listed below. Should you have questions, please address them in an email to WS Adminstration at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 intended to incite conflict between members or outside parties are strictly prohibited. WS Administration has the absolute right to edit, modify, and delete any content found posted on this website. USER ACCOUNTS 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. VICTIM FRIENDLY 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 when such behavior is relevant to the case. The "victim friendly" rule extends to the family members of victims and suspects. Sleuthing family members, friends, and others who have not been designated as suspects is not allowed. Don't make random accusations, suggest their involvement, nor bash and attack them. Posting their personal information, including names, addresses, and background data -- even if it is public -- is not allowed. That does not mean, however, that statements made by family members and other third parties cannot come into discussion as the facts of the case are reported in the media. REFERENCING OUTSIDE SOURCES - "LINKS" Quoting an outside source is allowed when the content is intended to substantiate a post. An example would be a snipped portion of a mainstream media (MSM) news article. While Websleuths does not prohibit quotes from sources outside of WS, we reserve the right to remove the quote and link if the source is deemed inappropriate. NOTE: When quoting an outside source, a link to the source must be included in the post. The same rule applies to posting images. COPYRIGHT RULE Quotes from published sources, e.g., news articles, should be limited to no more than 10% of the original material, with a source link included. Images also must be accompanied by a link to the original source. If an article is behind a paywall (i.e., by subscription only), you may post only the link and any portion of the content shown as a free preview. VERIFIED PROFESSIONALS and CASE INSIDERS We are lucky enough to have posters from all walks of life with a broad spectrum of expertise. Some hold specialized knowledge that applies to the various circumstances of the cases we discuss, and can contribute valuable insight and information. We welcome their participation. To ensure that anyone posting as a "professional" in a specific field truly is what/who they claim to be, WS employs a verification process. The verification process also applies to "case insiders". Relatives, friends, and others personally acquainted with a victim or a suspect; or a professional working on behalf of a victim or the family, (I.e., a private investigator), can submit a request to be verified as a "case insider". If you would like to become verified, please contact WS Administration at email@example.com with your Websleuths name, your real name, the case, a telephone number, and the times when you can be reached. If you are a "professional" or "case insider", but would prefer not to be verified, please understand that you will be required to follow the general rules for posting, and back up your statements with links to appropriate sources. More information on how to submit a request, and the information required, can be found at this link: VERIFICATION PROCESS FOR PROFESSIONALS AND INSIDERS NOTE: Websleuths does not condone members becoming personally involved in cases by initiating contact with family members, case players, law enforcement, or the media. This does not preclude responding to a request for volunteers, or utilizing proper channels to report valid information, i.e., "a tip", to law enforcement. 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. A member who visits WS only to incite "conflict" will be designated a "troll", and find his/her account temporarily or permanently suspended. This includes but is not limited to outing members, bringing drama from other websites to Websleuths, trashing members in any way, hyper-focusing in the smallest details with the intent to annoy and create conflict, and any other reason Websleuths deems to be inciting conflict. WS maintains zero tolerance for members who create posts intended to antagonize other members. WS also reserves the right to require that a minimum number of posts, term of membership, or other criteria be met to allow posting on certain topics. INVITING PRIVATE MESSAGES or EMAIL, and ALLUDING TO "INSIDE" 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 state or suggest that you are privy to inside information, but either can't or won't discuss it. If you can't post it, don't! INSULTS and DEROGATORY COMMENTS Insulting other members, and posting abusive and derogatory personal comments, is 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. IGNORE LIST If you've got a couple of posters that you feel you just cannot bear reading, the Ignore feature is your friend. When you put someone's name on Ignore you will not see their posts. The poster will have no way of knowing they are on Ignore (and it's a TOS violation to make an obnoxious post saying you are doing so, since there's no reason for it). If you see a post that violates the TOS by all means alert on it - but PLEASE do not quote or respond in any way! LANGUAGE and 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. NAME CALLING and DEROGATORY NAME VARIATIONS 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. Initials may be used, and are encouraged. RACE/SEX/POLITICS/RELIGION BASHING and INTOLERANCE Threads or posts promoting or expressing intolerant views toward a particular social group (such as race, religion, gender and sexual orientation) are prohibited. Introducing politics, gun control, capital punishment into a discussion is not allowed. REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS (RSO's) It is illegal to use the sex offender registry information to harass anyone. We would never condone that at Websleuths. When circumstances warrant, such as in the case of a missing child, it is acceptable to research the sex offender registry to locate area RSO's and post their information, along with maps to show how close they live to the victim. Any statements pertaining to a registered sex offender must always be within the law. Posts which even hint at harassment will be removed promptly. ATTEMPTING TO CIRCUMVENT A BAN 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. IMPERSONATING a MEMBER and ACCESSING ANOTHER MEMBER'S ACCOUNT The use of another member'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. You may not impersonate another WS 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. POSTING PERSONAL CONTACT INFORMATION Members may not post personal contact information such as home address, work address, home telephone number, work telephone number, etc., in the public forums. This policy is in place for YOUR safety and protection, as ANYONE, including guests to the site, can read the public forums. This includes posting personal information of any member or former member We also do not permit the posting of personal email addresses. 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. CONTACTING OTHER MEMBERS TO MEET IN PERSON 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 URL's Any Member of WS that posts malicious or harmful URL links that cause: - other Members' 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 URL's 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 a source, you cannot copy or reference any information from that source in your posts.** 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. DELETING POSTS and CLOSING THREADS WS Administration has the right to close any thread, and to delete any post, which we deem inappropriate. The decision to close a thread, or to delete or edit a post is solely ours. We adhere to a strict policy of striving to maintain interesting and productive discussions for the benefit of the WS community. As such, threads that create an unnecessary amount of conflict, and serve no constructive purpose, may be closed at the discretion of the WS staff. In addition, moderators will exercise their discretion to delete individual posts which are inappropriate, offensive, or otherwise violate TOS (including the rules and etiquette outlined above). While moderators are not required to provide a reason for post removal, the will try do so when time permits. Be aware that if you quote a post which warrants removal, your post is subject to deletion, as well. If a post has been removed, do not refer to it or discuss it further on the thread. BASHING WS ADMINISTRATORS and MODERATORS, and THEIR ACTIONS Posting in a thread to comment on, challenge/question, or criticize moderator or administrator action is not allowed. Please utilize the board's Private Message function or email to contact 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 Donts 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. 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 Private Message, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Administrators have the final say with anything in this community. EXIT POSTS - "I AM LEAVING WS" It is the policy of WS not to allow posts or threads intended to announce that one is "leaving the site" for any reason. Posts of this nature will result in one or both of the following actions: 1) The post will be removed from general view. 2) Your membership will be suspended without notice. Should you later wish to have your membership reinstated, you will have to submit a request to WS administration. If you find it necessary to 'leave' WS - or just take a break from the site - please use the private messaging system to notify your friends. Again, exit posts will be removed from the public forum. WS BASHING Threads and posts attacking WS Policies will not be allowed. Further, any member found to be criticizing the WS community at an outside location will be banned. If you do not care for this community, you really have no business here anyway. PRIVATE MESSAGES - "PM"S ALL of the general rules listed in this forum apply to the Private Messaging system, especially soliciting, advertising and sexually related PMs. Violating any of these rules in the PM system will result in immediate removal from the community. Copying and posting Private Messages without the permission of the author is also forbidden. The software used on this board DOES NOT provide the ability for WS staff to access members' private messages. If you send an offensive PM, however, the recipient has the right to forward that PM to the Staff for review - and then we will be able to read it. THREAD TITLES 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 or Can you believe this! or This makes me so mad!, etc. provide no clue as to the content. 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. OFF TOPIC POSTS OTP's are posts that do not relate to the intended thread 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 either stay on track with the original topic, or to start another thread. Off-Topic posts that derail the thread are subject to editing or removal at administrative discretion, and without notification. Members that continuously post off topic may have their posting privileges suspended. SPAMMING, POWER POSTING and CROSS POSTING Spamming, or Power Posting is defined as posting the same information or content (full or partial) in two or more posts, and is not allowed. Cross Posting is posting the same information in multiple threads. 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. REQUESTS TO REMOVE POSTS and THREADS It is the policy of this community NOT to honor members' requests to remove posts without a valid reason, to be determined by an administrator or moderator. An example would be a post including content that could jeopardize an individual's privacy or safety. It is each member's responsibility to consider the potential consequences of a post before publishing it to the board, and members are advised to exercise caution regarding the personal/identifying information they share on WS. This is the Internet and anyone in the world can read your posts. Before asking that a post be deleted, please consider the following: Removing posts often will alter the context of a thread, rendering it unintelligible in part, or in whole. Deleting the first post in a thread causes the deletion of the entire thread. Members do not appreciate spending valuable time replying to a post only to have the post disappear. The process of reviewing threads, and editing or removing posts, is time consuming for staff members. Removing even a few posts can take a great deal of time and effort. Therefore, requests to remove posts will be granted only under extreme or emergency circumstances. ADVERTISING AND 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. HOAXES 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. SOLICITING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Soliciting financial assistance either in the forums or via PM is strictly prohibited. This means both overt ("Send me money") and subtle ("Poor me, I could really use some money") forms solicitation. ORGANIZED EFFORTS - EMAIL CAMPAIGNS AND BOYCOTTS Obviously members are free to take up any and all causes that are important to them in an effort to bring about change. However, using Websleuths as a platform to promote organized efforts such as email campaigns, boycotts, letter writing, etc. is strictly forbidden without approval from Administration. If you have written a letter or taken any action in support of a cause, please refrain from posting about it. 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. REFERRALS, COMMISSIONS, and AFFILATE 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. MEDIA and JOURNALISTS 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. LAW ENFORCEMENT 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.