Moderation and Forum Norms

This is a list of forum norms as distinct from the Forum rules, so that moderation is predictable, and hopefully this will fend off some of the things that get repeated over and over. To reiterate: these are guidelines that I use to moderate and includes many written and many unwritten norms of the forum.


The below is not a series of CoG-endorsed rules. They are guidelines for forum moderation that I am writing to make moderation predictable. They are more norms than rules.
The number one rule is that common sense and moderator judgement supercedes any of the below.

When can I make a new thread about my game?

  • Published Choice of/Hosted/Heart’s Choice games can reasonably have two threads - one for general discussion, and one with spoilers/walkthroughs.
  • Under Contract games can have a “developer’s diary” or WIP page.
  • Works in Progress (WIP) can reasonably have a thread if it has a demo. I define a demo as being interactive in a meaningful way. So it has to have some choices. Otherwise, please keep it to the Interest Check Thread: (Interest Check Thread)
  • Offshoots about a game (polls, fan fiction, fan art, discussion of favorite characters) will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis for right now. My preference is to keep them within the parent game thread unless it is a pretty active fanwork-creating crowd, in which case a new thread might be called for. Perhaps there will be a Fanworks category at some point.

When can I make a new thread about other stuff?

  • The general rule is that this is a forum about interactive literature. So too-off topic stuff will generally be deleted, even if it is in the Off-topic section. I try to sort off-topic material into big threads like the Politics thread, the Why are you Feeling thread, or the Games thread to the extent possible. I want to keep the forum clear of threads like “What’s the best grape?” or “What computer should I buy?”
  • Make a new thread about other stuff when it is relevant to writing and interactive literature. Some topics are just too off-topic to make good threads here.
  • Make a new thread if it is about a topic of clear interest to the community that does not already have a thread it can be sorted into.
  • Threads of long pedigree (i.e., been around for a long time) may be kept around whether they follow these rules or not.

Locking Threads:

  • WIP threads that have not been updated/posted to by the original author in two months should be locked.
  • Threads asking a technical question that has been solved should be use the “mark as solution” if it seems likely to receive further discussion in the future; if it is more of a one-off issue it should be locked.
  • Threads that are deteriorating into a fight or circular argument should be locked.
  • Threads that are single-person centric unconnected to a particular published work, under contract work, or WIP should be locked. I am trying to avoid blog-style update threads.
  • It’s a good idea for moderators to note why a thread is being locked if it is not obvious. It is often obvious. This is useful to other mods and users.

Why did my post get flagged/deleted?:

  • Asking an author for an update on their WIP. This includes asking about release dates, new posts, revisions, or “any new information about the game.” Just don’t do that.
  • Bumping an old WIP thread, where “bumping” is defined as a meaningless post for the sake of bringing a thread to the top of the forum.
  • Fighting with someone rather than flagging. This is a big one. If someone is unknowingly violating a norm, it is ok to tell them kindly. But the moment that crosses into raised voices, anger, snark, abuse, etc., that’s a problem. If you see something wrong, flag it. If you see a troll, flag them. If someone is bothering you, flag them. You don’t need to threaten, call the moderators within the thread, or PM them angrily. The rule here is Flag, do not engage.
  • Calling out another forum user by name or other reference to shame or needle them in public. If another user has made you angry, flag.
  • Selling something. Advertising something of potential interest to this community will be judged on a case-by-case basis, but I am reluctant to have these threads because they tend to get far afield of the purpose of this community. I guess I could make a whole thread just for that if it becomes an issue.
  • Hostile or blatantly offensive language. Misogyny, homophobic language, rascism, transphobic language, etc. would fall into this category. Will not be tolerated on this forum. There are people from all over the world on this forum, and I have talked to people about the use of certain words that they had no idea could be seen as inappropriate language to other people. So my impulse is to inform/warn/educate first unless it is obvious that it is meant to offend. It’s often pretty obvious. This goes for your user image or username as well–no offensive language or images there. It doesn’t matter if you meant it as a joke. I will remove them if I see them.
  • A post that says, essentially, “I agree!” or “Awesome!” or “You got it, chief!” or “Ya” or “Oof!” or some other brief interjection or monosyllabic grunt will probably be deleted if I see it. Use the “like” button to agree. Memes or gifs or whathaveyou that essentially do the same thing will also be deleted.
  • Even if you have the perfect meme for the situation, a post that is made just to post your meme will be looked upon askance. If you posted a meme and it gets removed, it is because it was not content-bearing.
  • Nothing too sexy or gory in the non-adult section in word or image. That will be deleted.
  • Links to pirate sites or cracks, or advocating their use. This is probably something that would get you suspended. I advise not giving pirate sites any notice.
  • Asking for a coder.
  • Not following the rules for how to apply for a beta test. If I’m feeling expansive I try to write these folks a helpful message but if I haven’t had my coffee yet sometimes I just delete.
  • The Forum has a place to get some emotional support, specifically, https://forum.choiceofgames.com/t/the-why-are-you-feeling-emotion-thread/10784. But moderators are not equipped to deal with really serious stuff, and that does not belong on the Forum but instead should be addressed to trained professionals/hotlines.
  • Bringing off-forum drama to the Forum.

Enforcing Rules and Norms:

  • If a user seems to you to be violating a rule or a norm, you can tell them in a kind and respectful way. Often a good way is to PM them so that they don’t feel called out. People can feel accused and defensive in this situation. If you are not utterly confident that you can do this in a gentle and respectful way, please let me do it.

Suspending Users:

  • I try to suspend only after an official warning. Sometimes an offense is so significant that I suspend without a warning. (Threats/openly hostile behavior, for example). Or if someone is all but begging to be suspended (it happens).
  • If you are suspended, do not immediately make a new account to evade the suspension. The sock puppet account will be suspended/deleted as well and the original suspension will be extended.

Is it Historically Accurate to have X in a game about Y???

  • I am tired of the endless circular debates about whether it is historically accurate or desirable to have X (women, PoC, etc) in a game about Y (Napoleonic era, Anglo-Saxon England). I am very likely to shut down this discussion.

The Adult-Content Category:

  • The Adult-Content Category is not a punishment. It is the place to talk about adult content. I try to consult the writer, but sometimes I have to make a call. If a moderator thinks it’s adult content, it goes in adult content. You can debate all day what exactly “graphic” content is or “sadistic” violence is. but at the end of the day, the mods have to put it somewhere. Sometimes my call is based on language, sometimes on plot, and sometimes on the description/trigger warnings the author has written.
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I would like ask about the existing fanworks thread? Will they be closed off?

Which thread do you mean? If there’s a general fanworks thread, I didn’t realize that.

Edit: What else needs to be clarified?

Thanks for posting this, it’s very useful - and big thanks to you and the rest of the moderators for your hard work!

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There are the Samurai of Hyuga and the Wayhaven Chronicles fanwork thread that exists. SoH fanwork thread existed since 2015 and March 2018 last year for WC. That’s why I thought it’s okay to create a thread for fan works.

Yeah, older stuff can be grandfathered in. I’m ok with that. But moving forward I want to condense if possible.

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The Lounge isn’t visible for casual forum goers right? Will this be posted publicly?

Yes, after it is polished and ready for general consumption.

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Some of the more popular published titles, such as @Seraphinite’s Wayfairer story or @JimD’s Zombie Exodus titles gets a lot of fanworks (art and fanfiction) - While both of these authors have grandfathered threads, I suggest any new titles that become popular be allowed fanwork threads, in addition to a discussion and a hint thread.

If you collapse fanworks into the discussion threads, it can be confusing and much more chaotic to have discussions.

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Can there just be one large fanworks thread to cover all stories?

Look at the size of the existing threads - then calculate if you think it is manageable … you are talking about 100s of posts for some while not so many for others but if you combine them all, it would not benefit the individual authors as much (imo) … i honestly don’t see an issue with making a separate fanfiction thread for popular titles …

Edit - Another solution is to have Rachel create a sub-fora for fanfiction then have the individual works’ threads there.

The issues with dumping fanworks into discussion threads is that people get confused with what is official, cannon, what is fan theory and fiction and what is unofficial cannon…

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No except you want anger all fandom. As a smut romance fan fic doesn’t have nothing to do with a fan fic for Guns or a fan fic of werewolves with a Choice of rebels. You will cause havoc and discussion as people that doesn’t like other games will be together publishing fan stuff that always end bad

I would like to second this exception to the fanworks norm/not-a-rule.
Obviously, very few games have large or active enough fandoms on the forum to require their own individual fanworks thread when they’ll probably automatically close anyway, but should a game make a big enough splash and discussion of a game is being broken up by fanworks, a separate thread seems desirable.

If I may add on to this, should it also be suggested that a moderator be contacted prior to making a new fanworks thread to see if it’s necessary? Or, if we would rather keep all the mods from being tagged, maybe contacting a leader and higher (essentially anyone who can move posts if necessary) so they can scope the thread out and see if fanworks are negatively affecting discussion?
Or would it be easier to simply trust member’s judgement?

Just throwing this out there, of course. Not a hard suggestion.

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I would trust the author’s judgement - combined with mod/leader input. ymmv.

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Oh, gosh, yeah. For some reason I completely blanked on the existence of authors for twenty minutes. hnnng that early morning brain goop

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Personally I think fanworks should have their own seperate thread, particularly in Hosted Games section or something.

As others has pointed out, there are some popular works that has their own fanwork threads sp the question is, should we allow future popular games (that will reach the popularity that SoH and WC has reached. This is not a matter of if, this is a matter of when.) have their own fanwork thread? My answer is yes so that way, the mods and the authors can at least control some of the chaos that goes on in the forum. You all know what I’m talking about.

Also, if the author chooses to have a Discord link, then it should be encouraged by everyone to use it as to avoid cluttering up a thread and making it rather difficult for an user to “just jump in”.

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That’s interesting, and it’s an elegant solution.

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I’ve seen that idea floated before, but I worry people might try and make threads for individual fan creators or fanworks instead of the intended thread-per-CS-work? And the (potential) increased workload of keeping the threads in that section tidy might not be worth it

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Maybe wikify it so people can add the link to their post/offside work in the mainpost? Iirc

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How about the walk-through, achievement threads for certain games? They feel a bit odd to have in the main thread, due to possible spoilers.

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