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Community Rules & Guidelines

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Berek, Jul 19, 2016.

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  1. Berek

    Berek Senior Community Manager Moderator SOTA Developer

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    UPDATED ON: September 12, 2016 (Real Currency transactions policy added)

    The community’s health is super important to us. Many great accomplishments by the community have been made both outside and inside the game, and we have much more to offer yet on this journey with you. We want to ensure this positive collaboration between community members can continue forward without disruptions causing undue grief to everyone involved.

    Listed below are the core rules & guidelines that establish a fair grounding for understanding what is appropriate conduct in the community, what is inappropriate, and what actions the Portalarium team may take on issues or concerns that come up. This document is also a guideline for maximizing use of the official channels for interacting with each other.

    Policies apply to in-game areas, official chat rooms and forums, Steam, and on official social networks. Each policy applies to the entire community on as fair a basis as possible. Note that while we do not actively moderate outside of the official channels, actions may still be taken on accounts if grievances are sufficiently severe (see below for examples).

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    • Code of Conduct
      • Donts
      • Dos
      • Recognition Programs
    • Player Policies
      • Our Backers
      • Steam Community
      • PvP Community
      • Dev+ Access
      • Website/Forums
        • Multiple Accounts
        • Naming Policy
        • Forum Sig/Avatars
      • Game Modification
      • Player Created Content
      • Marketplace
    • Moderation Actions
      • Time Length of Offenses
      • Categories of Offenses
      • Forum Thread Moderation

    CODE OF CONDUCT


    Do Not...
    1. Directly or indirectly insult (flame), get others to insult someone (flame-bait), or respond in a supportive way to these occurrences. Please send a private message to a forum moderator if there is a concern.

    2. Use excessive profanity or vulgar language. Some words may be immediately removed.

    3. Post prohibited material, including in one’s signature. Includes:
      • Abnormally disturbing content that is especially unsuitable for those under age 18.
      • Advertisements such as for pharmaceuticals, software or cheap watches, etc.
      • Illegal material (such as Warez, Nudity, etc.), links or discussions of such materials.
    4. Post excessively sensitive topics, including those talking directly about and attempting to debate a Religion, Race, Orientation, or other matters of a political or personal nature.

    5. Excessively post topics, threads, or titles designed to grab attention (i.e. clickbait), including repeated petitions or demands for features or actions, especially if we’ve already responded to such topics.

    6. Start nonsensical or disparaging topics, excessive replies that do not contribute to the main topic, or re-open topics duplicating locked threads. This includes creating new topics where one already exists (spamming).

    7. Make excessive disparaging remarks about (ex-) publishers, studios, titles, or the developers at those companies. We are all friends here!

    8. Use anyone's nickname (or variations like ‘Dorkstarr’ or ‘Berekbanhammer’), real name, avatar, and/or signature content (including but not limited to other community members or the development team) as your own. Do not impersonate another.

    9. Register multiple accounts to abuse/harass others, and/or for the express reason to circumvent previous moderation or the expectation of future moderation.

    10. Try to stop someone posting disparaging remarks by attacking them. It will only inflame the situation. Respond constructively, or let us handle the issue by telling us about it.

    11. Promote hate speech or overt bullying in any form, satirical or not. This includes displays of symbols like swastikas, figures like Pepe the Frog, negative religious symbolism, or keywords and indicators of individuals and groups like the use of "Carebear". Do not post and talk about these anywhere in the community or game, or they will be removed and your account potentially suspended.

      Discussion of in-game symbolism and text is of course allowed, but must not be used or portrayed outside the context of it's meaning in the game, and must never be used to overtly attack or demean another individual or group.

    Do!...
    1. Add friends and comment constructively on topics, especially to keep updated on guilds or other groups you may wish to join.

    2. Be recognized! Both Portalarium and the community have programs that acknowledge players for their positive contributions. These programs are available to everyone.

    3. Are you a guild leader or other member? Share with the community your guild websites and other fan sites that you may have. We may even tweet about them!

    4. Share your group by posting a banner or link in your signature. Banners must be 600x120 pixels or smaller. Previous size was 750x150. We can help you adjust an image.

    5. Join the community on Facebook, Twitter, G+, YouTube, and other networks to keep updated on new announcements. If you wish your news to be covered, let us know!
    6. Ask us any questions you may have about the game, community, or policies listed here, as we want to hear from you!

    7. And most importantly, enjoy the game and have fun with your fellow Avatars!

    Recognition Programs

    ONBE stands for Order of the New Britannian Empire. Both the ONBE and Royal Warrants are rewards from Portalarium that are given out by Lord British to community members or groups for their positive contributions. They may include such actions as creating a valuable fansite, being an upstanding guild leader, participating in the New Player initiative, or being a volunteer moderator.

    Candidates for the honor are normally chosen with the advice and consent of the royal advisors, the Team Leads at Portalarium. There is one recognized rank: Knight. Knights are awarded a badge and drape ribbon to wear when appropriate. The badge is normally worn on the left chest.

    To receive an ONBE or Royal Warrant, you must meet the following criteria at a minimum:
    • Active in a recognized program for at least 6 months
    • Is recognized publicly in a positive way by at least 10 other community members
    • Have no warnings or other infractions for at least 6 months
    • Have no suspensions or bans in the past year
    • Has never had the following infractions: death threat, sexual misconduct, used game exploits, disrupted others from getting an award because of jealousy or hate, or knowingly cheated another out of an award
    ONBEs and Royal Warrants may also be revoked if a player becomes toxic in the community and goes against the foundation of what an ONBE or RW stands for.

    There are many other ways to be recognized as well! If you have any questions on the internal policies we have for fair recognition of players, please let us know.

    Lord British and our team wants to hear from you! We want Shroud of the Avatar to be a truly collaborative effort, so please share your ideas! Sometimes great ideas are born in the most innocuous comment or suggestion, so be sure to add your voice to the conversation.

    Hospitallers

    There are many groups in the community that are created either by the development team or the community themselves. One of those is the Hospitallers, which is an open group designed to support the New Player Experience. Anyone can be a Hospitaller! You don’t have to attend the regular meetings. All you need to do is activate the Hospitaller tag on your in-game account, or simply be a positive community influence in the forums and other social areas to new players.

    Do note abuse the Hospitaller tag! Any reports of abuse will be investigated, including guilds and other groups looking to use the tag solely to forceably recruit new players into their guild. The spirit of the tag is all about passively and lightly helping other players find their way in New Britannia. It is not a recruiting tool.

    For more information about Hospitallers, visit the New Player Welcome section in the forums.

    PLAYER POLICIES

    We love the community and want to see it build into a fun gameplay environment, but this can't involve abusive actions spoiling the fun. Fortunately, these issues are in the minority! We are aware of instances of griefing (such as accusing others of cheating or exploiting), spammers, exploiters and other issues in-game. These will NOT be tolerated.

    It is greatly appreciated and helpful in resolving issues when you submit support tickets on these players. We deal with each case on an individual basis to ensure proper and swift action is taken. If you witness any form of abuse, please submit a support ticket to: support@portalarium.com with a brief summary of the issue, as well as a screenshot if applicable.

    You can also use the '/reportplayer' slash command in game.

    Our Backers

    The lifeblood of our entire passion in developing Shroud of the Avatar for the community would not exist without the generous and very much appreciated contribution by its backers. We greatly value and appreciate your time in supporting the project and will always listen to what you have to say in making positive changes to the game’s direction.

    That said, everyone in the community is to be treated equally and with due respect toward and from all backers. No one is immune from the rules and guidelines set forth here in this document.

    Steam Community

    A significant part of our playerbase is from the Steam community (whom are just players using Steam, really). As such, all policies extend to the Steam Community Hub for the game. Anyone found disrupting, denigrating, or otherwise intending to cause harm to the Steam community or these players, and vice versa, will receive the same moderation action as on official sites.

    You can visit the game’s Steam Community Hub at: http://steamcommunity.com/app/326160

    PvP Community

    We love PvP (Player vs Player) games, and recognize our core community does too, which is why we have spent a lot of time developing PvP gameplay for Shroud of the Avatar. We understand though that PvP discussions can get tense at times. While we fully support and encourage players creating guilds and other groups that promote PvP gameplay and comradery, know that there is a difference between healthy competition and demeaning other players and groups. This includes publicly denigrating non-PvP players, and vice versa for those that do not PvP.

    Regarding roleplaying in the game associated with PvP, this is accepted and highly encouraged. All parties must understand when an activity is simply roleplaying and not intentionally harmful outside of that acting engagement. Also, some inappropriate material, such as pornography, may still not be allowed in the game regardless of it being included in a roleplay setting.

    For instances that are allowed, we request the following statement be posted by the content:

    [NOTICE: Contains words, phrases, or graphics that are strong in language and context.]

    Dev+ Access

    All Dev+ backers and content within the Dev+ forums, game builds, and other pre-live build content, are subject to non-disclosure, which states:

    Players shall not make use of, disseminate, or in any way disclose any Confidential Information to any Person, except as expressly authorized by Portalarium. Players shall treat all Confidential Information with the same care as it accords to its own confidential information, and in a manner not less than reasonable care. User shall promptly give notice to Portalarium of any unauthorized use or disclosure of the Confidential Information. User shall assist, by reasonable means, Portalarium in remedying any such unauthorized use or disclosure of the Confidential Information.

    Naming Policy (All display names, both Account and Characters)

    Name restrictions apply to both in-game, forums, and chat areas that are under moderation by Portalarium. All names must be within the spirit of the game world and must not suggest or directly include any of the following topics:
    • Advertisements
    • Religious ideologies
    • Famous persons
    • Pornographic/Sexual references
    • Portalarium staff
    • Racial slurs
    • Illegal activities
    • Threats and real world violence
    • Pledge titles
    If your name is identified as being in violation of the policy, we will take the following steps:
    1. If online, contact you via PM and ask for an immediate name alternative
    2. If offline, immediately change your name to a Neutral Name until we can reach you
    3. E-mail you and ask for three name alternatives (in case some are not available)
    We may mark your account with an official warning point if names are obviously derogatory and shouldn’t have been selected in any possible context of gameplay, such as “IHateYou”.

    Exceptions for famous persons, places, and businesses may be made for obvious ambiguities that can apply in a number of neutral world scenarios, such as “Amazon”.

    If you wish to have the name we designate changed, please submit a support ticket to support@portalarium.com. Note that each request will require one $25 service voucher per request.

    We reserve the right to make the final decision on all name changes. We do not accept name change requests that are in violation of the naming policy.

    Forum Sig/Avatars
    • Signatures/Avatar Images must be in JPG or PNG format. NO animations of any kind.

    • All Signatures must be NO larger than 600 pixels wide x 120 pixels high. Previous was 750 x 150, so it’s an easy down-convert.

    • No Signature/Avatar Image can include images/text that contain ethnic/racial slurs, derogatory/discriminatory statements, profanity, politics, mature or sexually explicit content, or any other content outside of the game or the game’s spirit of a fantasy/sci-fi world.
      • There are no specific limits on the imagery beyond the above, though we may ask you to change something once reviewed. Common sense mainly applies here.
    • Text must be limited to 20 words and 3 lines, including an optional web URL. No overly flashy text or style that clearly detracts from reading a thread.
      • Font point 36 or less for titles, font point 12-24 for other text, and all font must be clearly legible, regardless of font style.
    • Signatures may include one game relevant hyperlinks to an official SotA page, community fansite, or a guild website. Additional hyperlinks will automatically be removed.
    • All Signatures/Avatar Images are subject to approval. Repeated violation of the signature requirements will result in the user account being prohibited from displaying signatures.
    The best SIGs in our experience are simple and elegant with subtle imagery. No need to overcrowd and jam information on a SIG. Less is more here.

    Multiple Accounts

    While players may create multiple accounts for the game, they are allowed only one normal play account for access to the forums. If you need to have more than one forum posting account, please let us know and we will consider it on a case-by-case basis. An extra account exception may be made for accounts specific to managing a community fan site or guild.

    If a player is found to have duplicate forum play accounts, we will lock or moderate these "alt" accounts at our discretion. All offenses that occur on one account will also apply to every other account under the user's influence.

    Cheats, Exploits, and Game Modification (MODing)

    While we do allow some configuration of the game client, we do NOT allow exploiting or hacking of any kind. Any modification of the game client needs to be approved by Portalarium first.

    Some examples that will be cause for immediate and permanent ban from the game are:
    • Gold/item generation via automated systems (BOTing, increasing spawn rates, etc.)
    • Generate accelerated experience (Ex.: Instant max skills, etc.)
    • Working around gameplay (Flying through barriers, reducing damage, etc.)
    • Edit client memory (change character stats, increase skills)
    Also, severe offenses are open for all of your accounts being banned, which include the above cheats and exploit examples. Other examples:
    • Displaying pornography
    • Violent personal threats
    • Real-life threats
    • Threats of legal action
    • Accusations of malfeasance against the developers
    All of the above examples are open for an immediate ban. However, we will review each case and should it be warranted, will provide a warning first that actions are in severe violation of our policies. All other moderation considerations will always get a warning first, usually followed by a timeout or suspension.

    Player Created Content

    Related to game modification, players can add customized content in the game, such as books with customized content. Until we are able to more globally moderate this content, please be sure that any sensitive “R” rated material of any kind is brought to our attention, as well as labeled as such upfront in the beginning of the book or other piece of content.

    Portalarium reserves the right to moderate and remove any content duly deemed inappropriate.

    Marketplace - Real Currency Transactions

    As outlined in a detailed post in the Announcements section of the forums, we have set limits to where and how you can post about marketplace transactions that involve real world currency trade. The stipulations are:
    • Player Marketplace Only: All sales involving Real Currency (USD, Euros, Store Credits, etc.) can only be discussed, advertised, etc. in the Player Marketplace subforum.
    • Bans for Out of Marketplace Posts: Any mention, post, information, text, advertising, etc. of any kind of a sale that refers to Real Currency in Shroud of the Avatar official locations outside of the Player Marketplace (i.e. the main forums, Shroud Discord chat, Shroud Facebook Page, inside the game) is against the rules. The game is especially off limits for these kinds of messages (except for the final resolution of the sale which has to happen in the game via secure trade and will of course necessitate some in game communication). Offenders will receive a warning. Repeated offenses will result in bans, up to and including permanent bans across multiple accounts.
    • All Virtual Items Allowed: Sales for Real Currency can include any virtual goods including Add On Store items, Pledge Rewards, and virtual currency (gold).
    • Portalarium Not Liable: Portalarium is not liable for any of these transactions. They are solely between the buyer and seller.

    We understand that the inclusion of gold as one of the virtual goods that can be bought and sold will cause some of you concern but we believe that in the end it is just another virtual good like the others. I would like to address the main concerns we have seen.

    • Inflation: As you have seen we have been monitoring VERY carefully the influx of gold into the economy and we do not believe the sales of gold will increase the likelihood of inflation anymore than any other factors.
    • Exploits: All the rules of enforcement related to exploits will of course still apply. As you have seen we are very aggressive about finding exploits and enforcing punishment of users that abuse them.
    • Competition for Resources: With our multiple modes of play you are almost guaranteed to never be competing with someone “farming” for gold because they will most likely be in Single Player Online mode.
    • Intrusion: As you can see by the above rules we will aggressively repel any intrusion into the game or into the main forums of real currency transactions. We feel VERY strongly about keeping the sanctity of our world intact.
    If you see any activities occurring that go against these rules, please do not mention them or persons involved in public areas. For in-game occurrences, you can report them by right-clicking on the offending player and selecting the “Report Player” or “Report Content” options and choose “Other” from the context menu. Alternatively, you may use the /reportcontent or /reportplayer commands in the chat window.

    MODERATION ACTIONS

    Offenses are tracked wherever you are in the community, whether it is in a game match, in-game social chat, discussion forums, or on Steam. If severe enough (Major and Severe levels), external website chats will also be taken into account.

    To help you understand the process we take in resolving your concerns, when a complaint is received, we review a user's support tickets, in-game chat requests, and forum discussion posts.

    After the review is complete, it is responded to and then escalated to the appropriate support staff to resolve the concern. Less severe offenses may be dealt with by the moderators immediately, especially if the moderator was present at the time of occurrence.

    Time Length of Offense

    Verbal warnings are most often issued first:
    • First Verbal Warning - All offenses except Severe get a Verbal Warning
    • Additional Verbal Warnings - Additional warnings may be issued for lesser offenses
    If a verbal warning is not responded to or taken seriously, we may escalate to the following:
    • 24 Hour Timeout (1 day) - Minor/First Time Offense
    • 72 Hour Suspension (3 day) - Moderate Offense/Repeated Offenses
    • 1 Week Suspension (7 day) - Major Offense/Repeated Offenses
    • Permanent Ban - Severe Offense or several Repeated Offenses
    • Limited Ban - Certain situations may call for banishment from multiplayer modes and/or the ability to actively post in the forums without moderator approval

    Suspensions and bans are agreed upon between the community team and at least one senior manager. If a second person is not available at the time an action needs to be taken, the community team will implement a final management review.

    Instead of a lock on the forum and/or game account, we may implement a restriction on posting, where the community team approves posts over a certain time period.

    Categories of Offense

    Minor - These are often first-time offenses against the rules and may be more of a mild nuisance than a problem. Examples: Chat spamming, using excessive swear words, derailing topics, posting distracting GIFs and other imagery that are not an offense unto themselves

    Moderate - Most moderate offenses are those that have an effect on a group or the community as a whole. Examples include: Excessive disparaging comments or intentions to mock players or groups, trolling, impersonating a player, and spreading false information intended to cause harm

    Major - Offenses that ruin the game for groups of individuals, often on a repeated basis and after a previous warning was already given. Examples: repeated direct attacks on the moderators or development team, racist/sexist commentary, offensive imagery, and repeated previous offenses

    Severe - These offenses are considered illegal. Examples: Pornography, violent personal threats, real-life threats, knowingly cheating or using a game exploit, account hacking, unauthorized client modification, threats of legal action, accusations of malfeasance against the developers, and an egregious amount of repeated offenses​

    For any Severe occurrences, we will take immediate action on any accounts that are in violation of the R&G without necessarily providing a warning first. Consider this statement your warning!

    We recognize the need to moderate a discussion most often when a discussion contains personal attacks or an egregiously disparaging, insulting, or mocking comment against a person or group. Please keep this in mind if you are not sure where a particular issue may be placed. Ask us for clarification if needed!

    Forum Thread Moderation

    The forums are our key way to communicate updates to the community, as well as for the community to discuss topics of interest. Healthy debate and discussion are absolutely allowed. However, we understand that sometimes debates can still get out of control.

    In addition to a thread being locked for violation of one of the above offenses, there are several other reasons to lock or remove a post. These include:

    Locking Threads
    • Ending a discussion that has the potential to be divisive or damaging to the community
    • A topic has already been addressed by a Developer and no longer requires discussion
    • As a way to redirect the discussion to another similar or newer topic

    Removing Posts
    • There is a duplicate post or multiple posts in a row that can be consolidated
    • Topics that can be consolidated into one post, including ones in multiple threads
    • An accidental response that was meant for another thread

    For players that have repeated offenses, we may filter all new posts into a queue that we can approve before they are placed in the forums live.

    Moderation Disclaimer: All requests for moderation are evaluated on an individual basis depending on the specific situation. The scale above is meant to be a guide, not an absolute. If you have questions about a particular action, please contact us privately. While moderation actions are not openly discussed in the forums, general policies are open for clarification.

    If you or another player has any concerns with these policies, or you feel a previous action has not been dealt with accordingly, please submit a brief concern to us at: support@portalarium.com.

    Goodbyes and Farewells

    We greatly appreciate every player that has found Shroud of the Avatar its home. While we understand the need to close up ties with other players, should one be leaving the community for various reasons, we would appreciate doing so privately. Unfortunately, well intentioned threads about saying goodbye almost always turn ugly in the end, even with our wonderful community here.

    Thanks for your support in keeping the Shroud of the Avatar community alive and healthy!

    Updated: February 14, 2017. You can view the old community rules at: https://www.shroudoftheavatar.com/forum/index.php?threads/forum-rules.8/
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  2. Berek

    Berek Senior Community Manager Moderator SOTA Developer

    Messages:
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    Updated 8/3/2016:
    • Added a new paragraph to the Hospitaller section to clarify use of the Hospitaller tag.
    • Added text to the Player Policies section to clarify what actions are not tolerated in-game
     
    Mata, Onyx, Acred and 1 other person like this.
  3. Berek

    Berek Senior Community Manager Moderator SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    3,192
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    9,912
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Updated 9/12/2016:
    • Added Real Currency Transactions entry overview. Details of policy are posted in the Announcements section of the forums.
     
  4. Berek

    Berek Senior Community Manager Moderator SOTA Developer

    Messages:
    3,192
    Likes Received:
    9,912
    Trophy Points:
    165
    Gender:
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    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Updated 4/17/2017:
    • Added to the "Do Not" section...

      Promote hate speech or overt bullying in any form, satirical or not. This includes displays of symbols like swastikas, figures like Pepe the Frog, negative religious symbolism, or keywords and indicators of individuals and groups like the use of "Carebear". Do not post and talk about these anywhere in the community or game, or they will be removed and your account potentially suspended.

      Discussion of in-game symbolism and text is of course allowed, but must not be used or portrayed outside the context of it's meaning in the game, and must never be used to overtly attack or demean another individual or group.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
    Womby, Rhiannon, Barugon and 5 others like this.
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