In the name of complete transparency and open communication, I think it’s time to address the matter of free speech here on the ShanniiWrites forums.
Of course, I want to make sure that this place is somewhere you can talk as freely as possible. However, I am not a government (yet ), I am a private citizen and this website is my private property. That means I am not bound by any free speech laws. And I am also very aware of the fact that some people’s free speech can make it hard for other people to speak freely. Therefore I have to prioritise.
That means there have to be rules about what we are all allowed to say and what the mods will have a problem with. If I tell you beforehand, we’re all on the same page and you can hold the staff just as accountable when we mess up. We aren’t above you! And we appreciate “bAcKsEaT mOdDiNg”.
So without further ado, I hope we can clear up a good few questions and confusions here so that we are all on the same page moving forward.
Is Criticism Against the Rules?
No. It’s really as simple as that. I don’t care how ruthless or blunt you are when you criticise a story or idea or the actions of other people. I’m sure many of you know that I appreciate and value honesty and it can make me quite blunt. These are the values by which I run my own forum.
I will not tolerate other people trying to silence you for being a critic. But if you’re going to be a big boss person with your criticism, you have to be willing to take criticism right back in turn.
I mean, that’s not a rule. I can’t stop you from criticising all of us under the sun and then being upset when you get criticised back. It’s more common sense. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it. That kinda thing.
That being said, there are some things that are against the rules that you need to watch out for:
- No hate speech.
- No name-calling.
- Don’t let things get personal.
- Don’t force people to listen to your criticism by badgering them.
- Don’t constantly @ someone if they’ve let you know that they don’t want to hear your criticism.
Attack Ideas, Not People – What Does it Mean?
Basically, you shouldn’t be making your arguments personal. You shouldn’t be calling people names. You shouldn’t be making the argument about who they are as a person.
Here are the things you can criticise:
- Someone’s actions.
- Someone’s words.
- Someone’s creations.
- Someone’s ideas.
It doesn’t matter how emotive your language is (as long as it follows the rules).
But no ad-hominem attacks, no name-calling and no attacking things someone can’t control (including their looks, sexuality, gender identity and ethnicity – to name a few). We want you to stick to what they said or did, not who they are as a person.
That means you can say “that was a racist thing to do” or “what you said was disgusting” or “that story was trashy”, but you can’t say “you’re a disgusting, racist person” or “they’re trashy”.
Can We Talk About Other People’s Stories?
Yes. You can talk about stories you like/dislike. You can say what you want about the stories. You can trash them.
Why? Well, we respect every single one of you as an author here. And authors get criticism all the time. They don’t have to like it or listen to it! But it’s not their job to silence it. In fact, it’s no one’s job to silence it.
But don’t add the person into the chat if they’ve expressed that they don’t want to see any hate about their story. And if you aren’t sure, leave them out of the chat and let them have a look themselves.
If you’re tagging (@) other users in threads when they’ve made it clear they don’t want to be added into them, we will count that as harassment, which we take very seriously.
If someone DMs you trying to make you close a thread, change a post or stop speaking about a story because they don’t like what’s being said about it, that’s tone policing and it’s against the rules, too.
We will not be responsible for writers finding opinions about their stories that they dislike and getting upset about them. If you can’t handle negative criticism about your work, don’t go looking for it.
Don’t Badger People
I’ve already kinda touched on this, but if someone doesn’t want to engage with you or your ideas, don’t badger them. Don’t @ them once they’ve left the conversation.
However, if they’re replying to you, you are more than in your right to reply back. If they don’t want to talk anymore, it is their responsibility to disengage.
If you keep trying to talk to them after they’ve clearly left the thread or PM, that’s harassment.
But if they reply to you again, you are in your right to reply and keep the conversation going.
It is not bullying to disagree with someone. It is not bullying to state you disagree.
It is not bullying to criticise something someone said, did or made.
It is not bullying to trash someone’s stories or art. But it can be kinda rude if taken too far and we can’t stop other people from criticising your rudeness.
We are aware that sometimes people will ask for opinions on their work and then claim negative opinions are bullying. Anyone who does this will have their thread closed immediately, as it is clear that they don’t actually want opinions. Therefore their thread will be considered off-topic.
The OP of a thread is entitled to create their own rules – as long as these don’t go against the Forum Rules. When on these threads, you must make sure you are following both the Forum Rules and the rules set out by the OP. If you don’t, you may be flagged.
People can dedicate threads as safe spaces. They do this by setting out their own rules – stating it’s a safe space. Safe spaces can be extremely important to marginalised groups out there, so please respect them. We will take it very seriously if you don’t.
However, although you can create safe spaces on the forum, the forum itself is not a safe space.
I mean, it’s safe to be here, but we cannot stop people from saying upsetting or negative things just because we may disagree with them. That’s tone policing.
Please stick to the safe spaces if you’re not in a very good place with your mental health. We will do our best to ensure that these are always as comfortable as possible.
Believe me: if I could, I’d allow swearing! But the forum costs me money to run, so we’re running under the whims of Google Adsense. So please censor out your swearing or come up with some alternative words. More information can be found here:
Of course, if you’re desperate to swear, you’re welcome to do so in your DMs. There are also some areas for adult content on the forums (one paid, one not).
Here at ShanniiWrites, we will always respect and protect the rights of the critic. Please, just don’t be a$$holes about it.
This thread is an announcement, so please don’t leave criticism here. This thread is to ask questions about the rules and make sure everyone understands our stance.
With that in mind, feel free to give me scenarios and ask me if they’re ok or not!
If you have something to add or suggest, we have created a thread for that purpose! Please head over there.