News
Another important TOS/Policy update

TOS/Policy update and explanations/definitions:

Social networking is always evolving and we at Elysian Fields try to keep up with those evolving issues to the best of our ability. This often leads to new or revised policies and Terms Of Service as with the Patron site links a few months ago.

It is our objective to have Elysian Fields be a place where all of us who love these characters can share and enjoy fanworks that continue to tell stories that center on the Spuffy connection. We aim to have it be a place where we can be a community of fans where interaction is encouraging and polite, where members can feel they are in a safe place to enjoy and share.

This does require a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, policing (insofar as volunteers are able to do so). And so for that reason, there are going to be a few changes and/or policies put into place in the coming weeks.

CHAT / Chatzy:

On the menu bar is a link (Chat) to a Chatzy live chat room. That menu link has always been merely a convenience. This chat room has never been an official part of Elysian Fields. It can be reached by going directly to it thus: http://www.chatzy.com/elysianfields the direct link from the menu will be removed as soon as coding changes are made. None of the mods here have the time or authority to police a site that is not officially ours so it has been decided that the link will be eliminated. Feel free to link on your own with the above link and enjoy the chatting but remember that we at EF are not responsible for any conversations that take place there.

We are tweaking our policies on-site behavior, this is another reason we are breaking the direct link to Chatzy.

It is our intention to set clear expectations about member behavior and protect and preserve our online reputation.

We have provided multiple outlets for conversations between members that we do have authority over and will be continuing to monitor. They all serve a purpose but are not all the same.

SHOUTBOX:

The shoutbox is located on the home page of the site and as such is visible to every person, registered member or not, who visits our site.

The shoutbox is a place for members to say hello, give RL updates, ask questions, make announcements and so on. There are guidelines however and a reason for them.

Because all ages have unrestricted access,  language should be in keeping with the varying age groups who visit. If a word is unacceptable for children or young teens it should not be used in the shoutbox. Please avoid coarse language.

There is a current limit of 300 characters for a shout and long conversations or complicated conversations are not appropriate with such limitations. That is why we have a separate LJ and FB page for such conversations. (more on that later). You are encouraged to take such longer or more in-depth conversations there. You might announce the topic of the conversation and provide a link in the shoutbox to the actual conversation. This will allow those not interested to forgo having to wade through 300 word snippets of interrupted conversation or to have disagreements turn ugly or be misunderstood.

Those who post anything intended to cause trouble in the shoutbox will receive a written warning from the site Mods after a report from other members and evaluation indicates the need. This could lead to restricted site privileges that could include a limited ban from using the shoutbox. Any action deemed as harassment such as a flurry of PM’s that accompany the troublesome shoutbox post will be cause for further action as well.

The new TOS on this will be in place shortly but in a nutshell there will be stages to how any violations will be dealt with. Anyone determined to be in violation of the new policies on Cyberbullying, Harassment, Flaming and/or Trolling (all to be defined later in this article) will be given the following (in order): A written warning to cease and desist. There will be no more than 3 written warnings in a calendar year permitted before a one year site ban is put on the member’s ID. After that year the member would be permitted back with full privileges. However, just one more warning upon return will result in a permanent ban.

LJ and FB (EF sponsored pages) conversations:

Politeness is always in order. That does not mean respectful disagreement is unacceptable. People have different opinions and views and that is fine and free speech is always permitted but the language used should always be respectful and, obviously, no name-calling is ever okay.

The subject of the conversation should be clear so that those entering into the discussions will know what they are getting into. Not everyone wishes to partake in a conversation on (for example) genres or technical writing skills whereas many others would be delighted. Make sure you title the thread properly.

No one should enter such discussions simply to stir up trouble. If you don’t wish to hear contrary opinions on a subject, do not join in the conversation!

This is how the LJ and FB pages differ from the shoutbox and why it is the proper place for those sorts of conversations. The shoutbox is there for every set of eyes to see and/or wade through to get to other shouts not related to the longer conversations. You either avoid the shoutbox altogether lest you encounter one of those discussions or you risk getting pulled in or upset. By keeping those conversations in the LJ or FB realm (and, as stated before links with description can be posted in the shoutbox to let interested parties know the conversations are taking place), only those who wish to participate can. It also makes it easier to follow the shoutbox flow without a lengthy discourse on a particular topic. Conversation not broken into 300 word chunks and with other conversations popping up in the middle will make it easier to follow for everyone.

Clearly this is not an attempt on our part to censor conversations or silence opinions but directing such conversations to the proper place. We do still insist on following basic rules of a civilized conversation that one would expect such as no flaming, harassment, bullying, trolling, and that sort of thing. Members can report violations and there will be an evaluation of the report by the mods.

DEFINITIONS of some of the terms used in this article:

Cyberbullying: Can take several forms some easier to spot than others. This includes, but is not limited to mean comments intended to inflict hurt, making fun of the victim, gossiping about another member, sending harassing PM’s or E-mails to another member.

A more difficult form to notice or police is the use of passive-aggressive behavior. Passive-Aggressive behavior on social media is explained in depth in several articles online including https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/passive-aggressive-diaries/201805/confronting-passive-aggressive-behavior-social-media

And

http://time.com/4916056/passive-aggressive-definition-meaning/

Passive-aggression is a deliberate but masked way of expressing feelings of anger, it is carried out online through several actions that often fall over into cyberbullying. Without directly addressing passive-aggressive behavior the dynamic will be played out again and again and leads to disruptive situations and unsafe environments.

Passive-aggression is there but it is not. You see it and you don’t. Sometimes there is an innocent explanation but often there is not and the passive-aggressors themselves might not even know which is which. That is why a complaint that such behavior is taking place will need to be evaluated by more than one set of eyes.

Some examples that might warrant evaluation include “the non-compliment”. If you are not sure which kind of compliment you’ve gotten, pay attention to your responses. If you feel like saying, “Thank you” it’s a normal compliment. If you feel like crying or screaming from the room...not so much. “Terrific soup” is a compliment, “Terrific soup, I didn’t even taste all that cilantro” is a passive-aggressive non-compliment.

“Wistful wishing” is another example. Someone will passive-aggressively announce something they want and then immediately conclude, aloud, that it’s probably not going to happen. The objective is to get an idea out there then immediately disown it. To illustrate, “It would be so great if no one ever wrote another claim fic but I guess that would make some people unhappy,” would be a passive-aggressive statement.

“The disguised insult” is another. Usually it comes in the form of a “but” statement. Something along the lines of “I don’t want to sound mean, but…” or “I hope you don’t think I’m insensitive, but…” After that “but” comes something hurtful or insensitive or judgmental. This is as close to pure aggression as the passive-aggressor gets.

If you see a pattern, it is probably real. You can tell the aggressor to knock it off but it often does not work. If you see a pattern, report it and a determination can be made if such statements indicate invocation of policy towards the offender should take place.

Harassment: Is repeated and unrelenting negative threats, mean comments and other hurtful activity. It becomes cyberbullying based on the repetition. Specifically, harassment can mean sharing private communications online with others, targeting the victim relentlessly in group communications or simply sending hurtful private message to another.

Flaming: Flames usually occur in a public setting online such as a chat group, shoutbox or forum. The cyberbully will send hurtful, angry or shaming messages to the victim directly but within the group so others can see. In addition to the effect of the hurtful message itself, the victim has also lost some of their credibility and reputation within the group and may feel they cannot be part of the community anymore. The victim will often disappear from the group with no fanfare but emotionally distraught.

Trolling: To make a deliberate offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. A troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community intending to provoke readers into an emotional response or otherwise disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Often a troll will use emotionally charged words or expressions (“ick” or “yuck” in an opinion for example). They will use negative words designed to cause an emotional response in others.

Many trolls will take the time and energy to continue the trolling via PM’s or e-mails once they begin the exercise in the forum, shoutbox or other area of public communication.

How to spot a troll: A social media troll is someone who creates conflict on sites by posting messages that are particularly controversial or inflammatory with the sole intent of provoking an emotional (read: angry) response from other users. We all are capable of saying something that will result in hurt or anger. When informed that we have done so the normal response is to apologize (a REAL apology for the hurt/anger not a “if you were hurt…” statement of non-apology apology) and move on. With a troll there will not be an apology but a continuation that often attempts to shift the blame for the hurt/anger response on the person trolled. This can also lead to a group “taking of sides” situation. The more you respond to a troll the more motivation they have to continue stirring the pot.

Trolls do not toll to start an open-minded discourse about issues, they exist solely to antagonize and start fights.

Why do people troll? There are many reasons, but bear in mind they may feel depressed, attention-starved, angry, sad, jealous, narcissistic or some other emotion they may not be conscious of that influences their online behavior. The most recommended response by experts  to a troll trying to provoke you is to just ignore them. The old saying, “Don’t feed the troll,” is apt.

Sadly this does not always stop them. If you feel you are being trolled, report to the mods and it will be investigated and dealt with according to policy.

They troll for many reasons including but not limited to being a source of perverse entertainment for the troller, to be offensive and argumentative, to derive pleasure from annoying, hurting or angering others, to get attention, to feel powerful, to gain recognition, to upset the victim and even to present themselves as the victim.

Conflict vs. bullying: Conflict is a disagreement (civil) or argument in which both sides express their views. Bullying is negative behavior directed by someone seeking control over another person. Their goal is to hurt, harm or humiliate.

Cyberbullying can be relentless and increases the likelihood of anxiety and depression in the person being bullied (or those impacted as an observer).

Those who feel bullied can notably decrease involvement with the site or become withdrawn, losing interest in the community at large or the fandom in general. Not everyone who leaves a fandom or site is a victim of bullying but it is also not uncommon.

People guided by empathy usually realize they have hurt someone and will want to stop their negative behavior. On the other hand, people intending to cause harm and whose behavior goes beyond normal conflict will continue their behavior even when knowing it is hurting someone. At times revisiting a topic already proven to cause trouble in the past.

These types of behavior break down a community. It drives people away. It causes hurt and anger. It can eventually destroy a site completely.

When members try to retaliate or do anything that might be perceived by an outsider to have contributed to the problem you make it worse. Do not respond to a cyberbully except to calmly ask them to stop. If they refuse then take the next step and report the behavior to administration.

Again we will be adapting our TOS and policies to reflect our position on such behavior if and when it is reported or noticed by the mods. Warnings will be given and if that does not eliminate the problem site bans and restrictions will be enacted.

We are not trying to stifle anyone. We are not trying to censor anyone. We are not looking forward to a role as police-person. We do insist on having this site be one that is a positive place for people who share an interest in Spuffy and love of this fandom. We insist on respectful behavior and proper conflict resolution. We hope these coming clarifications and changes will help to preserve that environment, keep EF a place for writers to expand their skills and share their output and readers to enjoy the free gift of these stories as well as the community discussions that take place on site run locations such as the shoutbox, LJ and FB EF pages.

What to do if you have experienced or believe you have witnessed a violation?

Every registered member has a profile page. On that page next to the username are boxes one of which says, “[Report this]”.  Click this box and fill in your report of where the violation occurred and it will transmit to the administrators of the site. The mods will then investigate and take it from there. You might be contacted for further information if deemed necessary. Please be as specific as possible so that we can make a fair and timely judgment. If the infraction occurred in a PM or e-mail you should be willing to share that information with the mods. (a screenshot will work or an e-mail forward)

Thank you for reading and understanding and for helping us be the place you WANT to come and join in safely.

The Mods



--Mods on May 22, 2018 08:36pm 25 Comments
Comments

It's clear you put in some time on these!  Thank you -- it can't have been easy.  

-- yellowb on May 22, 2018 09:13pm

We want to be on top of things before they are an issue much like several governments and other social media sites. Thanks, no it wasn't easy but in the world of today, necessary. 

 

-- pfeifferpack on May 22, 2018 09:22pm

Thank you for all of your hard work! You all are so appreciated for everything you do heart

-- OffYourBird on May 22, 2018 09:36pm

I understand there have been difficulties lately, but the loss of the chatzy link is an extremely hard blow to me. It was somewhere where I could meet newbies and fans, and without that link, to be honest, the chatzy is going to die. 

-- Sigyn on May 22, 2018 10:03pm

I don't usually read comments when I read the stories... and I am horrible about posting reviews (bad me) but if these changes take place there must be a need so kudos to the admins for doing what needs to be done. Being an admin is hard work and I applaud you all.

-- incendie on May 22, 2018 10:06pm

Thanks for this! I'm sad about the link to Chatzy--I enjoyed very much finding it in a link from this site when I got involved a year ago--but I totally get why you can't link to it anymore. It is not possible to moderate.

I, however, had no idea there was a Facebook group! Is it linked anywhere? I'm in!

Some kind of way for site regulars to communicate and ruminate over ideas is essential, I think, to maintaining vibrancy in a particular site. I hope EF stays vibrant, and that shoutbox, LJ, and Facebook can be those discussion platforms.

-- MichelleZed on May 22, 2018 10:10pm

Sigyn, taking down the Chatzy link wasn’t a decision we came to lightly. In the end, it came down to the fact that it was never meant to be an official part of the site (it was started by members, not admins), and the fact that we didn’t feel comfortable making it seem like an official part of the site when we couldn’t keep tabs on what was going on over there. The site will continue to be there, and you’re free to share the link as you see fit. It just won’t be listed in the site navigation. 

Thanks for the supportive comments, OffYourBird, incendie, and MichelleZed. MichelleZed, we do have a site Facebook page that we usually use for site information. However, we’d love to open it up to member chat. We can look into starting a Facebook group as well to see if that might be more conducive to regular conversation. 

-- Susan on May 22, 2018 10:55pm

I want to say thanks for all the work the admins here do to keep this wonderful site going and to be such a positive, welcoming place. It is clear you care deeply about everyone and take time to make updates in a clear, open and understanding manner. We appreciate all you do!!

-- Badwolfjedi on May 23, 2018 12:33am

Thanks for your comments Badwolfjedi. You hit the nail on the head behind the purpose of this update, we want this site to remain a positive, welcoming and inclusive place. We believe the updated TOS/policy update will help make things clearer. 

-- angelic_amy on May 23, 2018 12:45am

Thanks to all the mods for your hard work, it's always appreciated. Times change so quickly, and of course policies need to be updated as they do. Here's to EF continuing to be the fun, friendly and supportive site we all love heart.

-- -Carrie-Ann- on May 23, 2018 02:02am

Thanks for the support Carrie. heart

-- angelic_amy on May 23, 2018 03:49am

What Badwolfjedi said! Thank you.

-- relurker on May 23, 2018 06:13am

I'd like to suggest you consider a Facebook group instead of a page. A Page is a good enough place for you to post site updates or cute memes, but I find (after moderating many of both) that it doesn't really encourage discussion, if that's what you're trying to do. A Page is open to all of Facebook, so if I write a long rant about Spike, everyone on my friends list, Buffy fans and not, are privy to it. A group can be closed, which means you have to apply to join, and then all discussion is hidden from non-members.

I am on some quite serious discussion groups on Facebook that work well, although most of them are in the "mom" variety--troubleshoot my breastfeeding issue, recommend your favourite baby sling, why won't my husband have sex with me, let's argue about male infant circumcision, etc.

There are some limitations to Facebook as a fan discussion forum: people use their real names, which can be a deterrent in fandom; people are still limited to kind of short "bytes" of ideas, like shoutbox, although it's a little less confusing than shoutbox because of the way replies are organized. Also, it does take some careful moderating--issues can blow up quickly because of the nature of posting there. Mods are volunteers and sometimes there's just no more capacity!

I will miss the influx of new people and/or casuals that will flow into the Chatzy forum from the page link--I myself was one of them who wandered in that way, and it does keep the Chatzy healthy. It is a good discussion forum in many respects, though I understand its limitations in terms of the site's ability to monitor discussion there. Is it desirable to anyone to simply seek and find some new Chatzy mods?

-- MichelleZed on May 23, 2018 07:01am

Thanks for being open about site changes! I appreciate that it took a lot to come to a consensus and that you’re working hard to be thoughtful! I like Michelle’s idea of a closed group on FB. I found I felt safe posting in personal groups on FB (ivf, for example) when they were closed because I didn’t want all my friends and family to know personal pieces of that. Another alternative that a lot of moms undergoing ivf used was having a second FB account for the ivf groups even though they were closed. People could then use fandom names if they’d prefer. Not sure if that would require tons more work for the mods though. It might be too much and that I completely understand, having no time myself. hug

-- sandy_s on May 23, 2018 07:59am

Thanks relurker for the support!

Thanks also for your comments and suggestions Michelle and Sandy. A FB group is something for us to consider, and we'll keep you posted. 

-- angelic_amy on May 23, 2018 08:10am

I'm sorry the chat has gone from the menu, but I certainly understand why, and if those who really enjoy and spend a lot of time there can keep it's location available to all then I think they should be able to keep it going. I've always found chat rooms difficult to keep up with, so it doesn't affect me one way or the other. But I think those who really enjoy them will find it themselves.

I'd go along with the idea of a FB group. I'm more open publicly than I used to be, but I still wouldn't want my penname available to everyone on FB, nor my real name available to everyone in fandom. I would be very hesitant to spend much time on a FB page, but perfectly happy to add a closed group to the other closed groups I belong to. 

 

As someone with some experience, I know the mods work very hard to keep this site functional and welcoming to all. They have my complete support for any changes they feel they need to make.

-- slaymesoftly on May 23, 2018 08:47am

Thanks, SMS! We are definitely looking into a closed Facebook group that would show messages to only members. Stay tuned!

I just wanted to note some things about Chatzy since it is being discussed. It was created at some point (before my time in the fandom) by EF members as a place to chat. It wasn't a major part of EF, nor was it run by the mods. I joined EF in 2012, and very quickly became a mod when the site suffered a near fatal crash. That was the first time I was ever really active, so it's the first time I took notice of chat. During the crash, the Chatzy site became very important as it was the only way to really talk with members. The site was down, the LJ page was woefully out of date, and the FB page was brand new, so we weren't really sure if people knew about it yet. Up until that point, a very sweet member, who was active in chat, decided on her own to pay to get the site upgraded features (PMs, no ads, no maximum of how many people could be in the room). Because this was my first experience with chat, I believed that it was part of the site. I didn't learn the facts until much later when the site was back up and running, and we all had time to catch our breaths.

However, by the time I learned the truth about Chatzy not being something EF was responsible for, I had already put up a link for it in the navigation when I was repairing some of the crash damage and upgrading the site. It was never an issue, so it just stayed. However, recently we began receiving some word that there were people walking away from chat with hurt feelings. We aren't active there, and we don't have any control of the things that are discussed there. We know that we can't wrap the internet in bubble wrap and protect everyone's feelings. However, we can control what we directly link to. If a site is linked directly from our main navigation, it's basically saying that we endorse it, and feel like it's part of Elysian Fields.

Regarding the paid status of Chatzy, EF has never been responsible for that. As I said, in the beginning of my post, a single member decided to upgrade the room in 2012, and she paid the bill for a number of years. When she decided that she no longer wanted to pay, another member wanted to keep the paid features, but didn't have the money to cover it herself. She asked a number of chat regulars if they would chip in, and I let them contribute to the site paypal to pool their funds. When there was enough, I paid the bill out of the funds they contributed. This past year when the paid features were going to be up, the member who organized the funds in the past was no longer active, so I went into Chatzy, let them know the status, and gave them the option of doing the same thing. They did, and the bill was again paid. It will continue to have paid features until they expire in November. At that point, if chat members want to continue the features, I'm more than willing to continue doing the same thing as a courtesy.

We are not removing the chat page, and we are not preventing members from going there. All we are doing is putting things back the way they used to be and removing it from our site navigation.

-- Susan on May 23, 2018 09:19am

Thanks for setting out and clarifying the new ToS & Policy.

As always, thanks to the mods for their hard work.

I didn't venture into chatzy, but I fully endorse the suggestion of a closed FB group for chatting about fanfic/Spuffy stuff. While I have no problem revealing my RL identity to my EF pals, there are those on my FB Friends list who I would prefer didn't know about my Spuffy fanfic obsession or pen-name!

Thanks again...

-- All4Spike on May 23, 2018 09:27am

What worries me the most here is the passive-aggressive thing. Several of the examples seems like perfectly normal parts of a conversation. I suppose that it could be depending on the context but this looks like it will be way more difficult to express what you feel about a thing. Wishful thinking for example, how can I tell what I hope will happen without that? I have several times said what I wish for and what I don't like. Many time I include lines like "but I realise that most people don't have problem with that" Those lines I include so I wouldn't look like a jerk that expect everyone to think like me. 

The other parts looked perfectly logical but this looks like a potential problem.

Just some thoughts from me, just like everyone else, I too thank the mods for the work they do.

 

-- magnus374 on May 23, 2018 11:00am

Thanks, All4Spike!

Magnus, to be honest, we may be being overly cautious, but we want to make sure that we're clearly spelling out what is or isn't acceptable. We know that one person's passive aggressive behavior, may be another's poorly typed statement. That's why we're giving the option that if someone feels like they're being targeted, they can report the behavior. That way we can look into it to see if there really was some cyber bullying going on, or if it was just a miscommunication. We know there are nuances to conversation, and sometimes it's hard to tell exactly what someone means when just reading words on a screen. We will always take that into account.

We know that it's impossible to create a utopia where everyone agrees on everything, and no one ever gets their feelings hurt. Frankly, the varying range of what people like is one of the things that makes Elysian Fields so great. We are just trying to make it where people can always feel safe when they come here to share their stories or thoughts with the Spuffy community.

-- Susan on May 23, 2018 11:13am

Thank you for all your hard work.

-- thenewbuzwuzz on May 23, 2018 12:43pm

Just catching up now...Thanks for all your work, I know moderating social networks/websites is difficult work. And I didn't even know about the chatzy! <rushes to save link and hop over to log in, belatedly> Like others have said, a closed (and/or perhaps secret?) Facebook group would be great, if that were possible!

 

-- jeweledichneumon on May 25, 2018 10:45am

Our new Facebook group is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/388853654965315/. Join us!

-- Susan on May 25, 2018 12:05pm

Magnus, I understand your concerns and glad you see ours. 

You are correct about how difficult some determinations will be and that is why any reports will be investigated fully and fairly and taking into account the "history" of the member being reported. There is no way anyone who has read any of your reviews would think you were being passive-aggressive when you wish Spike didn't get the soul but that you like the story anyway. Your history shows it and your further reviews after it comes up proves it and if it were reported that's the way it would be seen. That is a far cry from someone with a history of things more like, "I wish you'd stop writing (character) name this way but I suppose some people are willing to bash characters so I have to accept it." and then never leaving a review on it again. It is pattern and intent that we'd be looking at. The wording of some of the definitions in this item came from various government and psychological documents and articles and we did say it was subjective.

Sometimes a person expressing a wish is just that and it becomes clear when the pattern is seen. In your case, it is clear that you are stating a wish in the general sense (including how canon chose to go) and not passive-aggressive so you needn't worry that we plan to police without due deliberation and great care. 

Kathleen

-- pfeifferpack on May 25, 2018 08:38pm

Late to the party again but do want to add my "great job and appreciation" to all our mods and Susan - you folks run a Great Site.  

I've always wished that the EFlj would be used for in-depth discussion and I hope that the new policy on the shout box will help increase use of EFlj for discussions.

Again - thank you all for your efforts.

-- nmcil on July 17, 2018 10:25am