Shoutbox Guidelines

We've had a few questions lately regarding the shoutbox, and what is and isn't allowed. We've never had any official rules for the shoutbox, but just wanted to clarify some guidelines to avoid any confusion in the future. Chances are, you're already following the guidelines without even knowing about it, but please read them over just to familiarize yourself. They're listed here as an introduction, but there also posted in the FAQ, and there's a handy link under the shoutbox. Please let us know if you have any questions.


The shoutbox is a place for members to say hi, rave about a story they're currently loving, ask if other members can remember the title of a story that may have been forgotten, complain about a bad case of writer's block, etc. To keep things running smoothly, and to make sure that all writers and readers feel welcome, we ask that you to follow these guidelines:

  • As with all interaction on the site, we ask you to be polite and speak to others the way you'd like to be spoken to. If you have an issue with a story, an author, or another member of the fandom, the shoutbox isn't a place to air grievances. Please remember that all terms of service apply in the shoutbox.
  • Please do not make site suggestions or ask questions about technical issues in the shoutbox and expect that an admin will take notice or respond to them. We do our best to keep up with the shoutbox, but as volunteers that’s not always possible. Site suggestions should be placed in the suggestion box, and technical issues should be detailed in a message to our site email.
  • We’re happy to help promote Spuffy/BtVS goings on around the web, but the main focus of the shoutbox should be Elysian Fields related discussions and events, not advertisements for other sites. If you have a Spuffy related event to promote, please restrict posts about the specific event to once per week, with updates about new material created for that event restricted to once per day. 
  • Shouts are limited to 300 characters, which can make nuanced or in-depth conversations difficult. If you're finding you have a lot to say about any particular subject, you can post in our closed Facebook group or our LiveJournal page
  • Shouts by members of Elysian Fields do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Elysian Fields administrators. If you have an issue with something posted in the shoutbox, please report it to an admin
  • We reserve the right to delete any shouts that violate the guidelines listed above.

--The Mods on December 23, 2018 12:32pm 30 Comments

May we advertise about ficathons on the Facebook discussion page? Or do these rules apply there, too. I don't think I've advertised too much but just want to make sure I'm clear (aka super Thanks for the updated rules/guidelines!

-- sandy_s on December 23, 2018 02:31pm

Sandy_s, you can definitely advertise your ficathon in the FB group. We don’t mind advertising, but we also don’t want it drowning out regular shoutbox/group conversation, hence the limits on how often events/updates can be promoted. The same goes with the FB group, if you make one individual post in the group announcing the event, you can comment on that post as much as needed, but we ask that you not make another separate post about it for a week. If you’re promoting things added for the ficathon (ex: “Look at this amazing new story created by sandy_s for the ficathon!”), we ask that those posts be restricted to once per day. 

-- Susan on December 23, 2018 02:53pm

In regards to announcing Spuffy related things from other sites, does this apply as well to things where 90% of the responses will be posted originally on EF (rather than being on another archive first) or events where EF writers will be working towards stories to be posted on EF? In a way, these things are EF based, just run through a non-affiliated site (created by EF members who aren't comfortable with Facebook as a Spuffy discussion forum), much like Chatzy, which was at one point given official permission to be announced as many times as wanted, including several times a day. Has that been changed as well?

-- on December 23, 2018 02:58pm

Zabjade, if events are non-EF sponsored events, no matter where stories will be posted, the guidelines would apply. 

-- Susan on December 23, 2018 03:15pm

Thank you, Susan! :o)

-- sandy_s on December 23, 2018 03:18pm

"We’re happy to help promote Spuffy/BtVS goings on around the web, but the main focus of the shoutbox should be Elysian Fields related discussions and events, not advertisements for other sites. If you have a Spuffy related event to promote, please restrict posts about the specific event to once per week, with updates about new material created for that event restricted to once per day."

Oh, cool. Thank you for specifying! :) That's reasonable.

-- thenewbuzwuzz on December 23, 2018 03:19pm

...Wait. :) Can I double-check what you meant by "once" per week or day? Is it (a) strictly one shout or (b) one brief period of time when I come here, climb into the shoutbox, say everything I've got to say about my event, and respond to any immediate questions/comments, however many shouts all of that may take, or (c) maybe something in between, where, like, if I have one announcement that stretches to 1.5 shouts that's okay, but more detail should happen elsewhere? Or something?

I'd kind of even prefer one shout, because that's clearest and also I thrive on length restrictions, but it would be good to know which way you meant it, just for future reference. :)

Thank you very much for all the work you do! flowers

-- thenewbuzwuzz on December 23, 2018 04:33pm

I am about to list a barrage of questions, because while the spirit of this rule makes sense to me, I'm a little confused about the application. Thanks in advance for your patience!

So, is this once per week and once per day per person? Or for everyone? Or is that restriction just across the mods/organisers of the non-EF thing? And does 'once' mean a single post? Like, I'd hate to lose anything like the daily round-up of Seasonal Spuffy in the chat box every day, and that was a lot of posts on the free-for-all days. Are non-EF, non-web-based things similarly limited? Like the conversations about the Vampire Ball con - that was fun and interesting to hear about, but definitely non-EF, and pretty prevalent in chat. No one involved in running it was advertising it, but lots of people were telling others that they should go cause it's fun (much like advertising?). Same with the podcast lots of EF folks have been appearing on. Also, does the 'advertising' limit include non-Spuffy fanfic or original fic published elsewhere? I really appreciate getting a heads up about that, and often the discussions that follow on chat as people read it. (Always so proud to see Spuffy writers published!) Finally, as a non-mod/organiser, if something non-EF is advertised, am I supposed to not talk about it if it's already been mentioned once? And if I say I really liked something on another site, does that count as advertising? Even if I'm not an organiser? Or only if I am? 

-- stuffandnonsense on December 23, 2018 04:38pm

One more question! As Zabjade said above, when the chatzy link was removed from EF, the guidance was that links to chatzy could be posted in shout as often as dedited - is that a chatzy-only thing? Or does that apply to any chat? Or is that now 'advertising'?

-- stuffandnonsense on December 23, 2018 04:47pm

If someone finds a site and shares about it on the shout box, does that count as advertising? If so, if a mod/organizer had been planning to announce an event per the new rules, could they request the other person's shout be deleted so that they can post about the event without breaking the once per week rule?

-- on December 23, 2018 05:21pm

Another question: If there are two events going on the same time (for example, a writing party in a chat room and a writing based event that overlap), can both be announced within the same week, or just one per week? Also, are you counting things from before the rules were put into place? There's a 48 hour writing party scheduled for New Year's Eve and Day. With the new rules, it would make sense to announce it once on Christmas Eve so people know it's coming, then again on New Year's Eve, when it starts. But the Holiday Event on HG was mentioned yesterday. Does that mean I need to wait until Saturday to let people know about the writing party and then not mention it as it's going on? Or is it okay to do Monday and then the Monday after since Saturday was before the new rules were announced?

-- on December 23, 2018 05:46pm

To clarify that, two events at the same time hosted by the same site. You did say things about specific events being once a week, rather than specific sites, but the point seems to be not having sites other than EF advertised too often.

-- on December 23, 2018 05:57pm

@thenewbuzwuzz: Event advertisements (eg,"Come join our event!") should be limited to one shout, with links given if you need to provide more detail elsewhere. We understand that daily author/fic summaries often take up more space, and that's fine. If you're looking for a specific # of shouts as a guideline for those, please keep it within 2-3 per day. 

@stuffandnonsense: Our guidelines are event/site-oriented, not person-oriented, so it's once per week/day for event advertisements/summaries, regardless of the person posting. Please see answer above to thenewbuzwuzz regarding shout #. If an event summary is written by multiple members (staying within the 1-3 shout range), that is perfectly fine. 

Conversation about btvs/writing-related/non-EF fandom material (such as Vampire Ball and OF/offsite works our authors have published/podcasts authors have been featured on) is always welcome! We want members to share fun experiences and other fics, etc they've enjoyed elsewhere. A good rule of thumb for identifying an advertisement is to consider that advertisements often ask the reader to complete an action, like "Vampire Ball happening 12.18 - buy your tickets today!" or "Check out our website" or "Sign-up to write for Seasonal Spuffy!"

Chatzy is also included in these guidelines. However, this has never been an issue the Mods have noticed in terms of frequency. Of course if someone asks for the link or is looking for a place to chat, it can be linked at any time. 

Thank you both for your great questions!

-- OffYourBird on December 23, 2018 06:02pm

@zabjade: Yes, it would count as advertising - see above to OffYourBird's response for the examples. If a post breaks EF terms of service, we reserve the right to delete them. Further reasons why the mods would delete a post from the Shoutbox are explained in more detail on the TOS/Policy update.

We will not delete posts linking to a site shared by a member that do not breach these rules and the updated Shoutbox policy. Doing so because a mod/organizer intended to post (yet hadn't) smacks of favouritism and/or censorship. We are reasonable people, but we made the rules for a reason and we intend to follow them.  

Regarding your second question: If the event(s) is being hosted/run by the same parent company/website, then only one advertising post will be permitted. The TOS have been updated at EF and are officially 'live', so they are already in effect. If you wish to advertise to Elysian Fields members more frequently an event that is upcoming, using the LiveJournal page or Facebook group is the way to go about that. Facebook 'bumps' posts that are commented on, thus bringing it to member attention without flooding the Shoutbox. As you mentioned, you've already posted an advertisement about an upcoming event (yesterday), so any further adverts on the Shoutbox will need to meet the given timeframe or be shared on aforementioned alternatives. 

Your third question: I direct you to the Guidelines mentioned above. We’re happy to help promote Spuffy/BtVS goings on around the web, but the main focus of the shoutbox should be Elysian Fields related discussions and events, not advertisements for other sites. Two events, hosted by the same site, should not receive individual advertisements. One advertisement, no more than once a week. 

-- angelic_amy on December 23, 2018 07:07pm

So, basically, if a person not affiliated posts before someone who is, a person affiliated cannot add a post that gives more details? For example, you have a post from someone along the lines of, "OMG, I just found this site and they're doing, like, this thing with people writing and stuff! It's so cool, you guys have to join!" no one can go in and actually do a post talking about what the thing actually is and giving proper links and everything? 

-- on December 23, 2018 07:15pm

@zabjadeOne advertisement per week. Your example above includes an advertisement, so it would count as such. If someone requests a link, or further information, in response to a shout by a non-affiliated member, there are other avenues to deliver this information, such as a PM. Or having a note on a profile page with links out.  

But if it is publicity and increased audience, thus advertising, you are after, then the Livejournal or Facebook page could be utilised, as I mentioned before. In fact, both of these options are far better for advertisements in that they don't have a character limit (the Shoutbox does), and they both allow and encourage direct commenting on the post, thus creating further conversation. 

-- angelic_amy on December 23, 2018 07:32pm

Thank you for answering my questions. Can requests be made that other people make facebook posts? For some people, facebook doesn't load properly and thus is not a viable avenue. 

-- on December 23, 2018 07:45pm

@zabjadeYou're welcome.

I'm not sure how the event you referenced above is being organised, but I'm assuming you have a partner/team/other organiser involved? If they have access to the Facebook page then they could post there on your behalf. 

-- angelic_amy on December 23, 2018 07:57pm

*nods* Thank you for all the clarifications!

So up to 1 shout per week, by anyone, advertising e.g. any goings-on at Seasonal Spuffy, in a general event announcement way.

And a compact batch of no more than 1-3 shouts up to once a day linking to new things posted e.g. on SS.

And also, in addition, we can make up to one announcement post in the FB group per week (e.g. one post by anyone about any Seasonal Spuffy events), on which we can comment whenever we need to... and also we can share links to new entries up to once a day in the FB group as a separate post (but as often as we like if they're comments on an existing post)?

We can absolutely work with that! :) It's more than we need. Thank you for letting me know exactly how to stop short of bothering you! :D

-- thenewbuzwuzz on December 24, 2018 02:48am

Just catching up on this: so if I post anything on SB about how fun and easy it is to write for Seasonal Spuffy, none of its mods can say anything for the rest of that week/day? And if I get excited (like I did) about a secret santa gift for me that debuted on SS, and want to encourage other people to join in, I need to check who else has written about both Hidden Gems secret santa *and* SS in the last day/week before I post? Or else I'm in breach of SB practice? Even though I'm not involved in running HG or SS?

-- stuffandnonsense on December 24, 2018 04:06am

@Newbuxwuzz  Got it in one. 

@stuffandonsense as others have already tried to explain this isn't to curtail anyone's enthusiasm, rather a guideline to let the Shoutbox do what it does best and other places we have provided (LJ and FB) do theirs. As Amy put it so well, "But if it is publicity and increased audience, thus advertising, you are after, then the Livejournal or Facebook page could be utilised ...  In fact, both of these options are far better for advertisements in that they don't have a character limit (the Shoutbox does), and they both allow and encourage direct commenting on the post, thus creating further conversation."  The shoutbox is designed for short bursts not conversations beyond a line or two lest shouts get lost in the shuffle. 

We are fine with promotion of Spuffy fandom sites and events but the word promotion ( Promotions refer to the entire set of activities, which communicate the product, brand or service to the user. The idea is to make people aware, attract and induce to buy the product, in preference over others.) is a specific term. We are saying it is fine to promote within reason to the shoutbox. Further promotion or longer conversations and invitations to non-EF events/sites are best served on the FB or LJ sites provided by us that are far better suited for such postings. 

What we are restricting is spamming of the Shoutbox, and spamming is defined by specific events being promoted multiple times in frequency, which then burdens the ability of others to use the SB for quick, friendly interactions.  

A site holding an event presumably has enough members that EF doesn't need to be the primary source of advertising. Plus, there's other archives, other FB/tumblr/LJ pages, and the Sunnydale Herald for some examples.


-- pfeifferpack on December 24, 2018 08:42am

I'm a little confused. It was specifically said in one answer that someone flailing in excitement about another site counts as an ad and locks out the people in charge of said site from so much as mentioning it for a week, but sometimes it just counts as EF member enthusiasm and doesn't count? For the daily updates allowed, if all entries for an event are on EF, does linking to those EF stories count within the limit, or just as a member saying, hey, look at these nifty stories we have here on EF?

Sorry for all of the questions. Just trying to make sure I don't break the rules. Is there a way to specifically search just the most recent seven days of the SB so people can make sure no one else has mentioned a site?

-- on December 24, 2018 01:09pm

zabjade, as has been noted by OYB and Kathleen above, a promotion is something that specifically attempts to attract a user to another site, or to complete some sort of action. For the daily updates, if you're just remarking about a story here on EF, that's fine, but if you're mentioning it in relation to the event it should be only once per day.

In the shoutbox, there is a search shouts option. If you choose the keyword option, you can put in what ever site you're looking for and see all the shouts that mention that site, with the most recent ones at the top.

-- Susan on December 24, 2018 01:23pm

Thank you for the answer, Susan. My confusion stemmed from the exchange where I gave an example of someone writing an excited shout about a site and being told that counted as an advertisement. Probably because the example I gave did have the person saying people should join. If I'm understanding right, if no mention of joining is made, then it just counts as an EF member talking about something they enjoy. I'd wondered about sites where a point is specifically made that people do NOT have to join to participate, but participating counts as an action, so I'm assuming that falls under the same category. 

-- on December 24, 2018 01:35pm

zabjade, asking for participation or trying to drive members to a site definitely counts as an action, so that would still count as a promotion, even if no actual joining of a site is required. 

-- Susan on December 24, 2018 02:01pm

Thanks so much, all mods, for your time (and especially patience!) in answering these questions. I'd like to stress, again, that I think avoiding advert spamming in Shout is a very sensible thing.

What I am concerned about - and I'm still not 100% sure of the answer, so sorry! - is how I make sure I don't accidentally block a mod from posting an 'official' announcement because I wasn't paying attention and said something I shouldn't have. I don't look at the EF homepage every day, and I know I *will* make mistakes, and I feel anxious about ruining anyone's plans to use their shouts to best effect. I don't think the right solution is that I never mention seasonal Spuffy or noel of Spike or nekid Spike or hidden gems or anything else in shout again, but I'm beginning to think that's the only way I can make sure I'm not screwing things up for hardworking mods everywhere who do so much to keep the fandom alive.

-- stuffandnonsense on December 26, 2018 04:56am

When making these guidelines, we looked at how things were actually working in the shoutbox. Most promotions were made by event mods, or participants who had spoken with/were encouraged by the event mods to promote the event. If you’re very excited for an event or site and want to promote it, but feel nervous about stepping on someone’s toes, we encourage you to contact the site/event mods and ask them about their promotion plans. Keep in mind, you’re also free to post on your profile, your story notes, your tumblr/LJ, the page/event’s Facebook/Tumblr/LJ page, The Sunnydale Herald, etc. All we’re restricting is the number of posts in the shoutbox and in our Facebook group. 

-- Susan on December 26, 2018 11:30am

@stuffandnonsense, as far as Seasonal Spuffy goes, I wouldn't worry at all about the occasional "unofficial" link to a new entry. :) (And in general, you'd have to work pretty hard to screw things up for us, given how many other sites we use; though it would probably be best to leave the major announcements to us.)

-- thenewbuzwuzz on December 26, 2018 02:51pm

Hey boys and girls. There's a story that I absolutely love that I forgot to add in to my bookshelf and I now cannot find. It starts off the end of chosen Buffy gets to get a wish for saving the world and she wishes to be normal so she lives her life normal without knowing she was a slayer and Spike wishes to remember but he's not allowed to contact her again or see her. They end up seeing each other in a record store I believe. But he tries to be good and stay away but they end up spending more and more time together and Buffy slowly remembers. does any of this sound familiar? I really love that story I don't want to read it again.  help please

-- EllenofJordan on January 11, 2019 05:38pm

Hi guys I am looking for someone to co author a new story with me.

im really excited about the idea of it but would really love a fellow author to put their stamp on it and collaborate with me

in order to pull this off it’s going to take two of us 

message me if you are interested 

-- Tennsters on September 01, 2019 04:20pm