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Acceptable User Policy / vexatious interacter

When interacting with of via a web site, you'll usually find an AUP (Acceptable User Policy) which you're expected to agree to - it's probably just a click of a button, and most of you probably won't read the details. But it will include things like "no swear words", "no copyright breaches", "no incitement to break the law" And it's very likely to include "no pyramid selling", "post only in English" and "no advertising off topic".

I run forums, and I represent myself through other media which can be generally read too, and these AUP rules are good ones to get right from the start. Open Source Forum software comes with a boiler plate agreement / set of terms - we use Simple Machines for the railway forum. We've taken that boiler plate, added a bit about cookies (which is not to limit users, but rather to inform them), and we have also added the following:

"This agreement extends to personal communication with other members (via personal message, email, or in any other way) where such communication is not acceptable to the recipient." This extends the juristiction and standard rules from public posts (where users may not swear, personally attack each other, etc) to personal messages, to cater for the occasion that (a) upsets (b) and so (b) starts fighting back with (a). They can do it by email if they like, but not as club / forum member to club / forum member.

"You also agree to NEVER use another person's account for any reason, and not to register for a second account if you already have one, even if you are unable to access it for any reason." I don't like users hiding their online status, nor changing their user name - but having two accounts is going too far. People have tried in the past to circumvent a ban this way, and I've seen it use on other forums to do some very neat entrapment of another innocent user.

But ... consider something else ...

Activies which - while they're not against specific rules - generate an inordiante amount of work for the moderators / admins. Often done intentionally to be a bl**dy nuisance.

We've had a handful - no more - of these people over the years. People who waste a huge amount of time by questioning and appealing every decision, who ask questions to which they already know the answers, who ... simply set out to waste as much time (and make as much worry) for the moderators and administrators as they can. There are none of these at the moment, but they came to mind because I was asked to look at another forum's setup and comment, and because I found something that covered this topic on the BBC's policy for moderating comments on their web site. It's covered [here] under freedom of information too - people who look to delay things by repeatedly complaining or filing FOI requests.

A "vexatious interacter" is one who posts / acts in such as way as to increase the workload and stress on the web site operator, and the web site team supporting that operator. The site operation and support team (including owner, programmers, administrators and moderators) will declare that a member or other party is a vexatious interacter in exceptional circumstances, and the team's decision as to what's exceptional will be final. Any sanctions which the team feels appropriate to safeguard the site and its aims, or to reduce the support work overhead that such a vexatious interacter may generate, may be taken without the application of our standard rules, methods, courtesies or policies. Vexatious interacters who wish to make a formal approach to the web site owners may do so in a letter sent via the Royal Mail, postage prepaid, to the address at which the domain is registered, and will be answered if appropriate within four weeks of the receipt of the letter.
(written 2013-02-24, updated 2013-02-25)

 
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G903 - Well House Consultants - Running and moderating forums and social media sites
  [4492] Almost so wrong, but perhaps it's right for some? - (2015-05-11)
  [4403] The unbalanced relationship between customer and provider - (2015-01-21)
  [4315] Welcoming genuine forum posters quickly - but turning away off topic advertisers - (2014-11-16)
  [4307] Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache server - (2014-09-27)
  [4283] Can a legitimate forum post become illegal a year later? - (2014-07-11)
  [4239] Facebook marketing - early experiences - (2014-01-19)
  [4234] Change to Libel and Defamation laws from 1st January 2014 - (2013-12-31)
  [4065] Handling requests to a forum - the background process - (2013-04-17)
  [4025] Backups, Codebase, Strategy and more - dealing with forum incidents - (2013-03-03)
  [3910] Identifying your real customers and keeping them well informed fast - (2012-11-02)
  [3479] Practical Extraction and Reporting - using Python and Extreme Programming - (2011-10-14)
  [2820] Netiquette for forum newcomers - (2010-06-20)
  [2781] The 500 pound question to get you started - (2010-05-26)
  [2569] How to run a successful online poll / petition / survey / consultation - (2010-01-10)
  [2527] Flying tonight - (2009-12-05)
  [2526] A reluctance to move from old shoes to new - (2009-12-05)
  [2386] Computing under the influence of alcohol - (2009-08-29)
  [2254] Forum membership - a privilege not a right - (2009-06-22)
  [2177] Preventing forum spam - checks at sign up - (2009-05-12)
  [2162] Admins thoughts on banning a member from a forum - (2009-05-09)
  [2156] Stopping forum spam - control of the signup process - (2009-05-04)
  [2116] Why do we delay new forum members through authorisation? - (2009-04-03)
  [2103] Ask the Tutor - Open Source forum - (2009-03-25)
  [1972] Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03)
  [1923] Making it all worthwhile - (2008-12-04)
  [1759] While the world sleeps ... - (2008-08-19)
  [1678] Software - changes and delays. But courses must run on time! - (2008-06-15)
  [1595] First Great Western Weekend - (2008-03-30)
  [1578] Please don't shout at me! - (2008-03-16)
  [1569] I dont care - goodbye - (2008-03-09)
  [1563] Guidlines for posting on a forum - (2008-03-04)
  [1539] A forum is not always the best vehicle - (2008-02-14)
  [1532] Comment spam blocked. Please comment via Forums - (2008-02-05)
  [1523] Ive just received an email from myself. Should I be worried? - (2008-01-29)
  [1485] Copyright and theft of images, bandwidth and members. - (2007-12-26)
  [1472] The Horse goes on and on - (2007-12-15)
  [1362] No Thank You - (2007-09-23)
  [1190] Save the Forum - A regular clean sweep - (2007-05-17)
  [1088] Why use BBC code not HTML? - (2007-02-21)
  [948] Running an on line campaign - (2006-11-27)
  [923] Why shouldn't I spam? - (2006-11-13)
  [919] Freedom for X is denial of privacy for Y - (2006-11-09)
  [841] Forum help - a push in the right direction - (2006-08-21)
  [828] Freedom of speech and freedom to post - (2006-08-10)
  [806] Check your user is human. Have him retype a word in a graphic - (2006-07-17)
  [651] Please Register with Opentalk - but just once! - (2006-03-19)
  [516] Open source questions? Anyone can ask. - (2005-12-03)
  [424] How not to run a forum - (2005-08-24)
  [248] Use me, but use me effectively - (2005-03-16)
  [231] Feedback as lifeblood - (2005-02-28)
  [204] The confidence to allow public comments - (2005-02-06)
  [130] Spelling and grammar - (2004-11-25)
  [115] Expiration dates or times on web pages - (2004-11-12)
  [29] Silence is Golden - (2004-08-26)
  [22] Falling out over the silliest things - (2004-08-21)


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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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