Update To The Pam's House Blend's Terms and Conditions/Terms of Service

Back in June of 2009, we at Pam’s House Blend found ourselves in the midst of a loss of civility within the The Blend‘s comment threads. We declared July 10, 2009 “Civility Day at The Blend. Posts for the day included How To Be Civil- In A Gazillion Easy Lessons!, The Art And Craft Of Disagreeing Without Being Disagreeable, Revisiting The Difficult Conversations That People Don’t Want To Have, and a reposting of Transgender? Transsexual? Trans-Ghettoized?.

Civility Day was also the day we rolled out Section A of the Terms and Conditions/Terms of Service of Pam’s House Blend, or TOS. The key line items towards moderating the comment threads were found in line items 8. and 9.

We’re again at a point where ad hominem attacks between blenders seems to have become a common tool for discussion in the comment threads, and many of the same issues we at The Blend attempted to address in Transgender? Transsexual? Trans-Ghettoized? are again the subject of arguments in the comment threads as well.

We’ve created moderation icons, but many of the icons were for activities — such as ad hominem commenting, racism, sexism, transphobia, religious creed, and ableism — that weren’t clearly enumerated in the TOS as prohibited behaviors.

So, we’ve changed Section A., line items 8. and 9. to clearly enumerate what already had been prohibited behavior in the comment threads. The line items were changed to read as follows:

8. You may not post or transmit any message which is harmful, threatening, abusive, hateful, or defamatory (defamatory anti-lesbian, anti-gay, anti-bisexual, and anti-transgender language will include, but not be limited to, the language identified as defamatory within the current online version of the GLAAD Media Reference Guide). Broad brush language that derides or denies the existence the entirety of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) community or its individual subcommunities, and/or LGBT identities (also as spelled out in the GLAAD Media Reference Guide), to include queer (Q) and intersex (I) identities, is also prohibited.

Examples of prohibited hateful speech include, but are not limited to, racism, sexism (to include sexism directed at trans men and trans women), ableism, antigay sentiments (to include antibisexual sentiments), antitrans sentiments, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and broad brush attacks on religious creed [to include atheism, as well as open and affirming/welcome and affirming faith].

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment(s) may also be left intact as proof of the violation, or deleted at the moderator's discretion.

9. Activities such as (but not limited to) flaming, trolling, comment-spamming, threadjacking and ad hominem commenting between blenders* is prohibited. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with these terms using the provided links.

It is not the Service's intent to discourage you from taking controversial positions or expressing vigorously what may be unpopular views; however, PHB Media, LLC and the Baristas reserve the right to take such action as it deems appropriate in cases where the Service is used to disseminate statements which are deeply and widely offensive and/or harmful.

* Ad hominem commenting to exclude comments made about baristas or public figures, or made about blender writers of diaries within the comment threads of diaries they write.

Moderator Action: A single public warning in the comment thread is considered fair notice prior to a suspension or ban. The offending comment(s) may also be left intact as proof of the violation, or deleted at the moderator's discretion.

Please note that in prohibiting ad hominem behavior, one is allowed to use such language regarding baristas and public figures, but not against peer blenders — unless it’s of a blender posts a diary. Within the diaries a blender posts, peer blenders may use ad hominem arguing within the comment threads of the diaries. Ad hominem arguing is discouraged even in these cases, but we’re allowing it specifically because there is a power differential between those who post diaries — especially diaries that make it to the front page — and those who comment on those diaries.

The links for the enumerated terms are the definitions/explanations we’ll be using for prohibited commenting at The Blend.

We’re posting the update to the TOS because we want to encourage civility between blenders, and we want to clarify speech that within the forums of the Pam’s House Blend comment threads isn’t acceptable. This is the stick part of the process.

The carrot for this is reasonable, intelligent discussion. Pam’s House Blend was designed to be a virtual LGBT coffee house with discussions of the sort we’d have at a table discussing issues over coffee and tea. We may disagree with each other, but even in disagreeing we want to be able to come back to the same table in following weeks and have fresh, civil discussions.

We love vigorous and difficult discussion at The Blend, but we don’t love uncivil and hateful discussion.

So if you take a seat at a virtual table at The Blend, please sip your virtual coffee or tea and enjoy the company. We hope your stay is an interesting one.

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