We operate this website as a business, providing (amongst other things), a discussion forum facility for our members and the wider business community to provide support and guidance to each other and help each other in their business activities.
We do not consider this to be a general chat/discussion community where "anything goes". Because of the way we have chosen to operate this website, we have certain obligations - both from a legal perspective - and from the expectations of what is fair and reasonable behaviour from a large community of diverse individuals.
We have decided on a particular standard of behaviour and what constitutes acceptable content for our site - and we expect our community members to adhere to this standard.
We acknowledge that there are many different people who make up our community who all have different expectations as to what is reasonable - indeed some people may find our standards too restrictive while others find them not restrictive enough. These differences occur in all facets of society, not just in online communities.
Our challenge is to find a reasonable middle ground that is acceptable to the vast majority of our members while also meeting our obligations as a business providing community management services.
The following list of rules is the result of more than 14 years of experience in operating busy discussion forums just like this one and aims to make it clear what is acceptable and what is not. Even so, we may find it necessary to adjust some of the rules or add additional rules for clarification of our expectations in the future.
Our expectations of how members should behave can be simply summarised in two points:
- Add value
- Be nice to people
No NSFW or Offensive Content
- The BusinessChat forums are operated by a business and are frequented by business people including service providers and other members who might access the forums from an office environment.
- Please do not post anything which would be considered inappropriate in a business or office setting, ie. NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) - or might be considered not "family friendly".
- This includes, but is not limited to, profanity, sexual, sexualized or illicit content, hateful, threatening, provocative or vulgar content, links and websites and discussion encouraging the use of piracy or warez distributions, or any otherwise illegal content.
- Please do not attempt to circumvent the censoring options we have set up.
- Note that these rules extend to cover the Business Member Twitter feed displayed in the sidebar on this site. We expect members who have their Twitter accounts included in our feed to adhere to the same general expectations we have for forum content. Twitter accounts which do not comply are not able to be included in our feed.
No Personal Attacks
- Treat all members of the community with respect and communicate in a polite and courteous manner.
- Personal attacks, aggressive messages, and passive-aggressive behaviour is unacceptable.
- We like to use the AFL analogy of "play the ball, not the man" - meaning, you are permitted to challenge what someone has posted, but you are not permitted to attack the person.
- If you take particular issue with another user and are unable to reply in a civilised and constructive way to their posts, you should use the forum's "Ignore" facility to hide posts made by that user.
- Responding to baiting posts in an aggressive manner is likely to result in you receiving warnings which may lead to you being banned - don't feed the trolls.
- Report problems, don't retaliate - if you feel another user is attacking or being aggressive towards you, report their message to staff using the Report function, do not respond publicly.
- If someone attacks you and you respond with an attack, you will be warned regardless of who started it.
- Using thread tags to label other people will also be considered a serious personal attack.
No Hate Speech or Bigotry
- Hate speech is anything that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation.
- Bigotry is having an intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.
- We will not tolerate intolerance (yes, we see the irony in that statement).
Do Not Insult Moderators
- Our moderation team are volunteer members of our community who give their time freely and willingly to help maintain the discussion, answer questions and deal with problems.
- Occasionally this may lead to conflict when decisions made by the moderation team are unpopular - but we will not tolerate abuse directed towards our volunteer moderators (either in public or in private) for the actions they take on our behalf.
- If you have a question about a moderation decision, you should contact the administration team and politely ask for clarification.
- If we review and decide to uphold a moderation decision, any continued questioning or complaining about the matter may result in you being banned.
- You are allowed to ask general questions about moderation and the forum rules in public discussion threads - but you are not permitted to discuss specific moderation decisions in public - such posts or threads will be removed.
- Posts should always be constructive and on topic - they should add value to the discussion or to the community.
- For common questions, simply telling someone to "do a search" is not acceptable. Answer their question or direct them to the actual thread or post where the answers can be found.
- If you disagree with a post and feel the need to reply as such, it’s important that you explain why.
- Off topic posts or posts which add nothing to the discussion may be moved or deleted as required.
- Trolling refers to posts made with the sole goal of causing a heated reaction from other members and without any intent to add value to the community.
- If we consider that a member's posts contain no value to the community or are overly imbalanced (what we consider to be overly extreme points of view), they may be banned from the site.
- We have no time or interest in entertaining conspiracy theories and theorists - this is not the site for that type of content. Such content will be removed members who continue to post such content without adding value to the site may be banned.
No Bumping Threads
- Do not bump threads unless you have something else to add to the discussion.
- Additionally, replying to discussions which have been inactive for several months or longer should be avoided unless you have something of value to add.
No Cross Posting
- Posts should be made in the most appropriate forum topic.
- Do not post the same content in multiple topics or in multiple threads.
- If you decide that your thread should have been made in a different topic, you may delete and repost it (if nobody has already responded to it), or else Report your own post and ask the moderators to move it to the correct topic.
Don't Post Copyrighted Material
- Do not post content that is not yours and which you do not own the right to reproduce on the forums. This includes newspaper or magazine articles.
- You may quote small sections for the purposes of discussion on the forums, but you should ensure that full attribution of the source is given - including links.
- If the content is from behind a paywall, you should note that when linking to it.
No Link Obfuscation or Referral Links
- You may not use URL shorteners to obfuscate the true destination of a link you post on the forums for the purposes of hiding affiliate or referral links.
- The use of affiliate or referral links when linking to third party products or services is strictly forbidden.
- Business members may use Google Analytics or similar tracking in URLs for the purposes of tracking the origin of links to their own websites - but only where such links are permitted, for example in signatures or user profiles.
Do Not Defame Others
- You are not permitted to post material which may be libellous or defamatory in nature or damaging to the reputation of a third party based on unfounded or unproven allegations or assertions about them or their activities.
- This includes both members of our community and members of the general public.
- You are permitted to tell your story where you have had a bad or unpleasant experience when using a third party service provider - but you should do so by stating the facts and avoiding emotive language or assertions or allegations of unproven illegal conduct or wrong-doing.
- In such situations, we do try and permit the subject of such complaints a right-of-reply, to tell their side of the story.
- In situations where a post is made by a member who seems to have created an account on the forums for the sole-purpose of posting negative or damaging allegations - we will generally remove such content because we have no track record or history of the member or any way of judging the legitimacy of their claims.
- Anyone found to be deliberately posting defamatory material against a competitor or for malicious purposes will be banned.
Respect Other People's Privacy
- Personal information and private discussions may not be posted on the forums unless it’s clear that all parties involved have consented.
- This also includes personal or private information about business ownership that may be gained or inferred from online searches or other sources.
- In general, it is not permitted to post any information about the ownership of a business unless it has been explicitly made public by the owner, or is considered a significant shareholding of a pubicly listed entity and thus a matter of public record.
- This rule also extends to disclosing the personal identities of forum members who have chosen to post under a pseudonym - please do not refer to them using their real names on the forums if they choose to hide their identity for privacy reasons.
No Inciting or Promoting Illegal Activity or Fraud
- Do not suggest or recommend that someone undertakes illegal or fraudulent activity for any purpose.
- This includes acts which are likely to be construed as tax evasion, or avoid your other responsibilities under Australian law.
- This also includes incitement to illegally download or pirate material, distribution of pirated or illegally copied material, or linking to sites which promote or facilitate such activities.
No Soliciting Funds or Investors
- You are not permitted post messages seeking investors or investment funds for any project or venture.
- Doing so in a public forum may contravene ASIC's rules regarding raising funds.
No Duplicate Accounts
- Each user may only have one account.
- If duplicate accounts are discovered, the duplicates may be banned.
- If you would like to rename your account, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your request, rather than creating a new account.
No Soliciting Likes or Recommendations
- Soliciting of "Likes" - requesting or suggesting that people like your content, or colluding with others to like each other's content will result in likes being removed in bulk and potentially being banned from the site.
- Similarly, requesting that others make recommendations of your products or services or colluding with others to recommend each other's products or services is strictly forbidden and may result in all parties being banned from the site.
No Sock-Puppetry or Astroturfing
- A Sock Puppet is an online identity used for the purpose of deception.
- Using a fake account to promote yourself or your business, or to post negative or damaging comments about a competitor or third party is strictly forbidden.
- Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organisation to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.
- You are not permitted to post on behalf of a business or third party - whether for monetary gain or any other arrangement - without declaring your affiliation and making it clear as to who you represent and under what arrangement. This especially applies to reputation management, public relations or marketing companies.
- Any business discovered to be engaging in sock-puppetry or undeclared representation is likely to be reported to the ACCC, who have made it clear that they will deal harshly with businesses engaging in such deceptive conduct in online communities.
No Self Promotion or Advertising
- You are not permitted to promote or advertise your own business in any way in forum posts, profile posts, media, resources or comments on any other content on the site.
- There are specific exceptions for Business Members who have certain promotional activities that they are allowed to undertake within specific sections of the website. Promotion or advertising by Business Members outside of these designated sections of the site is strictly forbidden. Refer to the Business Members Guide for more information on how Business Members are permitted to promote their business on the forums.
- To be clear - using the "Location" field for anything other than a physical location or posting links or promotional material in profile posts or status updates - is not permitted.
- Using thread tags with your company name to highlight threads you've posted in is also considered to be self promotion.
- There is a general exception to this rule given to certain areas of the site, such as the introductions forum where you may describe the business you operate and the showcase forum where you are permitted to talk about your business - but in both cases there are specific guidelines as to what type of content is acceptable which should be considered before posting.
No Soliciting Business
- Soliciting business is requesting or suggesting that people contact you or visit your website or other commercial content you have posted online.
- You are not permitted to solicit business either directly or indirectly in forum posts, profile posts, comments or any other content on the site.
- You are not permitted to promote your services or business via unsolicited private conversations - unless explicitly invited to do so.
- Someone posting on the forums asking for recommendations of a service provider does NOT constitute an invitation to contact them via private conversation and you are not permitted to do so.
- These rules apply to all members, including Business Members.
No Linking to Your Own Website in Posts
- You are not permitted to link to your own website or blog in forum posts or other content for the purposes of referencing an article or content you have already written. You should quote the relevant parts of your article for the purposes of discussion on this site - providing sufficient detail to remove the necessity for members to visit your site.
- You may refer to the fact that more content exists on your own website - but you may not link to it or provide pseudo-links such as a written description of the URL of where to find it.
No Commercial Usernames or Avatars
- You are not permitted to use a company or business name or a product or service name as your username unless you have purchased a Business Membership. Sole traders trading under their own name may use their own name as their username if they wish.
- You are not permitted to use a company or business logo or any graphic representing a product or service you offer as your avatar, unless you have purchased a Business Membership.
No Commercial Links in Signatures
- You are not permitted to include links to commercial websites in your signature block unless you have purchased a Business Membership.
- This only applies to links to websites in the finance and real estate sectors and related services. For example, tradespeople servicing the real estate sector; legal services used by property investors; websites which deal with finance or wealth related matters - these would all require a Business Membership to permit links being posted in signatures.
- Commercial websites are defined as any site which is intended to make a current or future financial gain regardless of the monetisation mechanism being employed.
- You are not permitted to list products or services for sale on the website except in designated areas set up specifically for this purpose (which currently do not exist).
No Market Research
- You are not permitted to use the website for market research for any commercial purposes.
- Research for academic purposes must first be approved by management.
Meetups and Seminars
- We restrict who can post or promote meetups and educational events based on the intent behind them, the type of event being run and by who is organising or promoting them.
- We categorise meetups and educational events into three groups: Free; Cost-recovery; and Commercial.
Cost recovery is defined as any paid event which costs an average of no more than $20 per hour for a
person to attend. Examples:
- a 90 minute workshop costing no more than $30
- an 8 hour course costing no more than $160
- We categorise Education Providers into four groups: Social; Not-for-profit clubs and social-based organisations; Not-for-profit Industry Associations; and Service Providers and Commercial Education Companies.
- Social groups are ordinary members organising meetups or social networking events, including cost-recovery events without any commercial intent behind them. Any regular member may organise and post a free or cost-recovery based meetup or social event.
- Not-for-profit clubs and social-based organisations which do not have a commercial intent behind them and which charge less than $120 per year for membership, will require a Premium Membership to be able to post free or cost-recovery meetups or educational events.
- Not-for-profit industry associations and any other groups which charge more than $120 per year for membership will require a Business Membership to be able to post free or cost-recovery based meetups or educational events.
- Service providers or commercial education companies are required to hold a Business Membership to be able to post free or cost-recovery based meetups or educational events.
- Commercial events are not currently permitted to be posted or promoted. There may be a calendar and event facility in which we allow such posting in the future for an additional fee.
- Some examples:
- Members of our community organise a social gathering at a cafe or restaurant. This may be posted by any regular member.
- A networking company who charges $330 per year for membership and organises speakers for meetups and educational events where entry costs $10 for members and $30 for non-members, this would require the company organising the event to hold a Business Membership
- A group of service providers organise a free meetup for social networking over a meal without formal presentations or an agenda. This may be posted by any regular member.
- An industry association which charges $400 per year to its members organises an educational event which is free for members and $20 for non-members. This would require a Business Membership for them to post or promote this on the site
- A non-profit meetup group organises networking meetups costing $20 per person, but the organisation behind the meetup group is a commercial entity who provide services to investors and who market their services at the meetup group. They would require a Business Membership to be able to post or promote their meetups on the site.
Updated 29th August, 2016