Index About Me Contact RSS

Keeping Things On-Topic, Or: Why Outer Community Moderation is Hassling You

For starters

This post isn't a reaction to anything or anyone in particular. If you are being a reasonable member of either community, inner or outer, you have nothing to fear, nor do you really need to modify your behaviour. That said, do read over these thoughts anyway and keep them in mind. They may come in handy for helping us to keep things on-track.

I should also be clear that most of what I'm about to get into doesn't constitute rules per se. Some of it is very tied to community rules, but much of it is more about the spirit of those rules and things that are either in the spirit of the community or not. In general, I feel that these sorts of things should be 'common sense' to reasonable people, but 'common sense' is rather meaningless when running against the currents of most of the Internet. The most important thing to keep in mind is that THP is a place all its own with its own history and culture. Conventions in interaction and discussion followed elsewhere should have no bearing on us. In other words: leave your baggage at the door.

#thp a.k.a. Stories and site stuff

This is probably the channel that people get confused most after #writing, and yet its purpose should be reasonably clear, especially if you're seeing it from the Matrix side.

With few exceptions, anything brought up in this channel should pertain to, well, THP the site. Whether that's reporting issues with the site, commenting on some sort of goings-on there, or shouting out a story, it should be germaine to the site. That means that talking about stories on other sites isn't relevant. Nor is comparing THP to other communities — which is a waste of time and generates nothing but pointless drama or circlejerking, anyway. If it has anything to do with another site, it's off-topic. Full-stop.

It's absolutely fine and encouraged to talk about THP stories here. Seriously, if you've got time to complain about things being slow, you've got time to go back and re-read something. And if you've got that sort of time, you've also got time to recommend stuff to people. Don't know what to read? Ask for a recommendation! Even if it would be better if such things were discussed in the actual inner community, there's nothing wrong with talking it over in the outer communities too.

#writing a.k.a. "that place for writing advice and/or whinging that writing is hard"

So many people get this one wrong. It's hard to see why, considering it's a channel mostly reserved for writing advice, but I don't know what people think. Accordingly, I'll give a little tidbit of advice: Before posting in this channel, ask yourself if you're talking about stories from the standpoint of a reader or a writer. If you're talking about reading a story, this isn't the right channel. On the other hand, if you're talking about writing a story, this is the right channel.

And, yes, that's not necessarily a catch-all rule, but it's a very good test for what's relevant. Also, the same stipulation of site-relevance also applies here. Please, for the love of ZUN, don't spend entire days talking about some AO3 story because you want to make a point about writing. If you need to bring up something like that, be as concise and limited in the point as possible, and then move on.

This also isn't really a rule as such, but a good rule-of-thumb is to avoid vague and undirected topics about writing. That means it's better to ask a specific question about a story you're working on/intend to work on than to provoke a storm of noise by getting into an otherwise disconnected subject. If you want help developing something, by all means, but try to be as clear in your intentions as you can be. This applies to discourse on the internet in general, but it goes double for this channel, since unfocused chit-chat often tends to create pointless noise more often than not, and that's when the big, mean moderators have to swoop down and tell everyone to bugger off.

#fanworks a.k.a. "that other Touhou channel"

There is occasional confusion as to this particular channel, and there are certain circumstances that contribute to that misunderstanding.

What consistutes 'fanworks' is fairly broad, and the focus of this channel is similarly broad. Music, videos, links to bits of chatter about Touhou fan-projects, and the like are welcome. Also welcome in a limited capacity are images, particularly if contributed by the creator themselves.

One thing that's important to understand is that those limitations on images are fairly strict for reasons of moderation. Because we have to live in fear of Discord's Terms of Service for the Discord side of the outer communities, the proper image sharing channels are limited to the Matrix side of things. What that means is that #fanworks should not be used to dump random drawings that you like. Sharing a recent post from an artist's Twitter or Pixiv is one thing; going on a spree and posting their entire body of work is another. Things like pictures of cosplayers or reposts of fan-made edits of images/videos are something of a borderline case. In general, it ought to be something of actual aesthetic worth rather than Among Us jokes or Touhou characters photoshopped as internet meme faces; that sort of cruft can and will be removed at moderation's whim.

If you are a creator of Touhou related artwork or other such content, do share it in this channel, though. Whilst it's not particularly ideal, if you write on other sites, you can even promote it here. However, I will repeat that it must be Touhou related. If it has absolutely nothing to do with Touhou, it's not welcome. Please don't try to be 'cute' about that point.

Also, this should probably go without saying, but the channel is strictly safe-for-work. Anything that would draw the least question about its appropriateness should not be posted in this channel. Go to the Matrix if you want to post that sort of stuff.

#touhou a.k.a. "where do they get the salt"

There is also a bit of a tendency in other channels for things to get onto topics that are more appropriate for this channel. When that happens, I'm often forced to tell people to bring it here.

This channel is for discussion of things in the context of official Touhou works. That means that questions about 'canon' or whatever are for this channel. If you want to have some kind of debate about whether or not Gensokyo has electricity (a dead horse at this point), this is where you go. Not #writing, not #fanworks, not any other channel. More importantly, if a discussion in another channel starts to go that direction, please, please, please, direct the participants to move here, especially if you are a participant.

Don't post images here unless they're absolutely relevant to a discussion. That means no memes, no reaction faces, no random pictures for the hell of it, or anything of that nature; none of that is particularly welcome in any channel, but you should know by now if it's appropriate for #fanworks or not. Keep dicussion orderly and focused so that people who want to follow don't get bogged down in random noise.

If you want to talk about the games, that's also fine, though not common. Just keep chatter about fangames and the like in #fanworks. That means only Team Shanghai Alice and Tasogare Frontier here.

#other a.k.a. "the trashheap"

If it's not relevant to any other channel, it goes here. However, there are still stipulations as far as what's appropriate for THP, even if it's an off-topic dump.

The biggest is no e-drama, no (geo)politics, no race/religion/ethnicity discussion, no discourse about identity, no ridicule of anyone, no trying to stir up outrage. Those are basically community rules, but I feel the need to restate them to be absolutely clear. That means that bullshit happening on Twitter that you feel the overwhelming desire to repost isn't welcome. Anything that would basically be the equivalent of 'celebrity gossip' shouldn't be posted. Anything that's some kind of hot topic in the rest of the internet shouldn't be posted. You want to talk about it? Literally go anywhere else and discuss it there. End of story.

Also, whilst it's fine to get slightly personal, please don't use this channel as a venting ground. Start a blog if you want to do that. To be clear, what I mean is that you shouldn't be going on and on, day in and day out. That sort of stuff is better suited to private messages with someone you know, if anywhere. We are not trained psychologists or any other kind of qualified professionals able to help you sort life out. At best, you might get some empty sympathy. At worst, someone could be a complete arsehole to you in a vulnerable moment. It's not really moderation policy to remove blogposting, but that could change if we feel it's excessive and/or veering into deeply personal business that doesn't belong online.

#video-games a.k.a. "Monster Hunter general"

Just a quick word that's been said before in very strong terms: Talk about video games, nothing else.

The same stipulations as with #other are in effect doubly here. That means that any sort of 'controversy' around video games, your opinion on the state of video games as an industry, individuals in the industry or tangentially related to it, streamers, vtubers, and so on are not relevant. Talk about video games themselves and playing them if you want to talk about anything. Moderation really doesn't care if you think your post on some developer's Steam forum is 'video game-related'. If you're not reporting a bug or something extremely relevant to the actual experience of playing a game, it doesn't belong in this channel or in this community.

'Fandom' things are sort of an iffy prospect. In principle, they're fine, but they also lend themselves to off-topic discussion. Think very hard about reposting something from somewhere for the sake of showing your enthusiasm for some series. If anything, try to keep things as official as possible. If people have some kind of immense interest in a particular series, feel free to direct them somewhere more appropriate to discuss the topic.

Remember, there are many, many places on the rest of the internet to talk about games. If you want to have a herp-derp about off-topic things, go to one of those places instead.

A very quick general word

Something I have noticed a few times that I do want to call out in a blanket way is when people make statements that constitute (largely negative) generalisations of one group or another or the strong implication thereof. This is very against community rules, though it's very hard to police without people feeling like they're being smothered, so we don't necessarily jump on every instance. Understand, though, that getting away with it once doesn't mean that will continue to be the case. Moderation does note and keep in mind patterns of behaviour within the community.

So, things like casual misogyny or being a dick to someone over their country of origin, even as 'bants', won't necessarily get a banhammer hurled at you immediately, but it will be remembered. Should you prove difficult to deal with at a later stage, it may very well factor into decisions over whether or not you stay in the community. Think very hard about the sorts of things you say, even if they're meant 'in jest'; it's literally in the rules that 'joking' isn't a valid defence.

In conclusion

Most of this is based on my experience and observation over the years in the outer communities, much of it prior to being a moderator. I don't relish the thought of having to tell people off for being off-topic, so I would rather people do their best to understand and think a bit harder before running off half-cocked. It's better for us as a community, not to mention far easier on people's nerves, if we can keep a reasonable sort of order to how we engage with each other in the outer communities. After all, we have different channels for a reason; if we don't use them for their correct purposes, we may as well only have a single channel.

And remember that those of us on staff appreciate when people in the community self-police. That means polite — I will stress polite — suggestions to people regarding moving channels or ceasing from off-topic chatter is a public good and should be encouraged at all turns; obviously, don't try to backseat mod if people are out of line. You won't get any kind of award for it, but you will earn our gratitude for being a force of good in the community.

By the way, if you disagree on any of this, feel free to bring it up in discussion. Just do bear in mind that THP is not a democracy. There is no notion of 'rule by consent' here. Just because you feel something ought to be done some way doesn't mean it will be done, and kicking up a fuss because of that will not win you friends. If you want to raise a point about how things are run, do so in a respectful manner, in good faith, without ascribing motives to the moderation or the administrator, etc. We are human and we have human emotions and sympathies, so communicate with that in mind — and that goes for anyone in this community, not just staff.

Everything above is part of being a good citizen of this community, and being a good citizen goes a long way in ensuring that THP is a fun place to be. Do your part by understanding and acting on all of these principles, please.