Forums: Off-Topic: Off-Topic FAQ (Updated 12/9/07)

  • Avatar of TVcom_Moderator


    [1]Dec 8, 2007
    • member since: 07/31/05
    • level: 29
    • rank: Volgar the Enforcer
    • posts: 956
    Official Off-Topic Forum Rules

    Welcome to the OTF,'s home for all non-TV related conversation. Most subjects within reason are allowed for discussion here, but please make sure you double check the Community Terms of Service before posting anything or you might be subject to moderation. Below is a list of commonly asked questions that we hope will be less commonly asked from now on. If you see someone asking a question answered here, please send him or her to this thread.

    What's the TOS?

    The Terms of Service (TOS) is that big bunch of words that you have to click "I agree" to before being able to register for these forums. There is a link to them at the bottom of almost every page. Now we're all reasonable people and we know that everyone clicks stuff without reading through all the fine print. But many times people violate the TOS and then complain about having threads deleted and being punished for violating the TOS. If you want to make sure you're not punished or important posts aren't lost, we'd suggest at least giving the document a once over.

    Topics in the OTF (Off-Topic Forum)

    This is the OTF, so I can talk about anything, right?

    First of all, topics for which there are already a forum go in that forum, not the Off-Topic Forum. Thus threads about actors, shows, and musical groups go in those forums if they exist. If they don't, then and only then can they go in Off-Topic.

    There are many topics that cannot be addressed as stated in the TOS. Further, not only do we want to watch topics to keep out posts that are offensive or profane, we also want to keep the forums running smoothly and good for as many users as possible. That's why we delete posts like spam and advertising. They don't hurt anyone in themselves, but they clog up the forums and make them less fun for everyone.

    While the Off-Topic forum exists for the discussion of non-TV related topics, it is intended for discussion of topics. "Off-Topic" is not the same as "No-Topic." The following "topics" are a partial list of threads that are not "on-topic" in the Off-Topic forum because they cause problems or are non-discussion:

    - Bored Threads

    - Game Threads

    - Counting Threads

    - Lounge- and Party-type threads

    - Random Silliness and other random/free association-type threads

    - Threads that ask people to answer a question or list a favorite where the answer is only a short sentence, or a list of short sentences, and no discussion is involved

    - "Chain"-type storytelling and last-posted threads

    - Non-discussion postings just to share a link

    - Threads about yourself or other users

    - Threads that ask people to bash or otherwise attack someone or something

    - Threads (not signatures) advertising where any of the above can be found

    - Threads that are just two people having what is essentially a private conversation

    - "Hey look at this!" threads

    Many of these topics can and should go to personal blogs.

    These are general guidelines and can vary at the moderators' discretion. A "question"-type thread that asks a yes/no question but leads to actual discussion would be acceptable. A thread intended for discussion but that descends into yes/no responses and random chatting would be deleted or locked.

    We're not looking for the Lincoln/Douglas debates. But if you're discussing your likes and dislikes, always try to say why you like or dislike something, rather than simply rattle off a list. It doesn't have to be a 10-paragraph essay, but saying why you like a song, or why you prefer boxers over briefs goes a lot further than a one-word answer.

    Don't post something in the hopes it will "lead" to discussion. If you can't think of something to start discussing about your subject, it's not likely anyone else can either.

    What is spam?

    Spam OTF is anything that increases the post count, but doesn't add anything to the discussion.

    Posts that fall under spam are:

    - Topics that have been addressed recently (still on the first two pages)

    - Topics mentioned in sticky and any "Official" threads - Replies that only include a quote of someone's earlier response (boxed quotes) - Replies that excessively quote others' earlier responses, typically more than 3-4 quote-backs.

    - Replies with only a smiley face or a single word/character response, or a repetition of same

    - Replies that only contain an image in them

    - Replies that consist of an overly large image, or otherwise contain text that disrupts the flow and readability of the page

    - Replies that violate or perpetuate anything determined as "no-topic" above.

    Now obviously this happens a lot and we don't always erase them all. However, if the post disappears and is replaced by a "Deleted by moderator message" and/or you receive a moderation PM, consider this your warning. All forums are for promoting discussions, not simply generating high post counts.

    The moderators hate me!

    No they don't. Stop violating the TOS and the Moderators will stop moderating you.

    If it appears that more of your posts are being moderated than those of someone with a similar posts, remember that's forum moderation system works based on user reports. The moderators check ongoing threads when possible, but if you both violate the TOS and someone reports all of your posts and none of the other person's, more of your posts will be moderated.

    What about the first amendment?

    The first amendment applies to government censorship and regulation of speech. is not "the Internet" but a private site on the Internet, and has the right and responsibility to regulate speech on its "property" the same way anybody else does in their private home or place of business. Users are granted greater (but still not unconditional) freedom of speech on their personal blogs and in their sig lines.

    Why is [fill-in-the-blank] topic banned?

    They are not "on topic" in the Off-Topic forum. Again, we encourage people to use their personal blogs. PM your friends, invite them over, mention it in your sig line.

    I had a topic name for my topic - how can it be a "no-topic" thread?

    "No-topic" is a convenient catch-all phrase for "topics" that are closer to spam than discussion. It also refers to topics which are best suited to personal blogs. Again, we encourage people to use their personal blogs. PM your friends, invite them over, mention it in your sig line.

    Doesn't this cut down on site traffic?

    It may or may not. It may also bring back users who have abandoned the site because they wanted somewhere where they could discuss non-TV-related issues. Just to throw a few numbers out there.

    Are the moderators getting all power-hungry and acting beyond their authority by limiting the OTF?

    With all major policy considerations, and many minor ones, the moderators run things past the staff for final approval or veto. This policy is no exception, and is consistent with other CNET sites such as

    I'm going to take my game/bored thread elsewhere.

    We're glad you've found another site to post how bored you are. There are a multitude of sites where folks can create their own threads to talk about their personal issues. Although again... we encourage people to continue to post here and use their personal blogs. PM your friends, invite them over, mention it in your sig line.

    On the other hand, is primarily...a site for discussing television. The Off-Topic forum was intended for discussing other topics such as movies, games, politics, etc. Personal blogs were intended for posting on and discussing personal issues, saying Hi to your friends, etc.

    So now I have to type some big long essay every time I want to discuss something?

    This is addressed in the new rules. But to reiterate, no, you do not. Even a single sentence is all that's needed to explain why you like or dislike something. It's the one-two-three word responses that led to spam rather then discussion. Use the boards for discussion, not what are essentially polls or personal announcements, and you'll be fine.

    I asked people what they thought about something, and my thread got deleted. Why?

    The Off-Topic Thread is for discussing things. The best way to start a discussion is to say what you think. If you don't have anything to say about your own topic, why should anyone else? We've found that vague "what do you think?"-type threads generally result in no discussion.

    My thread has been here for a while, and suddenly got deleted. Why?

    Unfortunately the forum moderators don't catch every inappropriate thread immediately. There's no statute of limitations on inappropriate threads. If someone reports an inappropriate OFT thread or we spot one, it will be deleted no matter how long it's been around.

    Why was my post on an inappropriate thread moderated/deleted? I didn't create it.

    Please don't encourage people who create an inappropriate thread by posting on it and perpetuating it. Just report it, ignore it, and post on appropriate threads, of which there are hundreds. If you're not sure what constitutes inappropriate threads in Off-Topic, read the rest of this post.
    Edited on 03/18/2012 8:37pm
    Edited 7 total times.
    You must be registered and logged in to post a message.