No smilies, no avatars, no flashing gifs. Just discuss the issues of the day, from last night's telly via football to science or philosophy.

Policy and Standards

Community Standards

JUSTtheTalk relies on its users to ensure that the site is an enjoyable and interesting place for everyone.  To maintain a positive atmosphere and to promote constructive discussion, we ask that you adhere to the guidelines below.

This site is user led. We do not actively moderate the site, and administrators only respond to users’ reports, so we strongly encourage you to report posts which break our guidelines.

There are six simple guidelines which we expect all participants in the community areas of JUSTtheTalk to abide by:

  • Respect other posters, their views, opinions and beliefs and consider your impact on others when making your contribution.
  • Do not make comments which are offensive.  We will not tolerate racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or other forms of hate-speech, or contributions that could be interpreted as such. We recognise the difference between criticising a particular government, organisation, community or belief and attacking people on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.
  • Be aware that you may be misunderstood, so try to be clear about what you are saying, and expect that people may understand your contribution differently than you intended. Text isn't always a great medium for conversation: tone of voice (sarcasm, humour and so on) doesn't always come across when using words on a screen. You can help by maintaining a reasonable tone, even in unreasonable circumstances.
  • Keep it relevant. We know that some conversations can be wide-ranging, but if you post something which is unrelated to the original topic ("off-topic") then it may have to be removed, in order to keep the thread on track. This also applies to queries or comments about the site or about moderation, which should not be posted as comments, except on dedicated threads.
  • Be safe, do not post personal and/or identifying information. Maintain your privacy and anonymity. Be aware that on the internet, nobody is necessarily what or who they claim to be. Please report anyone who attempts to use personal information against you in any way. We will not tolerate cyber-bullying.
  • The platform is ours, but the conversation belongs to everybody. We want this to be a welcoming space for intelligent discussion, and we expect participants to help us achieve this by notifying us of potential problems and helping each other to keep conversations inviting and appropriate. If you spot something problematic in community interaction areas, please report it. When we all take responsibility for maintaining an appropriate and constructive environment, the debate itself is improved and everyone benefits.

In short:

  • If you act with maturity and consideration for other users, you should have no problems.
  • Don't be unpleasant. Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess.
  • Take responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you're participating. Help make this an intelligent place for discussion and it will be.

Posting Guidelines

Starting threads. Anyone can start a thread anywhere on the site; however we ask that you:

  • Try to make the title descriptive of the content. ‘Hey, look at what’s happened!’ is not a useful title.
  • Check before starting a thread that there isn’t an existing one that already covers the topic – avoid duplication.
  • Don’t start the same thread in several folders.
  • Start a thread in the appropriate folder, if at all possible.

Posting

All comments you make should follow the six simple guidelines given above.

Most posters use grammar and sentences, and we discourage the use of txt spk.

In addition, there are some things we do not allow:

  • Unprovoked or excessive personal attacks on other posters or their family members.
  • Mindless abuse.
  • Threatening other posters or the site in any way, including legally.
  • Persistent trolling, including baiting other posters and encouraging the breaking of the T&Cs, and thread derailment.
  • Posts needlessly spammed across numerous threads.
  • Flame-wars based on ingrained partisanship or generalisation.
  • Bringing claims of past abuses from other boards and different user names to continue old feuds.
  • The use of posters’ names, real or otherwise, in thread titles, with malicious intent.
  • Following posters from thread to thread to abuse them or to make the same point.
  • Posting personal information relating to another poster.
  • Abusing another poster’s anonymity, by deliberate and malicious gathering and use of personal information.
  • Registering a new account if a poster has been banned or to avoid lesser sanctions.
  • Denouncing trolls in-thread. Please report.
  • Criticising other posters for reporting, or suspected reporting, of posts.
  • Quoting complete texts that infringe copyright.
  • Posting libellous or defamatory comments.
  • Posting links to pornographic or otherwise dubious material.
  • Discussions regarding illegal activities e.g. methods of distributing copyrighted material for free.
  • Spamming links and/or advertising.
  • Attempting to publicly name or otherwise identify the administrators of the site, regardless of accuracy.
  • JUSTthetalk is happy with robust language and argument; we are not precious about swearing, so if it offends you, look away now.

If posters have concerns over another user's behaviour, they can ignore, they can report, or they can contact us by email, but it is essential that they do so promptly, and without engaging in threats or other escalation with other posters first.

If you have questions about why posts have vanished, or why threads were closed or deleted, please raise these with the admins via the help email, or by reporting, rather than derailing a thread.

Name-changing and Use of Sockpuppets

It is not practically feasible to change your username and retain the same posting account – in order to change you must re-register with a different email address.

JUSTtheTalk does not prohibit the use of sockpuppet accounts as a general policy. Changes of username may sometimes be used to avoid a past reputation, or from a desire to engage with others in a different way, and if this is the case we support posters who attempt to move on from past problems or animosities, and ask other posters here to do so too.

However the use of sockpuppets primarily or solely for trolling or abuse will not be tolerated, and any sockpuppet found to be the return of a banned user will also be banned. We ask that posters bring any suspected sockpuppets to the administrators’ attention through reporting, with the name of the previous poster, rather than engage in denunciations on a thread.

To this end, we do not allow the use of anonymous proxy services for sign-up without prior permission from the administrators.  You should contact us in advance if you need to do this.

Occasionally, at our discretion, we may restrict any user to posting from a single account with no sock identities allowed, either temporarily or permanently.

Please be aware of personal safety when registering - we strongly discourage using an ID that is directly personally identifiable as your real world self.

Cyberbullying and  Trolling

We do not allow either of these behaviours, covered in the list above. They can, however, be difficult to report. Even if an individual post does not appear to breach the guidelines, by reporting it and explaining why, you add to other reports, allowing the admins to identify a pattern of behaviour, and eventually act upon it.

Reporting posts is the key to enabling us to keep the site a positive and welcoming place for interesting discussion. All moderation is done by virtue of the reporting system. If people are not happy with the behaviour of others, but fail to report it, the community as a whole bears the consequences.

For this reason, we encourage you to report posts which break the guidelines or the T&Cs.

You may report an individual post for its particular content, or to highlight a pattern of posting (for example, trolling or derailment).

When you report a post, please give a good explanation of why you have reported it, as this helps the admins take action.

If you report a post, you will receive notification that your report has been received, but unfortunately we are not able to give you notification of any action taken, although we aim to make a comment in-thread when possible.

Moderation Approach

JusttheTalk is run for its users, by its users. We have a team of volunteer administrators, who are regular posters on the site. We are a cross-section of users, of different ages, ethnicities and genders and in different geographical locations.

The site is not actively moderated, for practical and legal reasons, which means we rely on users to bring to our attention any posts which break the guidelines. You can do this using the ‘Report’ function outlined in the Help section of the site. Please ensure you explain the reason you’ve reported a post.

The majority of administration decisions are taken after discussion amongst the admins, and no decision is taken without the agreement of the majority of three admins. If a report is from or about an administrator, that admin does not take any part in the moderation of the report.

In line with the Data Protection Act, admin discussions are not held for longer than the period necessary to allow decisions to be taken and recent decisions reviewed.

We make every effort to act on reports as quickly as possible but, as this is a manual process, it may not happen immediately. Reports and pre-moderated posts wait in a queue,  which any admin can look at and act upon, and availability of admins affects the speed of response.

Admins can take several actions if a post and/or poster is agreed to break guidelines

Delete the offending post. We try to remember to post a message saying why.

If a poster has a lot of posts deleted, or seriously, persistently or wilfully ignores the community standards, posting  guidelines or terms and conditions, we may sanction that poster.

Sanctions that can be applied, depending on the severity and/or the recurrence of the offence:

  • Posts deleted.
  • Email a warning to the poster, asking the poster to desist.
  • Block a user from a specific thread.
  • One week with posts pre-moderated.
  • One week with posting account locked.
  • Two weeks with posting account locked.
  • One month with posting account locked.

Banning

We aim to provide notice and warnings of moderation action by email, as a courtesy to our fellow users, and this happens in the majority of cases, however this doesn’t always happen. In the email, we will state how long the sanction will last.

These are not actions that we take lightly or arbitrarily, but in order to create and maintain an online experience consistent with the values of JUSTthetalk, and we reserve the right to make decisions which we feel support that.  If we do take action against a poster, as a rule we do not enter into discussion of that action after the fact. The administrators' decision is final.

We do not edit user posts to change the meaning, spelling, or anything else intended by the user. This means that even if only part of a comment or posting is perceived as breaching the community guidelines, the whole thing may be removed.

Sometimes it is necessary to delete subsequent posts which refer to explicitly or quote from the original (removed) post.

Violating the spirit and intent of the T&Cs

Occasionally users, while not violating the letter of the T&Cs, nevertheless find ways to repeatedly violate their spirit and intent.  When this is reported, administrators consider patterns of behaviour and scrutinise the context of reported posts before making sanctions.

Action against such users takes numerous reports, a substantial amount of time and consideration, and adequate warnings, so that administrators can be as objectively certain as possible that this tactic is a pattern of behaviour designed to habitually abuse others and site policy.

Of necessity, this takes longer than looking at individual posts, so please be patient if no action is immediately apparent, and continue to report any troubling posts.

Thread deletion

Occasionally we may delete a thread, where the original premise, content, or a majority of posts break the guidelines or terms and conditions. In most cases we prefer to lock a thread, rather than delete, if possible.

In addition, where an active thread already exists on a particular subject, we may decide to close any duplicate threads and ask posters to continue on the original or more active thread.

Threads with Stricter Moderation

Occasionally a thread may be subject to a stronger moderation policy due to its subject or nature, and the potential for increased derailing/trolling. In practice, this means that the existing community standards are applied more rigorously on any posts reported.  Any requests for this level of thread moderation will be considered by administrators, but may not be agreed. The existence of these threads does not restrict anyone from discussing these issues in the usual free and open format elsewhere on the board. As noted above, we may also block a specific poster from a particular thread if that poster is persistently derailing or trolling that thread.

Disability Policy

In recognition that people with disabilities have specific legal protection, we aim to ensure that proper protection against the use of terms suggesting mental disability, as a form of abuse.

It is not possible to set an objective standard that protects the right of the disabled not to have their disability used as a term of abuse, and that does not lead to a slide to more restrictive rules. Therefore, we have decided upon the following test to determine a breach of the T&Cs:

The use of the term appears to be intended as abusive;

The term is a specific illness or condition identified in the DSM-4, DSM-5 or ICD; and

The online Oxford English Dictionary defines the word or phrase only with reference to that condition or indicates that it is only colloquially used as abuse based on that condition, or where the abusive use appears in our judgement to be the one intended.

The same standard will be applied to terms that are contractions, expansions or other modifications of such terms.

No matter what objective test is used to achieve the proper balance based upon the above competing considerations, there will inevitably be some grey areas. Administrators will apply their best collective judgement in such instances.

Anonymity and Breaches

All posters have a right to anonymity, and we will not pass on your e-mail address or other details to any third party, except in the cases below.  

If a poster takes malicious real-world action against another poster,  including harassment. This is cyber-bullying, and we will take whatever action is required, including banning the offender, and will cooperate fully with any action that is brought

A post which contains evidence of criminal activity may be reported to the relevant authorities.

Please be aware of personal safety when registering - we strongly discourage using an ID that is directly personally identifiable as your real world self.

And Finally

While we aim to be as transparent as possible in how we administer the site, it should also be understood that the admins reserve the right to take steps or implement measures which we hope will benefit the whole community of JUSTtheTalk.com participants. Because we are ultimately responsible for everything which appears on this site, all actions and decisions taken by our administrators are final.

Unfortunately, the huge (and growing) quantity of user content on JUSTtheTalk.com means that we can't enter into correspondence regarding specific moderation activity, although all correspondence will be read.

In the interests of transparency, we also aim to post a monthly report of admin actions.

If you have suggestions or questions about any aspect of community participation on JUSTtheTalk.com, you can write to help@JUSTTtheTalk.com

For queries about your user account, you should contact help@JUSTtheTalk.com

Please mark all queries clearly in the subject line (e.g. Question about moderation decision on Books thread)

These guidelines should be followed in the context of the Content Standards outlined in the Terms and Conditions .