Step one- We can either get a report from someone, multiple someones, OR we can see the issue ourselves in the feeds. Sometimes, when people immediately start screaming that so-and-so had to have reported them, that is 100% false. Admins are always around, and we step up when we see issues, that is our job.
Step two- The admins get together in messages and discuss the issue, providing the screenshots, reports, and/or links to what we've seen. We then decide whether the situation has stepped over enough rules to require a warning, an infraction, or a ban.
Warning- This is when you are given the benefit of a doubt. We send a message warning you that whatever you are doing isn't allowed, and let you know that next time, you will receive an infraction.
Infraction- This is an official strike against your record. You will get an official statement saying 'You have received an infraction”, and then a message from admin further explaining it, if more explanation was necessary. They are permanent unless an admin manually goes in to remove them. We rarely remove infractions. In general, most accounts will get 3 infractions before they are banned, however, there are some special circumstances.
Banned- This is where your IP is banned from the site.
BEHIND THE SCENES
We auto-ban for several things. Posting personal information is a huge no-no. Anything that a user would not want made public is considered personal information. Our site is able to scrape by on several different laws simply because the users are fake and we don't know your actual information or identities. Sexual orientation, gender, real names, other accounts being played by this person... even if someone tells YOU that information themselves, that does not mean you are free to go tell everyone else. That is illegal under the Publication of Private Facts act.
Posting anywhere that you are under 18 is another. You can swear you were joking all you want, but because we do not know you, do not know what you look like, where you live, or have the authority to accept government ID's, once you say it, you're done. Period. There is nothing we can do to fix that. This is an 18+ site because we aren't risking being snagged for hosting adult content with minors present. If you say you are underage and an admin sees it or a user screenshots it, you are automatically banned and you will not be unbanned. We have in the past lifted those bans, but 2 out of 3 times we were scammed with false ID's. This will not be happening again.
Bullying, stalking, and harassment are all ban-able offenses. If someone doesn't want to speak to you, stay away from them. We are not children fighting over the last toy, there are plenty of toys in the sandbox, we can move to another spot and pick another one. Friending someone on multiple accounts after they've unfriended or blocked you is harassment and stalking. If you don't like someone and start attacking their choice of character, their choice of roleplays, or attacking their friends- those are ban-able offenses if proven. Hate speech and threatening the site, the admins, or another user is another good reason to be banned. As it is a private site, admins are the final judge on what constitutes bullying/harassment.
Remember, when it comes to bullying and threatening, it does not matter one hoot how YOU intended it to be taken. What matters is how the victim took it. You don't get the right to tell others how they should feel. As admins, we do our best to operate with extreme discretion in our decisions, because people do have different personalities and tolerance levels. However, we handle each issue on a case by case basis, and an admin decision is final.
We are all human. We all have crap days and monumental misjudgments occasionally. Because of this, you will notice that an account that is banned is NOT immediately removed. There is a reason for this. Once we are able to step back from the situation and everyone, including the banned user, has a chance to calm down, we re-evaluate the situation. If we feel that the user could sufficiently follow the rules after being allowed back onto the site, if they do not immediately send nasty emails attacking us, and if their friends don't begin to attack us and the site itself, we will normally consider an unbanning depending on what they were banned for in the first place. When we cannot step back from the situation because it blew up due to the user themselves or people who shouldn't be involved in the first place, we are far less likely to move to this step.
Sometimes, the admins are dead set against an unbanning. Most times, actually. We give far more chances than most people would ever believe. When we are officially done, we are done. Some issues are things that legally we cannot unban for, no matter what. Or things that we have already set a precedent for. The site rules are not that complicated. They basically boil down to “Don't be a dick.” Blocking those you don't want to see to solve issues is why we paid so much to get a custom blocking in place, and why we've had to upgrade our servers to handle that load. We didn't do all of that for people to still be nasty to each other. We are done being the “good” guys, because we are going to be disliked whether we choose one decision or another, so we are going with what we personally feel is right.
I've donated. Doesn't that mean I can get away with more?
No. Not on this site. We have banned donators before and likely will do so again. If people cannot follow the rules, donating to cover their behavior will not protect them or earn them a reprieve. We have in the past even kicked good friends off of the site. Everyone is treated equally here.
So, you kicked me out. I want my money back.
Our Funding page specifically states- Donations are non-refundable, as they are used to pay for the bills while a user is a member of the site. If that user is no longer here for any reason, the donations are presumed to have been used for that user while that user was a member. You can always cancel your donations, but as the donations are used for site bills that month, we can't return them as you were a member when you donated.
Well, I got an infraction/warning/banned and so-and-so didn't. UNFAIR! -or- Well you yelled at me about this but these other 10 people do the same thing!
How do you know? Truly? Just because we don't have a public list of all current warnings, infractions, and bans does not mean they aren't happening. Just because we don't tell YOU specifically what an outcome of any decision was, doesn't mean we're just “picking” on you. This site is not a monkey-see, monkey-do site. If you have to justify your behavior with “Well everyone else is doing it!” then clearly it isn't something to be proud of. When we see those other people, those other issues, or they get reported, we will handle it the same as we handled your case.
You changed the TOS! You HAD to give three infractions before!
We did, and we posted about it on all of our social media sites, as well as the admin page and the archive blog. Those posts were left up for one year. Legally, we did our due diligence to make sure that all active members (who should be reading the admin page daily for important announcements anyways) were aware of the change. Fact is, because we are so lenient, people are sliding like snakes just under the TOS. This means that our hands are no longer tied with letting an unwelcome member stay on the site if they are causing issues for everyone.
You're going to hear from my lawyer!
Again, this site is a private site, registered as an LLC. This means “limited liability corporation”. Our lawyers have gone through every step of the TOS and our site is pretty much iron-clad. As a private site, we have every right to remove people that violate our rules. Being here is a privilege, not a right. This is just a roleplaying site. While it's home for us and those that love it, it's not going to be for everyone. We created it because other sites weren't to our liking, so each site is a personal taste.
This is a mistake, you'll regret this! I'm taking you and your site down!
Not once has a ban been a mistake. Usually, when people resort to these petty threats, it's because they know they were wrong and they have run out of posturing to use. We've had many of these threats in the 3 years we've been open, and guess what? We're still standing. Our users come first, and always will.
This site is made for roleplaying, for writing, for meeting new people. The rules are simple, and are a lot like pretty much every other social networking type site on the web. In fact, we're actually a lot more lenient in nearly all of our terms than most.
We understand that the site we built to fit what we wanted our haven to be might not match everyone's vision. And that's okay. You can dislike the site and the admins, and feel like everything is “wrong” here, but that means you aren't obligated to stay. No one's account is set to “Don't let this user delete themselves”. There are many other sites, other places to write if RPL doesn't suit you. If you're here, you're choosing to stay here. That means that while you are a member on RPL, you will follow RPL's rules just like everyone else does.
If you cannot abide by the rules of this site and respect the users here, then you are not welcome here. That's simply the way it goes. This is how we have set up the site and handled the site from day one. Just because we haven't posted it all publicly doesn't mean that it hasn't been happening in a strict process behind the scenes. We hope this has clarified some of the issues, and put a stop to these ridiculous issues that happen every single time we as admins have to make an admin decision on this site.
**Do note that threatening legal action, collaborating in legal action, or having legal actions brought against you means that we must remove you from the site once we're aware of it, as it then becomes a liability.**