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Old 17th Jun 2008, 09:48 AM   #1
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PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

The recent problems with an older member making inappropriate contact with a number of younger members has caused the mod team and the site owners to give serious consideration to the safety of members here, the way we monitor communications, and also to consider the legal liabilities for the owners and staff.

We have been discussing this in the mods area for the last few days and have finally agreed on a number of changes that need to be made to Empty Closets in order to satisfy these needs.

You will appreciate that allowing unmonitored private communications to and between people under the age of 18 is a serious security concern and a legal minefield, especially when anyone could sign up and initiate such communication unchecked. The aim of these changes is to reduce this risk.

Some of these changes will not be popular with members, however we urge you to read the whole of this post before commenting or asking questions. Also please note that these changes are not up for discussion, apart from minor details such as wording.


Membership Changes
We will group members into one of two groups, "regular members" and "established members" (the final names for these are not yet decided so may change). New members will automatically be "regular members".

Regular Members
Regular members can use the forum as normal. They can also send and receive PMs to/from admins, moderators and experts only. They cannot send or receive PMs to/from anyone else. They cannot use the chatroom. They also cannot use or view profiles, blogs, albums, members list etc.

Regular members can apply to be established members using a system and criteria that is still being finalised. It is likely that they will need to have made at least 100 posts in the forum before being able to apply. Applications will be considered by the mod team with a voting system against the criteria based on their posting activity etc, and will be accepted or denied by a majority vote.
Established Members
Established members will have full use of the site including chatroom, PMs to other Established members, Mods, Experts etc (but not to regular members), profiles, blogs, albums etc.

If an established member seriously or repeatedly violates the Code of Conduct they can expect to be demoted to regular member status. Clearly there is a lot to lose so we hope it will encourage established members to continue behaving sensibly.
We have already started going through the membership list to choose members that will be established members straight away. It is likely that most active members with 500 or more posts will qualify, and probably around half the members with between 100 and 499 posts. We will PM those chosen as established members in due course. Others can of course apply once the system is in place.

Other Changes
We will remove all instant messenger details (MSN, Skype, email etc), social networking websites (FaceBook, MySpace etc) from profiles, and they will no longer be displayed under people's names in their posts.

We will also no longer allow people to include these in their signatures, profiles, blogs, forum posts etc. "Please message me" type invitations in signatures etc will also not be welcomed. Please edit your signature and profile as necessary now to remove this information. Threads containing this information will be deleted.

The only way that these details may be passed between members is by PM, which of course means that only established members can do so.

We will install a system to automatically log and permanently store all PMs, so that they are not lost even if both the sender and recipient delete them. Admins and selected moderators will be able to view these and will carry out checks from time to time to make sure the PM system is not being abused.

The Code of Conduct will be updated to reflect these changes.

We realise that some of these changes will not be well received. However please understand that this is the result of several days of discussions with the site owners, who were also in contact with their legal advisers.

The original proposal was that PMs and the chatroom, as well as messenger details etc, should be removed completely, leaving us with little more than a forum. None of the mod team were happy with that, and we are pleased that we have been able to negotiate and agree to the scheme outlined here.

We will be busy implementing these changes over the next couple of weeks. There are also a number of details which we still need to finalise. There could be a few problems along the way, with things not working temporarily or the site being closed for a few minutes etc. Please bear with is while this process is ongoing.

I will close this thread so we can keep it clear for progress updates etc. However I have created a separate thread here for discussing these changes.
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Old 17th Jun 2008, 11:03 AM   #2
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

I have sent out PM's to members who have already been confirmed for Established Member status.

If you have not received one then please do not assume you will not get it. Most of the PM's were sent to members with 500+ posts and/or older members who have been here for a decent amount of time. Those below 500 posts have not been reviewed in detail by the staff yet.

If you have not yet received a PM then please wait patiently. We are reviewing every member with 100+ posts (which is a lot of background checks to complete). Those who do not get Established Member status straight away will be able to apply for it in anyway.

A few points:

Please don't use the discussion thread to moan about not receiving a PM for established member. As stated above, not everybody will receive a PM straight away.

Please don't start using anon to complain. There is a discussion thread so use it. If you start abusing anon then you will be logged and it can affect your chances of ranking up to established member.
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Old 21st Jun 2008, 04:58 AM   #3
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

I have now removed all instant messenger options from your profiles and disabled the displaying of them underneath your names by your posts. I have also deleted all existing instant messenger details from the database.
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Old 8th Jul 2008, 01:03 PM   #4
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

We have been doing some work on the technical changes (on a test site) and they are coming along well. The various restrictions for regular members all work correctly, including the ability to PM advisers, experts, mods and admins but not other members.

We have also appointed four advisers so far, and will announce and introduce them in due course.

I still need to sort out the method for regular members to apply for full member status, and also limiting access to the Members tab at the top right of the page.

I am hoping that we will be able to start making changes here this weekend. I will post more information later this week.
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Old 11th Jul 2008, 02:56 PM   #5
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

We will be working on many of these changes tomorrow, Saturday 12th July. The changes being made are:

Two moderators, Martin and TriBi, will be promoted to a new Super Moderator status which allows them access to some admin functions such as changing user settings. This is to help with all the work below and for improved ongoing monitoring.

New usergroups will be created for "Regular Member" and "Full Member".

Regular Members will NOT have access to the chatroom, blogs, gallery and user profiles. Full Members will have full access to everything as the name suggests. We will not be including the PM restrictions for another 1-2 weeks.

All members will be moved to one or other of these groups. As this is done you will see the title appear below your name by your posts in a similar way to Moderators and Administrators but smaller text. Don't worry if there is this title under some names but not you yet. We have thousands of members to move between usergroups and it will take a few hours.

Once the initial member sorting is completed we will set up a method for regular members to apply for full member status. The system we are planning to use still needs a bit of work so there may be a temporary arrangement for a few days.

The Visitor Messages facility will be removed from profiles as this seems to cause a lot of confusion with people not realising they are public.

We will set up and formally introduce the Advisors. Four people have agreed to take on this role initially and we will announce the names as soon as we have confirmation that they are ready to start.

The "Ask The Mods" section will be renamed to "Ask The Staff", but will work as before. The Advisers will also have access and be able to respond there, like the mods, experts and admins.

This work will start mid-morning UK time tomorrow (Saturday) and is likely to take the rest of the day. Please accept that there may be a few problems during the day and allow us some time to sort things out. We will post here when this work is finished, and if you are aware of any problems at that time then please contact us using Ask The Staff.

The discussion thread for these changes is here.
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 06:21 AM   #6
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

Rightio peeps,

I have now finished moving over the majority of members. Those who received PM's should now have "Full Member" below your custom title. Those who never received a PM should say "Regular Member". We still have not finished deciding on the regular members to move over so please be patient while we deal with the last of the people.

Regular members are still able to see blogs and albums, however they are not allowed to comment on them. They can also create albums and blogs as well as change their custom title. This may change in the future, but for now it will be staying like this.

The application system to apply for Full Member status will be online in a few hours.

If you have any questions or problems please post in Ask The Staff.
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Old 12th Jul 2008, 11:35 AM   #7
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

Regular Members should now have a link for "Regular Member to Full Member Upgrade Request" in the "Empty Closets Stuff" section. Full Members can't see that because they don't need it.

Please be patient if you send it in the next week or two though. We will have a lot to sort through so it may take some time to get to you. Don't send it more than once as that gives us extra work sorting out the duplicates. Thanks!
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Old 13th Jul 2008, 03:15 AM   #8
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

To help with managing the changes and the ongoing sorting of Regular Members that should be Full Members etc, we have promoted all the current chatroom moderators to full moderators. Their main focus will continue to be the chatroom however.
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Old 26th Jul 2008, 03:44 AM   #9
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

We will be applying the PM restrictions tomorrow morning (UK time), about 24 hours after the date/time of this post. Once they are in place the following restrictions will apply:
  • Regular Members will only be able to PM Advisors, Experts, Moderators and Admins. They will not be able to PM Full Members or other Regular Members.

  • Full Members will be able to PM other Full Members, Advisors, Experts, Moderators and Admins. They will not be able to PM Regular Members.

  • Advisors, Experts, Moderators and Admins will be able to PM everyone.

All new members from now onwards will receive this welcome PM automatically:

Quote:
Welcome to Empty Closets!

Thank you for becoming a member. EC is a safe place to discover who you are in an environment that is friendly and welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, straight, and questioning people.

We're here to provide support and encouragement when coming out. The forums are a wonderful place to share your thoughts and get some feedback from other members. For one on one support or encouragement, please feel free to contact our staff listed below by private message at any time. We can provide help with anything from personal problems to technical support. We'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Note that you must be approved for Full Member status before you have access to the Chat Room. As a regular member you will have access to all the public forums and be able to view and create albums and blogs. You may not however comment on them, and you will only be able to send private messages to Advisors, Experts, Moderators and Administrators. The above restrictions are removed once you become a Full Member.

Once you have settled in and have posted regularly for a couple of weeks you may apply to become a Full Member. Just fill in the short application form and submit it to us.

Sincerely,
Your EC Staff


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Last edited by Paul_UK; 27th Jul 2008 at 09:54 AM.. Reason: PM updated
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Old 27th Jul 2008, 02:43 AM   #10
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Re: PLEASE READ: Important Changes at Empty Closets

The PM restrictions are now in place.

Note that if you are sending a PM to several people and one of them is in a usergroup you are not able to PM you will get a message about being unable to send it, and it won't be sent to anyone. You'll need to click your browser BACK button, sort out the list of people it's being sent to, then try again.

This is custom code which I wrote for EC. We have tested it as far as possible on a test site and it all seems to work correctly, but it is possible that problems may be found when using it for real. If you do have any problems sending PMs to members that you should be able to PM (see the details in my post above) or get weird error messages, please post in Ask The Staff including the names of the people you were trying to PM and what error message you got. Thanks.
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