Hello there members and friends,
Not too long ago, we here at RFW had an incident that served as a reminder that no matter how supportive and loving this site is, it is still a social networking site, and subject to all the pitfalls and hazards the internet has to offer. Stalkings; rude/offensive comments; unwanted sexual solicitations; inappropriate contact . .
Luckily, the situation was quickly and discreetly diffused without any interruptions to our scheduled events (a big THANKYOU to all parties involved who graciously chose not to cause a panic). However, the incident has caused your HOSTS here at RFW to develop and post a basic, common sense policy on safe internet practices while interacting with the site, the members, the followers, and the occasional/consistent contributors.
What follows below will also be permanently posted in a Policy Page to this blog. Rest assured that RFW hosts are NOT singling anyone out, pointing fingers, or suggesting that you alter any of your browsing/following/contacting others within the site. As this is a serious subject matter, you will find no humor in the policy.
Please take a few moments to read through the policy, and feel free to discuss your feelings or observations in the comments. If you have specific concerns or questions, don't hesitate to contact the blog hosts Denise Covey and Donna Hole. Our e-mails are shown on the "about" pages at the top of the blog.
Welcome to the Romantic Friday Writers Policy on Respect and Safety Page
RFW is a public site, open to all writers and readers regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual preference, writing styles, and skill levels. We are a social group who enjoy meeting and interacting with writers of all genres who also include a Romantic element to their writings. There are no membership fees, no contracts to sign, no commitments to join as a member, follower, or occasional/consistent participant in the writing prompts, or to contribute as a guest poster.
As a social community, RFW encourages you to browse through the follower and membership thumbnails, click on the RFW follows, and offer your insights and feedback within the comments, including replies to other commenters on the posts.
Because RFW hosts such a wide variety of writers, with cultural as well as sensitivity differences, RFW has a zero tolerance policy for disrespect or abuse of any of our members. While the terms “disrespect” and “abuse” have a broad interpretation, and we could not possibly touch on every circumstance that may occur - the RFW hosts reserve the right to determine when such instances have been perpetrated, and to what degree a reprimand will be issued. (We understand at times disrespect may occur through ignorance, but if you have given offence to a fellow member/follower, it is expected that you will apologize to the person you offended, albeit unintentionally.)
Reprimands for misbehavior could include:
- public (within the blog comments) or private (through e-mail) warnings from the hosts that the comments are disrespectful
- deletion of offensive comments
- requests for changes in feedback style or visitation to other members/follower/participants
- request for an apology to offended person
- or in the extreme, blocking from the site with a public warning to RFW viewers of the offensive behavior and the naming of the individual who was banned.
In the interest of conducting a safe, respectful environment for all RFW viewers, we have developed a common sense guideline for interacting with the site and its varied members.
- Be respectful when you comment. Treat the visitors and members as you would also like to be treated. We encourage you to offer feedback and comments, even when you disagree with the writing or opinions of the hosts, guests, or commenters. It is acceptable to say “I disagree with your opinions/conclusions or subject matter” (or something like that) but not acceptable to attack the Author or leave deliberately cruel feedback.
- Be respectful when you post. We do not presume to advise you on the content of your own blogs, but when posting to a RFW prompt, keep in mind the diverse persons who will read your excerpts. Please keep sexual content, politics, religion, violence, and foul language to a minimum. This does not suggest that RFW discourages such writings for the prompts or guest posts; we are merely requesting you keep it to a diplomatic PG-13. If your submission excerpt will contain more than the usual “grittiness” associated with some romance writings (women’s fiction, noir, urban/paranormal fantasy, horror/thriller, erotica) kindly warn the readers so they may choose not to read your excerpt. This protects both the writer and viewer from misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
- Respect the privacy of members, followers and contributors. As mentioned above, RFW is a public social network site, with member links to e-mails, Face Book, Google +, Twitter, and other networking connections. Common courtesy suggests that if you want to contact a fellow RFWer privately through e-mail, you leave a comment on their blog requesting permission to contact, and a brief reason you wish to contact them. Another preferred method is to leave your e-mail in the blog comments to allow the contacted party to respond or not.
- Respect the privacy of Social Circles. Many of us are connected through “circles” in several networking sites. It is the function of these sites to “suggest” people you may also know in the associated circles. It is not acceptable to contact family members or friends in a networked circle. USE COMMON SENSE IN SENDING INVITES to family members of individuals where your only relationship is as acquaintance/business associate. If the writing community is your only connection to the “one friend in common” suggestion, there is no reason to contact/friend members of the individual’s personal circles. In the extreme, this activity could be construed as “stalking” and will be dealt with severely if reported.
- Respect YOUR right to privacy. USE COMMON SENSE IN ACCEPTING INVITES from individuals you do not know. It is YOUR responsibility to protect the safety of yourself and your family members through proper diligence. If you feel you have been a victim of “stalking” or other inappropriate behavior, report it to the proper authorities using the ‘Report Abuse” button on the network site. If you feel you have been targeted specifically through the RFW member/follower lists, PLEASE CONTACT THE BLOG HOSTS. Our contact information is listed on the “About” co-hosts pages and we have access to all member e-mails.
DEFINITIONS OF 'STALKING':Wikipedia uses a variety of sources to define stalking, including some of the information posted by The National Institute of Justice below. The Wikipedia definition that relates to RFW is: Stalking is a continuous process, consisting of a series of actions, each of which may be entirely legal in itself. Technology ethics professor Lambèr Royakkers writes that:
"Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom he has no relationship (or no longer has), with motives that are directly or indirectly traceable to the affective sphere. Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect)." Read the full Wikipedia article here.
The National Institute of Justice reports the legaldefinition for “stalking” and further includes a section on internet stalking:
“Stalking can be carried out in person or via electronic mechanisms (phone, fax, GPS, cameras, computer spyware, or the Internet) Cyberstalking—the use of technology to stalk victims—shares some characteristics with real-life stalking. It involves the pursuit, harassment, or contact of others in an unsolicited fashion initially via the Internet and e-mail. Cyberstalking can intensify in chat rooms where stalkers systematically flood their target's inbox with obscene, hateful, or threatening messages and images. A cyberstalker may further assume the identity of his or her victim by posting information (fictitious or not) and soliciting responses from the cybercommunity. Cyberstalkers may use information acquired online to further intimidate, harass, and threaten their victim via courier mail, phone calls, and physically appearing at a residence or work place.
Although cyberstalking does not involve physical contact with a victim, it is still a serious crime. The increasing ubiquity of the Internet and the ease with which it allows others unusual access to personal information, have made this form of stalking ever more accessible. Potential stalkers may find it easier to stalk via a remote device such as the Internet rather than to confront an actual person. Conduct that falls short of the legal definition of stalking may in fact be a precursor to stalking and must be taken seriously."
RFW takes cyberstalking seriously; and we want you to take it seriously too. Hopefully you won't see a stalker in every visitor or comment that may be slightly rude. RFW take the stance that all behavior is unintentional - unless substantial evidence to the contrary is presented.
Please continue to enjoy the community atmosphere at RFW. Carefully considered posts such as this are not to alarm, but to protect 'all ye who enter here'...