Welcome to the Forge! This sticky is more-or-less a mission statement, written as a netiquette guide for the site.
"Role-playing game" is a legacy term without a good definition. Here, it's used in the limited sense of group activities, or games, composed of people speaking while in one another's presence. Sometimes it's called "table-top," but we talk about versions in which people get up and move around too.
"Independence," at this site, means creator-owned and self-published. It doesn't mean anything else.
A brief history of the Forge is available through one of the global links. To summarize even more briefly, Ed Healy and I founded a site called Hephaestus' Forge in 1999. Clinton Nixon and I re-launched it in 2000 as The Forge, with him as primarily the manager and site organizer, and me primarily as content moderator, although with strong second-in-command status in each others' roles. It's been running ever since. In 2008, Vincent Baker took over the site-management role. Some associated activities include the Forge Booth at GenCon every year since 2002, several regular and semi-regular conventions based on "let's get together and play," and group-endeavors like contests.
Every forum in the general section has a sticky at the top explaining what it's for, and those are hard limits. There's no general hang-out, post-what-you-feel, Facebook type forum at the Forge. By definition, if you can't see how your topic fits into an existing forum, that probably means you should be posting it at another site. Although I do recommend checking with me - use email or a private message - because as I've found many times in the past, I can show you either why your topic fits nicely already, or how to cast it into a shape which does fit.
A key point here is to distinguish between ideas and people. Ideas are subject to fierce critique and dissection, according to high standards of intellectual engagement (which doesn't mean pompous, but rather, sharp, relevant, and rigorous). People are to be treated with courtesy, according to high standards of conduct which exceed anything you've probably encountered on the internet. That means, if you say, "Well sir," in a snotty way, I as moderator interpret that as "fuck you" and moderate accordingly.
Again, it's all about honesty: factual, intellectual, emotional, and social. Anything violating that, as I see it, is a flame. It can be hiding under fake courtesy, it can be passive-aggressive, it can be a tantrum, it can be over-intellectualized and defensive ... here, it's all the same and flat-out not permitted.
One positive way to look at that is, don't try to win. You "win," or better, succeed, but making your point clearly and completely. You also do so by acknowledging when someone has made a point which modifies your own views. Please put aside all notions that when someone disagrees with you or refutes a point of yours, that they are attacking you. You are free to defend or make better sense of what you've written. You're not free to defend yourself as a person, because most of the, the attack exists only in your mind. In the exceptional cases, when someone does indeed violate the standards here towards you, then your job is to hit the Report This Post button.
Please do not post polls or surveys, or frame discussions as "Thing X! Good or bad?"
In the general forums, there's a sole content moderator, which is me. I'm the overseer for all the stuff discussed in this post. I also expect everyone to be on their best behavior regarding everything in this post, so that my role is to correct or adjust minor hassles rather than being a perpetual den-daddy.
Toward that end, I encourage you to use the Report This Post button when you think anyone is breaking any of the rules outlined here, as well as when you need something corrected like a link format. It sends an email to me and Vincent. When you report someone's post, it's not finking. I don't keep a record of who
When I weigh in with my moderator hat on and provide explicit instructions, do what I say. If you don't like it, or think I'm being unfair, or just want to vent, then send me a private message or air your views in a new thread here in the Site Discussion, but don't respond defiantly in the thread in question.
None of the above, or anything in this post, applies in the various publisher forums. In each case, those forums have their own individual moderators, and they run those forums as they see fit, without oversight by me. Typically they'll post some rules so you'll know what's what.
1. You can edit your own posts for a few minutes after you've submitted them, to correct typos for instance, but not after that. You have to live with what you present here, and generally, I advise against reactive posting - reading, reacting, and typing, all at once. A lot of people, including me, typically compose their posts in a word-processing program and paste them in when they think the post says what it should.
If you really want to amend what you said, then go ahead and post a new post to say so. This actually wins a lot of respect when people can see that you examined your own writing, found it to be inadequate, and were grown-up enough to say so.
Now, as the global moderator, I retain the editing function, to do things like eliminate images or other structural stuff. If I do, then you'll see the "edited" message in the post, usually with a phrase to explain what I did. I'll edit some content in posts at your request. If you screw up a link format and miss the deadline, or anything like that, let me know with a private message, or report your own post. I'll correct anything of that sort. I do not amend conceptual content, ever, for myself or anyone else. I won't protect you from your own big mouth, though; the best option in such cases is simply to post again to announce that you've revised your opinion and/or would like to retract what you said.
2. Please post no images here without permission. To seek permission, please send me a private message. Also, in line with this concept, please ignore various formatting options in the text box such as tiny-tiny type, humungous type, funky colors, blinky text display, or any number of similar things. Basic formatting for emphasis like italics and similar is fine.
3. One of my main functions as moderator here is to mess with threads, so don't be freaked out if any of the following happens to you. I move threads if they would be better placed in another forum, and usually I send you a private message to let them know. I also split threads, meaning pulling posts out of them into a thread of their own. I do that when a discussion has raised too many sub-topics and has turned into a different discussion, and I do it when someone posts to an old thread (usually in a misguided attempt to slide into an existing conversation rather than stand out).
When a discussion becomes socially and/or intellectually inviable, for whatever, reason, I close it, by saying, "This thread is closed," or a close paraphrase. At that point, no one should post to it again, on sheer social contract alone. I may or may not give reasons depending on the time I have, but I usually do.
The software does permit me to lock threads, which I regard as a debased option, necessary only in the face of debased acts. I do it when someone defies moderation, if for some reason I don't simply send their post to the Inactive File.
Ah yes, the Inactive File, which is a forum in the "inactive threads" part of the site. See, I don't delete threads or posts here. That would be letting transgressors off too easy. In most cases, I leave them where they lie, closing the thread if need be, and then a while later, refuse to delete them at their author's embarassed request once they figure out what stupid butt-holes they'd been that day. In those cases, I simply move the posts or threads to the same place we move all the spam, and also where you can still see them if you want.
4. You'll notice that a lot of people use their real names here, and I encourage doing so. You can change the display of your name through your site profile. However, it's not required, and certainly there's no obligation to include your full name if you don't want to. If you'd prefer to keep the handle you registered under, then you can ... but in that case, please consider at least signing your posts with your first name or initial.
5. Profanity and vulgarity are permitted at the Forge, mainly because I am myself a profane and vulgar person (so is Vincent). However, all the rules about honesty and courtesy still apply. That means you can't direct profanity (or non-profane insulting language either) at a person, or at their ideas in a way which reflects upon them as a person. It also means that using profanity to posture and show off is no good either.
OK, that's it. Go ye forth and post. Please don't reply directly to this sticky. If you have questions about how to post at this site, or moderation, or anything else, start a thread in this forum, or send me a private message, but note that as anti-spam measure, you can't do the latter until you have three posts.
The Site Discussion forum is for questions about function and policy. You can ask about how and why to post, or appeal moderation, or whatever. It's not usually a discussion forum in the group sense, but sometimes it does become a way for the site to talk about itself when necessary.