User and Moderator Handbook
This reference is provided for the benefit of all Users of the site and particularly Members acting as board Moderators and Assistant Moderators. It focuses mainly on boards in ATHC’s Investment forums with emphasis on stock-specific boards in particular. Moderators of boards in our upcoming Premium Services are allowed a greater degree of latitude in moderating those boards, while boards in the Free Zone are held to a higher standard for Terms of Service enforcement and specific guidelines for Moderators.
Please be aware of the following when referring to this document and our Terms of Service :
These documents are not intended to be all-inclusive references explaining and giving examples of every single act that can result in administrative sanctions and every single thing that won’t. We have tried, but the fact of the matter is that we will never get there. Such a document would be enormous and really shouldn’t be necessary.
It should be good enough and clear enough that ATHC participants are expected to be civil with one another and that those who are unwilling to do so may and likely will be shown the door. We ask that everyone show common courtesy and respect for other Members so that all can enjoy and benefit from their participation at ATHC.
Upcoming Message Board Subscriptions
Subscribing Members, otherwise known as Premium Members will enjoy numerous additional features. Key Premium features include but are not limited to Private Messaging, unlimited posting, batch reading of boards, message filtering, and Advanced Search.
Premium subscriptions do not include an exemption from the website rules. Premium subscribers found to be in violation of the Terms of Service or the policies described in this Handbook are subject to administrative sanctions. These sanctions include but are not limited to suspension of and/or limits being placed on posting privileges at the website and/or individual board level.
Premium (upcoming) versus Free Zone Boards
Boards in the upcoming Premium Zone simply mean that Moderators will have more flexibility in managing the content by removing messages and banning specific users from the board although rare, Admin reserves the right to overturn any Moderator action on any board for any reason. Posting on these boards will also be restricted to Members with Premium account features.
Premium status will not give a board license to blatantly violate the rules of the site. More latitude will be offered to Moderators on Premium boards. For example, if two posters are having a heated debate that includes what might be considered a personal attack on Free Zone boards, the Mod has some flexibility to allow this. However; one sided deletions in this example are inappropriate. Additionally, using these boards as a place to launch personal attacks on other Users of the site is not allowed and should be deleted. Premium boards are also not a haven to “archive posts in case they are deleted” and/or in the event they are removed. If a User feels a post has been inappropriately removed then their recourse is to request a review through the automated system.
If many of the messages on a Premium board fall into the above categories, the Moderators would need to take immediate steps to rectify the situation and return the board to its original intended purpose. Failure to do so will at a minimum result in moderators being removed and/or replaced as well as possible administrative sanctions.
- Please do not put sounds in signatures and keep images as small as possible.
- No racy/sexual/scantily-clad pictures.
- No mention of specific stocks/tickers or links to stock specific boards.
- No links off the site.
- No solicitation.
- No political or religious images/text.
- No comments about ATHC members or ex-members.
Member Profile and Images
- Status Messages and Images are subject to the terms of the Terms of Service (TOS).
- No racy/sexual/scantily-clad pictures.
- No mention of specific stocks or links to stock-specific boards.
- No links off the site.
- No political or religious images/text.
About Message Boards and the Moderators’ Role
The principle objective of the ATHC message boards is to maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio while encouraging the exchange of all points of view. Moderators are an important part of making our message boards beneficial to all participants and readers. Moderating a stock-specific board, particularly those which are controversial due to many divergent perspectives or newsworthy events, can be a challenging and time consuming role. The time and effort expended by our Members who volunteer their time to fulfill this valuable role is greatly appreciated and our Moderators should be treated with the respect they deserve for donating their time and efforts to the collective benefit of our community. Company-specific boards are the lifeblood of ATHC. The Moderators’ role is simple to define for company-specific boards:
It is no accident that neither the above definition nor the Terms of Service makes mention of investment sentiment, shareholder interests, or considerations such as “the good of the company.” That is because the TOS are blind to investment sentiment. In order to be a successful Moderator and conduct a board within the scope of ATHC’s TOS, it is critical that Moderators distinguish their role and privileges as Moderator from their role and privileges as a posting Member. That is often easier said than done, particularly on active boards with both the typical and atypical controversy.
At the same time, Board Moderators are welcome to express their investment views and sentiment in the same manner as any other Member; by participating in the dialog. However; insofar as their Moderator privileges are concerned, it is not the Moderators’ role to dictate bullish or bearish sentiment, command the “tone” of the content be along any particular investment sentiment, or favor one investment sentiment over another when removing or restoring messages.
It is also not the Moderators’ role to remove posts on the basis of “truth” or “accuracy”. Readers determine the veracity of the posts they read and the credibility of other Posters. If a Moderator disagrees with another Member’s post they have the same recourse as any other User; to ignore the post, or to challenge it with a post of their own focusing on the information, not the other Poster.
In short, the role of the Moderator is to help foster an environment that promotes and encourages posting of ALL opinions and information about companies, regardless of the bullish or bearish sentiment of the posts, and to be the site’s first line of defense in ensuring we remain free of spam, vulgarity, and personal attacks.
The Moderators’ Toolbox
Moderators (this term throughout is considered synonymous with Assistant Moderator) will have several capabilities:
- Edit /Update Information
- Requesting Board Name and Ticker Changes
- Managing Sticky Posts
- Manage Assistants
- Managing Surveys
- Manage email List
- Deletion of Posts
- Banning Users (Premium Boards Only) & Requesting Sanctions
This is when someone attacks one or more members personally rather than the content of that Member’s message. The post does not have to be addressed to the “target” of the attack to be considered a Personal Attack. If it attacks a messenger rather than the message, it qualifies for deletion and it is expected that Moderators will remove it.
- Posting the same or similar content to more than two (2) boards within a calendar day.
- Posting the same or almost identical post more than twice within a calendar day.
- Sending the same or similar unsolicited PM to multiple recipients More on PM spam.
- Posting statements that do not add value to the discussion.
- Posting excessively on one or more message board(s). The boards are for discussion not a pulpit for individual Users. If you feel someone is abusing their posting privilege in this manner, please discuss this with a Site Admin without deleting any posts that don’t otherwise violate the TOS. Admin will review posting history and may, at their discretion, impose posting restrictions if deemed to be warranted.
- Spam that overlaps off-topic are posts containing content promoting other sites.
- Spam promoting other stocks/companies on a stock specific board.
- The PG13 rule is loosely used as a guideline to what is/isn’t acceptable when determining whether a comment is vulgar. The theory is that if society has deemed it appropriate for a 13 year old to hear, it is unlikely that it will be offensive to the majority of Users.
- Otherwise, profanity is unacceptable on the stock boards, even when punctuation characters are used to “fill in the blanks” or letters are changed. Note that there are also “polite versions” for many acronyms and these are assumed to be the case when in doubt.
- Any form of vulgarity directed at another User is unacceptable and should be removed.
Author Asked to Remove
- When a Member has specifically asked that a post be removed and has cited a valid reason for removal, such as accidentally revealing personal information. This is an occasional accommodation and is not to be used to “mask” the removal of bona fide TOS violations. If you are asked as a Moderator to remove more than 2 messages as Author Request, please send the User to discuss with Admin.
- Messages over 48 hours old are not removed, even when requested by the Author, unless there are extreme circumstances (i.e. accidentally revealed an account number).
Violation of Privacy
- Posting of what the Member believes to be any personally identifiable information (email, real name, phone, address, etc.) about another User or posting the contents of a private message is a privacy violation.
- Posting or referring to the contents of private messages without the author’s prior consent is considered a violation of privacy and can get the User suspended or terminated from the site.
- A Member threatening any other Member in any fashion is to be removed.
- Threats or insinuations of violence or physical harm against anyone is a serious infraction and can get you suspended or terminated from the site.
All Members have visibility to their recently removed posts and in most cases the ability to request a review of any removed posts they believe were done in error. For logged-in Members, the My Removed Posts page can be accessed from the Settings button at the upper right corner of the page or from My Removed Posts tab. These requests for review and comments go into a queue that can be viewed by individual board Moderators, Mod Squad and Site Admins. If the message is restored it is automatically removed from the queue and the Author’s My Removed Posts page. If it is not restored, then an Admin will review and either restore the post or close the request. Mod Squad and Moderators can only restore posts in this queue, they cannot remove the message from being reviewed by Admin. When a post has been deleted and subsequently restored, Restored will appear next to the post in the message list.
At times moderators may receive a private message asking why you made the decision to remove a post. Please don’t be offended or defensive when asked. Sometimes the reason chosen i.e. “personal attack” was mistakenly given and it was really supposed to be “duplicate”. Or sometimes the post appears to be discussing a public figure of the company, but it’s actually a Poster on our site, not affiliated with the company.
A large part of Site Admin’s role, with the valuable assistance of our Mod Squad members and Moderators, is to endeavor to have our rules of conduct applied consistently across the site. Users need to be able to move from board to board and have a clear understanding of what is or is not acceptable.
Thank you to everyone who participates in our community and especially those who help to moderate and keep the boards high on signal and low on noise. Your energy, dedication and efforts are integral to ATHC and your efforts are appreciated.
Definitions Used in This Handbook
Terms of Service (“TOS”) – See Terms of Service.
Terms of Service (“TOU”) – See Terms of Service.
Premium Zone – Boards in this area will be available for all Members to view but you must be a Subscriber to participate in the dialog.
Free Zone – Boards in this area are almost exclusively stock specific and available to all Members to read and to participate in the conversation.
Premium Member/Subscriber – These interchangeable terms refer to Users who have elected to purchase membership privileges on ATHC. Membership does not afford Users different rules of conduct, but does allow access to upgraded features.
PM – Private Message. A message that can be read only by the sender and recipient.
Moderator – A Member of the site who creates a board or who volunteers to and is appointed to manage it. Boards can also have a number of Assistant Moderators. Throughout this document, the term “Moderator” applies both to Moderators and Assistant Moderators unless indicated otherwise.
User – Anyone who visits the site, whether they post or not and whether or not they have registered a Free or Premium account. Users cannot post until they become Members.
Member – Anyone who has registered a Free or Premium account on the site. Members can post and can also become Moderators.