All HOL chatrooms are on the irc.blitzed.org IRC network. There are general channels for all of HOL and house-only chatroom which do usually welcome guests from other houses. If you are new to HOL please read this whole page before joining the chat.
· #hol (main HOL channel for everyone)
· #quidditch (Quidditch channel for Quaffle play, used only during matches)
· #snitch (Quidditch channel for Snitch play, used only during matches)
· #grandstand (Quidditch audience channel, used only during matches)
· #refchan (Quidditch captains and referees channel, used only during matches)
· #staffmeeting (used for monthly faculty meetings)
· #titan (alternative meetings channel)
· #gryffindor (Gryffindor House channel)
· #hufflepuff (Hufflepuff House channel)
· #ravenclaw (Ravenclaw House channel)
· #slytherin (Slytherin House channel)
The committee decides which people are to be appointed as channel operators in the official HOL channels (excl. house-internal channels).
The official chat room has been changed to #hol as of July 14, 2008.
Everyone should feel welcome in the chatroom. That includes people who are from non-English speaking countries, people who are used to hanging out on MySpace or Neopets, people who are a bit different or who happen to express themselves differently than the majority, people who just want to have some fun. Channel ops should only interfere if there is a reason to do so, they are encouraged not to actively police the channel and hunt down offenders - that makes everyone feel unwelcome and uncomfortable and it is not necessary.
HOL has the "green light" from the Family Online Safety Institute (click on the ICRA link at the bottom of each HOL page), which is important because it is used for most parental control settings. If we have a green light we are accessible as a child-friendly, child-safe environment.
The label requires:
· No nudity
· No sexual material
· No violence
· Mild expletives
· No potentially harmful activities
· User-generated content such as chat rooms and message boards (moderated)
· This material appears in an educational context
No nudity means there are no pictures of naked people posted anywhere on HOL. This is what this is about. It does not mean that the fact that there is naked skin somewhere under the clothes is a subject that is forbidden to talk about. It is not offensive to talk about nakedness when it is not in a sexual context, ever.
No sexual material means pornography, sexually explicit texts or talk, discussing sexual acts etc. - it does not mean that talking about romantic relationships, kissing, love, feeling attracted to people and so on is a taboo subject anywhere on HOL. In fact, these are integral and important parts of the Harry Potter books and films, and rightly so because romantic feelings are nothing that is restricted to adults or older teenagers as most of you will probably know by experience. People need to be able to talk about what matters most to them, also in HOL channels, as long as it is not vulgar, sexually explicit or similar.
Innuendo, implying something that is sexually inappropriate, is definitely not encouraged, but will in most cases not lead to punishment. This will be the case though when the intention was to make someone feel uncomfortable. If someone feels offended by innuendo while this was not the intention, this will not be considered as breaking any rules. If you feel offended by innuendo, then please talk to a channel operator who will pass on the message to the "insinuator". Let it be very clear though that innuendo is a very direct disobeying of the HOL rules without breaking the rules itself. So prevent using this.
No violence should be pretty self-explanatory but let me try to briefly get into this as well. People who believe "The Simpsons" or "Tom and Jerry" are not suitable for children because they are "too violent" do not share the approach HOL is taking. We are not a site for first graders and we should not act like we were. If we go with standard movie ratings we will find huge gaps (Simpsons go from age 6 to age 16 for example), so this does not work and it doesn't apply here anyway as we do not show movies on HOL. What applies is common sense: violence that is directly potentially harmful for people in the room or forum - explicit imagery, videos, threatening language, bullying - is forbidden. Mentioning a book or movie that is the current box office star but might not be PG rated is certainly not forbidden. Neither is talking about the intent of a movie or book, as long as one does not go into detail. So one is allowed to say "I saw a movie in which a man's head got chopped off", as long as they won't go into detail. Again, it is the intention that counts. Was the intention to bully or threaten someone, this will be punished. If you are offended or threatened by any kind of violence, contact a channel operator.
Occasional uses of mild expletives are allowed on HOL. They have always been and they will always be. This is how people, especially maybe teenagers, do communicate - in a not always polite way - and this is perfectly fine. Nobody has a problem with that anywhere on the internet. There are a myriad of phrases that are used in casual spoken language that might fall under "might expletives" but the vast majority of people do not even think about feeling offended by these. "This movie sucks" is a mild expletive, also if you just check out Ron Weasley's language in the Harry Potter movies you find him saying "bloody hell" over and over again. Also words such as "damnit" or "ass" are allowed.
Using mild expletives in normal chat is certainly not encouraged, but it is forbidden only if people use this to stir trouble or to provoke and disturb the harmony of the chatroom. And it is certainly not forbidden to directly quote from the HP books, whether in a signature or in an IRC quit message. Again let it be very clear that it is the intention that counts. If someone says "you suck" to a friend, no one will take that as an insult. If someone uses this same phrase against someone who entered the chatroom for the first time, this can be taken as rude. So use your common sense and try to use these mild expletives not too much.
The official language in HOL is English. This means all discussions should be held in English because having a private chat in German or Spanish in the official channel is just rude to all of those who can not follow this language - take it P2P or a private room when not in English. It does not mean that the use of non-English words or phrases is in any way forbidden, and certainly no channel op should ever reprimand a user for saying the most obvious terms in a language other than English. Examples would be "merci", "hola", "auf wiedersehen", and the like. It is also perfectly fine if a non-native speaker who does not know the correct term for something is trying to express himself in his native tongue for having someone help him out. The language rule is not anything that should result in lecturing or reprimanding a user unless there is a whole conversation between 2 or more people held in the public channel.
The single most important thing for ops to take care of is protecting the identity of minors. HOL does not store any personally identifiable data on its servers so we do not know for sure who actually is older than 18 and who is not - therefore these rules do apply to everyone in all areas of HOL: chatrooms, forums, profiles... -- Do not share any personal information -- your full real (first and last) name, phone number, address, name of school.
HOL is not responsible for what everyone is doing outside of these areas (MySpace, Facebook, Instant Messengers etc. etc.) but we do not want anyone to reveal their real life identity in public areas like chat or forum. We have never had problems with this and we do not want to have any ever in the future. Your real name combined with the name of your school is already enough to find out everything about you. Same for street address and phone numbers. We all use HOL Identities and the only thing that currently connects your HOL Identity to real life is your email address. But we are planning to remove access to the email address anywhere on the site if possible - we do have HOL Messages now which are internal only and 100% safe.
This is important as it is the basic line of defense against anyone who might want to intrude the privacy of minors, even for completely harmless intentions nobody should be put into a situation where their identity is revealed to a third party without their consent. Sharing your age is fine, but keep in mind that everyone can be lying about their age. Also, people are not forced in any way to give their age if they don't want to.
Links must be approved by a channel operator before they are shared. This does not include links to HOL-related websites (classrooms, the common rooms and the main forum). Do not advertise private channels in public chats.
Do not impersonate other people, this is not tolerated. Use a variant of your HOL name as your only nickname when you first begin chatting. Offer it freely when asked by the channel operators. Channel Ops need to know who you are because this is an official channel where you can even win (in theory) or lose points for your house. It is always a good idea to use (a variant) of your HOL identity in chat unless you are that established that everyone knows who you are anyway.
Netspeak and SPAM are not tolerated, but please everybody keep in mind that this guideline was made to secure a fluent conversation, if possible on-topic. This is the ideal case, and all of you know that a chatroom is usually different and conversations come and go and resume or end abruptly. These guidelines are not meant to instantly correct every single use of netspeak or abbreviations. Especially new people who just joined HOL might be used to a different way of expressing themselves and even if they make all the effort the occasional "ur" might slip and this is not a problem at all. If "we" lecture them each and every time they use chatspeak in the channel, they will most likely just go away because they feel unwelcome.
Another issue that I want to address is "forbidden subjects" in HOL - where there seems to be a huge misunderstanding from what I can see. HOL is an entertainment site, it is an online school, it is an international community of many different languages, cultures, religions, political systems and colours. I mentioned before that the first and foremost principle is tolerance which is why it's being said you should not hold discussions about religion, race, politics in HOL. Those tend to get beyond controversial very quickly as they might hurt the other side's innermost beliefs, intentionally or not.
But tolerance also means "freedom of speech" and "freedom of expression" - two very important principles that are both present in the HP books and in HOL. You can talk about anything if you do that in a tolerant (not missionary, not derogatory) way. It's not forbidden to state that you are a born again Christian or support Obama or that you are Jewish or divorced or gay or whatever, really... it just matters if you discredit other people's beliefs or if you do act missionary, intolerant or even racist. We can not turn into a bannable offense what is perfectly normal anywhere in communication but we will ensure that no members of HOL are discredited for their sexual orientation, religion, political belief or race.
Thanks to Barbara Phoenix, Cosmo Brown and Prof. Dom Gaidin