In a handy, easy to review list:
1. Use your a variant of your HOL name as your only nickname when you first begin chatting. Offer it freely when asked by the channel operators.
2. English is the official language of the HOL chats.
3. Netspeak is not tolerated.
4. Spam is not tolerated.
5. Do not share any personal information--your name, phone number, address, school or town. Countries and states are fine.
6. The HOL chatrooms also include members in the 9-12 age group--keep your content tasteful and appropriate.
7. Links must be approved by a channel operator before they are shared. Do not advertise private channels in public chats.
1. Your HOL name
When you first join the HOL Chatrooms, you will often be prompted for your HOL name usually by a person with an @ next to their name (this is a channel operator, or simply an "op"). Offer it freely and without hassle -- it is an ordinary step in a procedure to get to know you better.
For the first few weeks on IRC, please use a variant of your HOL name as your ONLY nickname. If you do not, you'll constantly have to supply us with your HOL name, and this is rather bothersome for all parties.
It's a good idea to keep your HOL profile updated with the nicknames you use on IRC. You can edit these using the "Edit Personals" link under "My Settings" when you're logged into the main HOL site. Also, if you use a desktop IRC client rather than CGI from the HOL page, consider putting your HOL name in your client as your real name.
HOL is an international community, and we celebrate our cultural diversity; however, the official language of the HOL channels is ENGLISH. You may have conversations in other languages in a private chatroom or in person-to-person chat. There are two reasons for this rule:
a) You alienate other chatroom members.
b) The channel operators do not comprehend the content of the discussion, which could steer into inappropriate territory.
This isn't to say that you can't use non-English words or phrases, and no one should ever be reprimanded 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 two or more people held in the public channel.
3. No netspeak
Netspeak is the shortening of words and replacing of letters to (supposedly) make the typing process shorter. For instance, "u hav 2 go c it!" is interpreted as "you have to go see it!"
Netspeak is NOT tolerated in the official channels. As aforementioned, a large percentage of HOL'ers do not speak English as their first language, and netspeak would make it difficult for them to follow. Even for native English speakers, netspeak is also unsightly, inane and annoying. You will also be notified for constant misspellings of words, which are not mere typos after three or four times (l-i-e-k for like, for instance).
Netspeak should not be confused with ACRONYMS, which are common abbreviations, such as: brb (be right back), gtg (got to go), lol (laughing out loud), bbs/bbl (be back soon/be back later), afk (away from keyboard), or PIN/PIW (ping if needed/ping if wanted). If you have any questions about what is and is not acceptable, feel free to ask a channel op.
4. No spam
Spam is the consistent use of meaningless characters, letters and words, strung together with no real purpose. Some examples are, but are not limited to: a string of random characters (AERWK@#:l!), excessive exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!), repeating the same word or line over and over again (badger badger badger badger badger badger), and pasting a large amount of irrelevant text (example omitted for obvious reasons). Spam can be not only excessive exclamation points but excessive alpha characters (or punctuation marks or any kind of key you have on your keyboard).
5. Privacy and security
The HOL chatrooms also follows the general HOL guidelines in regards to personal information. You may not share your full name, address, telephone number, school or town. This is for your OWN SAFETY, and people are particularly vulnerable on IRC since it can easily slip out. States and countries are fair game. Sharing your age is fine, if you want, but keep in mind that everyone can be lying about their age.
6. Appropriate content
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.
As such, the main HOL website, according to the ICRA, is labeled:
No sexual material
No potentially harmful activities
User-generated content such as chat rooms and message boards (moderated)
This material appears in an educational context
The sixth point, user-generated content -- such as what you say in a chatroom -- will be monitored (which it is), but the chatrooms should conform with the spirit and the appropriateness of the main HOL website. What this means: no explicit talk of sex, gambling, drug use, alcohol, violence, or any other harmful activities. We are also tolerant of all races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, so any bashing of minorities is DISALLOWED.
There are a number of phrases that are used in casual spoken language that might fall under "mild expletives". "This movie sucks" is a mild expletive, and would be permissible.
As mentioned, profanity is not appropriate in public HOL channels, but as HOL adopts a cosmopolitan view, it is impossible to name a list of words that are considered "profane." For similar reasons, informal language (slang) is also discouraged. Keep in mind that HOL includes younger children as well as non-native English speakers, so use suitable judgement in your word choices.
We also request that highly controversial topics (in politics and religion) be discussed outside of HOL channels, as these sorts of discussions can go from discussions to arguments very quickly, as they might hurt the other side's innermost beliefs, intentionally or not.
That said, it's not forbidden to say that you are a born again Christian or support Obama or that you are Jewish or divorced or gay or whatever; all that matters is that you treat others with respect and tolerance.
The use of explicit innuendos or otherwise inappropriate implications as stated by this handbook is also not tolerated.
7. Links and private channels
URLs may not be shared in public HOL channels until they are approved by an operator for content. You may p2p an operator with the request for approval. This does not include links to HOL-related websites (classrooms, the common rooms, and the main forum).
Private channels should not be advertised in public chat -- you may ask members to p2p you and vice versa for the channel name. This is because channel operators are not responsible for the conversation in a private chat.
- The channel operators exist to maintain a safe, friendly environment in the chatrooms, adhering to the guidelines above (no netspeak, spam, languages other than English, inappropriate content, etc). Please keep this in mind and remain cordial when they speak to you.
- The channel would cease to be a "friendly" environment if everyone were constantly reminding newcomers of the rules. Leave that to the operators--if you see something go unnoticed, or if something makes you uncomfortable, feel free to contact the ops in a p2p chat.
- If you do not agree with an action an operator has taken, p2p them. It is poor taste to strike an argument in the public channel. If the operator does not respond and explain his or her reasoning, contact another operator. If you still fail to receive a response, contact your house authorities.
If you do not follow these guidelines:
- First infraction, you are issued a warning
- Second infraction, you are kicked from the room and lose 5 points
- Third infraction, you are banned from the room and lose a further 10 points