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General Forum InformationThis page provides all public information about General Forum including rules, ideas, our history, and more. This page may be updated from time to time, but should serve as an adequate representation of both the past and future of this community.
The purpose of our community is to empower individuals through common goals, ideas, discussions, and constructive debate. Our aim is to allow a multitude of perspectives while eliminating toxicity that is often found in public discourse. While we do not support censorship, we hope to maintain a safe, healthy and vibrant community that is free of sexism, racism, cyber-bullying, and other forms of hatred.
“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals.”
Together we are strong. By engaging in public discussions we can gain experience with people from all different areas of the world and become exposed to unique perspectives, ideas, stories, and content.
I created General Forum because many similar communities online are defined by the site owner and their selected staff members. Unlike other online discussion software, we allow anyone to create a new topic (category/tag) to apply to their content. This allows our members to define the community by engaging in discussions they're interested in, and it is not up to me or the administration to decide what content categories are available. Topics can start trending by receiving points in the relevant discussions. To receive additional exposure, users can share content in trending topics, or maybe start a trend of their own by creating a new topic. Once a topic is created a dedicated page will always be available showing all discussions - no matter how obscure or popular they may be.
Community GuidelinesAlthough we do not believe in censorship, some actions may result in your account be suspended temporarily or banned permanently. However, these guidelines should help you understand your role in a healthy community to avoid that happening. It is up to the discretion of our administration to decide the consequence for violating the community guidelines, although strict protocols are in place to prevent abuse from staff members.
Healthy Community - violating the rules below may result in a warning, an account suspension, or a permanent ban for more severe incidents.
- We will not tolerate any blatant hatred directed towards another person based on their race, gender, origin, age, or sexual orientation.
- While criticism is natural and encouraged in any healthy society, we will not tolerate "e-stalking" or ongoing targeting of a specific member. If you strongly dislike another member you may report them to administration if you believe they are violating the community guidelines or add them to your ignore list.
- Harassing, bullying, threatening another member, or encouraging others to do so is not allowed. Harassment is defined as methodical or continued actions which significantly bother a person (on the site or not) or lead a logically reasonable person to fear for their safety.
- Asking for points/votes or attempting to manipulate the General Forum points system in any manner is not allowed and will result in point nullification - regardless of any other administrative action taken against your account.
- Instructing members to add or deduct points from another member or discussion is not allowed. Sharing your opinions and thoughts is the best way to influence the community. Depending on the severity of the incident and your past account violations, this may result in point nullification.
- Selling or buying points is not allowed and will result in point nullification and a permanent account ban.
- Using multiple accounts to manipulate the points of your account or any member/discussion will result in full point nullification.
- Publicizing the personal details of anyone other than yourself is strictly forbidden. You may share your own name, email, or phone number, but under no circumstances can you make this choice for another person.
- All content shared here must be legal in your location, and the locations of our website server(s), nameserver provider, and domain registrar.
- Mentioning, linking to, or sharing sexually suggestive content involving minors or a person who appears to be a minor is strictly forbidden. This includes non-nude photography, art, cartoons, stories or other media which is intended to sexualize a minor or promote pedophilia, abuse, or other illegal acts.
- Attempting to exploit, hack, or disrupt the General Forum website, any service, or our third-party providers is strictly forbidden. Encouraging this behavior or disclosing any information that may help another violate this rule will be viewed as an illegal and unacceptable collaboration.
- Sharing information regarding any website, app, or service vulnerabilities (bugs, exploits, hacks, etc) is strictly forbidden unless it has been previously disclosed publicly by the website/app/service itself.
- Linking to any page or content that breaks these rules, even on another site, is not allowed. If you think content on General Forum violates any community guideline, please report the content to administration and do not share the content on or off General Forum with any other individual.
General Forum PointsAlthough we do not believe in censorship, some actions may result in your account be suspended temporarily or banned permanently. However, these guidelines should help you understand your role in a healthy community to avoid that happening. It is up to the discretion of our administration to decide the consequence for violating the community guidelines, although strict protocols are in place to prevent abuse from staff members.
What are General Forum Points?
Points represent your contributions to the community. Whenever you start a discussion or reply to someone else, you have a chance to either gain or lose points. Think of it as a 'vote'. You can press the UP arrow to give a member points, or DOWN arrow to deduct points from a member. Here's how it works...
- If you "give" someone positive points, you do NOT lose points on your own account.
- If you "give" someone negative points, you do NOT gain points on your own account.
- Points are not immediately displayed on discussions, replies, or member profiles. Points are analyzed and publicized shortly after by the system. This allows our database to relax and also allows content with early negative points to possibly gain some positive points before the numbers are publicized and a "points brigade" can occur.
- Points are never "spent". Your points act as a representation of your contributions throughout the history of your account. However, some actions may result in 'point nullification', which is detailed below.
- You cannot purchase points. The best way to earn points is to start a high quality discussion or write a thoughtful response to another member.
- Discussions and replies in a trending topic have the highest chance of being seen and encouraging public & high quality conversations.
- Discussions in an obscure or new forum topic have a point multiplier applied to reward members who bring attention to something not established in the community. A special award exists for members who help bring a new topic to the trending page.
- It is possible to have a negative number of points. This occurs if you have received more negative points than positive, or possibly if your account has been point nullified.
- Your account
The integrity of our points system is important to the community. Although it is never fun to take administrative action against a member, certain violations do require more than a suspension or account ban. Point nullification can take a few different forms, depending on the severity of the incident or violation history of the community member.
- Removal of all received positive points: This occurs when administration has evidence that an account has received positive points as the result of asking for points, purchasing points from another person, or using alternate accounts to give their main account points. This consequence may also be given for certain community violations in addition to or instead of an account suspension or ban.
- Removal of all points given to other members: This occurs when administration has evidence that an account has been used to give points to another member as a result of an unacceptable agreement, trade or sale. This will also result in all of your received positive points being removed.
- Removal of positive points gained from a discussion or reply: This occurs automatically if your content is removed for violating our community guidelines. Negative points from this content will remain on your account.
- Administrative negative points: Administration may give you negative points for serious community guideline violations, especially if you have a limited number of positive points to take away. This will never occur unless you violate the community guidelines.
AwardsThere are many awards available in the community. Many of these are rare, and even the more common awards can be completely random. Some of these are only available on specific holidays or seasons, while others are available throughout the entire year. New awards may be added at any time and it's always possible that certain awards will become unobtainable at a later date (although you will never lose an award you've already hunted for & received!)
Greyed out awards have not been won by any member yet. You can hover over the award icon to see how you can earn it.
Red awards are so rare you may never see it
Orange awards are extremely rare
Purple awards are quite rare
General Forum, the SoftwareGeneral Forum is not just a website, it's 100% proprietary software. I created our community this way because I wanted to create a new experience that doesn't rely on third-party software, especially for new features. Your experience here is unique and tailored to what we all want. There is always an opportunity to build upon what we have, to keep up with trends and community desires.
History of ForumsForums have always been hubs for information, conversation, debate, and meeting new people to gain experience and learn interesting perspectives. In Roman culture, it is said that a town of any size had two key places: a temple... and a forum. While forums are widely known as online discussion boards nowadays, there have always been meeting places throughout history to discuss societal issues, judicial concerns, business, and more. Simply put, forums have been around for a long time and they aren't going anywhere. However, how we view an online forum must change.
Time for ChangeIf we're honest with ourselves, we know that social media has taken over the internet and oldschool forums are a thing of the past. General Forum aims to change that by introducing social features to the forum world. With trending topics and discussions, the software acts more as a social platform than a traditional forum. The focus of the community becomes our homepage, and administration has hardly any ability to force members into discussing any specific topic. Members can create new topics (similar to forum sections or categories) and start discussions there.
Of course, it is the responsibility of our members to choose topics that best fit their new discussion. Additionally, starting a discussion in a topic nobody has ever heard of or a topic with minimal interactions may lead to the discussion going undiscovered. While we cannot force anyone to choose the most ideal topic to create a meaningful thread, our software does help new members or topics become discovered.
What's Trending?Trending discussions and topics represent what our community finds most valuable. This is not decided by administration manually, but instead relies on elaborate algorithms inside the General Forum software. One interesting aspect of this is that obscure topics can start trending, even if they're less active than a more popular topic. Here's how trending topics and discussions are calculated.
- A topic can start trending by receiving a large amount of new discussions and replies that are high quality and sparking positive user engagement
- A popular topic (a category that is consistently active) may require more activity than a more obscure topic
- A new or obscure topic that receives a strong ratio of content to views (visits to the topic page / related discussions) can start trending quickly
- Example: A discussion in a new or obscure topic with only 100 views, 75 points and 50 replies may rank higher than a discussion in a popular topic that has 1,000 views, 400 points, and 100 replies. This is because the more obscure discussion has sparked more user engagement (when compared to possible user engagement)
- Example 2: 3,000 members view a topic page, but only 100 positive points are given out by those users. A lesser known topic that is viewed by 100 members and receives 100 positive points can rank higher on the trending page
- Discussions are ranked a little differently than topics themselves, but the premise is the same for both. Quality is better than quantity, and positive user engagement is always the focus. However, obscure topics and the discussions within do need to prove themselves. The algorithm does take into account whether or not there is enough data to correctly calculate 'trending'. Example: A discussion from an obscure topic receives 5 views, 5 points, and 5 replies. While that is considered '100% engagement', the data set is simply too small to reliably say it's worth trending higher than a discussion that has statistics based on 1,000 views.
- There are many different aspects of the algorithm, and it will always be adapted to better fit our community. We cannot tell you all of the metrics that are used, but we can guarantee that there is a lot of math involved.
- Trending discussions on the homepage are updated periodically. The number of points a discussion publicly displays is always publicized at a delay, to prevent point brigades. Additionally, the trending topics page is always updated at an interval. This is to ensure our server can properly analyze all the various aspects without bogging down our resources due to the number of calculations that must be considered.