Introduction

Stitch has been created to be an inclusive community, one where everyone has the right to feel respected, safe, and supported at all times. To make sure that happens, every Stitch member has a role to play.

This page outlines the expectations that we hold for Stitch members. We take these guidelines very seriously and require that our members do too. Please make sure you understand them thoroughly.

You may be familiar with the policies published on other websites, which usually are just a set of definitions of prohibited online content. While such definitions are obviously necessary, we believe they don’t usually go far enough. The Stitch Community Guidelines go beyond just prohibiting online content, and are designed to ensure a positive and enriching experience for all members at all times.

The guidelines, therefore, apply to all behavior in the Stitch community, including:

  • The way you interact with other members, both online and in-person

  • Your behavior at Stitch events and activities

  • Comments you post on Stitch community forums, groups, and activities

  • The content on your Stitch profile

  • Posts to our social media pages

  • Your communication with Stitch Support

That might sound a little daunting, but it really just boils down to upholding one simple value that governs everything we do in the community: RESPECT. In other words, we expect all Stitch members to:

Treat each other with respect at all times

As long as you remember to uphold this value, you won’t have anything to worry about!

For people who breach the guidelines, however, consequences range from receiving a warning to suspension or cancellation of your membership. Punitive actions are not taken lightly, but we reserve the right to make decisions that support creating and maintaining a welcoming community for all.

If you’d like some background on why the guidelines are structured the way they are, you may want to watch this video:

Types of behavior

Broadly speaking, there are three categories of behavior the community has defined to help maintain a positive and welcoming community at all times:

  1. Behavior the community actively encourages, such as being kind, welcoming, friendly, or supportive

  2. Behavior the community actively discourages, such as being disrespectful, being unkind, or creating conflict with other members

  3. Behavior the community absolutely prohibits, such as racism, sexism, and abuse

As shown in the picture above, the Stitch team is responsible for moderating prohibited behavior, which typically happens when it gets reported to us by a Stitch member. This aspect of Stitch is similar to what you may be familiar with from other online communities (although Stitch takes a much harder line than other sites by removing online content the moment it is reported, rather than waiting for it to be reviewed).

By contrast, behavior the community wants to encourage, and behavior it wants to discourage, is moderated by the Stitch community itself. This aspect is unique to the Stitch Community, and reflects our goal of not simply eliminating terrible behavior, but of creating an enriching experience for all members.

A complete list of prohibited, discouraged, and encouraged behaviors can be found in this article, but before you head off to read them in detail, let’s introduce you to some of the general ideas.

Prohibited behavior

As outlined above, there are some behaviors that are simply not allowed in the community, such as racism, sexual harassment, abuse, and so on. These are called prohibited behaviors.

A full description of prohibited behaviors can be found here, but the following list gives you some idea of the sort of behavior that is not permitted in the community:

  • Hate speech or racism

  • Sexual harassment

  • Bullying, abuse & demeaning behavior

  • Provoking or perpetuating conflict

  • Promoting or disseminating harmful health misinformation

  • Intellectual property violations

  • Unapproved commercial activity

  • Spam

  • Publishing personal contact information

If you see anyone breaching the community rules with one of these prohibited behaviors, you should report them to Stitch. Depending on the severity of the breach, they will receive a warning and/or have their membership terminated.

Members can be reported for the content they post to the Stitch site, such as forum comments or private messages, as well as behavior that occurs in the real world, such as at Stitch events or activities.

Consequences for prohibited behavior depend on where that behavior occurs within the community. Slightly different rules apply, for example, to someone who inadvertently posts misleading health information to the Stitch forums, than to someone who sexually harasses another member either online or in person.

These rules are covered in the following articles:

In practice, Stitch experiences very little outright prohibited behavior from members.

Because Stitch is a real-world community full of verified members, rather than a public social network where anyone can create a fake account for free, it experiences very little of the sort of behavior that is quite common on the public internet. And on the rare occasions when we do, our members usually report it to Stitch immediately, as all our trusted members play a role in helping help keep the community a safe and welcoming place.

Behavior the community encourages

If you check out the rules published on most large public social media platforms, you’ll find a list of content that isn’t allowed, but you’re unlikely to find a list of the behavior they want to encourage. Stitch is different.

As a community committed to having a positive impact on the wellbeing of all our members, we believe it’s important to identify the sort of behavior that defines the Stitch Community, and that we expect from all our members. These are:

  • Being respectful

  • Being kind

  • Being welcoming

  • Being friendly & welcoming

  • Being supportive

  • Being fun & interesting

  • Being patient & understanding

  • Helping resolve conflict

  • Promoting good behavior in others

  • Enriching other members’ experience

Behavior the community discourages

The flip side to the sort of behavior the community encourages is the behavior that the community actively discourages.

Unlike prohibited behavior, these are usually things that can’t be determined from a single private message or post on the forums, but is behavior that may take place over time, or over multiple interactions, and which has a negative impact on other members.

A full list of discouraged behaviors can be found here, but the following list gives you some idea of the sort of behavior the community discourages:

  • Being disrespectful

  • Being unkind

  • Being unwelcoming

  • Being offensive

  • Being insensitive

  • Being domineering

  • Being rude & annoying

  • Bullying

  • Creating conflict

  • Inappropriate behaviour (e.g. sexual advances, making others feel uncomfortable)

Community-moderated behavior

Before we get into how community moderation works, let’s explain why it exists in the first place, as this is what makes Stitch unique.

Our research into negative behavior on social media sites and the public internet has demonstrated that simply banning extreme or unacceptable behavior isn’t enough to ensure a positive and welcoming community for all.

(If you’re not convinced by this, just take a look at some of the content that gets posted to Twitter or Facebook.)

We also identified that, when it comes to member wellbeing, it’s often not just a single extreme comment that will have a negative impact on your experience. It could be someone consistently making negative or disparaging comments about you or other members over an extended period of time. It could be someone who bullies you in person, but you don’t feel comfortable reporting to Stitch because you’re worried about being identified. Or it could be someone who consistently sends messages to other members which are unpleasant but are never bad enough for them to be reported for breaching Stitch’s community rules.

The community moderation system on Stitch works to address all these instances of negative behavior, and more.

How community moderation works at a high level

Community moderation on Stitch covers events and activities, online discussions, and one-on-one member interactions. The system works slightly differently in each case, but the general idea is the same:

All members of Stitch get the opportunity to provide us feedback about their experiences in the community. Stitch aggregates this feedback across a large number of data points, to determine whether members are behaving in ways that are consistent with community expectations.

If member feedback gives us high confidence that you are acting in ways that are consistent with community expectations, you will receive a high rating and will get more access to participate in the community, along with recognition and rewards. Members with “Excellent” ratings are our super-champions who make a significantly positive contribution to the lives of their fellow members.

If, on the other hand, member feedback indicates you are behaving in a way that is not consistent with community expectations, you will be warned, temporarily suspended, or (in the most extreme cases) permanently removed from the community.

And if the system doesn’t have enough data to be confident about your behavior, it will let you know.

It’s very important to note that the system only makes decisions based on aggregated data, and no single member feedback can give you a bad rating. If you butt heads with someone else who simply doesn’t like you, getting a negative rating from them won’t have an impact on you. But if you receive negative feedback again and again from a broad range of members, it indicates that your behavior is out of step with community expectations and needs to change.

How it works in detail

OK, now you’ve got a picture of the three main ideas behind behavior in the Stitch community, it’s time to dig into the details. We’ve split everything out into separate articles, so follow the links below to find what you’re looking for:

Please bear in mind that what we’re doing here is very unique and hasn’t been done before, because we’re trying to fix what’s broken with pretty much every online social network today. You’re going to find that some bits aren’t quite perfect, and this is an area we are constantly working to improve.

So please bear with us while we continue to refine the system, and remember to keep the overall goal of creating a safe, welcoming, and harmonious community in mind. And please let us know if you’ve got any questions!

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