Stitch is an inclusive community, one where everyone should always feel respected, safe and supported. 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.

The guidelines below apply to all behavior in the Stitch community, including: behavior at Stitch events and activities; the content on your Stitch profile; your comments on groups and activities; posts to our social media pages; your posts on community forums; and your messages to other members.

Breaches of the guidelines below will result in consequences ranging from a warning through to suspension or cancellation of your membership, as outlined in the section below on how the guidelines are enforced.

Punitive actions are not taken lightly, but we reserve the right to make decisions which support creating and maintaining a community consistent with Stitch values.

This article concerns all aspects of Stitch, but the area where it comes up most often is in the Stitch Discussion forums, where the online chat environment is more likely to lead to misunderstandings that don't happen in person. With that in mind, if you're mainly here to learn about discussion forum moderation, you may want to watch this video:

If video isn't your thing, or you want to know all the details of the Stitch Community Guidelines, then read on!

Stitch's Core Value: Respect

At all times, treat other members with respect

In other words, follow the Golden Rule and always treat other members the same way as you’d like to be treated. The Stitch community is a supportive, inclusive environment, where all of our members deserve to feel welcome and safe. If any member exhibits behavior that does not comply with this rule, regardless of whether that behavior is explicitly prohibited in these guidelines or not, Stitch reserves the right to remove that person from the community.

Community Rules & Guidelines

The Stitch Community Rules & Guidelines consist of the following sections:

  • Unacceptable behavior
  • Discouraged & encouraged behavior
  • How the rules are enforced
  • Other guidelines & recommendations

Each of these are outlined in detail in the sections below.

Unacceptable behavior

In consultation with our members, we have defined a set of behaviors that are prohibited on Stitch. This includes in comments posted in any of the community sections on Stitch, in private messaging, or in-person.

If you observe ANY of the behavior below, please report it to Stitch immediately. For online comments this can be done via the "Report comment" button, while for in-person interaction please report the behavior by contacting Stitch directly.

  • Hate speech / racism
    Hate speech includes any comments which express prejudice against a particular group based on protected characteristics: race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.
  • Sexual harassment
    Sexual harassment includes derogatory statements, comments (positive or negative) of a sexual nature, or solicitation of other members. It does not include open, frank and mature discussions about sex or sexuality.

    It is very important for all members to understand the sorts of behavior that constitutes sexual harassment or stalking, so we've written an article with more background here.
  • Bullying, abuse & demeaning behavior
    Stitch prohibits any content deemed to be bullying, abusive, or demeaning towards other members of the Stitch Community. It can include name-calling, labelling, lengthy rants or diatribes, and comments which are explicitly critical of another member or members as individuals. It does not include comments which respectfully disagree with the ideas or positions of others.
  • Intellectual property violation
    Intellectual property violation includes any material posted which engages in copyright infringement, trademark infringement, or other breaches of intellectual property.
  • Commercial activity
    Any content or activity that is commercial or profit-making in nature is prohibited from Stitch, unless officially approved by Stitch. Approved commercial activity can only be conducted by “Partner” accounts.
  • Intentionally disruptive / spam
    Disruptive content includes content that is excessively repetitive, or intentionally disruptive to the community, or deemed as spam. This includes cross-posting similar messages across multiple Stitch Groups or Discussions.
  • Harmful health misinformation
    Stitch prohibits any health-related content that is potentially harmful to the wellbeing of members of the community, and which has been actively disproved or is not supported by the World Health Organization, national health bodies, or peer-reviewed research. It includes false, unproven or harmful remedies, or false or unproven claims about the impact of vaccines or other important health measures.

    Stitch is dedicated to the wellbeing of its members and we take this issue very seriously. If you are in any doubt whatsoever about the reliability of any health-related content, post either privately or not at all.
  • Provoking or perpetuating conflict
    Stitch prohibits comments which are designed to either provoke conflict, or perpetuate previous conflicts. It includes intentionally negatively provocative comments, as well as references to past disagreements or arguments in other Groups or Discussions.
  • Personal contact information
    Members are prohibited from posting the personal contact details of any member, such as email addresses, physical address, phone numbers, or full names, in the public areas of Stitch.

When reporting a comment on Stitch, you will be prompted to select which of the above rules the comment breaches, along with supporting rationale or background. The comment will be hidden from Stitch immediately until Stitch investigates and makes a determination.

Please note there are penalties for abusing the system by reporting comments without justification. These are outlined in "How the rules are enforced" below.

Behavior we discourage / encourage

While very few Internet sites take as strong a stance against prohibited behavior as the Stitch Community does (by removing any reported comment immediately), most have established rules around prohibited behavior similar to those listed above.

Despite those rules, pretty much every Internet site today is overrun with examples of bad behavior: trolling, aggression, disrespect. Engaging with most online communities today is for many people a depressing and demeaning experience.

That is not what the Stitch Community is about.

The goal of Stitch is to build a community where everyone can feel safe, supported, and welcomed. Where they can engage with the community without being worried about online abuse. Where the community standards are so high, all members are required to act civilly at all times.

To achieve this, we have learned we need to do more than just identify the most extreme breaches of the rules.

We need to define the sorts of behavior that may not be a flagrant breach of the community rules, but nonetheless is not the sort of thing we want to see in the community. And we need to provide members ways to identify when someone is behaving in a way we discourage.

Members who consistently exhibit these kinds of negative behaviors will also be warned and eventually suspended or expelled from the community. The only reason Stitch exists is to improve our members' lives ... so if someone is behaving in a way that takes away from that goal, then they don't belong in Stitch.

By the same token, we also want to identify the sorts of behaviors we encourage, and to provide positive feedback to members when they contribute to the community in a way that improves the wellbeing of other members, even if it's just in a very small way.

In the community we provide members the ability to Rate a comment in the Stitch discussion forums, by clicking the up arrow button (to recognize positive behavior that the community encourages), or the down arrow button (to highlight negative behavior that the community discourages).

Members must only click the down arrow button for comments which fall into one of the categories listed below. The community discourages comments which are:

  • Unkind / Unwelcoming
    Comment is worded in a way that appears unkind, unwelcoming or without compassion
  • Disrespectful
    Comment is disrespectful to another member or group of members
  • Unnecessarily taking offence
    Comment is taking offence at a previous comment when it’s clear no offence was intended
  • Passive agressive
    Comment exhibits passive-aggressive behavior, such as complaining about the quality of the conversation
  • Not appropriate / Disruptive
    Comment is not appropriate to the conversation purpose or unnecessarily disruptive
  • Offensive / insensitive
    Comment is offensive. Includes sexist comments, culturally insensitive comments, etc
  • Domineering
    Comment is domineering or overbearing in tone
  • Does not comply with Group rules
    Some Stitch Groups have specific guidelines for the sort of content allowed in group discussions. (The "General Discussion" group, for example, does not permit content which is divisive in nature). Comments which don't comply with the rules established by the group owner can be downvoted using this category.

Similarly members must only click the up arrow button for comments which fall into one of the categories listed below. The community encourages comments which are:

  • Kind
    Comment is a good example of demonstrating kindness or compassion
  • Respectful
    Comment is a good example of making others feel they are being treated with respect. Particularly important when expressing disagreement.
  • Welcoming
    Comment is a good example of making others feel welcome
  • Good moderation
    Comment is a good example of moderation, bringing the conversation back on track, encouraging good behaviour, etc.

PLEASE NOTE:
Do not click the upvote/downvote buttons if you simply agree or disagree with a comment. The buttons are there to encourage all members to behave respectfully, not to agree or disagree with a particular opinion. If you agree or disagree with a comment, send the commenter a private message or make a public comment in response. Just make sure you do so respectfully!

How breaches are enforced

When a comment is reported to Stitch, it is immediately hidden from the community until it has been reviewed. This is to prevent any potentially offensive comments remaining on the site to escalate the situation.

When Stitch reviews the comment in question, it will determine whether the comment was:

  • A breach of the community rules
  • No breach of the rules, but the reporter acted in good faith
  • No breach of the rules, and the reporter did not act in good faith

Breach of the community rules

If a comment is determined to have breached the community rules, the following things occur:

  1. The comment is permanently removed from Stitch
  2. The reporter is sent a notification informing them of the outcome
  3. The commenter is sent a warning notifying them they have breached the rules

The commenter is also placed in Stitch's corrective action process. This consists of a series of escalating consequences for repeat offenders. Each incident takes them higher up the process, based on the severity of the infringement.

Each incident is graded on a scale of 1-5. A minor infringement is rated as a level 1 infringement, while the most extreme breaches are rated level 5. The sequence of consequences is as follows:

  • Level 1: gentle warning
  • Level 2: stern warning
  • Level 3: short term suspension
  • Level 4: extended suspension
  • Level 5: cancellation of membership

Multiple breaches within a 3 month period will increase the action taken. For example, if a member has a level 1 breach, they will receive a gentle warning, but if this is followed with a level 3 breach a few weeks later, they will immediately be subjected to an extended suspension (level 1 for first breach + level 3 for second breach = level 4).

After 3 months of no further breaches of the rules, the member would return back to normal again.

Not acting in good faith

If a member is found to have reported a comment in bad faith -- for example by reporting comments to remove them from the community when there is clearly no justification for doing so -- then this constitutes an abuse of the reporting system. In these instances, the reporter will be subject to the same sequence of punitive action as outlined for breaches of the guidelines.

Moderation of negative behavior

The rules outlined above cover clear violations of the community rules, such as when a member posts racist or inflammatory comments in the community. While that sort of thing does happen from time to time, it's actually pretty rare.

A more common issue is with genuine members who consistently post mildly negative comments. Often they are doing this without being aware of how they are coming across, but their comments can be rude, insulting, demeaning, or disrespectful.

That's what the downvoting system is for. A single disrespectful comment isn't enough to breach the guidelines, but someone who makes enough of those comments over time will bring everyone else down.

That's why the Stitch Discussion forums use downvotes to give members feedback when their comments are upsetting or causing distress to other members. If this happens often enough, they will be locked out of individual forums or even locked out of the forums altogether.

The rules work like this:

  • Once a member has received downvotes from 3 different members in a discussion forum, they will receive a warning notice
  • Once a member receives downvotes from 6 different members, across 3 separate comments, they will be locked out of that topic for one week
  • Once a member receives downvotes from 9 different members across 4 separate comments, they will be locked out of that topic permanently
  • Once a member is locked out of 3 topics, they will be locked of the Discussion forums permanently

General online discussion guidelines

In addition to the above guidelines, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when communicating on the Stitch forums, or commenting on Stitch Groups or Activities.

  • Be pleasant
    Demonstrate and share the intelligence, wisdom and humour we know you possess. Take some responsibility for the quality of the conversations in which you’re participating. Help make this a comfortable place for discussion and it will be.
  • Remain clear and concise
    Things like sarcasm and humour have a tendency to get misunderstood when in written form. To avoid confusion, write clearly and expect that people may interpret your contribution differently to what was intended. One of the best ways to test your messages for clarity is to read them out loud before you send them.
  • Read what’s been written first
    Be mindful of the other users in the conversation and take a minute to read through the whole page and other comments to make sure that you’re not reposting a recent comment, which might have already been discussed. Just as you wouldn’t interrupt a conversation in real life without checking what the discussion is about, the same rule applies here. This also applies to posts or comments about moderation, which should not be posted as comments and will be removed.
  • Don’t broadcast to the whole group when a direct reply will do
    If you receive an invite to an event and can’t come, there is no need to broadcast to all attendees that you cannot attend. If you want to send the organizer a personal message, please send them a private direct message, rather than posting a comment on the event as this will sent a notification to all attendees.On a similar topic, if you want to reply to an individual comment in a conversation, click the “Reply” button on that comment. Your response will be sent to that person, rather than broadcasting a notification to the whole group.
  • Be understanding
    Stitch members come from all across the world with varied levels of English. We ask that posts are read for their meaning and not nit picked, it is always the overall meaning in the post that’s most important.
  • Do not broadcast your member invite code inside Stitch
    Giving your member invite code to new members in order to convince them to join Stitch (and earn a discounted membership in the process) is something we actively encourage, and is the whole reason the invitation code was introduced in the first place. You must, however, refrain from broadcasting your invite code in the public areas of the community, such as on event comments, or the Stitch forums.

    The reason is simple: if everyone did so, it would make the community unworkable for everyone else; the public areas would be overwhelmed by posts with invitation codes. If you want to send someone your code to invite them to join the community, just send them a private message on Stitch or hand it to them in person at a Public event.

    On the other hand, you are actively encouraged to broadcast your invitation code as publicly as you can outside Stitch. Post it on fliers, on your blog, in your email signature, on your web site … whatever works for you! We all want as many members as we can to join the community, so please invite as many people as you can, however you see fit.

Guidelines for events & activities

Stitch members don’t generally need much guidance about how to behave in the real world (they’ve usually had plenty of practice!), and that includes behavior for both organizers and attendees at Stitch events and activities. As long as everyone sticks to the Golden Rule above, things tend to run pretty well.

Experience has taught us, however, that a community like Stitch – where members are always in the process of getting to know each other – is sometimes a little bit different from other communities our members may be familiar with, and a few issues seem to pop up over and again.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines to keep in mind when organizing or attending Stitch activities:

  • Everyone is welcome at Public events
    If you are the organizer of an Public event, please remember that everyone is welcome. That includes Public (non-paying) members, friends of members, and unverified members who have come along to get verified. Some members can take months or even years before they decide to start coming to events and activities, so we don’t place a time limit on when someone needs to get verified after registering for Stitch. We do, however, limit unverified members to three events before they need to be verified. So if an unverified member turns up at an Open event, please do your best to help them get verified.
  • There are no “reserved” days of the month or week for events & activities
    One of the techniques we recommend Stitch members use to get a community going in their area is to have a regular event on the same day once per month. We’ve had “Thirsty Thursdays”, “Mix & Mingles”, “New Member Get-Togethers”, “Monthly Brunch” and more, all falling on a pre-determined day of the month, such as the fourth Thursday, second Tuesday, and so on.

    If you are the organizer or a regular attendee at one of these events, please remember that it won’t always be the only event held that day. As the community grows in your area, you can expect (in fact, you should hope) there will be more and more activities posted by other members. Sooner or later, someone is going to post an event on the same day as your regular monthly event, and that’s actually a good thing.

    Sometimes this happens because the other member wants to attend an activity whose time or date cannot be changed, sometimes they simply don’t realize that your regular event has been happening on that night for months. No matter what the reason, you must remember that this is not a problem and in fact is something Stitch encourages. Stitch is a broad community full of a wide variety of members, and as the community grows there needs to be space in the community for multiple events on every single night, to cater to all those interests.

    Once your local community calendar becomes so full that there are multiple events on each night, instead of being concerned that there is competition for attendees at your activities, you should be jumping for joy about having such a wonderfully diverse community in your area!
  • There are no “reserved” titles for events & activities
    Along the same lines as the above point, there are no “reserved” titles for events & activities in the Stitch community. The very first “Mix & Mingle” happened in Stitch’s New Community several years ago, and since then we’ve been recommending that title as a great one for monthly events in communities around the world, along with other events like “Thirsty Thursday”, “Happy Hour”, “New Member Get-Together” and more. Just because you have been calling your events a particular name should not prevent anyone else from doing so, and in fact is something we actively encourage as the community grows into more and more areas.

    The only exceptions to this are events posted to a Stitch Group that you own or organize. As owner of a Group, you have complete say over what events get posted to the Group, what the membership in the Group is, and event to some extent what its expected behaviors are (provided they don’t conflict with the Stitch Community Guidelines). So if your Group is called “Timbuktu Stitchers”, for example, and you host a regular “Monthly Timbuktu Happy Hour”, then you are entitled to prevent another member from posting an event of the same name to your Stitch Group. They are within their rights, however, to post an event called “West Timbuktu Happy Hour” to the general Stitch community.
  • Do not publish multiple instances of recurring events or activities
    Recurring events play a crucial role in helping a community grow and flourish, especially a community that’s just getting started. We have seen time and time again that members who attend recurring events such as monthly ‘Mix and Mingles’ begin to feel connected to everyone else and learn how safe and welcoming the Stitch community is. That’s why they are such an important aspect of Stitch.

    When creating a recurring activity, please do not publish multiple instances of the activity at one time, even if they are over multiple weeks or months. For example, if you want to host a monthly Mix and Mingle, do not post it for August, September, October, November, etc. at the same time. If you do, members of your local community will receive an email for every month you post it for, which will clutter their email inbox and lead to complaints. It will also mean you get fewer attendees overall.

    The way to publish a recurring event on Stitch is like this:
  1. Only create an event for the nearest upcoming instance for your recurring activity
  2. Once the event has occurred, visit its activity page and in the section titled “Want to do this activity again?”, select the button titled DO THIS AGAIN.
  3. Stitch will then lead you through some prompts to help you create the next upcoming instance of your recurring activity.

    You can learn more about this process here.

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