AVForums rules and conditions of use
Welcome to AVForums.com. This is a meeting place for discussion and the exchange of information on subjects (broadly) relating to AV (audio/visual) related home consumer electronics.
As a forum member, you can post messages in the forums. It's a very useful resource if you have any home cinema/home consumer electronics related questions as there are plenty of helpful members who know a lot about the subjects and are prepared to give advice. And maybe you can help other people by sharing your valuable experiences, too.
Right from the inception of the AVForums in February 2000, we have maintained a friendly and relaxed atmosphere which is suitable for a wide audience. To this end, we ask that all members read and adhere to the following rules.
From the launch of the forums, we have periodically sent an email update to all forum members wishing to receive it. Members get an email every few weeks informing them of the latest updates to the forums and our sister sites. We may also include any promotional offers from affiliated companies.
Once you have registered with the forums, you will have been added to the mailing list. Should you wish to stop receiving emails in the future, then that's no problem. All you do is head on over to your forum options page within you Control Panel and un-tick the tick box labelled 'Receive Email from Administrators' and you won't hear from us again.
Primary forum rules
Last revision 1st December 2012 (revised elements indicated in yellow)
Previous revision 10th July 2011
Users of these forums
- Must not post libellous, insulting, antagonistic, racist, aggressive or otherwise abusive remarks about any individual or company either within forum posts or the PM (Private Message) system. (More details on this issue are found below). We reserve the right to read members' private messages in the course of moderating the forums.
- Must not post swear words in such a way as to circumvent the forums' built-in swear word removal system (including in signatures)
- Must not post any images or text which are pornographic or violent or otherwise inappropriate for the viewing by younger and older people alike
- Must not promote websites which contain inappropriate material (such as pornography) or which are in competition with the AVForums. (More details on our policy towards piracy are found below). Using the AVForums via posts or PMs or in your profile to invite people to competing forums or websites is a bannable offense and we reserve the right to check PMs should we believe this is happening.
- Must not post promotional information about any illegal activities (including bulk piracy of VCDs & DVDs). We will not permit people to use the forums to distribute files which are pirated or aid in the production of pirated material.
- Must not post any spam. People posting spam will be instantly and permanently banned, their posts will be deleted and their details will be submitted to the Stopforumspam service so that they will not be able to use those details to re-register with either AVForums or the many any other communities which use that service.
- who own, operate, represent or who are affiliated with a commercial enterprise or competing website must not post messages which directly invite members to contact them, visit their website or visit their premises to purchase goods or services unless they are advertisers with AVForums. More details about rule 7 are given below.
- Must not create their new threads in more than one forum. (Doing so is called cross-posting). You should pick the single most appropriate forum for your message. Duplicate posts will be deleted.
- Must not use images from 3rd parties' websites without their permission. Linking to an image on someone else's website without their permission is considered to be bandwidth theft. This is not a copyright issue but a bandwidth issue. We have had big problems with people linking to our images without permission and we don't allow members to do the same to other people.
- Must not use smilies other than AVForums smilies. Using smilies from other websites is forbidden. This is because spammers have been attempting to increase their search engine rankings by posting links to smilies on their websites. We consider this to be spamming and will result in an instant ban.
- Must not use URL shorteners. Shortening URLs is not permitted on AVForums because it does not allow moderators to easily check that posted URLs are appropriate for the forums.
- Must not have signatures which contain the names, details or contact information for any website competing with AVForums or any commercial enterprise which they own, represent or are affiliated with unless they are an assured advertiser with AVForums and are posting in a professional capacity.
- Must not have an inappropriate login name. We do not permit a login name which breaks any of the rules above or which references a business, service or product unless they advertise with AVForums.
- Must not register more than once unless they advertise with AVForums. Doing so may get one or both registrations and all the posts deleted.
- Must not re-register once banned. A ban from AVForums means you are no longer welcome to use our website. Re-registering will lead to a permanent ban of the new account and a complaint to your ISP.
- Must not question the judgments or actions of forum moderators. They are far too busy to enter into discussions or arguments.
- Must not block the advertising at AVForums. Click here to read more about our policy regarding the use of advertising.
We find that the vast majority of forum members have no problem with the above rules. However, if any of them are broken, then moderators will take appropriate action to ensure the forums remain a pleasant place to visit.
Disputes with moderators
If any forum member feels they would like to dispute a moderator's decision, then they should contact a Super Moderator..
Rules for trading
All classified adverts must be placed within the appropriate classifieds forums. Those of you who will be trading on the AVForums must read and abide by the additional classified trading rules set out here.
Please read the additional rules below.
Additional and more detailed rules and guidelines
New members may find the following guidelines useful. They are here to help you make the most of the AVForums.
- Signatures are there to let people know who you are and perhaps also what kit you have. We strongly encourage people to include their first name as this encourages the friendly nature of the forums. If you want to list your home cinema kit, then please keep the signature brief.
- Avatars must not be animated.
- This one is important! If you have a question you wish to ask in the forums, please first check whether your question has already been answered. You can use the Search facility to do this. You may also find our AV FAQ may answer your question, and we encourage people to search this first.
- Please do not post text in ALL UPPER CASE. The internet community considers this to be SHOUTING and therefore discourteous.
- Please avoid using txt speak. There is plenty of capacity for creating eloquent, correctly punctuated posts. Txt speak will not get a good response from forum members and is likely to be deleted by moderators.
- When posting a new topic or a reply to an existing topic, please hit the Submit button once only. If there is a delay before your post is processed, please do not hit the Submit button again. This may result in your post appearing twice. If this does accidentally happen, then please delete your duplicate post.
- Please post your question once only. Even if you think it is relevant in several forums, you should pick the most relevant and post it there. Your question will be seen by lots of people wherever you post it. Duplicate posts swamp the forums and will most likely get deleted.
- Login names must not be offensive. Additionally there may occasionally be disputes over login names. If you use a login name which is considered to be too similar to an existing user's login name (to the extent that it would cause confusion) then admin reserve the right to change your login name. Login names must not include include business names unless the member is an advertiser with the AVForums.
- If there is a dispute over the use of avatars (small pictures adopted by users and displayed next to their posts), the user who first used an avatar has the option of retaining it and the new user of the avatar will have to select an alternative. Admin reserve the right to remove people's avatars as we see fit.
- Please make sure your email address is kept up-to-date. If you change ISP or move jobs etc., please remember to update your profile with your new email address. In addition, if you install a spam filer, please specifically allow AV Forum emails through. We regularly send out messages to forum members and if an email sent to you bounces back for any reason we may well deactivate your registration.
- Threats of suicide. Whilst advice from forum members on many topics can be considered expert, it is the belief of the AVForums organisation that advice to people contemplating suicide should only be given by people suitably trained to do so. We suggest anyone feeling suicidal should contact an organisation in your country which can give appropriate advice. The Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90 in the UK or 1850 60 90 90 in the Republic or Ireland. Threats of suicide either explicit or implicit made in the forums will result in the thread being closed or the post being deleted.
- And finally, if you find you made an error in your post, we ask you to edit it rather than creating another post correcting the mistake.
Members who own, operate, represent or who are affiliated with a commercial enterprise or competing website may not post messages which directly invite members to contact them, visit their website or visit their premises to purchase goods or services unless they are advertisers with AVForums.
If we were to allow organisations to promote their businesses in the forums, we would have many posts from manufacturers promoting their products and retailers selling their wares. Readers of the forums would consider this spam and would not appreciate being bombarded with it, which is what would happen if we did not have rule 7.
So how do we define what inviting business is? We have drawn the line at any direct invitation to contact them, visit their website or visit their premises to purchase goods or services. Some examples are clear::
Visit our website for the best deals
is an obvious breach of rule 7.
Question: When does such and such product go on sale?
Answer: We have them coming into stock in July.
The reply by the retailer does not contain a direct invitation, so is acceptable.
It may be tempting to some individuals representing companies to covertly invite business by pretending to be, for example, a 'satisfied customer'. This is very unwise, since if such dishonesty is discovered (either by members or moderators), and publicly exposed (as it often is), it could embarrass or even tarnish the reputation of the company in question.
Exceptions for advertisers
There is a situation when rule 7 can work against the ethos of the forums. Let's look at a reasonably common example. Someone asks for a retailer in their local area. One of our advertisers is not allowed to reply to their question yet another member is allowed to recommend a non-advertiser. That seems very unfair because advertisers with AVForums are putting in the effort to contribute to the forums, yet are gagged by our rules and are unable to help a poster.
To redress this unfairness, advertisers, who must otherwise abide by rule 7, may have a login name, avatar and signature which contains the company name, logo and information and also may include a direct invitation to contact them, visit their website or visit their premises to purchase goods or services only in reply to a direct question or questions. The advertiser's reply must answer the question(s) and must quote the question(s).
More information about advertising here.
Right of Reply
Organisations have a right to reply to criticism on AVForums, but they must do this without making any invitation which would break rule 7.
Prior to December 2012, rule 7 was a little stricter, preventing any solicitation of business. We decided to make the rule clearer for members and easier to moderate by changing solicitation to invitation.
What you can and can't say about people...
(Notes added June 2002). We've had some controversial retailer related threads recently which have in one case regrettably even led to the banning of a member, so I thought it a good idea to explain what the fuss is about.
Those of you who have watched Channel 4's Big Brother live will have experienced the regular "sound out's" where the comments made by the house mates are not broadcastable - perhaps because they are libellous or defamatory. Channel 4 would be breaking the law by broadcasting these comments. The same applies to these forums publishing libellous or defamatory comments.
Quite simply if someone posts a statement here such as 'Don't buy from retailer x as they are a bunch of lying cowboys', and someone replies 'thanks for the warning, I was going to buy from them but will go elsewhere', then the first post has led to a loss of business from the retailer and is therefore DEFAMATION and ILLEGAL. The retailer could sue the member who wrote the post and sue the forums for publishing it. And we at the forums are not going to allow ourselves to be put in the postition where we could get closed down. Therefore we have to err on the side of cautiousness when it comes to handling statements which could be libellous.
I'll state now once and for all that when it comes to moderating these forums we are not affiliated to or sympathetic or biassed towards any retailer or manufacturer. This particularly includes forum sponsors and our personal friends. Being accused of favouring any retailer or manufacturer is taken as a gross insult as we highly value our integrity. If these forums were not independent they would lose the respect and support of visitors both inside the industry and from the general public. These forums are run as a business but do not represent any AV related retailing or manufacturing business. The owner of these forums is a web designer and home cinema enthusiast.
These forums are NOT for the benefit of retailers or manufacturers but for the equal benefit of ALL the people.
Now in the interest of clarity, let me be a little more specific. If someone has had what they feel to be unsatisfactory service from a retailer - or as often happens, someone is completely mad as hell about the lack of service from a retailer, then what should they do?
Often people feel that 'naming and shaming' in a public forum will force the retailer to react more favourably.
First of all, if anyone is going to make serious
accusations about any retailer, they must be ready to give their full name and
address to forums admin. If requested, this information will be kept in the
strictest confidence and not, of course, revealed to the public. We need this
information simply to ensure that you are not an unscrupulous competitior of
the organisation you are criticising.
RULE 1 : BE READY TO PROVIDE PERSONAL DETAILS TO FORUMS ADMIN
(Note that we used to insist that people put their real names in their posts, but this could be a security risk so we have amended rule 1 accordingly).
In addition, nowhere in the thread must they use
language that is LIBELLOUS. No matter how angry they are, they absolutely MUST
NOT use language like 'COWBOYS' or 'ROBBING xxxx' as this is language is based
on emotion and not FACT. It is, of course, ILLEGAL and will not be tolerated
on the forums.
RULE 2 : USE APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE
If the post could be damaging to the retailer (and
these types of posts almost always are), the accuser must be able, upon request,
to provide PROOF of the accusations. Because if the case goes to court, this
proof will be needed. It's easy to exaggerate the events to favour your side
of the story, but ultimately this is not the truth.
RULE 3 : BE ABLE TO BACK UP YOUR ACCUSATIONS WITH PROOF
If a retailer chooses to respond to an accusation,
we may close a thread once that reply has been published in order to avoid threads
descending into arguments. The idea here is that an allegation has been made,
a reply has been made, and we've heard both sides of the story, END of story.
And lastly if a retailer later resolves the problem to the accuser's satisfaction,
then the accuser is obliged to post a follow-up message in the same thread to
that effect. This is only fair.
RULE 4 : POST FOLLOW-UP DETAILS IN THE INTEREST OF FAIRNESS
Hopefully people will appreciate where we're coming from in asking you all to follow the above rules. If these were insignificant forums read by just a few people, it wouldn't matter what the hell people posted. But one person can make a lot of noise in these forums and so we have to ensure that damaging remarks about ANYONE are truthful, justified and substantiated.
The AVForums does not condone or promote piracy of any kind. This specifically includes piracy of
- video material (copying DVDs or HDTV encoded movies via the internet)
- music via filesharing MP3/WMA and other digital music not specifically permitted for download in this way
- games and other applications leaked, downloaded or copied
Why do we take this position? Because doing the above is theft. It's illegal.
Whether or not you agree with file sharing and whether or not you agree with the ways the big corporations try to combat this 'problem', you may not post anything on these forums which can be interpreted by our moderators as directly promoting piracy.
To give some examples:
- You absolutely may not advertise pirated software, movies or music for sale on these forums.
- You may not direct people how to download pirated material.
- You may not advise people what hardware/software to use to copy material which is copyright protected.
I have asked moderators to remove any such posts from the AVForums.
There are some grey areas. Can people talk about equipment which amongst other functions, can be used to copy copyrighted material? The answer depends on the context of the discussion.
Specifically with regard to certain interconnects which remove macrovision and are perfectly legal to buy and use provided their use does not infringe copyright. If the discussion focuses on their use to circumvent Macrovision specifically to enable copying then the discussion is not appropriate. If the discussion focuses on their use to circumvent Macrovision to solve a display problem caused by Macrovision on certain display devices then the discussion is ok.
What has prompted this clarification of the piracy rules at the AVForums?
- The increased amount of discussion relating to obtaining unofficial releases of games. One of the developers of Halo privately thanked us for removing discussions of the leaked version. The people discussing the game also left several spoilers which other people did not appreciate.
- The increased availablility of High Definition movie downloads has led to an increase in discussions in the HDTV forum about downloading this material. Perhaps if the studios released more Hi-Def material then people wouldn't be so inclinded to download it. But that's irrelevant. We lost a forum sponsor because a major studio who they deal with objected to the discussions of HDTV piracy here and forced them to withdraw their advertising.
- The level of discussion of piracy has risen in general. We have always tried to be 'friends' with everyone including the AV enjoying public, the retailers selling them kit, the manufacturers and distributors providing the kit and the studios, marketing companies and everyone else involved in producing the movies, TV, games and music we enjoy so much.
You may be interested to know that many representatives of studios, big named manufacturers, respected technical boffins, writers and editors visit these forums. They usually don't post because they prefer not to. Or perhaps are desperate to but corporate company policy prevents them. Still, by openly discussing piracy you may well be alerting people to your actions who you might prefer didn't know what you are up to.
In conclusion, for our benefit and your benefit, please do not post anything which promotes piracy. It'll only get deleted by a moderator.
If you want to learn more about this history of the AVForums then click here.
By registering with the AVForums you consent that all the content you create on the AVForums is free of copyright at the point of submission to the AVForums and becomes property of M2N Limited (the owners of the AVForums) upon submission to the AVForums.