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Writeout Introduction and Code of Conduct

About Writeout is all about writing and writers.

By “writers” we mean:

  • Writers of fiction whatever the medium: Novels and short stories including fanfiction, screenwriting, games, poetry, stage or audio dramas
  • Writers of nonfiction including essays, blogs, craft books and memoirs
  • Writers scholarly works if your focus is on the writing process. This group might also want to take a look at, though.

You don’t have to be or want to be a traditionally published writer, or even share your writing with another person. If you have a somewhat regular writing practice you’re a writer.

Our goal is to be a fun, communal space where we can make friends, help each other, cheer each other on, and grow together in our craft.

Writeout is powered by the Hometown fork of Mastodon, a social media software that can interact not only with other servers running Mastodon but also a bunch of other software like Bookwyrm, WriteFreely, or GoToSocial. We have our own community on this server, or “instance,” but users can talk to and follow users on other instances that we are connected, or “federated,” to.

So let’s talk about what we expect from community members, and from the other communities we federate with.

Code of Conduct

Violations of the below will lead to a warning and/or a ban for instance users, and we will defederate from instances that condone or fail to moderate this behavior.

1. Confront and destroy bigotry

Be an accomplice to marginalized folks. This includes racism, anti-trans and other forms of anti-queer bigotry, ableism, misogyny, and fat-shaming.

  • By bigotry we don’t just mean saying slurs, though if you do use slurs other than as reclamation… wow, fuck off?
  • Shutting down and silencing people about the social violence they experience (“not all men,” “you're just looking for an excuse to be offended,” “can't take a joke?” “but I’m marginalized too, how can I be racist?” stuff) will also get you banned.
  • There will be no “respectful debate” or “reasonable neutrality” about the basic worth of people. If you’re so willing to give fascism a hearing, do it elsewhere.
  • No, it's not about your freedom of speech, it's about our freedom of association. You are allowed to express yourself as a miserable bigot, you are simply not entitled to our platform or our attention for it. It's boring and we are not here to be bored.

2. Writing is political

  • Don’t denigrate the existence of marginalized people in writing as “political.” Marginalized people’s existence is not more inherently political than privileged people’s.
  • If you think your work is above criticism because you claim your writing isn’t political, or if you want to complain about other people making their work “too political,” here’s a better idea: Go away.

3. Engage thoughtfully

  • Before you reply to a post, especially by someone you don’t know well, stop and think if your contribution is welcome.
  • Don’t put lewd replies in people’s mentions unless you know it’s okay.
  • If you’re unsure whether to reply, in 95% of cases making a new post will avoid drama and lead to better outcomes.
  • If someone says they don’t want to interact with you, STOP. No exceptions.
  • If someone is behaving badly we will choose to deplatform them and cut them off. If you believe someone is violating this Code and instance-level action like a ban or defederation is called for, please report them.

4. Commit to being truthful

  • A lot of us write fiction, but fiction is a consensual interaction–you go into it understanding it's not supposed to be factual.
  • Being untruthful about real people and events without the shared understanding that it's fiction is called lying, and we don't tolerate harmful lies.
  • Bending facts and logic to support an agenda, linking to biased sources, and using conversational tactics such as deflection, whataboutism, and distraction are all disingenuous actions.
  • Spreading malicious lies and insults about other users is also unwelcome behavior, and also falls under the Engage thoughtfully rule.
  • Using any service on this site to promote scams such as predatory publishing schemes, crypto, or NFTs is grounds for a ban.
    • Off-site promotion of scams is also grounds for a ban, since this site can be used to recruit and target people. Also we just don't want to be around scammers, ew.
  • April Fool's Day or any other form of humor is not a valid grounds for breaking this rule. Hurtful untruths are hurtful no matter what the intention or calendar day.
    • If you're going to make a factually misleading post for the purpose of humor, consider doing so under the Content warnings “Misinfo” or “nonsense” and so on.
    • Bigoted humor falls under Unlearn your bigotry.

5. Aim for accessibility

5.1. Media descriptions

  • If you can, please describe the media you upload so it's accessible for screen reader users, users who don't have audio/video and so on.
  • If you can't describe the media, here are some ways to ask for help:
    • Put the :help_describe: emoji in the post so people know that you would like the media described.
    • Give a mention to, which will boost your request so people who follow can add a description.
    • If you have an issue with remembering to caption, follow to receive reminders when you forget to add a text description to images.
  • If you decide to post audio/visual media without a description, especially publicly to the timeline, please do so with a content warning, see below.

5.2. Content warnings

Mastodon, like a lot of federated software, has content warnings (CWs). This is a kind of title for your posts that people can click/tap to open for a full view. Here are some common content warnings that are considerate to use when you post to Writeout:

  • “food” for food discussion and media.
    • Some people also use “food non-veg” for meat and other non-vegan food (including vegetarian but not vegan foods like eggs and dairy), or “food veg” for vegan food.
  • “lewd” for sexually explicit content.
  • “kink” for discussions of kink.
  • “ec“ or “eye contact.”
  • “pol” for electoral/national politics, for instance “uspol” for U.S. politics.
  • “no image description” for undescribed images or other media. We encourage media descriptions for accessibility, but if you can’t or don’t want to describe media please CW so that users who can’t access that content can move on.
    • Similarly, screen reader-unfriendly content like “multiple emojis” (such as emoji art or Wordle results) and “ASCII art” should be warned. Catch-alls like “screen reader inaccessible” should work, too.
  • Also consider using CWs for subjects that people may find upsetting or triggering, such as mental health issues, suicide, physical health, death, violence, abuse, visual depictions of common phobia triggers such as spiders and snakes and so on.
  • We have a big word count limit so be sure to CW for long posts, perhaps giving a summary in the CW line, to be considerate to people’s timelines.

If you wish to post without CWs, for instance you regularly post erotica or food pictures, we ask that you post the content unlisted, that is public but not on public timelines, or followers-only, and note the lack of CWs in your bio or a pinned post.

CWs are NOT required for the following content:

  • Experiences with and discussions of bigotry
  • Asking for help with money

Please don’t ask people who are subjected to societal violence and exploitation to hide away their own life experiences for your comfort. That’s just rude. If you find such content upsetting you can always block, mute, or otherwise filter.

5.3. Camel Case

Please use camel case in tags, that is capitalize the start of each word in a multi-word hashtag e.g. #CamelCase. This makes the tags easier for screen readers and improves human readability as well.

6. Child sexual abuse is not entertainment

Here is our policy for sexual content:

  • Sexually explicit writing and media with adults are fine, with CWs or unlisted with warnings as discussed.
  • Writing children in sexual situations is allowed, but as part of the children’s life experiences whether with sexuality or abuse/violence, and not for adult sexual gratification.
  • Sexually explicit media depictions of minors under 18 or those who look/sound like minors in human terms is absolutely banned, whether listed or unlisted. We don’t want to see it, and we’re not going to risk going to jail over it. Simply do not.

7. Be yourself and have fun

All this can seem like a lot, but they’re mostly for edge cases and to make sure everyone is on the same page ahead of time. They’re also there so that everyone can have fun and learn.

On the Fedi, as we call it, of federated instances there are no algorithms to drive “engagement,” no ads, marketing, or outrage-of-the day cycle. Nobody cares about brands or image. Just be your goofy weird self, treat others well, and accept nothing less than respectful treatment from others.

Frequently Asked Questions

What subjects can I talk about?

Anything, within the Code of Conduct and with any necessary Content warnings! You don’t have to make every post writing-related. This goes for posts on the public timeline, too. This is a community, not a classroom, and you don’t have to keep everything “on subject.” It’s cool if you want to stick to posts about writing, but don’t hesitate to bring other parts of your life here too.

That said, if you never want to talk about writing, consider that this instance might not be right for you.

Will I have a broad reach from this instance?

Not as much in some of the bigger instances with more open federation policies. Due to our code of conduct, above, we will be selective about federation. This may limit your reach to other instances, which is a consideration you should make if you're looking for a platform. Our focus is more on a healthy group than a broad reach.

Can I block the moderators?

You are actively encouraged to curate your contact list however you see fit, including blocking/muting a moderator. However, if you want to block every mod this instance probably isn’t right for you.

Are bots allowed?

Yes, with these restrictions: Any bots should not be disproportionate in the volume of posts/media and bot-generated text should be CW'd with “Markov bot text” or similar so that users know the text might be nonsensical or offensive. Obviously, any spambot will be taken down and the user banned.

Can I cross-post from other accounts/platforms?

Yes, but you should be somewhat available to interact–-not every hour of the day or anything, but this should be a place where you talk to people every now and then. We are looking for people to engage as a community, not just to provide a megaphone. We are also not the best megaphone, see above.

Is it okay if I write about offensive subjects like bigotry?

Of course! Dealing with difficult subjects, whether in fiction or non-fiction, is an important part of many writers' creativity. Remember that Writing is political, though, and be prepared to face challenges on how you deal with these subjects in your writing. This doesn't mean authors who write about such subjects are game for dogpiling: Toxic feedback, especially unsolicited criticism, is likely to fall under the Engage thoughtfully rule.

If a user condones/defends bigotry and societal violence, for instance under the guise of fiction, this may fall under the Unlearn your bigotry rule and possibly the Commit to being truthful rule.

Do I have to be active on here to keep my account?

You don't have to be super active or anything–we encourage people not to be too “online” and to spend plenty of time logged off.

If an account seems abandoned though, for instance if there has been no activity at all for a year or longer, we will make contact and try to talk about whether you want to keep the account around. In addition to the usual reasons of communal engagement and saving server resources, accounts that seem to exist only to watch and never participate are potential security risks to other users.

instance/coc.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/22 11:58 by nerd