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Enkidom

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT CHANGES TO THE REGISTRATION AGE OF THE FORUM (PLEASE READ)

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Enkidom   
Enkidom
Posted (edited)

Greetings, members of the forum.

Today, the staff comes forward with a major policy change that has been in the works for weeks and on the table for discussion for months. Starting April 28th, only members of 18 years or older may register and become members of the forum. In companion to this, many forum policy changes outlined below will come into effect in the following month.

We understand you all are likely to have a lot of questions about this change and we will do our best to address everything as clearly and thoroughly as possible. Below is a detailed summation of information concerning this decision. Please read it thoroughly and if there is something here that has not been addressed, feel free reach out to the staff via Contact Us! or via PM.

This thread be used for questions and answers concerning this policy change only, and these questions will be added at the staff's discretion as more inquiries come in from the membership. If you have an opinion about this decision that you would like to share, please make a topic in an appropriate board. This decision has already been made and while it may not be permanent – the staff reserves the right to reverse this decision should we feel it is not proving beneficial to the forum – we will be moving forward with it at this time until further notice.


WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? / HOW DID THIS DECISION COME ABOUT?
The Sneeze Fetish Forum of 2018 is not the same Sneeze Fetish Forum as it was back in 2002. It has changed, as have the staff and also the members. As a staff, we feel that it is important to discuss making changes to improve things for the future and not keep things the same because they have always been done that way. 

Because the foundation of this forum is built on a fetish - which is by definition sexual - we feel this inherently creates a space that is unsafe for minors and adults to interact concerning topics about the fetish. We understand many of you do not perceive the fetish to be sexual, and we also understand there are rules in place to keep the forum becoming one big conversation about sex. 

However, even if the poster of a topic does not find the content sexual, by posting anything including sneezing or anything related to sneezing on a website which is solely designed to sexualize sneezing, it is therefore - by default - intended to be sexual, and there are people who will find it that way. This means that a 13 year old could post something about sneezing that they find completely innocent, whereas an older member could be finding sexual pleasure in reading it.

We appreciate it completely that posting sneezing anywhere else on the web is permitted. It isn't illegal, or even designed to be sexual, when a video of a baby sneezing is posting on YouTube. That is correct. But as soon as it is posted here, it is immediately sexualized, whether that is the intention or not. It is not about how the OP intended it, but how the general membership - and guests - will view the content. 

Members of staff discussed this at length and a majority of us agree this is an accurate depiction of the Sneeze Fetish Forum at its core. It is this assessment that has fueled the creation of this policy.

PROTECTION FOR MINORS
With all of this in mind, we do not think that this should be the content that we allow minors to post of themselves, or for sneeze-related content to be about minors. If we continue to allow minors to post content of themselves or other minors (real life people, celebrities or fictional/animated characters), it is instantly leaving them wide open to be preyed on and sexualized by other members. Any content which is posted here in the public forums is left wide open for literally any member or guests to get aroused by it. We don't like the thought of indirectly allowing minors to be sexualized when we quite easily have the jurisdiction to prevent it. 

PROTECTION FOR ADULTS
We would also like to mention that we understand many adults on this website are not turned on by content featuring minors, but in fact concerned and uncomfortable about it. Plenty of respectable members come here to sexually engage with the content here, and it is very, very uncomfortable for them to be browsing the forums and stumble across a post that is about a minor, which they don’t realize until later on in the post. This change is not only protecting minors (which is the main focus) but also protecting the older members too.

POLICY ON EXISTING UNDERAGE CONTENT
All underage content currently on the public forums will be moved to the Youth Board. This will be similar venture to the split of the Stories forum into sub-forums. We will be combing content from General Discussion, Obs/Stories/Artwork (and their sub-forums), as well as any other forums that have content the staff feels should move. We would also appreciate the membership's help in reporting posts or reaching out through Contact Us! or through the Report function to inform the staff of topics that have been missed or underage topics that are posted in general areas once these new rules are in effect. Please note that any audio/video content of people under the age of 18 years old is still strictly forbidden on any board on this forum. 

POLICY ON EXISTING 13-17 MEMBERS
Rest assured, those members who are in the 13-17 age range will continue to be members. However, we will no longer approve anyone new who is younger than 18 years old effective April 28th, 2018. 

Any current member who is aged between 13-17 now will be granted automatic Youth Board access, and that is where they can post their obs, fics, artwork, etc. When these members turn 18, they will have their Youth Board access revoked, and will be granted access the Adult Board if they so desire. There will now be two different Youth groups -- Youth Validated and Youth Unvalidated. Both will have access to the Youth Board, though Unvalidated members will have less permissions than those who are Validated. Information about these groups will be in the Membership Levels thread once they are rolled out at the end of the month.

This will not restrict 13-17 members from posting on the main boards. The staff's intent is not to isolate this group of the membership. Our intent is to instead isolate underage content pertaining to sneezing. Minors can still post in all the same main forum sub forums as they do now. They may also post obs/story/art content about people and characters OVER the age of 18 on the main boards. They must post obs/story/artwork of people and characters UNDER the age of 18 on the Youth Board. Please let the staff know if this is unclear or confusing.

We will also be making 13-17 members a different colour, effective April 28th. This way, membership can easily identify who the youth members are. It will make it easier to see who turns 18 and when, and allow staff to manage and moderate the youth board more efficiently. This will also help distinguish them without the disclosure of their ages, which is explained in the next section below.

POLICY ON AGE RANGES (IE. "NOT TELLING")
We have many members who do not have their ages displayed. The problem with this is that the staff does not know how old a lot of our membership is, which will make it very difficult to grant Youth Board access to those with unknown ages. It is for this reason we will be asking all members with the "Not Telling" age range to either reach out to staff to disclose their actual ages and birthdays, or make changes to their profiles themselves.

We want to mention that Age Ranges and Birthdays will now be undisclosed. Only the member in question and the members of SFF Staff will be capable of seeing age ranges and birthdays on profiles. We are doing this so members will be feel more comfortable disclosing accurate information, and also because 13-17 members will now automatically be added to a Youth Group that will be visible on their profiles with badges beneath their names on their posts. As mentioned before, this way there will be no question who is a minor and who is an adult, even if the ages will no longer be publicly visible.

Age ranges and DOBs will become invisible to to the forum after April 28th. After this time, if you do not change your age from "Not Telling" or other such ambiguous answers, your account will be suspended until you specify an accurate age range to staff.


OUTLINE OF POLICY CHANGES AS OF MARCH 31
If you have not read any of this post, please read this part. It includes important changes to forum rules and forum management. It is the summary of the entire discussion above. All these changes are effective beginning April 28th.

+ The forum will be 18+ only for membership, and all the public forums will only allow content to be posted about people/characters over the age of 18.

+ Existing content including minors – including obs, stories and artwork – will be moved to the Youth Board and away from the main boards.

+ Any material posted of minors on the main boards – this includes self obs, General Discussion posts about themselves or other minors in regards to sneezing or fetish related symptoms, stories of real life, fictional or animated characters, artwork, and other posts about them or others sneezing or fetish related symptoms – will be either deleted or moved to the appropriate sub forums and warnings are given at staff's discretion.

+ Existing minor members can remain, but we will not accept new registrations from anyone under 18.

+ Existing youth members are given automatic Youth Board access, regardless of warnings, validation, etc – that will remain a private board only accessible to Youth members.

+ The forum rules pertaining to explicit content remains as it is – explicit adult content stays sequestered to the adult board.

+ Youth members are made a different colour, so other members know which members are U18.

+ The registration process is altered to make the age range and date of birth mandatory for singing up; this will be visible to staff members only to protect privacy.

+ Anyone joining under the age of 18 will be suspended until they turn 18.

+ We ask all members who don’t have their ages and DOBs listed to add that information to their profiles; if they are not yet validated, please send this information to the staff through Contact Us! or have the staff email you for your informatio


LAST REMARKS
The staff would like to recognize that PuddinPop spearheaded this initiative and outlined the skeleton of this policy. Without her hard work, we would not have gotten this far. We would also like to thank members of the staff -- mods and admins alike -- for their consideration and carefully weighed opinions on this matter during the lengthy period of discussion. We spent a very long timetalking through this topic and addressing counter-arguments. While there are reasons for the forum to remain open to minors, we feel that none of them are strong enough to outweigh the benefits of making this an 18yrs-and-up forum. We hope the membership at large understands why the staff is making these changes.


FAQ / Q&A
These are some questions and arguments that were generated during the staff's discussion and they have been detailed here to provide clarity and reassurance to members. More may be added as members come forward with questions. 

As was stressed above, if you have opinions about this change that you want to share, please do so in another topic on an appropriate board. As members reach out to the staff through Contact Us! or PM, we will add pertinent concerns or questions to this area. We reserve the right to include only questions or concerns we deem as relevant to the membership as a whole.


Q: But what about minors who join this forum because adolescence is often a very confusing time when it comes to sexuality, and it is vindicating for those aged between 13-17 (sometimes younger) to find this forum and see that they're not alone?

A: We absolutely fully appreciate that, and understand the reasoning behind it. However, there is no harm in minors being able to view the forum as guests, but wait until they are 18 years old to join. That way, they can see other topics and discussions around, and know that they aren't alone. Then they can sign up when they are old enough. Allowing minors to interact with other members is putting them at risk. We are in a position to prevent this – to prevent minors being sharked and preyed upon – and we care more about protecting minors from this behavior than we do about them being able to ask questions and join in posts on the public boards before they turn 18.


Q: Won't making the forum 18+ only would result in an influx of ‘dick pics’ and other such material? Without the steady presence of new younger members, it might become a place where sexual content is everywhere! 

A: Making the forum registration requirements 18 years old and up does not mean that we will be allowing 18+ material (as in, the explicit, sexual topics) to be posted on the main boards. Our rules about overage content being restricted to the Adult Boards will stay in effect. If you post about sex, masturbation, nudity, or other topics as outlined in the forum rules, you will still get disciplined for it. As such, the Adult Boards will still remain areas for validated members only.


Q: I am under 18 years old and want to post a video or .wav of myself sneezing on the Youth Board. That's allowed now, right?

A: No. Absolutely not. Fetish-related Videos or audio recordings of any member or non-member under the age of 18 years old, even if said content is being supplied by the member in said content, is strictly forbidden in any area of this forum.


Q: I am over 18 years old, but I want to write/draw art of underage people or characters. I can't have access to the Youth Board because I'm an adult. What do I do?

A: If you are over the age of 18, do not generate and post underage content. We are restricting underage content to the Youth Board, and if you do not have access to that area, you should not be posting underage content of any kind. If you are drawing/writing about characters that are canonically under the age of 18 (ex. Voltron, Harry Potter, etc), then specify in your art/story that you have increased the age of the characters to above 18 years and draw/write about them in an adult manner, in an adult environment (ex. college, office space, etc).


Q: Why are you making me include my age and my birthday on my profile? I don't want to give you that information and I don't want anyone to see it.

A: As mentioned above, the staff needs to know your age and date of birth so we can tell minors from adults. The "Not Telling" option will no longer be viable on this forum. Your age and your birthday will now be visible only to yourself and the members of SFF staff. The membership will not be able to see it anymore. This information will not be used for any other purpose other to verify that you are indeed either a minor or an adult. 

Also as mentioned before, if you do not change your age range to accurately reflect your age, or do not give the staff the information to do it for you, your account will be suspended until you do so.


Q: So you're putting all the underage members in one group now? And changing the color of their group name? Won't that make it easy for predators to go after them, with them so visible?

A: We understand this is a concern, but the staff has and will make it very clear with pinned topics on the Youth Board of what to do and how to report members/messages that they find inappropriate. This is also covered in the Internet Safety thread. We also recognize we have a vigilant membership as well, who polices the boards and is quick to report any inappropriate behavior between adults and minors. 

All in all, we know that broadcasting 13-17 members in an entirely separate group will make them more visible, but we trust these members to reach out to staff the moment an interaction makes them uncomfortable. We are also comforted by the amount of members who care about minors' safety and look out for them. 


Q: If you're changing the forum to 18+ only, won't that just encourage minors to lie about their ages to sign up? They can just pretend to be 18! And other people can just lie about their ages and pretend to be minors! AND you're allowing unvalidated members on the Youth Board?! This is really dangerous!!

A: Yes, we know this is a danger. However, it is not a new one. This happens now. Members lie about their ages to get access as we speak. We tend to find out, and when we do, we take the appropriate action. This will remain the same after the policy change and the staff is prepared to handle it as we always have.

 

Q: So if all the minors are being given automatic Youth Board access, does that mean all the adults are automatically given Adult Board access? 

A: No. The general forum is open for everyone to post their material of people over the age of 18, and for people to join in discussions. We are still maintaining the validation process, and Adult Board access will only be given to members who are fully validated and don't have any warnings on their profiles. 

 

Q: I'm a minor, so I'm going to be given Youth Board access. Does this mean that ALL of my posts have to be on the Youth Board? And will this affect me being validated? 

A: Minors are still permitted to post on the main forums, as long as any content they post doesn't invlve anyone (including themselves) that are under the age of 18. If a minor has a fic or an obs they wish to post, and the person/character is over the age of 18, then this can be posted on the main forum and doesn't have to be posted on the Youth Board. Being a minor will also not impact validation. If someone has met the criteria needed for validation, whether a minor or not, they will still be considered for validation. Being a minor won't affect validation in any way. 


Please reach out to the staff with any concerns or questions concerning this new policy, and please remember that these changes will go live beginning April 28th, 2018. Thank you for your attention.
 

Sincerely

The Sneeze Fetish Forum Administration team

Edited by PuddinPop
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PuddinPop   
PuddinPop

Hi all, 

This is just a note to remind you that this announcement isn't the final draft. We will very likely add to it in the future with any further questions we may be asked frequently by members that we think will be useful for you all. We would like to ask that if you do have any questions about this change, please read through this announcement first, and if you still have any questions that haven't been answered in the announcement, then reach out to the Staff then. 

Thank you all for your continued support and compliance while this change goes ahead. 

 

PuddinPop,

on behalf of the SFF Staff

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