Episode's Community Guidelines (Updated 8/2020)

Today, with input and feedback from our community, we are sharing clarified guidelines covering interactions among Episode community members. Many of you have asked us to be clearer about what is and is not allowed in the Episode community. We should all strive to treat each other with the respect and kindness with which we would like to be treated. Our goal with these guidelines is to help the community understand what is acceptable behavior for interacting with other Episode players and creators on our forums and on Episode social media.

Starting August 12th, 2020, any actions taken as a member of our community and involving another community member or content will be subject to these guidelines. This includes activity on the Episode app, the Official Episode Forums and Episode-related accounts on other social media platforms.

While Episode related issues may occur on Instagram or other social media platforms, Episode cannot remove users from those platforms or stop them from engaging with others. However, an Episode user may face consequences on Episode for breaking our community guidelines on these other platforms. If you have an issue, you should use the official reporting systems of the platform you are on, in addition to reporting to us, if the issue is related to the Episode app or an Episode story.

Our Community’s Guiding Principles

Be Respectful.

Episode is a global community full of players with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. Our points of view may never line up exactly, but we have a duty to actively listen to others, take feedback, and work towards being and doing better over time. Being polite and thoughtful, even during a disagreement, can go a long way towards finding common ground or rectifying mistakes. Apologizing and making changes can be the best way to move forward from a dispute.

Be Kind.

Episode is a community built on inclusion and diversity. We want stories and a community that show us the wide spectrum of people that live in the world and use our app. This means being accepting of and working towards the equality of others, by not promoting harmful stereotypes or using hate speech. This also applies to players or creators with whom you might disagree or who’s content you may not enjoy.

Be Supportive.

If you have feedback on another community member’s work, please be thoughtful and provide constructive criticism. This means offering specific or actionable feedback rather than simply insulting or tearing down another’s work. This does not mean you have to like every story or every author. We encourage authors and community members to be receptive to and hear constructive feedback and acknowledge that being receptive to feedback doesn’t come with a mandate to act on it.

Examples of What is Not Allowed

The following examples are designed to help answer questions you may have about what is considered an inappropriate or unacceptable behavior among the Episode community. We recognize that words and actions may mean different things across different cultures or communities, and that we cannot cover every example of the kinds of behavior you may see. Context and intent can also inform an incident and may play a key role in defining what is and is not deemed appropriate.

Hate Speech

We do not tolerate hate speech on the Episode app, official Forums, or social media pages.

We define hate speech as content that does or intends to attack, threaten, or dehumanize an individual or a group of individuals based on a protected attribute. These attributes include, but are not limited to: race, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, sex, gender identity, religious affiliation, and disabilities.

Examples of hate speech includes, but is not limited to:

  • Using a slur referring to a protected attribute either in a post or a direct message.
  • Creating an anonymous account to harass another author using a slur, or hateful messages based on a protected attribute.
  • Posting a dehumanizing comment about a group of individuals based on a protected attribute under the guise of a joke.
  • Threatening an individual or a group based on a protected attribute with fictional or real world violence.

Bullying and Harassment

We do not tolerate behaviors that are intended to make others feel unsafe or unwelcome among the Episode community.

The definition of cyberbullying by StopBullying.gov, “includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.”

Examples of bullying and/or harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Revealing personal details about another community member, including their name, address, employer, email, or phone number.
  • Threatening another community member’s well being, livelihood or health.
  • Threatening to enact real-life violence on another community member through DMs or in comments, even as a ‘joke’.
  • Telling someone that should harm, injure, or kill themselves, or that they are worthless, hated, or that no one likes them.
  • Creating fake accounts to harass, intimidate, or threaten someone.
  • Making or attempting to make unwanted sexual contact or advances towards another user.
  • Directing followers or friends to harass or threaten another user through comments, public or private messages, or other means.
  • Weaponizing the Episode community or content reporting system in service of a personal agenda.

Consequences:

Violations of our policy will be investigated based on the context of the issue, the severity of the violations, and an individual’s previous community guidelines infractions.

Violation of these standards can result in one or more of the following: email warnings, temporary or permanent suspension from all or parts of our platform, removal of an author’s name on a story purchased by Episode, or permanent removal of all of a user’s content from the Episode platform.

How To Report an Issue

In response to feedback from many of you we’ve streamlined and updated our reporting system. Reports of community issues related to bullying, harassment, or hate speech will go into a dedicated queue and into the hands of specially trained employees for investigation and responses as appropriate.

Starting today, you must submit a report of any of the behaviors above on our improved reporting form.

This is the best and fastest way to reach us. While it may seem faster to DM us on IG or here on the forums, we will only be able to tell you to send in a ticket with supporting screenshots or other documentation using the new form.

Tips for getting your reported issue reviewed as quickly as possible:

  • Use the new reporting form.
  • Include specific information to help us identify negative behavior. Ex: Screenshots, user/account names, story titles, and specific chapters

Please note that we cannot always take immediate action, but our team investigates reports. Additionally, we would like to encourage official reporting as the first step to getting problematic content or behaviors addressed. Lastly, we understand that it can be frustrating, but our TOS and player privacy considerations prevent us from providing updates on actions taken against individuals or accounts.

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Thank you so very much for making this and making the guideline clear!

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Thank you!

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Thank you.
Episode community member bullying/harassment has been outrageous and unacceptable on instagram in particular.

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Thank you.

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Thank you.

Thank you for this, Episode! I just hope you hold true to investigating each report thoroughly and not letting some of the more manipulative members of this community get to you. Definitely a step in the right direction, though. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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It’s one thing to make a post but will they actually be reinforced?

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@Melani3 I’m more than grateful for these guidelines :heart:

But I have 2 questions:

  • Be Respectful: Apologizing and making changes can be the best way to move forward from a dispute.

Does that mean, that writers should bend on the demands of groups that want changes in our stories?

  • Be kind: … by not promoting harmful stereotypes…*
    What is harmful to some is not for others. One group finds certain things as a harmful promoting of stereotypes, while others disagree. So here again I have the same question: Are we obligated to make changes in that case?

Thank you!

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Hi @Melani3

I have a few questions.

  1. A while ago one of my friends started getting hate for something they said that was taken out of context. It got spread around pretty fast and now a lot of people are coming at them in their DMs on Instagram and publicly. One even sent messages less than 24 hours ago.
    Will you be asking for both sides of the story before taking any actions? Like emailing us if we are accused of specific things and asking for our side?
    For my friend, both sides have screenshots and proof of what was said but the negative ones got shared really fast.

  2. Does this go for any behavior after today, August 12th 2020, or is it for any behavior before now too? I’m sure your reports will fill up pretty soon if it’s for every situation ever, but I’m curious!

  3. What about accounts that are made for the sole purpose of calling out authors/editors/readers? Will they also face consequences?

  4. Lastly, what about youtube videos “reviewing” stories that actually end up making fun of the story instead of actually reviewing it.

Sorry for all the specific questions. Like I said, I have a friend that got hate for something said out of context that there is more to the story, and of course all the drama that does go around the community pretty much every day.

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Is it allowed that for example one person is fully against LGBTQ? But I mean, to show that it is wrong.

Or is that defined as ‘hate speech’?

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My friend was in that situation too. She got trolled and bullied and when she finally stuck up for herself after reporting and reporting and reporting with no action, she was banned on forums. This needs to punish the bullies not the victims! I saw all the screenshots and the conversations. I can say with confidence she was not in the wrong

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Episode does not tolerate hate speech, which includes dehumanizing others based on their sexuality.

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Thank you for clarifying! :slight_smile:

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Thank you for hearing us out on this! :heart:

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Thanks for clarifying! I have a few questions.

  • What would be the consequences for hate speech against the LGBTQIA+ community in more subtle ways? (Ex: Purposely misgendering someone because you disagree with them, calling someone a tr***vestite, or agreeing with someone who thinks it’s okay to do something like this).
  • Will there be any actual consequences to racism like banning? (Authors saying the N word and still being able to write on the app despite not apologizing for their actions.)
  • Will people still get banned/suspended for speaking against injustices like the ones stated above?

I appreciate you making the guidelines clear, but I’m still skeptical because people are more subtle with their sexism, racism, homophobia and bullying, which may lead to them not getting punished while people who call them out do /:

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I think a easy way to understand this is to figure out why some people might see whatever topic you’re referring to is harmful! Usually if people are hurt and offended it’s for good reason, even if you may not feel the same way! It’s better to not try and dictate what people should/shouldn’t be offended by, and understand the reasons behind why people may be uncomfortable and look at any changes from there :slight_smile:

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What criteria will you be using to determine whether someone is “weaponising the reporting system to service a personal agenda”? Why would people want to use a reporting system in which it’s unclear how the intentions of their report will be perceived?

Additionally, who is deciding what counts as a “harmful stereotype”? It certainly isn’t the people who are harmed by those stereotypes, since the content that contains stereotypes that has been reported for years has never been addressed. The people who rely on such stereotypes are still on the app churning them out, despite the community’s attempts to address it and explain why it’s problematic and how to fix it. Or is using a stereotype something that falls into something that it’s not “mandated to fix.”

Many of these things are not much clearer because they take for granted that things like racism and homophobia or transphobia, etc need to be overt in order to be harmful. There are a lot of instances of overt bigotry that have gone unaddressed, but there’s also a huge issue with more subtle and subconscious biases and discrimination that are equally harmful and are all but ignored. The things that need clarifying are how the less obvious but equally culturally harmful issues will be addressed.

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We’re talking about individuals perceptions. Not all people share them.

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