The Terms of Service (we refer to them as TOS) regulate how a member should use the site and the forum. By registering with Opera Lively a member accepts these TOS and promises to abide by them. Consider that when you click on that registration button, it also means that you have promised to uphold the TOS.
Violations of Terms of Services may result in warnings and infraction points being issued to the member's account. The more serious the infraction, the more penalty points are applied. After a member accrues a certain number of infraction points the member may be temporarily banned, or even permanently banned (which usually happens to repeat offenders).
Please realize that Opera Lively is privately owned, and is a service provided to its members by the owner. Please understand that free speech does not apply to a privately owned place. The analogy here is with someone's home. Think of the following situation: you knock on someone's door. The owner gets the door, and you see that there is a private party going on. You ask the owner to grant you permission to get in and enjoy the party. The owner tells you: "Sure, but I have certain rules in my home. You need to remove your shoes, I don't allow smoking, and I'll ask you to be polite to the other guests." You then promise to abide by these rules, and the owner lets you win. You'll be able to enjoy the party for as long as you uphold the owner's rules, but chances are that if you refuse to remove your shoes, you light up a cigarette, and start offending the other guests, the owner will throw you out - and no claim of free speech rights will save you.
So here are the rules that the site owner has set as a condition for your continuous membership here:
1. Opera Lively intends to be above all a friendly and pleasant place. No personal attacks (a.k.a. argumentum ad hominem) will be tolerated. When you debate a point, please do so in a civil manner, and respect your opponent. You can debate to your heart's content your opponent's *opinion* but you can not attack your opponent's *person.* This works for direct attacks (e.g. "you are ignorant") *and* indirect ones (e.g. "it would be fair to say that someone reading this opinion might find it to be the product of a lack of knowledge on this topic"). The latter is skilfully disguised, but still amounts to calling the other member "ignorant." Say instead that you respectfully disagree, and state the reasons for your disagreement, but never attack personally our fellow Opera Lively member. Snobbish, contemptuous, and arrogant remarks may be seen as just as damaging as direct personal attacks. This will be taken very seriously, and *will* be enforced by the moderation team. There is a difference between action and reaction. Someone reacting to an attack may be seen with more leniency, but a reaction may very well also be a violation of the terms of service. The *only* entirely acceptable action for the victim of an attack is to report the post to the moderation team by clicking on the little black triangle with an exclamation point that you find on the bottom of each post.
2. Not only direct and indirect personal attacks are forbidden, but members should not issue detrimental comments on another member's posting style. Praise is allowed.
3. Inflammatory comments, even those that are issued unintentionally, may result in infractions or removal of the offending statements.
4. The phenomenon known as trolling is not welcome on Opera Lively. People who post provocative remarks to get a kick out of other members' reaction will see themselves banned in no time. This includes behaviors such as clicking on a thread where people are expressing their admiration for say, a specific composer, only to issue posts such as "I hate this composer, people who like him/her are tasteless" - just to sit back and enjoy the outrage. Disagreements are of course allowed, but then, substantiate (respectfully) your disagreement in a way that contributes to the discussion - don't just issue provocative comments that don't add anything to the discussion.
5. Hate speech such as racist remarks or vicious attacks on someone's religious faith, sexual orientation, national origin, etc., incitement of violence, threats, and any other illegal activity will be severely curtailed with infraction points and long or permanent bans. Local law enforcement authorities may be notified, in extreme cases.
6. The owner of this site resides in the United States of America, and our servers are also located in the USA. No posts that violate the local laws and come to our attention will be tolerated, even if they are posted from abroad. While member privacy is upheld and respected on Opera Lively, do remember that the courts have the ability to issue subpoenas and mandate the release of information about a member's account when there is reason to suspect the member of illegal activity.
7. Pornography of any kind is of course not allowed on Opera Lively. Even posts that strictly speaking are not pornographic in nature, may cross the boundaries of good taste if they are too sexually charged. Obscenity and foul language are also not allowed. This kind of content will be removed immediately and severe infractions will be issued. Light flirtatious behavior and innuendos in good fun may be permitted when the intention is clearly one of light humor, but members should thread lightly on this and err on the side of caution.
8. Opera Lively appreciates the fact that other online venues for discussion of opera and various genres of classical music exist out there. We see these sites as cousin sites, and we welcome them as places that support and diffuse our beloved art form. Occasionally disgruntled ex-members of such sites may want to register with Opera Lively. We will not tolerate any detrimental comments about our peers out there. Such comments will be removed and infraction points will be issued. We don't want to know if you find this or that place to be bad. We find them all good. This also applies to the administrators and staff of cousin sites. We consider them all to be good people, and don't care for any opinion to the contrary.
9. Spam is forbidden on Opera Lively, and will get you immediately and permanently banned. Advertising sites and products related to opera and classical music may be tolerated, depending on whether or not the poster is truly interested in contributing to our discussions, or merely doing so for self promotion. The common situation of a brand new member whose first post tries to push some product on us or tries to divert our members' traffic to some web site is frowned upon, and such posts may be removed or edited. Regular contributing members who want to promote some classical music-related item or site, however, may be allowed to do so, at the staff's discretion.
10. The administrator of this site, the moderation team, and the members of the Journalistic Department are trusted extensions of the site owner. They have been selected for a reason, and one of the requirements here is that members treat them with civility. They are performing hard work for free, and their actions intend to keep this place safe and pleasant, for the good of our online community. Often members get angry when they are the object of moderation actions. In no circumstance insults to Opera Lively and the staff will be tolerated. No public comments about moderation actions are allowed. If members are upset with moderation actions, there are *only two* acceptable remedies - the use of the Contact Us feature, or a private message to Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) the site owner and administrator. While the owner and administrator has the power to cancel infractions and penalties, his decision on appeal is final and not subject to further challenge. Moderation actions are a private matter between the staff and the member. If a member receives a warning or infraction and then publicly complains about it, another and more severe infraction will be immediately issued.
11. While off-topic discussions are permitted, they are only allowed in the specific forum that has been set up for this purpose. That area will be as closely moderated as any other, and all these TOS apply to it as well.
12. There are two topics that are summarily prohibited on Opera Lively: religion, and politics. This is a site for operatic music. Discuss opera! If you enjoy discussing religion and politics, you are on the wrong Internet venue. There are plenty of venues out there for these religious and political discussions. Opera Lively is most definitely NOT one of them. This kind of content will be removed, and penalties may be issued.
13. Opera Lively supports copyright laws. No promotion or even mention of pirated material will be allowed, and may result in infractions. Posting any content that is not one's own and is copyright-protected or otherwise owned by an individual, organization, or other entities without the express permission of the owner(s) is forbidden. While Opera Lively can't monitor all posts therefore shall not be held responsible for a member's violation of this policy, anytime such violations come to our attention, the content will be removed and penalties may be issued.
14. We the staff of Opera Lively reserve to ourselves the right to remove ANY content from the site for ANY reason (including, removing content for the sheer fact that it is utter nonsense even if it doesn't otherwise violate the terms of service), or to close, move, merge, or edit posts, threads, articles, blogs, personal profiles, signatures, or any other content posted or published on Opera Lively, and this is not negotiable. Again, the only remedy for this is the Contact Us form or a private message to the staff. An appeal may result in deleted content being restored, but again, the final decision is not subject to further challenge.
15. Members in good standing are granted one and only one account. Multiple registrations from the same IP address or use of a proxy IP address to hide the fact that a member registers more than one account, are forbidden unless approved by the administrator in advance. These approvals will be granted in certain special circumstances (two members of the same household, roommates, etc.). Attempts to defeat this rule will be severely curtailed, especially in the case of a member who is temporarily or permanently banned and/or has an account terminated and then attempts to re-register under a different account or different IP. We do have in most cases the capability of tracking the origin of an account, and violations of this rule may have unintended consequences (e.g., your IP may end up in databases of known trolls and spammers). Similarly, the phenomenon known as "cyber suicide" when a member who *wants* to be banned (often suffering from Internet addiction) posts porn in order to acquire the desirable ban, may result in unintended consequences as above. We also reserve to ourselves the right to terminate any account we suspect of being in violation of this rule, even in cases when absolute proof of the violation isn't possible: risks such as having the site invaded by spurious members hiding behind a proxy who might harm the site with malware or spam justify summary action even in the case of merely unproven suspicion given that such malicious members can harm the site quite significantly and rapidly if left unchecked. Sometimes an innocent member may fall as collateral damage of our fight against hackers - this is unfortunate but unavoidable. A member wrongly terminated, however, can use the Contact Us form to plead his/her case and to prove that our suspicions were groundless in which case we will apologize and reinstate the account.
16. Opera Lively is under no obligation to delete accounts, profiles, blogs, threads, or posts, even when the authors request it. Accounts in general will not be deleted otherwise this would cause disruption in the sequence of posts in a thread.
17. The above rules apply to all communications within Opera Lively, including articles, blogs, social groups, classifieds, and private messages. For example, if a member insults another member by private message instead of doing it on the open forums, it is still a violation of the Terms of Service. The name private message is a misnomer, since there is nothing that intrinsically guarantees its privacy in legal terms. If a member is insulted or threatened by private message, the staff is still entitled to taking corrective action, and will accept no appeal on bases that the communication was private.
18. Classifieds are tolerated in their specific thread as long as they are opera-related or classical-music related, legitimate, and respect all laws including copyrights, and do not otherwise violate our policies (e.g., porn or erotic content). In doubt, consult a staff member before posting an ad there. We provide this space on *our* bandwidth which *we* pay for, as a free courtesy to members, however inappropriate ads may not only be deleted, but may also result in the poster being banned and reported to anti-spam services. Remember, Opera Lively is not a free advertising site, of which there are many. It is a journalistic and opera discussion organization, and we tolerate advertising from members in good standing who are otherwise good contributors to the site, but generally frown upon people who come here exclusively to use our bandwidth as a free advertising platform. The existence of a classifieds thread doesn't automatically mean that all ads placed there are OK - we reserve judgment on whether any ads should stay or go. We reserve the right to delete ANY ad for ANY reason, no questions asked. By placing an ad there, you're implicitly accepting these conditions (and their consequences if your ad violates our policies). Beware of what you do or your IP may be burdened with spam tags.
19. The above rules are not all-inclusive, and the administrators and moderators issue no guarantees that other custom infractions and penalties or actions not anticipated above won't be taken when there is belief that action is warranted.
20. We reserve the right to change these terms of service at anytime and without previous notice, including retroactive application.
21. The staff will interpret the above rules using some discretionary powers and will handle cases not anticipated above. The staff is under no obligation to enforce these rules literally in all cases.
22. This site is for users age 13 and above. By registering you are stating that you are 13 or older. If you are under 13, do not register. Any users who falsify information upon registration by misrepresenting their age and are later found to be actually below the age of 13 will have their accounts summarily terminated. The administrator and owner accept no responsibility for misrepresented age information since they don't have the means to check the age of all members.
23. Membership at Opera Lively doesn't grant to a member any privilege beyond what is usually granted to members of a message board (such as read posts, reply, post his/her own posts, etc. as defined by the account privileges set by the software). No member is to claim representation of or to speak in the name of Opera Lively outside of the strict virtual space of this web site, especially, no member is to try to earn any special advantage or access or business deal using the name of Opera Lively. Staff (administrator, moderators, consultants, journalists) can use the name of Opera Lively to contact the opera community, gain access to artists, etc., but anything that involves any business aspects of the operation are the sole privilege of the site owner, who accepts no responsibility for any misrepresentation or misuse of the above privileges by members or staff.
As bad as this all may sound (much of it is lawyer-language to protect the site's interests and is standard fare for rules presiding over message boards), we do believe that thanks to our highly educated and sophisticated operatic community, there will be very rare occasions that will require the enforcement of the above rules. Just enjoy yourselves and be nice to your fellow posters, and everything should be all right. The rules are necessary to give us the ability to curb occasionally unsavory behavior *if* it happens, but we don't expect to encounter these behaviors very often.