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Please read before posting in this forum
This post covers the most common problems encountered by the mods of the ethnobotany section of the forums. Members are shown the forum rules when they sign up, but many new members either don't read the rules, forget them, or misunderstand them, leading to posts that need to be removed or modified by the mods, and sometimes resulting in warn points for the offending members. This post also covers some issues and subtleties that are not explicitly spelt out in the rules.

Please read this whole post before contributing to the ethnobotany forum. In the past, we have been very lenient on new members. Ignorance of the rules and the way they are applied will no longer be accepted as an excuse for breaking the rules because it is your responsibility to read this post before starting your own topic or replying to a thread. Feel free to post in this thread if there is anything you don't understand or need clarification on.

Some of the subtleties of the way the rules are applied are very hard to specify, and it is something that is best learnt by reading other posts and seeing what is determined acceptable and what isn't. If you are new, it is a good idea to do a lot of reading on here to get a feeling for how this community operates and how the rules are applied before posting.

Thread and post removal
If a thread or post is removed, please do not repost without talking to a mod. We always contact members when we have removed their posts. Sometimes a thread or post is made temporarily invisible while we work out what to do with it. It is rarely more than about 12 hours between a post being made invisible and the member being contacted, so posting again 5 minutes after your initial post is removed just makes more work for the mod team and makes it more likely that we will apply the rules harshly.

If it has been more than 48 hours since your post has been removed and you have not heard from us, please PM planthelper or me to find out what's going on.

Do not ask in the thread (where the original post was) why your post was removed. The other members posting in the thread have nothing to do with it, and most of them probably didn't even see the post that was removed.

In some cases, a minor edit may be applied to your post without you being informed. In such cases, it should be obvious why your post was edited (e.g. self-incrimination).

Forum Rules
The forum rules all apply to the ethnobotany forum.

Posting Rules

1) Do not incriminate yourself or others.

2) Please be friendly and supportive (no insults).

3) Racism, homophobia, or any other bigotry will not be tolerated.

4) Commercial postings are permitted as long as they are relevant and not obtrusive.

5) Trading and advertising items for sale is welcome and encouraged!!

6) Provide a valid and accurate climate, or a location from which climate can be deduced.

7) Do no abuse the ratings systems.

These rules are here to protect both the forums and you.

How these rules apply to the ethnobotany section
The most relevant to this forum is #1. This means no posting about (or pictures of) any plants you are illegally growing. This also relates to #6, because you may be growing a plant legally, but if your location is not properly filled out, it can cause some confusion. Specifically, if your location is empty or non-specific, it will be assumed that Australian law applies and posting pictures of plants you are growing that are illegal in Australia will not be allowed.

If you are not in Australia, it can also help avoid confusion if you include a disclaimer at the top of your post which states unequivocally that you are in a country where the plants you are posting about are legal. If you are in Australia and responding to such a thread, be careful not to inadvertantly incriminate yourself.

The rules of the cacti and succulent forum apply when posting about cacti in the ethnobotany forum. This means no discussion of potency regarding cacti. While discussion of the potency of other plants is not strictly against the rules, posts of this nature may sometimes be removed at the discretion of the mods, particularly if the plant in question is illegal and other aspects of the post are questionable. Links to scientific research are almost always okay, but asking which plant will "get you more messed up" is not appropriate.

It is also okay to post pictures or information that you found online, or elsewhere, of plants that are illegal where you live, but this must be very clearly explained in your post, and not just thinly veiled self-incrimination. Terms like "SWIM" and "FOAF" are not acceptable ways of avoiding self-incrimination, as they are usually read as "I" by most forum users. If you genuinely have a friend who is doing something illegal, it is advisable to speak in hypotheticals to avoid it sounding like this 'friend' is you.

Incrimination of others is totally unacceptable and will be dealt with harshly.

Trading versus spamming
Trade posts are more suited to the seed and plant exchange forum, but mentioning that you have something available is okay if it is relevant to the context of the thread. Spamming a thread with requests for seeds or cuttings, just because the thread is about the plant you are after is not okay, and such posts will be removed and warn points will be applied for repeat offences. Similarly, spamming members via PM is not okay. If someone is PMing you asking for plants that you were talking about in a thread, be sure to report it, because otherwise the mods have no way of knowing about it. The seed and plant exchange forum is very active, and posting there will give you the best chances of obtaining what you want, so there is nothing to be gained by spamming the ethnobotany forum or individual members.

Report button
Reported posts can be seen by the moderators of the forum you are reporting a post or thread in, as well as Torsten and the supermoderators. This enables any of us to step in quickly when a post that breaks the rules may otherwise go unnoticed. We are also provided with a space to discuss individual reports, and this helps keep us in check by allowing us to see what actions other mods are planning on taking on a particular report, and to offer advice to each other on how we think certain issues should be dealt with. Because the supermoderators can see all reports made on any of the forums and sub-forums, they may be aware of previous issues with a particular member on another part of the forums. This means that, for example, if you've been told not to post something in one forum, and then you post it in another, the chances are you will be given a warn point. We take reports very seriously, and we endeavour to contact all members who have made reports to let them know that (and sometimes how) the issue is being dealt with. However, sometimes if there are a lot of reports being made in a short space of time, or multiple reports about one post, the member may not be contacted. Even if you are not contacted about a report you have made, be assured that your report is being looked into. (EDIT (May, 2015): I'm currently the only mod on the ethnobotany subforum and am also quite busy with work, so I do not tend to PM members about reports any more unless it is necessary)

Please do not abuse the reporting system. Do not report a post simply because you disagree with something another member has said or have a personal grudge against them. The report function is there so that members can help by reporting posts that break the rules. If someone is abusive or offensive towards you in a discussion and you decide to report the post, don't respond to them in the thread. Arguments can quickly become pages of insults back and forth, and this can make it very difficult for us to work out who started it, and who is most at fault. If two people are arguing and one person reports a post, most likely you will both be told to stop it or risk acquiring warn points. If a single post is reported and you don't retaliate or argue with the person, then if it is deemed to be in contravention of the rules, it is a very clear cut case and the offending member will most likely be given a warn point, so it is in your best interests not to engage in an argument if you wish action to be taken against the member by the moderators.

The mods
The mod team is here to help the forums run smoothly and be a safe and enjoyable place for all members, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help with anything, whether it's technical issues with the use of the forums, problems you are having with another member, or questions about the acceptability of something you are considering posting.

The mods that are relevant to the ethnobotany forum:


The moderators are responsible for looking after this forum. They are usually the ones who will delete or edit posts that break the rules, and will contact you to explain the situation and may give you warn points for serious breaches of the rules or repeat offences. The moderators are the ones to ask if you need help or advice regarding anything specific to the ethnobotany forum.

Evil Genius

The supermoderators are first responders. They can intervene in any of the forums on these boards. The final decisions are usually left to the moderators, but the supermoderators can temporarily delete a post and inform the moderators. In most cases, the decision to give warn points will be left to the moderators, but in extreme cases you may be given a warn point directly by a supermoderator.


Torsten runs these forums and is ultimately responsible for laying out the rules and the framework within which the mods operate. Torsten gives the moderators of each respective section a lot of freedom to interpret the rules and use their own judgement in their application, but if there is disagreement between mods in how to deal with a certain situation or the mods are having difficulty in deciding what to do with a report, Torsten will often make recommendations, and if he feels strongly that a certain outcome is desirable, his decision is final. Torsten will also be the one to deal with members that are problematic across the forums as a whole, and can ultimately make the decision to ban members who are consistently trolling, ripping people off, or otherwise being very problematic. Situations like this will become evident through reports and discussions with mods. Thankfully, problems like this are very rare.

Thank you for your cooperation and help
The overwhelming majority of members abide by the rules and many help enforce them by reporting posts. For this we are very grateful because it makes our job much easier.

It is possible that more will be added to this post in the future. I will always always post a reply to indicate that the post has been changed, so if you subscribe to this thread, you will always be kept up to date on any changes.

Edited by ballzac
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If someone is PMing you asking for plants that you were talking about in a thread, be sure to report it, because otherwise the mods have no way of knowing about it.

is this really that bad? i know I've asked someone for something before via pm that wasn't specifically offered, a simple "not right now" was all that was offered in response and that's fine. and other times people have said to me "pm such and such for yadd-yadda", in discussions about a plant or whatever. or are you talking about repeat offenders?

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is this really that bad? i know I've asked someone for something before via pm that wasn't specifically offered, a simple "not right now" was all that was offered in response and that's fine. and other times people have said to me "pm such and such for yadd-yadda", in discussions about a plant or whatever. or are you talking about repeat offenders?

You're right that it's not always a problem. For example, if you know the person you're PM'ing and know they won't care, then of course just use your own judgement, but sometimes people will send out multiple PMs to random members, and we really don't want that. If you get PMs from someone you don't know who has 3 posts, and they're asking for something, then the chances are they're PM'ing other people too. Also, often they're avoiding the seed and plant exchange forum because what they want is illegal, and this we definitely do not want. I guess my point is that the seed and plant exchange forum is there for a reason, and it enables you to reach the widest audience, so it's best to use it. If a member doesn't mind getting a request from you by PM, then we'll never know about it, so it's of no consequence, but if they do care, for whatever reason, then I will treat it as spamming, so you'd better be sure your judgement is on track before PMing people. Having said that, yes, it's mostly about repeat offenders, but we don't really know about repeat offenders unless people let us know about the individual cases.

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Hey ballzac... I would like to talk about Rule #7 of the Posting Rules..."do not abuse the rating system"... I imagine this rule was put in place when there was the negative and positive button? , and now we have a 'like' button, which i see as the 'friendly' button. Its like a 'that's funny'... 'good post'... 'great pictures'... 'hug'... 'thank you'... 'good point'... 'i agree'... 'generous offer'... etc. It's a button for all things good. I think i have been breaking the forum rules, as i like the 'like' button and may be over using it. Should we really be saving this button for special occasions/outstanding posts? Or is it OK to share the positive energy i think this 'like' button brings?.

You may delete this post so this thread is not filled up with dribble.

Thanks for your efforts thus far ballzac... top moderating!


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Hi Amazonian :),

Yes, rule #7 mostly applied to the problems that occured when there was a 'neg' button. The rule probably would have never come into existence without it. Prior to posting this, I sent it to planthelper to see if there's anything he disagrees with or wishes to add, and I made some changes based on his recommendations. He made exactly the point you are making. The only reason I've included it is because it is still one of the rules laid out by Torsten, and it's not my job to modify the rules themselves. My aim in this post was to explain how they apply to this forum in particular and to expand on them a bit so there is no confusion when they are applied. For the reasons you and planthelper have given, I didn't expand on that point.

I do think it's technically possible to still abuse the rating system, though I'm not aware of this having happened. One example would be if two members make a private agreement to 'like' each other's posts to increase the rep on their threads. I can't really imagine this happening though, as I think people are genuinely more interested in how many people actually like their topics than just how many 'likes' they get.

Being trigger-happy with the 'like' button is not abuse of the system. In fact, I wish more people would use it. Then rather than having posts that no-one 'likes' and other posts that 3 or 4 people like, we would have the whole spectrum, from no 'likes', to a couple of dozen 'likes', and it would give a more accurate indication of how popular topics are.

My guess is that rule #7 is still there simply because there's no compelling reason to remove it.

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