Rules & Guidelines
We want you to enjoy participating in the Online Community. To help keep the atmosphere safe and supportive for everyone, all participants should observe the following rules.
The purpose of this space is to be a safe, friendly, welcoming environment for Christians from different backgrounds to support one another, learn from one another, make new friends, and work together to make the world a better place. We have a particular focus on creating safer, more welcoming spaces for LGBTQ people.
Be kind at all times. Behavior which makes this space unsafe, unfriendly, or unwelcoming to others is not allowed. Members will disagree on many issues, but those disagreements must be handled with grace and compassion. Except where specifically allowed, these forums are not designed for debates.
Posting here is a privilege, not a right. Posts that become sources of controversy or otherwise harm the purpose of this space may be edited or removed at the discretion of the moderators.
In general, the following content is not allowed:
- Personal attacks, gossip, defamation, bullying, or harassment of any kind
- Content that is hateful, illegal, or obscene
- Anti-Christian or anti-LGBTQ content
- “Ex-gay” materials or promotion
- Profanity (see below for details)
- Sexual content (see below for details)
- Theological and political debates (see below for details)
If you see inappropriate content on our site, please click the “report” button to report it to the moderating team. This button is NOT for content you simply disagree with; it’s for content that violates these rules.
Some topics can raise strong disagreement between community members and may require an extra-sensitive approach. For this reason, an opt-in “Sensitive Subjects” forum is available for members willing to be even more careful, gentle, and nuanced than usual when discussing these subjects. Posts related to sex, theological disagreements, and other potentially controversial topics should be placed here.
Please remember that the Sensitive Subjects forum is NOT for debates. It is NOT an “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” forum. It is the opposite: a space for posters looking for sensitive, thoughtful, and nuanced discussions of difficult issues. Individuals unwilling or unable to abide by this code may be banned from the Sensitive Subjects forum.
Those looking for places to debate theological (or other) issues should see the “theological disagreements” section below.
Under certain circumstances, a single user MAY have multiple accounts, but there are restrictions on how they may be used.
You may NOT use multiple accounts to:
- circumvent a ban or other penalty against you
- stalk, spy on, harass, annoy, prank, or intimidate any other user
- “like” or vote for your own posts, agree/disagree with yourself, or create a fake person to publicly respond to or otherwise engage with your posts
- join groups you wouldn’t normally have access to (such as creating a fake account with a different age to gain access to a different age-related group)
Anyone found to be using multiple accounts in any of these ways may have all their accounts permanently banned.
You MAY use multiple accounts to:
- “start over” if you no longer have access to your previous account or no longer wish to be identified with it (provided that account is not currently banned from the community)
- create an anonymous account, not linked to your primary one, to discuss personal or confidential information (e.g. if you want to share a personal story about a family member but want to do so anonymously to protect their privacy)
- join groups that do apply to you but which you don’t want to link to your primary account (e.g., if you are HIV+ and wish to join a forum for HIV+ members but don’t wish to do that under your primary account)
The Online Community is meant to be a safe and family-friendly space, so profanity and other language likely to be offensive are not permitted. Partially censoring a word with one or two asterisks (like th*s) is not enough to get around this rule.
Content meant primarily for sexual attention or erotic purposes is not permitted. General guidelines about sexual content to keep in mind:
- Images (of yourself or others) that are suggestive, revealing, or otherwise designed to get sexual attention are not allowed. You can post your hot beach bod on Facebook, but it’s probably not a good idea here.
- Any content, including text, intended to be titillating is not permitted.
- Discussion of topics related to sex is allowed, but it should be kept to the Sensitive Subjects forum, treated respectfully and tactfully, and avoid avoid details of sexual “mechanics.”
- If there’s doubt about whether particular content falls under this rule, err on the side of caution. Remember: This is a space for people of all ages, some of whom may be coming from backgrounds more conservative than yours. We want everyone to feel welcome here.
LINKS AND PERSONAL CONTACT INFORMATION
Please do not post private contact information, such as email addresses, phone numbers, or physical addresses.
GCN does allow the posting of links to blogs, social media profiles, etc., but we ask that all community members use good judgment in linking materials that might allow other website visitors to contact them outside of GCN’s community.
Links to content that is otherwise forbidden by GCN rules are also forbidden. (One exception: Relevant articles may be linked even if they contain some profanity, provided it is not excessive.)
PRIVATE MESSAGING AND SAFETY
We have a private messaging feature to allow conversations between users. GCN respects your privacy and does not routinely monitor these messages, but as they are not encrypted, we cannot guarantee freedom from observation in transit, so please use good judgment in what you choose to share.
We have no way to verify the identities of all the people who use our website, so please be careful when exchanging private messages with someone you don’t know. Be very careful before agreeing to meet someone in person or providing them with personal contact details. If someone asks you to send money, makes unwanted sexual advances, or acts in any other way that concerns you, please contact a member of our staff or moderating team immediately.
As this is an ecumenical community, there will be many areas in which members disagree on correct doctrine—some of which may be very big, important disagremeents.
We do NOT believe that all views are equally true.Some views are mutually exclusive, and some of them may be very important, such as views on sexual morality, marriage, and biblical interpretation.
However, within this space, we have agreed to disagree. This means that you are free to say what you believe and explain why you believe it. You are also free to respectfully ask others about their views. This is NOT an appropriate place, however, to try to debate those areas of disagreement or push other community members to change their views, even if you believe their views are very wrong.
If you wish to debate an issue in more depth, you have several options. You could ask other individuals to join you in a private message for the debate; you could invite people to a space outside of GCN’s community—such as a Facebook group or blog—for the debate; or you could (in rare cases) request that a special GCN forum be created that allows for the debate to take place.
Except where otherwise noted, debates are not allowed in GCN forums. If debates or arguments break out in non-debate forums, the discussion may be locked or removed by the moderating team without warning, and repeat offenders’ accounts may be banned.
We do have a statement of faith, expressing certain core Christian principles. Agreement with this statement is not required to participate in the Online Community; however, we do ask that members respect it as the foundation of this space.
Given the inflammatory nature of political news at this time, we currently ask that community members not post content related to partisan politics, particularly in cases where it may prove controversial.
We do allow conversation around relevant issues to our community, even where it touches on political questions, provided that the discussion is not inflammatory or partisan. In those cases, please keep in mind:
- Especially when speaking about hot-button issues, users should speak with Christlike graciousness.
- Discuss ideas and concepts—not political parties, other users, or individual candidates.
- Disagreement is permitted (we are a diverse community after all) but attacking an individual user for their ideas is not.
- Healthy discussion is often built on sharing stories of how users came to their convictions.
- The ultimate goal of political threads should be that users come to understand one another—not necessarily agree with one another.
POT-STIRRING AND ATTENTION-SEEKING
Many hurting people use this website, and some may at times act in inappropriate ways. If you see posts that seem to be designed to “troll” or stir up emotion (such as a user posting intentionally controversial things to get a reaction), or posts designed to create drama and get attention (such as a user posting a dramatic “goodbye” post about leaving the community—only to dramatically return a week later), please report these posts to the moderating team and don’t take the bait.
And please, don’t be that person.
We take threats of self-harm very seriously. If you see anyone on the site threatening to hurt themselves, please:
- Alert a moderator immediately.
- Encourage the poster to call/see their therapist ASAP if they already have one.
- Offer your own prayers and support via posts and private messages. (Yes, this may at times reward attention-seeking behavior, but in this case, we believe it’s vital that those who are truly depressed not feel alone.)
- Do not offer your own independent diagnosis or counseling (either psychological or biblical). Instead, report these posts to GCN moderators immediately so appropriate steps can be taken. You are welcome to let a moderator know if you are professionally trained in these situations, though.
- If a poster has shared the diagnosis of their trusted and certified professional, do not openly contradict this diagnosis.
- Encourage the user to seek professional advice from sources such as the following:
Confidential emotional support service for anyone in the UK and Ireland (Not LGBTQ-specific)
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (in the UK and Northern Ireland)
Phone: 1850 60 90 90 (in the Republic of Ireland)
USA: The Trevor Project
Crisis and suicide prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Phone: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386)
USA: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Phone: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Canada (for children & youth): Kids Help Phone (Not LGBTQ-specific)
Worldwide: Befrienders Worldwide
Finding a Therapist
IF YOUR CONTENT HAS BEEN MODERATED
Okay, so you broke a rule (we know you probably didn’t mean to) and a moderator moved, edited, or removed something you wrote. Oops! Or maybe you didn’t break a rule at all (at least you sure don’t think so) and the moderator was mistaken. Either way, we hope this can be addressed with grace and understanding on all sides.
Our moderating team is made of people just like you who have volunteered to help keep this space safe and welcoming for all. No one wants to be told they did something wrong, but if that happened to you, we really hope your interaction with the moderator was as pleasant as it could possibly be under the circumstances.
Everyone makes mistakes, though, so if you disagree with the moderator, we encourage you to calmly and graciously explain the situation and talk it out. Hopefully the two of you can come to a decision you can both agree on.
If not, you can appeal the decision by contacting GCN’s staff and explaining the situation. We’ll work hard to make sure things get resolved. We’ve been on the receiving end of website moderation too, so we understand it can be frustrating, and we want you to know that we do care.
Please don’t express your frustration with the volunteer moderators by posting things in public to blast their decisions or attack them personally. They’re just volunteers trying to do their best, and they have a tough enough job as it is. Contact GCN staff, and we’ll work together to find a solution. Thanks for understanding!