Recently there have been some questions regarding rules and enforcement actions within the Chat Room on Pilots of America. The purpose of this post is to explain some rules and expectations surrounding the chat room. Background: The chat function has been long-standing in PoA history. Back in the early days, we had "Flash Chat" which was an old and clunky yet functional chat room. The chat functions both in Flash Chat and now are similar to IRC for those of you old enough to remember what that is. Flash Chat at some point got to where it wasn't feasible to keep operational, and PoA was without any chat room for several years. With the move to Xenforo (the current platform our forum is hosted on) we were able to update to a new and modern chat application. The chat function has some inherent differences from the main forum. Unlike the main forum, chat is instantaneous and it essentially disappears like writing your name in the sand on the beach. Yes there is a chat log, but unlike forum posts it's not regularly searched through and read. It's essentially like people sitting at a bar having a chat, or sitting around the flight line at Gaston's or any other fly-in. Because of the inherent differences in chat vs. the main forum, the MC has generally left chat essentially unmoderated. That meaning, we don't necessarily have the same level of restrictions regarding subject matter, photos posted, etc. This does not mean that the expectations regarding civil behavior are any different from the main forum, nor does it mean that various photos, especially those that would be labeled NSFW, are allowed. Keep in mind there are members who utilize chat in the background during working hours. Up until this point, the unmoderated chat has worked. However recently there have been some questions regarding what circumstances someone can be banned from chat, as well as a request for clarification on certain chat functions. So with that in mind, the MC is providing the following clarifications: 1) As stated above, it is still expected that chat members behave in civil manners. The ROC do still apply although enforcement may be to a lesser degree than on the normal forum. 2) Any MC member that is present in the chat can unilaterally remove someone from the chat room who is causing problems. This "chat ban" is temporary, and must then be discussed by the MC as to whether the duration should be longer. On the normal forum any enforcement action must be voted on by the MC before being enacted. However, the instantaneous nature of the chat room warrants an adjustment in this policy vs. how we treat posts on the forums. 3) In general, chat bans will follow the same tiered approach as on the forum if the MC agrees a chat ban is warranted - 3 days, 1 week, 1 month, and permanent. However the chat function does not support assigning "points" for particular infractions like Xenforo does for the main forum, nor does it allow setting a ban for a certain period of time with automatic lifting of the ban. As such, you should expect that any warnings issued for behavior in the chat room and suspensions from the chat room will be done at the convenience of the MC, and may be done plus or minus a few hours or days. Keep in mind that we all have lives and sometimes can't address forum issues for some time due to our work, personal, and family commitments. 4) Effective immediately, the Whisper function has been disabled in chat. Although most regulars in the chat room were aware of this, MC members were able to view "whispers" in the main chat window. Certain regulars within chat voiced concerns that this was the MC intentionally spying on the members' private conversations (especially if some of those conversations were about MC members), as whispers were otherwise only viewable by the intended recipient. While this is the internet and therefore no communication is truly private, the MC does not want to give the impression that we are deliberately trying to "snoop" on conversations intended to be private. We have therefore decided that it makes the most sense to remove this function to eliminate any ambiguity. With that said, PoA does reserve the right to review any private messages sent through the forum at our discretion. The Xenforo chat does allow for private conversations that do not display on the main chat page like Whispers and would not be immediately viewable by the MC. However for some reason the private conversations are currently only enabled for MC members. The reason for this is not immediately apparent within the chat settings on Xenforo. The MC is working to correct this, and this will then allow for private conversations in the chat room again. 5) Xenforo does have many different options for chat and we are actively going through to make sure we have the correct ones enabled and disabled for optimal experience in the chat room. However, many of these settings are global and thus will impact everyone regardless of whether or not an individual likes it. We'll do our best to make sure we enable and disable functions that are overall what the community wants, but ultimately we can't please everyone so some settings will just be the way they are. The chat room function we believe is great for helping to strengthen our community. Many friendships have been forged in the chat room over years. MC member Ted DuPuis first met and started talking to his now wife Laurie in the original Flash Chat. We strongly believe in the benefits of the chat room to the community, especially as most of us are spread around the country and may not see eachother at regular fly-ins. We want to keep the function alive.