HCA: Hermit Crab Association ®

Policies and Procedures



Revision 0.50

December 17th, 2012



2      Permissions

2.9    Member

Members can view and post in all the sub-forums except in the Administration sub-forums, and they cannot post in the Archives sub-forums. Members can only edit their own posts.

2.10Active Member in Good Standing

Being an active member in good standing means:

5      Forum

5.1    Threads

Threads should be placed in the correct sub-forum. Thread titles should be descriptive as to the thread’s information or question.


Titles such as “help”, “what’s this”, and “question” are not descriptive, and are often ignored. Descriptive titles such as “help, my crab is naked and lost a limb”, “what’s this green fuzz on his leg”, or “questioning need to boil shells” are much more likely to get responses.


Sub-forums may have stickies that lay out rules for posting within that forum.


Posts should contain questions, answers, support, or information related to the sub-forum topic.


Hijacking a thread is defined as changing the topic of the thread. An Administrator or Moderator should post a reply to get the thread back on track.


Debating within threads is allowed and encouraged. Differing opinions, experiences, and methods of care and discussions thereof are also allowed and encouraged.


However, arguing is defined as debate that is no longer based on information exchange, but is now based on personal attack and over generalized statements. For instance, “My experience shows strawberries molt better in FB,” is debate. “You are wrong, all strawberries hate FB,” is argument. An Administrator or Moderator should post a reply to keep the thread civil. If a thread devolves into personal attacks and insults, or endless bickering, the thread should be locked.


Threads that contain information that is necessary for everyone (for instance, how to use the forum), or contain answers to common questions (for instance, a FAQ) can be made sticky, or added to the HCA Documents list. Information that is just useful should be archived, rather than stickied. Any member can recommend that a thread be stickied. This request should be PMed to an Administrator, and it will be treated as any other issue and voted upon.

5.2    Chat Room

Each post to a chat room follows the same rules as a post to the forum. There is an additional set of rules as well due to the “live” nature of chat


The Chat is a place for members to socialize, chat about crabs and other off-topic items, and have fun. It is a place for members of all ages and abilities, just like our forum. The Chat is not a place to gang up on other members or argue relentlessly.

5.3    Private Messages

Private messages follow the same rules as posts, except that personal issues and disagreements are OK over PM, but not in a public post.


PMs that are sent will sit in the Outbox until the recipient reads the PM. Once the recipient has read the PM, it moves to the Sentbox.


PM conversations are private, and any violation of privacy will not be tolerated. Administrators physically cannot, and regardless would not, access other members’ PMs for any reason.


A member can however choose to forward a PM to another member or an Administrator if desired.

5.4    Signatures

Signatures must be non-offensive, are limited to five lines, including blank lines, and cannot contain images.

5.5    Avatars

Avatars must be non-offensive, and less than 150x150 pixels and 98KB.

5.6    Links

Links to sites containing only research or information are allowed.


Links to websites that require membership are not allowed. The HCA is a crab care resource, not a supply of members to be farmed.


Links to a member’s own crab-related store are only allowed for active members in good standing, and then can be in their signature and they can maintain a single thread in the Product Reviews forum, but cannot be advertised in any other manner. The HCA is a crab care resource, not a supply of customers to be farmed.


Exceptions are made if the link is needed as a response to a specific question.

7      Rules

Violation of any of the following rules is subject to the discipline policy:


If a member receives an offensive, inappropriate, or spam PM, they need to forward it to an Administrator or Moderator, otherwise there is no way for the BOD to know about it.

7.1    Administrative       Campaigning to be nominated.       Committing election fraud (fraudulent votes will be discounted from the results).       Threatening or attempting to hack the HCA website or forum or to compromise any members’ computers.       Having more than one account, unless an Administrator approves switching to a new account, in which case the old account is deleted.       Skirting a suspension or ban.       Failure to follow sub-forum specific rules.       Repeatedly placing threads in the incorrect sub-forum or posting duplicate threads in multiple forums.       Violating signature, avatar, or link rules.

7.2    Offensive       Any (implied or direct) words, statements, images, or links to material that is offensive.


The HCA is for the whole family. If it is not suitable for a five year old or a grandma, then it is probably offensive. Some examples are:      Swear or curse words.      Words filtered by the forum, and words that skirt the filters.      Animal abuse (images, videos, or overly-descriptive text).      Insults, threats, harassment, and flames.      Anything that would garner an ‘R’ or ‘MA’ rating on a movie or game (it is implied that children under 13 should not surf the internet unsupervised, so PG-13 is acceptable).      Anything that is rude, insensitive, sexist, bigoted, contains adult content, or is hurtful in any way.      Posts about sensitive issues, such as politics and religion.      Recommending anything illegal.

7.3    Inappropriate       Any inappropriate behavior.


Miscellaneous inappropriate behavior:      Steering members away from the HCA forums, including suggesting that members should PM you with hermit crab care questions, rather than post the questions to the forum, and suggesting that members frequent another forum instead of this one.      Repeated hijacking or arguing (as defined in Threads).      Implying or stating that another member cares less about their crabs due to their choice of care methods.      Attempting to obtain personal information from other members, or divulging personal information about oneself.      Impersonating another member.      Pity party threads (such as threatening to leave or quit crabbing so you can get everyone to beg you to stay).      Trolling (making posts to illicit angry responses from other members).      Ranting (making posts that are angry, negative, and inflammatory).      Posting personal issues or disagreements with another member – do not air dirty laundry; use private messages instead.  PITA Clause: Repeatedly testing or pushing the limits of the rules or others’ patience.


In order to maintain member respect and support of the BOD, and prevent chaos, the following are also considered inappropriate:  Acting like a Moderator if you are not a Moderator, abusing the reporting feature, or assuming the authority of an Administrator if you are not an Administrator.  Public disagreement with a BOD decision. You can bring up suggestions for changes to the HCA rules in the General sub-forum. You can always PM Administrators with any issue.  Public slander of an Administrator, Moderator, or the HCA. One can always PM an Administrator privately with any issue. If a member feels they are being treated unfairly by one Administrator or Moderator, PM a different one to discuss the issue. Do not air dirty laundry in public.  Unsolicited private slander of an Administrator, Moderator, or the HCA. Unsolicited is the key word here. A member can never be punished for private mutual conversations they have with their friends.  Roleplay or requests to other members to roleplay off-site.

7.4    Spam       Any spam.


Spam includes:      Asking members to send you money or to buy something from you, or posting a link to a website that asks members to send you money or buy something from you (except within the Classified sub-forum).      Posting links to websites that require membership.      Recruiting members for your site, publicly or privately.      Mass-PMing of members, regardless of topic.

7.5    Copyrights       Violating HCA copyrights and trademarks.


This includes:      Hotlinking to HCA images, downloading them, or using them on another site.      Reposting information or posts from this site, or claiming the information as your own (direct links to threads are OK).      Unauthorized use of the HCA logo or name.


A linkback image is provided so that anyone may use the HCA logo to link back to the HCA website.       General plagiarism, copyright, and trademark violations.

7.6    Chat       Violating any rules in chat, including the relevant rules below.      Derogatory name calling or curse words.      Insults, threats, harassment, and flames.      Posts about sensitive issues, such as politics and religion.      Personal attacks of any kind (including making hurtful comments behind others' backs).      Repeated heated arguing (debates are welcome and encouraged, as long as they do not degenerate into insults, personal attacks, and name calling).      Links to content that is in violation of HCA rules.

8      Discipline

8.1    Reply Post

A post is made reminding members to act civil, and to keep the thread on track. These are warnings directed at more than one member at a time, and do not count against a single member’s warning track. However, continuous arguing or hijacking is an individual member violation, and would escalate to a higher level.

8.2    Friendly Reminder

A PM is sent reminding the member about the rule they broke. These are reminders for first-time offenders and for minor infractions. Two sticky threads are maintained in the Moderators’ sub-forum to track friendly reminders: one for signature and avatar violations, and one for posting violations. A post is made indicating the member and the reason. Having too many friendly reminders, even for minor violations, can result in discipline escalating to a higher level.

8.3    Warning

A PM is sent to the member about the rule they broke, and notifying them that this is an official warning. A sticky thread is maintained in the Moderators’ sub-forum to track warnings. A post is made including the warning PM. Members get two warnings before discipline traditionally escalates to a higher level.

8.4    Suspension

The member is suspended from logging into the forum for a number of weeks. The severity of the offense determines the duration. The suspension notice is sent via both PM and BOD e-mail. A sticky thread is maintained in the Moderators’ sub-forum to track suspensions. A post is made including the suspension PM and indicating the date of the suspension, so that an Administrator can remember to unsuspend after the suspension period is up. Members get one suspension before discipline traditionally escalates to a higher level.

8.5    Ban

The member is banned from the forum indefinitely. The ban notice is sent via BOD e-mail. A sticky thread is maintained in the Administrators’ Business sub-forum to track bans. A post is made including the ban e-mail, and all known IP address, e-mail addresses, and usernames of the member.

8.6    Progression

There is no required discipline order. Certain violations may warrant skipping a level, or even going straight to ban (such as hacking, voter fraud, or threats of harm). Or a second suspension or third warning could be issued instead.

8.7    Three-Strike Rule

If a member receives three warnings within a six month period, they are immediately given a two-week suspension. If a member receives a fourth warning in a six month period, they are immediately banned. Note that the warning that causes the immediate suspension or ban must still be voted on and pass normally.

8.8    Position Revocation

If an offending member holds any position (Moderator, Administrator, etc.), then revocation of that position may be the discipline in lieu of or in addition to a suspension or ban. The position revocation is still tracked in the warnings thread. An offending member is allowed to have their first warning and still retain their position.

8.9    Privilege Revocation

Infractions related to specific privileges, such as PMs or chatrooms, can result in suspension or ban of those specific privileges in lieu of or in addition to a regular suspension or ban.

8.10Short Chat Suspension

In order to keep the chat a safe and friendly place, Administrators have the option to enact a 2-day Chat suspension on members who exhibit a repeated or clear violation of the HCA rules in the Chat. These 2-day Chat suspensions do not count towards a warning history, and are simply done as a way to give members a chance to cool down before they say something they might later regret.


A log of the suspension must be made in the Moderator forum's "mChat Suspension Log" topic. This must include a copy of what was said to deserve the suspension. A log must also be made when the suspension is lifted.

8.10.1 Chat Three-Strike Rule

When a third Chat suspension is justified within a 6 months period it will become an immediate 2-week suspension from Chat. These also must be logged in the "mChat Suspension Log" topic.

8.10.2 Chat Ban

If a member receives a 4th Chat suspension within a 6 month period, then a traditional vote should be posted to determine if the member is permanently banned from using Chat. The Chat ban will require a 2/3 majority vote.

8.10.3 Severe Chat Violations

For Chat violations beyond those that fall under Short Chat Suspension, a traditional vote for regular discipline must be made.

8.11Accident Forgiveness

All offenses, except bans, that are one year or more old are wiped off the records. Bans are permanent.