Acceptable Use Policy


Last Revised: 11/11/2008 9:00 PM CST

1 - Objectionable Content:
All content in Shards and the Shards Forums expresses the views and opinions of the author, not the administration. While we do have the ability to moderate the site against disruptions, we cannot review all submissions and as such are not responsible for objectionable content. Therefor, you acknowledge that all content submitted to Shards and the Shards Forums solely expresses the views and opionions of the author, hence we are not liable for any user submissions.

2 - Responsibility of Account Holders:
You are solely responsible for any activity that occurs under your Shards account. It is your responsibility to effectively secure your account with a strong password and to keep that password confidential. Unauthorized use of your account will not be accepted as an excuse for any violations of this policy.

3 - Multiple Accounts:
You are allowed only one account per person, and must notify us promptly of any situation resulting in more than one person accessing Shards from a single Internet connection at your location.

It is not allowed to:

You may register more than one account per household if there is more than one person in the household who wishes to utilize Shards, provided you promptly report the master accounts to registrations@shattered-realms.com along with a brief explanation. If, at a later time, we determine you have been dishonest in reporting a legitimate reason for showing up with multiple accounts, we reserve the right to permanently ban you from Shards, or implment other discretionary punishment as we see fit.

We will do our best in all cases to minimize "false positives," however we reserve final judgment in all cases regarding suspected multiple registration. If you are in a situation where you may show up as a duplicate, you must send a notification to registrations@shattered-realms.com to avoid confinement to Limbo.

Potential, legitimate, situations that can cause you to show up as a duplicate include:

If you are in any doubt as to whether or not one of the above situations applies to you, or if you need to report, it doesn't hurt to ask. It is your responsibility to verify whether any of the above situations apply to you. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.

To report, send an e-mail to registrations@shattered-realms.com. Include your Shards Master Account and any other associated accounts, along with a brief explanation. After the fact notification is not acceptable; you must report before you are confined for any violations.

If you are detected on the duplicated account tracker, and we have no report on file, you will be confined to Limbo for a minimum of one week. You will not be released from Limbo until you have either supplied an acceptable explanation, or removed the additional accounts. It is your responsibility to provide exhonerating evidence (such as ISP documentation that you are behind a proxy). If no explanation is forthcoming, further penalties may apply. Lying about your situation will result in immediate banishment from Shards.

If multiple violations of this policy occur from a location, we reserve the right to permanently bar access from that location. Accounts in compliance will be left free to access from alternative locations.

No exceptions will be made to this policy for any reason.

4 - Criminal Misconduct:
Use of Shards or the Shards forums to willfully break local and national laws or otherwise enage in criminal misconduct is grounds for summary termination of access. Criminal misconduct include solicitation for sex with a minor, posting of child pornography and the perpetration of fraud through Shards. We will comply fully with all law enforcement personnel regarding any allegations of criminal misconduct in Shards. User activities may be logged and such logs released to law enforcement when required by a search warrant.

5 - Cracking and Denial of Service:
Use of Shards or the Shards Forums to deny service to other users or gain unauthorized access to other users accounts or computers is not permitted.

Utilization of Shards resources to perpetrate any sort of "cracking" against another user is completely unacceptable conduct. This includes but is not limited to technical exploitation of security vulnerabilities and so called "social engineering" attacks. The penalty for any such behavior in Shards is immediate, permanent banishment. We will also report any such activities to the appropriate authorities.

6 - Harassment:
Harassment of other users within Shards is not permitted. Harassment goes beyond posting objectionable content and is defined as a persistent, uwanted course of conduct that causes substantial harm to others.

While we expect a certain amount of self reliance in resolving conflicts between users, we will not tolerate continued, willful harassment. In order for conduct to be considered harrassment, it must meet these qualifications:

Anything that does not meet these criteria is not considered harassment for the purposes of this policy. If you find behavior objectionable, you are advised to use Shards self moderation features (ie the ignore list and room access controls) as a first recourse. We reserve final discretion in determing whether any given pattern of behavior constutes harassment. In all cases we will require substantial proof the behavior meets all of the listed criteria.

If you are found guilty of harassing another user, you will be confined to Limbo for a minimum of one week and given an official warning. Subsequent offenses will result in additional penalties, up to and including permanent banishment from Shards.

7 - Disruption of Roleplay Areas:
Any behavior that causes disruption to roleplay efforts in roleplay areas is not acceptable. Such behavior includes:

Like harassment, we require substantial proof that a user's behavior is disruptive enough to warrant administrative intervention. Specifically, the behavior must be an ongoing phenomena, establishing a consistent pattern of disruption and must have gone beyond the ability of individual setting moderators to control.

The first violation of this rule will result in you being barred from entering roleplay areas and publically being labeled a munchkin for your efforts to undermine the core purpose of Shards. Subsequent offenses will result in increased penalties up to and including permanent banishment from Shards.

8 - Flooding, Spamming and other Disruptions:
Behavior that interferes with use of the chat or forums in Shards is not allowed. Such behavior includes:

In general, most of the time we will only take action if a user's posting generates widespread complaints or is obviously intended to deny access to the site. Repated violation of this rule will result in penalties up to and including permanent banishment from the site.

9 - User Copyrights:
All text submitted to Shards is the copyright of its author. Copyright protection does not extend to character or room names (see section 10), however any descriptive text associated with a character or room is protected. You must receive the express, written consent of the user to reuse any such text in your own works unless the user has stated otherwise with a disclaimer. We will remove any text found to be infringing another user's copyright upon notification. Contiued violation of their copyright will result in restriction of room and/or character creation abilities. Users are responsible for enforcing their copyright outside of Shards; we will gladly supply any evidence required to back up claims of infringement.

10 - Copyright Violation:
You are not allowed to use copyrighted material in your character and/or room descriptions without the author's consent. Such material includes visual art, music and text. Small excerpts and quotations are allowed under fair use provisions, provided they are properly attributed, but complete reproduction of works or the creation of derivative works is not allowed. We will only take action against copyright violation upon notice by the copyright holder. We will promptly remove infringing segments of a users character or room description upon notification by the copyright holder. Further violations will result in restriction of room and/or character creation privileges.

11 - Availability and Use of Names:
Names are available on a first come, first serve basis only. Malicious use of names is considered harassment and is unacceptable. Names are not covered under copyright, and as such, no user is entitled to exclusive use of a name. However, any misuse of a name or likeness to impersonate and defame, libel or otherwise impugn the reputation of another, or engage in other patently offensive behavior, is not permitted. Parody may be allowed, provided your parody does not infringe the original owner's copyright and is not defamatory, libelous or otherwise patently offensive. Characters and rooms found to be in violation of this rule will be removed. Further violations will result in increased penalties including restriction of room or character creation abilities as appropriate.

12 - Enforcement of Provisions:
a) This policy is limited in scope to behavior occuring in Shards or the Shards Forums. Any behavior occuring outside of Shards (such as in e-mail or Instant Message) will not be monitored by the Shards administration. However, solely at our discretion we will accept additional evidence from sources such as e-mail and IM where appropriate, provided the original complaint pertains to behavior within Shards.

b) Except in the case of multiple registrations, the administration will not pursue violations of this policy unless we receive a complaint from one or more Shards citizens. To register a formal complaint, you must e-mail abuse@shattered-realms.com. Complaints sent via other methods are unacceptable and will be ignored. Your official complaint MUST contain the following information or we will be unable to take any action:

Shards generally follows an adversarial system of justice. What this means, in layman's terms, is that everyone gets to present their side when a complaint is filed. When you file a complaint, you should expect us to request any evidence you have to support your case against a user. Conversely, if you are accused of a transgression we will contact you PRIOR to making any determinations so that you have the opportunity to present your own evidence and explanations.

Once we feel everyone has had an adequate time to make their case, we will come to a judgment based on the available evidence. If an administrator other than Starfyre makes the decision, you will have one opportunity to appeal to Starfyre. Starfyre will only consider whether the case was handled appropriately. Beyond this point, judgments are considered final. Remember, by submitting a formal complaint to us, you agree to adhere to our arbitration. Do not submit a complaint unless you have evidence to support your assertions!

13 - Declaration of Rights:
I - Self Governance of Rooms - You have the right to complete self governance of your settings. The site administration will take no action to interfere with the operation of your rooms, provided you are not violating this policy in doing so.

II - Freedom of Expression - You have the right to express your views as you see fit in Shards, provided your manner of expression does not violate this policy. We will take no action to censor or otherwise restrict your self expression, even if we find it peronsonally objectionable. This right is subservient to your right to self govern your rooms, so room owners may restrict expression as they wish. We reserve the right to request users restrict mature content (e.g. cybersex) to private rooms or PMs (or otherwise limit its public exposure) to limit our liability.

III - Due Process - You have the right to due process. The administration will always take proper steps when enforcing this policy, including notification of charges and provisions for a fair hearing where you may defend yourself. All citizens of Shards are considered innocent of alleged violations until proven guilty in a fair hearing.

IV - Equal Protection - You have the right to equal protection and treatment under this policy. The administration will not discriminate against you on the basis of personal prejudice, and in cases where prejudice cannot be avoided, an impartial 3rd party will be brought in to act on behalf of the administration.

V - Privacy - You have the right to privacy in Shards. That means we will not disclose confidential information supplied to Shards unless under court order. We will also not disclose your identity (Master Account and characters) unless necessary as part of an administrative inquiry or in order to enforce an administrative decision. Additionally, we will not monitor or log private communications unless required by a court order.

VI - No Double Jeopardy - Once a user has been acquitted of a specific charge brought against them, they cannot be investigated again for that same specific incident. Administrative judgements are final. We will not allow citizens to continue making allegations once a determination has been reached. If you feel a judgment has been reached in error, your only recourse is the appeals process.

VII - Appeal - You have the right to appeal administrative decisions made by other members of the management to Starfyre. During an appeal, Starfyre will only judge whether the staff member who handled your case acted appropriately. The appeals process is intended to keep administrative abuse in check; it is not a method for overturning unfavorable outcomes.

14 - Limitations of Liability and Warranty:
This service is provided on an "as is" basis with no warranty whatsoever. Shards disclaims ANY warranty, implied or expressed, including but not limited the implied warranties of merchantability or suitability for a specific purpose. Shards makes no warranty about the quality, validity or accuracy of user supplied content. Shards is for entertainment purposes only.

Shards is not liable or responsible for any damages or loss suffered by you, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive damages, as a result of your direct or indirect use of this service, direct or indirect misuse of this service and any illegal activity you commit using this service.

You agree to indemnify and hold harmless Shards, its service providers, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, employees and contractors from any claim or demand, including but not limited to reasonable legal fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of your submissions, use of this service, violation of the law, violation of this agreement or violation the rights of another.

15 - Changes to This Policy:
We reserve the right to edit this policy at any time for any reason. Minor changes, including grammatical and minor wording changes will be made without notification. Any major changes to this policy, such as the inclusion of new provisions, will require you to agree to the new policy. Users will be prohibited from logging into Shards until they have accepted the terms of this policy.

16 - Changes to Master Account:
With very few exceptions, we do not allow members to change their Master Account (MA). Members who wish to change their MA must petition the administration and explain their reasons for the change. In general, we will only allow MA changes when there are extreme extenuating circumstances, the member has no prior incidents, and the member has taken all appropriate measures to mitigate their circumstances. We reserve the right to deny MA change requests for any reason.

17 - Account Cancellation:
Account cancellation is an automatic, transparent process. We will deny all requests for early cancellation. Members wishing to leave Shards should simply stop accessing their account. Unused accounts will be deleted after a period of no less than 1 year. If you wish to resume access, you are responsible for verifying if your account is still active. If you register a new account while your old account is still active, we will consider this a multi-registration and apply the appropriate penalties.