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Site Rules

Please be nice :)

No offensive content
No unauthorised use of any copyrighted material
No spamming or advertising
Admin decisions are final

Welcome to Nature Journaling South Africa.  We are a community that shares information, ideas, questions, reflections about nature and extracts from our nature journals. Our community is diverse in many ways. We welcome people of all descriptions, all identities, all histories, and from all contexts. We assume that each individual will be respectful of other individuals and of the community broadly. We are committed to values of respect; fairness; equity; generosity of spirit, skills and knowledge; and justice.

We want the Nature Journaling South Africa Community to be a fun, helpful, and relaxed place to be, so we have written these guidelines to describe what we consider to be okay (acceptable) and not okay (unacceptable) behaviour. 

​The rules above are a summary. The information below provides more detail. These are not a replacement for our Terms and Conditions. With the exception of a few items marked with a (!), these are not hard and fast rules. They are guidelines for how we should conduct ourselves on this website. They also set out suggested approaches for dealing with problems if they arise.

​These community guidelines are here to help foster a community that is inclusive, welcoming and civil. We encourage contributions that are of a thoughtful nature. These guidelines also protect readers, writers, administrators, commenters, and other contributors. These guidelines and their enforcement are for when mistakes are made, or in the unfortunate case of hurtful content or images posted, or posted with hurtful intentions.

​Visitors, members and administrators on this site are real people. Please treat them with respect. We know that online communities need rules.

Our rules are, to please:
  • Use welcoming and inclusive language

  • Be curious, ask if you do not understand

  • Be respectful of differing viewpoints and experiences

  • Gracefully accept constructive criticism

  • Focus on what is best for the community

  • Show empathy towards other community members

  • Post only your own work and contributions. If you post work by someone else, make proper attribution and obtain consent of the rights holder.

There are some behaviours that we will not accept or enable. They are explained in more detail at the end of this policy. Please read to the end.

​How this plays out in practice

This is a community where we learn from each other and from nature. Sometimes a person may not be aware of the hurt or discomfort caused by their content or posts. The points below provide more detailed examples of how to put respectful tone and attitudes into practice on this website.

We encourage everyone to:

  • Assume people mean well. Most problematic content on websites such as Nature Journaling South Africa (e.g. copyright violations, plagiarism, etc.) happen because new users don't understand what is acceptable. If you think a photo represents a copyright violation, please flag it as such, but please assume people have made an honest mistake unless you have evidence to the contrary.

  • Be polite and respectful. Treat everyone like you would treat a stranger in person. Don’t forget that there are real people behind the usernames and profile pictures of the people who use the Nature Journaling South Africa website.​

  • Understand that the visitors to and members of this website may not be like you. Nature Journaling is a diverse community. We all share an interest in nature journaling, but that might be where our similarities end. Don’t assume everyone shares your perspective, politics or your sense of humour, or speaks your language, so try to keep things polite and neutral until you get to know someone.

  • Try to use plain language whether you are communicating in English, Zulu, or other language. Try to use terms that are not technical. Sometimes technical language is useful. When using it, please provide an explanation so that others can understand and learn. This is especially important with people you don’t know, or people who seem to be getting started. For example, sometimes "hair" is a perfectly adequate and more accessible synonym for "pile." If you feel that a technical term is required to be specific and the reader may not know that term, it often helps to define it, e.g. "Gray pile on the pronotum (pile means hair on a fly, the pronotum is the middle segment of the insect)." Obviously this is not always possible and can get tedious if you add a lot of identifications, just something to keep in mind.

  • Try to avoid being condescending or patronising when you feel that you know more in an area. Your experience does not trump another member’s curiosity. What you believe you know may be incorrect, incomplete or out-of-date. Consider the possibility that different perspectives can appear to be contradictory.


Things That Are OK

Discussion, encouragement, constructive criticism and reflection are encouraged, as long as they are done respectfully.

  • Requests for clarification. Requests to explain in words are strongly encouraged. You don’t have to reply to such requests, but you also should not complain about them. Everyone has the right to ask, "Why?"

  • Polite disagreement. If you see a problem, use our curation tools or politely engage the person who caused the problem. However, don't be personally offended if someone disagrees with you, no matter who they are. Nature Journaling South Africa encourages discussions.

  • Images of dead or injured animals. We all encounter such scenes in our explorations, for example in the form of road kill and recent predation events (including predation by humans). While these kinds of images can be disturbing for some people, they can also be interesting, and provide the same kind of scientifically relevant occurrence data as an image of a living creature. Very often they demonstrate some aspect of the life history of the organisms involved, or may even provide information relevant to the conservation of the organism in question.

If exchanges get heated, please:
  • Respect requests to be left alone. If someone asks you to stop mentioning or messaging them, please respect their wishes.

  • Don't write in ALL CAPS. On the Internet, ALL CAPS is the equivalent of screaming at someone a hand's width away from their face. You might think you are being emphatic, but most people think you're screaming. A more polite way to add emphasis is to add an asterisk on either end of the word (or words) you would like to emphasize, *like this.*

  • Avoid sarcasm with people you don't know. Don’t assume everyone shares your sense of humour, or even knows whether or not you're joking.

  • You don't have to have the last word. Sometimes differences cannot be resolved. Learn to recognize when this has happened and resist the urge to reply if you have nothing constructive to add to a conversation.

​ Things that are not okay:
  • Posting advertisements or self-promotional material not directly relevant to the topic

  • Posting comments that are antagonistic, intimidating, nonsensical or off-topic

  • Justifying your contributions with your credentials or dismissive comments like "I am the world's foremost expert in magical aquatic plants, so if I say it's gillyweed, it's gillyweed" or even worse, the dreaded "It's obvious." These kinds of comments dissuade people from learning about nature by belittling and insulting them, and they make you look petty or bad-tempered. Instead, justify your identifications based on a description of the evidence, e.g. "It's a gillyweed because it has rounded lobes instead of pointed lobes, and as far as I know it's the only aquatic plant with rounded lobes at this location. Here's a link to a website that shows these differences: [link]"

  • Don't discriminate against people based on age, race, gender, income, physical ability, country of origin, educational background, or any other trait that is part of identity, history or circumstances.  This includes telling people not to bother commenting, posting or contributing because they're "just a kid" or "clearly don't know what they're talking about." If you disagree with a comment, the appropriate response is to engage with the substance or the topic, preferably with a calm, rational response based on the evidence. This may differ from the use of hate speech described here in that it is not necessarily a direct, self-consciously-inflicted attack. Just because this kind of discrimination is implied or done unknowingly doesn’t make it ok, but neither is it necessarily grounds for immediate suspension.​​

We reserve the right to edit, moderate or remove comments that contravene these guidelines.

​Tools for Dealing with Problems
  • Your words. Talk to people and address problems politely but firmly. Be open to understanding a different perspective or experience. Cite these Guidelines or our Terms of Service to inform them how we all expect people to behave on Nature Journaling South Africa.

  • Take time away from the issue. If your emotions are running high, step away from your computer and let yourself calm down for an hour or even a day rather than inflame an issue or write something you might regret.

  • Muting. If someone is annoying you, you can mute them by editing your account settings. This will prevent you from getting notified about their activities, including comments, @ mentions, and messages.

  • Blocking. Blocking is an extreme measure for situations where efforts to resolve differences through discussion have failed and the offending party refuses to stop contacting you. Blocking someone will prevent them from interacting with you on Nature Journaling South Africa. You can block someone by editing your account settings and using the "Blocked Users" feature. Each person only gets to block three people. If you feel you need to block more than three people, please contact [our email] and we will consider raising this limit. If we (the site admin) find that you are using blocking to silence identifiers you don’t trust, we will investigate and we may suspend you.

  • Send us an email info.naturejournalingsa[at] -  If there is a serious problem that you can't resolve or there are people on the site who do not abide by these guidelines despite numerous requests to change their behaviour, please email us and we will investigate and possibly suspend such people.

Suspendable Offences

We will not tolerate or enable:

  •  (!) Hate speech. Hate speech is content (in any form) posted with the intent to be harmful or incite harm, or to promote or propagate hatred towards a person or people based on some characteristic or circumstance. Hate speech may be based on age; birth; race; colour including albinism; language; culture; sex including intersex; gender (identity or expression); sexual orientation; HIV status; mental health status; income or other socio-economic status such as housing, occupation or trade; physical ability; country, ethnic or social origin; nationality, migrant or refugee status; belief, conscience and religion; or educational background.

  • (!) Insults or threats. Insults are attacks meant to belittle or offend people. A threat is any content that indicates intent to, or incitement to harm, another person. It includes intimidating, insulting or derogatory comments, and personal or political attacks, or any type of trolling. Note that warnings about suspension or other actions on the part of site administrators of this website are not threats.

  • (!) Harassment. Public or private personal attacks, bullying, harassment in any form. Offensive, unwelcome, gratuitous or off-topic sexual images, attention or behaviour, stalking, or following. Publishing others’ private information, such as a physical or electronic address, without express permission

  • (!) Graphic, offensive, violent, sexual language, sexually explicit content or images. Violent or sexualised content images and language are not permitted. This includes content that is presented in the form of jokes or innuendos. The one exception is for observations of non-human animal kills, and mating non-human species, which may be acceptable, but please use common sense. These should be done with consideration.

  • (!) Unwelcome or inappropriate sexual attention or advances.

  • Impersonations including (!) Sockpuppet accounts. A sockpuppet account is an additional account set up to evade suspension or to engage in other forms of bad behaviour, like confirming your own identifications. This does not include multiple accounts set up for multiple roles, e.g. a personal account and a professional account.

  • Other conduct which could reasonably be considered inappropriate in a community setting

Last updated 27 June 2019

 We are never too old to learn, and never too young to understand.


Attribution: These site rules are adapted from a range of sources including, but not limited to:

iNaturalist, DEV Community, Aeon Community Guidelines, Contributor Covenant, version 1.4, Write/Speak/Code, Geek Feminism, DeviantArt

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