Group Rules

Network Administrators have a duty of care to protect vulnerable autistic members on our network. We have the option to act to fulfill this duty even if no rule has explicitly been violated.

NeuroTypical group members who bully, harass, ridicule, scorn or otherwise attack the psychological/mental health of autistic members are not welcome on our network.

Inclusive Equality (i.e. treating autistics as equal partners to autism parents and autism professionals) is the core principle of this network. Group members who oppose Inclusive Equality are not welcome on our network.

 

1) Safe Space

1.1) No personal attacks, bigotry, negative judgements, and insults are allowed in the group. If you have an issue with some people, speak to them about it privately, not in the group.

1.2) Bear in mind that these groups are public forums. Do not share information about yourself and others that are not meant to be made public.

1.2.1) To avoid complications, people must be aged 18 and above to join in the chat group.

1.2.2) The fact that information is likely to be made public does not mean that it should be made public. Group members should obtain appropriate permission before disclosing any personal information related to other people.

1.3) In order to ensure that we can provide a safe space for everyone, we require all group members to make a simple introduction about themselves. This information will be shared publicly with the group.

1.3.1) Please register using our Google Form, and notify our administrators, in order to be admitted into the group.

1.3.2) Administrators will then add your introduction to the password protected page of the group once they are made aware of your registration. This will avoid spam and allow members to know about each other’s background easily no matter the chronological order of their joining.

1.3.3) Administrators will remove your introduction once we are made aware that you have left the group. If you still see your introduction, please inform the administrators in charge of the group to remove it.

1.4) In the spirit of fairness, those who have joined the group before the registration policy will be also required to register. The timeline and mechanism for this will be announced in due course.

1.5) If administrators deem that your behaviour is likely to pose harm to the psychological well-being of (vulnerable) autistic members, then they can remove you from the network after discussing with the other administrators. You will have the option to re-join once the issues have been resolved. [Note: This rule is meant to be a preventive measure, not a punishment.]

 

2) Avoid Spam

2.1) As a group participant, you have a duty to stay on topic in order not to waste other group members’ time reading messages. Ask what you need to know, after searching on Google first. Say what you need to say if you have something good to say. Nothing more and nothing less.

2.1.1) If group members are unable to understand your posts, but you still keep posting many messages, these messages will be considered spam. Our administrators will try to guide you to convey yourself better, but if you do not wish to be guided, you will have to leave the group.

2.1.2) If you are privately harassing or spamming group members even when they ask you to stop, you will be removed from the group once the administrators are made aware of this matter.

2.1.3) If you persistently disregard and challenge the directions of the admins, you will be removed from the group.

2.2) When you write a wrong message, clean up after yourself by recalling it as soon as possible. We understand that humans make mistakes; there is no need to spam the group with an apology.

2.3) Do NOT post progressive chains (i.e. posts that are repeated many times by multiple people). If you need to collect a list of participants for an event or conduct a survey, please learn to use Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. Watch Youtube or ask an IT-savvy friend if you do not know how to do it.

2.4) If you wish to advertise your own products, services, interests or causes, please make sure that it is relevant to the group.

2.4.1) Excessive promotion and harping of your stuff is grounds for removal from the group. This applies to autistics too.

2.5) If you wish to share huge files (i.e. larger than 10MB), please upload them to MediaFire, Google Drive or some cloud services first, then send the link. Do not send them directly into the group as some users have phones with little memory.

2.5.1) Avoid mass-posting pictures, videos, audio recordings, and documents as they take up space on group members’ phones.

2.6) Participants should make their best effort to reduce the length and number of posts to the bare minimum to convey their messages. The guideline is to take up as little screen space as possible on the phone.

2.6.1) Long messages should be avoided. For guidance to interpret length, generally the equivalent of 500 words, 5 photos, or 10 contiguous file posts are considered long.

2.6.2) For discussion groups, posts of non-text content solely for social purposes should be avoided. For instance, sharing multiple photos about an event that one is attending or sending picture greetings (e.g. Happy Birthday, Happy Holidays) should be restricted to social groups.

2.6.3) Make use of web links. If you can post a link to the full text of a news article instead of copying it ad verbatim, then please do so. If you can post a link to a justpaste.it post, a photo album or Facebook post instead of sending many photos, please do so. If you can compress all your files into one and send a link to that one file (or put your files into one online folder and send a link to that folder), please do so.

2.6.4) Do not re-post long messages ad verbatim from the same group to itself. Either send them as a private message to the person requesting, reference them by using the reply function, quote just the except needed or else post a link to the text.

2.6.5) If a person or a group of people working together posts multiple linked messages, the length of all the messages should be added together for determining if Rule 2.6 is broken or not.

 

3) Stay Relevant to the Topic

3.1) Topics that are less than 50% relevant are to be moved to a more relevant group.

3.1.1) You can quickly and easily create a private WhatsApp group by yourself.

3.1.2) If you want to register the group into this network, please contact the administrators and we will make the arrangements.

3.2) Members are to remind other members when they go out of topic. Just say: “Is this topic on X relevant?

3.2.1) Administrators have limited time and energy. We can’t always keep watch and react instantly.

3.2.2) Administrators are not censors and curators. If a conversation is boring but it is still relevant, the group members involved still retain the right to speak.

3.2.3) Administrators have a duty to define the group topic clearly so that members can tell what is relevant and what is not. When in doubt, ask the administrators to clarify.

3.3) We will allow irrelevant topics to be raised, but replies must be by private message. For instance, you can ask for advice for buying a good washing machine, but indicate that people should reply you privately.

3.4) Persistent posting of irrelevant materials is grounds for removal from discussion groups. Refer to rule 2.6 too.

3.4.1) Members are not to make false claims and post fake news. They should be prepared personally to provide evidence or explanations for their own views.

3.4.2) Memes (including jokes, greetings etc) are not allowed unless they are relevant, such as for supporting a point in a debate. Generally, members should avoid posting memes.

3.4.3) Please do not post chain viral posts into the group, such as those about computer viruses or those promising good luck or free money if you post to enough people.

3.4.4) Unless your group focus and topic is explicitly social in nature, we are not interested to know about the progress of your social events in real time. Please keep that to your own events group.

3.5) [Circuit Breaker] When there is an excessive volume of messages (>100 within 30 minutes), any group member can call for a time out. The top 3 most active participants will refrain from posting in the group for 6 hours. This is to allow everyone time to digest the messages.

3.5.1) Groups that are social (i.e. not focused on serious discussions) or semi-social (e.g. interest-based, emotional support) in nature are exempted from this rule.

3.5.2) If the group has already quietened down naturally, a time-out will not be required.

3.6) If you keep spamming the discussion groups even after the administrators have tried to guide you, you will be asked to be silent and just observe. If you are unable to be silent, you will be removed from all discussion groups.

3.6.1) If discussion groups do not fit you, we will encourage and facilitate your participation in social groups instead.

 

4) Neutrality

4.1) Administrators are to set their personal beliefs and issues aside when administering the group

4.1.1) Disagreeing with someone is not a valid reason to ban them.

4.1.2) People known to disagree with the autistic community (e.g. believers of autism cures, service providers of therapies based on pseudoscience) are welcome to join the group. As long as they do not break the rules, they can contribute to the diversity of the group’s discussion.

4.1.3) Breaking the rules is grounds for disqualification. Please re-read Rule 1.1.

4.2) Administrators who abuse their power to ban members for personal reasons will be disqualified.

4.2.1) Administrators cannot use their status to coerce or pressure other group members, except for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the group rules.

4.2.2) Administrators with a history of abusing their power will not be permitted to run groups on our network, once other administrators are made known of this.

4.3) If an incident that can result in removal of a group member personally concerns a group administrator, that person will be disqualified from exercising his/her powers against that group member including the act of voting and removal. This is to avoid any misunderstanding and conflicts of interest.

4.3.1) However, the administrator can still act on his/her own capacity if the member behaves in a way that requires immediate removal based on the other group rules (e.g. a member insists on spamming the group with personal attacks despite being warned to stop). In this case, the administrator can remove the member first and then submit the decision for a vote later. The administrators will have the option to vote to invite the removed member back again.

 

5) No Recruitment/Solicitation

5.1) Do not use our groups for recruiting people to join, support or engage in potentially problematic schemes, causes and/or organisations. Problematic causes include political, religious, financial, sexual and anything controversial. Private messaging our group members is also counted.

5.1.1) Soliciting members to join potentially problematic and controversial causes (e.g. financial investments, social escort programs, political events) will automatically be considered an attempt to exploit autistics, and be dealt with accordingly.

5.1.2) We are fine with bona fide causes such as job offers with no hidden conditions and soliciting donations for reputable charities.

5.1.3) Commercial organisations, sellers and service providers are not allowed to use our groups for promoting their products and services explicitly. These will automatically be considered as spam.

5.1.4) Social enterprises are to be treated as commercial organisations unless they disclose their accounts or they are headed by highly reputable individuals.

5.2) As many autistic adults are highly vulnerable, group administrators are obliged to take a zero-tolerance approach to protect our members.

5.3) If we find evidence or have good reason to suspect that any group member has engaged in dubious or criminal activity, they will be banned immediately pending our internal investigation. If the allegations are true, we will hand the evidence over to the authorities so that they can take action against the offending member(s).

 

6) Misc Issues

6.1) Unfortunately, WhatsApp imposes a limitation in the maximum number of group members. When a group has less than 10 spaces left (currently 247 members), the administrators can begin to remove the following from the group in order to make space for new members:

6.1.1) Members who have not read the group messages for at least 2 weeks

6.1.2) Members who have not registered with this website

6.2) When a contentious/controversial issue has arisen such that there is no clear-cut ways to apply the rules, the group administrators can call a vote to collectively decide the next course of action. The matter will be decided by majority vote of all the administrators who participate. Administrators have the right to abstain.

6.2.1) The voting should only take place with a delay of at least a day after the incident, to let everyone consider the matter clearly first.

 

New Administrators, please also read the Administrators’ Guidelines to learn more about the roles that you need to play in the group.