Here are a few basic rules that everyone should obey here on the forum:
1. Keep things friendly and positive. Be polite and courteous at all times. This is a happy place. We NEVER have fights here, we never have nasty arguments, we never are rude to each other. This is a group of friends who share a common interest in a wonderful breed of dogs. Discussions should generally be fun, pleasant, informative, entertaining. They should not be discouraging, depressing, or argumentative. That doesn't mean everyone always agrees with each other. But there are ways to disagree without being disrespectful... and it's important to know when to just back off.
2. Certain subjects, due to their controversial nature, are NEVER brought up here. Yes, we have an "NCR" (Not Cocker Related) section where we can discuss things other than our dogs... but that doesn't mean we can discuss anything that happens to come to mind. We don't talk about politics. It just starts fights. We don't talk about religion. We don't talk about sex. Always keep in mind that we have a few forum members who are in their pre-teens and we also have a few forum members who are extremely religious and conservative. Keep all discussions appropriate for a general audience. Even in dog-related discussions, there are "hot buttons" that seem to always start a fight... discussions about dog food, for example. Be careful. People get passionate in their feelings about the "right" food to feed their pets. Feel free to state your opinion, but don't make someone feel bad for theirs.
3. This is not a democracy, and you do not have absolute freedom of speech here. This is a monarchy, and the King and Queen are Jim and Kellyn Zimmerlin. I'm open to suggestions, but in the end I will be making the final decisions about what happens on this forum. If necessary, I will delete a post or even an entire topic. You are not free to just say anything you want here. We all have to get along. If any individual threatens the peace that exists on the forum, they will be warned and may be banned if they can't abide by the rules. Anybody that doesn't like that is free to go start their own forum somewhere else! I created this one, and I'm committed to keeping it a friendly place for Cocker lovers to spend time online with each other.
4. If you need to vent, argue, or be mean & nasty... use email or use the forum's private messaging system. If someone posts something that you think was idiotic, and you feel the need to tell them how idiotic it was, tell them PRIVATELY via email or private message. Do not post that kind of stuff on the forum for all to see. Oh, and speaking of things that you shouldn't post for all to see... even in the NCR section of the forum, please do not post dirty jokes, OK? I love a good dirty joke more than just about anybody you'll every meet, but not everyone on the forum feels the same way. In fact, there really should not be any sexually-related talk on the forum at all... it's just not the place for that. We don't want to know whether you're straight or gay... whether you're getting it frequently, infrequently, well, or poorly... or whether your divorcing, menstruating, or PMSing! Put it in an email or a private message to your closest friends. By the way, in case you are wondering, neither the Zims or the moderators can read the contents of your private message folder. It's private!
5. Do not use the forum to publicize a litter of puppies that is for sale without clearing it with me first. If you've got a well-bred purebred litter of puppies from parents who have passed OFA and CERF tests, and your puppies are not mismarked and generally do meet the breed standard... I probably would be happy to let you tell the world about them here on the forum. BUT... write to me privately and talk to me about it FIRST before posting ANYTHING about your puppies on the forum... even a mention that your dog is pregnant.
Basically, rule #5 exists in order to prevent the forum from getting over-run with "advertisements" for available puppies from every puppy mill and backyard breeder that discovers our forum. Even if there is no mention of the puppies being "for sale" in the thread, any mention of puppies that have not yet been sold is considered an attempt at a "soft sell" or an attempt to publicize the fact that the person is a breeder that sometimes has pups available.
6. This goes hand in hand with rule #5... please don't mention other dog breeders by name or place links to their web site here on our forum. It's not simply that I'm picky about who I offer free publicity to, although that's part of the reason for this rule. But the main reason I have this rule is that I don't want to get in to public discussions about whether a particular breeder is "good" or "bad". It often starts innocently enough... someone gets a new puppy and says it came from XYZ Kennels. Then someone replies that they heard XYZ Kennels doesn't do OFA tests on their dogs. Then someone else says XYZ Kennels is a puppy mill. And it just gets uglier and uglier as the discussion goes on. Therefore, in order to help keep the peace around here... when it comes to other breeders, please don't mention people's names or their kennel name or their web site address. Keep in mind that this rule applies even if you have only good things to say about them... and especially if you have bad things to say about them! It's OK to tell a story about a bad experience with a breeder, just DON"T NAME ANY NAMES!
7. I understand that you may want to ask people for suggestions on where to find a good puppy near you, and that you might want to hear other people's opinions of a breeder you are considering buying a puppy from. In this case, ask people to reply to you PRIVATELY, via email or private message. That way they are free to say whatever they want, and there's no danger of slandering the breeder publicly on the forum. When asking for an opinion of a particular breeder, do not post a link to their web site.
8. There are literally hundreds of new messages posted on this forum every day. I can not possibly keep up with it and read them all. In fact, I actually read very few of the posts on the forum. If you see something on the forum that needs my attention (such as a violation of the forum rules), send me a private message via the forum or write to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not assume that I've already seen what you are seeing on the forum, or that I will see it eventually. I would rather have 20 forum members write to let me know about something than to find out a week later that some controversy has been brewing and I totally missed it. On the other hand, please try to avoid writing to ask my opinion or advice about a dog problem you are experiencing. I'm sorry, but it just takes a huge amount of time for me to deal with those kinds of questions. I know you think it will only take me 5 minutes to answer your question, but that really adds up because you're not the only one doing it! Post your questions to the general forum population, and you'll get all sorts of good advice. If I have anything to contribute to the discussion, I'll jump in.
9. If you copy something from some other web site, or from a article in a newspaper or magazine... and you post it here on the forum... you MUST state where it came from. If you do not, it ends up sounding like the statements, opinions, research etc. are yours... when in fact, someone else has written it. That's plagiarism. If you cut and paste something in to a post... indicate where it came from.
10. Be sensitive to the tone of what you post here. Sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is joking in a forum message. Use "emoticons" (smilies) in your messages to make it clear when you are joking, laughing, teasing, etc. Emoticons are over on the left side of the screen when you compose a message. They help people figure out the mood of your statements... just like facial expressions help you to more clearly understand someone when they are talking to you in person.
11. Be careful not to type in all capital letters! IT'S THE EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING, AND IT MAKES YOU SOUND ANGRY! We're friends here... we don't shout at each other... so please don't type your messages entirely in upper case letters, even if you are a little irritated. In fact, if you're a little irritated... you might want to take a break and post your thoughts later when you've calmed down.
12. If you decide (for whatever reason) to leave our forum, please do not make a public spectacle of it. Feel free to write me privately and explain why you are leaving, and feel free to contact other forum members privately to say goodbye. Do not make a public post saying that you are leaving. The forum is about Cocker Spaniels, it's not about you. Any "goodbye" posts will be deleted. Also, if you have a comment or a question about a former forum member... do it privately. Please do not make public posts about people who are no longer members of the forum.
13. Do not post messages about dogs for sale... and this includes dogs available for "rescue" from a private party if you are asking for money for the dog. If you are looking to place an adult dog in a new home at no charge, you can post the information in the rescue section of the forum. If the dog is in a legitimate shelter or being cared for by a legitimate rescue group and they are asking for an "adoption fee"... that's OK. You can post those kinds of dogs. But dogs available from a private party for a fee are not rescues... that's a sale, and that's a no-no on the forum.
14. If you have a question or a comment about something involving me, my web site, my forum, my dogs, etc... please don't be afraid to send me an email or a private message with your concern. It really irritates the moderators when you ask them what Jim Zim thinks about something. Ask me directly! As for a good way to irritate me... that would be criticizing me behind my back! Don't be a chicken and make a post criticizing me on some other forum somewhere when you've never said a word to me about your concern. If you've got something to say about me, please say it TO ME. You may very well not understand the situation at all, and your concern might be easily resolved if you would just ask me about it directly. An honest question or comment posted to the forum will never offend me, if offered respectfully... and even a rude comment probably won't offend me if you offer it to me privately via email or private message!
15. When you register to be a member of this forum, please register with your first name. If you have a common first name, or if someone else already registered with the same name, just add an initial or a last name on to it. Another option is to add your location... such as "Mary in New York City". If everyone registers with their first name, it will be easy for all of us to be on a friendly first name basis with each other. Here are a few examples of the style of forum user name we want you to choose: Janet, Janet F, Janet Franklin, Janet in Colorado. Here are a few examples of the style of forum user names we do NOT want you to choose: Cocker Lover, Fido's Owner, Hot Lips, DonutBoy2008. If you messed up and already registered with a name not based on your first name, just contact me and I can change your user name for you. You can write to me at email@example.com
16. Do not make posts asking for donations, with the exception of donations to specific rescue groups posted in the "Fundraisers, Auctions etc." subsection of the rescue section of the forum. I want to make sure that our forum users do not get overloaded with financial requests to fix one dog crisis after another. Between all the dogs on this forum, there's always someone with a big vet bill looming. Sorry, but it is not OK to post a public plea for help. It's the Internet equivalent of driving down the street and seeing one guy after another holding up a sign saying "lost my job, need $$$". Annoying, after seeing that kind of thing often enough. If you've made some close friends on the forum, you're welcome to contact them privately and ask if they might be able to help. But do not make a public pitch.
When it comes to helping Cocker rescue, I know there's a constant need for fundraising. However, I just do not want to see the forum in constant "pledge break" mode... with one pitch after another to help this rescue group and that rescue group. To balance the constant need for money to support Cocker rescue with my desire to not overload our forum members with constant pitches for money... there is the "Fundraisers, Auctions etc." subsection of the rescue section of the forum. By keeping that kind of stuff off in a separate section of the forum, it puts the information out there if someone wants to go to that section and see what the needs are... but it keeps it out of the way of those that do not want to get bombarded with one fundraising pitch after another. Be advised that this section of the forum is only for fundraising for legitimate Cocker rescue groups. If you're just unable to pay some huge vet bill for your dog... it is NOT OK to post a request for assistance anywhere on the forum.
17. If your dog accidentally becomes pregnant, keep it to yourself and do NOT mention it on the forum. This is partly due to rule #5 where I am trying to keep backyard breeders from sneaking in mentions that they are going to have litters for sale... but also due to the fact that it's going to start a big fight on the forum if you mention it. If you are expecting sympathy from people about your misfortune of having an accidental litter, you are going to be sadly mistaken and your feelings are going to get hurt. Mention that your dog got accidentally pregnant and people are going to tell you that you're an idiot and ask what you expected was going to result from not spaying your dog in the first place. And they're not going to say it gently! If you need some advice about an accidental breeding, write to me privately... do NOT mention it publicly on the forum. As much as you're going to want to share the story with everyone on the forum, your "oops litter" is going to have to be your secret. No mention of the pregnancy or the litter should be made on the forum until after all of the puppies have gone to new homes.
18. If you are going to discuss a product that you offer for sale, you should do it in the "products for Cockers" section. Same thing applies if you are going to discuss a product that someone else offers for sale... do it in the "products for Cockers" section. This way, the main section of our forum (Cockers, Cockers and More Cockers) does not end up turning in to one sales pitch after another for Cocker products.
If you want to discuss some product that you just make for fun, and you do not offer it for sale, you can discuss it in "Cockers, Cockers, and More Cockers". (Assuming, of course, it is a Cocker-related product.)
This is America... the land of the free market and the entrepreneur. I consider myself a creative person, and the last thing I want to do is stifle creativity! Therefore, no forum member should think that they have a monopoly on promoting products on the forum. I've got no problem with ten different people showing off their line of collars, embroidered doggie clothes, or whatever product they come up with. Let the most creative person win! And if you think that someone else stole your idea because their product looks just like yours... perhaps you should have applied for a patent. The people of the forum can decide which ones they like best.
Those are the forum rules. I may add a few more as time goes on.