Argo's Civil Community Guidelines


It should be no secret to most of us that today’s internet is reflecting an increasingly tense and polarized political and sociological climate. And even though we largely come together for the purpose of escaping into the lives and stories of our invented science fiction characters, we cannot ignore the necessity of fostering the Out of Character community that provides the bedrock of all our interactions. Since its earliest days, Argo has promoted itself as a community that values player maturity, respect and open-mindedness and while we are individually not always able to live up to all three of these things all the time (we are only human, after all), it is the consensus of the OOC Staff that we want to keep trying and we want our members to keep trying, too.

So as is our wont to do when we have a reoccurring problem, we have created this guide for members to review in the hopes that it will help you work through some of the difficult situations that have occurred in the past and are probably likely to happen again in the future.

BEFORE YOU START: we know that this guide is different and strange compared to anything we have done before. We know that the material in it may potentially be concerning for some members to read or to agree with. We know that some of the suggestions we make might be emotionally difficult to go through with, if you find yourself faced with the option in the future. Though this guide is a presentation of the OOC Staff’s official position on the topics therein, it is absolutely not exhaustive, so please do not take this to mean that you cannot talk to us about related subjects that are bothering you. We still fully intend to take action when it’s merited and to the best of our ability, in order to keep the Argo community as safe and drama-free as possible.


We have all been there. Maybe you saw it coming from a mile away, sensing something familiar in the way the topic was turning through chat lines coming fast and furious as players are spitting facts, rejoinders, memes and more. Or maybe you were on the instigating end, just having fun with your fellow fleet mates discussing the latest Strange New Worlds episode and bouncing from one logical point to the next, when a member suddenly and startlingly jumps in to say something along the lines of, this is making me uncomfortable, let’s change the subject.

You’re startled and you protest. What? You don’t understand, let me explain. This isn’t offensive.

The other person doesn’t seem to listen to your explanation. Please stop talking about this.

The fun and spark of conversation is now definitely gone. Maybe you comply with the request, or maybe you argue with it a little more, causing the mood to take an even darker turn where in the heat of the moment, people say things they can’t take back and mark an impression of themselves on others that will be hard to change going forward.

While arguments, disagreements, and misunderstandings are not always preventable, there are things we can do as involved participants to help these events pass as brief hiccups rather than full-stop drama meltdowns. We’ll go over these from BOTH perspectives: that of the initiating party and that of the offended. But first, we have to lay down some ground rules.


The following rules are critical to understanding the rest of this guide. The OOC Staff considers these to be basic tenets of human decency and will use them to inform our decisions on interpersonal conflicts. If you find that you personally disagree with any of them, you may want to carefully think through whether Argo is the right fleet for you.

  1. The price of being part of a community is a small personal sacrifice.

As members of the Argo community, we each individually need to understand and accept that in order for our community to successfully collaborate and sustain positive relationships for the long haul, we ALL must make some small personal sacrifices when it comes to resolving conflict, in order to better safeguard membership morale and well-being. We call it a ‘small’ sacrifice because it should be just that: a gesture that requires you to acknowledge something that might make you a little uncomfortable, but goes a long way to repairing relationships in the fleet.

  1. No one can tell you that your feelings are wrong or that you are wrong for having them. Similarly, you do not ever have the right to tell or imply to someone else that their feelings are wrong.

The fact of the matter is that humans have little to no control over what we feel. Our emotions are the product of hundreds of different inputs, from internal chemical levels to external stimuli both past and present. A person’s emotion in of itself cannot be wrong and it is damaging to attack or otherwise question someone for having them.

The caveat is what comes right after the emotion occurs: how does the person having the emotion act on it and how do we properly support that individual, so that we (1) don’t make the emotion worse, (2) come to an understanding to prevent future occurrences, and sometimes even (3) build trust with the offended individual so their future emotions on the same topic may be more easily managed.

  1. Welcoming discussion and discourse should not be mistaken for welcoming or validating every opinion or belief that individuals may express.

The OOC Staff is keenly interested in committing to keeping Argo both safe and open-minded. Though we are primarily here for entertainment and leisure, it is our shared opinion that the prevailing tendency for internet communities to immediately shut down discussions on controversial topics has led to a greater intolerance of individuals we perceive to be ‘different’ from us and furthermore closes us off from developing positions of empathy that are critical for negotiating future compromise and understanding.

That said, we affirm that there are some extreme types of opinions or rhetoric that carry the potential to jeopardize community safety and as a result, we cannot in good conscience choose to engage with those here. Should we see any of the following in debate/argument, we will take actions to shut it down and/or correct it.

  • Postings that contain obscene or threatening language or discrimination (hate speech) based on (but not limited to) race, sex, gender, orientation, religion, national origin, age, or disability.

  • Postings that contain incitement or inflammatory speech that overtly or tacitly endorses or threatens violence, physical or otherwise.

  • Postings that contain obvious and/or dangerous misinformation.

Depending on the specific offense, members who are found to be espousing these views in earnest may find their continued membership under review.

Please note that with ‘misinformation’ specifically, we understand that mistakes are bound to happen. Factual and accurate information, however, is critical for having productive conversations. Members who repeatedly demonstrate a lack of care in vetting their sources are therefore actively damaging the discussion environment and OOC Staff will repudiate this.

Now that we have set the ground rules, we can discuss/dissect the options for individuals on both sides of an argument to mitigate the fallout from a conflict.


Know Your Audience

Without doubt, this is the most critical rule of any discussion or joke on the internet and if you fail to assess who’s reading/listening appropriately, it can have devastating consequences. It is natural for players to come into Argo’s welcoming, casual community and take it as a sign that they can let their hair down, be themselves, and express themselves freely. That’s okay – for the most part, this is what we want!

But there is a huge difference between a community that welcomes you and a community that thinks and shares the exact same perspective as you.

So think carefully about what you’re about to say, what joke you want to crack, what meme you want to paste. Is this the right audience for it? One group might find it totally inoffensive, while someone or multiple someones in another might be seriously offended. That doesn’t make Argo wrong or your other group right, it just means we’re different and we have different expectations. So if you think there might be a chance that your current (Argo) audience isn’t going to get it, maybe it’s best not to pass it on.

I really don’t mean to hurt anyone, how can I avoid offending others?

Get ready for a bitter pill to swallow, my well-intentioned friend. While there are a couple good rules of thumb to keep in mind, the truth of the matter is the following: it is an unreasonable expectation both for yourself and of others that one should navigate through life and the internet without ever offending anyone. As humans with an enormous variety of backgrounds, life experiences, genetic make-ups, cultural upbringings, prioritization of values and others, we are a veritable melting pot of perspectives that will inevitably clash from time to time. It’s impossible to predict because all of us have blindspots or pockets of ignorance that, despite our best efforts, may lead us astray.

The sooner you accept this fact of life, the better equipped you will be to both avoid getting into conflicts and to mitigate the damage when they happen anyway.

Someone says my topic is offensive, but I didn’t mean it that way / I don’t see it that way. So why do I have to stop talking about it? Isn’t it their problem for being too sensitive?

Here is where we need to revisit one of our laws of civility: as human beings and fellow community members, every one of us deserves to be respected and, moreover, we deserve to have our rational boundaries recognized and obeyed. In other words, you do not get to decide for someone else that they should not be offended by something you said. Their feelings are valid, no matter how incomprehensible they might seem to you.

If you do find yourself on the end of being accused of offending someone, your best bet at that point is to stop whatever else you were planning to say and back off, even if you don’t entirely understand why. Don’t use sarcasm, don’t ask questions, just issue the apology for hurting the other player and stop.

Because even though it’s true that you are not responsible for other peoples’ feelings, you ARE responsible for the actions you take right after you learn you may have hurt someone else. It’s these actions that you should critically consider and take care to ensure that your response demonstrates respect for other players. So TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your mistake, however unintentional, and apologize.

If the offended party is receptive, you could consider politely asking for an opportunity to explain yourself. But you are not entitled to an opportunity to do so. If they say they are not interested, then again, you should respect that request and move onto a new subject.

I think a certain topic has merit and really want to talk with others in a civil conversation about it.

That’s a valid feeling and perspective to have! Some potentially controversial topics have academic or educational merit and maybe you just really want to teach others or learn from them about something. While we won’t say there is always room for every topic to be discussed in this fashion, we want Argo to be a forum where people feel safe and comfortable and not shamed for wanting to educate or better themselves, as long as no one is spreading misinformation or hateful rhetoric.

If you do really want to keep discussing a topic that someone has asked you to stop, but multiple other members seem interested in continuing, consider creating a thread to continue your conversation. That way, the person or people who don’t want to see it don’t have to join.


We have to start off this section with an important note and caveat: if someone has said something that you’ve taken offense to, you are – as we say in the Trek business – emotionally compromised and as such, it may be very difficult for you to respond rationally to the initiating party.

If you do not feel like you can engage with the conversation anymore, then DON’T! Ask an ally who is involved in the conversation to help or contact OOC Staff for assistance, and we’ll do our best to get things back on track. Your well-being is important to us, so if you have a concern, please bring it up.

That said, if you are in a situation where the conversation is starting to go sour and you feel like you can handle trying one or more of the following suggestions, they might be useful in allowing you to change course on a conversation without cutting off the possibility for reconciliation.

A topic is making me uncomfortable. What can I do?

Sometimes asking for a change in topic can be difficult, especially when everyone else seems to be having a good time and you feel like you’re the only one who has an objection. It can be rough to go against the grain! But you have a right to be in the conversation as much as anyone else and a right to feel safe while doing so. So if changing the topic is an idea that brings you peace of mind, here’s some suggestions on how to do it effectively.

  • State your request clearly and don’t leave anyone any wiggle room to misunderstand you. Sometimes members are so caught up in the rhythm of the chat that they might not immediately notice or understand that you’re being serious, so dispense with the sugarcoating and aim for basic civility. e.g. Hey, this topic is making me uncomfortable and I do not want to go into why. Can we please change the subject?

  • Have a subject that you want to change to and introduce it immediately, to give others the ability to cooperate with your request. You can scroll back in the chat to a previous topic that was being discussed or come up with something new, but providing a real out will help people move on faster.

  • Consider suggesting that others who are interested in the topic take it to a thread, where they can converse without you needing to see it.

  • Consider pinging/mentioning specific people when you make your request, especially if the chat is moving quickly, so that your request is not lost in the scroll.

How do I tell if a change in topic is merited?

We all have topics or issues that we feel strongly about and when others start to venture close to this territory that we hold dear and consider ourselves experts on, it can get very chaotic very fast. But sometimes there is a lot of merit in trying to slow down your responses and doing your best to lend the speaker a bit more benefit of the doubt. Remember that discord chatter is often heavily slanted towards telling jokes, so even when offensive topics are sometimes brought up, it is not usually intended by the speaker as something that should be taken seriously.

Additionally, our brains are extremely adept at drawing associations and conclusions on very little information, so we often assign intentions or meanings to people’s words when they never actually existed. Remember that as a human being, you will be processing other people’s words through your own perspective and your own filters and this by itself makes our comprehension of what was meant extremely error-prone!

So when things are getting heated, try to take some time to slow down, go back and re-read lines that you felt were problematic, and review the flow of the conversation. This might help you to see concrete points that you can bring up with the initiating party, to ask for clarifications on what they said. Don’t assume any meaning that is not explicitly what was written. If what was written still has a problematic meaning, then you can try to politely ask for clarification on what the initiating party meant by it.

e.g. Hey, when you said “insert sentence or phrase here”, what did you mean by that? or Hey, I am a little concerned about why you shared this. Can you please explain its purpose?

With luck, you might find that everything’s spawned from a misunderstanding after all and the initiating party might be grateful to have the opportunity to explain the issue from their point of view.

How do I help move the conversation towards reconciliation?

It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that as the offended party, your ability to move the conversation and the involved parties towards reconciliation is greater than anyone else, so if it is in your capacity to entertain, it may well be worth your time. The social gesture of accepting someone’s apology and granting forgiveness sometimes seems like a trite and unnecessary complication, but we rely on these kinds of interaction rituals for jumpstarting the healing process and allowing ourselves to put the incident behind us in a positive way.

Consider the difference between these two scenarios:

  • Person A and B are discussing something when Person A accidentally says something offensive. Person B reacts negatively and says: This topic is making me uncomfortable, we are moving on to something else.
  • Person A and B are discussing something when Person A accidentally says something offensive. Person B reacts negatively, but gives Person B a chance to reconcile by phrasing their request as a question:
    • B: Hey, this topic is making me uncomfortable. Can we talk about something else?
    • A: Oh… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. Yes, we can change the topic.
    • B: Thanks. It’s okay. How about we {talk about this instead}?

Remember the laws of civility: being part of a community requires a little bit of sacrifice from all of us and for those of us who end up an offended party, this sacrifice will sometimes involve giving up a little of our personal comfort in order to preserve community morale.

Again, it is worth noting that it should only ever be a “small” sacrifice, whatever that means to you. If you find you are regularly needing to sacrifice larger amounts of your personal comfort in favor of community morale, considering contacting OOC Staff so we can try to help you resolve this discomfort!


Congratulations on making it to the end of this very long and probably very pedantic guide. We know some of the stuff we’ve said here might feel excessively formal compared to Argo’s typically more casual fare. Understand that we’ve ultimately chosen to go to these lengths in an effort to safeguard our ability to continue to have casual fun together, so we hope everyone who reads finds something useful out of it, no matter which side of the argument you tend to find yourself on.