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Lysbeth 12-05-2008 09:06 AM

Recent updates & changes to PTO Policies & Rules
Most of these are only semi-major changes because they are mostly really just modifications or clarifications to existing PTO policy - and we've also made some minor changes that are too many to mention, like updating existing policy with information about contacting the Helpdesk, things like that. Full PTO policy, as always, resides here:

But in any case, we have made several updates to the policy recently - mainly in some response to some issues that keep coming up that we're hoping to make a little clearer by further clarifying those particular policies - and a couple of others that were previously reported in the PTO News forum (now moved to the Policies forum) since September 2008 that I'm going to note again here.

So for your information, here are the recent changes/modifications to PTO's Policies and Rules... new changes/additions are in red:

• Advertising & Promoting:
PTO has a NO advertising policy with the exception of our community sponsors. This includes discussion forums, message boards, chat sites, commercial businesses & services, personal websites, charitable and other organizations, etc. (You may however post a direct link to an outside site given that the information is RELEVANT to a question someone else has requested, or you believe it will be helpful to others.) This also includes links in signatures which cause commercial popup windows to pop up in threads (sometimes found imbedded in some counters, including ones from Sneaky advertising will not be tolerated. If you have a business or service that you think will benefit the members of PTO, please e-mail advertising@ prisontalk dot com (in proper e-mail format) and a member of PTO Administration will contact you. For those of you who would like to post your site (commercial or not), we have a “Resource” (links) section located on all PTO top menus, where you are free to post most any prison related web link along with a full description. It can also be found at:

If you violate this policy you will be warned once and the posts will be deleted. Further abuse of this policy will most likely lead to you being permanently banned from the community.

• Soliciting Financial Assistance:
Soliciting financial assistance in the forums, chat or via PM is strictly prohibited. As much as we would like to assist in helping those who are in grave need of it, there is no way to easily and effectively determine the accuracy of someone’s financial situation. This policy also extends to charitable or other organizations seeking donations and assistance. Countless people have been scammed on the internet and message boards, perpetrated by people who come into a community with nefarious motives and preying upon others who are kind and want to help people in need. Any posts of this nature will be either edited or deleted and the member contacted. Repeated abuse of this rule may lead to loss of posting privileges.

Language & Profanity:
While we understand the majority of members are grown adults, we do occasionally have young adults and children that visit PTO to communicate with others in similar circumstances as their own. Further, many people are offended by vulgar language. Also, PTO is a public website and anyone on the Internet of any age can read the majority of forums on PTO. If you feel you must swear to get your point across, please censor your language appropriately so as to not be overly offensive. (e.g., “S***!”) Replacing one or two letters in an expletive by using ASCII characters (! For I, etc) is not an acceptable solution. Abuse of this rule will lead to your posting privileges being suspended.

User Accounts:
A maximum of ONE account is allowed per person. We have the ability to track and match IP addresses on accounts and other security measures in place to discourage duplicate accounts. If you are found to be using two or more accounts, one or more of them will be deleted and you may be banned from PTO all together depending on the situation. The bottom line here is to register one account and stick with it. If you have account problems, contact a PTO Admin, send a ticket in to the PTO Helpdesk, or send an email to support@ prisontalk dot com (in proper email format) and state the problem you are having - do NOT register another account. One of the Administrators may recommend that you re-register if the problem cannot be solved but in most all cases a problem with an account can be corrected by an Administrator.

• Closing Your PTO Account:
PTO does not delete accounts, profiles, nor posts and threads (see "Deleting Posts and Closing Threads" section of PTO policy). We will, however, at your request, close your account and you will no longer appear on the active member list. If you wish to close your PTO account, please send a ticket in to the PTO Helpdesk or email support at prisontalk dot com (in proper email format) with your request and include your PTO username. If you wish to remove comments, photos, or other items from your profile, please do so before contacting PTO staff with your request to close the account. If you decide later that you wish to return to PTO as an active member, contact the Helpdesk or email us again and we will be happy to reopen your account.

Illegal Activities:
Threads/replies encouraging illegal/unethical action (like “The best way to kill the neighbor’s dog”), or more importantly, anything relating to compromising the security of prisons and institutions (ETC) will not be allowed. Posts such as these will be deleted and may lead to you losing your posting privileges. This policy extends to profiles, avatars, etc., as well. PTO's policy on illegal activities also extends to references of gang activity, as gang activity is illegal (and especially in the prison systems). If you are affiliated with a gang and have a loved one in prison, you are certainly still welcome at PTO, but no reference to such affiliations in posts, profile, avatar, etc. is allowed.

Soliciting Feedback:
Soliciting feedback about products, services and commercial websites in the forums is not allowed, with the exception of the Services & Product Info forum located in the Break Time forums section of PTO. Active members are welcome to post inquiries about PERSONAL web sites/pages in the PTO Lounge.

Media/Journalists and Students/Researchers
When a journalist or member of the media posts on the site - or students/researchers post on the site for research purposes - they are expected to explain the purpose of the request to the members and to encourage members to post their stories in the thread. Considering the fact that this is a prisoner-oriented site, any media stories evolving from PTO communication should be that of a positive nature. Requests with the intent of provoking derogatory comments about prisoners or corrections officers will not be tolerated. Inviting outside contact of PTO members is also not allowed. Persons in the media and students/researchers are also not allowed to send unsolicited emails and/or private messages to members of PTO. Posting a personal email address within the thread is also not allowed. It is not the responsibility of the PTO Administration or Staff to authenticate or verify any statement or facts purported by members of PTO. At the discretion of PTO Administration, any media-related post/request or research-related post/request may be removed from the site. This may be done without warning or prior notification. PTO does not endorse any media outlet, journalist, member of the media or media story/report, or any students/researchers or involved educational/research institution. However, any information obtained from this site must be credited to and its members. Failure to follow these rules and policies will result in the request being immediately removed from the site and permanent banning of the media member(s) or students/researchers involved.

Lysbeth 12-05-2008 09:08 AM

This is actually a reinstatement of PTO's original policy on this issue, part of which was removed when the Dark Room was opened. We have now reverted back to where we were previously on this issue.

There have been no new changes to the policy as it was originally.

Nudity / Pornographic & Adult Material:
Adult content is anything that is sexual in nature and should not be discussed in front of children. While PTO and prison in general is considered more of an "adult" topic, there are many times when younger children of prisoners access this site and therefore explicit sexually-related conversations are not permitted and may be pulled from the public site without notice should they become graphic. The general rule of thumb is not to talk about things you would not talk about in front of your neighbors' kids.

Nudity and pornographic material is not acceptable anywhere in the Prison Talk Online community. Overly suggestive photographs/pictures will most likely be considered adult material and removed. Members posting pornographic images, or links to porn sites and images will have their accounts suspended and possibly banned.

Lysbeth 12-05-2008 09:11 AM

This is actually the policy we have had in the FAQ for some time regarding the chat room, which was similar to what was previously posted in PTO policy but actually outlines the purpose & policies of the chat room better. New additions recently made are in red:

Chat Room:
PTO has a live chat system available to members that meet our minimum activity requirements. (two weeks of membership and 25 posts minimum) ALL PTO Policies are in force in the chat room regardless of whether or not a staff member is in the room. Our chat systems logs all communications that take place in the PTO chat rooms and should there be a report of abuse or policy violations, site administrators have the ability to review the transcripts. Abuse or PTO policy violations in the chat room may result in a loss of posting privileges and/or banning.

We have a zero tolerance policy relating to sexual activity in the chat room as well as abuses, and though we may not catch it when it happens or even the following days or weeks, when we do the people involved will be banned. Our chat room is about prisoner support and most of our members have a loved one in prison. If you are looking for love, you should seek it elsewhere.

Please understand that the PTO chat room is considered an "extra" to PTO. We encourage users to use the discussion forum, PTO's main purpose, for most of their communication on PTO.

Lysbeth 12-05-2008 09:13 AM

These policy additions were actually made and announced in the PTO News forum in September (and now moved to the Policies forum), but I am relisting them here just FYI:

• Quoting Song Lyrics in Posts
Regretfully, due to the large number of legal threats and lawsuits by various factions of the recording industry in recent years against websites that publish lyrics and alternate (karaoke) versions of songs on the Internet, PTO has had to make the decision (as of 14 September 2008) to limit song lyrics in posts to a very minimal amount. Posting a line or two, or a verse, or a chorus of a song is acceptable; posting more than that or the entire song lyrics is not, and will result in removal or editing of your post. It is also preferred that you credit the artist or songwriter as well when posting the lyric snippet, if known.

• Use of the PTO Calendar:
We understand that you are excited that your loved one will come home from prison two or three years from now, but please understand that PTO's other thousand-odd members that refer to the PTO Calendar daily regarding events won't be so interested to see that announcement day after day for the next two or three (or more years). We ask that you limit listing events on the Calendar to those occurring within 90 (ninety) days, and until that time is near, we would encourage you to make use of a countdown ticker in your signature, or some other sort of countdown, instead.

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