On Improbable Island, there are just four short, sweet rules. Here they are:
1. Don't be a dick.
2. Don't take it seriously.
3. No alts.
4. No kids.
That's it! Dead simple, right?
The rules in detail
You probably don't need to read about the rules in any great detail, because we've tried to make them as self-explanatory as possible, but if you need a reminder or an example, the next sections might be useful as a reference.
Don't be a dick
This one's easy. The Island is meant for fun, for you and for everyone. Enjoy yourself, and don't do things that will spoil other players' fun.
Some things that aren't fun to roleplay: bullying, violent rages, cruelty, self-pity, depression, suicidal tendencies, mental illness, LOL-speak, name-calling, perpetual victimhood, prejudice, politics, poop jokes... well, you get the idea. No, demonic possession will not be accepted as an excuse.
For Banter, the same rules apply, but in a broader scope that doesn't just apply to roleplay; don't post links to violent or bloody videos or pictures, don't go on tedious rants about whether or not MS Paint Adventures sucks and if so how much, don't be a dick to newbies, don't be a dick to established characters, don't make jokes about stuff like r*pe1) or suicide, keep your politics-or-lack-thereof and religion-or-lack-thereof out of the discussion, and so on.
Just use common sense and assume the best of people, and if it becomes apparent that you're pissing people off, stop doing whatever it is you're doing that's pissing people off.
Also, be nice in NewHome and the Player/Character Chat channels. Really nice. It's the first place new players see, so we want them to want to stay and explore! Be welcoming, helpful, encouraging and as funny as you like!
Admin CavemanJoe says: The truth is, Rule One is concise for a reason. With this much experience running an online game, I could post a hundred-page list of Thou Shalt Nots and then end up showing the Ban Hammer to someone who's saying "But you didn't say I couldn't do that Extremely Specific Thing with my penis!" and that's why we don't have a hundred-page list of Thou Shalt Nots. Rule One trusts you to understand it and know instincively what it means. If you need further clarification on what behaviours might cause people to think you're a dick, or if you're unsure about something, either err on the side of caution and don't post, or contact a Moderator and just straight-up ask us. We don't bite.
If someone is being a dick:
Use the "Tell us about a Problem" link at the top of every page, or the "Call a mod" button at the bottom of every chat area. Tell us what's going on, and where. Most times we don't have to do anything except show up and say "Hello, I'm a mod!" or gently change the subject, and the situation will calm down naturally (because on the whole this place is pretty awesome), so don't worry about getting people in trouble. We're not here to get people in trouble, we're here to keep things fun for everyone and make sure nobody has a bad experience. If you see something that is probably breaking Rule 1 but you're not sure, or just see a situation or conversation that's okay right now but has potential to get dicey, then use the same link and the same procedure and just give us a heads-up so we can keep an eye on it. The mods won't mind if it turns out to be a false alarm.
Don't take it seriously.
While Rule 1 is meant to make the Island more fun for everyone, Rule 2 is designed to make it more fun for you in particular. It doesn't mean your character can't have a serious story here; it means you have to remind yourself sometimes that you and your character are separate entities. This is, after all, only a silly Internet game.
If you stay here long enough, the chances are that sooner or later you'll end up breaking Rule 2. Don't worry about it too much - it happens. Rule 1 trumps everything, and as long as you're not breaking Rule 1 as well, people will understand.
If you're worried about someone who might be taking the game too seriously:
If you know them well enough that you think you can talk to them about it, try it. If you don't know the person, or if talking about it isn't helping, or if they're also breaking Rule 1, talk to a mod or use the problem link.
An Alt is a secondary character made by the same player. If these secondary characters are used as mules to shuffle resources around, then the game becomes a meaningless exercise in proving who has the most spare time and the least life outside the Island - and that's not a game anybody wants to win. If the alts are used for social engineering - like running a clan with one character while applying to a rival clan with another, or using alts as a way to deceive people - then we have problems trusting each other, and that's covered by Rule 1. Thankfully, the admins and moderators can always see which characters are alts.
Rule 3 is special in that if you can break Rule 3 without breaking any of the other rules, then it can be quite fun to break. Rule 3 gets broken willy-nilly all the time by players using alts for comedic effect, without using alts for nefarious purposes. Breaking Rule 3 will usually only earn you Frowny Admin Faces if you break Rule 1 at the same time.
If you suspect someone is harbouring an army of alts:
Is it funny? Then don't worry about it. Is it mean or cheaty? Problem link. No, mods usually won't tell you whose alt belongs to who.
Remember when we asked you if you were over eighteen? Well, we meant it. If you were stretching the truth a little bit there, you might want to come back later on, when you really are over eighteen - 'cause if we find out, we'll have to ban you.
Also, please don't play as an underage character - people do like to create plots and story events that involve romance and sex on the Island, and combining those elements with underage characters creates a mess that usually ends up with people getting banned. The Island is hosted in the UK, where the laws on child porn err on the side of prosecution; there's no wriggle room on this at all. For the avoidance of doubt, if you're pretty sure that technically your character is okay because you don't mention their age in the bio / they're an adult in a kid's body or vice versa / they're totally over eighteen but they just look really young / they don't have a sex life but you do kinda focus on their boobs in your bio / you say they're 22 but upload an avatar that looks about twelve - knock it off, because you're about to get permabanned.
If you think someone is underage, or playing an underage character in a weird or squicky way:
Use the Problem link, straight away. Seriously. This is a legal liability thing, and we absolutely need to be very diligent, or the Island itself could be at risk. Also, ick.
The Island's moderators are experienced players who volunteer their time to keep the Island fun for everyone. Mods enforce Rule One, and, if need be, will help you remember Rule Two, through the gentlest means possible. If you're having a problem (socially in the game, or with a game bug, or most anything really), they can help. Using the Problem link is the best and fastest way to get your problem sorted out, and we prefer that you use that link. If your problem isn't urgent, or if you want to speak to a particular mod, then you can Distract that mod - but it might be a little while before you get a response.
These are the currently active moderators:
Fully synched Sessine
Sessine clicked on a banner ad at Girl Genius in July 2008 and became a moderator in November of that year. Negotiator, peacemaker, drummer. Go ahead and contact him if you need help. He does not bite! He has an alter ego:
This 'small but vital reporter' is often found with a wrench in her hand, putting right one of the many little things that can go wrong in a game database. She also handles a good number of the easy petitions. (The hard ones have to go upstairs to Admin CavemanJoe.)
Improbable General Alexander Quandle
When CMJ was looking for another mod, he knew that he wanted somebody who would be a calming influence, a peacemaker who could be relied upon to quietly dispense words of gentle reason. So he picked a man best known for playing Squats. Hairy Mary's "mod character" is not a Squat however, but a slightly confused mathematician called Alexander Quandle. Hairy himself loves tea, mathematics and people. Not necessarily in that order.
In a disapproving manner, Omega
Born in 1412 and voted least likely to be mod over six hundred times in a row, Omega is a mod.
Omega's habits include miscommunicating ideas, surfing the Internet, being a know-it-all, biting nails, playing videogames, and reading. Omega likes cats, food, and people.
Wild Hearted Quinn
Quinn arrived upon the Island Community in a storm of splendor and sparkle early in 2011. Since then, she has founded a cadre of Islanders with a taste for pastries. As a person, she's a bubbly persona working in IT and hailing from the most horridly hellish place on the face of the planet (Phoenix, AZ) who doesn't hesitate to help new players with their issues, and then collect their sweet, sugary souls later for her collection. These are also known as "Mementos" and she's had to borrow everyone else's shoeboxes to keep them all in.
There's a lot of fun to be had here and this moderator intends to explore it, doing her best to keep the community an inviting atmosphere for shy role players. Do not be afraid to say hello or send distractions full of questions. She lives in the Seattle area and likes reading, cosplay, tea, inane repetitive gaming (see 'Harvest Moon'), and talking up a storm.
Moon Dance Tinkerbinker
Tinkerbinker is, out of character, a twenty-something college student that drinks far too much tea for his own good. He has an adoration of writing with anyone he can, mucking about with II colours and doing freelance things. In-character, he writes a variety of characters. Mostly, he writes very silly things about a bird-not-bird of an Buddhist ex-monk turned pirate.
Part of the Island since 2010, Darling delights in silly scenes, shenanigans, and shoes. Out of character, she spends her time designing, writing, brewing mead and excitedly shouting at her friends via G-Talk. Feel free to message her for anything, especially if you have adorable gifs to share.
Concert pianist, renowned swordsman, rugged traveler and all-round Great Guy, GK's hobbies include working too much and lying about his personal qualities & achievements. He started around here back in 2008, left in 2011 for five years, and then came back like a dog with his tail between his legs. Off-Island, he's a trained and registered Counsellor. If things are tough, his distracts are always open...
Coffee Grindr Csodas
Csodas arrived upon the Island in late 2014 with a splendid hat. He enjoys writing slow-burning relationships and giving new players advice to orient themselves in Player Chat. Off the Island, he is a historian-in-training who used to fancy himself a Hellenist and linguist, with a guilty fondness for Eurovision numbers. Introductory textbooks for languages with fewer than fifteen million speakers are his Kryptonite. Questions about these subjects are asked at your own peril and answered with glee in Player Chat or Distracts.
#Mod# That Annoying Epaphus
Epaphus remodels information architectures and train stations while completing his masterwork, a series of postmodern translations of French poet La Fontaine, though he speaks no French. He is almost always happy, but you don't need to know every last detail. Rumor has it, his most notable skills are an ability to pursue himself across the page with footnotes in the Forum and a complete misunderstanding of reality. Fresh scones, anyone?
What moderators do
Fix minor game bugs or problems with your character, or escalate them to Admin CavemanJoe if they're particularly tricky;
Calm down heated discussions and unruffle feathers;
Take characters aside and sort out their problems if they're being particularly offensive;
Erase or hide comments and other player-generated things that are causing problems;
Issue mutes (where you can still play and Distract your friends, but can't post chat messages, sometimes limited to a particular area, usually for a short amount of time) and bans (when you can't play at all) for extreme cases, although these are thankfully very rare.
Admin CavemanJoe says:
Our community is awesome enough that since we opened in 2008, and having seen more than a quarter of a million players come, stay, go, come back again, and so on, the number of players we've had to ban still hasn't broken three digits. In fact - and forgive me for a moment of unabashed and outright bragging here - more Improbable Island players have gotten real-life married to other Improbable Island players than have been banned from the game. Our community isn't unique to online games (especially little indie ones like this one), but it's sure as hell rare, and special. I look forward to seeing you become a part of it and see just how special it gets.
(yes, sometimes it's that kind of "Special," too.)
(also, if you do end up getting engaged or married to someone you met on here, bloody well Distract me and let me know, will you? I always love it when it happens, and it happened like four times before I found out about the first one. Everyone assumed I already knew. There are thousands of you, I can't bloody keep up, try as I might.)