The recent problems with an older member making inappropriate contact with a number of younger members has caused the mod team and the site owners to give serious consideration to the safety of members here, the way we monitor communications, and also to consider the legal liabilities for the owners and staff. We have been discussing this in the mods area for the last few days and have finally agreed on a number of changes that need to be made to Empty Closets in order to satisfy these needs. You will appreciate that allowing unmonitored private communications to and between people under the age of 18 is a serious security concern and a legal minefield, especially when anyone could sign up and initiate such communication unchecked. The aim of these changes is to reduce this risk. Some of these changes will not be popular with members, however we urge you to read the whole of this post before commenting or asking questions. Also please note that these changes are not up for discussion, apart from minor details such as wording. Membership Changes We will group members into one of two groups, "regular members" and "established members" (the final names for these are not yet decided so may change). New members will automatically be "regular members". Regular Members Regular members can use the forum as normal. They can also send and receive PMs to/from admins, moderators and experts only. They cannot send or receive PMs to/from anyone else. They cannot use the chatroom. They also cannot use or view profiles, blogs, albums, members list etc. Regular members can apply to be established members using a system and criteria that is still being finalised. It is likely that they will need to have made at least 100 posts in the forum before being able to apply. Applications will be considered by the mod team with a voting system against the criteria based on their posting activity etc, and will be accepted or denied by a majority vote. Established Members Established members will have full use of the site including chatroom, PMs to other Established members, Mods, Experts etc (but not to regular members), profiles, blogs, albums etc. If an established member seriously or repeatedly violates the Code of Conduct they can expect to be demoted to regular member status. Clearly there is a lot to lose so we hope it will encourage established members to continue behaving sensibly. We have already started going through the membership list to choose members that will be established members straight away. It is likely that most active members with 500 or more posts will qualify, and probably around half the members with between 100 and 499 posts. We will PM those chosen as established members in due course. Others can of course apply once the system is in place. Other Changes We will remove all instant messenger details (MSN, Skype, email etc), social networking websites (FaceBook, MySpace etc) from profiles, and they will no longer be displayed under people's names in their posts. We will also no longer allow people to include these in their signatures, profiles, blogs, forum posts etc. "Please message me" type invitations in signatures etc will also not be welcomed. Please edit your signature and profile as necessary now to remove this information. Threads containing this information will be deleted. The only way that these details may be passed between members is by PM, which of course means that only established members can do so. We will install a system to automatically log and permanently store all PMs, so that they are not lost even if both the sender and recipient delete them. Admins and selected moderators will be able to view these and will carry out checks from time to time to make sure the PM system is not being abused. The Code of Conduct will be updated to reflect these changes. We realise that some of these changes will not be well received. However please understand that this is the result of several days of discussions with the site owners, who were also in contact with their legal advisers. The original proposal was that PMs and the chatroom, as well as messenger details etc, should be removed completely, leaving us with little more than a forum. None of the mod team were happy with that, and we are pleased that we have been able to negotiate and agree to the scheme outlined here. We will be busy implementing these changes over the next couple of weeks. There are also a number of details which we still need to finalise. There could be a few problems along the way, with things not working temporarily or the site being closed for a few minutes etc. Please bear with is while this process is ongoing. I will close this thread so we can keep it clear for progress updates etc. However I have created a separate thread here for discussing these changes.