Community netiquette (USK)
Diversity is an important issue within our own teams, but also within gaming communities. Community standards are often put in place to set out how players should behave within a community. We teamed up with the USK to put together this section on how to draft community standards that do justice to the diversity of our players.
Game providers are permitted to use these community standards in whole or in part. They can serve as basic rules governing respectful interaction within a community of players. They cover the most important aspects and they can, of course, also be adapted and expanded to suit the specific requirements of a given community. It is also important to remember that community rules are just one of the many building blocks of community management work. They should be part of a wider set of measures, such as reporting and moderation systems that impose sanctions in the case of violations. The following basic rules do not cover technical and legal aspects such as copyright violations, game modifications or misuse of data.
- COMMUNICATE RESPECTFULLY.
We are a community. That means we all want to have fun playing together, and we respect each other – despite and because of our differences.
The good thing is: We are all different. And all of us are different today from how we used to be: we were all beginners once, inexperienced at a game we were playing. We’ve all been upset when we have failed or been really proud of ourselves when we have had the chance to prove our amazing skills. We’ve all been in situations where we have felt superior because we were part of the majority – and we’ve all felt weak and alone because others didn’t want us around.
Also true: When we’re gaming, it’s easy to let our feelings get the upper hand – in the heat of battle, when we’re frustrated about our own and others’ mistakes. Or maybe just because we want to feel strong, to relieve our pent-up stress after a long day.
So always remember: Attacking and hurting other people isn’t a sign of strength. If you are confident and comfortable with yourself, you can be happy or frustrated without taking it out on anyone else. Making disparaging comments only exposes your own insecurity. If you’ve ever experienced real team play, you will know that you are always more successful and have more fun as a group. And, of course, all members of a community grow when they respect each other. Ultimately, the negativity and hate that people spew always bounces back and hurts them! We view our community as a safe space for anyone who wants to enjoy playing games, and we will not tolerate behaviour that jeopardises individual players’ safety or puts them at risk.
- No harassment, insults, discrimination or baiting, particularly relating to the ethnicity, cultural background, nationality, personal beliefs, biological sex, gender or sexual orientation, age, profession or socio-economic status of others.
- No psychological violence in any other form, including:
- Bullying or exclusion
- Threats of real-world violence of any kind
- Attempts to influence the behaviour of others in a way that is contrary to their own interests
- DO NOT SHARE PROHIBITED CONTENT. Our community includes people with an extremely broad range of personal backgrounds, preferences and experience. We want everyone to enjoy playing, so we do not share problematic or prohibited content.
We believe: Everyone has different interests and likes or dislikes different things. In our community, all players have the right to enjoy the game to the fullest. It can be frustrating and take all the fun out of the game if you are suddenly confronted with inappropriate or disturbing content through no fault of your own.
That’s why: Games should be a positive space where people come to have fun together, so we’ve set limits on the kind of content that can be shared. These limits apply to content that you definitely wouldn’t share with your gaming buddies under normal circumstances. After all, you never know how old the other person really is and what sort of content could have a negative impact on them.
- No sharing or disseminating inappropriate content, including content that makes reference to (real) violence, horror, hate, drugs, sexual content or other offensive material.
- In addition to communication, sharing and disseminating includes user names, images, user-generated content, links and all other references to such content.
- BE A GOOD SPORT, NOT A BAD LOSER. No one likes to lose. But what feels better than a well-earned victory when even the losing players respectfully congratulate the winners?
We know: Losing isn’t a nice feeling. However, taking our negative feelings out on others not only spoils the game for the winners – it definitely won’t help lift our own mood, either. Over the long term, playing unfairly because we are frustrated or have a false sense of ambition will even spoil our own excitement at winning. Worse still, our chance to get real recognition from other skilled players drops to basically zero.
That’s why: If you ruin the game for others, you are mostly spoiling your own fun. But if you are a good sport and play fairly, you will not only be recognised for your victories, but also for some of your hard-fought defeats!
- No behaviour that provokes other players or purposefully reduces or alters their enjoyment of the game, such as griefing, baiting or trolling.
- REPORT PROBLEMS AND SUPPORT THE COMMUNITY. Rules alone aren’t enough: they need to be backed up by the support of a community. That’s why we need every individual member of the community to report intentional violations of the rules, which apply to everyone.
Rules are important. But it’s almost more important for the gaming community to understand how much their shared enjoyment of the game depends on how well they respect the rules. That’s why all players should help to ensure that everyone follows the basic rules. Of course, this primarily includes reporting intentional violations of the rules via the reporting system, making this bad behaviour visible and traceable.
What’s more: Bans or reprimands ‘from the top’ can help, but players directly addressing violations by other players is often more effective. Calling out rude or toxic behaviour as soon as it occurs is a very brave thing to do, particularly because you run the risk of being called a spoilsport. Ideally, you should always observe rule number one here: communicate in a respectful and friendly way.
- Our moderators work to ensure that our community standards are upheld, so their decisions should be supported and respected.
- When someone violates the rules, call them out in a respectful, friendly way.
- Use the reporting systems to report improper conduct.
These community standards were drafted with the support of the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK). Game providers can join the USK to enjoy the most extensive legal protection available in the German youth protection sector via this recognised form of self-regulation. The USK provides its members with comprehensive services and materials like these guidelines and advises them on all youth protection issues. Find out more on the USK website.