Furry Writers' Guild Forum

By-laws and Code of Conduct Discussion Thread

Hey there everyone, this will be the official discussion thread about changes to our by-laws and Code of Conduct.

You can view our current by-laws here. The amended by-laws being suggested can be found here

Our current Code of Conduct can be found here. The suggested changes to the code of conduct can be found here.

These discussions will take place from May 3rd to May through May 9th. Comments will be considered and changes potentially made to our suggested amendments before the vote begins officially on May 16th.

We know there is the potential for a lot of discussion to happen here, just remember to keep things civil and be kind to each other. With that being said, let the discussion begin!

I think the Unacceptable Conduct section needs to clarify that this is for promoting such behaviour in IRL situations only.
All those behaviours in a fictional context would be kept out of the general discussion areas on behalf of not being SFW anyway, so they would be restricted to NSFW areas. If it’s discussing them in wholly fictional scenarios, I think it should be permitted.

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To summarize a number of discussions on Telegram, prior to the voting being stopped:

The guild should not being involved with censoring any members’ writing under any circumstances. Several popular works by our own members, Kyell Gold’s Waterways is a well known example, would violate the Code of Conduct originally proposed.

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Offensive comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, physical appearance, race, age, culture, political or religious affiliation

Are clearly banned in our harassment policy. No one is going to be banned from the guild for being a republican. That would be a silly thing to do in general. Though all of the language you seem to take issue with wasn’t anything we added recently. It’s been a part of the language here for a long time.

That aside however, yes the Code of Conduct may have originally been to just prevent forum arguments, but times change. We have two active chatrooms now, forums, and who knows what other guild spaces may exist in the future.

Do we want to police people’s actions outside the guild? Heck, the Code of Conduct itself kinda implies even we don’t. We don’t actively monitor social media. However, if someone is actively harassing folks outside of the guild so that they don’t feel safe sharing a guild space with them and they let use know? I don’t think it’s bad to investigate and take action. We rarely have to do things like this in the guild, and people get a fair share of warnings before we fully step in. We’re changing our bylaws to also require a full vote of officers instead of just allowing the president to make decisions in an effort to try and make this even more fair than it was previously.

In general, these harassment guidelines have been in place and discussed things with activity outside the guild for a long time. If a majority of members wanted to change that, of course we’d understand and take action. We of course encourage you to vote, and the by-laws do have ways for you to bring up a topic for voting as well and you are within your rights to do so regarding changing things in another direction. But currently it seems like people want to know they can be safe within guild spaces and this would help with that.

In my personal opinion, as a member and not Vice President . . .

I am completely against any policy that would apply to a member’s fictional writing. Even if a perfect policy could be made, I would still be against it. No matter how “distasteful” a person might find another’s writing, at the end of the day, it is fiction, and no one was harmed in the course of its creation.

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Having read Waterways, I don’t see how it would violate code of conduct. Critique of religious views within a fictional narrative is not the same as hate speech. Outright advocating for the death of all Christians or Jews or Muslims on social media, however, could be.

Is it really that much to ask that members of the Guild not be Klansmen or advocate genocide on social media? Some people seem to think that regulating any behavior is a violation of God-given rights. While a person does have the right to say or do anything he or she wants, that person is not immune to reaction.

For example, there is nothing wrong with writing about murder. One can even write about a murderer and present that person in a positive light who might have justification for doing what they do (i.e. Dexter), and that serves the story well. But to advocate murder of specific individuals on social media is something else entirely.

We had previous wording that accidentally applied to certain things in written works. When people brought it up, that’s part of why we made changes and opened things to discussion, realizing there could have been other things we missed. I think now it’d be totally fine yes!

Now, my opinion as an officer but not speaking for the guild.

The last thing any of us want to do is police a member’s public behavior. We have neither the time, nor the desire to do so. I personally hate having to deal with public behavior. I hated it when I was on the board of another organization and I hate it here.

Unfortunately, we have to respond to complaints about people in our membership.

From a strictly pragmatic viewpoint, there comes a point when the fandom will not allow us to ignore the public behavior of one of our members. The goal of the Code of Conduct is to codify where that line is.

The language needs work, but the purpose behind it is to protect the guild as a whole, not go on witch hunts.

At one point there was wording about writing sexual content involving minors.

While I agree that people on social media are famous for taking tweets and headlines out of context and framing them as guilty of something they are not (https://twitter.com/jlsteeleauthor/status/1223824474883096576), I have not seen this happen in the fandom.

In the most famous cases, those people have released youtube videos and twitter posts pushing outright racist or sexist views. In one case I recall a person published a story that practically called for extermination of a certain religious group. I can’t recall any instances in which a bunch of people just ganged up on someone for no reason just to make them look bad, so with a code of conduct as written, and members willing to properly vet complaints, I don’t see that as a risk.

Again, is it really that much to ask that members of the guild not be racist or bigoted?

Having read Waterways, I don’t see how it would violate code of conduct. Critique of religious views within a fictional narrative is not the same as hate speech.

I wrote a story for a collection about furry characters in war, a situation in which people often express hostile, hateful views toward each other. I got falsely accused of advocating racism or violence because of a reader’s creative interpretation of the beliefs of morally ambiguous fictional characters in a piece of furry science fiction. And if anybody here recalls, the result was a claim of hate speech, a terrified publisher, retroactive erasure of my fiction, a public essay praising the condemnation, and – quite possibly – someone here now vaguely remembering it as a story advocating genocide. (Perhaps you’re thinking of some other story, rather than wrongly remembering mine, in which case sorry for misreading your comment.) I can’t quite recall the Guild standing up for free speech back then.

So, I doubt that these rules will protect people who write works of fiction that end up offending would-be book-burners.

From a strictly pragmatic viewpoint, there comes a point when the fandom will not allow us to ignore the public behavior of one of our members.

What do you mean, the fandom won’t allow it? What do you imagine will happen if you refuse to punish somebody who writes a story that someone thinks is mean and evil?

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The comment was in reference to Waterways, which was cited as an example relevant to text in the proposed bylaw change regarding depictions of sex in fiction. There was confusion because that text is no longer present in the proposed bylaw change.

Nobody was taking about you.

I believe we are talking about the same story, and I do recall there was support among some members of the Guild for the story to remain in the anthology, but any decision regarding what to do with the story was up to the publisher, not the Guild, and nobody lost Guild membership because of it, so my previous comments regarding the code of conduct still hold.

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Let us walk through the process shall we? The current proposed language is:

“Unacceptable Conduct: Vocal support of these subjects will not be tolerated within the guild: racism, sexism, discrimination, pedophilia or adults committing sexual acts with people under the legal age, rape, torture, dubious consent, forced seduction, snuff or necrophilia, and/or bestiality. Advocacy in real life for this behaviour is considered a violation of our code of conduct.”

Later it says:

“Actions: Actions may include warnings, temporary or permanent bans from any or all FWG spaces, and/or revocation of FWG membership. Specific actions taken are at the discretion of FWG admins, moderators, and officers, based on the judged severity of the behavior.”

So, if someone is accused of a code of conduct violation, it falls on the administrators, moderators, and officers to, collectively, judge the incident. The totality of this process is not presented here, however from the most extreme sanction, revocation of FWG membership, we have in the by laws:

"Removal of Members

Memberships may be revoked at any time, for good and sufficient cause, at the discretion of the president."

This is a pretty broad reaching power. But that is also under the current by-laws. The current amendment proposal presents such as a replacement for this section:

“Removal of Members
Memberships may be revoked at any time, for good and sufficient cause, by a majority vote of the current active officers.”

Meaning without the proposed changes to the by-laws, the president could potentially remove anyone, but if the by-laws are amended, the body of people who would have to support removal increases to that majority vote.

So let us say then that someone tells an off color joke and it gets reported. This joke doesn’t touch any of the specified code of conduct elements directly but is seen in poor taste by many. What would the likely outcome be from such an incident?

A lot of this would come down to how reasonable those who run the FWG are. Assuming they are reasonable people would suggest that any sanction would likely not go beyond a warning on a first offense, and perhaps no further down the road unless it amounts to a clear code of conduct violation.

So lets go there. Let us say someone pronounces that we should exterminate racial group X. This is a pretty clear pronouncement and encouragement of activities that are dangerous to numerous people. The FWG leadership, again assuming they are acting in a reasonable fashion, might go to the most extreme option of removal for a very clear case like this.

But you’re probably not worried about specifically of either end, but that muddy bit in the middle. So, let’s explore that a little. Our example person decides they want to talk in detail about how they think the notion of consent is overrated when it comes to sexual contact. One reading of their words has it being a joke or sarcasm. Another reading has it as advocating that people ignore consent when seeking sexual activities. What would the FWG leadership do in this case?

I can not divine perfectly, especially as this is an incomplete hypothetical, but they do have several options open to them. If they say view this as the joke, if maybe not a funny one, they could offer up a warning and make it clear to that person how they kind of screwed up. This allows the offender to maybe learn from this experience and try a vastly different approach to humor. They might see it as a clear violation of the code of conduct. So perhaps a full on ban, but I’d expect more likely peremenant removal from FWG spaces would be the outcome here minimum if this view is the determination of the moderating team. And what of right down the middle? That perhaps there’s a divide on the moderation team between it being not cool but clearly a joke and this is as bad as it sounds? Well the out come might be a temporary ban with a warning.

This of course is leaving out the variety of other scenarios like serial offenders, unusual circumstances, elaborate or convoluted contexts, ect. But all of these scenarios are also only statements by the individual as themselves and not in the context of created fiction. (Though in some cases there may be a gray zone.)

The short of the long then is: do you trust the FWG admins, moderators, and officers to make reasonable decisions about these things? Or if the by-laws change doesn’t pass, do you feel the same about the president specifically?

An organization is generally a trust system between members, some of whom may be officers or granted special powers by the group. If you trust the group generally, then it is reasonable to expect them to make reasonable decisions. If you don’t trust specific officers in the group, you can campaign against them and make well known the potential abuses of power, with the trust being in the general membership to correct a mistaken investiture of power. If you don’t trust the group at all, then the question is, why be a part of it at all?

And to a certain degree, having a code of conduct clause like this is meant to encourage that trust, not to undermine it. To show that the members of the group will be held to a minimum standard so that people who join the group know what kind of group this is, what their basic values are. It is then up to those members to encourage reasonable policing of the policies and not their exploitation by a minority seeking to control the group and/or its membership.

I hope my meandering words here are helpful for you or someone else.

Again though there was perhaps some confusion with the previously suggest wording that has since been corrected. Please reload the page if necessary to see that this addresses specifically conduct done in real life, and not stuff that is contained within the fiction some wish to create or have created.

It would be interesting for those who critique the current policy proposal to propose themselves some concrete changes and wording recommendations that would push the document closer to what they envision. Specific wording is more easily assessed and debated, and while this kind of abstract philosophical discussion that seems to be dominating this thread so far is intriguing, ultimately we need an actual document.


Well the current policy is a Guild member can be removed at the discretion of the president. The new language puts it up to a vote among the acting officers. The proposed changes are an improvement in that there is less opportunity for one person to act unilaterally without considering all the facts in context.

I wholeheartedly agree.

I do recall your story. It was discussed in the forum. It was the first thing I commented on after I was added to the guild. The post on the forum was immediately closed from comment ‘because it was over’ a long time ago. I was shocked that a writers group wasn’t more outraged over such obvious censorship over a readers lack of understanding of intent and or message.

My best selling books are contain what I would consider extreme fetish porn. I don’t mix my writing much with the real world because of the subject matter. However, I do associate with those who like extreme fetish materials, and I do take requests. I don’t take all requests but I do not go out of my way to turn away paying customers. Therefore, I do take very neutral stances on some things such as activities while promoting my pornographic materials, which could very easily end my membership here. I could probably be banned for some of my political leanings as easily, but most people don’t even notice it in my material because of its content. It may be prudent to make it as difficult as possible to ban someone as possible.

The Furry Writer’s Guild was not involved when FurPlanet exercised their right as a publisher to remove a previously published story from future editions of the anthology. While both parties were guild members, the guild took no action and desired to take no action.

As I stated previously . . .

I am completely against any policy that would apply to a member’s fictional writing. Even if a perfect policy could be made, I would still be against it.

The revisions myself and the other officers are working on, will make it clear the Code of Conduct does not apply to any fictional story a member may write.