Furry Writers' Guild Forum

By-laws and Code of Conduct Discussion Thread

Speaking as an officer working on these documents.

It may be prudent to make it as difficult as possible to ban someone as possible.

It is important to note the board has banned only four or five members in the last ten years. This is not something we do frequently or capriciously.

And to ensure things stay that way, we are moving from the president having the authority to ban any member to requiring a majority vote of the officers and codifying what behavior is covered under the code of conduct.

I could probably be banned for some of my political leanings as easily

Most political leanings in the world are out of scope of the code of conduct. The hate groups we refer to are ones like the KKK, Nazi Parties, and other organizations that explicitly exist to cause harm other people.

Again, this is something that needs to be clarified in the current language.

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That makes sense, and I appreciate that making a code of conduct that satisfies everyone is going to be difficult. You can’t handle every edge case. I’d politely request that the language—particularly in the additions—be made much less ambiguous. One proposed revision for example reads “vocal support […] will not be tolerated within the guild,” but then “advocacy in real life.”

I can read that as “advocating for something in real life, as opposed to within a fictional narrative, inside guild spaces” which makes some sense, albeit “advocacy” and “vocal support” are extremely vague. But the guild’s spaces have moderators, and those moderators obviously should be empowered to keep the peace. I don’t think that’s especially unreasonable.

But I can also read that—particularly given, let’s say… “recent context”—as applying outside of guild spaces, particularly given that the immediate previous section clarifies that harassment is (reasonably) a problem even when it occurs outside of guild space. But this section isn’t about harassment or anything that applies to intra-guild interactions, so that creates some troubling ambiguity.

The synthesis of the two seems reasonable to me. “Hey, knock it off with advocating snuff (???) in the guild Slack, please” seems fine. When it touches on the guild, “stop tagging our Twitter account in your pro-snuff threads or saying the FWG should donate to snuff charities” also seems like it’s not an unreasonable request.

But there is a reading that looks like that’s creating the notion that the FWG is willing to police what its current or prospective members say, unrelated to the guild and outside of guild areas which is… troubling, to say the least*. The FWG has no business being concerned with what people do in “non-FWG spaces and platforms” that does not directly involve other guild members, and there’s no reason it should start. I’m not saying that’s the intent—but as I said, the ambiguity in the wording makes the intent itself unclear.

Edit: To clarify, “troubling, to say the least” because this is also compounded by the ambiguity. “Advocacy” is such an incredibly loose term that—again, considering the FWG just apparently did revoke someone’s membership, and given the reliance on user reporting—if it is intended to apply outside guild spaces there’s not really a good, positive reading on that.

Since there are current FWG members to whom this could plausibly apply, either a) it’s fine if you don’t cause trouble otherwise, which makes this just a rationalization for why the FWG can eject someone they just kinda want to be rid of for other reasons or b) it isn’t fine, but the FWG will litigate whether “mom! Mom, Billy just read The Bell Curve and tweeted that it made some good points” counts as “advocating” when it comes up, which again comes down to “is anyone going to speak up for this person, or are we fine throwing them under a bus” because the guild desires to take no action, except when it does.

Again, I’m sure this is making a mountain out of a molehill since it comes up rarely and I presume that’s not the intent :slight_smile: but, again especially considering the context in which this discussion is taking place, concerns would be assuaged if the language was clarified to reflect that it applies only to guild interactions.

This is interesting. I’m fairly certain that some of this is meant to apply to activity outside of Guild spaces, yes, which is where most of the trouble comes from. I admit, I’m not 100% on-board with it, even though I understand the practical need. I’m 99% there when it comes to certain kinds of philosophies, but there is always that little kernel of worry that any organization is susceptible to social pressure whether they have a well-written, clear policy or not. So I don’t disagree that adding this ‘don’t advocate snuff’ statement–to borrow your synecdoche–explicitly into the CoC almost feels like it’s needed purely to offer an official excuse for actions that were always going to be taken regardless.

So is it even needed? Well, probably yes. If I understand this right, the point is that as the Guild currently stands, most members do not want literal Nazis joining it (to use an example other than snuff), and so even if it’s just bureaucratic fluff, it’s still helpful to have a written document stating so directly. How do you most easily tell if someone is a Nazi? If they say they are. Anywhere. Not necessarily in Guild spaces only.

So the problem is that when it comes to execution there will always be a subjective element to it. I don’t think you can get away from that. Even if it states something like, “vocal, vociferous, unambiguous, wholehearted and clear support”, well you can still quibble about the exact definitions of every single one of those words, too. And if it was written like that, is that going so far as to make it effectively meaningless? It’s rare someone goes around yelling “I’m a literal Nazi!”, after all, even if they are one. So I kind of like how it’s written currently, which gets the point across but also leaves some slack for more ambiguous cases like your Bell Curve example. One would hope a reasonable person wouldn’t think that someone saying anything at all positive about that particular work is expressing “vocal” support for racist ideologies. I mean, maybe someone would, given the specific circumstances, so again you soften that by adding in this requirement of a vote.

But yeah, I don’t think the “how do you keep secret Nazis out of your organization without collateral damage” problem has been solved yet. Mostly I’m just not in favor of a Twitter-style scorched earth type system. And I don’t THINK the Guild is prone to that, at least not currently.

Since some of the opposition is based around the FWG taking action due to a member’s activity outside of official FWG spaces, there is precedent for this approach in the larger SFF community as SFWA has denied an author a membership based on actions outside of SFWA: https://www.sfwa.org/2018/01/20/statement-sfwa-membership-credentials-committee/

In my opinion, it’s entirely reasonable for an organization to place limits on who they want to freely associate with.

Considering the suggestion of changing the CoC arose from a situation where a member was advocating that beastiality is a legitimate sexual orientation, the surge of opposition expressed here is interesting to say the least.


Given that no SFF literature group can survive on an old guard alone, if the FWG is going to be an asset then it needs to be mindful of attitudes that bring people to furry and its writing in the first place. Regardless of how the aesthetic is applied, the community is inordinately diverse and increasingly younger. If we are going to be a place to help people establish writing then its imperative we lay a groundwork for the community we’re part of. It is not, to me, unreasonable to ask that any member be held accountable for their actions or else risk being disbarred, much the way any community organisation acts in the best interests of its members and those to whom it presents an outside image. We’re not invitation-only Freemasons guarding antiquated secrets and codes that require endless trials and tests to get into. Mainstream publishing has that covered.

We are more or less all of us independent artists so while that gives us scope to be individuals, pretending we all exist in vacuums where our actions don’t affect others or our words don’t become representative of things that harm us or others around us, is not very objective.

It’s not about pandering to cancel culture, which in itself is far more of a scaremongering term by people deliberately not wanting to be held accountable than an actual practice by puritanical crusaders; it’s about understanding the needs of the community we’re telling people we represent. If we’re not furry, we’re pointless. And if we’re not evolving, we’re also pointless, and approaching an expiration date.


I think it’s time for me to make a bit more of a definitive statement in this thread, especially as current guild president. Potentially clear things up and be open about the situation.

While the changes to the by-laws were more administrative and needing to be done for a while now (I notice the debate here seems to not focus on them at all) we had a specific event make us consider this update to the Code of Conduct. We had a member of the guild advocating bestiality on Twitter which resulted in a ban. While our current by-laws do allow us to remove members based on the president’s discretion (which was done after serious discussion among officers and moderators) it was brought up to us that this might not actually be fair considering how our code of conduct is currently written.

While I’m unsure if I agree on that statement, we realized we needed to have a stronger code of conduct to make these things easier to enforce and more concise and understandable to members. It hurts the image of the entire organization to have people like that within it. In some cases, like if someone was in a hate group, it would also put many of our membership into dangerous and difficult positions.

I’ll make it perfectly clear that yes, this means people’s behaviors outside the guild could become a reason for their removal from guild spaces and membership potentially. We don’t intend to police people’s social media, but if a member of our guild brings something like this to our attention we’re going to take action. Of course this also applies to in guild spaces, but yes to make it absolutely clear the way guild members act in outside spaces can affect in guild spaces and membership.

You can say and do whatever you want to, it is within your right. However, we are allowed as an organization to have consequences for those actions pursuant to our own right of free association.

We want to make this clear that this does not affect fictional works that members are creating. Suggestions on language to make that more clear would be greatly appreciated. We get the fandom has a pretty long and storied history related to sex and kink and we don’t want people to feel like that is at risk. We’re not trying to say what you can and cannot write about.

However, openly advocating for something like bestiality, white supremacy, things like that? Those behaviors are not going to be welcome within the guild. I understand some people are concerned promoting their written works might constitute as this if they write about certain topics, which is why I once again want to say we would love language that would help make it more clear that is not our intent so please suggest it if you have it.

We have had suggestions brought to me to include flame-bating as an issue within the guild as well. This is another thing I would love discussed as I agree purposefully trying to cause issues within our spaces is not a great thing.

In short: The current administration is looking to continue forward with these changes so we would love to see suggested language to make the wording more clear for folks so it might be more acceptable.


Yes, I think it would suffice simply to add “flame-baiting” to the list of behaviors forbidden in our chat spaces.

To my way of thinking, then, if you want to clarify the language—strike it. JohnVanStry offers a starting point for “we’d like to vote you off the island” that doesn’t put the Guild in the position of trying to figure out the rules lawyering over what counts as “advocating” something, or what topics are utterly beyond the pale. The FWG isn’t a particularly serious organization—nobody gets sued and bridges don’t collapse because they didn’t hire someone Guild-certified; the 2020 season of Furry isn’t threatened because the Guild goes on strike. It’s just a social club, and clubs get to define their rules. Honestly, even if they’re capricious, they get to do that. It’s fine. I’m specced as a social justice bard and I’m a card-carrying deputy of the PC Police, so like… a) I’m not going to complain that clubs are exclusive and b) I mean, I’m at peace that I don’t belong to Bohemian Grove or Soho House. Any club that would have me as a member, etc.

But trying to put down your lines in writing like there was a hard line seems like a bad idea to me. I’m not gonna “first they came” about bestiality, because that’s silly. But even if it’s not my cup of tea, there are other FWG members who have espoused that kind of milquetoast well-what-if “vocal support.” Clearly that’s not a problem because it didn’t rise to the level of being brought to anyone’s attention, QED. So it’s not about the viewpoint, it’s about whether it causes problems. And it causes problems when it causes problems for other people within the group, it seems to me—full stop. Iterating specific topics as a pretense for kicking people out when you could just say “we could vote to kick you out” is creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.

I highlighted “snuff” earlier as an example because it’s not a thing people “advocate” for; it’s a genre. So, really, is “dubious consent,” which muddies the waters about whether the FWG is interested in the real-world actions people do or the ideas people write about. At some level if you mean “don’t vocally support killing people” I mean… okay, yeah, that’s fairly uncontroversial? But something tells me there’s a lot of guillotine memes on Twitter that the Guild would figure don’t really count, for Reasons. And conversely if I derailed every discussion in FWG Slack to talk about atomic energy, and was obnoxious to public officials on Twitter about failing to support new plant construction, it’s pretty clear to me at least that the Guild is fine distancing itself from me and I’m not going to find an attorney to take a case on “well, the CoC didn’t say anything about nuclear power advocacy” grounds.

And the “genre” thing is important because I don’t think the statement “this does not affect fictional works that members are creating” is credible. The line between fiction and advocacy is tenuous, and sometimes in the eye of the beholder. It’s neither in the FWG’s remit nor necessarily in interest to push for free-expression absolutism. I don’t expect the Guild to stand up for people’s right to “write about anything”—even if free speech didn’t have its limits, again, a club should get to say who belongs. And at some point, the fandom is going to have the furry Gor or Atlas Shrugged or even Turner Diaries and you’re not going to say “well, if you’d said this on Twitter, that would be one thing, but it’s a character expressing these views so our hands our tied.” If someone complains loud enough, or enough people complain full stop, it’ll be another “of course, normally we’d never do this, but…”

Again this seems like a solution in search of a problem. Identifying what specific non-writing opinions you shouldn’t have, by name, to be part of a writing group is opening up discussions that don’t get you anywhere. If what you mean is “if you make people uncomfortable, we may ask you to leave”… that’s always going to be a judgment call. I was an IRC mod in the long ago; “this is better for the group” is what it boils down to, not “well, section 5.12C says…” and as Izixs said, we either trust y’all to make those decisions, or we don’t. If I trust you, then you’re the club steward and your word is gospel. If I don’t, well. Any group that would have me as a member, etc.


I’m going to say, briefly for now, that I am strongly in agreement with @Matrioshka_Dog on this issue and is one reason I resist inclusion of that section. I don’t think it helps, I do think it counts as a performative act, like “Oh hey we stood up and said we are Taking A Stand about these issues, so please take us seriously.” A list like that does not seem to advance any of the things I think the FWG as a community brings to the table, and it has always seemed to me that when you get into specifically iterating things like that, you just end up growing the list over time and never really revisiting it. It’s good for a community to set some expectations around acceptable behavior, but this feels like the wrong way to do it.

I also say that with a list like that I don’t trust the guild’s leadership, not as a specific slight against the current individuals, but in light of a history of individuals in leadership roles acting inappropriately and creating an environment I found quite unappealing, to the point that I was fairly inactive for a couple of years. I think that I would trust the leadership to exercise good judgment more if they did not feel the need to enumerate a specific list of Bad Things To Advocate. Especially, as above, because it leads straight into the question of “When does fiction become advocacy?”

I’ll come back to this topic after I’ve had more time to think. I would not vote in support of a CoC that includes the Unacceptable Behavior section as it is currently conceived.

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I agree with Linnea that the Guild needs to have a more defined code of conduct that focuses on wider social behaviors. The Guild has played fast and loose since the old forum started to zombify which led to a wider social network. Point in fact, there has been more people that voluntarily left for a reason or other than through moderation. In cases of moderation, there were repeated instances of infractions, complaints, and/or plain disregard.

By joining the Guild as a member or by joining guild social spaces is like any organization. You agree to stipulations on behavior established by the organization. Without rules there is no organization. Without organization we cannot function as a group.

I agree with concerns that were originally brought up and addressed surrounding the wording that did not adequately separate fantasy from reality. Even after the changes were made it was clear that the interpretation by some folks still felt the CoC was dipping into prescription of fictional content. I agree with that as well simply because language is inexact and open to interpretation.

The Guild is here to be a resource and certain behavior runs counter to this mission. Hence the need for the Guild to maintain an image to the public. Hence the need for a well crafted CoC that is specifically worded.

There is also a reason why many members of the Guild advocate beta and sensitivity readers. It pays to be careful with words because once they are out, it’s hard to take them back. However, the Guild isn’t about our work but cooperation within real life. As a result, it pays to be sensitive to how one acts generally, but also how one write.

There is a complicated line with fiction as a representational tool for expressing ideologies, one that will not be solved here or by us. Likely it is only addressable on a progressing case by case basis, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the behavior that has catapulted this issue forward.

Fiction does not equal endorsement, but responses to thoughtful criticism of fiction can be viewed as endorsement. In many cases, it is how an individual responds to criticism that determines how their work is subsequently viewed.

As it stands, without adding a clause that outlines what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable behavior the “free expression” some folks hold above other issues of unstable as it exists as an undefined structure with a history of prejudice. Under what conditions or boundaries would a CoC regarding member behavior be acceptable? “Under no condition” is not helpful because obviously for this topic to exist there is legitimate concern regarding behavior.


To my way of thinking, then, if you want to clarify the language—strike it. JohnVanStry offers a starting point for “we’d like to vote you off the island” that doesn’t put the Guild in the position of trying to figure out the rules lawyering over what counts as “advocating” something, or what topics are utterly beyond the pale.

If we simply remove this language at all and allow things to be vague in every way I don’t think this becomes better. Then, even if it’s by a majority vote, people can be removed for any reason without any recourse. They cannot even really ask “what rule did I break” because the answer only needs to be. “At our discretion you were removed.” To me personally, this allows for far more potential abuse by an administration in the future than trying to have something not perfect, but at least more specific to point to.

Also, a 45 day period for which we must enact a majority vote of all members to ban someone would take far too long if someone was actively being disruptive. Even if we shortened the time, it’s simply not flexible enough of a solution. Not to mention, these more ‘political’ things within the group are basically everyone’s least favorite things to deal with. Even announcing a change in chatrooms used or updating our info in groan worthy to some members, and I get why! It’s not the socializing or writing they want to focus on. I don’t see this option making many people happy, if anything whenever a case came up it would make things far worse and cause more fighting within guild spaces to a point of impossible to resolve disruption.

I highlighted “snuff” earlier as an example because it’s not a thing people “advocate” for; it’s a genre. So, really, is “dubious consent,” which muddies the waters about whether the FWG is interested in the real-world actions people do or the ideas people write about .

This I more agree with. We took this list from furry publishers and what they chose to not publish, so this is where word tweaking to avoid more kink based words for things would be smart. I wouldn’t expect all of the current terminology to remain in the final proposal.

Perhaps language like: "Advocacy does not include the depictions of these subjects within works written by members or prospective members nor authors promoting their own written works with depictions of these subjects."

Would make people happier?

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I think that the list in the proposed Code of Conduct is useful for defining what kinds of stories publishers are (not) interested in, but it’s not especially suitable for proscribing conduct. Conduct comprising most of the items in the list is already illegal in many (or most) jurisdictions, and the Guild is not equipped to handle those violations anyway. The correct response in case of illegal conduct is to let the proper authorities handle it.

I think the list is a bit of both incomplete and too specific. Superficially, reducing a number of the items to “illegal activity” seems to partially fix that, but it falls apart remembering that the guild isn’t limited to the U.S., so the question of jurisdiction comes up. Even within the U.S., some States prohibit (for instance) marijuana and some don’t–and I doubt we necessarily want to ban endorsing or advocating “illegal conduct” because that endorsement and advocacy is how (again: for instance) marijuana became legal in the states where it’s legal, which is perfectly valid.

Some of the items, like racism, bigotry, and discrimination, are at least arguably protected “speech,” at least under U.S. law (except in cases like housing, employment, etc.) So that does require some subjective interpretation on our part, but there are examples to fall back on: terms of service for other internet services, for instance, and local laws about hate speech (I think that’s a thing in some places?) could help to narrow it down to something specific enough to please the majority and enforce. Nobody wants bigots in general or Nazis in particular around. As others have pointed out, there’s precedent in organizations like ours for nixing membership for members or pospective members who are not a good fit for the organization, and clubs do that anyway, formally or not.

The Guild’s activities encompass more than just the chat and forum spaces. Guild sponsored social gatherings at conventions, for instance, should probably also be included, and there are probably others.

One thing that’s missing is the trigger that initiates action. The Guild doesn’t want to police anyone’s social media, that’s fairly clear. Nobody has the desire, the time, or the resources. But a lot of the objections seem to relate worries that could happen. Specifying that a complaint is required before the guild will look into anything or take action on it might partly resolve that, along with explicit prohibition of policing activity, something like, “The elected officers of the Guild shall not engage in policing of members’ activities outside Guild spaces, and may only consider whether a member’s activities are in violation of the code of conduct if a complaint is received.” Also, specifying the range of sanctions available could clarify that Banned For Life is not typically step #1.

Obviously, checking undesirable activity within guild spaces is desirable and I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that’s outside the scope of the Guild’s prerogative.

Additionally, if we’re going to have official sanctions, we should probably have an appeal process, too. I don’t know what that would look like, but we could probably model off of organizations like SFWA if we go that route.

In all, I think that the intent here is fine. We want a safe, reasonably peaceful community where people feel welcome. But maybe a strongly legalistic approach isn’t the best option, particularly given the cited rarity of enforcement actions. The reason laws are so complicated is that they have to cover every contingency, every objection, every qualification, and even then, the lawyering (literally) inevitably begins. Ideally, that helps make sure the law isn’t abused (a highly debatable topic outside the scope, here), but it makes things very, very complicated, and we don’t really need that level of rulemaking. We’re not civil authorities, we’re a bunch of creative people who by and large want to get along and make stuff, while helping each other out and having a good time. Clarifying what we expect of our members is good, and outlining what can happen for bad behavior is good. Sticking ourselves with hard and fast rules (without legal advice we’re likely not equipped to procure and retain) will likely cause us problems down the line when they prove incomplete or we change our collective mind about whether a specific rule is good or bad. Not many of us are lawyers, so trying to draw up laws to govern ourselves may backfire later, and a simple statement of intent might serve us better.

[Edits: to correct typos because I did this on my phone.]

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Gonna need a rule against mini-modding.

This here [edit: had been “hear”] touches on a concern I’ve had as well: You might say “hey no advocating for illegal activities,” but laws vary within a country (esp the US) and certainly vary a lot outside of them, too. In some countries, homosexual behavior is still quite illegal, which demonstrates there’s no universal standard of law you can adhere to for an organization of international membership (it’s also a bad standard in the sense that legality and morality are different and things which are legal can be immoral, and things which are moral can be illegal. Plus morality is a pretty personal concept).

Any time you try to enumerate specific behaviors which are prohibited (or in this case, specific behaviors which advocating for is condition for expulsion from the community), you run a very strong risk of creating a culture where that which is not expressly forbidden is permitted, and also of creating a situation where the organization cannot use good judgement to address issues, because you have shifted to a “we must enumerate every prohibited behavior” situation. This list is long enough that I think you’re already there; the next time you see something you don’t want associated with the guild, you’re going to have to update the list.

For this specific issue, the best guidance I’ve seen is to express a guiding principle and optionally include a few illustrative examples (use a phrase like ‘examples include…’ after you’ve expressed the principle). In this case, I don’t see a single unifying principle in “Unacceptable Behaviors,” other than “things guild leadership are worried people might think the guild condones.”

Knowing it came from a list of “we won’t publish this” does explain the phrasing, and I think it’s a much more reasonable list for “no thanks, not gonna publish” than for "don’t advocate for this or we’ll eject you.

Protected Speech: This organization is not required to worry about protected speech, because it is a community organization, not a government. The FWG is free to prohibit whatever speech it wants, including anything advocating for bigotry, hatred, etc, and, in fact, I think the guild, given the community’s quite diverse membership, would be well served making a strong statement against those activities in general. Bigots should not be welcome in the FWG (nor, frankly, in any community).

In any case, there remain, what, two days to work on the proposed wording before the comment period is over and it goes into a one-week voting period? I think it is underdeveloped given the issues and could do with additional time. One, or even two, more weeks gives the people working on language time to consider what they’re really trying to accomplish with this and if the language actually expresses the guiding principles.

Everyone’s recent arguments make sense to me, too…

So, what’s the ultimate goal, then, LiteralGrill? To just have a written policy, but also to limit somewhat the powers of the Guild administration?

If the event which spurred this revision came about because of pressure from the community, can the wording just reflect that? Something like, “The FWG administration reserves the right to cultivate the FWG community based on the desires of its overall membership. Thereby, actions taken by Guild members outside of Guild spaces, if deemed grossly undesirable by the community at large, can result in punitive action up to and including revocation of membership.” And maybe stick in a “for example” somewhere if needed, and add in the actual prescription for specific action (e.g. a majority vote among admins is needed to revoke membership).

That’s not very good legalese, but you get the gist. It would leave the ultimate decision making power up to the administration, but leaves most of the work up to community self-policing. Essentially, putting in words what’s already the working policy.

And yes, I agree (and stated myself in the Discord) that there should also be a codified recourse for people who do get expelled to argue their case and try to win back membership.

'Fraid not. That’ll open the door to all kinds of “tyranny of the majority” criticism, and not without warrant, as it could mean removing anyone disliked by enough people even if they haven’t done anything.

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Okay, well… then combining this with the above criticisms of the current wording, we’re at a stage where if we leave it too vague it becomes some form of tyranny, but if we get too specific it’s either full of holes or becomes an ever-expanding list of infractions, defeating the purpose of constraining it in the first place.

I admit I’m starting to lose a middle ground, here. Even just stipulating “for example” instead of a specific bulleted list of taboo subjects opens this up for potential abuse by those in authority because that makes it all-inclusive.

Maybe I’m just over-thinking this. There’s going to be a level of trust involved no matter what.

I’ve kind of wanted to stay out of this, but here goes.

So many of these posts seem to be treating the Code of Conduct like it needs to be a binding legal document that has to be watertight and not open to interpretation, but I don’t think that’s the intent, nor (as has been pointed out) is it going to be possible to create something where every word couldn’t be challenged.

I think part of the issue here is that the by-laws changes and the CoC issues are two important but separate questions (“who has the authority to remove members” versus “what behavior warrants removal”), and they’re being tossed in here together and discussed all at once in a way that makes them feel even more confusing and complicated than they already are.

For the CoC issue, as I see it, the Code of Conduct serves two purposes:

  1. it states, as clearly as reasonably possible, the values of the guild and the standards of behavior expected from its members and officers, and in doing so,
  2. it provides guidance to those who have the authority to remove members, so they can interpret when those values and standards have not been met

And if people want to nitpick every syllable and argue every hypothetical, they certainly can and will. Again, it’s never going to be watertight, because we’ll never think of every detail of every situation that might come up in terms of moderating a community of this size and range of opinions. It needs to be open to interpretation by those in authority.

As far as the values in question, I’ve been a little surprised that it’s so controversial to say “don’t advocate for abusive and illegal activities in real life.” I understand and agree with the concern that it shouldn’t include fictional works, but I also think that’s a straw man that’s been hauled out every time this sort of thing comes up in the fandom. And again, what constitutes “advocating,” and “real life,” and every other word I’ve just used can be nitpicked and debated within an inch of its life for weeks, so I think hoping for the perfect watertight wording is naive at best. I do think it’s possible that this can be done without automatically turning into a “but who decides what’s racist!!!” slippery slope. Advocating animal abuse or genocide is not the same thing as voting Republican, FFS, and I’d like to think most adults really are smart enough to get that, so let’s go for something reasonable that assumes common sense on the part of the authority involved.

As to the question of who has that authority to remove members, I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with it being a majority vote of the membership, in part because (again, as has already been pointed out) any community is susceptible to issues of popularity, cliquishness, etc., but also because of the fact that the average member may not even be aware of the nuances of the situation, either because they’re not active in the social spaces involved with the situation, and/or because they aren’t able to see the behind-the-scenes moderation along the way that’s only open to those with a certain level of mod access. And having to lay out every single detail of every moderation situation to the entire membership for a vote strikes me as having the potential to sow a lot of drama and drag everything out and make the situation ten times more complicated and headache-inducing and time-consuming than if it were handled internally.

For those reasons, I agree with having those situations dealt with by a majority vote of the guild officers, which keeps it from being a tyranny of one person but doesn’t have to involve the entire membership. (Although that does assume that the guild needs to keep, say, at least three active officers at all times, which has not always been as easy as it sounds through the years.)

I also agree that there has to be a certain level of trust involved with any organization, so that the members can trust that their officers are acting in the best interests of the community. But that’s up to the members running for office and doing the voting. If members don’t feel they can trust the people they’ve voted in to make good decision in terms of community moderation, then it’s on them to take action to correct that.

Well. That’s way more than I meant to write, but I think that’s everything I have to bring to the table.


I am categorically and emphatically against policing the moral behavior of guild members in outside activities that do not involve the organization in any way. This absolutely includes others saying things that I find offensive or repugnant in contexts that do not involve or invoke the guild or its members.

Even if the apparent consensus among members of the guild is that something is bad, or even something that “most people” want to see eliminated, you can’t bully people into your point of view by threatening them with sanction for expressing their opinion. Doing so implies a moral absolute where none may exist, and at best you can only silence competing opinions—you cannot convert them.

The list of categories deemed unacceptable being a list of things rejected by publishers is also extremely disconcerting. Even accepting that it was inadvertent and clumsily-worded, it betrays a deeper intent. For example, “bestiality” is an exceptionally nuanced issue that has been explored for thousands of years, flowing from custom to taboo and back again, as is racism, sexism, slavery, and full exploration of consent. Every single subject listed here as “DO NOT PROMOTE” is something that begs exploration to consider the venal and primal nature of life and natural law. They’re also all classic questions that have been examined at length in science (and other) speculative fiction for as long as books have existed, and by societies for as long as societies have existed.

Without the exploration of darker themes, especially through the context of fiction, we experience a chilling effect on rational thought and discourse at large. And I don’t buy “It’s ok in fiction, really! As long as you don’t promote it in real life.”

What will be added to the list next? “Murrsuiters”? I mean, ugh, right? That’s disgusting! Everyone agrees, right? “UGH THEY HUG CHILDREN WITH THE SAME FURSUIT.”

I, for one, do not wish to see this change and will vote against it.

Part of what we do within the guild is trying to advance our members (or prospective members) careers within the furry writing space. This involves working with editors, publishers, and other people in the printing chain within the fandom. It makes sense we would look to the standard moral practices of our industry for inspiration.

Not to mention one of our primary perks outside of promoting its membership, helping writers get published, and being a strong social space is being associated with the guild itself. I’m sorry but the guild allowing members that are supporting things like bestiality, racism, or slavery would make associating with the guild itself horribly repugnant for the vast majority people and weaken our strength as a guild.

Heck, some of these things outright put people in danger. Especially specific hate groups, some of which have claws in the fandom. People like that in our spaces could be a danger to the very people they preach hate against.

We have proposed language to include the following:

We get the idea of portraying someone who might be racist within a piece of fiction could be compelling and worthwhile if approached properly. Or heck, depicting certain time periods might end up with this in general. Non-con is a kink explored by plenty of people (although it takes consent before doing so, we get there’s nuance). There is a very big difference between this and saying something like “white supremacy is good”, “I should be able to legally have sex with my pets”, or “I can and should be able to have sex with whoever I want regardless of consent.”

First, I’m going to try and hope this isn’t what you were going for, but the way that reads it’s almost as though you are also saying things like racism, sexism, and slavery, things which were once custom and now taboo, is something worth considering coming back again? Again, I’m really hoping this isn’t the case and I’m over-reading this but if so we will never agree period. Racism, sexism, slavery, and having sex with someone even though they have not consented was NEVER a good thing, NEVER was it okay, even if society once thought so. It doesn’t matter if these things used to be done, that doesn’t make it okay. Bestiality falls under this as well in spades.

But second on this, hey if the morality of the times changes, we could too in the future. Like we are now. As others have mentioned, we could nitpick every single little bit of wording but it will never be perfect. We already know this! No matter what we do it’s going to be interpreted by officers. Would you prefer us to not have at least some basic guidelines to work with as we have now? If so, officers could just decide whatever they want could be bad and the guild members wouldn’t have rules to point to when they defended themselves.

What we have now is FAR more open to abuse than what we are considering now. Heck, I’m the president and obviously I’m presenting these things up for a vote so we know how I feel about them. I think it might be obvious how I feel about these subjects. I want to treat everyone fairly, but it’d honestly like at least an attempt at more exact guidelines too. Not just for me, but for whoever comes after. Helps keep people honest.