Updates to the site rules in Site Updates

  • July 23, 2020, 3:14 p.m.
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  • Public

I have a friend we’ll call M. He’s an author, and he’s a fascinating and occasionally frustrating human being. Fascinating in part because he always knows exactly what profound thing to say at any given moment, and frustrating because he always goes out of his way to ensure that you know he’s just turned the perfect phrase.

A few years ago, I shared with him the wild story of how I came to be the admin here. He, like me, was fascinated with all of you, and of course promptly dropped one of his usual bombs. He told me, “Josh, you don’t run Prosebox at all.” This surprised me, and I asked him what he meant. He continued, “You’re merely the custodian of their stories. It’s a deep honor, and I hope you always take it as seriously as they’ll need you to.”

And then he smiled, knowing that he’d moved me. This guy.

As M no doubt knew it would, this stuck with me. It’s increasingly become the lens through which I see all of you and all of Prosebox. I may be the owner, I may be the administrator, but most importantly I’m the person entrusted with guarding your stories. And the last several months.. well, none of our stories have been easy, have they?

It is a truly strange time to be running an online community.

Racism, hate speech, conspiracy theories, misinformation, culture wars, and just general willful ignorance and anti-intellectualism are on the rise everywhere online. Prosebox is not immune to this.

Last week I permanently banned MyDronedLife. This has been coming for quite some time, but I assure you I took no pleasure in it. Under normal circumstances, this would be done quietly and without publicly naming those involved. However, given her visibility in this community (for better or worse), I feel transparency is important.

I banned her for a few reasons. The two final offenses were hate speech and harassment, but the bullying has been going on for quite some time. I’ve received several complaints over the last few years, but each one came just shy of breaking the site rules. I’d warn her, and things would calm down for a time. No need to take away a therapeutic outlet over a few angry mistakes. The last few months, though, things escalated out of control. She crossed lines, and I apologize for not taking action sooner.

I want to be very clear here: she was not banned for her opinions. She was banned for harassment and hate speech.

So, what does that mean? And what actions am I going to take to prevent this going forward?

Well, to hopefully make things a bit clearer, for the first time in four years I’ll be updating the site rules.

For the next few days, before the updates go into effect, you can review the old rules here. As with everything here at Prosebox, I’m soliciting feedback from the community. If you feel there is a line in here that worries you, let’s talk it through. I reserve the right to make the final decision, but I want to have the conversation. Once we as a community have talked through my proposed changes, the updates will go into effect.

I also want to stress that what typically happens with a rules violation is that I reach out to the offending user via email and warn then. In 99% of cases, that ends the behavior right then and there, the offending entries/comments are taken down, and that’s that. It’s a respectful but firm conversation, and there’s ideally growth and understanding on the part of the user I’ve warned. Prosebox is such a small community that a formal “process” has never been necessary. Any user making a good faith attempt to better themselves and learn from their offending behavior will be given another chance.

Additionally, private entries will always be private. This discussion is specifically about the effects your words have on other users.

So, what are the changes?

First, Hate. Or Hate Speech. The previous rule only specified Hateful Slurs, but given the current state of the online world it’s important to take this a step further. There must not be any ambiguity.

Hate speech and demeaning slurs about any group will not be tolerated. This includes racial slurs, religious slurs, deliberate misgendering, or any other racist, transphobic, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist, or otherwise hateful speech.

Next, Harassment. This is a new rule, though it’s always been something that has been present on the site and dealt with.

Do not threaten, harass, or bully. Intimidation or abuse will not be tolerated in public or private discussions. Being annoying or disagreeing with someone, even strongly, is not harassment. However, being menacing, following someone around the site, or otherwise behaving in a way that would discourage a reasonable person from participating crosses the line.

Finally, Privacy Violation. This was a minor update to address issues I’ve had over the last few years with members posting private entries private comments, or social media posts to publicly to call out others. This is now formally against the site rules.

Privacy Violation (doxxing)
Sharing private or personal information about other people is not allowed, particularly things like social security or credit card numbers. If someone hasn’t intentionally brought their potentially sensitive information into public, do not make that decision for them. This includes excerpts from private entries, private comments, and social media posts.

I want to be very clear and precise here, as I know based on my previous update about a possible ban button that there will be people panicking that this will change the level of freedom of the site. This is not that. This is codifying and firming up rules, unspoken or not, that I’ve been enforcing since I started. The only thing changing here is the ambiguity.

My goal here is to take the difficult decision I had to make with MDL and turn it into something positive for everyone in our community.

All that said, those of you I’ve spoken with about the issues with MDL have been exceedingly gracious and understanding. I feel like every time I turn around, I’m underestimating the kindness and empathy in this community. This is why I feel such an obligation to protect what we have here, and ensure that it lasts. Even if we’re the last bastion of kindness and community support on the internet, I will do my best to honor my obligation as custodian of your stories.

I will write more in the coming days about the state of the site, my plans for addressing these difficult issues, and where things are for me personally. It doesn’t feel right to get into all that in such an important context.

I appreciate all of you reaching out and asking how I’ve been doing during this trying year. I have some correspondence to catch up on!

More soon.


mochi in repose

Last updated July 23, 2020

the inky kitty. July 23, 2020

Thank you, Josh. Thank you for being the guardian of our stories.

The clarification on the rules was definitely needed.

Florentine July 23, 2020 (edited July 23, 2020)


Had your slightly smug author friend ever read your work? This was a well-organized and thoughtful piece of composed writing.

Thanks for the updates and enforcements; they are necessary for the health of this community.

Jigger July 23, 2020

Thank you. I think you’re doing a really good job as shepherd and custodian.

Firebabe July 23, 2020

I've always pictured you with dignified badge that says "Facilitator and Keeper of Stories." There may or may not be a tiara included.

Thanks for taking the steps for clarification. It's difficult to be firm in these times, for fear of a segment of the readership/writership reacting negatively. But man, it was definitely needed.

Carry on!

josh Firebabe ⋅ July 23, 2020

Definitely a tiara. But what color?

Firebabe josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

I feel like it would be color-changing. You're just that awesome. 😎

auburn_girl Firebabe ⋅ July 24, 2020

Can you make him a coloured tiara? Or better yet ... make Mochi one?!

Firebabe auburn_girl ⋅ July 24, 2020

Oh, they come in a set, absolutely. 😀

Gonewiththebreeze July 23, 2020

Wonderfully written as usual thanks for all you do Josh!!

stargazing July 23, 2020

Thank you, Josh!

TrippyNina July 23, 2020

Thank you, Josh! Your dedication to this site is much appreciated.

TellTaleHeart July 23, 2020

I like "guardian" better than "custodian." But either way, I love that mental image. Thanks for taking such care with our words.

wintergrey July 23, 2020

Thank you for looking after us! I think I came across this diarist randomly once and looked at their writing and quickly decided to move on...

Tuesday's Child wintergrey ⋅ July 23, 2020

I saw her on the front page and almost bit, then read back a couple of entries and realised it was all some variety of controversy and left it well alone!

history of love July 23, 2020

Thanks Josh, I was hoping you would update sooner or later. And Mochi! ♡
As for feedback - in the original rules I personally would bold the parts that are currently in italics to make them stand out and be firm and secondly would out a direct link (if poss) to the digital millennium copyright rules.

josh history of love ⋅ July 23, 2020

Yep, the formatting will be updated to reflect the current formatting and to call out where the changes have been made. I'll add the DMCA link, thanks for the suggestion.

GypsyWynd July 23, 2020

Thank you, Josh, Guardian-of-the Prosebox-Galaxy.
I've always felt privileged to be invited into someone's diary, and believe that the same rules apply as would apply if I were a guest in their home. Courtesy, respect, and keep my feet off the furniture.

still, i rise. July 23, 2020

Some of these are vague and could be easily stretched if one wanted to.

I’ll have to think about this.

Silver Satan still, i rise. ⋅ July 23, 2020

I agree and also worry about this. I avoid OD because the knee jerk reaction to call much inappropriate.

I'd hate to not feel safe expressing myself in a world where everything is considered hate speech.

josh Silver Satan ⋅ July 23, 2020

We've talked this through a bit, but I just had to stop by and say: we are definitely not OD around here ;)

Silver Satan josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

For sure! Nothing like it. I feel much safer here than on OD.

Firebabe still, i rise. ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I think the issue is that there could be potentially thousands of different scenarios with different context. When you deal with a large number of people across a wide section of society, in the context of something like PB, then the best you can do is put guidelines into place. And by default, guidelines are flexible. I've got experience in writing internal communication guidelines for large companies and trust me--you don't want to be too strict OR too vague. What Josh has above is very spot on as it allows people to write what they want to write within reason, and it gives the site admins the ability to--at the very least--start a conversation with someone who is bending the rules.

The good news is that if a suspected transgression is reported, then Josh and team will have a conversation with the accused party. It's not like they're just going to delete entire diaries or comments without any discussion. I totally get the desire to have strictly defined rules that cover all the scenarios, unfortunately, it's almost impossible to do so in the context of something like PB.

In D Major July 23, 2020

Thank you for this.

Out of curiosity, how does the banning work? Can they diarist just create a new account, or does it block their IP (or other newfangled internetty terminology)?

josh In D Major ⋅ July 23, 2020

It really depends. Usually a permanent ban and deletion is sufficient, but sometimes an IP ban has to happen as well. As for new accounts, it's down to vigilance as it's difficult to track due to the anonymous nature of the site.

Barbara Bad July 23, 2020

Thank you x

Just Some Girl July 23, 2020

Thank you, I appreciate the action and the clarification.

If I could make one suggestion, however, specifically relating to these changes?
I think users need to have the ability to block private comments. This will keep bullies from being as bold as they are in the beginning, before things escalate.

Deleted user Just Some Girl ⋅ July 23, 2020

I agree with this.

simple mind Just Some Girl ⋅ July 23, 2020

It's a good suggestion. I'd also suggest a setting to block private comments of anyone not on your friends list. In fact that's probably a pretty reasonable default. Usually private messages from friends are welcome.

Deleted user simple mind ⋅ July 23, 2020

Business Cat approves! That settled it. Once cats get involved, you have no choice.

J.E. July 23, 2020


shnooze July 23, 2020

so that's where she went. good riddance. when you boil it down, a person like that is a lost cause. they've been taught to hate, they lack the critical thinking skills to question it and then, they trumpet it out to the masses hoping to find their echo chamber. i actually pity her and people like her because they're missing out on so much. her stance prevents her from actually living - as evidenced by her pretty goddamned sad existence. i'm of the mind that people can think and (within reason) say whatever they want. but you have to draw the line when it spills over into menacing and threatening behaviour. i lurked on her diary for a long time because to me, it's absolutely mind-boggling that people like her actually exist and think and behave the way they do. sociologically speaking, it's fascinating to me. i'm all: "HOW is this even a thing?" it's so bizarre. it's sad in some ways - she's a victim of circumstance and on some level you can't blame a person for that. she obviously learned all that shit at a young age. but where does it end, y'know? she's an adult. she has a kid. and from what she wrote she was a deeply unhappy person in a fucked up relationship. but, yeah. she won't learn anything from being banned - she'll just take her awful crap somewhere else. she lacks the capacity to pause and reflect. it's always someone else's fault. people like this are unteachable and will never understand their own part in their own misery. anywayzzz! you did the right thing for PB. censorship and free speech are tricky to deal with - you did good!

HappyMusician shnooze ⋅ July 23, 2020

Yeah. I once reported her to PB for something nasty she said to me (I don't think it was directed at me personally, just that I happened to be around) and then I actually felt bad about it, considering she was going through hard times. But since then, I've become more and more fed up with her.

Camdengirl July 23, 2020

Thanks Josh. I do have some reticence about people being made to censor their own diaries... if people don’t like reading, they don’t have to.

So for example, if I write that I hate misogynists, that’s okay; but not if someone else says they hate women? These are diaries and often where we vent so this stuff doesn’t come out in “real life”.

Often the context behind “All Green people are bastards” actually has a great deal of background and is understandable, but it’s been written as a quick ranty diary entry based on their world view. Listening to other people’s views will sometimes widen their view, which is a good reason not to outright ban those entries.

I’m sure you are able to use discretion - but having the ability to enforce is a good idea.

Silver Satan Camdengirl ⋅ July 23, 2020

^^ this 100%

Evelyn Camdengirl ⋅ July 23, 2020

👍 I agree as well!

josh Camdengirl ⋅ July 23, 2020

This will require a willingness to have a nuanced understanding of these issues on everyone's part, honestly. Nothing is ever black and white, and there will never be a one size fits all solution to this kind of thing. My main goal is to shrink the gaps in the rules so they're not big enough to drive a dumptruck filled with hate through anymore.

I feel very strongly that it's on all of us to be willing to work a little harder to keep our community welcoming for those in the world that are marginalized. My hope is that if we all think a little harder about what we put out there, the end result will be that those voices feel much more able to freely share their stories.

That said, it's all about nuance. If someone's thinking through their view on things and I get a complaint because there was a misunderstanding, that's a very different conversation I'll be having.

And finally, this all comes down to being about the effect of your words on other users. Yell about the green people all you want in your private entries. They're pretty cool and you're missing out, but hey you do you.

Thanks for challenging me on this, you're all really helping me refine my views.

Yours For Now... josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

Totally appreciate this dialogue too.

Silver Satan josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

This is an awesome reply Josh thanks a lot.

My only concern is that what is popular to hate will be considered fine to bash on while if someone expresses their own opinion in their own diary it will be considered hate. What if they want those entries public so that they can get feedback? I guess I am worried about where lines will be drawn and what will determine if speech is hate speech personally.

josh Silver Satan ⋅ July 23, 2020

I certainly hear your concern, but there's a pretty broad gulf between a user trying to educate themselves or work out their own thoughts publicly and a user that is spewing vitriol. Again, it's all down to nuance. It's a tightrope I walk every time I have one of these discussions, but I really do think they're worth having.

What's happening (to my mind anyway) is that conversations that have long been marginalized or too difficult to have in the open for fear of persecution are starting to surface. And I really do think that's beautiful. Coming to terms with it all can absolutely be painful for some, but nothing worth doing is easy.

As for where lines are drawn, that by the very nature of society must be an ongoing conversation. But I don't anticipate making any changes anytime soon. This is the first time since I took over PB, after all. And when I decide that it's time to make any new changes? We'll talk it through again.

Silver Satan josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

I'm just an anxious panda XD
I'd go nuts with out this place! Sometimes it's the only thing I can rely on to get me through.

I support you 100% Just concerned about a delicate subject is all. I don't envy you one bit. Get lots of Mochi hugs for support!!!!

J🌞DI Camdengirl ⋅ July 24, 2020

I agree! A diary/journal is supposed to be a place where we can be honest with ourselves. Too many sensitive people are mistaking honest opinions for hate and threats. I've already felt that if someone doesn't like what they read when they click onto me, well, there are a million others to read if you don't like anything I have to say! :)

Evelyn J🌞DI ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


By how this conversation went, it sounds like censorship is going to happen no matter what the community can agree with. Rather than giving people the right to express themselves however they want, they will be limited what they can say, for the sake of not looking like a hateful website... the majority of people's entry aren't offensive, but we're changing the rules because of a few assholes. I think I'm going to start looking for another diary site, if there are any.

Camdengirl Evelyn ⋅ July 24, 2020

I think it's also worth noting that on other diary sites, when Admin got involved with squabbles like this, it descended into a popularity contest about who could run to the moderators first...

I don't think there is an issue with people expressing their own views in their diaries - the issue is really only on the notes.

SilentEcho July 23, 2020

Thank you for all that you do. Your friend certainly has a way with words and making one think!!!

Zappel July 23, 2020

Thank you for all of this!

rhizome July 23, 2020

these rules are great. i'm especially appreciative of the "deliberate misgendering" rule, because of how important trans people are to this community and to all life in general, and how profoundly vulnerable they are to these kinds of hateful attacks. thanks for keeping the most marginalized among us safe. <3

Evelyn rhizome ⋅ July 23, 2020


rhizome Evelyn ⋅ July 23, 2020

what's up, my friend? tell me about the feelings you're having.

Evelyn rhizome ⋅ July 23, 2020 (edited July 23, 2020)


Sorry it took so long to respond but I was disrupted a couple times while writing this.. I've had to rewrite this 3 times... so I hope this time it makes sense..

I disagree with the deliberate misgendering rule. Let's just say if a man looks like Blaire White, I would call her by how she prefers, but if a man looks like Jessica Yaniv, there's no way I will be able to call them a woman. Look them up if you haven't heard of them before. My point is, one is passable and the other isn't, by a long shot. Why should I put in the effort to call someone what they feel inside, when they won't put in the effort to look and match that feeling? I just don't agree that if a man or a woman doesnt look like the opposite sex that they feel inside, I'm not going to call them by that pronoun. By nature, within milli-seconds, we can tell which people are men and which are women by their features. If it's obviously a man in a wig, to me, it will always be a man in a wig.

People have gone to jail or lost their jobs for these types of things and I don't think it's right at all. It's already hard enough for ignorant people like me to accept the trans community, but they make it a lot harder for people to accept them when they are demanding angrily to be called ma'am when they don't fit the part. Blaire White has actually helped me start to accept the trans community as another group of people. I however, cannot for the life of me understand how someone is nonbinary. The community needs to take it slow and stop acting like a bunch of crazies or it won't help their cause.

Yours For Now... Evelyn ⋅ July 23, 2020

But isn’t it like saying “My name is John,” and you going, “Yeah, but you look more like a Josh to me, so I’m just gonna call you Josh.” That’s so rude.

rhizome Evelyn ⋅ July 23, 2020 (edited July 23, 2020)


wow i hate this response so much

1) trans people do not owe you "passing." we respect their identities because anything less causes them pain and anguish. check out the suicide stats on trans teens, maybe that'll give you some incentive to be kind.

2) to say that the trans community needs to "slow down" is absurd. they have been more patient with the cis community than i can imagine being myself, and have tolerated terrible oppression including everything from not being hired for jobs they are qualified for to actual real-life murder. and they've done this for DECADES.

3) i also don't understand being nonbinary, because i am not myself nonbinary! i also don't understand being straight or monogamous, but that's beside the point. here's what i do to bridge the gap: i listen to people who have these identities, and try to learn about their experiences through empathy. my partner is enby, and the careful way that he identifies with each gender is a beautiful thing to behold.

4) jessica yaniv is an actual child sexual predator and is totally irrelevant to this discussion. no one wants to respect her identity because she’s serious human garbage. and yet! we must.

josh rhizome ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I'm going to choose to piggyback off of this comment ("what's up, my friend? tell me about the feelings you're having.") as it's possibly the most gracious response I've ever seen. Seriously, hats off.

To be completely trasparent, when I saw this was the first response I not only knew things were in good hands, I stepped back. I'm here to back you up, but you can speak more eloquently about your experiences than I ever could.

I have very little to add here. I feel that the community already covered everything I could've said.

Evelyn, what you said was offensive. It was transphobic, and you were deliberately misgendering. Normally, due to a rules violation, I would make your comment private and deal with the situation behind the scenes. However, you you did this in the most relavent context possible and this seems like a positive learning experience for the community.

That said, if you continue down this road in a public fashion, things will indeed escalate. Let's take this to private messages if you'd like to discuss it further.

I don't mean to call you out, that's purely circumstance. But I do want to call out how this went down: These exchanges (at first, anyway. time will tell) have had no name calling, just education. They were tense, but of course they were. Most of all they were educational and direct.

Seeing what I see on the rest of the internet, these are the kind of exchanges that make me proud of this community.

still, i rise. josh ⋅ July 24, 2020

So.... if someone is offended we get in trouble now? Someone can deem us transphobic and therefore what, it is true?


Evelyn still, i rise. ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


Fuckin exactly. Its at Josh's discretion. I wasnt misgendering anybody nad and calls me and transphobic and "deliberately misgendering". I was giving examples. I was not DIRECTLY misgendering anybody in the community by name or going on their profile and "misgendering". That's why I think this whole thing is bullshit. Why change the rules to censor everyone else for a few bad assholes?

still, i rise. Evelyn ⋅ July 24, 2020

Yeah. It should be a case by case scenario. If you were specifically calling out another person on PB, or harassing them in their notes that would warrant a complaint and possibly being removed from the site. But to make a statement or share your opinion, even if it’s not a popular one, shouldn’t be censored. Definitely shouldn’t label you a transphobic.

Evelyn still, i rise. ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I think these rules are dangerous and can lead to the whole community eating itself. These rules don't look any different than other websites that censor expression and speech.

ConnieK Evelyn ⋅ July 25, 2020

Evelyn, I don't know your age, but my husband, who is 71, had trouble accepting the idea until I asked him what difference did it really make in his world? When my crazy Aunt Jenny decided she wanted to be called JoAnne, we made every effort to call her by her preferred name.

I don't see other people's gender, by choice or by nature, as my business but if you want to offend a transgender person by ignoring their preference, then just know that you are CHOOSING to hurt that person.

I don't see this as "rules". I see it as "Be respectful of people's feelings". I suspect you see it as "speaking the truth". If so, do you tell people things like, "Hey, the wart on your big nose is obvious"? If the person with the wart on their big nose feels more comfortable saying it's not there, I'm okay with that.

I am also okay with you saying, "It is too there!". What I cannot accept is stubborn refusal to respect another person's wishes as to how they prefer to be addressed.

rhizome josh ⋅ July 24, 2020

josh, i appreciate your handling of this so much. most PBers are respectful and aware, but at the end of the day, we need an authority figure to back us up and enforce the rules sometimes.

evelyn, you did directly misgender jessica yaniv. although she’s a sexual predator, we can call her out on her misdeeds, but we do need to respect her identity. and you also reserved the right to misgender anyone who doesn’t “pass,” which i know would likely affect a gorgeous queen PBer that i’m close with. if she read your comment, it would probably hurt her a lot.

there have always been limits on free speech in america. you can’t run into a crowded theatre and yell “fire!” for example. the line determining what is harmful speech is a difficult one to draw, but josh is trying to write rules that protect the wide array of people who journal here. like he said, he’s not taking your diary down yet, he’s just trying to warn you that your words are harming people.

i’m gonna bow out of this conversation now, because it’s exhausting me. good luck to all in figuring it out.

eleven:eleven rhizome ⋅ July 28, 2020

I love you.

Evelyn eleven:eleven ⋅ July 28, 2020 (edited July 28, 2020)


I'm not going to adhere to, especially a child predator's request to be called a woman when they haven't put in any ounce of effort to look like one.. I'm amazed how so many of you guys would actually give this MAN any ounce of respect at all! This is a CHILD PREDATOR! Are you guys actually listening to yourselves? The world has become so backwards, just because this awful POS MAN who claims to be a woman, the rest of society should just give into his delusions. No! Never! As long as they don't make any effort to look the part, I'm not doing it. I guess am a bigot, idgaf. You guys are the ones being so accepting of CHILD PRDATORS' pronouns because they SAY they are the opposite sex. You guys are absolutely bonkers!

My words are "harming people"? How?! Are they stabbing people in the heart and leaving them to bleed out? Cmon! they're just fucking WORDS! You and everyone will forget all about my comment tomorrow. That's why free speech is so awesome because I can disagree with you and I won't be prosecuted! But these rules prosecute people by banning them and destroying their free speech!

eleven:eleven Evelyn ⋅ July 28, 2020

Ok, I'll bite, since rhizome took several for the team already.

  1. I don't get it... if it's just WORDS and WORDS DON'T MATTER OR HAVE ANY IMPACT AT ALL BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT KNIVES then why is it such a big deal to refer to people as what they want to be called? Like, predator or criminal or queen or your boss... if they say "my name is John," why not just go... ok, cool, hey John.
  2. "Free speech" just means you can't get arrested for saying a thing (and as previously referenced, there are exceptions to even that when your words cause harm, i.e. yelling fire in a movie theater). You can say whatever bigoted bullshit you want, but there are consequences to that. It might mean you get banned from a website or from a grocery store, it might mean you get fired or no one buys tickets to you comedy show. You're free to say what you want. People are free to tell you to go fuck yourself and not allow you in their spaces anymore.
  3. As you've proven by how upset you've gotten about pronouns, words are never just words. In your case, feeling pressured to adhere to pretty simple standards of kindness with your language has seemed to cause you all kinds of frustration and anger. In the case of people from marginalized communities, the impact of your words could mean we feel pushed further outside of society (which in turn impacts our actual rights and safety).
HappyMusician rhizome ⋅ July 26, 2020

Well said!

Park Row Fallout July 23, 2020

Super high five, dude! Glad to get an update :)

Seacláid July 23, 2020

What’s to stop her coming back under a different name or IP address?

josh Seacláid ⋅ July 23, 2020

"increased vigilance" is the best answer i've got for you :)

thesunnyabyss July 23, 2020

thank you for your hard work here, it is much appreciated,

Staying Alive July 23, 2020

I'm so grateful it's you who is the custodian of our stories <3

simple mind July 23, 2020

Looking forward to your correspondence, my friend. :)

This is the true story of how succession of Custodian of the Stories works:


josh simple mind ⋅ July 23, 2020

Ah, I remember it like it was yesterday

simple mind josh ⋅ July 23, 2020

In the 2020 timeline, everything is both yesterday and eons ago. :D

feels like hope July 23, 2020

Thank you 🙏

noip July 23, 2020 (edited July 23, 2020)


Thanks, Josh. I feel safe now knowing that I can respectfully express my opinions in my own diary without being subjected to belligerent hate speech and then harassed for resisting; and that if it does occur, I won't feel as if my only option is to quit or leave.

Reading some of the comments, it's ironic that in so wanting to allow someone to "express themselves freely," we turn a blind eye to stripping away from others who are part of the community that ideal.

A Pedestrian Wandering July 23, 2020

Thanks, Josh.

Yours For Now... July 23, 2020

Thanks for this.

mcbee July 23, 2020

Thank you. Common sense. Wish everyone had it.

ConnieK July 23, 2020

Good to see such dedication to keeping the playground running smoothly! One of the BEST things about PB is that the vibe is friendly for the most part. I have a "follow" button that I can click or not. I have a friend button that I can click or not. I can ban. If I find someone to be disagreeable, I have choices, but trolls and bullies should be banished.

Lis July 23, 2020

Thank you xx

EvequeFou July 23, 2020

The "deliberate misgendering" rule seems perilously close to enforcing particular views, even if I happen to support the views that are being encouraged. (I haven't always, but I've had the opportunity to grow in the last decade or so.) One could similarly see some people's well-meaning beliefs about homosexuality as homophobic.

I wonder if there's a distinction worth making between discussions about real-world interactions versus basic courtesy to other users? But as I am not part of that community, I'm not certain whether that's sufficient. It's a difficult balance to strike as guardian of stories with which you might not agree. I wish you wisdom and empathy.

josh EvequeFou ⋅ July 24, 2020

I've put some thought into what you're saying here, and while I do think the word “deliberate” does a lot of the work i need it to do there, to your point it's worth clarifying that these rules are (with a few nuanced exceptions) mostly about how you're treating other users

I'll call that out in my next iteration, really appreciate the thoughtful feedback!

permanent daylight EvequeFou ⋅ July 25, 2020


Raphael Tiriel July 23, 2020

Everything is understood, and I think those are good rules to enforce during this time.

Deleted user Raphael Tiriel ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


Or all the time, really.

HappyMusician July 23, 2020

Not surprised you banned MyDronedLife.
Thank you for keeping this community kind.

Caty Shark July 24, 2020

Guardian of Our Stories

Leading a community is hard and you’re doing it with kindness, thoughtfulness and grace. Thanks Josh.

J🌞DI July 24, 2020

This is probably going to be a little long because it's something I've had issues with and well, I think there's a finer line between hate and expression than people realize. It's easy to get the wrong idea. First, I don't think I knew the person you banned and I have no idea what they wrote, but let me say first and foremost that I totally agree with you in that racial slurs and threats should absolutely not be online anywhere. Neither should personal info. However, I think there's a difference between someone expressing a dislike for a particular group than threatening them. I think a lot of people misconstrue and misunderstand some points people are making and assume it automatically means they're racist.

I totally believe in freedom of expression. Again, I don't believe in name-calling and I don't believe in threats, but I've had people get all judgmental on me and demand I take posts down simply for saying something like how some dual standards bother me like how some groups can have their own pageants and TV stations yet if whites were to do that they would be called racists. And not agreeing with rioting and looting doesn’t mean I hate blacks either or think the police should continue to kill them.

But people shouldn't be forced to conform to popular opinion and forbidden to write about the things most people don't want to hear as long as they're not being threatening in any way. No one's forced to read any of our stuff and I think that if anyone is that sensitive in the first place then they shouldn't be reading journals. Most people love chocolate. But should the few that don't be critiqued, judged and condemned simply because they're not within the norm? That's how I’ve felt at times, though I love it here and I already made up my mind a while back that I would no longer waste my time with those that want to start arguments with me, try to change my mind, or judge me for my beliefs and opinions. I never tell anyone that their way is wrong and I won't allow it to be done to me. I automatically block anyone that feels they have nothing better to do than judge and condemn me simply for expressing myself in a harmless manner.

No one is universally loved and no one loves everybody else either. They just may not admit it because they're taught to be politically correct. I'm not afraid to admit that there are some things about the world and some of the people in it that I'm not too happy with. I believe that one should be able to say, without threats, sensitive info or racial slurs, that they don't care for a particular person or group just like it's okay for them to say they don't like a particular food or music.

I'm bisexual, for example. No one that doesn't like bisexuals should have the right to say they want to kill all bisexuals or a particular one. But as much as many of us may disagree with it, I do feel they should have a right to express their lack of fondness for them. If they can't at least do that then there is no such thing as freedom of expression nor would there be much point to these types of sites.

spacelion July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


This is a difficult one to put a blanket-rule on. Like one user said diaries are the dumping grounds for a lot of people's ires and thoughts half-processed. I've noticed when there are sensitive topics (with questionable opinions) on the front page that often the community will jump on - there's debate - and the matter is sorted out that way and things are learned in a more organic way. I know that's not always the case though.

I don't know about banning certain discourse altogether. However I get that you don't want this site to turn into a cesspool. Perhaps a happy medium could be possible to shadow-ban users with rule-breaking material from appearing on the front page rather than an all-out ban? That way it limits its reach and damage to vulnerable communities but also allows people to process messily? It's a hard one. But for users who harass others - I agree with you. I also agree with one of the above comments I read about having an option to tick a 'disable private notes from people not on friends list'. I do not envy you though. I'm not sure what I'd do in your situation!

DE_KentuckyGirl spacelion ⋅ July 24, 2020

Another idea may be to shadow ban by making entries a person makes, who constantly break rules and have had multiple warnings, to adjust their personal diary to "only me" entries and not give them the option of sharing publicly with the site members. This can be done in a variety of ways, like FB jail, maybe 30 days or permanently. That way they can write their journals for themselves and no one else has to see it. Like, ban them from every action (comments, public sharing, sending private messages, etc) except for "only me" entries.

Camdengirl DE_KentuckyGirl ⋅ July 24, 2020

I like this idea and think it would be more effective than banning them entirely. They'd have a vent without it offending anyone else.

noip DE_KentuckyGirl ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I like this idea of having a "time out" to reflect on behavior and hopefully improve before rejoining a community.
Another idea is to suspend accounts, where you ban them from the site altogether for a limited time before allowing them back, and then an outright ban if they don't stop.

HappyMusician spacelion ⋅ July 26, 2020

I think shadowbans would be a decent idea.

Cat Mommy July 24, 2020

Thank you for standing up for trans rights! <3

HappyMusician Cat Mommy ⋅ July 26, 2020


Two Hermits and a Cat July 24, 2020

I appreciate the transparency and open communication about this. I’m in the camp of “people should be able to write what they want in their own diary, but harassing other users should not be tolerated,” but I‘m seeing an internet-wide push right now to avoid giving hate groups a platform, so if we have to err on the side of too strict, I can live with that.

I’ve never blocked anyone before—when you do that, does it stop that person’s entries from showing up in the “latest entries” when you log in? Seems like being able to hide those entries is the best way to avoid seeing content from people you find offensive, but that isn’t directed at anyone in particular.

I don’t envy you in taking this on for sure. It must be enough work just to keep the nuts and bolts of this place going without dealing with this kind of stuff.

Complicated Disaster July 24, 2020

I think it's very important that just because somebody might take offense at what an author might write they shouldn't be prevented from writing it. Nobody has the right to go through life without being offended. What one person might find offensive, I might find perfectly acceptable - and vice versa. It's good to have your opinions challenged. I specifically follow a number of people I actively disagree with on a number of topics for this very reason.

Of course personal attacks cannot be allowed but censoring general thoughts and opinions on any subject because they may be offensive to someone is worrying to me.


Camdengirl Complicated Disaster ⋅ July 24, 2020


still, i rise. Complicated Disaster ⋅ July 24, 2020


noip Complicated Disaster ⋅ July 24, 2020

It's confusing to me that there has to be a line in the sand between "hate speech" and "free speech"; tarting the former up as "censorship" just creates a confusing paradox where to completely ignore it inevitably leads to the support of platforms of hate on groups of people (as opposed to an individual), not unlike the misogynist Redpillers on Reddit (where it grew into such a large and hostile following, a member went on a rampage and killed multiple women in real life), and can create an environment that stymies growth as it impedes the freedom of expression of targeted groups and feeds into extremism by its insular nature.
Not only that but a lot of platforms, not just prosebox, have put a cap on the congregation of hate groups and hate speech, acknowledging that allowing it to go unchecked is more harmful than helpful.
Imo why can't people just be respectful, and why can't there be rules to enforce that. e.g., "Don't be an asshat, because choosing to engage in prosebox means you're choosing to engage in a community," and all communities have rules on functioning as a civil society.
Honestly, this has long been a debate on college campuses, where young people stemming from all walks of life congregate to question the morals, values and ideologies that they were exposed to without question in their upbringing, and despite reinforcements of "no hate speech" by administrators on campuses, I don't think a majority of students felt it impeded their freedom of expression. I think it all just boils down to respect as it fosters an environment where people are free to learn.

Complicated Disaster noip ⋅ July 24, 2020

It's quite clear to me that by allowing some things and not allowing other things a line has to be drawn - and different people may believe that the line should be drawn in different places.


noip Complicated Disaster ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


But it's not a simple case of "allowing one thing" and "not allowing another thing." We're talking about actual people creating platforms targeting other people, whether groups of people or individual prosebox members, for their skin color, religious affiliation, gender identification, etc.
To not have an established system of recourse, especially in current times where there is much political and social unrest antagonizing and impacting the individual's everyday life, e.g. the media they come across or content they are being exposed to daily, one has to question if that's right.

Complicated Disaster noip ⋅ July 24, 2020

But that's exactly what we are saying. Hate speech isn't allowed. Other speech is allowed. Don't get me wrong though - I'm not suggesting that there should be anarchy. I know there have to be rules in any community, just as you say. Some forms of hate speech are, in my country at least, illegal. (Although that's a whole different can of worms). I just think that it's important to draw the line in the right place :-)


besideherself Complicated Disaster ⋅ July 25, 2020

Right on!

DE_KentuckyGirl July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I've seen some of her posts and comments on entries. She has commented on my diary (not maliciously) on several occasions. While ive seen viscousness at times from several, I've always felt that we're all adults, some people have extreme views on various sides, and we all have the ability to block someone, or choose to privatize our writings. While I recognize that private platforms can censor any to their heart's delight, I also worry about the slippery slope of "acceptable" views in regards to how most of these terms can be very subjective in nature. Having moderated discussion forums in the past, I also know that this can put much strain on admin as a referee of sorts during flame wars. People may not agree with me, but I've always felt that members have tools at their disposal to deal with this themselves.

Of course, I don't know the extent of what she was doing to warrant a ban. If she was doxing, etc., definitely cause for concern. My worry is that people can complain about "hate speech" in their own subjective terms, and get someone removed.

I do thank you for what you do. This refugee from DE appreciates the community here. ❤

noip DE_KentuckyGirl ⋅ July 24, 2020

It's extremely unpleasant and discouraging to have newly joined a site not knowing who the trolls are, and then getting bitten by one.
Blocking comes after-the-fact, similar to security cameras after recording a rape. Despite the fact that there's proof for a course of action, is it enough for the only course of action to be "Well I guess I'll just -block- this person and go on with my life" while they continue spreading vitriol and hate, breaking site rules and driving away [new] members.

I personally don't think having an extreme or controversial view is malicious. It is when the other person has no reason to engage with someone other than to be abusive and isn't open to change, and then for others to support that with "freedom of speech," that I take issue with.

Just commenting to add some food for thought.

DE_KentuckyGirl noip ⋅ July 24, 2020

I understand what you're saying. My view is a bit different. We are in the internet and this stuff happens in various forms all over it. I feel that if you're new and give up because of a flame thrown then one needs to realize and utilize the tools given to block these people. Some people are more sensitive than I am, I guess. A stranger's vitriol has no bearing on my actual life. Someone said something mean on the internet may piss me off for a moment. We can create our own safe spaces by utilizing friends only or blocking a malicious person when they rear their ugly faces.

Doesn't mean I agree with abusive posting.

I just happen to feel that, as adults, we have tools to use to disengage with these types.

In the end, I don't disagree with Josh, or others. I worry about slippery slopes because I have seen it so many times in action eventually make a platform so militant that it also ruins experience for members.

noip DE_KentuckyGirl ⋅ July 24, 2020 (edited July 24, 2020)


I see [btw; thanks for taking the time to share your viewpoint with me]. My point is that simply blocking a person does not change the offending party's behavior, nor does it prevent the abuse from being perpetuated onto other members who haven't issued a block. This communicates that "it's okay to harass people," or "spread hate speech about [i.e., people of color]," because nothing is actually done to stop it.
Accelerating the repeated behavior to an administrator provides recourse, and thus requires site rules so that a discussion can happen.
Additionally, blocking could create an echo chamber, an insular environment, for the offending user, which can create platforms for hate groups.

I do get the slippery slope concern and it's great to get clarification on it now. I am also really glad we have tools on this site for disengagement. However, I've also been on sites where administration became absent and no moderators were put in place; it became extremely toxic for members as the site became overrun by trolls, especially young impressionable members of the community who acted out in real time (and I think the age limit here is 13). I am extremely glad that administration here cares and takes action; that this blog post that Josh created seems to cater to the community by receiving input is thankfully a far step away from a militant platform.

Ferret Mom July 24, 2020

Thank you for all you do! Prosebox is a great community, but of course there are going to be people who cross some lines because there is no escaping that on the internet.

chocolatechip July 24, 2020

I deleted this one diarist whom kept referring to me as "Miss Chip". He kept asking me to explain everything in my entries, then would continue to say that he did not understand what I meant. I blocked him. He was annoying me. Another diarist more or less stated that, based on my entries, that I am happier w/o Bear. I really did not appreciate that. I think that I blocked her, as well.

Adira July 24, 2020

Thank you. I appreciate your involvement in keeping this community safe.

Nin July 25, 2020

It lives!!! I was wondering about you the other day. I’m not going to light the torches and file the pitchforks just yet. We shall see the final draft of the rules first. I agree the keyboard warriors need to be dealt with.

gattaca July 25, 2020 (edited July 25, 2020)


I've never had a public journal here - the lessons from OD were hard-won. That said, there is enormous pain and anger present in our real lives, and much of that is reflected online.
I am by no means condoning this person's behavior; indeed, she had it coming. Anonymity often brings out the worst in us.

J🌞DI July 26, 2020

I'd like to add that I really do appreciate all that you do. I also like the way you put it...custodian of our stories. :)

HappyMusician July 26, 2020 (edited July 26, 2020)


I wonder if there's a divide in the reaction to these new rules, based on whether a diarist is in the United States or in a different country.
I think the United States has more permissible free-speech laws, whereas many other countries have specific laws against hate speech.

I'm in Canada. I agree with what a few posters said here about, why would you want to write hateful diary entries anyway? I don't think that being reported for hate speech is necessarily a violation of the freedom of this site (though as many others say, it can be hard to see where to draw the line.)

It seems to me that Americans often see things only through an American point of view, and don't realize or acknowledge the fact that other parts of the world have different rules or cultures and see things differently, and aren't bound by American laws.

I've seen a lot of prejudiced and ignorant stuff here, and not just from MDL (though she was an extreme example.) I tend to stick to a smallish circle of friends here because trying to engage with more prejudiced people would just stress me out. (I don't mean that I can't tolerate people who have different views/opinions as me, just that I feel it useless to try to talk to people who want to continue to ignore societal problems, for example.)

Cat Mommy HappyMusician ⋅ July 26, 2020

Agree 100%.

hoki July 27, 2020

FYI: The entry search has been broken for some time.

Hatchi July 27, 2020

Thank you! I think I've had some comment based interaction with MDL, though I never really looked into them... (´ . .̫ . `)

Mrs. Peebs July 27, 2020

Much appreciated on that move. I had followed her for a while but never interacted because of how she acted.

sassafras July 27, 2020

Thank you, Guardian of the PB Galaxy. <3

LachrymoseBeauty July 28, 2020

Thank you <3

Narrator July 28, 2020

Thank you for doing this. Reading the comments shows why it’s such a good idea. Maybe engaging in this thoughtful, nuanced discussion will educate people who don’t see how harmful their words are. (Please make sure you engage in vigorous self-care, because this aspect of guardianship will be wearing.)

Mr. Mofo July 28, 2020

Sorry you had to ban someone.

Look at all your notes!!! I have note envy now.

Bird of Paradise July 30, 2020

Nice to see you write something.
And Thanks.

Lost Amazon July 30, 2020


Serin July 30, 2020

Errata report, not related to the entry:

https://twitter.com/ProseboxNet as listed does not work. https://twitter.com/Prosebox seems to be valid.

Jinn July 30, 2020

Hi Josh, just read this and it all sounds reasonable to me .

Meeks July 31, 2020

Thank you for all you do for us. ❤️

ODSago August 20, 2020

Given the state of communications on most internet sites I've seen, including ones for elders only, I'd say that you have lived up to our trust in you, Josh. My favorite site: Prosebox. You are worthy of our trust. I'm sure a huge number of us would like to do a group bow about now.

Serilen August 30, 2020

Hi Josh, I'm a bit late to this. Just wanted to offer a couple of comments as someone who has moderated and administrated large online communities before.

If you haven't already read up on the various social science work studying how communities like Wikipedia work, you might find it relevant. I think there are two important takeaways.

The first is the presence of "wikilawyering"/pettifoggery. I already see some of this in the comments above. Essentially, it's impossible to write down rules that are specific enough to have no wiggle room, and it's madness to try. A small fraction of people online take delight in repeatedly sidling right up to the line but never crossing it; the more crisp you try to make the line, the more this will happen. These people love to argue about why they haven't technically broken the rules. No matter how large the community gets, their bad faith makes these people stand out: they are the people whose usernames you know by heart but wish you didn't. They are energy vampires. They take further delight in demonstrating to others how to dance on the fence and tut-tut when those people go too far and get banned. Bad faith begets bad faith. Still they continue pushing the boundaries of what the community will tolerate, rotting it from within. So you need to make sure your rules have enough room for your own judgment that you can ban those people as soon as it becomes clear to you that they are never going to stop.

The "to you" in that last sentence is important. Ultimately how enforcement is received by the community always comes down to transparency from you and trust in you. The second takeaway from larger studies of online communities is that no matter how clear or fuzzy you choose to make the rules, what matters most is that you enforce them consistently and quickly. If someone visibly transgresses, your enforcement action should be equally visible (as it was here). And don't wait for the snowball to roll all the way down the hill before scooping it up. Communities where the mods/admins let bad behavior build up before taking action are more contentious and more fractured even after the ban takes place. It's hard because most community rules boil down to "behave in good faith and don't be hateful", and you as an admin want to apply that same filter to your own decisions, so it seems contradictory that you need to act decisively (which might mean you sometimes sort out what's what in an appeals process) in order to give the rest of the community space and freedom. But that's the right way to go. Trust your instincts and the instincts of users you trust, and don't hesitate. Always keep in mind the only people for whom your decisions may be life or death are the people who are severely marginalized and oppressed, and act accordingly. If other people don't like it, they don't have to be here; and since most people are actually decent and humane, the flouncers will generally be a minority.

Thanks for all your work. It's so difficult and it is really appreciated.

Lostsoul87 September 08, 2020

I'm new here but thank you for creating a place I feel safe

Justlovely September 17, 2020

Just seeing this now.

TruNorth September 28, 2020

My story may be relevant here. I was happily on OD for several years and gratefully jumped to PB when OD went down. Thanks be to Simple Mind for rescuing us! I then spent a few years participating on PB but became uncomfortable with the increasing level of left wing “drum beating” as political correctness became popular. There were a number of writers who let me know that they too were unhappy with this situation however were too afraid of expressing themselves here. The final straw for me was discovering that one of the PB members had threatened another with attacking her on outside social media (Face Book). This really concerned me, as the alleged perpetrator was also someone who had made very mean comments about me and my children. I was dismayed by her behavior as I had never before encountered such mean spirited feedback in all the years I had been writing on OD and PB. I decided to go back to OD as a result of her toxic influence. Nevertheless, I felt that I should provide monetary support for this site in appreciation of all the work that Simple Mind did and you have done in unselfishly maintaining it, so I have donated (ie put my money where my mouth is).
I wouldn’t endorse cutting off the mean diarist because she made nasty comments. She is still here on PB and I noticed even chimed in a couple of times in this thread of comments. I prefer freedom of speech even if I personally find it objectionable. At least I can see a person’s true colors that way.
PS. I don’t find that there is any difference between the diarists on OD and PB.....they are almost uniformly left wing and feel completely entitled to denigrate Trump and anyone who doesn’t agree with their world view.

Acceber October 03, 2020

Thank you. Just thank you. You have taken this site and your role to heart. Even though I haven’t remained as active as expected (my previous time on OD mainly), I have loved trusting PB is here.

hot-lips October 09, 2020

Thank you for all you do for us. I must be the only person who's never heard of that diariest (always the last one to know)! lol

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