Online Safety at (AKA Off-Topic)
- Introduction: AKA Off-Topic is one of the most popular websites for teens, adults and kids on the Internet. AKA Off-Topic provides a number of community and social features such as chat rooms and chat message boards. To ensure the safety of all AKA Off-Topic visitors and to put parents' minds at ease, we have created this document to talk a little about what AKA Off-Topic is doing to keep its members safe and how you can protect yourself (or your child) from online predators.
- What AKA Off-Topic does to protect the safety of its members: Safety of our members is very important to us at AKA Off-Topic. You will learn by reading the following that AKA Off-Topic does a lot behind the scenes. These are a few of the methods we use to help ensure the safety of AKA Off-Topic members:
- Moderator: Our automated robot. Moderator is a program we created specifically to help us moderate AKA Off-Topic chat rooms. Moderator includes a vast amount of features including chat room protection from flooding, repeating, advertising, long text, swearing, join flooding, and nickname flooding, to name a few. Moderator also acts as the gateway to a few of our other moderation features.
- Administrators & Operators: There are a good handful of chat officials who filter through the chat rooms making sure there are no problems and no trouble makers.
- Filtering: We have a list of specific words that are commonly used amongst predators. When one of these marked words is flagged, the user is reported to a private chat room where administrators are monitoring and offenders often banned automatically.
- Ignore Feature: All aspects of our community have a feature enabling users to block communications from users they deem annoying or abusive. This can be activated by visiting a users profile and clicking on the "Ignore User" link or in the chat rooms typing /ignore username. The ignore list can be managed from the Profile Editor.
- Site Help Forum: On the AKA Off-Topic message boards there is a forum called "Site Help" which is moderated by about twenty staff members throughout the day. Threads created in the "Site Help" forum are guaranteed to receive replies and answers.
- Report Inappropriate Content Links: We take inappropriate content and discussion very seriously. Links to report such content appear twice on the top and bottom of every profile and picture page, allowing users to report inappropriate content to staff members for removal.
- Feedback Email Form: Underneath the chat room and on the bottom of all AKA Off-Topic pages, there is a link to our feedback email form. This form allows anyone (AKA Off-Topic member or not) to get in touch with us.
Hide Personal Information:
You may have noticed that your AKA Off-Topic Profile does not have fields to display your real name, location or school. Additionally, the member search feature does not include an option to search by zipcode or city. We strongly discourage you from sharing personally identifiable information online.
What you can do to stay safe online:
Be careful who you trust online and remember that online friends are really strangers. People online, no matter how long you have been talking to them or how friendly they are, may not be who they say they are.
Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing and knowing.
Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. If you feel that you "have to" meet, then for your own safety you must tell your parent or carer and take them with you -- at least on the first visit -- and meet in a public place in daytime.
Stay in charge in chat. Keep your personal information secret when chatting online (name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, picture), even if people ask for this. Although it can be tempting to reveal more than you normally would in online friendships, giving out personal information can make you vulnerable.
Check your profile and make sure it doesn't include any personal information (name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, picture).
Get away from an unpleasant situation in a chat room by logging out (this just takes one click) or by changing your screen name.
Think before you answer private messages. It can be harder to end a conversation in a private chat than in a public chat. A private chat may end up being more personal than you like.
Use a nickname, not your real name, and a nickname that is not going to attract the wrong type of attention. Also make sure your screen name doesn't say too much about you.
Look out for your friends and do something if you think that they are at risk.
Learn how to block/ignore people. (On AKA Off-Topic's chat rooms, simply type "/silence" followed by a space and then the person's nickname.) Report suspicious and inappropriate activity to AKA Off-Topic. There is a link underneath the chat room which allows you to do this, along with every profile and picture page.
Have Fun! Online communities are a great way to meet and make new friends from around the world. You will find teens from all over that have the same interests and concerns, and it's a good way to keep in touch with your friends from school. Enjoy your time online, and do it safe.
Check out the following websites for some great resources and other good resources and tips for staying safe online:
OnGuardOnline.gov - Tips for Teens
- Conclusion: Although we work very hard at making sure AKA Off-Topic is a safe place for teenagers, it is impossible for AKA Off-Topic (or any other website, or communication medium for that matter) to ensure 100% safety. Hopefully this document has put your mind at ease a little bit and helped inform you on how to keep yourself safe. AKA Off-Topic encourages parents to get involved in their teens online time, and take some real interest in what they do and see online. Don't let the computer and the Internet become a substitute for parental guidance and participation.
Questions? Comments? Feedback?
If you have any questions, comments, or feedback about this document, you may contact AKA Off-Topic via our Contact Form
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