What is harassment ?

Borrowing the meaning of the word from The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary:
harass vt vex by repeated attacks; trouble, worry

When you signed your user's agreement to get a yoyo account, you agreed to certain conditions. One of these conditions was that you show consideration for your fellow users. Harassment can take many forms, not necessarily just sexual. People (you, me, the government) find it hard to say what exactly defines inappropriate behavior and this is often the cause of confusion with regards to harassment issues. Hence, it is not unusual that cases of harassment go unreported, or that people are accused of harassment when they don't think they have done anything wrong.

There is a very simple way to avoid unnecessary trouble and to save yourself time and heartache.

If someone is emailing/goofing/paying attention to you in ways that you are uncomfortable with, or that you think of as inappropriate or offensive, tell them and politely ask them to stop. Once a person has been told their behavior is inappropriate, it is up to them to realise their position and to alter their manner of conduct as a responsible user. If they refuse to stop, you have a clear-cut case of harassment.

Practising Net Courteousy and Etiquette

The key rule to remember is that users are real people just like you, and as such should be treated with courtesy at all times.

One major source of complaints relates to users receiving continuous talk requests from strangers. If you don't know somebody and you wish to talk to them, send them a talk request, but cancel it (Ctrl-C) if the other party doesn't respond in a few seconds. This is because the other user gets the talk request repeated to them at a set interval if they do not respond. If they have not respond to your first talk request, it is possible that they do not wish to chat with you. In which case, don't send further requests to them.

Upon talking to a person for the first time, ask politely if they wish to talk. If they say no, apologise for interrupting them and cancel the talk request. This applies not just to yoyo, but to other machines.

If someone tells you that they are offended by or not interested in your attention, cease communication with them. Don't assume that they are joking even if you know them, and don't argue with them about your intentions. Either don't respond, or briefly apologise in a polite manner and promise not to hassle them again.

Just as offensive posters on display can constitute harassment, your web pages and finger information can also be the source of a complaint. What you and your friends find crudely amusing, others may find humourless and offensive. This also applies to world readable files you have stored in your account.

Making a Complaint

Anyone who wishes to make a complaint against a user on yoyo or another machine should email the harassment group. Should you prefer to deal specifically with a male/female member of the harassment group, send an initial email to the group requesting that a male/female member of the group respond so you can discuss your problem with them.

If possible, provide evidence with your complaint. Copies of offensive emails or screen dumps showing write messages or talk requests sent will add weight to your story.

Don't be afraid to voice your complaints - we're trying to make Yoyo a happy, interesting service and learning environment for you, so don't be put off if you encounter an offensive user or two. Mail us if you have any problems with harassment, and we'll do our best to help you.