Are forums moderated? What are your guidelines?


A draft of these guidelines was published here on November 1, 2013, and a survey requesting feedback from Unlimited Members was conducted until November 15, 2013. An overwhelming majority of respondents (96% of 895 responses) supported the guidelines. Many excellent suggestions were made and they have been incorporated below as long as they didn't violate the spirit of our forum vision to simply honor and respect each other, and to be kind and helpful.

Please also note the policies outlined in our Website Terms and Conditions, in the Chat and Message Board sections.


Our vision for the forums is this: That every visitor, whether lurker or poster, will feel welcome and safe participating in a community where people respect and honor each other.

In the simplest possible terms, just be helpful, positive, and inclusive.


  1. Be considerate.
  2. Honor each other as human beings. If you have a pattern of dishonoring or disrespecting people because of who they are and what they do, rather than honoring them in spite of who they are and what they do, then you may have a hard time here.
  3. Positive encouragement goes a lot further than criticism. Destructive criticism doesn't have a place in our forums.
  4. Don't gossip, defame, lie, make unsubstantiated claims, engage in libel or slander, or question motives. Don't speculate, troll, or suggest or propagate rumors.
  5. Don't share private communications publicly without the author's permission. This includes copying and pasting/paraphrasing emails, text messages, private messages (PMs) or other private communications.
  6. Give people a break. Life is hard. Don't make it harder. These are recreational forums, after all.
  7. Do not post profanity, vulgar material, or material intended for adult or "mature" audiences.
  8. Do not conduct yourself in a way that intentionally causes distress, embarrassment, unwanted attention, or other discomforts to any other individual.
  9. Backpacking Light strives to promote a culture of inclusion. Do not discriminate, harass, use names or slurs, or engage in other types of behavior that can be construed as discrimination or harassment, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, national origin, or any other characteristic.
  10. Do not post chain letters, spam, advertisements (except for commercial postings that are specifically allowed in selected forums), or other types of junk.
  11. Do not deviate from the primary topic of the forum thread.
  12. Do not "bump" threads.
  13. Your membership does not entitle you to the right to post whatever you like. Rather, it comes with posting privileges and responsibilities. You are an honored guest in our forums. Have fun with each other, but act in a way that brings honor to yourself and builds up our community.
  14. Do not post under multiple aliases. This practice is deceitful and destroys community trust in each other. Posting actively under multiple aliases will result in an immediate and permanent ban.
  15. Sarcasm and satire do not translate well in written communications. Err on the side of sincere communications rather than hidden meanings that have the potential to offend or hurt somebody. Moderators and others will receive your communications literally, so write carefully and with intentionality.
  16. Doxing will result in your account being terminated and a permanent ban from our forums.

This list is not necessarily exhaustive. We reserve the right to prohibit any type of conduct that we feel may be harmful to any of our site visitors. 


  • Focus on issues - policies and positions - not on people, personalities, or identity groups.
  • Be specific; steer clear of generalizations and stereotyping.


  • If you discover a post that you feel violates any of these guidelines, please CLICK THE REPORT BUTTON AT THE TOP OF THE POST.


Other feedback regarding more systematic abuse of forum guidelines by a particular user, questions about moderation, or other moderation issues should be emailed to our moderator team at:

Please do not email moderators personally, or private message individual moderators with moderation issues (this is to ensure consistent communications about moderation issues between users and our moderation team). Our moderator team includes the following people: Roger Caffin (Community Manager), Matthew King (Moderator), Jessica Ulary (Customer Support Manager), Brenna Kotar (Publishing Assistant), and Ryan Jordan (Publisher).

Reminder: moderation issues will not be discussed publicly in the forums, and posts/threads about moderation (including "free the prisoner!" threads) are subject to deletion or closure.


Consequences of violating these forum guidelines will result in one or more of the following, depending on whether or not the violation is a repeat offense, and the severity of the offense.

  1. Deletion of the violating post (or entire thread) by a moderator. Violations usually result in deletion without communicating to the poster. What constitutes "severity" is at the sole discretion of the moderator. Reasons about why a particular post was deleted will generally not be communicated in the forums. If a post was deleted, and the user desires further explanation, they are welcome to contact the forum admins within 72 hours. Deleted posts are permanently removed from the database after 72 hours in order to keep our databases clean and queries running smoothly.
  2. Editing the violating post with a note that the post was "Edited by mod", usually with a reference link back to this document. More detailed explanations will not be given in this context in order to protect confidentiality and not embarrass the post author.
  3. A PM (private message) may or may not be sent to the author of the violating post with an explanation/warning/reference/suggestion. We are unable to do this for all violating posts, depending on moderator workloads.
  4. *Partially locking the user's account to prevent them from posting (temporary or permanent), with or without preserving their posts in the forums; a full refund of membership fees may or may not be issued if the ban is permanent, and remains at the sole discretion of the Publisher.
  5. *Completely locking the user's account to prevent them logging in and accessing member services and privileges (temporary or permanent), with or without preserving their posts in the forums; a full refund of membership fees may or may not be issued if the ban is permanent, and remains at the sole discretion of the Publisher.
  6. Moderation of users who post under an alias tends to be stricter and comes with fewer (or no) explanations than moderation of users who use their real identities.
  7. Users who post under multiple account aliases are subject to a ban of all of their user accounts.
  8. Users who violate forum guidelines repeatedly may be subject to having their posts enter a moderation queue for approval prior to being displayed publicly. This is a permanent action and not subject to reversal. Users for whom posts enter a moderation queue will lose the privilege of posting in Chaff.
* Temporary bans may result in a private email explaining the reason for the ban (using the email address that the user maintains in their user profile). The user will usually be offered the opportunity to have the ban lifted if the conflict can be privately resolved between Forum Admins and the Forum User. Permanent bans are usually made when the user has been subjected previously to a temporary ban and is either unwilling or unable to resolve conflicts privately with Forum Admins, or the user's temporary ban has been lifted and the user continues to violate forum guidelines. Permanent bans may result, with no further communication provided to the user, especially if the user has been warned repeatedly.
Bans may result in the publicly-visible status of a user's forum role from "Participant" to either "Spectator" or "Blocked".

During the process of resolving conflict with forum participants, we will be communicating directly and only with that person that we won't be discussing the issue publicly (e.g., in the forums) or with other members so as to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the relationships for those involved in the conflict. Exception: see #2 above under "Reporting Forum Posts".


Any postings regarding commercial deals or product announcements should be posted in the Gear Deals forum only and must include a full disclosure of any vested interest the poster may have in the product.

Any post that "reviews" or otherwise "promotes" a brand, product, or service by a user who has any type of affiliation with the brand/manufacturer of that gear (including but not limited to sponsorship, affiliate marketing, employment, public relations, etc.), must include a disclosure of the relationship between the post author and the company that identifies the commercial interest. Links posted to other websites must be "clean" links - they may not include affiliate, conversion, or other types of tracking codes.

Links in posts promoting monetized content (e.g., via advertising and/or affiliate marketing) where the poster of the link is also the owner of the content will be considered "commercial" posts and are prohibited in the forums.

Disclosure: Backpacking light is engaged in affiliate-merchant relationships (notably, with outdoor retailers). Sometimes, keywords in user-generated posts and/or links may be auto-converted by our software into affiliate links. If you visit a merchant website via one of our affiliate links and subsequently make a purchase with that retailer, we receive a small commission. This helps support our forums - thank you.


Moderators shall adhere to the following behavior:

  1. All communications with users shall be professional, sincere, and formal, and will communicate clearly, concisely, and objectively. Please use proper grammar, spelling, etc.
  2. Moderators shall be even-tempered, patient, and fair-minded.
  3. Moderators shall commit the necessary amount of time required to effectively and carefully review and moderate their assigned forums, and are expected to monitor their assigned forums daily. If the moderator is unable to do so temporarily, they will be expected to find a substitute moderator to cover for them during their absence.
  4. Moderators shall delete or move off-topic posts from threads, move off-topic threads to the appropriate forums, edit or delete posts that violate forum guidelines, close threads that are subject to repeated incidences of violating posts and communicating with users who do not adhere to forum guidelines. Neither moderators nor admins will be expected to communicate to users who have a habit of posting content that violates forum guidelines, including trolls, spammers, or members who repeatedly violate forum guidelines.
  5. Moderators are free to perform #1, #2, or #3 above in "Moderation Practices for Forums" without consultation with other moderators or the Forum Admin. Posts that are edited by a moderator must contain the moderator's comments in the post edit log. When a moderator deletes a post, it shall be placed in a temporary holding "trash can" until the Forum Admin approves either its permanent deletion, full restoration, or restoration of an edited version. #4 and #5 shall not be permitted without consultation and approval from the Forum Admin.
  6. Moderators shall be discreet and honor the confidentiality of all users. However, moderators are expected to communicate in a way such that if their responses are made publicly available, their communications will be perceived as fair and respectful.
  7. Moderators are expected to protect the best interests of all users, and take aggressive action against users who verbally abuse, belittle, threaten, criticize, or bully other forum members.
  8. Moderators shall not be timid, nor shall they abuse their privileges in a way that threatens the well-being of other members.
  9. Moderators shall agree to the vision, policies, and guidelines of forum moderation as outlined in this document, as well as abiding by the Terms and Conditions of website.

If you observe a violation of behavior by a Forum Moderator, please contact


If you are passionate about and its community and are supportive of these forum guidelines, then we'd love to have you as a moderator. Here's what we're looking for:

  1. Do you have the time? Are you able to devote time each day to moderation? When you travel or are otherwise away (hopefully hiking!), will you communicate with us so we can find another mod to cover your duties during your absence? Are you willing to the do the same for other mods when they are gone?
  2. Are you an active member of our forums?
  3. Are you respected and well-liked in our forums, or do you tend to create controversy and incite opposition?
  4. Do you have these attributes: patience, humility, understanding, tolerance, intentionality, fairness, objectivity?
  5. Are you a good communicator? Can you spell, use good punctuation, and write cohesive, concise, and clear sentences?

If you answered yes to these questions, please send an email to expressing your interest, and let us know the following information:

  • Tell us a little about yourself - what are your passions and where does fit into all of that?
  • A link to your profile page at;
  • A list of the specific Forums that you'd like to be assigned to;
  • How do you think your presence as a moderator can improve the culture of the community - what is it about you that would help make our forums shine?

Moderators will receive a complimentary "Unlimited Lifetime" subscription, and access to our backend "Moderator Dashboard" with useful tools for monitoring and moderating the forums.

Still need help? Send a Little Note to Backpacking Light Send a Little Note to Backpacking Light