Community

Community Update – April 30th, 2020

It’s been a while since our last Community Update, and there’s so much for us to talk about. We’ve gained new members, coming within spitting distance of the 100 member milestone. We’ve added a new member to our staff, with Telken joining the mod team. We’ve been pushing out more caresheets and tutorials to better serve the newer members of our community. All of this while the world goes through turmoil unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

This will be a long community update, but we hope that you’ll read it all, and share your thoughts not only on where we are today, but where you, as a member of this community, think we should go next.

Welcoming Our Newest Mod

Over recent months, it has become apparent that the team lacked presence during certain hours. At the same time, certain members of our staff have had their availability heavily impacted by COVID-19 related issues. As our community has grown, we felt it was time to make a new addition to our server staff: Please welcome Telken as our newest Discord moderator!

Telken is joining our existing team to provide a strong overnight presence. With 6+ years of professional experience in various animal care, research, and conservation positions, he brings expert knowledge in exotic medicine as well as husbandry of many oddball reptiles. If you have questions about a creature nobody’s ever heard of, he’s your go-to.

With this addition, we now have reliable staff presence around the clock. If you have an issue requiring staff intervention between 1-9AM ET (GMT-5), please send him a DM or tag him for the highest likelihood of response.

Caresheets and Tutorials

Our library is growing! Kayt has, at long last, finished her highly anticipated Leopard Gecko caresheet. Check it out here.

We’ve also added new bot functions to make certain tutorials easier to access. Check out the #resources channel in the discord server to check them out!

Policy Update: Quality of Care

Due to recent conversations both in and around the server, the staff team has chosen to make a clarification to our rules, particularly surrounding standards of keeping and the discussions thereof. None of this is necessarily new, but until now, it has never been formalized (partially by design). There will be a tl;dr at the end, but I encourage everyone to read this post in its entirety.

The broader herpetoculture community is no stranger to conflict regarding standards of care. Discussions of popular “pettubers” frequently revolve around this point, and it is one of the leading reasons why there remains such a breadth of relatively small herp communities, each fractured from the others by varying degrees by beliefs as well as personalities. This is not necessarily a bad thing– Pet care as a whole is an ever evolving field, herpetoculture perhaps more than most. We are also a very wide field, including everything from newts to ball pythons to crocodiles to scorpions. Varying standards and requirements between both species and subfields result in the impossibility to specify a “typical” setup, much less an optimal approach.

As members of what is, at its core, a pet-keeping community, I believe that everyone in this server cares for their creatures, and wants the best for them. When we see other individuals who are keeping their pets in a manner that we feel is suboptimal, it’s very natural to try to intervene. This is not a bad thing, but it only works when everyone involved is approaching the conversation with a constructive, open perspective. Unfortunately, the situations often devolve, whether it be from a perceived unwillingness to listen, or the feeling that one is being personally attacked and demonized. The human fight-or-flight response tends to lean more on the fight side, and we see an argument where everyone is trying to stand their ground and it’s no longer about doing what’s right for the animal. Everyone loses.

The staff team has had conversations in the past about what this server is. In Ulta’s words: “The server has always had the same goal. To have a mix of knowledgeable keepers and not so knowledgeable people. It was never meant to be an exclusive place for the best of the best or anything like that. It’s a place for people to seek and receive help.” The staff team is unified behind that. We will never demonize someone for not having an optimal setup yet. People do not provide substandard care out of malice. They simply haven’t learned a better way yet, and that’s because we, as a community, haven’t done a good enough job of teaching them. That is what we are here for. We’re here to discuss and evolve standards of herpetoculture, and to impart those ever evolving standards to anyone who chooses to listen. If someone went to the effort to find and join a discord server and ask the question, we choose to believe that they want to learn. We will not, under any circumstances, punish someone for not meeting someone else’s personal standard of “good enough” care.

This does not mean that we will turn a blind eye to all care situations. Keeping animals in truly neglectful or provably harmful situations can and will result in action from the mod team. We do not condone abuse in any form. Examples include cohabitation of animals beyond the point that aggression and injury has occured, or putting a carnivore on a vegan diet. Many will see our standard for action as setting the bar far too low. We believe that this is a point in which a cultural response will outperform a statutory one. If you believe that a member of our community is either promoting harmful practices or is unwilling to improve their care to a suitable point, reach out directly to a member of staff and we will handle it on a case by case basis. You may not see an obvious, public response. That does not mean we didn’t get involved.

This is a subject that is never going to go away, and that’s a good thing. We expect that many members of our community will have strong feelings on the matter, and we want to hear from you. We want the discussion. We want to see people talking about what’s good and bad, and what’s important and what’s not. We want to promote growth in the community. It’s not always going to be sunshine and roses, but we’ll all be better for it, and more importantly, our animals will prosper. If you aren’t comfortable talking about it in public, again, reach out to whatever staff member you feel most comfortable with. We’re busy, but we will make the time.

tl;dr: Be constructive when discussing standards of care. We will involve ourselves in abuse/neglect cases, but will not serve as the care-police for what is, by its nature, a subjective, ever-evolving matter.

“If you find yourself disappointed in someone, you just haven’t given them enough time to impress you.” – Randy Pausch

“Be excellent to each other.” – Bill & Ted

Policy Update: Commerce

It has long been our position that this server is not the place for purchases and sales. This is why we have consistently rejected suggestions of adding a channel for such a purpose. We will not endorse any seller, or any purchaser, nor can we make any guarantees as to anyone’s legitimacy or quality. With that said, we have chosen to allow private sales through DMs.

What this means, in practice, is that if you wish to conduct a sale with another user, whether it be animals, goods, or services, you are welcome to do so. You must, however, restrict such transactions to DMs. All sales and purchases are considered to be at your own risk. Server staff will not get involved in private transactions.

This does not, however, allow advertising. We will continue to forbid any posts attempting to market goods, or seek specific products. There are other sites and communities for that. If you have a specific, one-time offer you’d like to make available, you may reach out to a member of the mod team, and we will consider it on a case-by-case basis. As an example, we recently approved a user’s request to post a link to their art commission page. Ask permission, rather than seeking forgiveness.

Conclusion

We’ve got a lot of plans in the works for the next few months, so keep an eye out of them. This community is, and will always be, a product of the people within it, so please, if you have thoughts, reach out. We want to hear from you. Message a staff member, start a discussion in #general, or post a suggestion in #suggestions. Help us make this community the best it can be.

~The Reptile Haven Team

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