This is where this article comes in: it is a guide that explains how to respond to weird and unusual stories while remaining tactful. It also attempts to show how to effectively balance being supportive and calling out liars. Keep in mind that if you are unsure about the veracity of a story, it never hurts to use the report button and just let a moderator deal with said fishy story. After all, the report button is there for that exact purpose: to let the staff know when there is a post which needs a closer look.
Things to Keep in Mind When Replying to a Fishy Post
Follow the Rules
This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. As mentioned above, while on ADISC its rules apply to you at all times. Specifically, this means that you should strive to:
- Be polite when answering other members.
- Avoid causing drama – if you think that your post will cause drama, you may want to review your post to see if it can be reworded or, alternatively, just not click the "submit post" button at all.
- When confronting other members, try to do it in a way that is not confrontational or accusatory. Remember, we are a support community, not a court of law.
- Present your skepticism in a constructive manner by making helpful suggestions on what stands out as needing more context, so as not to rub the community the wrong way. It's not ok to simply order someone to defend himself by giving us more details.
Give Other Users the Benefit of the Doubt
While a story might sound rather unlikely, that does not make it impossible. Short of demonstrable lying and contradictions, you should always phrase posts in a way that gives the poster maximum benefit of the doubt.
This does not mean that you have to believe them and it also does not mean that you shouldn't question their story – it means that if you're going to call BS, you have to be as fair as possible to the poster and leave the door open for them to clarify. You're allowed to tell said member you have doubts, and politely point out every last thing which has raised your eyebrows. What you can't do is simply post "BS" and/or accuse them of outright lying unless you can actually demonstrate such to be the case.
Don't Judge a Story's Veracity by the Poster's Demographic Group
You should never use a member's stated age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity as basis to question their post. Stating that you have good reasons to believe that a member is, for example, not the age that they claim to be due to a contradiction in their post is allowable since it's based on a contradiction. Stating that their post is a lie solely because of their age is not.
Gently Probe for Details
When something about a member's post seems odd, the best thing to do is to gently ask for more details. Sometimes in the excitement of sharing a story, people tend to omit important details. By asking for more details you are not only showing interest in the member, but you are also forcing them to share more of their account.
If their story checks out, it should become more believable as they post more. If they are lying, however, they will start covering up lies with more lies and they will eventually start contradicting themselves.
There's no need to accuse the poster of outright lying, because if he is, he'll make it very obvious as he struggles to answer follow-up questions. Meanwhile, if the story is actually true, by being aggressive, you'll make the poster feel extremely unwanted and unwelcome. Gently probing is always better than simply calling BS.
Be Specific When Questioning a Story
You should be as specific as possible when questioning the validity of a story. Simply saying "your story smells fishy" is not going to get us anywhere. Instead, you should point out contradictions or unlikelihoods in a specific and mature manner. You can draw on information within one post/thread, show apparent contradictions with other posts from the users, or bring in external information if it's relevant.
Be Careful When Giving Negative Reputation for Lying
Lying is a valid reason to receive negative reputation, and the reputation system is indeed one way in which ADISC can deal with people that post false stories. That being said, you should always think twice before giving negative reputation for that reason. Is the story a lie, or is it simply very unlikely? This can be a difficult distinction to make, and you should only deduce reputation for that reason if you are sure beyond any reasonable doubt that the member is lying. Be specific when writing down the reason for the deduction of a reputation point; simply saying "you lied" will invariably result in your reputation comment being deleted.
If you are unsure about the honesty of a member, you can always give the user a neutral reputation comment, giving a short summary of your doubts. This would be useful if you had a reason to maintain anonymity when voicing your criticism. That said, anonymity is not a license to berate the poster; using reputation system for personal attacks will not be tolerated.
If in Doubt, Use the Report Button
If you think that someone has posted a story that is most likely to be untrue, then you should absolutely report that post to the moderation team through the report button. This will allow the moderators to delete obvious lies (and potentially warn/moderate/ban the member responsible for them), keep an eye on members who post suspicious material, and prevent threads containing suspect material from descending into utter chaos. Remember, if you report it, a moderator will see it and take appropriate actions.
Examples of How to Respond to Fishy Posts
I'll now give a few sample posts which could generate some replies screaming "BS!" and I'll show how instead to properly respond to them:
Possible Story, But a Little Off
These are the posts that appear to be plausible but contain a few details which seem unlikely.
Originally Posted by JustCameOut
It's quite possible that this is a lie, but it's also plenty possible that JustCameOut is a less than eloquent overexcited teenager who simply omitted some clarifying details in his rush to share his experience. In this kind of situation, you should not assume that the poster is lying, but you should gently ask for more details to see how things pan out. A proper response would be something along those lines:
Originally Posted by ReasonableUser
They are three typical ways in which JustCameOut might respond to ReasonableUser. He might offer further clarifications that make his story more readily believable, such as the fact that while he was bought diapers, his mom is also insisting he see a therapist. Or, he might respond in a way that make his story appear less believable. Finally, he might ignore ReasonableUser's post. In the first case, the matter can be dropped entirely, as the story is now much more plausible. In the second case, you should re-evaluate your response based on JustCameOut's new post. And finally in the final case, you should continue to gently encourage JustCameOut to offer more details. The more JustCameOut gets asked for details, the more he'll feel obligated to provide them
Probable but Inappropriate Story
They are times where a member will post a story that is completely believable, however it might not be quite what we're looking for on ADISC. For example, a member might post something in a tone resembling what you would typically see on a fetish site:
Originally Posted by HornyUser
Originally Posted by ReasonableUser
Improbable Story Told in a Sensible Manner
Every once in a while we will get members that claim to have suffered abuse with diapers or otherwise unlikely AB/DL-event, and who wish to share their story. Those stories are often rather outlandish, and it's easy to dismiss them as lies. The problem with doing so is that there have been proven cases of horrible child abuse that where completely outlandish things happen which go far beyond simple forced diapering and confinement – yet it did not make those cases any less true.
Yes, most of these tales will just be someone's sexual fantasy or a troll going for broke, but what if one of those child-turned-teenager or adult joined ADISC hoping for support only to be laughed at as a pervert? This is obviously not something we want to see happen, and this is why we must tread carefully with those kind of stories:
Originally Posted by AbusedUser
Originally Posted by ReasonableUser
In cases like there, there would be nothing inherently wrong to point out to AbusedUser that his experience is a little bit farfetched and hard to believe. This does not mean that it's okay to call him a liar, but that it is acceptable to explain to him that he might have difficulty having people completely believe his story since, this being the Internet, we have all been burned in the past by people that claimed to be something they were not.
This should be done in a way that does not challenge him to try and prove his truthfulness, as ADISC is a support community, not a court of law. Saying "I don't believe you, I think you're a liar," is not the right way to display skepticism at an unlikely story, but something along the lines of "I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but please understand that your story can seem a little bit farfetched. I'm not saying that you're lying, but I am a little bit skeptical as we have had members in the past that pretended to be something they were not," is acceptable.
Improbable Story told in an Outlandish Manner
Sometimes there are stories that are so ridiculous and presented in such a manner that there's no need real need to worry about the story actually being true. Here would be one such example:
Originally Posted by LyingUser
The distinction is not always evident, though. A good, though not absolute, test to distinguish the two is whether or not the poster acknowledges that the treatment described is abusive. If their reaction to the situation is largely inconsistent with how any sane person would respond to that situation, then that's essentially a contradiction.
If you are not sure whether or not the post sounds like a true account or a fantasy, then it is preferred that you report the post and leave that judgment call in the hands of the staff. If you are certain beyond reasonable doubts that the story is indeed just someone having a little bit too much fun on ADISC, then you should absolutely report the post and give the user negative reputation.
If you choose to respond, be more creative than simply calling "BS". Have a little bit of fun taking the guidelines in this article to the extreme:
Originally Posted by ReasonableUser
It is important to reiterate that unless you are absolutely sure that a user will be banned, you should tread lightly. Moreover, in a situation as above, you're better off being humorous and a bit passive-aggressive than simply aggressive. Even when it's blatantly obvious that a story must absolutely 100% be BS, it's still not optimal to just aggressively call "BS".
If you're ever in any doubt on whether a post is a potential cry for help, or an obvious fantasy story, then please report and move on.
The Scary Story
Luckily, we very rarely get posts where we hope, and pray, that the poster is lying through their teeth. However one or two such situations have happened in the past. Just in case one ever happens again, we'll cover how to deal with it. Here's an example of such a post:
Originally Posted by HorribleUser
If you are on IRC and see a staff member that is active, inform them of the situation as soon as possible, as this is a legitimate emergency situation. ADISC's staff takes this kind of self-incrimination extremely seriously, and the sooner they are informed of them the better.
Dignifying such garbage with a reply is wholly unnecessary. The post/thread will rapidly be deleted, and the poster reported to the relevant real-life authorities.