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Rules of Conduct and Disclaimer

Community Overview

The SBA Community site provides open, publicly accessible forums and communication tools for entrepreneurs and small business owners to learn, share, and discuss practical solutions to everyday business problems with each other, industry experts, and experts at government agencies.

By registering as a member of the SBA Community, users may post to forums, blogs, and use other online resources for sharing information with other members. They may also share information about themselves and their businesses in their user profile.

These member-contributed resources and user profiles are moderated by the SBA team, which includes employees and contractors of the U.S. Small Business Administration and partner agencies.

Rules of Conduct

All member-contributed resources and user profiles are post moderated by the SBA team. Any contribution that does not meet these rules of conduct will be removed.

  1. Comments and contributions to forum threads or blog posts should be descriptive, succinct, and relevant to discussion or forum topic.
    1. To better facilitate conversation, moderators may move off-topic threads to another appropriate forum, close threads or delete off-topic posts at their discretion. Members may also start a new discussion that would otherwise be off-topic in the current thread.
    2. To maintain quality of discussions, contributions that do not provide a substantive purpose or relevance may be flagged by a moderator as abuse, and will be removed.
  2. We encourage community members to have open and candid discussions and debates. We will not censor members for expressing an opinion within the limits of these Rules of Conduct. However, all communications should be civil and polite. Community members should treat each other with respect and consideration for all points of view. Please remember that this is a public venue read by many people of all ages, from around the world, spanning all walks of life.
  3. The SBA Community may not be used to post, transmit or provide hyperlinks or pointers to material that is knowingly false and/or defamatory; contain ad hominem attacks, misleading, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening or invasive of a person's privacy; that otherwise violates any law; or that encourages conduct constituting a criminal offense.
  4. Users are encouraged to discuss and share business knowledge and experiences. To ensure that all users will get the most out of the Community experience, the following linking policies are in effect to curb self-promotion and spam. Posts that do not adhere to these policies may have their links disabled or be removed.
    1. The SBA Community may not be used to post, transmit or provide hyperlinks or pointers to press releases, newsletters, websites, or any other type of content that promote one's business, product or service or does not address the thread's topic. Members may include text-only references to relevant resources.
    2. Community members may link to Federal, state, or local government websites for the purpose of sharing verified information.
    3. Community members may use their profile page to share information about their business, products, or services, and may include only one (1) hyperlink to their commercial website.
    4. Community members may include only one (1) link in their signature line. Any additional links to websites, social network profiles, or email addresses will be removed.
  5. User names that might be deemed abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise inappropriate are not allowed and will be removed.
  6. User names that are intended to mislead others will be removed. Such nicknames include but are not limited to using nicknames that impersonate competitors, other community members, government employees, elected officials, or any other individual or entity.
  7. Sock puppet accounts are not permitted. A sock puppet is an account made on an Internet message board by a person who already has an account for the purpose of posting anonymously or as a different user. Please use your own account for posting personal opinions. Posts from known sock puppet accounts will result in deletion of the posts and sock puppet accounts.
  8. Email excerpts of any type or length are not allowed to be posted in community forums, blogs or other tools.
  9. To protect the privacy of community members, and the privacy of others, Community members may not include anyone's personal information or personally identifiable information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or e-mail addresses, or social security numbers in any forum, blog, or other member contributed area. By default, personal information you choose to include in your user profile cannot be viewed by the general public. However, you may choose to make your personal information public so everyone can view it; or you can choose to share personal information only with certain members of the Community.
  10. Advertising: The SBA Community may not be used to advertise or promote businesses, products or services within the discussion boards, idea exchanges or blogs. Posts that contain pricing information will be considered abuse and removed from public view. Community members may use their profile page to share information about themselves, their businesses, products, services and personal and professional background.
  11. Intellectual property: The SBA Community may not be used to post material that is protected by copyright, trademark or other proprietary right without the express permission of the owner(s) of said copyright, trademark or other proprietary right.
  12. Spam: Posting the same message, or an unsolicited commercial message, to one or many topics or boards is considered spam and will be removed. Duplicate messages may be deleted or consolidated by a Moderator.
  13. Access Permissions:
    1. Certain portions of SBA are limited to registered users and/or allow a user to access services online by entering personal information. You must be at least 13 years old to become a registered user. If you are not at least 13, you will be removed from the registered area(s) and/or denied support or services if SBA does not receive written parental consent. As a term of registration, you agree that any information provided to us will be complete and accurate, that you will not register under the name of, nor attempt to enter the site under the name of, another person, and that you will not adopt a user name that SBA, in its sole discretion, deems offensive.
    2. Abusive and harassing behavior or any actions that violate these Rules of Conduct may result in suspension of your ability to post to forums and other member-contributed areas. Account suspensions may be appealed to a Moderator.
  14. Private discussions: Sometimes, a discussion thread strays off into a friendly dialogue or a heated debate among a very small number of users. For these exchanges, we ask that you take these discussions outside the SBA Community.
  15. Blogging is Forbidden: except as described in the Guest Blogger Guidelines, members may not blog or post blog-like messages on the Community. The purpose of the Community is for small business owners to ask and answer questions. Discussing topics is encouraged, however excessive lecturing or commentary is prohibited.

User Profiles

Community members may create personalized profiles, and opt to include personal identifiable information about themselves to everyone who visits the SBA website or select members of the community. By default any information you supply about yourself is hidden. You may change who can view your personal profile or portions of your profile. Except where noted above, the content of personal profiles is subject to the same Rules of Conduct as the forums, blogs and other member-contributed content.

Guest Contributors

Occasionally, the SBA team will invite guest bloggers from industry and government to contribute their expertise. Please read the disclaimer below concerning the views expressed in contributions from guest contributors.

Moderators

The SBA Community is moderated by the SBA team, which includes employees and contractors of the U.S. Small Business Administration and partner agencies. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. Given the need to manage Federal resources effectively, however, we will generally review comments and contributions from 8:00 a.m-5:00 p.m Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. We will read and respond to comments submitted after hours, on weekends, or on holidays as early as possible the next business day.

Privacy Policy

The privacy of users and members of the Community is very important, and we encourage you to read the SBA Privacy Policy.

Disclaimer

Except when specifically noted, any views or opinions expressed on the SBA Community forums, blogs or member-contributed resources are those of the individual contributors. The views and posted comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Small Business Administration, partner agencies, or the Federal government. Information on the SBA Community site is provided as a service to the Internet community, and does not constitute legal advice. SBA aims to provide quality and accurate information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to by SBA on the Community site. The SBA does not endorse the organizations sponsoring linked websites, and we do not endorse the views they express or the products/services they offer. The SBA cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked websites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked website. The SBA is not responsible for transmissions users receive from linked websites. The SBA does not guarantee that outside websites comply with Section 508 (Accessibility Requirements) of the Rehabilitation Act. Since laws and regulations change frequently, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney.

Additional Documents

  • SBA Website Policies
  • Copyright Information
    These Rules of Conduct are published and updated simultaneously on the SBA Community site in the guidelines and help area.

This document was last updated on January 26, 2011.