"A bully is an individual who tends to torment others, either through verbal harassment and/or physical assaults, or through more subtle methods of coercion." - from: Wikipedia about Bullying

It happens everywhere and fan clubs are not safe from it. Fan clubs should be places where people can share their fandom, have fun and make friends. But: occasionally there's a bully standing between you and the fun. This document is here to raise awareness and help DragonRiders Club members to spot typical cyber-bullying behavior, and to find advice how to prevent or counteract it.

Bullying, harassment and power abuse

Bullying is a form of harassment usually done by someone with more power or social support to someone with less power or social support. It often includes putting pressure and/or the blame for what is happening onto the victim and undermines the victim's confidence. PBeM-bullies often use flames, threats, sarcastic remarks, power play, constant criticism or hurtful rumors to get their point across. (The point being, 'I'm more powerful and have more friends than you, so you better cower in front of me or I'll make your life miserable'.) The lines between bullying, playful teasing or simply lacking social skills can be thin, and many bullies will seek safety in the excuse 'I was only joking' when confronted about their behavior.

Typical PBeM bullying behavior might include:

A special case is the Council bully. In an ideal case, Council members will keep in mind that they volunteered to serve the Club and its members and not to rule like tyrants. Sometimes the authority that comes with a position gets into someone's head and people might go on a power trip or start abusing that power for their own agenda. If you feel a Council member is bullying you, don't be afraid to speak out! Council consists of five people, so there's a chance that the others might condemn what their fellow member is doing and set things straight. Before you complain on someone else's behalf though, be aware that some 'Council is bullying me' complaints are nothing but blown-up rumors caused by someone's dislike of a Council decision.

What can you do when you encounter a bully?

Most importantly: Remember it is not your fault that you are being bullied! It's always the bully's problem that he or she needs to harass someone to feel like someone.

Gossip, rumors and deceitful lies

Let's face it: Gossip is entertaining. Very. It is also a fun way to socialize with others and makes you feel you belong to a group if they share their gossip with you. It is incredibly tempting to gossip. Gossip and rumors are tolerable as long as they're harmless and friendly. They liven up the chat list, help to form bonds between members or provide valuable information to those who can read between the lines.

But gossip can also destroy friendships or people's enjoyment of being a Club member when things turn ugly. The thing about rumors and gossip is that they are often difficult to prove or disprove. Gossip is usually made out of half-truths or embellished tales with a tiny bit of true information. Many rumors are created through assumption, guesses and jumping to conclusions. They easily get carried away because talking about crazy, made-up stories is more fun than talking about the boring reality.

Some members might even start hurtful rumors on purpose to get back at someone they don't like. Rumors and gossip could be used as revenge or follow through on a threat or with the goal to boot someone out of the Club. There's a thin line between harmless gossip and harmful intrigue.

For the people who are being gossiped about, it sucks. Real life and Club are crazy enough without having people make up stories about you.

If you are one of those people who love to listen to gossip, you might want to ask yourself three important questions before handing on a rumor:

If you can answer any of these questions with a yes, then don't spread the gossip! Chances are high that someone started the rumor solely to hurt another Club member. This sort of behavior is not acceptable and a decent person should not participate in it. Don't become an instrument in someone else's evil scheme.

A special type of gossip is directed against the Council rather than individual members. If you hear such rumors, please be aware that:

What this means is basically:

What can you do if you have become a victim of the rumor mill?

Let's all try to play nice! DragonRiders is an interactive writing club based on teamwork, not a quest for domination!

Last updated on 30-Nov-11.

Dragonriders of Pern: A Fantasy-Fiction Writing Club -

The Dragonriders of PernŽ is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.