What follows is proteus' summary of the rules as discussed and acted upon. If anyone believes there is an error in this summary, please bring it up on the Engine Room or PM me
Brass Goggles is filled with many passionate people; while this is a feature, it can sometimes lead to heated arguments wherein people lose their heads. When moderators see this happening, they will try to take action to keep the forum civil -- this could be anything from a gentle note to locking or deleting a thread. In the rare case that an individual routinely provokes or escalates uncivil behavior, that person may be temporarily or permanently banned.
The overriding rule for any thread is to keep things civil.
It has been our experience that certain topics tend to regularly produce more than their fair share of uncivil behavior: Guns, Sex, Religion, and Politics. On these topics, there are some more specific guidelines, and moderators will err on the side of ending conversations before they get heated.
On all such topics, remember that this is primarily a Steampunk forum -- posts on Controversial Topics that aren't Steampunk-related are candidates for speedy locking or deletion. Moderators use their best judgement.
On the matter of guns. Guns were indeed used by people of the eras Steampunk heavily borrows from. Discussion of period-appropriate weaponry is therefore on-topic. Additionally, fantastical weapons are common props and plot devices in the Steampunk world; discussion of these types of weapons, their construction and "theories" of operation, etc. are on-topic. Discussion of modern weapons is off-topic and strongly discouraged.
Discussion of laws/regulations/etc. around weaponry is almost always problematic and off-topic (see the politics section below). On-topic exceptions might be informational posts related to carrying prop/period weapons -- for example, informing people travelling in Steampunk attire of what various locales and facilities allow/etc. A good rule of thumb is that any discussion of what "ought to be" is political, likely to get heated quickly, and therefore very likely to be locked or deleted.
On the matter of sex. This is a forum for ladies and gentlemen of all ages. Sexually-explicit discussion, photographs, etc. are therefore not allowed. This is not a ban on all forms of "sexual" topic -- discussion that can be had in polite company is acceptable (e.g. mild flirtation, discussion of period gender roles, calling an outfit "sexy" by way of compliment, forming orientation-based boards/threads, etc.).
Under no circumstances is sexual harassment to be tolerated. "Sexual harassment" can be difficult to define, and moderators are asked to err on the side of disallowing conversations that are in a 'gray area' on this point. However, if someone has indicated they are uncomfortable with your romantic/sexual comments, failure to respect their wishes will qualify as sexual harassment. Repeated harassment can result in a ban.
Additionally, insulting any person on the basis of their sexuality (preferences, orientation, gender, etc.) is considered sexual harassment.
On the matter of religion. "Do not discuss politics or religion in polite company" is excellent advice. Incidental or topical discussion of religion are entirely acceptable. An "incidental" discussion would be, e.g., "while I was at church, I heard..."; "My family are 'x' faith, and think that Steampunk is inimical, so this happened..."; etc. A "topical" discussion would be factual and relevant conversation about impact of religion on Steampunk or related history/literature/etc.
Evangelizing, etc. are not permitted.
On the matter of politics. "Do not discuss politics or religion in polite company" is excellent advice. Discussion of political matters is only relevant when sharing information with a direct relationship to Steampunk or related history. Advocating specific positions or causes is unacceptable. Exceptions may be made for items of general interest to the Steampunk community, this forum, etc. -- for example, calling attention to a law that would discriminate against Steampunks would likely be allowed.
Please recall that these are intentionally very subjective rules. The core intent of all of this is to keep the forums a civil and welcoming place; moderators are given a great deal of flexibility and trust to apply these loose guidelines to that end. If you feel a moderator action was inappropriate, you should try to resolve the issue privately (first with the moderator, then with escalation to admins and Governors) before airing your grievance publicly.