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Joystiq Editorial Ethics Policies

This page outlines the general policies that guide the professional conduct of all editors of and contributors to Joystiq.com and its network of sites. These policies uphold our goal to provide unbiased coverage and criticism of the video game industry, but do not restrict irreverence or the use of amateur photoshops. We often aim for laughs, no doubt -- but credible laughs.

Policy on Review Assets and Marketing Materials (Software, Hardware and Merchaaaaaaandise)
Policy on Travel, Accommodations and Gifts
Policy on Trade Shows and other Events
Policy on Industry Participation and Public Appearances
Policy on Third-Party Competitions and Contests
Policy on News Gathering and Accreditation
Policy on Advertising
Policy on Personal and Professional Activity (Beyond Joystiq)

Note: The policies stated below have been created by and for Joystiq only; and do not reflect those of our competitors or the games blogosphere at large.

Policy on Review Assets and Promotional Materials (Software, Hardware and Merchandise)
Staff members are permitted to request and receive software and hardware on behalf of Joystiq for the purpose of previewing, reviewing or publishing other editorial content for the Joystiq network. Software may not remain in the permanent collections of staff members and must be returned to the provider or used as all or a portion of a prize (i.e., "Joyswag") for a contest, giveaway or reader meetup associated with Joystiq. (Note: Downloaded software or software not compatible with retail hardware or not designed for retail may remain in the personal possession of staff, if it cannot be returned or repurposed as Joyswag; or it may be retained by Joystiq for company use.)

Hardware that is on loan from a manufacturer for ongoing preview, review and otherwise professional use may remain in a staff member's possession until that person is no longer associated with Joystiq; at which point the hardware must be returned to the provider or to a senior member of the Joystiq staff for reassignment. Hardware that is received as a gift or other promotional purpose is subject to the same terms as our software policy and must be returned or used as Joyswag.

Game-related merchandise may also be requested and received for editorial purposes or for use as Joyswag. Staff members are permitted to dispose of merchandise or other promotional materials valued under $20.

To better manage this policy, Joystiq maintains an inventory of software, hardware and merchandise (valued over $20) received by its staff members on behalf of the company. While this record is to remain confidential, we can guarantee that there will be plenty of games and sweet, sweet Joyswag handed out at our next meetup! Do come.

Policy on Travel, Accommodations and Gifts
Staff members may not accept travel, accommodations or gifts of any nature from a company or representative that has direct interest in our editorial content without public disclosure. Joystiq does not accept airfare or hotel accommodations for its staff from companies or representatives hosting an event that requires transportation and accommodation. Any deviations from this policy will be expressly made public on a case-by-case basis.

Policy on Trade Shows and other Events
Staff members attending trade shows or other industry or press events on behalf of Joystiq may not accept travel or accommodations outside of those provided under sponsorship, as determined by Joystiq's AOL-managed advertising department (see below). Staff members may accept software, hardware or merchandise at such events for editorial purposes and for use as prizes in contests, giveaways and reader meetups associated with Joystiq.

Joystiq does not accept invitations to private dinners, but staff members are welcome to accept food and drink provided during events that they attend on behalf of Joystiq. Staff members are expected to conduct themselves professionally when representing Joystiq. In general, that means not drinking beyond the point of rhythm-game coordination (Hard mode or the equivalent) or conducting business with chocolate stains on one's mouth. Additionally, we ask that staff wash their hands before and after taking a break to eat. Nothing's more unprofessional than returning a greasy controller.

Additionally, Joystiq and its staff members may decline invitations to industry events in which the environments could give the appearance of impropriety, as well as any events that are only tangentially related to games.

Policy on Industry Participation and Public Appearances
Staff members are encouraged to be participating members of the video game industry in so far as their capacities to serve as judges, panelists or make otherwise public and professional appearances on behalf of Joystiq. Staff members are expected to be knowledgeable of a vast array of video game topics and issues, and capable of disseminating convincing views and opinions to the point of being (proudly) labeled "nerds" and/or "geeks" -- but never "fanboys." Our votes have been counted in such instances as the Game Critics Awards, Independent Games Festival and Spike TV's Video Game Awards. Of course, the candidates we vote for don't always win -- that's why we have our own awards.

As far as accepting awards, Joystiq would be honored and most humbled. Sadly, we're still without that first Pulitzer.

Policy on Third-Party Competitions and Contests
Staff members are permitted to participate in video game competitions held by a company or representative that has direct interest in our editorial content, but any prizes received are subject to the standard Joystiq policy on software, hardware and merchandise. (While not required, it is important that a staff member avoid being the recipient of a "pure pwnage" act when participating in an official competition.) Staff members may not participate in contests held by a company or representative that has direct interest in our editorial content with the exception of being automatically entered into a giveaway or other contest held at an event at which staff may attend on behalf of Joystiq. Any prizes received in conjunction with such an exception are subject to the standard Joystiq policy on software, hardware and merchandise. (See above.)

Policy on News Gathering and Accreditation
Joystiq and its staff consult hundreds of sources in gathering news and information for its editorial purposes. When available, our sources can be accessed via the "Source" link at the bottom of a post and are often highlighted by contextual links in our posts. Where necessary, we also credit secondary sources, typically in brackets in the last line of our post text, as "thanks" or "via" shoutouts.

If you feel we have not properly credited you or your outlet, please contact us at: tips@joystiq.com.

Policy on Advertising
Joystiq is part of Weblogs, Inc., an AOL company. An AOL-managed sales force, wholly separate from the Joystiq editorial staff, manages advertising on the Joystiq network. (Seriously, how else could these ads have been approved?)

If you would like to purchase ad space on a Joystiq network site, please fill out an inquiry form.

Policy on Personal and Professional Activity (Beyond Joystiq)
A staff member must publicly disclose certain conflicts of interest, excepting personal relationships with parties that have direct interest in our editorial content, which may remain the knowledge of Joystiq only, but must not compromise a staff member's ability to maintain the Joystiq Editorial Ethics Policies (or "J.E.E.P." for short). Staff members may not own stock in publicly traded video game publishers and companies with the exception of media conglomerates that own, but are not significantly altered by the financial status of video game publishers, developers or other associated entities.

In so far as a staff member is retained as a contracted (freelance) contributor, the staff member may do business for other video game media publications and outlets that are not in direct competition with Joystiq. All staff members are permitted to maintain personal publications and sites pertaining to video game news and culture, so long as they do not violate the contract of employment. Additionally, staff members may not troll or otherwise bring grief to Joystiq, its competitors or the games blogosphere at large in their personal endeavors. Don't hate the players, hate "the game."

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 118: Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Civilization Beyond Earth, Fantasia

Latest episode: Saturday, October 25th, 2014


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