Page 1 of 1 [ 2 posts ] 

Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Posts: 8,752
Location: London

23 Mar 2023, 2:30 pm

WrongPlanet is an online community with a private messaging system. Like most or all such communities, some users occasionally misuse this system.

In recent weeks, the moderators have been made aware of a number of instances of users misusing the private message system to send sexually explicit, manipulative, or controlling messages over an extended period of time to a number of users. This is unacceptable. If you are sending these messages, stop. If you are receiving them, please report them.

In this post, we will outline your responsibilities as a poster towards other posters when using the PM system, making it as clear as we can as to what behaviour is unacceptable. We will also make it clear what you can do if you feel you have received inappropriate private messages.

Unacceptable PM content

Firstly, be aware that the same rules apply to PM content as to public content like posts. However, given that moderators cannot see PM content unless it is reported, private messages may occasionally be a suitable place for content that breaks WrongPlanet rules, but both users nevertheless consent to. We cannot police the content of PMs unless they are reported.

The important thing there is that there must be true consent, given knowingly and freely.

Some examples of unacceptable behaviour include using the PM system to:

- Send advertisements for products, "miracle cures", astrology etc - spamming.
- Send unsolicited sexual images, videos, text, or any other sexual content.
- Request sexual images, videos, text, or other content from other users.
- Request personally-identifying information from other users.
- Pressure other users to contact you outside of WrongPlanet. “Here is my email/number/profile on another site” is fine - but you mustn’t pressure someone into using it.
- Make offers of financial support, or request financial support, particularly when these offers are contingent upon a romantic or sexual quid-pro-quo.
- Emotionally blackmail other users - for example, saying that they have damaged your mental health.
- “Lovebomb” - sending a person a large volume of compliments in order to make them feel favourable towards you. This is often the first step in grooming.
- Encouraging others to dislike or shun another user, or attempting to isolate a user from their friends.

This list is not exhaustive - but generally, engaging in unwanted attention or doing anything that another user has expressed makes them uncomfortable is unacceptable.

If in doubt, do not do it. WrongPlanet is not a dating service, and users deserve to be able to use the site without being sent unsolicited nudes or attracting unwanted attention from other posters.


Some users may have trouble recognising the beginning of grooming. Grooming is when someone builds up trust, then exploits that trust to manipulate you into doing things. These things may be sexual (e.g. sending pictures), financial (e.g. sending money), or criminal (e.g. being a drug mule). This is informally known as "mate crime", because someone who you believe to be your friend is abusing or exploiting you. Due to the nature of WrongPlanet, we are particularly concerned about sexual grooming, and secondarily financial grooming.

The groomer might start as a friend or confidante by asking politely if they can message you, and seeming concerned about your welfare. When you start chatting on PM they may try to bond over your trauma or your vulnerabilities, but say little about themselves. This happens slowly, so it's not always obvious until it's too late.

They will want to know intimate details about your trauma, even if it's related to sexual or physical abuse, insecurity, anxiety, depression, isolation, and disability.

Groomers often target vulnerable members so they can assume the role of "helper" or "supporter", which creates trust and dependency for the person being groomed.

Groomers might want your real name and phone number, or they'll suggest communicating away from WP on email.
When this happens, WP rules can't be applied and they can't be reported as easily.

A groomer may get upset if you talk to other people or if you question them. You might feel gaslit. They may even use your private disclosures as a way of blackmailing you, so you won't notify the mods and report what's going on.

"Lovebombing" can be the first stage of grooming or may occur on its own. The process of building up trust can be gradual, and may involve the groomer offering favours or gifts or making promises. This escalates into trying to isolate you from friends and family, and asking you to do things for them such as send sexual messages. While this often imitates romantic love, it might instead resemble a particularly close friendship.

Romantic love-bombers might also gain members' trust by the use of excessive flirting. They might make references to books, movies, music, poetry, etc., which make the friendship seem romantic. They might claim to love your intelligence, your wit, your style, your voice, and everything about you.
Feelings may become reciprocal, but it's all "over-the-top".

They may tell you they love you very early in the friendship, or to an excessive amount. They may act like you are the first and only person they've loved, even if they're married. They might insult their real-life spouse or partner to show they love you best. They may make false promises about wanting to be with you in the future.

The romance might become sexual when the person wants to "comfort" you. It usually happens slowly, so a hug turns to a kiss and continues to make-believe intimacy, or intimacy via the phone and email.

If a new friend starts to try to turn you against other friends, or requests that you send them money, meet in real life, or do sexual things for them, then this is a major warning sign. Please report these interactions and be wary of the possibility of grooming. A true friend would support you establishing healthy boundaries.

As a final note, this post has been drafted with adult grooming in mind. It is even more important for young people to be vigilant about "friendly" approaches made by adults online, and for adults to set proper boundaries when dealing with young people.

Spam and scams

Spam is a message intended solely to advertise a product or service. This is usually mostly annoying. Please report and delete - do not reply to them.

Scams are more complex, and one form, the "romance scam", is very similar to "romance grooming" (although tends to be cruder and more direct). Scammers intend to use deception to separate you from your money. Messages beginning along the lines of "hi dear, I noticed your profile..." are romance scams. Romance scams are the most common on WrongPlanet. Do not meet people from the internet in person without supervision, and do not send money to people who you don't know in real life. For more information on scams, visit ScamWarners

What to do if you receive unacceptable messages?

Moderators can only act on PMs if they are reported. If the PM is very old and long-deleted, a screenshot will suffice as an alternative.

Firstly - it is completely up to you what you deem to be unacceptable. If a message makes you uncomfortable for any reason, moderators will ask the sender to desist.

In a first instance, it might be most effective for you to respond firmly saying “stop. I don’t like this. Please don’t do this again.” In this instance, we would also encourage you to report the PM. This helps moderators establish whether there is a pattern of behaviour. If someone is sending these manipulative or explicit messages to you, then they are probably sending them to other people as well. Maybe their message to you wasn’t so bad in isolation, but combined with messages sent to other people, it might warrant further attention.

If you do not feel able to give a firm response, or this does not work, we would very much encourage you to please report the PM. Moderators can step in if you would like. As far as possible, when speaking to offenders, we will not identify who has reported them. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, we may take action ranging from a warning to a permanent ban.

If your inappropriate message is from a moderator and you do not feel comfortable reporting it the traditional way, please reach out to a different moderator or moderators. As administrator, Cornflake holds responsibility over the other moderators. In the event that your issue is with Cornflake, please approach another moderator, who if necessary will approach Alex.

Above all, please remember that this is not your fault. Anyone is at risk of this happening to them. Predatory users have been known to target 1) those users who identify or present as feminine, and 2) those users who are at risk due to circumstances such as social isolation, additional disabilities, or a history of trauma or abuse. That said, anyone could receive such a message. It should go without saying that WrongPlanet strives to be a place where anyone can post, regardless of gender or vulnerabilities. It is always the perpetrator of abuse who is responsible, not the victim.

Additional Resources

Campaign Against Adult Grooming
Ann Craft Trust - Signs of Grooming in Adults
Catch the Catfish - Adult Grooming (focused on romantic "lovebombing" grooming)

Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 27 Jan 2010
Age: 28
Gender: Male
Posts: 8,752
Location: London

16 Jul 2023, 2:30 pm

If you have any further questions relating to any of the topics raised in this post, please send a PM to a moderator such as myself and we will do our best to answer them. Some information will need to remain confidential in order to protect victims.