This is just a very detailed description of the rules regarding signatures in the forums.
Why are there sig rules?
Over the years, these forums have undergone countless changes and a steady evolution to what they've become today. As time goes by, every now and then a new issue will come up and subsequently be resolved as best as reasonably possible. One of these was the issue of signature sizes.
The problem arose with people using obscenely large or tasteless graphics for their sigs which could make a thread virtually illegible. When you spend more time scrolling past giant sigs than you do reading peoples comments things it takes away from the value of the site and just makes everything seem unorganized and useless.
The first solution to this was to simply ask everyone to keep their sigs within a “reasonable” size of their own accord. This seemed to work ok until certain members decided that they didn't like to be told what to do and continued to ignore the guidelines.
The next step was to begin issuing warnings to people whose sigs were thought to be out of line with what was "reasonable" and then to subsequently issue bans if they didn't change them. This ultimately led to accusations that the moderators were singling people out and picking on them while letting other “favoured” members get away with sigs which could also be considered unreasonable.
This ultimately led to the present situation in which there are strictly defined sig size limits and they are enforced with zero tolerance. If your sig is out of spec, you will be banned without warning. Your only explanation is a link to the post on sig rules or, in the future, to this page.
So what exactly are the rules?
The rules state that your sig must fit within a 600x200 pixel boundary including all text, graphics, and white space. They must not contain any inappropriate content and shouldn't contain content over 100Kb in size. Under 50Kb is appreciated.
This graphic is an example of exactly 600x200 pixels.
It is important to remember that the size limits everything. Not just your graphics. It stands to reason that if you're using a 600x200 sized graphic then you cannot have anything else. Even if that graphic is linking to something and there is a tiny border around it to indicate the link, that is out of spec and you will be banned.
So how big is text?
Since the size of text changes depending on a persons resolution and font sizes, it became necessary to strictly define exactly how much room text takes up. These rules only goven unmodified text in the forums so if you've added code to change the size or font then it is up to you to ensure that it remains within spec.
How are the sigs measured?
It's easy to tell how big a graphic is but when you start adding text and start playing with the fonts, things can look very different on different peoples screens. At the end of the day, it's the moderators decision that is final and this is how I measure them when I'm unsure. Pressing the "Print Screen" keep will capture an image of the screen. After doing that, I load up PhotoShop and paste that image into a new graphic. I then mark and crop the sig, trimming off every last pixel I can without losing anything. If the resulting graphic is greater than 600 px wide or 200 px tall then the person gets banned. This method is very rarely necessary though as most sigs that are beyond the limits are quite obvious.
What about file sizes?
It is recommended that the sum of all the file sizes being used be less than 100Kb. It's appreciated when it is kept under 50Kb. As much as it may be fun to have a little movie in your sig, it slows down some computers and just adds to the time it takes for the screens to load. Sigs over 200Kb may warrant a ban.
What about the content?
This is up to the discretion of the moderators but suffice it to say that this is an all-ages site and no inappropriate content will be tolerated. A rule of thumb is that if you don't think it would be appropriate to display in a professional office, it probably won't be allowed. Many of the members occasionally check the site from work and there's no reason that this forum should have content that could jeopardize a persons job.
Advertising and Businesses
Advertising by non-business level members is STRICTLY PROHIBITED.
Business members are those that are identified separately from 'members' and 'premium members' and are clearly labeled in their profile. Prohibited advertising includes forum posts and text/graphics/links in the signature area of posts.
For what it's worth, here's my thoughts on sigs. I find them to be an invaluable tool used to identify different members at a glance and easily recognize who posted without having to pay too close attention to the actual username in text. With that said, I personally find that the 600x200 limit is extremely generous and, thus, there's absolutely no reason anyone needs to go beyond that. The sig isn't your personal billboard to sell stuff or advertise other sites. It's simply there to identify you. If you take your time and design something unique, it will serve it's purpose well and nobody will ever mistake you for someone else. If you change it every couple weeks and just try to find the sexiest girl to put in it, nobody will ever recognize you and you will forever remain part of the anonymous masses.