Help write the forum rules


  • Pierre said:
    The minute somebody starts their sentence with "so what you are actually saying" they're putting words in my mouth... or as they'd said themselves... rejecting my reality and replacing it with their own... but whatever.
    This thread is about forum rules, not you. Well done on trying to make yourself out to be a victim, but that's not useful. If I had said "what you're actually saying to me is" would that have made it easier to understand why the objectivity criteria makes no sense? But please, I'd love to see examples of objective moderation in communities and forums that doesn't lead to the collapse of meaningful discussion. I'll wait :)
    Pierre said:
    Of course admission and participation in the forum is unrelated to membership fees, but with that being the case, doesn't it make sense that committee membership also remain unrelated to forum moderation.
    Nobody is arguing that all committee members should be moderators. That's just what was done in the past as a stopgap measure. Nitrogen, for instance, has administrator rights so that he can keep being awesome and make the forum look good with his themes. That doesn't mean that he's a moderator.
    Pierre said:
    Objective moderation is a common thought and the implied connotation to gamergate is irrelevant.
    I don't understand what "common thought" means. Also, maybe the feedback that you sound like a gamergater is useful in helping you not sound like that in the future? It's hardly irrelevant when talking about "objectivity" and "bias" on the internet at the moment, GG has done much to obfuscate the meanings of those two terms, as @garethf points out above your post.
  • dammit said:
    My thoughts on the moderator objectivity issue. Moderators are here to enforce the rules of the forum/community. This forum/community is represented by the committee - therefore those two roles (committee and moderator) are held tightly together. The committee should have the authority to set the rules that are enforced by moderators while moderators have the right to represent the community and question those rules. And the community has right to question those rules. This is why we get to nominate and vote for our committee - the individuals we believe have our community's best interests at heart and can make the best decisions. Not necessarily the decisions loved by all.
    This is the hard part of running a forum. Right now, the goals of this forum are poorly defined, which makes the rules hard to establish... Ideally, rules flow directly from and support goals. That way it's easy to judge a rule's use in a situation as effective/warranted.

    Running a forum is not something that happens from the same perspective as posting on that forum. Many people without experience of moderating a growing and changing place of discussion are only caught up in what their individual posts and contexts may be, that's not relevant once time starts being factored into the equation - both as a history of previous posts and as a grounding for all future posts that might exist in a space. Having a set of goals to aim for with a forum like this one is extremely helpful when it comes to making decisions, that's why I'm approaching the rules from that angle at the moment.

    Yes, I'm taking the draft rules into account from this thread. Hopefully I can have something concrete for people to get upset about soon :)
    Thanked by 1dammit
  • I've suggested a voting system for serious moderations.

    "Serious moderation events - banning of users and closing of forum topics should be driven by a process of voting between all forum moderators to ensure a consistent level of moderation and that no moderator acts outside the interests of the group as a whole."

    I think this is a necessary point because people have very diverse and subjective views as to what should be banned and what should be removed from this forum. By putting these cases to a vote you get the best option for a fair judgement without leaving the decision in the hands of a single moderator.

    This is the way moderation is handled by places like Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, OkCupid, etc.
  • @Nitrogen The problem with voting is that, depending on how contentious the issue is, you could polarize and fragment the entire community. Small problems will suddenly become big problems, and big problems will wreck things they weren't even relevant to in the first place.

    Instead you can draw a brightline policy, for instance: If the latest 10% posts to a topic are not contributing meaningfully to the original subject in that topic, and 1-2 attempts by a moderator to keep the conversation on-topic has failed, then the thread has derailed and will be locked.

    And: If a user has publicly demonstrated prohibited behavior (defined in terms of the rules, things like spamming, flaming, etc) and 2-3 attempts by a moderator have not resulted in a behavior change, then in line with the rules that the user themselves originally agreed to, an escalating ban is applied for repeat infractions.
  • In terms of separation of responsibility, with the points and counterpoints raised by @Pierre and @dislekcia, there's again a few simple policies that can be applied - not perfect, but enough to stave off most accusations. Things like:

    A moderation action cannot be taken by a moderator, in a thread the moderator is posting in. Any percentage of personal stake in a discussion is potential grounds for being biased towards an action. There will always be neutral moderators who are not involved, and who can be called in. Same thing exists in police forces, where a policeman has to defer an incident to a fellow officer if the policeman himself is connected (family, friends, etc).

    Moderators cannot use their moderation authority to impose or enforce their views in any way - even if they believe their views are aligned with the goals of the forum. For example, a moderator locking a thread where Manhunt is being discussed, on the grounds that it "perpetuates violence" even though 90% of the discussion was technical content, and almost nothing was about the game's tone or ethics. Doing this amounts to censorship, and even "censorship for the right reasons" is still censorship. This is a very fine line to draw, especially with people that recklessly infer intent where there is none.

    Moderators should not be involved in trying to tame disputes, or put out fires. If a moderator is trying to "fix" or "improve" or "show the light" to someone they believe is not "capable" or "equipped" to have a particular discussion, you don't want that person as a moderator. Moderators are here to enforce rules, not to apply their own subjective worldviews to the members of the forum, even if those worldviews align 100% with the community goals and ethics. That's what community volunteers and the forum membership itself is for.
    Thanked by 2Pierre Nitrogen
  • Okay, so there's been a little bit of tension on the forums lately.

    Can I make a suggestion? Please can we treat each individual's post as though there is no history attached to it? This would mean that you have to let go of assumptions about another person's intentions or personality.

    For example, although previously I've had some dealings with individuals posting content I believe is offensive, I treat each post in isolation which allows me to be a bit more open to interpreting tone etc.
  • What @dammit said x100. Assuming otherwise is effectively saying that someone cannot change, or that they should receive some appropriate punishment for past actions. The only appropriate punishment on forums should be immediate moderation action such as bans or such, not extended "feuds."
  • The only appropriate punishment on forums should be immediate moderation action such as bans or such, not extended "feuds."
    This is a fine concept in theory, but falls short in practice. The entire reason that trolling exists is because it's possible to behave in ways that are not immediately sanctionable by even the best-prepared set of rules. There are also often misunderstandings about what is constructive or the social loading within a thread, instantly jumping to rules in these cases simply isn't possible.

    Some sort of "intervention" is often effective in these situations. The exact style and type of intervention can differ hugely, but humorous approaches from moderators tend to be more successful as they defuse tension automatically. Provided, of course, that the humor lands well. Don't disregard interventions and course corrections as tools within a moderator's shed.

    P.S. Does @dammit's sentiment relate to posts by mods as well, or are we damned to be constantly evaluated against every minute particle of offense ever taken?
  • edited
    What I would also like to add is that perhaps if people are unsure about someone's post that we respect the publicity of our forums and threads and perhaps DM them instead to have that discussion. I would not encourage the current culture of *subtweeting* (although I'd readily admit to having been part of that myself in the past) instead of simply engaging with the other person in private discourse.

    *where possible
    Thanked by 3Kalekin dislekcia Tuism
  • @dislekcia: Totally true. I should probably have expanded the "... or such" part. What I meant was: any sort of intervention should take place soon after, and in direct response to, the undesirable activity. That definitely doesn't have to be bans or locking a thread.

    I'm not sure I follow your PS.
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