2020 Update on Forum Moderation
The Staff and Moderators of the forum want to thank everyone for their continued participation. Last year’s transition to the Discourse platform has made moderation streamlined and effective in ways that may not be apparent publicly. We depend on all of you to make us aware of any problems or concerns via Private Messages, or the post-flagging mechanism when necessary.
We would also like to reiterate that our goal is to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. Our community has been remarkably well-behaved in most respects and severe disciplinary actions are rare.
That said, we realize when those rare incidents do occur, we need to do more to protect our community from those who might seek to harass others or cause trouble.
This is not a major change of our normal moderation policies, but rather an adjustment of how we initially triage to curtail poor behavior while a response is coordinated between five volunteer Staff members in different time zones.
This is how our initial responses to moderation incidents will change in the future:
When abusive or harassing behavior occurs and is brought to our attention via flags or private messages (or if we notice it in passing) we reserve the right to immediately and summarily silence offenders temporarily while the situation is reviewed and any further action necessary is discussed behind the scenes. On Discourse “silencing” means that a user is not allowed to post or reply publicly, but they can still log in and read the forums as normal. They can still reply to private messages so we can discuss their behavior with them as a moderation attempt. In most cases, this will be a temporary measure. This cool down period of silence and private moderation of the user’s behavior may be all that is necessary to correct the issue. Longer silencing or suspension may be warranted based on the severity of the situation. The reason for this is we do not want to allow offenders to continue abusive behavior while we catch up and coordinate our response and potential actions in private. Temporary user silencing will only occur in cases of harassment or abuse, or if an offender continues a behavior after being explicitly asked to stop by Moderators or other participants.
Incidents involving abuse in Private Messages will be moderated privately among involved participants, and may require temporary suspension if an offender refuses to stop their behaviors as deemed necessary by Staff. This is not a change; these modifications are intended to prioritize ending public abuse on the forum more quickly.
Topics may be temporarily locked or hidden if they contain abusive content that is being moderated. Any discussion that devolves into harassment or abuse will be stopped immediately until the situation is sorted out. This is to curtail continued abuse while a response is coordinated. This is not intended as a restriction of free speech, nor an attempt to censor discussion. Our intention is to immediately stop abuse, deal with any disciplinary action, then as necessary we can restore or unlock threads with legitimate content and discussion again. Please do not re-post locked or hidden content. Reposting content that has been already removed or locked by a moderator is grounds for silencing or further disciplinary action–if we remove content, there is a reason for that. Please private message @moderators with questions instead of immediately reposting removed content. In most cases, we will restore or unlock content once the situation has been resolved.
Staff reserves the right to groom topics or edit individual messages to remove abusive or inflammatory content. We never intend to prevent discussion, but we will not foster and condone material that is abusive or harassing to anyone by leaving it in place. When a post is edited, moderators will always note that we did so, and non-abusive but potentially inflammatory content may be hidden behind a spoiler blur or a details fold so people can choose for themselves whether to read it or not.
While we cannot directly moderate off-site misbehavior, we take online harassment very seriously. Any verifiable off-site harassment of any IF Community member reported to us is grounds for formal warnings to an offender here and possible limitation of forum posting privileges. These warnings are taken into account for on-site moderation purposes. Documented warnings for any User will hasten disciplinary action for on-site harassment–if we have warned someone about abuse previously, we won’t need to subsequently warn them again before enacting more serious disciplinary actions, up to and including temporary or permanent suspension.