On policies and board moderations

(Old Admin) #1

Regarding the topic of board polices and moderation –

I agree with Peter: I saw nothing racist in the post. Emilian, that’s not the first time you’ve brought up racism where none is evident. In regards to that, and in regards to what you see as threats against CYOA, you seem intent on setting yourself up as a victim, even going out of your way to put yourself under the proverbial cart.

As for re-posting the very post I deleted, that’s something that on some boards is expressly against policy and can even get you banned (eBay comes to mind). I was inclined to let the original stand until there were complaints, and so I’m inclined to let the re-post stand (as Peter points out, it can serve as a cautionary tale). Here, it’s not expressly against policy since there have been no defined policies – yet. I will say, though, that common sense should suggest that if a post was actually deleted, re-posting it so that you can demonstrate that you were victimized seems unwise. As we move toward defining whatever polices are needed here, this may be something to consider.

Also, on reflection, I can see that implying “Aina Grey” was a troll must be what dragged me into the same outburst. The outburst itself, however, only serves to prove it.

As for deleting such posts, and as for policies and moderation, let’s discuss. I don’t see any one answer as fitting every scenario. Letting a post stand and locking the topic might be okay, depending on the topic and the post. But suppose one post intentionally spoils an otherwise productive thread? Locking the topic prevents further on-topic discussion, and letting the single post stand means it’s there in view of many who don’t want an anything-goes board.

One idea might be to move the post to a “rants and trolls” board, which would be excluded from the board-wide RSS feed but could be subscribed to individually, or viewed in the board list. Maybe the original post could be changed to link to that off-topic topic, so that a placeholder is still there in the flow of posts (i.e., a header saying “this post was against board policy, and has been moved. Click here to view it anyway.”)

Amazon.com’s message boards put this in the hands of the users, although phpBB doesn’t (to my knowledge) have functionality like that. the post remains – it just collapses as “x number of members don’t consider this post as contributing to the discussion.” It can be expanded, but otherwise does not show up in the flow of reading the topic. Something like that, if the board could be extended, might do the trick.

And that brings up another point – moderators. If this is going to become an ongoing problem, as I suspect it may, I certainly don’t want to be the only one making these decisions. Ideally, I wouldn’t make them at all. It’s been nice that so far that spam has been about the extent of the problem. But I think some users are out to prove a point, or push to test the boundaries, and as that continues, a board with no policies at all isn’t going to work if the idea is to promote safe and productive discussions.

One size won’t fit all, unfortunately, but I think it needs discussed. I do not want the policies to restrict heated discussions, disagreements, or in any way make posters feel that it’s a stifling environment. At the same time, posts like the one in question are not legitimate discussions, and are an aggressive way of trying to twist things into a stifling environment. And I do not want the board to degenerate into a mess of radical outbursts like the one I deleted, where the forum couldn’t even be recommended to friends, family, kids, or others without a taste for that kind of nonsense.

So let’s discuss!

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How to cope with racist issues in the forum?
(Peter Piers) #2

I’d replied to this in the previous thread, seconds after you’d posted there. :slight_smile: It’s just a little side-note and disclaimer, but here goes.

It’s better than deletion, certainly, but is it that bad to have locked threads in the board they were originally posted in? I understand that the existence of certain threads, with certain kinds of behaviour, may dampen many users’ enjoyment of the forum. But if they get to the end of the thread and see it has been neatly dealt with, they would surely be able to just gloss over the thread themselves?

Also, if you move locked topics - topics which started off well, but ended up in flames - you risk losing good, interesting posts. No one is going to want to read the “board of locked abusive threads”, after all.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece. I also realize that my standard for forum moderation is AGS, where users have seen it all and are happy to snark and laugh at, with sarcasm, irony and logic, any offender. In this forum, however, users may not be of that particular ilk, and may prefer indeed that certain kinds of behaviour be taken away cared of. So in the end, my advice has to do with a certain type of poster that may not be the type of poster we find here.

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(Old Admin) #3

No, I didn’t mean I’d move locked topics. I meant I’d move single posts within a topic, and maybe link that single post to the moved one. But I’ve come up with an even better way of accomplishing the same thing. With CSS (and you can see it in action using the “rant” and “spoiler” UBB codes), the topic or parts of a topic could be wrapped in a collapsed DIV, prefaced by a moderator or administrator comment. The entire original discussion flows as normal. The offense bit remains – it’s just collapsed except for those who want to go ahead and expand it – like Amazon’s method. The chief problem is it would take an administrator or moderator to add the markup to a given post, since I don’t think there’s a way for popular vote to flag posts in phpBB.

The bigger problem is just identifying what qualifies as an offensive post. No two people are likely to agree, evidenced by the complaints I got that Aina Grey’s outburst should be deleted contrasted against those who believe deletion was excessive. I don’t want this to be strictly my decision, and I don’t want the policy to be too restricted and stifling. At the same time, I don’t think anybody will benefit from a board that devolves into a troll-fest.

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#4

I think you should just pick moderators well, who are flexible, accommodating and reasonable, and then let them moderate as they see fit (you too Merk, as one of them.) If people can see the moderators are like that they’ll respect them, even if they might disagree with the occasional decision.

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#5

I don’t have necessarily any good ideas but I’d hate to see the forum turn into r.a.i-f as far as trolling goes. I stopped posting there long ago when sooner or later every discussion turned into a troll bringing the gas and otherwise sane people throwing the matches. So I’ll support any measures that prevent this from happening.

Was the latter group against deletion or did they actually think a “fuck you” in meta-200 pixel high font and a direct death threat is not offensive? I can’t believe anyone would think it would be ok, but I can see people not wanting any posts deleted (especially since in comparison no-one can delete Usenet posts once they’re sent.)

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(Peter Piers) #6

Sounds like a swell idea. The post is still there but marked negatively, unreadable by default but at the click of the mouse.

Of course, the question of “what qualifies” is perfectly valid. The solution might be as simple as: democracy doesn’t really work in these situations, so go forward with the dictatorship. Set up a moderator - or a group of moderators - in whom you trust to do a good job and leave it up to them. It’s not easy to put all control of such matters into a single person or groups of people, but neither is it good to try to please Greeks and Trojans.

But of course, if posters could “vote” for that, as you daydream about, it would be even better. :slight_smile:

In my case, and I think in most people’s case, I think it was extremely offensive, a personal attack, and way over the line and out of context. But it was there, it was said. If it’s removed, the author doesn’t have to take the consequences anymore, and I can’t be fine with that. Also, people might think they can say whatever they like, because if it gets them in trouble, it’ll be removed. I don’t like that. Finally, deleting information really goes against my grain, especially in forums, in which a curious sort of social interaction takes place - long conversations over long periods of time. I want to see every bit of that conversation, as long as I’m taking part of it. Even the bits I don’t like. After all, we’re talking about an extreme case now. Some other times, it isn’t that extreme, and it’s harder to see whether, for instance, someone is being racist, sarcastic, or just making some sort of point.

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#7

Honestly, I wish there was just more interesting discussion in general. I’d favor any decision that leads to that.

Trust your judgement in determining which posts are discussion and which are just verbal diarrhea. I think editing the post with some type of collapse-tag seems like a pretty good way to go about it. Then the post is still there if people wish to view it, so even if the decision to hide it was excessive in that particular case, the posters words haven’t really been lost.

If it becomes too burdensome, ban the constant offenders or appoint more moderators. I would hope it would be a rare situation anyway.

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#8

I think the problem with a voting mechanism is up/down votes start to translate into “I agree/disagree with this post.”

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(Peter Piers) #9

Very true. So much for democracy.

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#10

Anything that has nothoing to do with IF should be deleted. Period. If someone posts something, anything, that’s personal in nature…delete it.

Topics that are a clear provication should just be deleted.

If people want to rant, send them to usenet.

David C.

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(Peter Piers) #11

Well, that’s an example of a position I find extremist and stifling. Of course it goes without saying that IF is the major force and motivator behind this forum and every post, but to go as far as to remove what’s not IF-related… again, what about the grey areas, such as discussion of music? What if there’s a discussion of the relevance of music in IF that somehow turns into a discussion on whether Glenn Gould was a genius or a prevaricator? Should that be deleted?

Also, even things that are personal in nature… well, forums are a community, are about people, right?

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#12

Point taken.

I guess personal attacks and general trolling are what I mean. Obviously if we stray into topics in a respectful manner, that should be allowed and encouraged.

This stuff with Retro and Ain Grey seems like a staged battle to me. The entire thing smells like an attempt to disrupt the forums the same way that usenet is disrupted.

David C.

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#13

I favor hiding over deletion, and in lieu of hiding, moving the offensive post to a sub-forum out of the RSS feed. But more importantly, the forum members need to tell whoever posted the thing to calm down, take a breath, and that what they did isn’t tolerated. I don’t think it’s useful or healthy to bury history.

Repeat offenders, as with outright spammers, should be banned. Sure, they can always come back, and it’s a poor use of time to keep banning them. But telling someone over and over not to do something isn’t very productive either.

I don’t agree that ‘personal’ topics and non-IF topics should be deleted. IMO a successful forum community will talk about more than just IF (as David clarified), and it’s something we should look ahead to.

As for board policies, I’m OK with a basic, ‘no personal attacks or offensive posts, at the discretion of the moderators you will be banned’, but I don’t think a detailed enumeration of all that’s unacceptable in 6 point font is really needed.

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(matt w) #14

I like the idea of hiding the offensive posts with a collapse tag (and probably a brief explanation that it was hidden by the moderator). And I think a trusted group of moderators is the only solution; any attempt at a hard-and-fast rule could easily be exploited/circumvented/actually stepped on. For instance, there’s a certain raif troll (or trolls, as he insists) who’s kind of a genius at working nasty personal attacks into posts that at least present themselves as on-topic IF criticism. It’s a judgment call as to when that sort of thing crosses the line.

In other words, Merk, I’ve just assigned you a lot of homework. Sorry. :smiley: But I think something like that is going to be necessary as the forum gets livelier.

Dave C., for what it’s worth, I’m almost certain that the Grey/Retro throwdown wasn’t staged; Grey (as “JC Denton”) had just been asking about programming CYOAs in Inform 7, and Retro has his own CYOA system.

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#15

What makes me sad is these kinda issues issues (both here and on Usenet) seem to generate a disproportionate amount of discussion compared to actual IF theory.

Please note that I’m not trying to say we should avoid discussing this, but I wish we could focus on more positive questions like “How do we promote more interesting discussions?” instead of “How do we deal with trolls/attacks/etc?”

I don’t have an answer to this; I wish I did.

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#16

May 11th 2010 was an inside job. :wink:

“The conspiracy theorists are gonna go wild now!” —>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPh7sUvhZ3E

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(Jesse McGrew) #17

I would rather not see non-spam posts deleted, simply because it makes the thread confusing to read and destroys the history (in case we ever want to refer back and see who was flaming whom on what date). Edit them to delete the offensive content if you must, but I’d at least like to see something like “[This post was removed by a moderator]” left in its place.

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#18

To a large extent, the answer is “start some” – ideally, ones grounded in specific experiences. Many of the most interesting theory and craft discussions I recall over the years started with someone saying, “I played X and I really liked how it accomplished Y; how do we do that in more games?” or “how do we go further and refine that idea?” (Or: I didn’t care for Y, how might we do better?) Or, again: I’m working on a project and here are the issues I’m running into with the pacing, the implementation, the plot, the PC characterization… whatever.

These sorts of discussions encourage people to jump in and share their own takes, and if they’re framed in a positive and specific way (rather than “here is why all existing IF sucks” or “here is how the community is SO BLIND” or whatever) they tend to produce less defensiveness and more interesting speculation.

Extra bonus points if you throw in a prototype for any really radical ideas you’re proposing. But that’s not obligatory.

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#19

I’l like to see this remain a relatively relaxed forum, which is a bit of a balancing act. Too little moderation and trolls will disrupt the conversation, too much and the rules disrupt the conversation. I also think I’d prefer there not to be explicit rules that people can lawyer, and more of a common sense “try to be nice” policy.

I think deleting posts can definitely be justified - if someone posts a bullying, humiliating comment directed at someone else, then it’s that someone else who suffers when the comment remains. Leaving the comment behind, even collapsed, is enabling the bully. On the other hand, I think deleting the post in question was also kind of irresponsible. Don’t potential entrants to that competition deserve to be able to read it?

Probably because any specific IF issue will only be of interest to certain groups of people, while everyone on the forum is, naturally, interested in the forum itself.

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(Ron Newcomb) #20

I’m perfectly fine with mods silently deleting posts. My life is too short. If the mods feel there is something useful in the deleted post, they can privately message the post back to the poster for cleanup. I’ve seen a few instances where a mod simply did a [a paragraph was deleted by mod] and I’m fine with that, too. Whatever tool the mod feels is appropriate. I don’t believe voting would work because the board doesn’t yet have enough members; voting works because it’s an average, but with too few datapoints, a Troll Cabal could break it.

In contrast to Jesse & Peter, I have no interest in the history of flames or one’s democratic right to be an asshat. Some “knowledge” isn’t. Life is short.

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