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Author Topic: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.  (Read 4211 times)

Hades_Kane

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Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« on: February 22, 2018, 6:36 PM »
Just going to focus conversation into a new thread...

This one is basically split from here:

http://www.mudconnect.com/SMF/index.php?topic=81173.0

To copy and paste the jumping off point...


1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity

2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree

3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community

4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community

5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users

6) Should a vague "being toxic" be added into the posting policy as being against the rules

7) Should any additional rules be added to the posting policy
-Diablos
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2018, 6:36 PM »
I'll start giving my opinions as a user and poster of the site.  Mod hat is off for this one...

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1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity
No.  I've been a part of communities (including this one) where such an environment was present, and it led to very dry, sterile discussion and conversation, with users afraid to really express too much in the way of opinions else someone be offended and report, or be accused of trying to bait.  Conversations that aren't allowed to get heated have no life, and there's a lot of substance that never comes to fruition as a result

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2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree
No, heavy handed moderation stifles conversation, which harms the community, especially one that is having trouble staying active.

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3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community
No.  Whenever judgement calls start factoring heavily into moderation decisions, that creates a lack of clear expectation and consistency, and true or not, opens up the perception, accusations, and drama of favortism, power tripping, and forum Nazism.

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4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community
No, if someone isn't breaking the rules then they should not suffer admin-level punitive actions.  If they are taking actions that are harmful toward the community, making those actions against the rules should be considered first, to give both a clear expectation of how members of the community should behave and to give the "offender" a chance to amend their behavior and avoid needing to be punished (either through "oh crap, my bad, I didn't realize..." or even if its just for fear of being moderated).

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5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users
No.  Too much wiggle room also opens up a perception and accusations of favortism, power tripping, and forum Nazism.  I've seen way too much drama in various communities where someone is punished for maybe, kinda sorta, but not really violating a rule.  That's the last thing TMC needs.

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6) Should a vague "being toxic" be added into the posting policy as being against the rules
No.  What you think is toxic may not be what I think is toxic.  Vague, completely objective terms and opinions like that aren't helpful, especially when such a small group of people would be making that decision.  Case in point, several people are calling for Ateraan to be banned because they think he is toxic to the community, yet I disagree with that.  I've seen calls in the last 2 weeks alone in seperate instances for Drizzt, Jodah, Darkoz, Teyrel, Epilogy, and Ateraan all to be banned because they aren't good for the community.  In the past I've seen large scale calls for posters like Cratylus and Tyche to be banned for what is essentially being toxic, while several others (myself included) felt different.  Some of the users that have called for bans of other users here very recently I personally find to be toxic and the community would be better off without.  See how messy this is?  I don't want a community where that's how it works.

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7) Should any additional rules be added to the posting policy
No.  I think it covers what it needs to and has all of the tools necessary for mods to do an effective job.
-Diablos
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2018, 6:37 PM »
Drizzt's response:



1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity

First sign, not necessarily, but...

2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree

Yes. Right now it doesn't feel like there's mild moderation, it feels like there is no moderation. I'd have banned multiple people this month. I'm not sure who exactly, I'd have to go back and look at posts in chronological order to be able to reasonably say who. There's been at least 5 people who have posted things I'd have banned them for. They might not all have been banned though because some of them were probably responding to people who would have already been banned. ie. Banning person A would have pre-emptively made the post responding to Person A that I'd have considered banworthy never exist.

3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community.

Guidelines are just that, they're not set in stone. I don't think for a moment the mods should be going, "Dammit, this guy is bad for the site, but since he doesn't break any of the rules we should let him keep tarnishing the sites usability.".

4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community

I don't understand how this differs from 3. Mods already have all the authority they'd ever need though unless they do something which triggers Icculus to step in. Not exercising power doesn't mean they lack it.

5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users

Rules should always be as specific as possible. The goal is transparancy, but even when that is the goal it doesn't mean that people can't be banned for not breaking the rules. This is standard practice on virtually any forum. Examples:

http://www.pathofexile.com/legal/terms-of-use-and-privacy-policy

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(e) Grinding Gear Games reserves the right without notice, explanation or liability to:

    (i) restrict or remove your ability to make Posts;

    (ii) disallow the posting of any specific Posts;

    (iii) edit any specific Posts; and

    (iv) completely remove any Posts from the Website or anywhere else related to the Materials and Services (including as part of the POE gameplay) where they appear or are stored; and

(f) You agree to indemnify Grinding Gear Games on demand for any loss or costs of whatever nature suffered by Grinding Gear Games whether direct or consequential as a result of any breach by you of clauses 9(a)-9(c).

https://forum.tribalwars.net/index.php?threads/forum-rules.278318/

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We regret that we cannot outline every single action that is legal or illegal on the forums in this set of Rules, but we hope that you as the users of this forum can understand that due to the fact that there are an endless number of situations which might arise, in order to keep these rules as concise and understandable as possible we have left out variations and specific sub-cases of some of the above rules in attempt to keep the length of the Rules down.


You claim you couldn't participate in a site with such a rule. I think you're not only exaggerating, but that you already do so and don't notice due to how rarely it actually gets used.
-Diablos
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Tavilyn

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2018, 7:01 PM »
Okay, I'll weigh in here. I'll address a few points, not every question in specific.

First, there is a huge, huge spread between no moderation and heavy-handed moderation. As such, I don't think that something need be shut down at the very first sign of hostility, but nor do I think hostility, particularly if repeated by the same user, should be tolerated. Reputation matters. If you establish yourself as a jerk, then eventually when you spout jerkish behaviour, you should be called on it.

"Toxic" is a loose definition, I will agree with you, and this is why there is more than one administrator to deal with any given website. For one person to make these judgment calls would be a big ask, and might seem draconian or too light-handed, depending on your perspective of course. On the other hand, having multiple people decide that someone is toxic, or is harming the community more than is tolerable, is an indication that it's not just a grudge that's caused this to occur. I do think community opinion should count for at least a little bit here, though it shouldn't be the final word, as we'd end up with a voting-off-the-island scenario, and while that can work in some places, I don't think it would work here.

I do think that there should be a community failure clause written into the rules to explain this idea of prolonged negative community experience. One example of bad behaviour of this kind should absolutely not land you a ban, but a long-standing issue, or combination of issues, should warrant consideration. If not, what you have is people who know they can get little slaps on the wrist now and then, or dodge entirely, and so they continue to do what they do and promote their own interests at the expense of the community at large. To me, that just about defines toxic behaviour in some fashion.

I think it is very important to characterize these suggestions properly. I, for one, am not advocating for a heavy-handed approach which would see dozens of bans levied at the drop of a hat, or intellectual discussion stifled at the first whiff of hostility. I am also not particularly pleased by the idea that a community failure clause somehow engenders a form of dictatorship. What we're discussing here is a letter vs. spirit of the law issue.
If someone is a nuisance and sometimes causes trouble for the community, and doesn't really give back to it, are there grounds to potentially remove that user even if there is no specific rule saying so? Me, I'd say yes, at least eventually.
If all you wield is the letter of the law, you will be hamstrung again and again by people who know how not to break the letter of the law. They will, instead, erode the spirit of the law and get away with it.

I would rather see admins have a bit more power and not need to use it than purport to have no power and claim, as a result, that they are powerless to stop things from continuing.

Thraxian

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2018, 9:14 PM »
Two things I'd like to briefly address and give my two cents on:

1. The difference between a moderator and an administrator.
2. The actions that moderators can take.

Of course, if you've scrolled ahead, you've seen that I'm anything but brief...

My natural tendency is to look things up when they seem unclear to me.  Here's some definitions I've found:

moderate (verb):
1. make or become less extreme, intense, rigorous, or violent.
2. (in academic and ecclesiastical contexts) preside over (a deliberative body) or at (a debate).

administer (verb):
1. manage and be responsible for the running of (a business, organization, etc.).
2. dispense or apply (a remedy or drug).

Based on these definitions, I would propose that the primary purpose of a moderator is not to dole out punishment, but rather is to work to reduce and/or limit the hostility that often occurs when arguments and dissension arise.  Administrators, on the other hand, would be responsible for dispensing judgement.  I'm not sure if forum moderators at TMC are expected to fulfill both of these roles simultaneously, or if that is even a sustainable idea.

Take a look again at the questions posed by Hades_Kane in the OP - specifically look at some of the verbs (both active and implied) that were used: shutting down, enforce, [take] punitive actions, [make] judgement, ban, lock, remove.  These are all actions I would deem appropriate to the role of a forum administrator; none of these words deal with the act of moderating (i.e. lessening the intensity of) discussions.  I'm certainly not intending to attack Hades_Kane in pointing this out.  I have seen some EXCELLENT use of moderation recently through the splitting of threads, suggestions to move things to PM, etc.  that are very much an important and valued part of moderation. 

So what power should a moderator be permitted and/or encouraged to wield?  In some cases, I believe the occasional use of temporary bans and locks are justified.  A glance through Robert's Rules of Order reveals terms like adjourn, recess, table, postpone, amend - all of which are GREAT moderation steps. 

If a discussion starts to get spammy or out-of-hand, imposing a short recess in the discussion (2-4 hours) can be very effective. It gives participants a chance to:
1. cool down
2. formulate a counter-argument
3. read (or re-read) the previous posts
4. revise that counter-argument based on what was discovered while reading the backlog

To automatically reach for the ban-hammer or start thinking about how to otherwise punish users seems a bit extreme.  To revisit the OP, one of the other verbs used was policing.  This word can have a negative connotation to it, but I do believe it is the best word for a moderator.  Police are not responsible for the prosecution of a suspected criminal; police are responsible for the safety of that individual and others in the vicinity.  They work to maintain the peace.  Forceful action (drawing a gun, use of handcuffs, disarming, etc) is only done if reasoning and negotation fail, or if there is an immediate threat present.  Even then, the handcuffs come off, the gun is holstered, and the person's belongings are returned in a reasonable time period.  Taken in that context, I would propose that the policing of forum threads is definitely within the expectations of the duties of a moderator.  If necessary, temporarily disarm participants (remove their posting ability) to maintain the peace, but not without presenting a warning first.  Whether moderation tools currently exist to provide this type of action is beyond my knowledge.

I do not envy the task facing moderators at TMC, but I do have great respect for them and the commitment they make to ensure TMC remains a welcome place for discussion, discovery, and sharing of ideas.  As stated earlier, whether moderators are expected to both moderate and administrate the forums, I do not know.  With the recent "clean slate" initiative, now is definitely the time to develop (or enforce) a protocol for dealing with issues to ensure that everyone is treated with fairness, both those being accused of causing disruption as well as those on the receiving end.  Provide warnings, allow time for cooling off, and promote the discussion of new ideas to assist in maintaing a positive atmosphere in the forums. 

Drizzt1216

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2018, 9:37 PM »
I think the distinction between administrators and moderators is more of a concern on larger forums personally.

Examples:

tbaMUD forums, we have 6 people with administrator privileges, almost none of us ever need to use them, the community generally behaves wonderfully, all we really have to do frequently is authorize posts made by new users because they sometimes get flagged as potential spambots and their posts won't show up till authorized.

Tribalwars:

When I worked on the forums there they had forum mods, elder moderators, and a forum admin.

The forum moderators modded only specific assigned forums, and they could hand out infractions for pre-determined actions. Each type of violation carried its own penalty (ie. off-topic was 1 point, profanity 2, insulting another member was 3). Points had expirations, and you got automatically banned if you had more than a set amount of points active at once. Moderators were only allowed to hand out actual bans for people that were clearly requiring one, ie. posting porn.

Elder Moderators oversaw larger sub-portions of the overall forums, one elder moderator would typically oversee ~5 moderators. Any concerns with actions made by a moderator were to be taken up with the Elder Mod that oversaw them. Similarly, if a forum mod felt someone was deserving of a more custom-tailored punishment, they brought it up to their elder mod as elder mods had the ability to ban people outright for however long they saw fit to. They could also overturn infractions made by the regular moderators under them.

Lastly there was a forum admin, they could mod any forum, they were responsible for hiring and firing mods and deciding which mods became elder mods. They were also the person to contact if you had a problem with something an elder mod did, or if you weren't satisfied with the response you got from an elder mod when speaking to them about something a normal mod had done. They were also responsible for creating/modifying the rules for the forum.

That setup worked well for TribalWars, but I think here it'd be rather overkill.

TMC forums have 105,597 posts on them, the version of TribalWars forums I worked on has 399,407 posts on its forums.

Tribalwars also had a much younger audience, and because it was a competitive game where people flamed each other when competing with them on a regular basis it required far, far, more moderation than TMC does.

I think ranks/hierarchy are fairly important on a truly large site, but are much less essential on a site where a handful of people can reasonably run a site together as equals.

Mechaterror

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2018, 12:22 AM »
1. Remove spam
2. Remove jurisdictionally illegal material
3. ? ? ? ?
4. Profit

As long as users aren't doing crazy sh** like physically threatening each other, who cares if they're flaming.  At least they're using the forums.

Tijer

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2018, 9:06 AM »
I have posted this on the community moderators board, but i will post this here as well.

I believe we need to work on the amount of people cross promoting their muds over all boards.

I suggested in one of the threads, cant remember which one now, that promotions stay on the promotions forum, and that if someone wishes to suggest their mud to another player they either post a link to the promotion, or a link to their mud listing.  This will help to cut down the amount of spam. The rulings on what can be posted in the promotional threads do need work.

I am not one for locking threads or banning people, i like to see discussion come to its own end.  As you have seen the way i moderate is by trying to get people get back onto subject.

--Tijer
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Molly

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2018, 11:30 AM »
I suppose it doesn't come as a big surprise to anyone that I am no big fan of heavy moderation.
I made that clear to Icculus the first time he asked me to join the moderator team, but he said that he wanted me anyhow.
I'm still not sure why, but possibly he meant it as some kind of counterweight. I'm also not sure why I accepted, (probably it was mostly because I was flattered by him even asking).
I was generally opposed to the heavy moderation of the old team, but also in total minority, until HadesKane joined the team.

Since HK became part of the moderator team, things have been much easier for me, because we usually think along the same lines.
And the same thing goes for our two new moderators.
They all express things a lot more eloquently than I am capable of, and also usually deal with things while I am still asleep. Over time I find myself agreeing with almost every action taken by them.

As for my own participation as a moderator, I often come out as inactive, but there is at least one simple reason for that. I am Swedish. And that means that my first language isn't English, and consequently there are  times when I miss nuances and expressions, that probably would be obvious to an American.
Also my Timezone usually means that I am asleep, while the main fracas takes place on the boards. By the time I wake up and start browsing the latest posts, the issue has usually been taken care of someone else.
Or spun out of control to a point where a joint moderator decision is necessary.

To me a Discussion Forum is meant for discussions, and the less you need to interfer with the flow of the threads, the better.
Heated discussions are good, since it shows that people really care for the subject.
And even over-heated discussions are a lot better than a dead Forum.

Heavy handed moderation sooner or later results in discussions dying out, and everything is better than a dead Discussion Forum.

I do wish however, that some of the posters would abandon their habit of name-calling, making snide comments  and bringing up old grudges at every possible opportunity. (It is perfectly possible, as proven by several posters, to make your point clear, without stooping to childish behaviour).
I am not going to name any names, since by now it should be obvious to all posters, (with the possible exception of the culprits themselves), which ones I am referring to.

I guess the question could be raised why I am still a Moderator, but since I am; here are my answers to HadesKane's questions:

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1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity

No.
Splitting or moving threads to keep them on topic is usually the best choice. Closing threads may be a good choice when the horse obviously has been flogged to death.  Vaulting them should only be used as a last resort. Deleting them shouldn't even be an option, since nothing upsets people more than having their posts deleted.

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2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree
I think things went quite a bit out of hand last week, but it is being handled now, and should not be used as an excuse to be more heavy handed in the future.
I am rather hoping that at least some of the posters will be learning from the experience, and hopefully think things over a bit extra before hitting the send button.
Also, some topics are always inflammable, and will create the same cycle of protests and refutals each time they pop up again. Which they usually will, with more or less regular intervals. Osiris' old thread about 'Free-to-play' Muds,  from what was it - 2010?- is an example of that. Back then it was about IRE, this time it was Ateraan.

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3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community
I believe we should only enforce the written, specific rules, and even then with some lenience.
Judging what is "toxic" or "bad for the community" is very individual, dependant on your background, and the TMC Forums serve a wide range of users with very different viewpoints. 
However, the existing rules should give the moderators enough tools to act against users that persist in breaking them.
In particular, I'd like to see an end to the "name-calling", especially in Topic subject lines.

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4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community
No. It might be an easy way out for us as moderators, to take such actions in order to silence a very annoying, vocal and frequent poster, at least temporarily, but in the long run it would be detrimental to the discussions, and as such "harm the community" more than being overly lenient.
Also permanent bans are meaningless nowadays, since it is way too easy to create a new account and come back under a new alias.

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5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users
No. Vague rules are worse than no rules at all, since they can lead to endless discussion about perceived "favoritism", and the actual meaning of the rule itself.
Also I don't think removing threads or users is a solution to anything, it just creates new problems.

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6) Should a vague "being toxic" be added into the posting policy as being against the rules
Definitely not. Who's to decide what is "toxic" and what isn't?
Peer pressure is usually a good way to deal with annoying behavior, but it may take some time before the receiver gets the message. And in some cases they never do. I guess we'll have to live with those cases.

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7) Should any additional rules be added to the posting policy
No.
I think we already have the necessary tools.
Perhaps we should use them a bit more frequently, but I am not sure of that either.
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Tijer

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2018, 12:12 PM »
I am UK based so my online times are similar to Molly's so i tend to miss the major flare ups on the forums.  I am pretty much online as much as i can be though.

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1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity

Theres alot of moderator activity here, im online most days from (2pm UK time to 10pm) So generally miss the major flareups on the forums.

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2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree

In my opinion the way things are going are fine.  We just need to ensure we are all on the same page.

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3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community

I think that if required, that the moderator should do as they think best, and explain why they did it on one of the Moderator boards.

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4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community

I think that NO ONE should be banned unless its been discussed with the other Moderators.

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5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users

TBH they are pretty vague already. I dont think anything needs to be changed here.

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6) Should a vague "being toxic" be added into the posting policy as being against the rules

No... Toxic is another vague description.. Some people may not actually be toxic but the way their posts are worded may make it seem that way.


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7) Should any additional rules be added to the posting policy

Apart from the cross posting of promotional posts no!
--Tijer
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Hades_Kane

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2018, 1:39 PM »
Going to focus the promotion stuff in a separate thread to keep that consolidated into one place, and both "general moderation" and "promotional moderation" on topic.

Please give feedback and thoughts on the promotions issue here:

http://www.mudconnect.com/SMF/index.php?topic=81202
-Diablos
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desharei

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2018, 11:27 AM »
One thing I'd like to see: simple post deletions of off-topic posts in promotional threads. Example:

OP: I'm looking for a mud that has A, B, C, and not D. I'd accept E but I'd prefer not to, and if I find out a month in that I need F, it's a deal-breaker.

Responding post: "Hey, we don't have A, B, C, and only have D sometimes. We have E all the time, and I simply won't mention F. Try us, we're great!"

Delete the responding post completely. It's not a "violation" but it is basically just an advertisement that takes away from the OPs request. No need to put it in the vault, or point out that the post was deleted, or even inform the person posting that their post was deleted. If you stop giving ANY attention to these posts and make them disappear, they'll cease to become a bone of contention on the forum.

Hades_Kane

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2018, 4:20 PM »
One thing I'd like to see: simple post deletions of off-topic posts in promotional threads. Example:

OP: I'm looking for a mud that has A, B, C, and not D. I'd accept E but I'd prefer not to, and if I find out a month in that I need F, it's a deal-breaker.

Responding post: "Hey, we don't have A, B, C, and only have D sometimes. We have E all the time, and I simply won't mention F. Try us, we're great!"

Delete the responding post completely. It's not a "violation" but it is basically just an advertisement that takes away from the OPs request. No need to put it in the vault, or point out that the post was deleted, or even inform the person posting that their post was deleted. If you stop giving ANY attention to these posts and make them disappear, they'll cease to become a bone of contention on the forum.

I actually agree with this.

We have traditionally been very anti deletion... people typically react poorly to having posts deleted (myself included), but I think we should open this point up, specifically, for conversation.

This might be more appropriate to discuss in the more promotion focused thread, so I'm linking that here and going to cross post this to that thread:

http://www.mudconnect.com/SMF/index.php?topic=81202
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Ateraan

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2018, 10:49 PM »
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1) Should the moderation team take a much more active, hands on role with regards to policing threads and shutting down posts, threads, and users at the first sign of hostility or toxicity
No they are very active now.

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2) Should the moderation policy be more strict and heavy handed than it has been the last few weeks, and if so, to what degree
No, it will suppress opinions.

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3) Should mods only enforce written, specific rules, or provided there is a degree of consensus among the team, should posts, threads, and users be subject to punitive actions based on judgement calls that such posts, threads, or users are bad for the community
Only when all the moderators agree that a specific person/post/thread is in severe poor taste or a user is specifically so disruptive as to harm the community at large.

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4) Should mods have the authority to ban users who have broken no rules based on the opinion that such a user is harmful to the community
No. Except as listed in response to number 3.

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5) Should the rules be made to be much more vague as to allow more wiggle room to lock or remove threads and users

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6) Should a vague "being toxic" be added into the posting policy as being against the rules
No, too subjective. Only in response to 3 above.

Quote
7) Should any additional rules be added to the posting policy
No, the rules are fine.
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Tavilyn

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Re: Moderation on TMC, Community Expectations, Rules, etc.
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2018, 2:38 AM »
I think it's really too easy to dismiss the whole "toxic" thing.

Toxic is a specific word I've used. It doesn't just mean bad, or mildly harmful, or annoying. It means something which is generally harmful or delitirious toward the community at large.

Yes, the nature of opinions is that two people may disagree on what level denotes toxicity and what level denotes mere annoyance. I'll grant you that. But I do think that some sort of clause about toxicity ought to be in the rules. Here's why.

This is something the mods should be able, if needed, to sit down and talk about. "Okay, guys. Is so-and-so getting to a point where their behaviour is overall harmful to the community, setting a bad example, making it harder for newcomers to get a good read of the true nature of the community"? I trust most people here do not have to be told the difference between a user who does one annoying thing once or twice, and a user who is known for doing such a thing.
Toxicity is a state of continuous negativity. I wouldn't label one flame as an example of toxicity, but I would label a tendency toward flaming as toxic. Do you see the difference?

If you do, I hope you also see why such a flag needs to go into the rules. Even if behaviour itself isn't covered by rules, there should be an option for mods to decide amongst one another that a given user has been skirting the rules but still causing harm to the community.

I think soft-pedalling this is going to just lead to the self-same sort of drama that's been drummed up over the past few weeks, but perhaps with a different source and over a different game and user and practice. That doesn't help the community; it hurts it.

It's very easy to say that we shouldn't have a rule about toxic behaviour. It's harder to own that the community has been plagued by it off and on, and to go one step further and try to address the problem. That is what I really hope is done here, though it appears I may be in a minority here.