1. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Question Mental Health Support Thread

    Discussion in 'Support & Feedback' started by Tenderiser, May 27, 2016.

    I'd like to understand why this was closed, instead of the people causing trouble in it given an infraction and told to stop.

    It was a great help to many people and, I know from private conversations, positively affected interactions outside of The Lounge. When you realise somebody is struggling, it's much easier to be lenient in all threads when their posts are somewhat abrasive or off-kilter.

    It was certainly a much more useful thread for the community than most of the debate threads, and they tend to remain open through squabbling and blatant trolling.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It was closed because this thread, not unlike the threads in the Debate Room, turned into a constant and perennial source of reports. Members were infracted. Constantly. Told to stop. Constantly. The thread became an undue burden on the mods.

    We won't see eye to eye on this, and that's ok, we don't have to, but I disagree with the idea of permissiveness for some and not for others. There are rules of behavior to which the members of the forum must abide, and those rules are not a sliding scale.

    You'll get absolutely no argument from me on this last sentiment, and my position on the Debate Room remains unchanged and stalwart. It has no business being in the forum and is nothing but a source of trouble since the participants therein are unable to actually live up to the ideals they profess are the reason it should exist, and what's more, I have no reason to believe that they even wish to. I keep my peace on the matter because the owner and I are not of the same mind in this, and I respect the fact that this forum is his personal property. Regardless, having that area is a mistake, and I think most of us know it. The same held true for the Mental Health thread. It's unfair to ask the mods of a writing forum to tend to something so outside the realm of the venue.
     
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  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I'm sorry to see that thread go for the reasons @Tenderiser said, but I understand your point, @Wreybies.
    Damn.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Then I don't understand why the mods aren't supported more: if someone ignores their instructions to stop posting in a certain way, those members should lose their posting privileges, surely?

    Why can't we amend the title to make it clear nobody should offer medical advice, and reopen this source of support for WF members? Whatever your views on the value of The Lounge, it's there and I don't think a thread that was so helpful to so many of us should be shut down when far more disruptive threads remain.
     
  5. Genghis McCann
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    Genghis McCann Member

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    It's all part of a general problem with democracies whereby we are unable to deal with small groups of disruptive people, so we respond by penalising everyone. There are hundreds of examples from annoying speed bumps that inconvenience all of us (why not just catch the people who drive too fast?) to the long lineups for security at the airport (what on earth is wrong with profiling?), to the censorship of speech at our universities because small groups of disruptive students demand that certain speakers are banned.
    I remember many years ago in school our teacher couldn't determine which student had broken one of the school rules, so she gave all of us detention. That's our society in a nutshell. I've seen it over and over again ever since.
     
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  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    True. In this case, it's very easy to deal with a small group of disruptive people.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe a particular mod would volunteer to patrol that thread? I can understand why it could be a burden if it's frequently allowed to deteriorate into bickering and nasty confrontation, but if a particular mod were to volunteer to keep an eye on it? And maybe the rules could be stated baldly at the start, and anybody violated the spirit of the thing would get an automatic (temporary) ban? Or something like that? Worth considering? Or too much trouble. I don't know....

    @Wreybies is right, in that the topic isn't directly related to writing. However, so many writers (on this forum and in real life) suffer from mental illness that it seems to be almost endemic. I have been quite surprised at the percentage of folks on the forum who have revealed they contend with this condition all the time.

    It's just that reading back on the thread I saw so much that was good and so many fellow writers willing to listen to and support each other. It was never intended to be a thread where people attacked each other. In fact, the opposite.
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know that any thread needs patrolling like that. When I moderated a XenForo forum it was warning/infraction in the first instance, then a three day-ban if the warning wasn't heeded. Three bans in six months turned into a permanent ban. Easy peasy.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Bingo. [Treads carefully foolishly into hot water...]

    I agree moderating the debate room is a lot of work and I wholeheartedly agree mods not interested in doing that shouldn't have to. But when you set up rules and then fail to enforce them, I don't think you should blame everyone or hold that against people reporting posts, or simply ignore those reports because moderating such discussions is not to someone's liking.

    Just as when you tell a child, "if you do that, these are the consequences," you have to follow through. As soon as you don't, the admonitions become meaningless.

    I don't know what happened and what was done about it in the Mental Health thread. I do know there is a rule in the debate room people would be banned from that sub-forum for personal insults, instead dozens of personal insults went on and on without any consequence. It should have been nipped in the bud and if it had been, I believe there might have been a whole lot less conflict in the current political threads.

    If there is a problem with too much work for the mods, address that. I'm certainly not advocating work for someone else. Make a new rule, more than X number of reported posts, suspend the thread and say why. Or assign a mod who doesn't mind dealing with arguing. Or suspend people from the thread, or the debate room, or the lounge, or the forum if they don't comply.

    Otherwise it looks like everyone is being punished for the actions of a few people.
     
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  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would hope the mods have a re-think on this issue, and maybe give the thread another chance?

    And the people who turned it into an argument thread instead of an unthreatening support thread for writers who struggle with mental illness might want to also have a re-think as well. It's not always necessary to have the last word, or to always be right, or to tell another person off, even if they are WRONG. Sometimes it's better to back off and let things be.
     
  11. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did I miss a post about this tread going away? Hope it does not.
     
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  12. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I totally agree with this. It's usually the same people causing issues anyway, and shutting down a thread clearly isn't correcting the problem. Instead, it seems to just keeps the mods in a cycle of rework. I realize that this is a writing forum, but there is so much more to writing than ... well, just writing. People are at the center of stories, and yeah, they're going to argue. It's life. But conflict translates to every story I'm aware of. Abruptly closing a thread (especially an extremely helpful one) with the justification, "this thread doesn't belong in a writing forum" always reminds me a lot of when my parents used to say, "because I said so." It's a shallow justification that does little to help anyone understand why their behavior is wrong, which inevitably just perpetuates continual grievances.
     
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  13. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Err, so let me see if I got this right.

    The Mental Health Support Thread ended up being used to suggest possible ways to address certain mental issues and to mentally support any users suffering from such problems. While this is not pertaining to writing it's still pertaining to the our member base. If we factor in that a writer's block could be from mental issue, it could be argued that this thread may relate closely to writing.

    Now, some people became aggressive and disruptive. Instead of punishing them, the entire thread was removed. Now, people who properly used said thread have inputted their opinions.

    Well, what I get from that there needs to be a simple punishment system.

    If you get X amount of reports, you get reviewed. If found to be guilty of breaking the TOS, you get a warning for your first offense. This warning follows a one day ban upon your next login. After the second infraction, you get a week ban. On the third it's a month. If anymore infractions happen, during that year, you're account is permanently banned. All infractions should have the option to be contested. Reports should come from fellow users. Mods should still have the right to enforce authority regardless of this system.

    All we need to do is properly report people breaking the rules... since the people on here most often tend to be committed to the forum, don't see it as much of an issue.

    Why not let the more dedicated members assist moderators in patrolling for deviants of the TOS? Saves you time, saves us headaches, and leads to less arguing.
     
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  14. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Well here is the deal. If you read the rules it shows how the system works. When you get infractions, it is up to the mod dealing out the infraction on how many points the infraction is worth. When you get 10 points in a 90 day period you get a 30 day ban. If you get another 10 points within the next 90 days, it's a 90 day ban, and then another 10 points in 90 days, you get a perma-ban. Now I believe it takes 90 days for points to fall off of your account, though if you get 10 additional points within that 90 days, your other points carry over. I don't have a problem with the system as it is, but the one thing I find hard to deal with is the idea that there is so much discretion in how many points a single infraction can be worth. You don't get just one point per infraction, depending on how severe the mod thinks it is, you can get 1 up to 10 points for a single infraction.

    Also, I was just wondering, I tried to look at my infraction history, and it no longer shows on the member profile page?

    While I respect @Wreybies opinion on what should be on the forum, I personally feel that this is more of a community of people, and with that, comes more discussion topics than just whether a character should have said this or that, and whether one character's magical powers is a cliche.
     
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  15. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Ya, that sounds like the system they came up when founding the forum. The thing about systems is... they can be improved on. Personally, that system is far from infallible. First off, there's no set value for any infraction. It's left to personal interpretation to qualify what each infraction occurs penalty wise. Now, to get a full basis and give a fair punishment, that means they have to go over the entirety of the situation. Sounds like a lot of drama and time if you ask me. Next, the amount of time bans are all incredibly large. A month, three months, and then permanent ban?

    If you get banned for a month, it's likely you'll not come back in. Now, I get it "we don't want them back!" yet what if it's a high school kid joining us due to his/her creative writing course? Are we going to judge them as harshly as we would a college professor, with tenor, who's gone through all his hormone adjustments already? You ban them for a month and it's most likely they just won't came back.

    Another factor is that with such large penalties, it gives more weight to any infraction decision. If a moderator decides that a single occurrence is worth a whole ten points, well it better be pretty groundbreaking.

    So, not trying to rile any feathers but what's the point of a creative writing forum that isn't able to take constructive criticism?

    In my mind it's pretty simple. There's an issue, it's causing problems, so we look at potential solutions.

    My offer at a solution was formed within the period of me typing. Maybe someone else could offer a better one, but I just don't see the current system as working well enough.

    We have a report function which allows regular members to report any infractions committed against the TOS. A lot of members are devoted to the forum and actively contribute. There's quite a few loyal members here. Now, it's more than reasonable to not expect any of us to want to commit to the responsibilities of unpaid moderation. Yet, I'm not suggesting that we become the police -- just the neighborhood watch. All we have to do is dial 911 (report) when we see infractions.

    X reports = review.
    Review = whatever you want. Guilty or non-guilty. Points or no points. Warning or no warning.
    Option to contest the punishment, which means the user contacting a moderator of their own violation.
    Less severe punishments to promote boundaries as opposed to restrictions.
    One day as a "warning." (not part of perma-ban)
    One week as visual representation that you will not be allowed to break the TOS without punishment, but not long enough to cause a person to decide to not come back.
    One month as a last warning.
    Permanent ban.

    After served time, +90 days. Similar to current system, with less pressure on the moderators.
     
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  16. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    In one forum I was in, the staff didn't moderate at all. They had a list of requirements and a test to give to the members who wanted that responsibility. Achieving mod-status was like achieving a certain amount of celebrity. The requirements were very stringent, and you had to have successfully moderated a certain number of posts before you could become one.

    And instead of deleting the thread, they'd delete the offending post itself. If people kept breaking the rules, they'd ban them from the thread, but they wouldn't ban everyone from it. And if that person continued to be a problem, they banned them temporarily making them re-read the rules and such before being unbanned, and if they were still a problem then they'd be banned permanently if necessary. Honestly, because the site was so well self-moderated, and because of the protocols set in place, getting banned was a big deal. It just didn't happen. It'd be like,
    "hey what ever happened to cracka_lacka? Haven't seen her around"
    "Oh she got banned!"
    And the room would fall silent, save for many a dramatic gasp.

    My point is that if you don't want to moderate, then don't. There are lots of viable options for forum moderation. They don't have to include being super annoyed by the task itself, and resenting that it's keeping you from more important work.
     
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  17. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Well I can pretty much tell you what the answer is going to be. It's not the idea of not wanting to moderate, it's just that what should be moderated is content pertinent to the forum and not stuff that shouldn't even be part of the forum (in the mods opinion).
     
  18. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's fine. But tha fact remains that the content is here, and it's likely not going anywhere because a majority of the members seem to want it here, yes? So that answer implies a form of pointless protest, where people disgruntled by the content of the forum would rather do nothing than improve the process, causing more frustration and more complaints. Like, if the content is already here, why not improve the process surrounding posting under that umbrella, so people who don't like it don't have to deal with it? Refusing to do so is like shooting yourself in the foot to take your mind off a sore tooth.
     
  19. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Well here is the thing, there is the ignore function, but so many people just refuse to use it, and instead continue to complain about what certain people say. I think those people should be punished just as much as the people they are complaining about. Take for example, if a person reports the same person's posts multiple times, and the moderator tells them to just put the person on ignore, and the person doesn't and continues to report the persons's posts, they should be punished for wasting the mod's time.
     
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  20. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    This forum does have much stricter rules regarding posting than any other I've been a part of. Especially since some of the rules are so generalized that I've seen members upset over perceived insults. If that happens enough and people report on it constantly, I can see that being just as much a point of contingency for the mods as chronic pot stirrers.
     
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well I think the mods here do a great job. They are NOT PAID. They are volunteers, with busy lives, whose remit is more or less the same as everybody else's on the forum. They just do more than the rest of us do. I know I don't want to be a mod, because I don't want the extra workload.

    I also feel they get it right about 99% of the time. They treat us like rational adults and expect us to act like rational adults. When we don't, we get hauled up short, and if we don't grow up fast we get banned. People need to want to be part of this community more than they want to be right all the time or win every argument. I'm fine with that. I don't want to dump a lot more 'regulations' on our mods, with different degrees of infractions, etc. I think they do it well at the moment. The last thing I'd want it to overload them with work to the point that they quit. Without them, this forum would deteriorate pretty quickly.

    The thing I like about this forum the best of any I've seen is the way trolls get spotted and banned pretty quickly, and conversations outside of the debate room (where you'll rarely find me) seem to be kept on a courteous path most of the time. It's a community of people whom I feel protective of and fond of, and I'm a fan of how the mods handle discussions without stifling personalities. When a mod steps in and closes the thread, it's usually a thread that has deteriorated beyond repair.

    I just think in this instance they might want to rethink the closure and give the mental health thread one more chance. (Maybe have the original poster of the thread come up with specific rules for that thread—what and what not can be said, etc—so the mods will know exactly what they are enforcing.)

    I feel it's important for us to understand our fellow forum members who deal with mental illness. Some people are able to take negative (but honest) criticism of a piece of writing, for example, without turning a hair. However, if somebody is suffering from depression or a low point on a bipolar cycle, the wrong words can really upset them. It's good to know this, when giving a critique. (People with mental illness can also be touchier than most, at times, which is where the problem lies on that particular thread. This is why I feel it needs a more specific set of rules the mods can point to, before issuing an infraction or a ban.)

    We aren't judges on the X-Factor here. We're just fellow writers who give each other feedback. I think it's important to remember this at all times. It's also important for the 'goaders' on the forum, who like to chuck a tiny sarcastic bomb into a discussion every now and again, to be aware of the problems this can cause for the mods. And maybe refrain? It's fine to have disagreements on writing issues, but it's a good idea to avoid the kind of sarcasm that starts fights.

    Anyway. I've said my piece, and I'll leave it here.
     
  22. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    So, not everyone is going to know about the ignore option. I didn't know it existed mainly because I've never had to use it. Take new or technologically impaired users as an example, some people may not know of this function. Don't give me the argument of "you should have read all the rules, gone through all the functions, and spent all your waking hours reviewing everything under a microscope."

    Not everyone reads the 100 pages of fine print. I agree to my software updates without reading every single word. Most people do.

    You know what would help a lot? An ignore button for posts. Hit ignore and you ignore a user only on that thread. Hit unignore and it restores the conversation.

    "Why not just ignore the user?"

    If I get in a fight with my spouse about her political views I don't stop talking to her for the rest of mnmny life. A single argument doesn't mean we no longer talk again. Telling someone to just "ignore" someone can, not always but at times, be similar to a child sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "I'm not listening to you."

    You know what's not black and white? Yellow. And blue. And orange, green, pink, purple, red.

    Exactly. Why not develop a workable system that utilizes the limited participation of our more active users? No expectations.

    "Work smarter, not harder." - Carl Banks
    "How about I just do both?" - ToBeInspired
     
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  23. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks for your feedback, everyone. Sounds like we could restore that thread. My personal take on it was that it wouldn't be about arguing over what is mental illness or what kind of medicine you should or shouldn't use (please keep in mind, you can't take reliable advice from strangers on a writing forum and WF assumes no responsibility of your med choices), but rather it'd be a supportive, dare-I-say safe environment for people to vent, share, and support each other positively. Again, this is how I see the situation and I'm not okay with members saying someone's take on mental healthcare is stupid if they have reservations or prejudices. You can rarely change anyone's attitude with rude and dismissive replies.

    So this is where "patrolling" is needed, if we want to keep threads polite and positive, if we want everyone to have a good time and not get shat on, especially when you don't report disruptive, rude, or dickish behavior (and yes, I know, we grade the level of assholery differently, but when in doubt, I'd rather you reported the post than left it there so it can brew up three pages of bickering and arguing, a slew of PMs into mods' inboxes telling us they're leaving the forum because they can't stand this or that member or because the forum's atmosphere is unsafe or whatever).


    It's standard procedure to close a thread outside the DR if there are multiple disruptions or reports coming from there. We've been here before, so of course we can try a less close-threads approach. There is the danger that it's going to descend into five pages of madness and mud-slinging when the mods have gone to sleep, we've seen this, but I think we can give a try to a slightly modified approach.

    At this point in time, the mod staff is for more or less stringent moderation so as not to allow turd-flinging and bullying especially outside the Debate Room. For significantly freer moderation, you will have to find another forum.

    I'm more than happy to welcome new mods. The staff may look sizeable to you, guys, but in truth, our presence here isn't as strong as it probably should be right now because mods have lives too, and with many of us, they're taking big chunks off our online time. I often keep one eye on the forum when I'm at work. Many of the things I do are invisible to non-staff. Infractions and warnings included, so yes, they do happen, but we won't set up a Book of the Guilty where everyone can check out who's been a bad boy/girl.

    Yeah, the debate room will have to undergo a few changes and we'll need more (wo)manpower to manage it. But the mental health threads weren't in the debate room, so they were/will be moderated somewhat differently as well. You've probably noticed how we've tried to fence off the debate room from the forum proper. Its negativity tends to leak out, and we'd prefer to keep it contained if possible.

    XenForo can't provide the add-ons we wanted in place to help make the moderation in the DR more controlled and cohesive. As of now, it's an enter at your own risk area. For example the thread length should be controlled. It takes a lot of time to read through those friggin' elections threads. When you volunteer to be a writing forum mod and most of your modding time is spent reading pages and pages about the US presidential elections, you start to question what you actually really got into and why aren't these discussions happening in forums dedicated to politics.

    It helps when you guys report uncouth behavior. But you won't be added to the PMs sent to the offending parties found guilty of rule-breaking, so you will just have to trust that we react to the reports.

    The thread was left open after the first warnings and pink unicorns (or whatever equivalent thereof). Usually threads are closed when disruptive behavior persists even after several warnings from moderators.

    Right on.

    Yes, by reporting. Or volunteer to join the staff. ;)


    You're right it takes time to assess a report and the gravity of punishment. Sometimes the decision may be left on a mod who hasn't been online for weeks because no one else is around and he isn't in the know of whatever drama may have happened prior to the thread in question. Usually we are able to discuss warnings and decide on them together to be as fair as possible, and we do deliberate on bans together 'cause you have to be really disruptive or have a pattern of bad behavior or warnings to earn it (you can also get automatically banned if you gather up enough warnings over a short enough period of time).

    The system in place is somewhat similar to what you suggest, except contesting the punishment... Yeah, everyone has their reasons and excuses and but-mah-first-amendment objections. It's also time-consuming to deliberate on the punishment with the infracted member. Everybody's suddenly innocent when they get that PM. Having said that, if a mod is willing to do that, at least I'll let them have the freedom. I'm usually not one to negotiate with people who call me a cunt.


    We do delete posts, but not always. Depends on the amount of them, continuity, and severity of the content. Again, this is left for the mod's own discretion. I'm not a big fan of "hiding" the dirty laundry. You guys own your words. If you throw them out there, you'll have to deal with the way they make you look. But again, I make the decision on a case-by-case basis.

    And we do give warnings. And second warnings. Third warnings. Sometimes the member straightens up, sometimes they willfully continue to push the envelope, and sometimes they go on a rampage so they can leave with a bang.

    Having said all that, I sincerely thank all of you for your feedback as it has given us mods a lot to think about and find ways to improve the way we run the forum. I'm not sure if I laid things too bare, but let this serve as a glimpse into what a mod's job is like on WF.

    And again, if anyone is interested in joining the staff, send me a PM, and we can discuss it with Daniel and the other mods. Right now many of us are so busy with life, it would really help if someone wanted to e.g. focus on moderating the debate room/lounge in particular -- especially since it seems there are people here who have modding experience and/or are familiar with XenForo.
     
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  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you @KaTrian.

    Can I just clear up one thing?

    Right now I'm thinking I shouldn't report posts in threads I find useful/interesting, because standard procedure will be to close it if you get multiple reports. I'm not clear from your post if this standard procedure is changing or not?
     
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  25. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    What I meant by that is that if -- despite warnings -- members keep posting abusive or offensive content, the thread will be in all likelihood closed. Depending on the situation either for a short period of time to let members cool down and the moderators deal with the offenders or sometimes permanently if the thread itself is deemed unsuitable for a writing forum or particularly inflammable or divisive subject-wise. We absolutely reserve the right to do this, but thanks to your feedback here (and from before), we can try to be more mindful of when we resort to what appears to be a rather draconian action in the future. Sometimes a thread might get closed more readily if e.g. our staff situation is particularly bad and the only one available has to go to sleep because they have to get up early for work the next morning, and we'd rather not risk a shitstorm to happen in the meanwhile. We've lost members because of such situations, often because of non-writing related reasons, and I'd like to minimize the damage whenever I can.
     
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