My way or the highway

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by zappaDPJ, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    When it comes to politics, religion and all the 'isms' e.g sexism and racism, how do your beliefs as a forum owner dictate how you run your forum?

    For example I've noticed that forum owners in general refer to members as a 'he' or assume that the poster is a white male. If politics are involved members are often defined as a bleeding heart liberal or conservative with nothing in-between.

    This thread was of particular interest to me because it was a bandwagon I could easily subscribe to and I'll admit to having a pathological hatred of all religion. However I'm also very much aware that what was posted could be grounds for capital punishment in some societies.

    I've come to the conclusion that I have to accept that my view of these potentially difficult issues is not always balanced and therefore I've somewhat reluctantly learnt to rely on a consensus of opinion from other staff members to set the tone.

    However I've also come to realise that people of a certain age group don't have a perspective that is in sync with the modern age. Without going into a lot of detail this news item serves as a prime example of what I'm attempting to convey.

    So to cut to the chase, in an ever changing world, what steps do you take to define what is acceptable content on your forums.
     
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  2. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

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    Like you, I like to get a staff consensus...that way individual biases are more likely to be tempered by the opinions of others. It carries more weight if someone who has posted offensive content is told it has been deemed inappropriate by staff consensus.

    Things I don't want to see at MHB include, but are not limited to, religious/political proselytizing of any kind, crackpot science, conspiracy theories, racism/sexism/homophobia. Our rules could be more clear about these things, and is something we are continually tweaking, but we do state that the rules are not exhaustive, and the staff reserves the right to remove any content at any time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
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  3. skrinkle

    skrinkle Participant

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    Omg. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times people just assume I’m a male, and then a gay male when I mention having a boyfriend.

    I think discussion is important and people should be allowed to have differing opinions and posting styles, but in moderation. I’m ok with seeing those threads like “is this girl hot” or “would you bang her” until it becomes unbalanced in the forum. For every thread like that about a woman, I wanna see one about a hot guy :noppid:

    I think the key is to make sure all voices are contributing, and not just one.
     
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  4. Klaatu

    Klaatu Fan

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    If I still had a forum I'd definitely disallow those topics. It's impossible to have rational discussions on religion/politics these days, specially on the Internet. You either get those who will refuse to believe verifiable truths and label everything they don't like as "fake news" or you'll get those who will label you as a racist/nazi/misogynist/dumb/whatever if you don't agree 100% with what they're saying.

    A lot of people are too mentally weak and they can't handle opposite views, better to avoid sensitive topics and let them keep hearing what they want to hear in their own echo chambers.
     
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  5. PoetJC

    PoetJC ❝Jacq'd Into Moderation Queue❞ ©

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    I think it really depends on the actual forum niche. If there is official policy which restricts the discussion of certain topics - then I'd imagine any threads created with restricted topics would be deleted. If the forum is a non-censorship type of free-for-all - then I let the members have at it.. The caveat being that we try to keep the conversation from devolving into a name-calling fest or thread filled with personal insult. Some can discussion religion/politics rationally, without the need to denigrate those they disagree with. I'm quite socially liberal - but having cast votes for the Bush/Cheney & McCain/Palin tickets - I can certainly appreciate a more conservative point-of-view, even though I now disagree with a lot of social and economic policies coming from the GOP now-a-days...

    So yeah - It really depends on the forum niche and/or official forum policy, whether or not such discussion/debate is allowed. While some might find moderating such topics exhaustive - I actually find it quite exhilarating to know the view points of those who would call me the pinko commie liberal snowflake or what have you LOL... And as far as the various "isms" ... The goal is to make sure folks are not insulting and banging each other over the head with them in an attempt to demean. If such a simple goal for moderation is met - then I don't think there would be any issues with such discussions. The challenge, though, is make sure participating members know that there will be repercussions if personal slights and demeaning speech is used...

    Otherwise - I'm like, "LET'S DISCUSS!!! LET'S DEBATE!!! I have a perspective that I would like to state and if you can appreciate it = Great. Because I want to know your perspective and can appreciate those with a different life philosophy than my own." Such an attitude and/or approach to the more sensitive political/religious discussions (IF allowed) could be a boon towards the concept of understanding and appreciating the diversity of US! And perhaps during the discussion/debate - there could be a middle ground type of consensus agreed upon, which could be taken from online to real life and benefit society...? IDK... Pessimistic optimist here who loves debating politics and religion :azh:

    J.

    Edited:
    And WOW!!! Excellent topic zappaDPJzappaDPJ
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  6. doubt

    doubt Tazmanian

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    As long as the members don't step over the limit let them have the discussion.
    What's the limit? What common sense dictate.
     
  7. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    I try letting the community balance its exchanges with as little public staff intervention possible.
    Controversial topics like religion are only discouraged, and can still be posted in a private, veterancy-based section with a limited pool of participants.

    Naturally they have a ticker skin, so it stimulates serious discussion freed from distractions like offtopic rants or excessive replying activity taking discussions to places before staff notices and intervenes.
     
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  8. Lisa

    Lisa The Black Widow

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    Can't say that I've ever assumed everyone posting on a forum is a white male, but then I don't really care what gender or colour the person I'm talking to is, so I don't give it much thought either way. I mostly refer to members by their chosen username, unless I know for sure what gender they are.

    They don't. I don't run a forum these days, but over the years I did my own personal beliefs on politics, sexism, racism, etc were irrelevant to how the forum was run. There were things not allowed on some forums - but only because the topics weren't relevant to the subject at hand.
     
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  9. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    I don't let my feelings or beliefs get in the way of my forum communities. I "frown upon" discussions related to religion, politics, or sexual preference. I have my own set of beliefs - but they are only beliefs - not science - not fact. I am very political. My politics have no business in my communities. I'm a Conservative. Yes, an evil white Satan who is apparently responsible for all the bad things that happen in the world. I welcome your hate. I find it interesting. And I don't even dislike you for it. That's me and how I play...
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2017
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  10. PoetJC

    PoetJC ❝Jacq'd Into Moderation Queue❞ ©

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    Two points/questions of contention if I may please:
    1. Who says conservatives are all white evil?! I mean - there's the totally inept-for-cabinet-position Dr. Ben Carson and the now debunk cheater and one-time presidential candidate, GOP pizza lover Herman Cain. They are black as far as I can tell :ROFLMAO:
    2. Why does an opposing view have to equate to HATE?! :confused:
    Interesting perspective though. I wonder ... How are any of us even capable of *not* letting our political views manifest in discussions? Is not voicing your particular opinion a cop-out of sorts? We all have our own peculiar thoughts and feelings about particular subjects. Is being silent and/or not allowing your personal view as community leader being disingenuous?

    J.
     
  11. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    Being a white male who isn't either a "crazy" feminist (not labeling all feminists crazy - most are normal and reasonable) who believes all men are evil - or a bleeding heart Liberal who disagrees with anything and everything Conservative automatically -- I'm labeled by TOO many in this day and age as the enemy. Based on who I vote for I am one of many different "haters" whether it be Homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, sexist, and/or loaded with white male privilege.

    I don't allow politics in my communities so I don't push my opinions on them either. It's as simple as that. Religion, politics, and sexual preference are discussions that divide people. I grew up in New York and I watched families - FAMILIES - divide over the Mets and Yankees. It's insane. Us humans are truly ridiculous. If FAMILIES can divide over a SPORTS team who's winning or losing does absolutely NOTHING for their own lives - what would discussions about meaningful things like the future of civilization do to a community of car lovers?

    All that being said, here are two very important things that we should all remember. Well, I know this is how I feel anyway. My Conservative ideals are no more important than somebody's Liberal ideals. I may not agree with certain aspects of Liberalism but that doesn't mean my way is right and their way is wrong. Truth be told, somewhere in the middle is probably the best way moving forward. I'm right/center...

    Also, whether I agree with you (anyone) or not, the bottom line is - we're both trying to do what we honestly feel is the best thing for America. Nobody sits around all day trying to think of Conservative or Liberal ideas because they want the destruction of America. (Well, not "us" anyway - but I do believe there are higher powers (not ordinary citizens like us) who want the destruction of America) Liberals believe that their way is what's best for the people in America. Conservatives believe that their way is what's best for the people of America. We're all just trying to do what we believe is best. Some of our ideas are right/good and some of them are wrong/bad.

    Too bad we can't all get together and figure things out. But people are too busy hating the other sides to breathe and think...
     
  12. Yappi

    Yappi Enthusiast

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    I had to laugh when I saw this part of your post. No matter the decade, 20 somethings will get to dictate what the "modern age" is no matter how disconnected their ideas are with logic. Things that are accepted at one time become taboo in the future, even things that you are absolutely sure that are the right thing.

    That's why I really enjoy having a forum that is allowed to discuss these type of topics. There are people from so many backgrounds and age groups. A very lucky website will have people from all these groups that will be open to listening to different ideas from those that they have developed through their own experiences.
     
  13. Solidus

    Solidus Stupid machines!

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    I allow it, have a section for it and engage in it.
    The rules are simple... don't personally attack members. You can rip into snowflakes, trash movements like feminism and BLM, whatever you like. It's fun.
     
  14. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

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    Hard question to answer. Ultimately, I try to remain centrist or non biased in most cases. But there is a line for most things. Its a tough line to articulate sometimes. A good example is the thread you referenced.
    --- To me, that was clearly a case of someone being oversensitive, which is why I rejected it as I saw nothing that reasonably could be offensive to others.

    To me, that's the key. Be centrist and REASONABLE.
     
  15. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    My beliefs, though I have a number of them, don't enter into any of my decisions in running the forum. My forum policy is simple: tolerance and respect. I have no issue with discussions on any of these topics and the presentation of often very opposing views, providing they do it with both tolerance and respect.
     
  16. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

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    For me, politics and religion are perfectly acceptable subjects to discuss, so long as the threads don't dissolve into personal attacks or anything illegal. That's caused no problems so far, and I doubt it'll cause any in future either.

    So to answer your question... I'll just leave the community to discuss what they want and only remove what needs to be removed. If that offends someone... well they can find another forum to go to, mine are not places for people who want a 'safe space' online.
     
  17. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Moderator

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    Religion always seems to get my members riled up. Especially the good ol 'Does God exist?' We have a good number of sceptics, Atheists, New Age Spiritualists, Christians. It just never ends well when part of our members are convinced that the beliefs of others are simply delusional at best. Psychotic at worst. So been there. Done that. We allow it until all hell breaks loose. Like after 3 seconds...

    Politics are fine though. Last year we got in quite a few election trolls so it got quite heated, but after election the trolls were gone again so alls back to normal again.

    The oversensitivity is a thing though. I am still convinced that you need some skin to be on the internet. But apparently anything can be too much for people nowadays. This wasn't the case last year when we still ran vbulletin. With the switch to XenForo we got a massive wave of social media users, which included their technical cluelessness and oversensitivity. its a major change in just a year. I must say that I liked the mindset of our community on vbulletin more.
     
  18. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    That's certainly interesting - but off topic so I won't get into it. :p
     
  19. Yugensoft

    Yugensoft Aspirant

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    It's a difficult line to draw, because on the one hand you don't want to unnecessarily restrict users' liberty of speech (they'll go elsewhere), but you also don't want "breaches of the peace" that cause others to go elsewhere.

    I suppose it would depend on the forum's goals and core topics. If the forum is about woodworking, simply banning the above controversial topics might make sense. If it's about a specific country, it wouldn't.

    Controversial threads get a lot of activity, so they get bumped a lot, so they get further shoved in the face of the userbase, and this can have an alienating effect for users who didn't come there for that.

    One solution I found (using my Optional Forums add-on), is just to restrict those topics to certain sub-forums, and then make access to those optional.

    But I've yet to see a case of a forum where the admins, and especially the mods, successfully kept their own beliefs out of proceedings and maintained their neutral supervisory role. They usually start to use the right words ("improper conduct", "unacceptable behavior") to justify actions which are really just "I don't like this".

    The good ones stick to just closing threads, saying vague things like "this has gotten out of hand", the bad ones start punishing people.

    I think the answer is just very clear rules. Ideally shown and agreed to pre-registration. These should operate exactly the same as state laws.
    - Well thought out. The issue with rules based on "reasonable" and "respect" is the wildly differing opinions on what those are.
    - Buy in or input from community (either broadly or narrowly to high ranking members)
    - Clear, spelling out what you can and can't do
    - Spelling out specific punishments (or ranges)
    - Stare decisis
    - Making the rules apply to everyone including staff & owner
    - Spelling out rules regarding staff actions. E.g. staff may not punish someone they're arguing with (must hand the case off to another mod).
    - Making the rules detailed for controversial topics. E.g. you may say X, but you may not say Y.
    - Routes of appeal
    - Freezes: temporarily blocking thread or glo al replies when some users go crazy, so they can cool down.
     
  20. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    This is exactly what I had in mind when I started the thread and it's something I see a lot. Interestingly it often comes from highly respect admins and moderators who are generally perceived to do a good job. The problem is our beliefs shape our actions and that sometimes makes it hard for people to take the middle ground.
     
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