17th June 2008, 05:25 AM
This post is to clear up some of the confusion about what we do, and when and how we do it.
This is a somewhat lengthy subject, so it will span three posts. Please read them all.
I doubt we'll ever cure that. Such is the nature of people. However, up to now there has been no clear written policy guide telling you, the general membership, how we, the staff, operate and make decisions.
So ... here you go. We have recently taped together some general guidelines for ourselves. And although it will likely complicate life for us, <..:p..> you guys and gals deserve a peek into the process. It may help solve some problems, and help avoid some later on.
Note that these are not carved in stone, and each staff member remains an individual. Also note that we reserve the right to be flexible in our responses. There are well over one-hundred-thousand members on this forum, and precious few of us. Therefore, every once in a while, if required, we will clear the barroom with a shotgun first, then take names and excuses later! <..:p..>
First, the general premise we used while doing this:
We are all volunteers. Nobody gets paid for this.
We are here to serve, not punish.
The community deserves our best efforts.
Consistency and wisdom should be the foundations of any and all actions.
Acceptance constitutes empowerment, both for good behavior, and for bad.
This is an internet based community support forum, lives will not be lost if we screw up once in a while.
Please see next post.
17th June 2008, 05:32 AM
Continued from above.
With those ideas in mind, we have sorted out the usual rule violations in the following manner. They are sorted into two categories, Infractions and Offenses. (misdemeanors and felonies, if you will.)
Infractions (lesser)Double/cross posting
Leet speak/net grammar
Destructive language/content (hacking/cracking)
Offenses (major)Name calling/instigation of fights/insulting membership or staff/obvious trolling behavior/verbal abuse of anyone/abuse of the PM system to annoy/abuse members or staff.
Challenging or failure to comply with clear and plain staff directive
Multiple Infractions (3)
Opening/having any/multiple accounts after being banned
Copyright violationsThis list is in no way all inclusive. It never ceases to amaze me how many ways some folks can invent to be a pain in the hind pockets to the staff and their fellow members.
We actually have very limited tools to use in the process of regulating behavior. The hardest hammer we have is the ban, and if required, reporting abuse to a user's ISP and in extremely rare cases, involving law enforcement.
The most common, and the most effective tool we have is the polite comment, and/or a nudge in the right direction. This works the best, and is helpful to everyone involved. Therefore, if you get that tap on the shoulder, or the elbow in the ribs, please heed the implicit warning.
Sanctions: Sometimes things need a bigger shove. Here's a peek into the procedures we use to apply that force. (Quoted directly from the staff guidelines.)
Immediate bans may be required in some situations. If required to immediately cease a destructive/aggressive behavior, the member should be banned by the staff member observing the problem, but for a maximum of 24 hours only, and a thread should be immediately opened in the staff lounge explaining the situation. Usually simply posting a link to the trashed/moderated thread, and a simple stated reason should suffice. A poll and request for consultation can then be appended. Spamming is the exception here. They (spammers) are fair game and open targets. Happy shooting!
A sanctioned banning (after a consultation) should only be performed by an Administrator, unless a community manager is otherwise charged with that responsibility during the consultation.
Any actions regarding a member's account must be accompanied by a private message, email, or if necessary, a public post in the offending thread. At no time should any member (besides a spammer) be banned or sent to moderation without a concerted effort being made to contact the member and advise them of the actions that will be/have been taken.
A member who has declined to accept PMs and emails from staff is presumed to have forfeited this courtesy.
Immediate bans vs Consultation (Sanctioned) bans
Immediate bans should not be for more than 24 hours duration. A permanent or longer ban should be considered and effected only after consultation, and the member is notified of the results.
As short term bans are not really effective, the minimum ban for Infractions should be two weeks, and may be increased per the severity of the situation, not to exceed six months.
Bans for Offenses should be applied for a period of no less than three months, and may extend in three month increments to permanent status.
Banning as a tool.
Banning is not to be used as a punishment, but as a tool to protect/serve the overall community, and possibly to moderate the unacceptable behavior of a member.
When banning for a limited amount of time it is necessary to is to cross-check the member for aliases at the time of the ban and delete any phony accounts. Then, as part of the terms of continued membership, the member must be openly told that no further aliases are to be used under any circumstances. When it's time for the ban to be lifted, again a check to see if he's complied should be performed. If new aliases exist, the ban is to be automatically made permanent and no appeals are to be considered.
Consultations can and should occur in any of the following methods provided all staff members have the opportunity to participate in the proceedings : via thread in staff lounge, (preferred method) or Carbon copied PMs. ... Or possibly via a GAIM chat room.
Consultation should be open for a full 24 hour duration if the situation allows. On some non-critical matters, several days may be advisable.
To avoid heated exchanges during consultation, make your point as clearly and if need be, bluntly as possible, and support it only once during the exchange unless you are adding new information or correcting/adding data. A member's overall contribution to the community can and should be taken into account during these deliberations.
Decisions by polls/voting during/after consultation
Normally, a clear consensus is apparent and adequate, but an Open Poll may also be used, unless it is a particularly sensitive issue, or a staff member feels the need to request otherwise. In which case, a Closed Poll may be used as needed. The poll should remain open for 24 hours (only).
Controversial threads or threads leading to a banning situation need to go to moderation immediately, regardless of community complaints. These can and normally should be released back to the community after consultation or after needed sanitation. (if required)
A post locking the thread and notifying that it is going to moderation should be left up for several (10) minutes before a thread is sent to the moderation que. (if practicable. Severe situations may require quicker action.)
Troublesome users, or those on their second contact/warning for an infraction should be notified and sent to pre-moderated status until a disposition consultation can occur in the staff lounge. No member account should spend longer than six months in the pre-moderated que. The moderation que should be checked and dealt with twice daily by members appointed to do so, on a regular predictable schedule.
Calling for backup!
If a thread is rapidly deteriorating, the staff member handling the situation should post a request for “backup” in the staff lounge. One other staff member should then respond to the thread, assisting the initial staff member.
The purpose for this is not to get help to, “Split wigs!” This is an assistance to all – community included – to bring a cooler head into the situation. If the thread then requires closing, the “Backup” staff member should do the closing, and post the closing notice.
One other staff member is sufficient for this. Any more and we risk the appearance of, “piling on.”
Locking controversial threads/Trashing threads.
Locking of threads should be a last resort. Usually, if it really needs locked, it should also be either trashed or sent to moderation, and a consultation requested. However, some threads just plain obviously need trashed. If it's going to generate more trouble, or is just plain offensive, go ahead and trash it. If it turns out to have not been the best way to handle it ... you'll soon know! <..:p..>
Spam threads should be trashed rather than deleted. If they are deleted, we lose the IP info.
This section should clear up any misunderstandings about double/cross posting, and how it will be dealt with.
Double/cross posting policy:
1 Duplicates can frequently result from editing a post too soon, and therefore may be purely and forgivably accidental.
2 The newest duplicate thread should be closed, unless it contains responses or significantly more information than the first post. If it does, the threads should be merged.
3 A post clearly defining who took the action and why should be immediately appended to the thread, and a polite invitation to read the posting rules before posting again should be added.
4 If the problem persists, or a third thread/post is immediately posted, all threads/posts should be immediately locked, a firmer warning posted quoting the pertinent part of the posting rules, and a clear public warning that further escalation will result in banning, and a PM should be sent to the user indicating the behavior is unacceptable. (*)
5 As any such continued behavior is then obviously deliberate, either failure to comply or failure to acknowledge this posting and/or PM must result in an Infraction ban.
5.5 On the second offense, after the initial offense has been dealt with, it may then be presumed that the offender has no desire to cooperate with the staff or the forum, and must be notified that their account will be permanently banned within the hour. An email to the email address of record should also be sent. After the passage of the hour, action should and must be taken to ban the individual permanently. (*)
6 Current custom should be adhered to in the case of any public or private indications of challenge or insubordination. A Permanent banning must be immediately applied.
7 Any thread which has been closed due to double/cross posting may be “cleaned up” and unlocked at the discretion of the CM or ADMIN.
(*) If the user has chosen not to receive email nor Private Messages, the user must be presumed to be engaging in "trolling" behavior, and should be immediately and permanently banned.
Please see next post.
17th June 2008, 05:39 AM
Continued from above.
Although not comprehensive by any means, that should give everyone a bit of a peek into why and how we do the things we do.
All that being said, as I mentioned before, these are guidelines, and we maintain the right to be flexible in our dealings, so please understand that attempting to “slap us upside the head,” with these guidelines may not produce the expected results. <..:p..>
One other thing I need to add here. Under no circumstances are these open to negotiation or criticism by the membership. It's been said often enough, but I'll add it just one more time. This is not a democracy. There will be no popular votes at work here. It just is, what it is!
I hope that clears up a few misunderstandings.
On behalf of the fedora forum staff,
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