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Premier
2005-09-21, 03:51 PM
First of all, this is an open letter because I think the subject of it concerns not only Rich and myself, but the whole board at large. As long as they have the means to do so, it is everyone's right to write an open, public letter to another person. Please respect this right.

Also, I did not write it with the intention of starting a debate here and now, even if I personally would not mind to see some debate about the whole issue. But be that as it may, the primary purpose of this post is that of an open letter, from me to Rich, nothing more, nothing less.


Dear Rich,

I have been around on these forums for a while now, even though certainly not for what I would consider long. It is a great community, with some great people, built around a great webcomic.

Nevertheless, I've felt for a while now that something was off. That something is not right about this community. Until now, I didn't want to bring this up, because I didn't want to play the role of a whiner who spoils the party for everyone. In the end, however, I've decided put down my thoughts in this open letter.

Let me point out here that I've been and still am a member of a number of wildly different forums, all with their own feels and styles. I know a forum which as close to sheer anarchy as it gets, with hardly any moderating going on. I know a forum which is extremely tightly policed by its mods. I know a forum where a slight tendency for double standards in favour of old-timers and mods is the unwritten rule. And all of these forums work. They all have their own unique life, they all have their own group dynamics. And they're all alive and vibrant and an enjoyable place to be, once you get used to their peculiarities.

Nevertheless, I feel that in this particular instance, I should not and must not simply shrug my shoulders and walk on, simply ascribing my unease to the 'differentness' of this particular forum. I feel that the issue bothering me is, in this case, a problem; and as such, it needs to be addressed. I don't know if I'm alone with my opinion, or if anyone else agrees with me but decided not to mention it in the past for some reason, or if perhaps I'm looking at the thing from a point of view that simply hasn't occured to others before. Time will possibly tell, but I think I shall go ahead and address my point now directly.



Rich, when I post on and read these forums, I can't help but feel that the local 'leadership', meaning the owner (you) and the moderators as a whole, overtly or implicitly consider the general membership to be immature, lacking any discipline, and in need of constant chaperoning. I cannot speak for others, but I personally find this attitude insulting, condescending, humiliating and arrogant.

Don't misunderstand me I don't mean to imply that this attitude is a deliberate one on the leadership's part. In fact, I'm quite sure that the leadership itself is not even aware of this; that's why I'm writing this letter, to call your attention to it. Nevertheless, this is the attitude being communicated to the membership at large, however unintentionally.

In this letter, I would like to point out two specific manifestations of this attitude: overzealous moderating and overzealous word-filtering.

First, moderating. It's a rather regular occurence that a thread an altogether mature, cool-headed, polite and completely non-inflammatory thread gets locked gets locked, and the locking is justified by "It was discussing real-life religion/politics/something off-topic." Now, in itself, there's nothing wrong with an RPG board declaring such issues to be outside of its scope and asking people to take their discussions elsewhere. In the everyday practice at OotS, however, moderators routinely cite these rules for the locking of threads that were not, in fact, discussing these topics. Occasionally, the justification goes along the lines of "this thread was likely to become a discussion on religion, therefore it was locked preemptively".

A recent example is this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display;num=1127190714 ;start=).* In general, the thread was a discussion on one particular member's personal plight regarding roleplaying. It was not in any way a discussion of religion, since the whole issue of religion only came into the conversation as a relevant and necessary piece of factual data. Furthermore, the entire discussion was wholesome and polite, and I daresay that nobody was or even reasonably could have been insulted by anything said in it. Admittedly, there was one single unthoughtful and misplaced post in there, no argument about that. However, the rest of the entire conversation was safely within forum rules. It would have been sufficient if Gorbash had only deleted or censored the singular offensive post, and possibly placed a warning against similar future posts. Locking the whole thread was uncalled-for and overzealous.

As a followup, Gorbash also locked this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display;num=1127276163 ), which explicitly started with the intention of staying civil and within the rules. Also, similarly to the previous thread, it was not a discussion on any forbidden topic. And, to (unintentionally, I'm sure) add insult to injury, this time Gorbash pretty much admitted in his post that as of the time of its locking, the thread has not actually broken any rules.

Dear Rich, and the entire leadership - and please let me do speak in the name of the entire forum in this instance -, we are not children. While some of us might not be legally adults yet, I daresay we all have a certain amount of maturity and decorum certainly enough to keep a conversation going without descending into a screaming match. Therefore, please do not treat us like immature six-year-olds. Please do not insult us by automatically assuming the worst about us and locking a conversation simply because it might turn offensive in the future. Please, at least give us the chance to prove that we can carry on a polite and open-minded conversation. And if a bad apple does get into the basket now and again, if someone does lose his temper on occasion because it's inevitable -, please do not equate that person with the forum public at large since that's exactly what you do every time you lock a thread because of one or two offensive posts. You always have the option of deleting or censoring just the offensive posts and nothing more; of giving the offenders a warning in PM. Locking a thread should be the last resort when the whole thread is unsaveable, and not a quick and simple 'pre-emptive option' for the moderators to resort to at the first distant, hazy, tiny signs of potential trouble on the far horizon that might not even actually come.



The other matter, overzealous word filtering. Perhaps this is of less importance than the first point, but for completeness' sake I'll speak about it, especially since it ties into the same topic.

I remember two separate conversations about flood protection and earthworks which have been thrown into havoc because of a particular filtered word that also happens to be the name for a rather important type of construction when it comes to floods. I don't think it has actually occured so far, but any conversation about a certain movie actor would meet the same fate. I'm willing to go out on a limb and predict that so would any conversation about small dry pieces of firewood. And let me tell you something: "T.s.c.h.i.n.k." is NOT a racial slur for a Chinese person. I've never heard or seen it used as such, not with this spelling. It is, however, an onomatopoeic word, and also a name.

On the upside, discussions about pole vaulting (the sport) and frogs (the amphibians) are not yet rendered impossible out of respect to Polish and French citizens. :) Sometimes, however, I genuinely wonder if this is just an oversight. :(

Again, as I've said above, we're relatively mature people. I'm quite sure that if the whole word censoring routine was removed an bloc tonight, we wouldn't be waking up tomorrow morning to a forum embroiled in an endless torrent of the n-word and similar phrases. In this respect, we can police ourselves just fine, thank you very much. In fact, I challenge anyone to browse through the entire forums and compile a list of all instances from the last, say, six months when the filter kicked in, and tell us how many of those instances was caused by actual, genuine slurs, as opposed to false alarms. By putting the big word-filter umbrella over our heads, the leadership is sending us the message: "We don't trust you enough not to speak badly on your own. We don't think you have even that much basic culture."



Again, let me emphasise: I know that this grating attitude on the leadership's part is not the result of a conscious decision. I think it's quite likely that you and the moderators yourselves were not aware of this, and of how much resentment it causes because, once again, I go out on a limb and guess that it causes quite a bit more resentment than what's actually made heard. And that's why I'm telling you.


A closing thought. I might not be much of an idealist, and I'm certainly not naive. On the other hand, you might possibly call me somewhat cynical it wouldn't be all that false. Even if I honestly hope, I do not expect that my letter will cause much of a change or even make much of a splash, for that matter. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to offend you in person, or the forum's 'leadership' in general, with that remark; I'm just experienced enough with web forums and group dynamics not to expect overmuch. I just though I owe it to myself, to you, and to the forum's public in general, to tell how and why the taste of this otherwise (and in many respects, still) great and enjoyable forum has gone sour in my mouth.


Rich, and everyone else who has read this, thank you for reading this letter. I appreciate the time and energy you spent on it.

Premier






* On a strongly related note, let me draw your attention to the very first post in the thread. The poster doesn't even dare say the term "Fundamentalist Christian" in an objective description of a situation, because he's afraid that even uttering such a word will be used by the leadership as an excuse to lock the thread. Let me repeat that, because I can't emphasise the importance of this otherwise: he did not even dare utter the word. I'm sorry to say, but the only way I can interpret this event is that overzealous moderation has reached the level where the forum public at large has no choice but to take it for granted that every time a moderator is given the chance to misinterpret a post, they will. Rich, I don't know how to put this, but there's a problem here. Surely this is not what you had in mind when you wrote sentence four in point three of the forum rules.

TheChris
2005-09-21, 05:02 PM
" Also, I did not write it with the intention of starting a debate here and now"

Ooooh that would be why you posted in a forum message instead of addressing the moderators in question or even Rich via Private Message. I can see you were totally pure in intention and not at all attention seeking.

It's not my place to answer this letter since it's not addressed to me or have much to do with me but just wanted to say to the mods that might read this, I for one think you do a good job and moderate within the rules. If there's a problem with the rules that's not a mod's fault.

RawBearNYC
2005-09-21, 06:36 PM
I'm going to reply to this. It's not my domain nor my message boards, but I know Rich well enough to anticipate his reaction.

Rich and I (and others) have been around the internet for years. We've seen what lows message board communications can sink to. Everyone here is proud of the community we've created, but it is naive to think that that isn't, in part, due to the quality of moderation. I do feel that a large percentage of internet citizens are immature. People who hide behind their keyboards and flame or troll or abuse. I stand firmly behind Rich's posting policies and behind my fellow mods and the decisions they make.

That said, we moderators are human, and we can make mistakes. None of us are tyrranical despots. We are approachable, and if someone feels we overreacted to something, feel free to send us a private message. Either we'll explain our reasoning or change our decision. Any decision that can't stand the pressure of examination is probably not a good decision.

As far as the word filter is concerned. Um, who cares. It was a feature that came with yaBB and was configured and turned on when we started. It's proven entertaining from time to time, and slightly annoying at other times. But it is what it is and despite the annoyances, Rich has never seen the need to turn it off.

The community here continues to grow. We have members who have been here since the beginning and new people join all the time. Based on the number of people who complain about how innefficient the play by post forums are (there are much better choices for PbP games on the internet, people still want to play here) people seem to want to stick around. So, the evidence doesn't support your statement that the boards are unwelcoming.

Noone wants you to be unhappy, but if you're not comfortable with the rules and moderating the way it stands, maybe you'd be happier in a different community. Rich has stated before, that this is his sandbox, and he likes it the way it is.

HempRope
2005-09-21, 08:45 PM
Premier, I sympathasize with you. I can see where you're coming from, though I think that this is the only forum which I am a member of. Sometimes I think that the mods tend to overreact, and that it would be better if they censored rather than locking more often (actually, that is certainly an issue, and I would love to see things dealt with in a non-locking way).

However, I have stayed here nonetheless. I like the people, and I find tht as a general rule, the mods are friendly enough (though occasioanlly harsh). I have enjoyed playing in the playground with them before they were mods, and for the most part I trust them to keep things in line.

So while, yeah, I often think that the mods are being harsh, or a bit lock-happy, for the most part, I am satisfied with the community here. And I can't guarantee that if the mods were more relaxed, I would enjoy the forum as much.

Zherog
2005-09-21, 08:51 PM
Another point on the filters that I don't think RawBear mentioned...

over here in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=news;action=display;num=1120984737;s tart=), RawBear said it was OK to use filter dodging techniques when you were doing so to use legitimate uses of words. So, your discussion about levees and dikes could have been carried on just fine. So can a talk about the feat Chink In The Armor.

As for why your second example thread was locked:

From the Rules of Posting thread (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=news;action=display;num=1064187174):

1b.) Restarting a topic that has been locked is not allowed without specific permission from me.

Now, given that rule, I can see very clearly why Gorby locked the second thread. I'm not going to comment on the first - Gorby made a decision that he thought was best for the boards.

As someone who moderates another message board, I can tell you it's certainly more art than science. I think the mods here - overall - do a fine job. I, generally speaking, like the feel of the community. I think, perhaps, part of the reason things run smoothly around here is because the regulars understand and respect the rules. So sure, things looks calm and smooth and all that - but there's a reason.

So yeah - there ya go. The opinions of a non-moderator around this board.

Winged One
2005-09-22, 12:23 AM
Well, I'm the one who started the first thread in question, and I agree with Premier on that that thread shouldn't have been locked, but I'm also a member of another forum, which is unmoderated and erupts into a flame war at least twice a day(although it might have become less so recently, I haven't read that forum for a while). While some of the new mods are a bit overzealous, it is much better than an entirely unmoderated forum.

As to the side note on the bottom, I would like to confirm the truth of Premier's interpritation of my actions.

I would also like permission to re-open the topic in question.

RawBearNYC
2005-09-22, 09:02 AM
I would also like permission to re-open the topic in question.

Send a message to Gorbash explaining your point of view, there's no guarantee that he'll see this thread.

Ikkitosen
2005-09-22, 12:29 PM
Well, I have PM'd a mod before now regarding what I thought was an unfair locking of a thread and although I didn't agree with his reasons, I did get a rapid and polite response explaining why it had been done. I dislike some of the modding choices made, but I understand that they are largely made because people (including the mods) love these forums and are zealous in defence of their quality. If they annoy those mature members of the forum occasionally but save us from endless 133t speak and whatever else ruins other forums then I for one shall just get over them "peeing on my bonfire" once in a while and enjoy my time here.

Good points made all round, but I don't think much will change because incidences like this (i.e. complaints) are rare enough that to show that what we have works pretty well already.

Thanks,

Ikki.

heretic
2005-09-22, 07:21 PM
I can see both the mods' and the mere mortals' points of view here.

The mods want less conflict and less work*, so therefore if they see a thread that they can reasonably predict will result in multiple reprimands, they simply lock it and consider it two birds with one stone.

The mere mortals want a place to discuss other aspects of gaming, predominately, the perceived prejustice against it by others in the real world for varying reasons. *They have a valid viewpoint, but as soon as a whacko** looses his/her temper, the mods just "carpet bomb" the whole issue. *

What we need is a new forum, a forum where these kind of conversations happen. *The real world influences everything and you cannot deny that aspect of gaming. *The tricky part is moderating. *I say everybody has a viewpoint and no matter what, they will conflict eventually. *As long as posters can keep their posts respectful. *Example: *"All people from religion X are close-minded and brainwashed" *As opposed to "In my community, people tend to have a negative view of gaming due to their religious beliefs" *It is the way people say things, not the things they say that is truly unacceptable.

I'll be quiet now. *:-X

*I am not saying the mods are lazy. *Everybody wants less work or more efficient work. *(same thing)
**I have been reprimanded for being a whacko who lost his temper.

Elethiomel
2005-09-23, 05:47 AM
" Also, I did not write it with the intention of starting a debate here and now"

Ooooh that would be why you posted in a forum message instead of addressing the moderators in question or even Rich via Private Message. I can see you were totally pure in intention and not at all attention seeking.

You aren't quoting the right part of the original message. This is what you should have quoted if you wanted to critique Premier's choice of making this an open letter rather than a private one:


First of all, this is an open letter because I think the subject of it concerns not only Rich and myself, but the whole board at large. As long as they have the means to do so, it is everyone's right to write an open, public letter to another person. Please respect this right.

It's in the beginning of the post too, so I don't understand why you missed it.

TheChris
2005-09-23, 11:55 AM
Oh no I didn't miss it. But thank you for quoting part of the letter back to me.

He doesn't want to make drama but decides to make an open letter? Really cares about results and and the people and not his 15 minutes of fame? Of course! Make a public long letter and put it on the boards! What could be less of a drama bomb! In my opinion this should have been handled between the op and the mods involved first. Private messages and taking care of problems that way. Launching a large smear campaign hoping to get a, "Yay! Get go get 'em" response from the boards is not what I'd consider the best route of action.

But I hate drama bombs so I'm off to lurk elsewhere....

Elethiomel
2005-09-23, 01:45 PM
Oh no I didn't miss it. But thank you for quoting part of the letter back to me.

You're quite welcome.


He doesn't want to make drama but decides to make an open letter? Really cares about results and and the people and not his 15 minutes of fame? Of course! Make a public long letter and put it on the boards! What could be less of a drama bomb! In my opinion this should have been handled between the op and the mods involved first. Private messages and taking care of problems that way. Launching a large smear campaign hoping to get a, "Yay! Get go get 'em" response from the boards is not what I'd consider the best route of action.

Maybe you should ask what could be more of a drama bomb. This post could have been rather more inflammatory, which might have spawned more drama, for instance. I can think of many other ways to make a big drama splash in a forum such as this. This is not the top of the heap. It isn't even past page 1 yet!

It might not have been the best route of action, but there are advantages to this approach as well. Many other people (I imagine) have felt ambivalent about the way the thread that was pointed to as an example was handled - I know I am one of them. With this open-letter approach, all those (granted, maybe imaginary) people can see that somebody is trying to reach the board mods and owner about the issue. Instead of the mods and owner needing to handle each case individually, they can now opt to handle this case and point further inquiries to this thread.

Also, he actually said it wasn't his intention to start a debate on the subject, but that he didn't mind if a debate started. That, to me, suggests nothing dishonest about limelight or fame.


But I hate drama bombs so I'm off to lurk elsewhere....

If you hate drama bombs, why were you the first to post a reply to this? The best way to avoid a "drama bomb", as you term this, is to let it sink to the bottom of the page ASAP. Posting replies does not do that.

I hope you're happy whereever you've gone to lurk.

BlackLiger
2005-09-23, 05:28 PM
I'm no mod, and I'm new to these forums, but I have to drop in my 2 pence (Brit alert, Brit alert :P) in here.

I am a regular on MANY a forum, including www.codelyoko.com 's forum, and the forums at www.tauniverse.com

As such, I have not yet come across a forum as well organised as this 1, apart from maybe my own forums. (and some of that is set up having seen this forum)

And yes, there may be some overzelous moderation, but that is much preffered to rampant flaming and racism and such.

So, with that note....

I say the mods here are doing a great job.

BL out.

Communication ends.

sktarq
2005-09-24, 12:43 AM
Well in general I totally agree with the Mods doing a good job but in the instance (i consider the two threads linked) that Premier used as an example he was right IMO...We had a thread that discussed Christanity and Gaming (months ago) and that didn't get locked as far as i can remember...it was closely watched and i think warned at one point but i think that that thread proved that such discussions can be handled in a mature way on this board...the occanioal edit not withstanding...
I guess I also dislike the locking of the first thread mentioned more because i feel that the one inappropriate post was the main reason it was locked and that instead of having that post removed and the rest of the comunity moving on in a mature manner the thread was locked and the rest of the members interested in the subject had to suffer for it...I don't like that kind of precedent but not sure how to avoid it.
with respects
Tarq

mr.bob
2005-09-24, 10:44 AM
I think that the problem is that when serious topics are discussed, even if they are important to the RPG community, some mods feel that they need to lock them because they are afraid that it might turn the friendly banter thread into Staredit.net's serious discussion thread.

If you even go there you will find two pinned topics.
1: Stop flaming
2: Leave your ego at the door

It's a great forum, but it requires a large amount of moderator attention, much more then the other ones.

I think that certain threads, such as the ones mentioned in this topic should be allowed with moderator permission first (so they can watch them closely for excessive flaming or censor evasion) dispite having the name of the forum be "friendly banter".
I also think that locking that topic might have hurt Winged One personally, this was an important issue to him, and I think in more emotional cases such as that you should discuss the creator before locking the topic.

JeffreyToTheMax
2005-09-24, 10:30 PM
I don't think you speak for many of us, Premier. While your post seems to have been very well thought-out and makes a good point, I really don't think many people care about these things as you would suggest. The first thread you mentioned may have been fine if left alone, but I really don't see any need to take chances. The other boards I have been on that have kept standards almost as strict as the ones here have still occasionally had problems with flamers, trolls, and the like. Of course, this may only be my own experience, but I think it is more likely that you just have been to boards more mature than usual.

As for the language filter, I agree with RawBearNYC: it really doesn't make much of a difference. There are ways to get around it if needed, but I have yet to see any situations where this would have made any real difference.

The Giant
2005-09-25, 02:48 PM
OK, I just saw this thread.

Understand that all of the moderators here are operating off of general instructions that I gave them when they became mods. While the interpretations of those rules vary, there is a private moderator-only board where we discuss various threads and whether or not to police them. Since the newer crop of mods took up the job, I have agreed with probably 90-95% of their actions that I've been aware of. And the rest were still reasonably acceptable, it just wouldn't have been my personal take. But part of giving over most of the responsibility for moderating the boards to others was specifically because I don't have time/energy/ability to moderate the board myself. Therefore, while yes, I technically have the final say on anything, I consider the boards to be the moderator's domain. They volunteer their time here, and I don't believe in stepping on their toes.

When I started the board, I specifically wished to avoid flame wars and insults and other crap I see dished around other message boards. It frankly makes me sick to see people hiding behind their computer and spewing trash at each other. My feeling was that I would either have a message board that was free of such garbage, or I would not have a message board at all. And I still feel that way.

Remember that I am not obligated to provide you with the message board you desire. This is an entirely voluntary process on my part; I am providing the forum and bringing in the populace via the comic. Therefore, I get to make the rules, and frankly, if you don't like them, well, the internet is a vast place filled with many other message boards. I suggest you find one that better fits your desired atmosphere. However, as long as it is being hosted by my website and I am paying the bandwidth costs for it, this message board will continue to have a zero-tolerance policy towards flaming and will continue to consider certain flame-prone or offensive subject matters officially Off-Topic.

Keep in mind: The Rules of Posting declare all discussions of real-world politics and religion as Off-Topic. NOT all "potentially offensive" discussions. I don't care how polite and mature your discussion of Religion X is; it doesn't belong here. Bring it to another message board. This is my rule, and the moderators are just carrying it out. This message board will not be the home to discussions of this nature, positive or negative. And that's not up for debate.

As far as the word filter: It sucks. I admit that it is really awful to see it filter words that are PART of other words. The first time it filtered "pocketwatch" it took me like 10 minutes to figure out why. I would love nothing more than to have a better word filter that can tell the difference between a word segment and the actual word. HOWEVER, this is a site visited by a LOT of minors. OOTS is a comic strip with cute colorful characters, and I have been personally thanked by fans as young as 9 years old at conventions. Given that I consciously limit the language that makes it into the OOTS strip on that basis, I would be remiss not to do the same on the message board.

As far as racial or sexual orientation slurs, deal with it. I personally refuse to have anything with my name on it allow that kind of hate, and if that means that once in a while, you have to find a different way to spell your made-up onomatopoeic word, I'm fine with that. Once again, I would rather have NO message board than one where someone can call someone one of those words in hatred.

And I must disagree, if the filters disappared tonight, there would be f-words by morning--because we would have at least one new member by then who wouldn't know. And then someone else who wishes they could curse here and does so on other boards would see the new member's post and realize the filters were gone, and start throwing them into their posts, and so on. The filters help teach new members what is and isn't OK here on a level individual moderators can't.

So, in summary, I stand by my moderators. I believe we have one of the mosty well-mannered and polite message boards on the web, precisely because we tend to frustrate and annoy those who would rather disrupt it. We've only ever had to ban a handful of members, because everyone who gets warned for behavior they don't think is wrong tends to leave. I believe a lion's share of our posters choose to stay here precisely because we don't allow disruptive posting. The only possible result of relaxing our standards in regard to moderating would be an increase in unwlecome behavior, and a subsequent exodus by many of our long-time posters.

Therefore, I stand by my moderators and encourage anyone who wants to be able to break the rules here to buy a web domain and start their own message board where they can say whatever they want. Just don't expect me to want to post there.

Angry_Bill
2005-09-25, 05:11 PM
Word.

Premier
2005-09-25, 05:33 PM
Dear Giant,

First of all, thanks for your reply. It's good to hear your standpoint on the matter. Please allow me to address a couple of things in it.

First of all, I'd like to make it clear that it was never my intention to "attack" either the corps of moderators or you in any way. I did criticize certain things, and still stand by everything I've said, but this - along with this very post - was offered in the spirit of honest and constructive criticism; I hope it was taken in the same spirit. I'm only pointing out all this, because - though I well might be wrong - I personally felt that your post was written in a slightly defensive tone as if I had offended you in some way. Let me assure you this wasn't the intention. And of course I might be just imagining things.


Therefore, I get to make the rules, and frankly, if you don't like them, well, the internet is a vast place filled with many other message boards. I suggest you find one that better fits your desired atmosphere.

That's obvious. However, let me point out that the exact reason I've started this thread in the first place is exactly that I care about this forum and its community, and therefore I have a vested interest in giving voice to things that I feel could be improved about it, so to speak - even if my opinion might go against prevailing public thinking or the accepted 'party line'. I was assuming that you would read honest and constructive criticism with an open mind, in the spirit it was offered, without taking offense at the fact that it was offered, and I am assuming so still.


The Rules of Posting declare all discussions of real-world politics and religion as Off-Topic. NOT all "potentially offensive" discussions. I don't care how polite and mature your discussion of Religion X is; it doesn't belong here.

Perhaps I have not made this clear enough in my original post, but I have not criticised this arrangement in the least. I fully realize that you have the right to make such decisions, and would never think of criticising this right. What I have pointed out, and I think the thread I've linked to is a good example of this, is that sometimes threads get locked citing this rule even when the thread is not, in fact, a discussion of politics or religion at all. To put it simpler: the mere utterance of a word like "Labour Party" or "Muslim" does not in itself constitute a "discussion" of it - there are many other contexts where the word might crop up, completely legitimately. Nevertheless, it sometimes seems as if the simple appearance of the word was a de facto reason for banning.


And I must disagree, if the filters disappared tonight, there would be f-words by morning--because we would have at least one new member by then who wouldn't know.

This is more of a personal note, but I guess we can just agree to disagree on this, can't we? I mean, even if a newbie came around and started swearing, older members would just quickly warn him that this is unacceptable, and 19 times out of 20 that would be it. I think you're assuming us to be worse than we really are with the "and older members would also start swearing"-bit, which ties in a bit with what I've originally said. Anyway, just a personal thought.

SalSar_Thiran
2005-09-25, 10:56 PM
Premier, I think you have crossed the line between honest criticism and preaching your cause. *The Giant has stated that the moderators have his support. *Also I remember from before the discussions about the filter. *If the mods keep tighter reigns on this forum than on others, that can only reflect the on the quality of this board. *I attend another message board that is unmoderated, and frankly I approve of Gorbash's locking of those threads. *While the one about the guy with no players aound in an anti-dnd community was not quite to the line, it looked to be headed in that direction. *And Premier, sadly when dealing with people online, one has too assume that they are immature little brats out to cause trouble, because anonimity breeds arrogance and allows people too attack without fear of retaliation.

The Giant
2005-09-26, 05:47 AM
I think you're assuming us to be worse than we really are with the "and older members would also start swearing"-bit, which ties in a bit with what I've originally said.

And I think you're being unrealistically optimistic and assuming a great deal about your fellow posters. This is the INTERNET here. Do you really believe you can confidently speak for 6000 or so random anonymous people, any number of which might be under the age of 18? I can only presume you've never been a member of an unmoderated, unfiltered message board.

The filters stay. The moderators will continue to act as they feel appropriate. If any of them reads this thread and decides to agree with you, then they may voluntarily choose to change their behavior. I won't lose any sleep if none of them do.

Zherog
2005-09-26, 08:05 AM
The first time it filtered "pocketwatch" it took me like 10 minutes to figure out why.


That is so unfair to do to someone that hasn't had caffeine yet today. It took me ten minutes or so to figure it out just now. *sigh* I kept thinking of other words... :-[

Premier wrote:
This is more of a personal note, but I guess we can just agree to disagree on this, can't we? I mean, even if a newbie came around and started swearing, older members would just quickly warn him that this is unacceptable, and 19 times out of 20 that would be it. I think you're assuming us to be worse than we really are with the "and older members would also start swearing"-bit, which ties in a bit with what I've originally said. Anyway, just a personal thought.

Two things here. First, what you are suggesting is, itself, against the recent rules of vigilante moderating by members of the community. So, essentially, your answer to the problems would be rapant rule breaking - not a very good introduction for new people, huh?

Second, I've been on a message that once softened the filters in that it went from replacing words with symbols ('@#@$%@' type things) to replacing just one letter of the word. I can tell you that, without a doubt, more of the filtered words starting appearing. I personally find it hard to believe that if the filters were removed everybody would continue to behave. I've seen firsthand on another board what happens when the filters are just relaxed.

***

Finally, a generic note for anybody who wishes to discuss politics or religion. Go over to the menu bar on the left and click the "Go" button. One of the links in there will be to the "NIfty Message Board." We allow talk of religion and politics and other hot button topics. We have gaming talk - though certainly with a "min max" bias. Anybody is welcome to come check us out and participate if the board seems to be to your liking.

I like this board the way it is, though. I'm still working to get my employer to unblock it so I can participate more.

Malachi, the Lich King
2005-09-29, 02:03 PM
I believe a lion's share of our posters choose to stay here precisely because we don't allow disruptive posting. The only possible result of relaxing our standards in regard to moderating would be an increase in unwlecome behavior, and a subsequent exodus by many of our long-time posters.


Yes, I'd be gone in a moment if the tone of this board started to head south. The filter can be a pain sometimes but without it, posts would be profanity laced within a week's time. I see no need to discuss religion or politics on the message boards of a humor strip. The are good policies IMO and obviously haven't been implemented as knee-jerk reactions but are hard and fast lines that have conviction behind them. I believe these rules have directlly fostered the community found here and it'd sadden me to see anything change the tone of these boards.

RawBearNYC
2005-09-29, 02:31 PM
Yes, I'd be gone in a moment if the tone of this board started to head south. *The filter can be a pain sometimes but without it, posts would be profanity laced within a week's time. *I see no need to discuss religion or politics on the message boards of a humor strip. *The are good policies IMO and obviously haven't been implemented as knee-jerk reactions but are hard and fast lines that have conviction behind them. *I believe these rules have directlly fostered the community found here and it'd sadden me to see anything change the tone of these boards.
Hehehe...how sad is it that you think the message boards are for the comic strip :) We made this website and Rich added the comic strip as an afterthought, and it's really become the focus of the site. The gaming stuff has fallen waaaaay to the wayside :(

Charity
2005-10-28, 08:59 AM
I would like to chuck in my tuppence

I am mature in body, and hopefully deed, and I can appreciate the point Premier is making.
However I have watched forums die due to excessive freedom and also from draconian modding. This forum is a paragon of the third way. I have seen more intellectual forums with more 'grown up' debate but I have also seen these forum brung low by their 'freedom of expression' principles.
I love this forum because it does treat us all equally, be you 35 or 13 you will be expected to use the same language and treat your peers with the same degree of respect. I think this is creditable to the mods, and to a lesser degree, Rich (sorry Giant but as far as I've seen they shoulder the lions share of the responsibility, no slur intended)
I'm afraid I do not share your optomistic view of the general populous, they will always stoop to the lowest common denominator, which would I'm sure lead to the sorry end of this forum. I would feel this loss deeply as would many others I'm sure. It isn't broke so lets not try tinkering.


Keep up the good work all.

SilverElf4
2005-11-03, 04:26 PM
Eh...I'm new here, so I won't comment on the specifics, but there is a general dynamic at work here that needs to be pointed out.

Wherever safe space is created, people begin to share of themselves.

In essence the Giant has put his boards in an impossible position. As the fellowship of the people on this board, and this community, grows and deepens, its members will continue to open up more and more to one another, and share deeper and deeper of themselves.

As a result, more and more threads like the one discussed here will result. People won't go elsewhere because, quite frankly, the safe space and comfort level doesn't exist elsewhere.

So, its basically a Catch-22 we have going here. Eventually something will give. Either the mods will be drawn into the community and loosen the restrictions, the Giant will change his mind, or the populous will move on and leave their frustrations behind.

In the meantime, the board is the way it is, and hopefully open letters and honest criticism like this one will continue to be allowed and responded too. And we will continue, as players, and as people, to enjoy the safe space that has been created.

Thanks for letting a n00b toss his opinions in the ring. :)

FlashFire
2005-11-09, 01:32 PM
Eh...I'm new here, so I won't comment on the specifics, but there is a general dynamic at work here that needs to be pointed out.

Wherever safe space is created, people begin to share of themselves.

In essence the Giant has put his boards in an impossible position. *As the fellowship of the people on this board, and this community, grows and deepens, its members will continue to open up more and more to one another, and share deeper and deeper of themselves.

As a result, more and more threads like the one discussed here will result. *People won't go elsewhere because, quite frankly, the safe space and comfort level doesn't exist elsewhere.

So, its basically a Catch-22 we have going here. *Eventually something will give. *Either the mods will be drawn into the community and loosen the restrictions, the Giant will change his mind, or the populous will move on and leave their frustrations behind.

In the meantime, the board is the way it is, and hopefully open letters and honest criticism like this one will continue to be allowed and responded too. *And we will continue, as players, and as people, to enjoy the safe space that has been created.

Thanks for letting a n00b toss his opinions in the ring. *:)


Silver Elf is quite right, and I see the Catch 22. The Moderators have done a FANTASTIC job here (I've been the moderator on many other forums, and I have to say that I'm deeply impressed by the seemingly professional way in which everything is handled here). The first example Premier put out is interesting... it's blatantly obvious how that quickly could have become inflammatory, but at the same time, it's a very relavant issue to gamers these days. The second thread mentioned, however, clearly violates the rules of reopening a locked thread, even if approached from another angle.

I guess I'm saying I would like to a more serious discussion on stigma against gamers, and I must say that there is no "safer" place than here, where all of the poster are quite closely monitored and offensive material kept WAY outside the boundaries of normal behavior.

Just my two cents... but I guess I'm happy either way.

Spuddly
2005-11-30, 06:22 AM
I, too, have noticed the sort of heavy moderating here. Not overbearingly, by any means, but it does feel a little like we're being babysat.

Sciurusaurus
2005-12-15, 09:18 PM
Hehehe...how sad is it that you think the message boards are for the comic strip :) We made this website and Rich added the comic strip as an afterthought, and it's really become the focus of the site. The gaming stuff has fallen waaaaay to the wayside :(

If it's any consolation, we who are on the forum for the gaming stuff do exist ;)

I'll have to admit, it was through the webcomic I found the site, but without interesting gaming discussions I would never have bothered with the forum. But in hindsight I am very glad that I did :)

I agree with the policies of the forums. While it is possible to have a forum with a good atmosphere with less rules, there is no guarantee that relaxing on some of the rules will not lead to an increase in unwanted behavior. I'm pretty sure that most of the times people would still behave, but it doesn't take very much bad behavior to destroy the mood in a community for a long time.

That some discussions are off-limit is a price I'd gladly pay to keep this forum as it is. And that is from one that thoroughly enjoys discussion both politics and religion. But I can do that elsewhere.

Another rpg forum I am a regular on does not have this restriction on discussion. 95 % of the time, it's not a problem. But it has led to discussions where members have crossed the line thoroughly enough to get banned. That it happened to be one of the most active (and veteran) members was a shame.