Per recent discussions both inside the modbox and on the forum, it has become apparent that levels of hostility are dampening civil discourse. Effective immediately, as described below, we will be taking action to curtail this trend. The FAQ is in the process of revision, but consider this announcement your notice of some (but not all) of the changes ahead of them being officially codified. We expect a revised FAQ to be published by Sunday November 10th. We're incorporating mod/admin observation plus member feedback from many recent threads, so the details are forthcoming.
In the meantime, few guidelines:
- This is not a free-speech playground. The first amendment of the US Constitution (as this is a US-based site) protects you from being punished by the government for speaking your mind. We honor your first amendment rights by promising not to report you to the authorities for calling another member a fuckface. But that doesn't mean we're going to let you call another member a fuckface. This is and has always been a moderated forum. Hostility is not the tone we want to maintain here.
- Disagree with the argument, but avoid insults. Insults can result in an infraction, whether one insults a person directly or indirectly. Insults are not limited to namecalling or profanity. An insult is defined as speaking or treating with disrespect or scornful abuse. Examples of communication that is insulting includes the following: abuse, disparage, discredit, belittle, libel, slander, malign, defame, denigrate, treat with contempt, cast aspersions on, call someone names, put someone down, affront or humiliate. If you are on the "borderline" between insult and reasoned argument, you're probably being insulting and are risking warnings, infractions or a possible ban.
- Constant backbiting and/or aggressively confrontational posting contributes to a hostile environment. A hostile environment keeps other, less reactive people from feeling free to speak THEIR minds. We want to hear from them, too, not just the members with the most volatile personalities.
- We will look not only at individual posts but also the pattern of posting. Specifically, it will be considered hostile behavior if an individual frequently makes posts which exhibit a pattern of low level insults, harassing behavior, attacking, bullying or trolling.
- We will use the rules as a guideline but will also be using our judgment to determine when the hostility has become unacceptable. We realize that this will seem unfairly subjective to some but we feel that it is necessary given the complexities of human interaction. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly, you can always contact us to discuss the matter.
We will be making liberal use of the warning system to let people know when they're treading the line during a transitional period, which will occur for 30 days after the date of this note. Warnings do not carry the same weight as infractions, so please don't feel persecuted if you get a warning. We're all learning together. Hostility may also result in having posts moved to the Graveyard. For members who repeatedly have posts moved from a main forum thread to the Graveyard, thread bannings will be the next step. More frequent shorter temp bans or daily posting limits will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Thanks to all who have offered feedback. Please continue to do so. Please report posts that are problematic, especially if you have been hesitant to do so in the past. Sometimes, this is the only way we know about an issue. We may or may not consult with you about the content of your report but we read and discuss each and every one that comes in.
Please also note that since the FAQ is under construction, all of this is in flux and subject to revision before the final version of the FAQ goes live. Thanks to all for contributing to the discussions recently, and I look forward to discussing interesting content with you all once we're through this most recent growing pain.