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Old 23 Dec 2002, 08:09 PM   #1
Jeremy Howard
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Rule J

Here is Rule J:
Quote:
J) No second-guessing the moderators I trust the moderators to do their jobs well and to make appropriate decisions. If a post has been locked, modified or deleted by a moderator, or a poster or service banned from these Forums, it's a FACT. Therefore please do not start posts debating the merits and demerits of a particular moderation action.
I don't much like Rule J. It a bit too generic... What is "second-guessing the moderators" exactly? One of the things I like about the rules here is that they're simple to understand and follow; if someone gets banned, it's easy to see why (so far this has only occured because of spamming IIRC). Rule J is the only exception.

The other thing I don't like about Rule J is that I think it is stifling genuinely useful meta-discussion. People have expressed a number of times that they don't feel they can comment on the running of this forum at all. I don't think that's right--it's not actually what Rule J says--but I can see why people could read it this way.

I do understand why the rule exists--before it appeared there were lengthy threads full of whining any time Edwin took any action. The threads weren't useful, and sometimes they multiplied as the same person opened additional threads on the same topic...

I wonder therefore if the rule could be reworded and tuned to make it more specific, to just remove the particular behaviour that caused problems. Maybe simply "no discussion of banned sites or banned users, including requests for bans to be removed or complaints about the bans"?

PS: If anyone is interested in replying to this thread, please ensure that you don't discuss any particular moderation action which has occured, since that is against the current Rule J. Please only the discuss the policy in general, to avoid such problems.
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Old 24 Dec 2002, 01:43 AM   #2
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If the rule is amended as you say, I think it would have to be made clear that even negative discussion ("Spammer.org is crap!" etc.) would be forbidden...
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Old 28 Dec 2002, 10:50 PM   #3
gpdoyon
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I think that the rule is fine as it stands. Sometimes the answer is just No!. This type of situation reminds me of something. My kids are still pretty young, ages fifteen and twelve. We usually tell our kids why we came to a particuluar decision with regards to their asking us if they could do something. On rare occasions myself or my wife would say that they couldn't do something they'd want to know why. Fair enough. We'd try to explain why they couldn't do something.

They would then follow up with a counter-point. We would then explain why their reasoning wasn't correct. They try again. We'd explain another way......on and on and on. Finally it was determined by the wife and me that they just weren't able to see our side of things due to lack of life experience or whatever. Maybe we couldn't see their point as well. We'd have to agree to disagree. Our decision stood. Sometimes "No" will have to stand is just "No" without going in to a huge debate/discussion.

Now, I am NOT comparing the people who visit these forums as kids and we the moderators are the adults, but, it seems similar under some circumstances. Some people just don't get it and discussing the rules with them over and over and over just seems to digress in to something nasty.

That was my two cents.

- Gerry

Last edited by gpdoyon : 28 Dec 2002 at 10:56 PM.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 02:43 AM   #4
ReuvenNY
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Gerry, my kids are 28, 23 and 18. They are wonderful kids, and I do not have the kind of issues you mentioned with your younger kids. But any issues we are debating, we are DEBATING! No NOs or YESs, just discussions, debates and conversations. Although you say you are not comparing the moderators to parents - you are. That is the premiss of your posting.

If you want to have a discussion forum, you must allow DISCUSSION! As an owner of a forum, one can set any rules they wish. But if they are not reasonable (and I am not saying they are in this case) the participants will eventually stop participating.
So my advice to any forum owner and moderator is: distinguish between the real important rules, those that are a must in order to maitain a civil and friendly forum, and rules that could be construed as capricious, are borderline and ultimately have no impact on the civility and usablity of the forum.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 05:50 AM   #5
gpdoyon
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Quote:
Originally posted by ReuvenNY
Gerry, my kids are 28, 23 and 18. They are wonderful kids, and I do not have the kind of issues you mentioned with your younger kids. But any issues we are debating, we are DEBATING! No NOs or YESs, just discussions, debates and conversations. Although you say you are not comparing the moderators to parents - you are. That is the premiss of your posting.
I respectfully disagree. What I said is exactly what I meant and no interpretation is needed. As I said, they are similar. The major differences here is that we are all adults. To further state my point, not everything is open to discussion and debate.

Quote:
If you want to have a discussion forum, you must allow DISCUSSION! As an owner of a forum, one can set any rules they wish. But if they are not reasonable (and I am not saying they are in this case) the participants will eventually stop participating.
You have hit the nail right on the head. It is entirely up to the forum owner to set the rules and guidelines. If you don't like them then don't participate. I don't see the problem. By the way, I run my own discussion forums as well so I speak from first hand experience.

Quote:
So my advice to any forum owner and moderator is: distinguish between the real important rules, those that are a must in order to maitain a civil and friendly forum, and rules that could be construed as capricious, are borderline and ultimately have no impact on the civility and usablity of the forum.
Therein lies the problem....the forum owner decides what the rules are, be they important or not from the forum participants perspective. I believe that the rules that Edwin put in place are fair and open minded. If they were not then the forums would not have become what they are today.

Thank you for you comments.

- Gerry

Last edited by gpdoyon : 29 Dec 2002 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 10:24 AM   #6
psalzer
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Just for the sake of argument...or debate...has anyone got any ideas on how J could be reworded so as to keep the important points in it, but make people feel more comfortable about expressing themselves in constructive ways? This sort of thing has been a sticky point on other forums as well and I don't have the answer, but would be interested peoples' thoughts on the subject.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 01:51 PM   #7
Edwin
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Here is my intent for Rule J - this may help people in trying to formulate an alternative. If one can be worded that covers ALL the points below, I am very willing to look at it!

A) Banned services should not be discussed IN ANY WAY. This includes (but is not limited to): the reasons for their banning, the fairness or otherwise of such a ban, the reinstatement of a banned service and/or the quality or lack of quality of the actual service.

B) Bans on Forum members should not be discussed IN ANY WAY. If a poster has been banned, that's it - a line has been drawn under their participation in these Forums and I want to hear no more about it or them.

C) Debates about particular moderation action: as I said in Rule J, I am trusting the moderators to do a GOOD job when it comes to moderating THESE Forums. If they have to remove or amend a post or posts, I support them 100.00% in any action they take.

I fail to see why any of the 3 points above can be construed as significantly impairing anyone's ability to discuss email services which, after all, is the purpose of these Forums. With the exception of the very, very small number of banned services, all discussions are open and the moderators apply what I believe is a relatively light touch when they step in to guide a particular discussion.

So if anyone can come up with a rule - or rules - that cover the above without any "wriggle room" (i.e. which do not leave open the possibility of an ongoing debate about these particular rules) yet where the wording is more paletable/approachable than Rule J, I'm all ears!
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 04:35 PM   #8
Shelded
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Question

I think J is unambiguous enough. There may be room for improvement of tact but the meaning seems fine to me. Too much wordiness would dilute the message.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 08:57 PM   #9
Jeremy Howard
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OK, I believe I can suggest three short rules to replace rule J. I admit that the crafting of these is not entirely my own work:
Quote:
A) Banned services may not be discussed IN ANY WAY, including the ban itself and/or the quality or lack of quality of the actual service.

B)Bans on Forum members may not be discussed IN ANY WAY.

C)Specific moderation actions may not be discussed in any way. This includes "moderator inaction"--do not post a request for some moderator action, but use the 'report this post' button instead'
Rule C is in line with Edwin's stated aims above, but I think it stilts useful meta-discussion that could strengthen and enhance the forum. As Gpdoyen said, this is not my forum to set the overall policies, so if that's the way it goes, c'est la vie. FWIW however, here are another couple of options for a rule C which may stop professional whingers, without stopping discussion:
Quote:
C i) Discussion of any moderator action or inaction (other than user/forum bans, which may not be discussed) must only occur on the 'About This Site' forum. Posts will be moved to that forum as required, but those that repeatedly ignore this rule will be banned

C ii) If a moderator closes a thread and declares some particular topic closed, then that topic must not be reopened in a new or existing thread
Alternative (i) allows professional whingers to harp on as long as they like (within the other rules) as long as they avoid polluting the email discussion forums.

Alternative (ii) leaves room for ad hoc judgement as to when a topic is out of bounds. I think it's easier to leave room for judgement and common sense than to write everything in stone sometimes, but when doing so precedents must not be retrospective.

I think that both alternatives would be reasonably effective.

Just my AU$0.02 (RM0.04).

Last edited by Jeremy Howard : 29 Dec 2002 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 09:58 PM   #10
psalzer
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First, there are rules A-L. I'm kind of doubting that first time people read them through let alone memorize them but they're their for reference if problems arise. I hesitate to endorse including a three part subset to one of them, but Edwin's expanation here of the discussion of banned members and services might add some clarity so maybe it's a good idea.

It seems there really isn't disagreement or question about the discussion of banned services, but rather it's just a matter of how clear that rule is on that subject. The area that's hazy is second-guessing or discussion of moderator actions. Unfortunately, I can't think of a way to make the boundaries there very clear, regardless of where you put them. As a moderator I don't have a problem with someone posting in About This Site to question an action and I don't have a problem explaining the action. That could add to the understanding of how the forums are run, especially for recent members who haven't seen it evolve. It'll still wind up to be a judgement call as to when things are getting out of hand, though.
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Old 29 Dec 2002, 10:38 PM   #11
mailboy
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I wonder what Edwin is thinking? After all, he IS the law here.
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Old 30 Dec 2002, 01:05 AM   #12
Werpon
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I recently stopped posting here (not that I have made a great contribution to this forum, but still...) just because I don't agree with this "rule J". I saw two threads locked because somebody mentioned (not advertised, not advocated) a banned service.

I know this is a private forum and the owner can do whatever he wants, and I am completely against people who discuss every single rule just because; but I believe there is always room for a little constructive discussion. In other words, why have several threads been locked when some guy just mentioned a banned service? And why can't I politely say that I don't agree with what a moderator did? I just can't understand such an strict application of the rules.

Quote:
distinguish between the real important rules, those that are a must in order to maitain a civil and friendly forum, and rules that could be construed as capricious, are borderline and ultimately have no impact on the civility and usablity of the forum.
This is pretty much what I wanted to say with this post.
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Old 30 Dec 2002, 08:59 AM   #13
Boom
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If someone post a comment about e.g. spamservice123.arpa how does he know if it the service is banned or not? I mean should there be a link to a blacklist? new members won't know that.
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Old 30 Dec 2002, 09:16 AM   #14
Edwin
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Quote:
Originally posted by Boom
If someone post a comment about e.g. spamservice123.arpa how does he know if it the service is banned or not? I mean should there be a link to a blacklist? new members won't know that.
The name/URL of the service will be censored (*******) automatically.
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Old 31 Dec 2002, 04:47 AM   #15
elvey
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Quote:
People have expressed a number of times that they don't feel they can comment on the running of this forum at all.
I don't think this is based on a reasonable interpretation of Rule J. It's fine as is, except all the Rules are sentences and should have periods at the ends.
Quote:
I saw two threads locked because somebody mentioned (not advertised, not advocated) a banned service.
If it was mentioned, it was by going around the auto-censor. Obviously a no-no. And it's publicity for the service. And there's some truth to the claim there's no such thing as bad publicity, e.g. "xyz.dom is lame cuz they don't boot spammers" is efectively an ad for spam services.

Looking over the Rules, it seems that they can be quite effectively summarized:
Be ethical, respectful, and follow good netiquette. [ A shorter list of rules (with an appendix) would be a good idea, no? I think this one short sentence covers A-J.

Last edited by elvey : 31 Dec 2002 at 04:49 AM.
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