Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on January 11, 2010 By Draginol In Everything Else

What is the best way to have a civil online community? There are lots of opinions on this.  My position has always been to eliminate toxic users as quickly as possible. Ban them.

Debating a topic: Good. Personalizing the debate: Getting onto thin ice.  Attacking people in the debate: Over the line.

Over on Neowin.net, we’ve been trying to find ways to clean up the forums. News comments and forum posts there are pretty rough and much of that is, I believe, because of the light hand given to punishing or eliminating users who are, well, jerks.

Like most discussions, it is HOW a point id expressed that leads to trouble. 

Most people who get moderated/warned feel they were unjustly picked on - even users who just got done using a string of profanity to describe someone's mother.

From a discussion on Neowin.net:

Quote -
The greatest thing about you, Brad, is that you are engaged with the community. Being the CEO of Stardock and a Moderator here is really a blessing. You have to realize though that not everyone is going to hold back just because you're in a position of power here.

Certainly, I realize that. However, the onus isn't on me to accept abuse. 

Quote -
I maintain that it was an opinion, but again, I'm trying to give you options to better your company. I didn't feel it was a true insult and remember, you insulted yourself a few times in that thread, using stereotypes of "Frogboy being X".


I would submit that a user insulting themselves is not a violation of Neowin's rules. 

However, again, *any* time you turn a discussion away from the topic and onto a person you are treading on thin ice. We can rationalize the validity of the personal discussion but at the end of the day, moving from discussing a TOPIC to discussing a PERSON is a move from green to yellow.

Quote -
I respect you, whether or not I said it. Maybe you are so used to people truly attacking you, that when someone slightly does, you put up a wall. I'm no psychologist, but I have a feeling there is a bit of truth to this. And yes, if you were throwing things and calling me an "ass" like you did.


This is why making it personal is a bad thing because people naturally want to respond in kind.

In your previous message you said "Don't throw a tantrum if you don't get your way." I can tell you that's a pretty provocative thing to say. 

Quote -
...and threatened to kick me out of your house PERMANENTLY and vow for me to never return, not only would I say that to your face, I would laugh and find a house that isn't made of glass, with rocks as foundation.


Then don't be surprised when you're not welcome at said house. If you can't behave in a way that is acceptable to the owners and moderators of a site, then you're not going to be welcome there.

Quote -
To continue though, you do need a thicker skin on here.


Except, no, I really don't. And more to the point: Neither do the users of Neowin. 

The answer is NOT for people to get a thicker skin. The answer is for those people who like to make discussions personal to tread carefully. 

Discussing the topic: Green.
Discussing a person in the conversation: Yellow.
Attacking the person: Red.

The issue of "consistent moderation" boils down to someone saying they didn't really go through a red light but an "orange" light whereas someone else was clearly going through a red. The best route imo is to simply avoid the yellow light.

(original http://www.neowin.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=862112&st=345)


Comments (Page 2)
on Jan 13, 2010

I would argue the opposite: a good mod has to NOT be a participating member of the community. That's like a ref also being a player

Good point!  I agree.

I'm not toxic....just destructive and creative.

You are a mad bomber!  Pull, the pin, toss the grenade, and stand back and watch the fun!

on Jan 13, 2010

tetleytea

However, a good moderator also has to be a member of the community.
I would argue the opposite:  a good mod has to NOT be a participating member of the community.  That's like a ref also being a player.  The minute the mod participates, the discussion is colored, because you know if you alienate the mod, that mod becomes biased, and now you have to worry about that mod searching for loopholes to cite you for "infractions".  And as a mod, even you know that when you participate--particularly on a controversial topic--you are acquiring a bias.  OTOH if the topics you're participating in are pretty innocuous--like cooking, technical stuff, travel, bricks--I don't see the big deal.   Like the mods on the Galciv2 forum:  customer support issues I consider to be "technical" stuff.  Sure, participate.  But if you start getting into something like sports, you're starting to enter a grey area.  I know I, personally, wouldn't regard your conformance to the rules any differently because you were a New York Jets fan.  But if you are someone who chose to be a mod for a sports board, chances are you're passionate about the topic.  It would be inappropriate for you to openly favor one team over another.

 

On Heavengames (which is a large community of different games)  in the Age of Wonders section there is this mod (can I name him btw?) who's a rulerider (does that make sense in english?) which I dislike. I'd say they need to participate in the community. Otherwise I feel like they are some securityguard at a bar or something and I don't like that. That's part of me as well since I don't like other people having more power then me (yeah I KNOW how this sounds....)

 

To me it's good if a mod participates in a discussion and takes sides in sports or whatever.

 

The minute the mod participates, the discussion is colored, because you know if you alienate the mod, that mod becomes biased, and now you have to worry about that mod searching for loopholes to cite you for "infractions".

 

If the mod gets alienated (distanced) then he gets LESS biased. How did you arrive at that conclusion of yours?

on Jan 13, 2010

Fuzzy Logic
It is never acceptable to call other people names or exchange insults. Put across a point of view strongly, yes, but not at the expense of others. You have no right to call someone a retard simply because they have a different opinion to you.

 

How about if the guy is being a jerk?  By that I mean he is being insulting to others or deliberately being antagonistic even if it's in a passive way.

 

Sometimes I steam in to a thread where some ass hat is trolling or just acting like a spoilt brat and call it like it is that they guy is an idiot.  Am I using unacceptable behaviour or do I just have a low idiot threshold and it's not really a crime to shoot people who are deliberately painting targets on themselves.

 

Case in point, not me calling this guy out but a totally justified response that I agree with:

http://forums.stardock.com/373491/page/1/#2503681

on Jan 13, 2010

A game like basketball can have refs because the NCAA and NBA provide fairly clear, simple rules to govern action on the court.

How much basketball do you play?   Calling fouls in basketball is an extremely fuzzy part of the game and it affects virtually everything you do.   The analogy's actually pretty good, because most games of basketball are pickup.  You call your own fouls.  And pickup definitely has its share of lamers who will baby up any time you touch them.

 

If the mod gets alienated (distanced) then he gets LESS biased. How did you arrive at that conclusion of yours?

 

Webster's:

alien·at·ed; alien·at·ing

1 : to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent especially where attachment formerly existed

 

the TTV dictionary (tetleytea version):

1.  to piss off, often as a result of not kissing their a**

 

on Jan 13, 2010

Guilty, but I never run there, I always walk and most of the time I'm driven.

on Jan 13, 2010

How much basketball do you play? Calling fouls in basketball is an extremely fuzzy part of the game and it affects virtually everything you do. The analogy's actually pretty good, because most games of basketball are pickup. You call your own fouls. And pickup definitely has its share of lamers who will baby up any time you touch them.

I don't play at all, but I like to learn and think about important subcultures. You mentioned refs, so pickup games never came to mind. Now, though, your sports analogy's starting to work for me, but that's because I think a forum is more like a pickup game than a formal game.

... 1. to piss off, often as a result of not kissing their a**

This, I agree, would be a problem. I haven't seen it personally since back in the BBS days, but that's because Stardockia is the only place on the modern web where I 'waste' this sort of time. I can tell from what I read here that many (most?) game-related boards are awash in barbarians, and I pity the poor mods who have to wrangle them.

on Jan 20, 2010

Fuzzy Logic
You will always have a small minority who believe it is their right to say what they like. I've seen here recently people referred to as 'morons' or 'retards'. It is so easy for them to do it, and, with no recriminations, is reinforced as being acceptable behavior.

It is never acceptable to call other people names or exchange insults. Put across a point of view strongly, yes, but not at the expense of others. You have no right to call someone a retard simply because they have a different opinion to you.

I've long been a believer in moderating with a strong hand. By that I don't mean interfering, I mean sorting out individuals who make being online a pain for others.

There are some fine communities here amongst the various Stardock sites, why let a small minority spoil the enjoyment of everyone else. I wouldn't be afraid to ban if the whole is benefitted.

 

 

That's an incredibly Vulcan response. But I agree.

on Jan 20, 2010

if you wanat to have a civil internet community, have everyone go by their first names. Seriously.

It's amazing.

 

No, I'm going to going ot hand out the link to it for the masses but it's quite an unusual forum

on Jan 20, 2010

if you wanat to have a civil internet community, have everyone go by their first names. Seriously.

It's amazing.

Aye, you are likely correct, though the trade off would be harsh. In my experience anonymity allows concepts to flourish and test themselves without the baggage of social anxieties, where people either filter or exacerbate their opinions on account of the percieved flow of public opinion. Though I understand that this will occur regardless, in the anonymous scenario the idea will usually take precedence over the individual...in the world of 'you are this snippet of language' people will fall back to the defend the keep everytime, leaving the ideas themselves to flounder under the stairs as gimps of the social.