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Discussion Starter #1
I've been getting kind of paranoid about back-seat moderating. I feel like if I mention the forum at all, like as an entity, I need to add a line to cover any hint that I am speaking for the forum in any way.

Is this necessary? Could someone please expand on that rule for me? :redface: I'm not trying to cause a problem, but I'd like to enjoy posting here and not be worried that I'm breaking a rule. Do you have to explicitly say "This thread should be closed" the "t***" word or something along those lines for it to be against the rules? Or tell a member what to do on the forum? Or is it less black and white?
 

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I am also waiting for a moderator to explain this rule in particular. Can we question a posters intentions or should we just report them? What about the validity of a thread? Lots of grey areas in my mind.
 

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Yea, I had -no clue- the "T" word had suddenly become against the rules as I have seen it used and used it here for over 2 years with no reprimand or warnings at all. With that said I can see where they are coming from with the rule.. I have taken "back seat moderating" to mean "don't say anything that may be misconstrued as offensive, ever." I think if we stick to it like that we should be relatively safe.
 

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I don't understand why we aren't allowed to question someone's intentions, at least in a respectful way, if it is completely unclear what those intentions are. There should be a level of self-policing within just about any community because.. well, that's what humans do. We call each other on our crap. It's human nature. I'd like to see this happen more than act like tattle-tale-tells-the-teacher all the time. And I agree with the OP: It seems like such a touchy subject on these forums that I'm terrified to even talk about the forum as an entity.

There should be nothing wrong with informing someone as to what the rules are either, but this too has been called "back-seat moderating" which is a little odd. Community members should be able to inform other community members as to the rules, as long as they do it politely, and frankly so the moderators don't always have to.

It's a bit like walking on eggshells when it comes to this rule, and if you even come close to breaking it, you typically get a public earful about how you're nearly "crossing a line" of some kind.. which is something I've never seen in a community before. Maybe that's supposed to make an example of that person (which doesn't seem like very good policy, to be honest)? All it does is foster fear and confusion re: the moderators.

And what's worse on top of it all? Is that despite the fact that we have a set of rules, I clearly see moderators allowing some threads that are breaking the rules (calling people out / berating them / accusing them of things / etc... there's one thread in particular I'm thinking of, in fact), which makes the rules entirely ambiguous, sort of like the rules are based on nothing more than what moderators feel like doing at any one time. How are people supposed to follow rules that are not uniformly enforced anyway?

Eh, this is getting a bit long now... but the long and the short of it is that I think "back-seat-moderating" isn't a bad thing. I think most social gathering institutions, be them online or offline, has a level of self-policing where people may bring up the rules or keep each other in line, make sure new people understand situations and boundaries, make sure we can tell each other when we see that we've crossed lines, and so on.

Oh well.
 

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I'm starting to get paranoid, too, because I've seen some long-time members get the boot for seemingly random stuff that I didn't even see what they said wrong. One person basically said "don't talk to me that way" and got booted. And then some other people say pretty much the same things and don't get banned. It's starting to seem like the rules are dependent on whether the mods like you or not. I don't understand the new rules (or new enforcement of the existing rules) and I don't want to accidentally get banned. I hope the mods will clarify some things for us.
 

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The most common context has been responding to a naive or ignorant-sounding post like this: : "I think this guy is a troll" or "I smell a troll" or something similar.

If you truly believe the poster is a troll (or a spammer) the only acceptable response is to report the post and let the moderators deal with it. If you respond or quote the "troll" or the "spammer," then you're back-seat moderating and you're making the clean-up that much more difficult.

Here's an example. There was a rather off-color and off-topic response in a recent thread. Three people reported it and, on review, we decided the post WAS inappropriate. The poster was banned for a month and advised to clean it up if/when he comes back.

Unfortunately, three other members quoted him and responded, so those posts had to be deleted as well, though they contained other content relevant to the thread.

The other problem with calling "TROLL" every time a member posts something ignorant or naive is that, sometimes, the poster is just that - ignorant or naive. Screaming "TROLL" is hardly helpful. We'd prefer to give the poster the benefit of the doubt.

Also, English is not the primary language for many of our members. It's okay to request clarification, but it had better be done politely.

One person basically said "don't talk to me that way" and got booted.
I find that highly unlikely.

I've seen some long-time members get the boot for seemingly random stuff that I didn't even see what they said wrong.
Often the last thing a person posts before getting banned is deleted, and for a very good reason. If it was something you SHOULD see, they wouldn't have been banned for it.

It's starting to seem like the rules are dependent on whether the mods like you or not.
That is absolutely not true. I personally banned 5-6 members for flinging the troll card on a single thread recently, and they were among my favorite posters. I was not happy about it. They were 7-day warning-shot-across-the-bow bans because verbal warnings had been ineffective. Long-term or permanent bans have been for much more serious infractions.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
RonE - I don't want to sound like I'm arguing or anything - but what about saying something like "This forum is for..." or "As a whole, we don't..." or telling someone what the rule is because they truly weren't aware? Do you have to do that stuff via PM or not at all?
 

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Is that despite the fact that we have a set of rules, I clearly see moderators allowing some threads that are breaking the rules (calling people out / berating them / accusing them of things / etc... there's one thread in particular I'm thinking of, in fact), which makes the rules entirely ambiguous, sort of like the rules are based on nothing more than what moderators feel like doing at any one time. How are people supposed to follow rules that are not uniformly enforced anyway?
I think there is a common misconception that the moderators read every post in every thread. There are three of us and we all have real jobs. I'm gone and away from the Internet for 12 hours each work day. I actually try to sleep of r 8 hours/day, so that leaves four hours/day for Dogforums, my dogs and (oh, yeh) my wife. If an infraction or bad behavior isn't reported, it's unlikely that any of us will ever see it.

That is possibly the best reason NOT to respond to infractions, rule violations or bad behavior on the thread itself. The moderators, the ones charged with maintaining order, won't even know there is a problem.

I would agree that the forum is very good at policing bad information, and I think that's completely appropriate. But when it comes to putting out fires, please call 911 instead of trying to extinguish it yourself.

And for the literal-minded. that's an analogy. Please don't call 911 when you suspect a troll or a rule violation.
 

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An example I'm thinking of, awhile back somebody kept using an annoying colored font. (It was really hard to read). I asked this person, nicely, to stop a few times. Even though colored font is against the rules, was it inappropriate of me to try and enforce the rules like that?
 

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I am a visual person and its really difficult for me to 'see' where the line is. Is there an example you could give? One that shows an acceptable response and a response that is 'back-seat moderating'?

Also, if there is anything that I have said/done that hasn't been appropriate, would I know? For example, if one of my replies was deleted would I be notified? Would it tell me why it was deleted?

Also, how do you report an entire thread? Do you just report the OP, even if the OP is not necessarily the problem?

I am not arguing at all, I think the rules are in place for a reason and I respect them. I am just trying to clarify in my own head what they are.
 

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I agree +two. I'd like more clarification also. I think this forum is very well run, but I dont think the rules are very clear. I dont mean to be a nuisance (mods are probably shaking their heads 'Oh for goodness sakes labmom!' ;) ) But I really do worry I'll do something wrong.
 

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I asked this person, nicely, to stop a few times.
The key is "nicely."

It is NEVER nice to call someone a troll. If the person accused is not a troll, he will be justifiably insulted. If he IS a troll, he'll be pleased with the attention.

Maybe a work analogy will be helpful (and maybe not.) If I want to thank someone for exceptional service where I work, I email her AND her supervisor. If I want to provide feedback for some bonehead move, I email my own boss and let him deal with it.

Some people will never do that, and they would never report an infraction to the moderators. They don't want to "tattle." That's a personal choice, but they lose the right to complain in public.

It's unlikely you'd be banned for asking (nicely) that someone post with default black sans-serif font, but it would probably be preferable to report it.
 

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Also, how do you report an entire thread? Do you just report the OP, even if the OP is not necessarily the problem?
You report the first problem post on the thread.

The interesting thing to me is that none of you asking these questions are really part of the problem. Those who ARE part of the problem either already know it or just don't care.

if one of my replies was deleted would I be notified?
Not by me. There are simply not enough hours in the day to PM an explanation for every action taken, but I will often post a generic explanation on the thread itself.
 

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An example I'm thinking of, awhile back somebody kept using an annoying colored font. (It was really hard to read). I asked this person, nicely, to stop a few times. Even though colored font is against the rules, was it inappropriate of me to try and enforce the rules like that?

That's fine to do, if they don't respond then you'd want to report it so WE can deal with it.
 

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I am a visual person and its really difficult for me to 'see' where the line is. Is there an example you could give? One that shows an acceptable response and a response that is 'back-seat moderating'?

Also, if there is anything that I have said/done that hasn't been appropriate, would I know? For example, if one of my replies was deleted would I be notified? Would it tell me why it was deleted?

Also, how do you report an entire thread? Do you just report the OP, even if the OP is not necessarily the problem?

I am not arguing at all, I think the rules are in place for a reason and I respect them. I am just trying to clarify in my own head what they are.
If you do something that is inappropriate we will let you know through the infraciton system (unless it's serious enough for a temp bann).

examples of backseat moderating:
Telling people not to post if they aren't going to help (the only people allowed to tell someone not to do something is a moderator)

calling someone a troll (even if they obviously are one)

telling someone they aren't allowed to post something (dogs for sale or spam) that's what the report post button is for

Here's an actual post that was deleted and the member given an infraction


Dear XXX,

Please stop posting retarded stuff on our forum. It is unnecessary and things like this should be taken seriously. Animal cruelty is no joke and you sir are making it sound like its justified. Which its not. So please take your opinions to another forum and leave us be.

Sincerely,
Dog Forum
 
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