A space for conversations in a time of global disruption
I recently deleted a music video that Wolfbird had posted on the forum, and asked him not to post any more on other people's threads .... and suggested that it would be better if he posted things like that on his blog page. In response he made a complaint on the Forum Moderation thread about me deleting his post. I had already been thinking of starting a discussion about the purpose of the forum and the difference between it and other parts of the site; now that Wolfbird has decided to make that public complaint, this seems a good time to start that discussion.
I consider that the way Wolfbird has been using the forum over the last few months makes it virtually unusable as a place for thoughtful discussion - which I regard as its primary purpose. He has been constantly posting music videos and links to things which happen to have caught his attention, regardless of whether they have any relevance to the thread they're posted in. Every time he (or anyone else) does that, anybody who is following the thread receives an e-mail notifying them of the post; with the amount of spam there is generally, it's likely people get irritated by being alerted to trivial posts which are clearly irrelevant, and therefore stop following the discussion.
I believe it's also very off-putting for people looking at the site for the first time. If they look at two or three active threads and see that the most recent posts are nearly all music videos or links to miscellaneous sites which have no obvious connection to the topic, they're likely to dismiss the forum out of hand and never see any of the more stimulating exchanges. In my view, that kind of posting behaviour is likely to deter both long-term members and newcomers; if there's too much noise on the forum, the people who are looking for thoughtful discussion don't have anywhere to engage in it.
However, this site does provide a place for posting videos, and it also gives every member their own blog page on which they can post (more or less) whatever they like (and it allows for others, who are interested in them, to be alerted when they do post something). In view of that, I don't see any reason to allow people to post links or videos to the forum other than ones which are clearly relevant to a discussion - they should be posted either to the video section or the member's own page. Unless someone can offer a good reason to allow it, I intend to treat that kind of posting behaviour as a form of spam, in which case anyone who persists with it after being asked to stop would be suspended.
Replies are closed for this discussion.
OK Wolfbird. New Zen thread coming up even though I know nothing about it, hope you'll pitch in.
As far as moderation is concerned I can live without any. I'm sure that as a group we can deal with anything that arises by fair means or foul.When you think about the landlord of your average pub he only throws out the people he feels are offensive which could be me, or you or anybody and the landlord could just as easily be a wanker. (PS no he/she required, OK?)
Thanks for the suggestions, Bert and James, but unfortunately the software isn't that flexible. It only has one level of category and doesn't offer me any obvious way of excluding a single category from the front page; it's what appears there that's my primary concern. If I reduced it to two categories, Moderated and Unmoderated, I could select just the moderated one, but I think it's worth keeping the categories more or less as Dougald set them up. However, I have made the Free Forum and the Feral Forum visible in a box at the bottom labelled Other Forums (and also from the tab at the top of the page), so they will be readily accessible from the front page ..... but people will still have to join the groups to post there.
I don't currently have the facility to transfer threads from the main forum to a group forum (though that is something Ning plan to introduce), so for the most part I'm going to leave them where they are - though I'll perhaps transfer some to a new archive category. As to James's suggestion that there should be a list of terms and conditions that people should have to agree to explicitly, I don't see any need for that; the fact that people's membership of the site has to be approved is enough to make it clear that there are terms and conditions. Most people will never need anything more than that, because most people are unlikely to step outside what's acceptable. And for most of those that do, it'll probably be enough to point them to some guidelines; it'll only be when people breach them repeatedly that there'll be any sanctions.
I also agree that threads discussing how the forum should work are off-putting and shouldn't appear on the front page, so I've set up a separate forum for that also. As with the others, it will be accessible through the Other Forums box, and through the tab at the top. I'll aim to put a link in that box to any live threads in that forum, but posts there won't affect the 'latest activity' showing under the main forum. I'll also put a link in that box pointing to some forum guidelines.
I have posted a response to some of what's been said here in the Free Forum (Infiltration of Dark Mountain), but I'm going to close this thread now, and open a new one in the Moderation Forum on Changing the Rules. I'll post an announcement of the new rules in the main forum when they come into force, but any substantive discussion of them will have to be in the Moderation Forum.