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Insults?

Discussion in 'Moderator Discussion' started by Aeolus, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. Aeolus

    Aeolus Bag
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    Recently, things have gotten out of control in Congregation.

    We have a rule that allows us to discipline users who directly insult other members, but we have no provision allowing us to manage people who post irresponsibly about groups (ie, Muslims, Christians, homosexuals, atheists, etc, etc.).

    I have vigorously defended from infraction users who have posted negatively about those groups and others because I want the moderators to act as a judiciary, not a legislature. They are to use their discretion to interpret and apply the rules on the books and nothing more.

    It is apparent that we now need to do something to stop people from being tactless assholes and spreading hate while still maintaining a forum where controversial issues can be discussed.

    Suggestions on how to accomplish that are needed. Please post.
  2. Misty

    Misty oh
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    As I explained to Vineon, wide, unqualified bashing of various groups falls under "trolling" as I see it. When you bash all Christians or all Muslims or whatever, it is fairly obvious that you are going to inflame members of that group who don't really deserve it at all, especially when you apply ridiculous insults like "subhuman".

    Also, people like Puppetmaster are not deserving of respect after the stupid trolling shit they've done - it was fairly obvious that his motivations were nothing but simple jackassery.
  3. Matt

    Matt
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    It's never been implied that you have complete freedom of speech on Smogon. Allowing moderators to use their own discretion in deciding whether or not a user has "crossed the line" when discussing these issues shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. There's no one rule that can be made to prevent this, as "don't insult these X groups" is going to kill any discussion on them period. "Don't go too far in insulting X groups" is always going to be open to interpretation.

    I believe that making it known that moderators will use their own judgement will at least deter the less rebellious from going too far, and anyone who still does it probably wasn't going to be a good user anyway!
  4. Vineon

    Vineon Fleurdelysé
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    I'm afraid some level of criticism might be seen as acceptable by some and as 'bashing' by others.

    But yeah, I dont think tagging any group as subhumans is acceptable.
  5. Aeolus

    Aeolus Bag
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    The issue is that there are shades of gray that we need to define more sharply if we want to moderate fairly. Ultimately it will be "moderator discretion" again, but without further guidelines... we'll get nowhere because each member of the staff has a vastly different sensitivity for these sorts of things. Almost none of it bothers me, not even the "Christians are subhuman" comment bothered me to the point where I'd have infracted. Others on the staff are much quicker to be offended and more likely to label someone a troll or idiot.

    The purpose of this thread is to define a way to deal with the problem on a practical level with more structure than "moderator discretion." Obviously that isn't working because we have a fight about it twice a week in #insidescoop.
  6. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    Your argument is always that we don't want to stifle discussion, and I agree.

    If people feel they will be called subhuman for their religion, that stifles discussion. If posters who defend the gold standard will face insinuations that they are, in fact, child molesters, that stifles discussion. The most open discussion requires some rules. There is no difference between saying "Obi is a moronic fucktard who should die in a fire" and "People who don't support executive wiretapping are moronic fucktards who should die in a fire.", especially if I had just posted my views against said wiretapping, but even if I hadn't. That doesn't promote discussion; it promotes flame wars. Sure, that's a way to rack up a high post count, but I'd rather have good discussions over a bunch of crappy ones that degenerate to insults within the first 5 posts.
  7. Aeolus

    Aeolus Bag
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    I'm not arguing for a forum without rules. All I want is an attempt at a more uniform application of the rules that are already in place. The subhuman comment, though I'm not personally offended by it and probably wouldn't have infracted it... I can see how different interpretations are viable, and I'm not calling for its reversal. Here we are talking about a general problem and trying to come up with a way to adjust our moderation tactics for the improvement of the forums overall.

    Going forward, we have to do something to more carefully define what is okay and what is not and how we want to deal with it in relation to the infraction system. Leaving this to moderator discretion hasn't been working; something needs to change. I've yet to find a suggestion here or in #insidescoop that will take us any closer to achieving our goal.
  8. Articuno64

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    The problem is, like you said, differing levels of staff sensitivity. What we need to do is post in here about a number of cases that we deem subjective to moderator sensitivity, and then decide as a group whether those types of posts should be allowed or not. Over time, the moderators will come to learn each other's opinions on such matters, and they'll be able to moderate in a more consistent fashion.

    And I don't believe this calls for an updating of the rules, because this falls under moderation discretion. We can't make a rule for every type of fuck-up, god knows our userbase can come up with them faster than we can.
  9. Aeolus

    Aeolus Bag
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    A suggestion:

    First off, the idea of banning discussion on religion has been tossed around. I think that should be considered only as a last resort option. I recognize that they have been the singular source of our headaches over the past two weeks... but they also really liven up the forum. I suggest that we attempt a different route before going that direction.

    A different route that I think has some potential and would eliminate squabbling among the staff would be if chaos appointed an infraction review committee that consisted of three members of the staff. The committee would be available to users who wish to lodge a complaint about an infraction.

    This eliminates all need for me and others to play infraction police because the users can do it themselves since we give them an opportunity for appeal. Long, tedious, heated, and destructive arguments in #insidescoop would be eliminated since questionable infractions will be settled by a simple majority vote of the committee when, and only when, a complaint has been lodged.

    I'm advocating this because it doesn't require any changes to the rules listed for the users nor does it require any change to moderator guide. Everyone is free to continue moderating how they see fit with the knowledge that their actions could be appealed by the users they discipline.

    The only potential issues with something like this are logistical and I think those would be rather easy to manage. We make available a form to be filled out, and based on that, the members of the panel could vote either to uphold the infraction or reverse it. The form should be somewhat complex and involved since there needs to be some barrier or obstacle that prevents people from arguing stupid shit.

    Obviously this is something of a fledgling idea, I'm certainly not married to it and I hope people could improve upon it. Just the more I think about it, the more I realize that it would be impossible to define stuff clearly enough that each of our moderators is consistent with all the others. Stuff needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis, and this accomplishes that.

    Thoughts and suggestions welcome.
  10. david stone

    david stone Fast-moving, smart, sexy and alarming.
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    I would never support a ban on religious discussion.
  11. Fish

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    I’m not too keen on the idea of the infraction review committee, at least at first thought. I suppose it depends on whom this service is available to. Can all users flag a post? Only badged users? Moderators only? Depending on who has access to the feature, it could be overwhelming. The different levels of sensitivity of the people submitting the complaints is important because it would create a wide range of potentially infracted posts. If it is available to all, would it be manageable? If it is available to a select few, is it really an effective sampling of the opinions of the community?

    After the recent conversations regarding religious discussions and debates, I tried to think of where I stand on the issue, and I concluded that banning them might be the best course of action. This is not ideal, of course, but weighing all the factors it seems to make the most sense to me. Anyone who has been involved in such a discussion or is witnessing these ones now knows that neither side will budge. It starts as two people stating their opinion, then trying to force their opinion only to realize no one is going to change, and ultimately concluding with the debate turning to violent arguments littered with insults. While the formative stages of the discussion can promote good reading, they all end up the same. Is that initial exchange worth the inevitable result?

    Personally, I stay away from that stuff at this point. I come to Smogon as a recreational website and don’t want to get involved in such things. Internet religious debates are not my idea of fun. I suppose you could always just say hey, if you don’t like the opinions being shared, don’t get involved. I hate the idea of censoring one side or the other in such an altercation.

    That said, I can't offer any ideas, so I would back your suggestion as a good option at least for a trial period.
  12. Aeolus

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    Posts won't be flagged. All the disagreements we've had about this issue relate to how best to moderate users who engage in insults, usually veiled ones. My suggestion is that we simply leave it to individual moderators to deal with posts as they see fit.

    If such a review committee existed, it would investigate if and only if the infracted user himself complains. So, I suppose to answer your question: the service would be available to all those who receive infractions and nobody else would bother about it.

    We wouldn't have to bother about policing ourselves as much (which has been my main energy expenditure here for the past several months, attempting to make our moderation as fair as possible) because the users would have the chance to cry foul if they feel they were treated unfairly.

    The only potential problem I see in implementing something like this would be making it sufficiently (but not excessively) difficult for a user to complain because we certainly don't want to deal with 20 of these per day.
  13. Misty

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    lol i suddenly have this mental image of the smogon supreme court, with chief justice chaos
  14. Fish

    Fish
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    Nothing like my reading comprehension after a long night's work, oops. I read it and assumed it was like the old "flag this post" thing that littered my mailbox with moderation messages. A post infraction review commitee sounds pretty good, but anyone who moderates knows half the time the little brats shoot you a PM (or AIM message) arguing the infraction, or being totally clueless to what they did wrong. I'm talking primarily about Stark when I say that, which isn't the target at all, but that would be an obvious biproduct of the system, unless you made it forum specific.

    Overall though, still think the discussions suck.
  15. chaos

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    I don't want to do a review committee.

    After some thought, I think the best option is to just allow a little bit of subjectivity. There is a sweet spot for what I consider insulting. I don't think Deck Knight's comment about gays being depraved was - I think it's simply a matter of people needing thicker skin when reading stupid shit controversial debate topics. I do think Puppetmaster's post about Christians being subhuman was insulting because the post contained little to no content that wasn't blatant flamebait.

    I know there are too many shades of grey, but I think it all boils down to "don't moderate like a crybaby." I fail to see any other solution that is worth the trouble of implementing.

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