Author Topic: Community and Moderation Standards Discussions (Consolidated)  (Read 4688 times)

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Offline MP-Ryan

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Community and Moderation Standards Discussions (Consolidated)
READ THIS CAREFULLY!

Recent events - and by that, we mean the last six months - have made it abundantly clear that certain aspects of community participation and moderation are not working, and the fact that people are re-litigating 15-20 year old grievances is a primary indicator of that.  There are two core problems that we have identified:  (1) we have taken a narrow view of rules enforcement which has also been subject to rules-lawyering, and that prevents us from dealing with these issues, and (2) we have not made community members responsible for their own behaviour.  For the future, we want to shift away from hard, defined rules to a set of Community Standards that places the responsibility for standards of behaviour on community members, not enforcement of rule violations.  This is a very old community by usual Internet standards, and self-regulation needs to play a more prominent role.

The first post in this thread sets out the principles by which the Standards have been drafted.  The second post sets out the draft standards themselves.  There are rules for this process that participants will abide by:

1. Constructive commentary only.  If your post does not either agree with the content as written, OR disagree and suggest alternative text, you need to re-think your additions.  Disagreement for the sake of disagreement will be split-locked out.

2. Absolutely, positively, no personal sniping or attacks.  First offence will be an immediate warning, subsequent offences and the person(s) responsible will find themselves no longer able to contribute.  This is not up for debate.

3. We are not re-litigating the past.  If you feel the need to bring up past specific problems as examples, don't.

4.  Public comment will remain open for a month.  As the process unfolds and consensus emerges, changes will be merged into the Guidelines.  At the end of this process, a completed draft will be available for viewing for one week for final commentary before becoming the new standards.

5.  If there are any seriously divisive issues where consensus does not emerge, we will vote on those specifically.

The following are the principles by which the Standards were drafted.  They will not be included with the final rules, but are important so readers understand where these are coming from.

A.  Community Standards replace "Rules"

Hard rules are impossible to craft to deal with all behaviour, and hard-and-fast rules don't really apply to a community this old.  We are never going to satisfy everyone - goes without saying - but the best approach is to set general standards of behaviour for community participation that leave enough room for moderator discretion to both head off trouble but also enough room to let people work it out to the greatest extent possible.  Setting general standards of expected behaviour will be superior to trying to craft a list of "don'ts."

B.  Moderation Standards go with community standards, and should be public

General practices we want moderation to follow should be public and included with the community standards.  Transparency breeds accountability, and frankly more of that is a good thing for all of us.

C.  Moderation should strive to take the path of least seriousness first

As a general rule we've gotten much better than this in recent years, but again a principle worth reflecting in the moderation standards. 

D.  Moderation decisions should be public.

People file reports with regularity, yet we don't always get back to them (in fact, we rarely get back to them).  I don't think we need to start PMs flying for reported post responses, but I do think in cases where formal action is taken, it should be clear to everyone what resulted and to whom.  In one recent example, two users got warnings, yet neither was actually aware of that and it creates more of a potential for hard feelings.

E.  We want to foster a community welcome to everyone.

There's a lot to this one, but the general principle is that community behaviour and moderation should be designed to encourage participation and diversity and not drive users away.  This means addressing all kinds of things early - not to stifle discussion, but to prevent the "vocal minority" effect where a small group of prolific users set a tone that is distasteful or flatly drives away other people.  While that includes the obvious things like keeping out racism, sexism, and all kinds of other nasty 'isms,' it also means stopping pile-ons early, reminding people there is another person on the other end of that keyboard, and encouraging people to agree to disagree.  A fun argument is fine, and mockery for especially stupid takes is too, but there is also a time to realize that maybe it's time to just go for a walk and let it go.  It also means moderators and administrators need to exemplify that behaviour and curb our own worst impulses, so if anything we should make it clear we are going to hold each other on the moderation team to a higher standard than everyone else in general.

SEE NEXT POST.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2021, 09:16:12 pm by MP-Ryan »
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06


HLP Community Standards

Hard Light Productions is a forum (and associated Discord) dedicated to a love of gaming.  First and foremost, it is a community about FreeSpace, mods, modding, and the shared interests of the people who have joined it.  This is an old online community, full of people who have discovered and re-discovered FreeSpace through the years.  It is a community for everyone.  We have several community standards designed to guide community participation and moderation practices.

1.  This is an inclusive community to which everyone is welcome.  We are open and accommodating to new faces, we ensure that minority groups are respected, and discourage and eliminate user behaviour that runs contrary to these principles.

2.  The usual list of unwelcome behaviour applies:  discrimination/attacks on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc is prohibited.  This list is far from exhaustive.  We do not list every type of toxic and sanctionable behaviour here as we are firmly against rules-lawyering and we expect users to use reasonable judgement.  If speaking it loudly in a restaurant would get you thrown out there, use caution writing it here.

3.  Use of the "Report Post" feature is encouraged - and not simply for direct rule violations.  This is the equivalent of a moderator ping and simply flags a post or thread to the moderators' attention, which allows them to review for potential problems or just keep an eye on things.  If you're not comfortable reporting another person's post but feel a thread needs attention, report your own.  A report does not mean moderators will immediately take formal action.

4.  The community is encouraged to self-regulate and hold its own users to account.  This does not mean backseat moderation.  This does mean that social interactions such as mockery, swearing, and sarcasm are permitted to a reasonable extent.  Moderators exist to keep discussions on track and prevent serious problems before they occur.

5.  Personal attacks are discouraged.  This includes both direct attacks on an individual, and abusive behaviours like direct/indirect threats, gaslighting, stalking, persistent focus/bullying, dogpiling, and other types of interpersonal attacks.  Users who engage in this behaviour will be warned and, if they persist, removed from the community.

HLP Moderation Standards

The moderation and administration teams are made up of volunteers whose job is to keep the community functioning and available to all its participants.  They will exercise the following principles:

6.  Moderators will attempt to use the least serious moderation tool available to correct behaviour.  This may take the form of locked threads, unofficial warnings posted in public within threads, official warnings, mutes, and bans (temporary or permanent).

7.  Moderators will make decisions in conjunction with at least one other member of the moderation team prior to taking actions other than temporary thread-locks.  Due to the rapid conversational nature of Discord, moderators there will act quickly but will consult with other staff on long-lasting measures.  Moderators will not take part in moderation decisions for issues they are involved in, aside from temporary thread locks.

8.  Moderators will be expected to exemplify the community standards in their behaviour; however, just as no user will be removed or sanctioned for minor correctable issues, the same principle will be applied to moderators.

9.  As of this revision date, moderators will be selected from the community, by the community, with the input of the moderation team.  The community may nominate members or volunteer for addition to the moderation team at any time.

10.  Formal moderation decisions resulting in action against individuals will be transparent and made public (informal warnings will remain private).  This balances the need for community transparency with the interests of individuals warned for minor issues.  An edit will be added to posts for which a user received formal moderation action in order for consequences to be readily visible to the community.

11.  Moderators will not edit user posts subject to the following exceptions: for maintenance/housekeeping (resource posts), to remove content in accordance with point 2, or to add a sanction decision in accordance with point 10.  These edit decisions (excluding resources) will require the input of at least two moderators.  Moderators will not delete posts except for announcement threads, the info threads in gaming discussion, or other housekeeping reasons as determined by multiple members of the moderation team.

« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 05:12:10 pm by MP-Ryan »
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
Two questions —

Anything about 'don't moderate conversations you're involved in'?

Are we sticking to the old, uh, unwritten rule of 'posts should not be modified or deleted'?

Otherwise it looks good. I might specifically suggest a 'wiggle clause' which makes it clear that the moderation team reserves the right to take action for any reason they agree upon, even if it doesn't seem specifically covered here. But that might be implied by 'guidelines'.

You might also want something speaking to emotional burden on moderators. It might be worth formalising a process whereby a complaint about a moderation action gets sent through a specific channel rather than tossed into open court for everyone to comment on.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 12:33:14 pm by General Battuta »

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
Two questions —

Anything about 'don't moderate conversations you're involved in'?

Are we sticking to the old, uh, unwritten rule of 'posts should not be modified or deleted'?

Otherwise it looks good. I might specifically suggest a 'wiggle clause' which makes it clear that the moderation team reserves the right to take action for any reason they agree upon, even if it doesn't seem specifically covered here. But that

You might also want something speaking to emotional burden on moderators. It might be worth formalising a process whereby a complaint about a moderation action gets sent through a specific channel rather than tossed into open court for everyone to comment on.

Thank you yes, we missed both of those first two.  Point 7 modified, point 11 added to account for that.  The second points I'll wait for further comment; I think point 2 is a satisfactory discretionary clause myself, but others may have more to say on that.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 12:31:40 pm by MP-Ryan »
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Offline Rhymes

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about having moderators being "selected by the community." What does that mean? How will it be accomplished? What limitations are going to be in place? What happens if the community wants someone and the moderation staff doesn't? What's stopping it from being, basically, a popularity contest?
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Offline ngld

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I don't know if you want to cover this explicitly in the guidelines but we've edited posts before to fix broken download links. As far as I understand point 11, that would no longer be allowed. I'm not sure if fixing links counts as editing since it doesn't actually change what the poster said, it just restores the original message.

 

Offline The E

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
A remark that posts may be edited for maintenance purposes would be good, yes.

However, I don't think it's really that necessary -- After all, I would assume that everyone is okay with "resource" type posts being kept up to date and maintained even if the original poster isn't around or available to do so. The rules against editing or deletion should serve as an assurance that moderators and admins will not misuse their editing powers in order to win silly internet fights; they shouldn't be read as a hindrance for moderators as they perform forum maintenance.
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Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
A clarification on that is fine, so I made it.

Rhymes, with respect to your comment, the idea is we can use more moderators and would like to have volunteers and nominees.  Actual addition will still be subject to the existing moderation team to provide some balance.  The point isn't to do this by popularity, but to make these additions more generally transparent so it's less dictatorship, more meritocracy/democracy.  One constant complaint is a lack of trust/transparency, so we're trying to enhance that.
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Offline Mobius

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
These rules are based on strong principles and I'm pretty sure they'll help settling things down. My concern however is one I've already showed in the past, and MP-Ryan kind of agreed with me back then.

A while ago, I argued over the "democracy" behind the formal actions of Admins and Global Moderators. In one particular case, I extrapolated that several admins did not even participate to a vote of critical importance for this community. I will not mention the circumstance as per Ryan's suggestion right at the beginning of this thread.

I believe (and most associations are based on this principle) that the most critical decisions should be taken by the absolute majority of Admins, not the "temporary" majority that happens to be online during a rather medium-to-short time window.

In poor words, if the website happens to have 10 Administrators, the absolute majority would be 6, all the time. No major decision should be taken by 5 or less Admins. All Admins should vote and should also be active users of these boards.
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Offline Rhymes

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I think that touches on a related issue which is that if admins/moderators are not around, their continuation in the role should be re-evaluated--perhaps by placing them on an inactive list after a set period of inactivity.

If they're not actively participating in the community, and the moderation staff is supposed to be tethered to the community rather than removed from it, then maybe they shouldn't be moderating and shouldn't get a vote?
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Offline Aardwolf

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
Possible addendum to "Personal attacks are discouraged" (unless we think this is big enough to be its own item):

Assume good faith: don't put words in someone's mouth / don't pretend to be psychic / if someone says they meant X, don't insist what they really meant is Y.

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I think that touches on a related issue which is that if admins/moderators are not around, their continuation in the role should be re-evaluated--perhaps by placing them on an inactive list after a set period of inactivity.

If they're not actively participating in the community, and the moderation staff is supposed to be tethered to the community rather than removed from it, then maybe they shouldn't be moderating and shouldn't get a vote?

That's a fair point, and we have started to go through and prune some people who hold staff roles but haven't been active for a very long time and will continue to do so. We have the ability to put people in a sort of "staff emeritus" role. Regarding Mobius's point, there are certain decisions that are more time-critical, and we may not always have the luxury of waiting to get in touch with staff who haven't so much as logged in for a year or two (if it's even possible to get in touch with them at all). If we do ensure that the staff list is kept updated, then hopefully this won't be an issue going forward.

 
Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I would specifically mention transphobia as a thing that should be banned if only becuase Ze Internet lately has made them the latest punching bag, and they are considered "acceptable targets" in ways that ye olde LGB folks aren't. Best to nip that thing in the bud. In the fallout Discords I frequented it has been the most frequent reason for banning people too.

As a point I would argue that wrt user guidelines, I would suggest something amongst the following lines:

Please think before you post. At HLP we strive towards creating a positive, friendly and constructive community. When posting, especially when posting critique, read your post through, and ask yourself "Do I come across as a dick when I post this?". Ultimately a post doesn't carry what you intended. It carries what you wrote, and ultimately that is your responsibility.


I would remove point 4. Vigilantism is something that the community should avoid. Use the report button and let the moderators decide what acceptable conduct should be, it's a far better option then letting people currently involved in the discussion self-regulate. Esp. since you accidentally end up creating an environment where people don't call the mods becuase they think they can solve the issue themselves, and then fail horribly at it despite best intentions. These kind of discussions should only be had by people who have the power to end them.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 03:55:51 pm by -Joshua- »

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I'm going to leave some of the other new comments alone for general user feedback and agreement/disagreement/alternatives.  To Joshua's point about transphobia, I really didn't want a list of every bad behaviour, but this is a legitimate point so I'm going to re-phrase; see the text update.
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Offline karajorma

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I would remove point 4. Vigilantism is something that the community should avoid. Use the report button and let the moderators decide what acceptable conduct should be, it's a far better option then letting people currently involved in the discussion self-regulate. Esp. since you accidentally end up creating an environment where people don't call the mods becuase they think they can solve the issue themselves, and then fail horribly at it despite best intentions. These kind of discussions should only be had by people who have the power to end them.

I don't think the point needs to be removed. Simply reworded. We're asking users to self-regulate their own posts, not other people's. Basically what you wrote here.

Quote
Please think before you post. At HLP we strive towards creating a positive, friendly and constructive community. When posting, especially when posting critique, read your post through, and ask yourself "Do I come across as a dick when I post this?". Ultimately a post doesn't carry what you intended. It carries what you wrote, and ultimately that is your responsibility.
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
Yeah, we're trying to encourage an environment where we ideally don't have to step in and intervene in most cases, because people are taking that extra moment before they hit post to consider what they're saying.

 
Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
A brief review of the draft standards as they existed when this post was made:

1: Makes sense, though is admittedly less of a rule and more of a general description.
2: Wouldn't use "speaking it loudly in a restaurant" as the excuse for getting booted as that long-term would see anyone booted for causing a disruption, but otherwise good.
3: Good, like the idea.
4: This honestly does seem like it could be misused with veiled attacks being attempted to be excused under the pretext of "holding [a user] to account." All for holding users to task and mitigating bad behavior before the moderators have to step in, but it does feel like this has the potential to be exploited.
5: I can support that. Less interpersonal drama, the better.
6: Makes sense. Going from 0 to 100 would certainly drive contributing members of the community off.
7: Sensible to prevent conflicts of interest.
8: Makes sense.
9: This does potentially cause issues with people who aren't necessarily fit for moderator getting the position simply because a vocal part of the community wants them. I would recommend against this.
10: Sensible.
11: Makes sense.

 

Offline JSRNerdo

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
Quote
The community is encouraged to self-regulate and hold its own users to account.  This does not mean backseat moderation.  This does mean that social interactions such as mockery, swearing, and sarcasm are permitted to a reasonable extent.
I would remove this part entirely and replace it with Joshua's suggestion. Allowing and actually sanctioning users mocking other users will, I predict, promote toxicity, lead the formation of cliques and leads to problems down the line very similar to the ones that caused the creation of this thread. It is, to be frank, a terrible idea.
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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I'm going to leave some of the other new comments alone for general user feedback and agreement/disagreement/alternatives.  To Joshua's point about transphobia, I really didn't want a list of every bad behaviour, but this is a legitimate point so I'm going to re-phrase; see the text update.

I like this re-phrase.

Assume good faith

I agree with this. As a second draft

Please think before you post. At HLP we strive towards a co-operative, constructive and friendly community. Before you post, go through your post again and ask yourself: "Do I look like a dick for saying things this way?". Remember that on the internet, nobody can read the intent or tone behind your post: They can only read what you put into the post. When reading other people's posts that come across as rude, please also be aware of the hurdles of text-only communication, language barriers and social handicaps. If in doubt: Don't escalate. Contact a moderator instead.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 07:06:00 am by -Joshua- »

 

Offline MP-Ryan

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Re: DRAFT/FEEDBACK - HLP Community and Moderation Standards - Open to 2021/03/06
I like this discussion about changes to point 4; I'll let you all 'workshop it' some more before altering the text above since its a more substantial change.
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