community fostering vs community rules

10/04/2017 § Leave a comment

Seen yesterday:

This BBS is a forum for comments on posts my colleagues and I chose to share with our friends on our blog.

This BBS is heavily moderated.

Any sense of entitlement, or ownership, a user feels is their own invention and not pertinent to the management or moderation of this site.

You are welcome to start your own site for commenting on posts we share on our blog! […] As long as you follow the terms of the public license good luck and god speed! Moderate it yourself! You can own those comments.

If you are unhappy, please go start your own forum and live in paradise.

Rules, consistently applied by level-headed moderators, for conduct and interpersonal communication are good. Many forums’ terms and conditions spell out that content submitted becomes the intellectual property of the host. That’s why content pasted from elsewhere is taboo.

But if such a rule as “no digressions or off-topic comments” exists, and is adhered to by a forum user who chooses to create a topic instead, should the forum user be disciplined without a warning? And what disciplinary measure is deemed reasonable: a 24-72 hour suspension of login privileges, or a ten-year sentence as was meted out within a one-hour timeframe?

This BBS is a forum for comments on posts my colleagues and I chose to share with our friends on our blog.

This sentence ^^^ has a different meaning from what I found at

Thousands of topics in the BBS and its nine categories are created by users. Only the site’s author-contributors, the publisher’s colleagues, create the posts worthy of generating comments, is what the blockquoted sentence says. And the comments and posts are meant only to be shared with the publisher’s and colleagues’ friends. I had been a forum member/user for 266 days before I saw this statement from the site’s publisher. I bet over 3300 active registered users didn’t see this in the Code of Conduct, or Community Guidelines. This sentence came only after some bans deemed high-handed and unreasonable were meted out to long-term regulars.

Keeping in mind not posting someone else’s content in entirety, I submit a link to the aforementioned community guidelines.

And if an offshoot community in protest of draconian, sloppily applied bans from a forum’s publisher should create its own rules: “you are responsible for policing the behavior and actions of the people you invite, so invite people you know to be cool, kind and loving” and digressions happen beyond themed channels (e.g. political topics in general and not in the politics channel), should the digressions be called out by someone not responsible for policing a transgressor’s action? Or should the person bothered remember the rules, shrug the conversation as free speech, and let it go?

Remember, we don’t have to post anything insulting, bullying, victim-blaming, racist, sexist, xenophobic, slanderous, libelous or homophobic to garner a tetchy, off-kilter person’s ire, to be blocked or banned. At the minimum what is necessary is to be a witness to someone’s emotional episode or tantrum or bad behaviour and either attempt to discuss a matter calmly and maturely, or silently let the person have her moment. The Tantrummer will demand their drama win regardless of inaction or pacification attempt.

We just have to say “look, you’re not being fair or reasonable. This arbitrary disciplinary action applied to someone who seems to be following rules and has posted nothing wrong shows you in a bad light” for a block or ban to happen. When we’re not blocked the off-kilter person is reminded s/he acted inappropriately. A block rather than a mute, a ten-year ban rather than a two-week one is really an announcement to witnesses that they can’t be honest, however kindly, with the blocker or banner. S/he who blocks and bans affirms incapability of contrition and self-reflection. Trusting someone to not be infantile nor thin-skinned enough to do something severe is placing reasonable, but unwarranted expectation. Never mistake physical age for level of emotional maturity.


We just have to remember some online people are like drunken, abusive stepfathers, erratic about what or who bothers them and are fine with derailing threads about sexual assault to discuss the merits of eugenics, but NOT OKAY with jokes about TV shows from thirty years ago, and the users are children who have a nodding familiarity with the guidelines stated, but don’t know how they’ve offended or why they’re thrown against the wall by drunken Pop when they violate an invisible, unknown rule.

When blocks or bans happen for posts and comments rational, well-adjusted observers see as inoffensive, we are led to conclude: We shouldn’t expect grown adults to be mature enough to examine their feelings. Everything should just be knee-jerk “oh my feelings! I’ll just do something severe to demonstrate how immature I am. It won’t make me right objectively, but the hours I spend spinning a narrative of rationalization to show how someone’s otherwise-adhering to community guidelines is JUST SO WRONG will make it right! I will get to be right as long as I don’t allow myself time to cool down!!” We understand there are people who construct their lives and social circle over a secret “thou shalt not” and rule that those who can’t perceive and abide by that secret “thou shalt not” are undeserving of any explanation or apology or ongoing guise of a friendship. The cessation of the last is a blessing in disguise for the banned and/or blocked.



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