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Moderation Policy Discussion

Discussion in 'General Forum' started by Jason Tate, Jan 10, 2016.

  1. I figured it would be worth having this discussion here with people that I've invited into the beta test. Because obviously if you're involved this early, I value your opinion on crafting the moderation and public policies for using this community. It's really important to me that we make these decisions early on in the creation of this website. I feel like things got very out of hand on AP, and I don't want to make those mistakes again.
  2. Craig Manning Jan 10, 2016
    (Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2016)
    Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    @Jason Tate I think it's key to never let the atmosphere of disrespect that exists on exist here. Not just in the way that users there disrespect staff, but also how they bully other users, vilify each other, treat newer users like they're less than, etc. Not exactly sure how to enforce that, but making it clear that this is a place for community and friendly interaction is probably a good start.
    Jacob Tender and h8bit like this.
  3. Exactly. I wrote up two things, one the rules, and two the "code of conduct" that I hope address that to some degree. I've built in tools that allow for warnings/infractions and a better way of letting users know when something isn't ok, but I think that it also comes down to everyone (especially those on staff/moderating) also setting an example of what's expected and for lack of a better term "proper." Ganging up on people, talking down to them for no real reason. The quick pithy "lol dummy" kind of posts I started seeing a lot of where there wasn't really any discussion -- it was just people being mean.
  4. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    "lol" is pretty much the standard reply from some of our, shall we say, "less polite" users over at But I agree, setting a good example is a big thing. I think staff have fueled the fire at, and I know I'm not guiltless in that either.
  5. Jason Tate Jan 10, 2016
    (Last edited: Jan 10, 2016)
    Bingo. I know I'm not "guiltless". But it's important to me to be better. To do better.
  6. So the way the current "warning" system on this site works is that moderators can click "warn" on a post (or user) and give out one warning point per time. They can choose if this point expires or not and when (the default is one month). They can choose to PM the user about this warning, and they can have a public message appear on the post or not. A moderator can also see if that user has received warnings in the past, and if they have expired or not.

    (An example for those that are moderators can be found on the Test Account.)

    Currently the system is set up so that once a user hits three points, they are banned for three days. The idea being that if over a one month span (since that's the default) a user does something wrong and is warned three times, they get a little timeout. This is for various "minor" issues basically in the course of conversations and things like that. A nudge in the right direction. Posting a public message on a post I think also will help with people seeing that something a) isn't ok, b) that we got to it and saw it.

    I think that there should be a set of things that are just flat out not tolerated and leads to an instant ban. Hate speech, over the top trolling of someone, etc. Also, thread bans (perm and temp) are available to moderators as well. Putting someone in a thread time-out may be the right way to go. (I feel like moderation issues that arise can also be discussed via chorus slack as well to make sure we are all on the same page.)

    At 5 warnings a user's account will have privileges taken away until they expire under that 5 points. At 8 warning points they are banned until their points expire under 8. At 10 they are banned permanently.

    I'm not totally sure about all these numbers and how they will work out yet, it was just a first attempt.

    My main goal is figuring out a way to handle a variety of different issues we've had with forums in the past:

    1. The troll. This person comes in looking for a fight and is just saying outrageous things all the time. I think this user gets a warning the first time and if they keep going off or complain about it and do the stuff we've all see "FREEDOMOFSPEECH" -- it's a no brainer ban and move on. We don't want that here.
    2. The picking a fight user. This is the one I think the warnings will help with. The kind of poster that comes in and is basically just trying to always argue and never adds anything to a conversation. If a bunch of people are really excited about a movie and are talking about the things they like in that movie and don't like -- the user that shows up saying the movie is the worst movie ever made and it's not good at all and anyone that likes it is stupid. (Same with music.)
    3. The passive aggressive bully. This is the kind of thing I've seen a lot on that I think if we're going to have a fun, vibrant, diverse community needs to stop. The calling people nerds, or picking on specific users, or attacking musical/movie/whatever taste. The strong or passive aggressive "fuck this and fuck that and fuck anyone that likes this" kind of posts that we've seen. The post that just interjects in the middle of other people talking and doesn't engage the conversation but everyone knows who they are talking about.
    4. There's got to be something I'm forgetting ...

    I think it goes without saying there will be disagreements about things. Music, politics, etc., has a difference of opinion factor that leads to this. I think it should be our goal to want a forum that is fun to debate and talk about things with others and does not devolve into the madness that happened on

    I also think there should be separate threads in regard to certain hot button topics. Like, if there's a thread that talks about some of the shitty things that musicians have done, there should be a separate thread for those that want to talk about how to make the music scene a better place. So that it doesn't need to cross over when that's not what a group want to talk about.

    I think a lot of what's been lost in general online over the past few years is nuance. The idea that someone's line may be different than another's on what they can and do tolerate. And this leads to snap judgements and angry and hostility. And it goes both ways, someone says they don't like something and it's taken as though they're saying no one should like it and they're up on some high-horse because they want to talk about why they don't find it great. I think figuring out how to walk between that and create a great community in the middle is our goal.
  7. personalmaps

    citrus & cinnamon Prestigious

    I took some notes in my downtime at work today on what I've observed over the years at AP. I think a LOT of the negative atmosphere comes from members who have been around a long time and feel a) entitled to the website and b) like they should be excused simply because they've frequented the site for years. When users like this are continually picking fights with the staff, with other long time members, and harassing new people, it makes it feel more like a chore to try and have a discussion. I understand the purpose of warnings, but I think if someone has been on the site for 8 years and still doesn't have a grasp on what is or isn't good conduct, a zero tolerance policy would be helpful.

    I also wonder if having the "prestigious members" and the post count publicly displayed leads to issues-- I haven't seen this lately, but I know when I first started on AP it felt nearly impossible to begin a discussion or participate because so many people would not want to talk with members that had low post counts. I know there's been a LOT of house cleaning when it comes to the "old school" bad apples, so maybe that's more of a thing of the past.

    Some other things I've been thinking on-- the staff NEEDS to be united in the goal to keep the forum a positive place. Coming from the user side, it's disheartening to see staff bickering back and forth over things, or to see staff members actively opposing each other on issues we could all agree are important (the antagonism between Jake Denning and nearly every other staff member being a prime example.) I know it's a lot to ask everyone to get along, but judging by the way things have gone on AP in the past 6 months or so, it needs to happen or no one will ever take this seriously. You can't build a positive space when the people in charge of it are at odds.

    Related to this, I think it would be good to look into moderators for the forums outside of your writing staff-- people who are solely here to deal with reported posts, spam bots, etc. The writing staff could still have that power of course, but even in brief conversations here and there with various people, I hear that it's incredibly time consuming to deal with spam (hopefully that will be less of an issue here, but you know.) Having a task force of sorts who are just here to make sure things don't get nasty / the site is clean and free of spam would be immensely helpful and leave your writing staff to do their best work for the site.

    Lastly, I think we all have regrets about the way the Boycott Pure Noise campaign turned out. It went from being something that made me incredibly proud to be working with AP to a thread that actively stressed me out and made me feel threatened. I think in the wake of a new forum + more positive atmosphere, there is room to enact real change from the inside of the scene with something like a general activism forum. Ideally, this would focus primarily on safety and equality within the scene. Another bare bones idea connected to this would be a youth forum-- a place for the younger users of the site to gather together and talk to each other. I remember vividly being a teenager on AP feeling very out of place at first-- I think creating a space where passionate teenagers can share their love of music would be key in fostering that positive feeling early on. Then maybe we don't end up with all these jaded assholes ten years down the line. If that was going to be a forum though, it would need to be heavily monitored to make sure the right people are posting there and that it isn't being used nefariously against the kids.

    Sorry, this turned into a bit of a novel. I hope some of these ideas are constructive and that this really takes off. :)
    Jacob Tender and Aaron Mook like this.
  8. Jason Tate Jan 13, 2016
    (Last edited: Jan 13, 2016)
    Best part about having some more people here to test things out, means that I get to respond to others and not just myself back and forth a thousand times. Let's me see the forum in action and in more "real" circumstances. Kinda cool.

    I agree.

    I think that we will need to be very cognizant when it comes to the "older" users coming to the new forum. I've felt kind of hand-tied over the past few years because if I make moderating decisions that would lead to fewer people visiting the website (like banning a long time member for being an ass), I got shit from upstairs about it. But, that no longer applies and I think it's important to think about what kind of community we want to foster from the start. I think that with people that, should, effectively "know better" -- the policy can (and should) be more strict.

    That's something I thought about a lot as well, and it's why, by default, I hide most of that information from the post itself. A prestigious badge (and a few others that are available) will be one of the only things seen (on desktop, even that's hidden on mobile). The idea was just that -- even the playing field for new members to not feel the weight of joining in on a conversation or that whole "clique" of the higher post count thing. I think the information is valuable but not as something sitting next to every single post a user makes.

    Agreed. I am going to be starting with a very, very, very small "staff" group on this site and most of it will be just moderation here in the forum.

    Related to this -- yeah, to start with, I'm going to cut the staff on the editorial side down to basically one to start with (me!), because it's become crazy and very hard to manage 30+ people and content and building the kind of website that I would want to read. And I'm starting from square one, at 33, which is a lot different than before. TBH: I'm jaded by all the "big" publications these days (Alt Press, Vice, etc.) that seem to only want to spit out more and more content to the point where it all feels like empty calories. To start with I want the content to be great and I want control over that. I miss feeling excited about curating a homepage I think is awesome for people to visit each day. Working on my blog the past few years brought that feeling back and I want to chase it. If I can figure out a great monetization strategy and can pay contributors, that's another route I'll reevaluate in the future, small at first. But to start I'd rather link to great writing then handle the overhead of hosting/editing/managing all of that myself. I've done it for 15+ years and I need a break. Hah.

    And so that leads into the moderators here as well. I think that's definitely important. Making sure we have the right moderators, and a team that is united (as you said), and that can handle things on a global timescale, is important.

    Spam should definitely be less of an issue here. I spent a lot of time building in ways to deal with that (many that I wanted to to build years ago and no one at Spin even bothered to respond) -- it won't be foolproof (nothing is) but it's a scaleable system that combines a lot of tricks to make sure what was happening on at the end, doesn't happen again. (That and building in privacy options, @replies, updates on profiles vs the abandoned blog system on, and a bunch of other cool features are things I've wanted to do for literally years. Hell, just making the forum retina and mobile ready and reducing a reliance on images in general is something should have done 5 years ago.)

    Yeah, definitely. I think there's a few good things here. The new private messaging system which allows for basically private group chats I think will be a huge boon to that kind of thing (or maybe people will just share music in private groups, what do I know). And I think that making sure there's a difference between the spaces where people are communicating, talking, and having a positive discussion about things, and a place that's only about the shitty things happening. I feel that in the politics discussions as well. Like that there should be a LGTBIQ+ thread for discussing those issues, life, good things, and the struggles and all of that, and that the news of awfulness in that world should be a separate thread. Cause it's draining as hell when all that gets put into the positive places are awful news, bad things, and a stream of that. And to some degree I even understand the complaints people had about wanting to, for example, just talk about The Wonder Years and their music (either because they separate art from artist, or they understand the issue and decided to listen anyway, or whatever the reason may be), and yet those threads ended up feeling so fucking awful and like you were a bad person if you wanted to like a Wonder Years song. I'm not really sure what the answer is there. But it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

    Right there with you on the novel! Haha. This is what I want though. These questions, back and forth, and discussions are needed now, at the start, to put together something great. I simply can't, and won't, launch another forum/community/website if it's going to become what the forum did the past few years on I hated even trying to talk with people there, the names I was getting called, the "responses" from certain groups of people. I just am not going to do that again. And that's why I want the open back and forth now and to talk this all out before any kind of "launch" -- cause if it's not going to work I'll go get a "real" job. Haha. But I do believe that we can say up front what kind of community we want, build it, and maintain it. It's about sticking to convictions and being ok with there being "less" people if it means a better and stronger community and letting that scale.

    Whew, that was a long one. Um, here's a penguin while I go fix some of the style issues with the quotes.

    Aaron Mook likes this.
  9. PS: God damn do I like being able to read through long posts in a format where the damn font is a good readable size and has proper spacing and line height.
    h8bit likes this.
  10. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    About to catch up with all of this. Will post thoughts in a bit.
    Jason Tate likes this.
  11. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Lots of good points in here. I'm not going to quote everything because I read all three posts before dinner and now I've come back and don't remember where specific points were said. But I DEFINITELY agree with Kayla that "bold names" tend to gang up or disrespect new users on, and that's something that I don't want to see happen here. Also agree on the staff presenting a united front, which, as Jason said, should be easier with a smaller group of people and by not bringing some of the more abrasive voices over here as mods/staff members.

    I think what Jason said about the Wonder Years threads is a good point, too. When talking about sensitive subjects, a lot of our users tend to jump right to indictment or attack. Like, for the example of TWY, if someone wanted to listen to that record, they were labeled as "enabling sexual abuse." Similar things happen on our site all of the time when users are called "sexist," "racist," etc. for little more than expressing their musical views. One example was with our staff EOTY list last week, where a lot of the comments (most of them from Star Slight) basically carried the assumption that our staff was ignorant because there was only one hip-hop album on the list, and we were therefore deliberately whitewashing our list.

    Now, there is often truth to those kinds of statements, and I definitely think it's good to open up conversations about gender and race and sexual orientation, and how all of that pertains to music, music taste, and the albums we choose to listen to. But I think just immediately jumping to the accusation that a person is bigoted is too far, and creates a hostile, defensive environment where the accused user is more likely to be alienated from the site than feel motivated to branch out and learn. This point essentially just goes along with trying to create a welcoming place for level-headed, friendly discussion. But I think we often let those instances of hostility go because the person who is launching the attack does have the "moral high ground," so to speak.
    Aaron Mook and Jason Tate like this.
  12. Greg Robson Moderator

    I think the warning and points system is actually very viable and something I definitely endorse. Quite simply, if you want to be toxic and heinous, find somewhere else to spread your slime, Chorus.FM won't be the place for that. This is supposed to be about community building and sharing opinions in a matter where each person feels respected. It really should not be that hard to achieve and I think it will given the parameters that have been outlined here.
    Jason Tate likes this.
  13. I completely agree that managing a smaller staff should lead to more productive discussion and agreement on important topics, without anyone being talked down to or having their ideas dismissed by other staff.

    I also think that what I'm going to dub "The Wonder Years Discussion" is an important one to have. Perhaps we can create a separate "Scene Issues" or "Social Issues" thread/forum for those conversations, while album/artist threads are reserved for musical discussion. And we can respectfully redirect members with questions to the correct threads.
  14. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    I think what Aaron said about a separate thread for problematic behavior is a good idea, and I also agree with Kayla that people who've been around longer tend to feel more entitled or protected on the site. I think hiding that information is a good idea
  15. The idea of a dedicated news / discussion thread for "Scene/Social" issues I think is a good solution to a hard problem. One pitfall is making sure it is a place that doesn't devolve into name calling or abuse in its own. But is instead a place more of education and what-not. If that makes sense.

    Another thing I've thought about for a possible feature at some point in the future (have updates and some other bug fixes to do before getting into think about it) is a checkbox on threads that marks it as intense.nsfw.problematic (not sure what the right word is) and that users can set an option in their settings to not be able to see those threads and clearly marking them as such. I'll think more about that in the future as well, but I think the above is a good start in thinking about the proper way to handle difficult issues.

    Ok, I need a :beer:
  16. Leftandleaving

    I will be okay. everything Supporter

    It's hard to monitor what people will post in there, but it seems like a good start.

    Also the trigger warning (that's what it sounds like you're describing, correct me if I'm wrong) is a great idea
  17. I think this is a great idea. Cheers.
  18. Sophos


    gonna read through this thread later and give some input, some good ideas from what i skimmed so far
  19. Meerkat

    human junk drawer Prestigious

    First of all, thanks for including me Jason. My brain's a bit scattered today so forgive me if anything has already been mentioned or anything like that.

    I like the idea of a warning and giving people a chance to learn and grow. I also really like the idea of not distinguishing between "prestigious" and new users. It was really hard for me to feel like I could join in on conversations before I got that upgrade.

    I think, in general, the commitment to stop with the bullying, ganging up, and just generally having respect for others needs to be from top to bottom. Most times I feel like people just post without pausing to breathe or really think about what's going on. I'm not sure how to enforce that or wake people up to that idea, but I definitely think a blank slate is going to help. And anytime an older user pulls that garbage, I think just addressing it by saying "Hey, this isn't the community we want here. Please remember everyone here is an actual person" the new community can really be what most of us are wanting it to be.

    Also, random, but I love being able to tag people in addition to quoting. It'll make it a whole lot easier to say "Hey, so-and-so, check out this album"
    Jason Tate likes this.
  20. Meerkat

    human junk drawer Prestigious

    Also, can you add more gender options or is that something out of your control?
  21. It should be a blank text-field for anything to be typed in:


    Does it not show like that for you? I specifically wrote it that way.
    Jacob Tender likes this.
  22. Meerkat

    human junk drawer Prestigious

    When I initially signed up the options were male, female, and unspecified
  23. Yeah, when I was doing some initial testing I was having questions about why it was just a blank text field and it was making the registration flow strange. But I didn't want to confine it to labels or a list to choose from. Now that I think about it, I suppose I could just disable any selection at all upon registration and let it be filled out later via the profile. Gotta see if I remember how I made that change to begin with. Let me go look.
  24. Actually, I wrote an add-on to do it -- so I should be able to update that to just remove gender from a registration question and have it blank until someone fills it out in their profile.
  25. This change has been made. No gender asked for at registration, it can be filled out at any time via the edit profile option.
    iplaydrums likes this.