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Odeen

Relax moderation of discussion forums

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I have played DC for several years now, and have noticed the steady development of a somewhat toxic and unwelcoming atmosphere in the forums over time, caused in large part by what I would consider overzealous moderation of discussion forums and, by extension, preemptive warnings and expressions of paranoia that someone's post or thread will get moderated.

 

This is...not good. People should be encouraged to mingle, share ideas, and express enthusiasm. They should not constantly fear that posting something harmless will net them a warning or angry red text on their post. They should not feel the need to dig up that stale four year old post nobody's touched since 2013 because if they don't bother to check 6 pages back their thread is going to be burned as a duplicate. So I would like to propose a change in moderating style:

 

Relax moderation in Discussion forums - meaning news threads, site discussion, and - to a lesser degree - the main suggestions forum.

 

1. Stop burning new threads and demanding we revive dead ones covering the same topic. If a discussion thread has gone untouched for over a year, it is probably a better idea to create a new thread referencing the old one rather than reviving the original. Arguments in the original thread may no longer be valid and participants may no longer be around or invested. A new thread encourages fresh opinions on the matter without having to wade through twenty pages of outdated ideas beforehand.

 

2. Allow small instances of tangential "off-topic chatter" in Discussion threads. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen someone apologize for having something to say because it wasn't exactly the topic outlined in the first post. Idea sharing should be encouraged. Levity should be encouraged. Use your judgment: if a couple of posts happen to touch on an unrelated topic or contain a meme without disrupting the overall flow of the thread, they are effectively harmless compared to the effect of slapping someone with a warn for spam or shouting at them with angry red text and editing their posts. If a new release thread is suddenly predominantly people talking about US politics, fine. Rein it in with a gentle reminder. Otherwise, let people chat and participate naturally in their community. Let them engage healthily with the public without fear of punishment. Our users tend to know when a tangential topic warrants movement to its own thread at this point.

 

I'm not saying that moderators let the DC forum turn into a free-for-all, and in places like dragon request threads topics should definitely be strictly limited to the original request, but I believe that a refocusing of moderator attention to actual issues instead of enforcing excessive strictness on the flow of communication in our forums would enrich the community and help promote a more positive, involved atmosphere. This is supposed to be a game, after all.

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100% agreement oh my goodness I'm glad SOMEONE finally brought it up.

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I don't think this would encourage a more positive atmosphere, really. I've been in various more "relaxedly moderated" forums and I eventually just ran away from them because the ideas you're longing for were buried in off-topic chatter about stuff that had nothing to do with the original topic.

Basically, at least the Site Discussion forum I'd like to keep as strictly moderated as it is now, to make it easy to dig up information that has long been gathered and is still valid.

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I don't think that a small politely worded reminder to keep things on topic that happens to be in red so that people won't miss it should be seen as "angry red text". There is no reason to see those reminders quite that negatively.

 

To me it depends a lot on what the "offtopic" content is. If it's closely related to the subject at hand, just not necessarily exactly that subject I definitely think it should be allowed. But memes in particular could be seen as spam as much as offtopic. And if posts that really have nothing to do with a topic continue for more than a few replies, I can definitely understand posting a reminder.

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I don't think this would encourage a more positive atmosphere, really. I've been in various more "relaxedly moderated" forums and I eventually just ran away from them because the ideas you're longing for were buried in off-topic chatter about stuff that had nothing to do with the original topic.

Basically, at least the Site Discussion forum I'd like to keep as strictly moderated as it is now, to make it easy to dig up information that has long been gathered and is still valid.

I'm in several forums - and very relaxed ones end up with flame wars. Just saying...

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I don't think this would encourage a more positive atmosphere, really. I've been in various more "relaxedly moderated" forums and I eventually just ran away from them because the ideas you're longing for were buried in off-topic chatter about stuff that had nothing to do with the original topic.

Basically, at least the Site Discussion forum I'd like to keep as strictly moderated as it is now, to make it easy to dig up information that has long been gathered and is still valid.

This suggestion isn't to let topics wander away entirely, it's to ignore a small spattering of off-topic posts as long as they aren't taking over, and to allow duplicate threads if the old one isn't, like, right there visible on the first page or two.

 

Personally, I think this would lower background anxiety about posting. The idea isn't to swing too far in the opposite direction and be TOO relaxed, but to find a happy medium.

Edited by TheCompleteAnimorph

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100% support. Frankly, I was surprised to see the angry red text message to keep things on topic in the New Release thread, when literally *two* people had *mentioned* something that was *slightly* off-topic. And that happens a lot more then I'd like. Like above, I'm not saying "back off". I'm saying, let those little tiny slips go instead of coming in and moderating the hell out of the thread just because of a *small* instance of off-topic-ness.

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I'm neutral on reviving old threads (since sometimes looking back at what's been said is helpful, and it would prevent there being several similar threads at once if someone else chooses to revive the original due to certain points discussed in it), but yah, some slightly off topic stuff in the new release threads would be nice. It's a HUGE damper on enthusiasm when the community is having a nice time together in a harmless way and suddenly posts are gone and people are being told to stay on topic only. Again, yah, if it goes on way too far for pages and pages or becomes something less friendly, squish it, but otherwise...

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Yes! I struggle with anxiety everytime I decide to post anything other than a trade offer. It shouldn't be like this.

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Odeen

THANK YOU

I'm less on the forums now because, frankly, I'm nervous I'm going to get in trouble for something that hadn't been an issue back a over year ago when I first joined the forums. I always worry about "Well will I get warned for this?" "will my text me crossed out for saying this?" and I'm not the type of person to really say rude, mean or hurtful things or anything that would get me in trouble.

 

I know people say "well if you have to question what you are doing, doesn't that make it wrong?" But in the case of anxiety, because you don't understand where the people in charge put that line anymore, I don't think so.

 

I've always been super careful in everything I do online to avoid getting in trouble, yet recently I've worried and more detached from the forums for this very reason.

 

So yes. 10000000% support, please, I think this would make the community feel much more inviting for most players again.

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I'm with you, especially with the old threads. This is one of the only forums I have seen that actively ENCOURAGES necro-posting. Others just auto-lock inactive threads after X amount of time. If the old thread is necessary, I would rather see a mod edit in a link to the old thread. Particularly if the thread has been inactive for a long time. It is one thing to lock a thread that is a duplicate when the old thread is on the next page, and hasn't been posted in in a few days. It is another thing to lock new threads in favor of a thread that hasn't been posted in in months.

Edited by Nectaris

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Main issue I see here is potential spamming of the forums. I have seen so many newbies on other sites posting nonsense that is barely even readable due to bad grammar that it buries the good threads, or even posting stuff that breaks rules because they don't know better yet. I've even seen it here, usually people click-begging or posting dragons they don't own. I like having similar topics condensed into one thread instead of having multiple similar ones.

 

If we're worried about "necroing" or whatever, just have someone go through and wipe ancient threads. That's not exactly hard, or at least it shouldn't be. I've seen a mod going through and torching old threads in the breeding section from time to time.

 

Edit: Occurred to me after I already hit post, most of the modding we see has to do with new threads, not just posts. I remember last time there was a prize raffle getting extremely off-topic talking about Fire Emblem with a few other users in the news thread due to the code of one of the eggs. I don't usually see mods telling people to get back on-topic unless it's in the suggestions area or people are starting to get aggressive.

Edited by Kovia

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As someone with anxiety issues, some advice to those who are worried: as long as your post isn't vulgar or blatantly attacking someone, don't worry about it. I've gone up to 30% warning before years ago and as you can see I'm still here ;3 it's just annoying when it squashes otherwise harmless friendly conversation.

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1. Stop burning new threads and demanding we revive dead ones covering the same topic. If a discussion thread has gone untouched for over a year, it is probably a better idea to create a new thread referencing the old one rather than reviving the original. Arguments in the original thread may no longer be valid and participants may no longer be around or invested. A new thread encourages fresh opinions on the matter without having to wade through twenty pages of outdated ideas beforehand.

 

2. Allow small instances of tangential "off-topic chatter" in Discussion threads. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen someone apologize for having something to say because it wasn't exactly the topic outlined in the first post. Idea sharing should be encouraged. Levity should be encouraged. Use your judgment: if a couple of posts happen to touch on an unrelated topic or contain a meme without disrupting the overall flow of the thread, they are effectively harmless compared to the effect of slapping someone with a warn for spam or shouting at them with angry red text and editing their posts. If a new release thread is suddenly predominantly people talking about US politics, fine. Rein it in with a gentle reminder. Otherwise, let people chat and participate naturally in their community. Let them engage healthily with the public without fear of punishment. Our users tend to know when a tangential topic warrants movement to its own thread at this point.

Reasons why we moderate the way we do:

 

1. Except in some cases where the cave has changed too drastically (Suggestions forum), pretty much every dupe thread only encourages the same exact discussion we've already had over and over again. Hence why we tend to merge/close dupes and encourage people to post in the original, so we're not all just repeating ourselves over and over again.

As a side note, I don't think the argument of "well other forums don't do it" to change this is very strong. And aside from that, I do know other forums who encourage necro'ing (CS is a huge mess because of it's size which may be part of it, but they do regularly close duplicates with links to past threads), so...

 

2. The reason verbal warnings are given are so we can avoid official warns, which users have said in the past they disliked even more than verbal warnings (actually, I do believe we started giving out more verbal warns upon user request), and simply editing posts tends to be missed. If we catch the chatting as it's happening, we'll tend to give a verbal warning because sure, sometimes it's just two or three posts - but sometimes it's half a page to a few pages long and we have no way of predicting which is going to happen, and we do not always have enough time to stay on and strongly moderate what is going to happen. Now, if it's just two posts and we're only catching it once the thread has already clearly established itself back on topic, then a verbal warning is confusing and unnecessary. I have come across those circumstances and let it go, but it may vary by mod.

Another reason we're strict about it is because (particularly in GD), allowing chatter makes searching threads a lot more confounded and difficult.

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This is...not good. People should be encouraged to mingle, share ideas, and express enthusiasm.

And criticism!

 

An extremely important factor, and yet, many people who voice unpopular opinions get gang-jumped on by forum members on for doing so. That is a factor that has nothing to do with moderation. Blaming moderation for the 'toxic' element of the board environment without naming forum members as well falls a bit short. The memberbase is at fault as well.

 

 

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Main issue I see here is potential spamming of the forums. I have seen so many newbies on other sites posting nonsense that is barely even readable due to bad grammar that it buries the good threads, or even posting stuff that breaks rules because they don't know better yet. I've even seen it here, usually people click-begging or posting dragons they don't own. I like having similar topics condensed into one thread instead of having multiple similar ones.

 

If we're worried about "necroing" or whatever, just have someone go through and wipe ancient threads. That's not exactly hard, or at least it shouldn't be. I've seen a mod going through and torching old threads in the breeding section from time to time.

We already see newbies posting threads to get clicks for their eggs. This kind of relaxation would not prevent mods from addressing threads like that. All it would do is give people the option to post a new thread about a topic that was brought up and then sort of left by the wayside for a year or longer without that new thread being burned. If one wanted to prevent those old threads from being bumped after, then threads could be auto locked as nectaris suggested after a certain length of time without any new posts.

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If the old arguments from the old threads really do get brought up over and over again, even with the current method of handling things, that's probably because people aren't reading the 20+ pages of context anyways so why make it 40+ pages of stuff people won't read and letting the old topic rest in pieces?

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If the old arguments from the old threads really do get brought up over and over again, even with the current method of handling things, that's probably because people aren't reading the 20+ pages of context anyways so why make it 40+ pages of stuff people won't read and letting the old topic rest in pieces?

It's not just old arguments, it's literally the same group of us posting the same opinions.

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Isn't that kind of how discussion works? Many times, that back and forth between the same people generates novel ideas better than sitting around waiting for someone else to come up with it.

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I actually like encouraging thread necroing because it keeps everything in one thread, which keeps the forums clean, so if you search for something concerning the topic you end up with only one big thread, instead of tons of slightly-smaller threads that you have to comb through for what you want (which I have done countless times...). On the other hand, all of Odeen's arguments against it make sense to me. I'm not sure why there's a stigma against necroing, though maybe a compromise could be found? Perhaps instead of locking duplicate threads, it could be brought up that the thread is a duplicate (maybe even the title changed still), and the mod could edit the links of similar threads into the OP, but the thread wouldn't be burned just in case the thread goes in a different direction than its predecessors, and even brings up some new ideas? That way we don't have the problem of hundreds of duplicate threads floating around, but we also don't force all related discussion to one thread that has been necro'd which doesn't even have an OP updated with the latest arguments/ideas for those who haven't seen it before (which would prevent the reiteration that Sock pointed out).

 

As for the off-topic chatter, I haven't seen much moderation regarding it... then again, I don't frequent the Discussion forums enough to notice it either, so I'm on the fence about that. Moderation in general on DC is pretty well-managed to me though, concerning what I've seen before (forums that are too strict or too relaxed), so I don't see much of a problem with it. Maybe it could be more relaxed, but only if it's the rules that are the problem and not just certain staff members; we definitely shouldn't try to fix a problem on the collective level when it's on the individual level, otherwise the moderation might become too relaxed in some places, resulting in people stepping over boundaries that the staff no longer have a place to enforce...

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No one is suggesting that the mods stop moderating and let the forum become Lord of the Flies. The suggestion is more to be less strict about quashing one- or two-off "off topic" comments.

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