Forum policy review 2018

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Aurinĭa
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-02-19, 15:37

vijayjohn wrote:This means, among other things, that the link that banned users are provided in case they want to contact them should be valid and lead to an operational e-mail address. This was not the case when I tried to appeal my own ban, and I find no reason to believe that it has changed since then.

It does work, and it did then too. You got a reply a few hours later.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby TheStrayCat » 2018-02-19, 15:52

Huh, okay. I might be missing something from the discussion, but here are some of my thoughts.

1.2 You are allowed to have only 1 account. If you create any others, they will be banned and there will be consequences. If you have a deactivated account, see 1.6; you are to ask for that to be reactivated instead of creating a new one.

I can think of some reasons why a good-faith user would create another account: for example, I need to log in from an insecure place where my personal data can be compromised; I haven't used UniLang for 10 years and forgot all my old emails and passwords. So I would allow creating an extra account provided that administrators give an explicit permission for this and the link between the two accounts is made clear to the community.

Luís wrote:2.3 Language - We do not censor language. Cursing is permitted as long as it is not used to offend another.

Another UniLanger or another human being in general?

kevin wrote:What I like about the current rule is that it's pretty clear. If you want to ban swearing in general, the line would become blurry because reasonable people (especially from different cultures) can disagree what constitutes swearing and what is still okay.

The problem here is that you can go to, say, a Slavic language forum, post a message full of obscenities and get away with it as long as you don't directly offend anyone - something that is normally not tolerated on online forums. Some languages just have swearwords way stronger that "fucking" in English, and you wouldn't use those in public. But I won't pretend I can come up with a perfect solution.

Infractions of Items in red are considered major infractions, and will result in an immediate ban, without prior warning.

I'm totally fine with immediate bans for posting explicit porn or someone else's personal info, this is not what someone would do in good faith whether they're familiar with the rules or not. As to less obvious cases like erotic images in context, not sure.

I would also add to this list physical threats and using well-known hate symbols outside of relevant context.

Infractions of Items in blue may result in an immediate permanent ban.

We could also specify what happens if they are made by a regular user (not a spambot).

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Johanna » 2018-02-19, 16:04

Just a couple of clarifications since dEhiN doesn't know all details yet.

linguoboy wrote:How does the procedure to modify the existing forum policy work anyhow? Luís said it was decided by majority vote of the mods, but what does that mean exactly? 50% + 1? Of which group of mods? Does the board owner have an absolute veto over any approved changes?

The forum administrators and global moderators are the ones who actively decide on policy matters. There are seven of us in total, four forum administrators and three global moderators. There is no hierarchical difference between the two, instead it's about what people actually do on the forum; global moderators concentrate on moderating while forum administrators also do the more practical stuff when it comes to creating new subforums, recruiting new language forum moderators and make sure they are added to that group and given the right privileges and so on. But since there isn't really any practical difference, like Aurinĭa said, we're planning on merging the two.

Policy matters have always been decided on by consensus, but we've never actually had to put it to the test either. Moderating decisions are a bit different since there is a time element to it, so for that we go with a simple majority. If our number changes and there is a possibility of a split vote, it will be 50% + 1, yes.

Proycon has absolute veto power over any changes made to the policy, always.


linguoboy wrote:Because, again, if we need more than 50% of the mods to approve a change before it takes effect and we don't have at least half of them willing to read, review, and discuss our proposals, it's pointless to make them.

As of this morning (CET), all seven of us are actively reading this thread and discussing its content behind the scenes. Between its conception and this morning, it was everybody sans one.

Demanding that all of us only write in this thread would be a bit counterproductive since then we'd run the risk of having seven different posts made at the same time, saying essentially the same thing. That would make the discussion difficult to follow, not to mention that it wouldn't be very easy to know exactly who to respond to.
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-19, 16:30

dEhiN wrote:1) You and Vijay raised grievances about the moderation of this forum.
2) Some of the mods responded inviting you to discuss the grievances and share your complaints.

And some of them immediately tried to gaslight us and give bogus justifications for keeping things the way they are.

It's not just a question of what happened in the past, dEhiN; it's also what's happening today.

I brought up some pretty solid concerns about implementation and cultural differences as well as concrete incidents which illustrated the problems I see. Very little of this was addressed and none of it in a way which allays my distrust.

dEhiN wrote:If you don't have any trust whatsoever left in the promises or the word of the mod team, then what recourse is there? From my recollection, when this sort of thing happens offline - where two parties reach an impasse due to mistrust - a third-party negotiator is called in; someone who both parties independently trust, but who is impartial to the outcome. I don't really see that being an option here just because of the logistics: who would we ask and how would that work? So, yes, I do understand your position and the level of distrust you have. But where do we go from here? Are you willing to put aside that distrust and give us the benefit of the doubt one more time? If not, then...?

You want to know a concrete step the moderators can take to rebuild trust?
Johanna wrote:This discussion has spurred a bunch of them among us forum admins and global mods, especially about transparency vs privacy and how we have handled and are handling those issues.

Show us those discussions. This is at the root of our complaints with Unilang: that too much is decided behind closed doors out of view of members and without their input. So make those conversations public and let's see how you all talk about us when you think we're not listening.
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-19, 16:36

Johanna wrote:Demanding that all of us only write in this thread would be a bit counterproductive since then we'd run the risk of having seven different posts made at the same time, saying essentially the same thing.

Sometimes you need to hear everyone say the same thing, particularly when that thing is "I'm listening".
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-02-19, 16:37

TheStrayCat wrote:
1.2 You are allowed to have only 1 account. If you create any others, they will be banned and there will be consequences. If you have a deactivated account, see 1.6; you are to ask for that to be reactivated instead of creating a new one.

I can think of some reasons why a good-faith user would create another account: for example, I need to log in from an insecure place where my personal data can be compromised; I haven't used UniLang for 10 years and forgot all my old emails and passwords. So I would allow creating an extra account provided that administrators give an explicit permission for this and the link between the two accounts is made clear to the community.

You make a good point about logging in from insecure places, I wouldn't be against adjusting the rule for that if you make the link between your accounts clear e.g. by putting your other username in your signature or choosing UserName2, and notify us preferably beforehand.

Infractions of Items in red are considered major infractions, and will result in an immediate ban, without prior warning.

I would also add to this list physical threats and using well-known hate symbols outside of relevant context.

Physical threats, yes. Hate symbols too, but we'd have to be very careful with those. Hate symbols aren't always universal, f.ex. swastika can be a hate symbol (nazism), or it can be a religious symbol (hinduism, among others).

Infractions of Items in blue may result in an immediate permanent ban.

We could also specify what happens if they are made by a regular user (not a spambot).

I posted this as a clarification recently.
admin

As an established member, you're allowed to put a link in your signature or on your profile to a personal website or blog, as long as it's not a commercial service. Writing posts to promote your website isn't allowed. See also point 3 of the forum policy. If you ever want to add a link and you're not sure, feel free to PM us.

In the case of (academic/language-related) surveys posted by users who didn't ask permission beforehand, the relevant post gets moved out of sight and the user gets a PM explaining they have to ask permission. If they do, the post gets moved back to the right subforum.

kevin wrote:Maybe require that immediate bans are unanimous in the admin team instead of majority vote.

We always strive for consensus, and even more so in the case of bans. Requiring a unanimous decision by all admins and global mods prove difficult, though, as we're obviously not always all on at the same time and reaching a unanimous decision could really slow the whole process down, or become impossible/very hard if one is not available at the time.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-19, 16:47

Aurinĭa wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Last time I was banned (July, 2016)

You weren't banned in 2016, you were warned. You were last banned in 2013. (Unless I've missed something, but I don't think I have.)

I stand corrected. I wasn't banned, I was warned, i.e. "pre-banned". That means that for three months, I was in a state of constant insecurity, never knowing if some further failure to read the mods' minds would lead to me logging in to discover that my access had been once more denied. (Some of you may have noticed that my posting dropped off precipitously during that time. That can partially be ascribed to going through one of the most stressful periods in my life. But it's also partially due to not wanting to lose an important source of comfort and release during one of the most stressful periods of my life.) To this day, I still get a sinking feeling in my stomach every single time I see a PM from a mod, wondering if this is the hammer coming down again.

You can rewrite the rules any way you like, but if the manner in which they are interpreted and enforced doesn't change, then it won't change the board environment.
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby linguoboy » 2018-02-19, 16:49

TheStrayCat wrote:
kevin wrote:What I like about the current rule is that it's pretty clear. If you want to ban swearing in general, the line would become blurry because reasonable people (especially from different cultures) can disagree what constitutes swearing and what is still okay.

The problem here is that you can go to, say, a Slavic language forum, post a message full of obscenities and get away with it as long as you don't directly offend anyone - something that is normally not tolerated on online forums. Some languages just have swearwords way stronger that "fucking" in English, and you wouldn't use those in public. But I won't pretend I can come up with a perfect solution.

What about having a forum-by-forum approach rather than striving for an across-the-board one-size-fits-all measure? Just like we have a slightly different posting policy for the Politics and Region subforum than for the rest of the board?
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-02-19, 16:56

linguoboy wrote:I stand corrected. I wasn't banned, I was warned, i.e. "pre-banned". That means that for three months, I was in a state of constant insecurity, never knowing if some further failure to read the mods' minds would lead to me logging in to discover that my access had been once more denied.

I'm sorry to hear you felt like that, and that you still feel like that, but you were invited to appeal your warning, and the chances of getting it annulled were pretty good. You chose not to, and as I told you at the time, I couldn't really do anything on my own.

TheStrayCat wrote:
kevin wrote:What I like about the current rule is that it's pretty clear. If you want to ban swearing in general, the line would become blurry because reasonable people (especially from different cultures) can disagree what constitutes swearing and what is still okay.

The problem here is that you can go to, say, a Slavic language forum, post a message full of obscenities and get away with it as long as you don't directly offend anyone - something that is normally not tolerated on online forums. Some languages just have swearwords way stronger that "fucking" in English, and you wouldn't use those in public. But I won't pretend I can come up with a perfect solution.

Posting a message full of obscenities would be seen as trolling and dealt with as such.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Naava » 2018-02-19, 17:03

Okay, I started to write this after this post that Johanna has written. I see that others have posted after that, but I'm going to ignore linguoboy and Aurinĭa's messages because if I start to read and respond to them, someone else is going to post again and then I'll never be able to send this one. :)

I am not going to repeat what has already been said, so let me just quote and comment the things I agree on. (I don't know who wrote each quote because I picked them up as I was reading the topic; they are all from here in any case.)

So maybe we could have two limits: one for warnings for the same infraction, and one for overall warnings? For example, something like you're allowed three warnings for the same infraction, and eight warnings overall? Or five for the same infraction and ten overall? After that the next level of corrective action is taken.

I think this is a good idea. If someone is given a warning and then they break the same rule again, it doesn't sound like they didn't know they're doing something wrong. But I'm ready to believe that someone might be so unlucky that they manage to break different rules without realising what they do is not allowed here. :)

1.2 You are allowed to have only 1 account. If you create any others, they will be banned and there will be consequences. If you have a deactivated account, see 1.6; you are to ask for that to be reactivated instead of creating a new one.

Seems reasonable, although I'd probably get rid of the part that says "and there will be consequences".

I agree. But:

I can think of some reasons why a good-faith user would create another account

Maybe you could send a PM to a mod or admin or someone in case you absolutely need to create a new account? Then they'd know it's not that you intend to have discussions with yourself in the forums but that you have a real reason, eg. you have no idea which email you've used when you registered here, or that that email doesn't exists anymore or you can't remember its password.

4.7.1 sexual flirting

Could we make this a bit more clear? Isn't all flirting sexual? What other types there are?

I'd be in favor of a simpler system everyone can remember and understand (a "three strikes and you're out" kind of thing)

Me too.

I can see it [immediate ban] appropriate for things like severe violations of the privacy of another user (they example mentioned in the policy: "Ex. “Zhang Ziyi, the lead actress in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lives at [her address]”), but not for anything that could be violated accidentally or depend on subjective judgement.

I'm totally fine with immediate bans for posting explicit porn or someone else's personal info, this is not what someone would do in good faith whether they're familiar with the rules or not. As to less obvious cases like erotic images in context, not sure.

I agree. These can cause harm to other users. Eg. I'm from a small place and my name isn't very common, so it'd be relatively easy to find where I live etc if you knew my name and home town. I wouldn't be happy if someone shared them here without my permission to do so. Similarly, I don't want to allow anything that can cause problems to Proycon. Speaking of which...

Proycon has absolute veto power over any changes made to the policy, always.

I agree. He owns this place, so we can't really tell him what to do with it if he doesn't want to.

I would also add to this list physical threats and using well-known hate symbols outside of relevant context.

I agree.

I'd keep warnings private, but bans public. When someone disappears, I really think people should know why.

If you get banned for posting something that you don't others want to know, then maybe you shouldn't have posted it on a public forum.

In fact, from reading the discussions, I get the impression that even those who get banned don't always really know why they are banned.

This. Also, I think that if bans were public, it'd be easier to see if you're treating people fairly. Right now we don't know who's banned nor why. That means that if the mods started to ban people randomly, we wouldn't know it and even if we did, we couldn't proof it. You know, who polices the police? :) I'm not saying that our mods are untrustworthy; what I mean is that this could add more transparency and help people feel that we all follow the same rules.

About swearing:
The problem here is that you can go to, say, a Slavic language forum, post a message full of obscenities and get away with it as long as you don't directly offend anyone - something that is normally not tolerated on online forums. Some languages just have swearwords way stronger that "fucking" in English, and you wouldn't use those in public. But I won't pretend I can come up with a perfect solution.

I agree that this is a problem. Some cultures are more intolerant towards swearing than others, and I can see why that could make some feel uncomfortable. But at the same time, it'd feel strange to tell adults they are not allowed to swear here if they're speaking a language where using swearwords is not seen as rude behaviour.

As of this morning (CET), all seven of us are actively reading this thread and discussing its content behind the scenes. Between its conception and this morning, it was everybody sans one.

Um, did I get it right: we have this discussion here and the same thing but as "the mods" -edition in a place rest of us don't have an access to? I'm not sure why but somehow it bugs me that you're having the same discussion but behind our backs. :|

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Luís » 2018-02-19, 17:19

Apart from my comments above, I suggest including a section dealing with confidentiality (i.e. making all private communication between users and mods confidential, including exchanges via the "Report Post" button)

Regarding ban transparency, we're looking into it as well and there seems to be a forum extension that displays "Banned" next to a user's name for as long as he/she is banned. I'm not sure if that's something you guys would like or not or even if it's technically feasable (I'll have to investigate some more). Another option is to simply create a sticky thread with the username and duration of ban. That would have to exclude spammers, though, because there are literally hundreds of them every month.

Naava wrote:Um, did I get it right: we have this discussion here and the same thing but as "the mods" -edition in a place rest of us don't have an access to? I'm not sure why but somehow it bugs me that you're having the same discussion but behind our backs.


There's a special forum that only forum admins / global mods can see, the same way there's a Language Forum Moderation forum that only language moderators such as yourself can see. For the most part, it's rather uneventful. It's a place to "test" new features, move removed threads or spam, coordinate forum cleanups, ask questions about how to do something, etc. Of course, It's also used to deal with reports, whenever there is one.

We're not really having any parallel discussion there at the moment regarding the forum policy (this is the thread to be :) ). We did have a talk yesterday and earlier this morning regarding opening this thread and making changes to the moderation in order to make it more transparent, though.
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-02-19, 17:25

Naava wrote:
As of this morning (CET), all seven of us are actively reading this thread and discussing its content behind the scenes. Between its conception and this morning, it was everybody sans one.

Um, did I get it right: we have this discussion here and the same thing but as "the mods" -edition in a place rest of us don't have an access to? I'm not sure why but somehow it bugs me that you're having the same discussion but behind our backs. :|

Actually, there isn't much going on behind the scenes at the moment. I can understand why that would make you uncomfortable, though. There was some discussion during the weekend about open moderation and having a public discussion regarding possible changes to the forum policy, and as a result this thread was started.

Aurinĭa wrote:
TheStrayCat wrote:
1.2 You are allowed to have only 1 account. If you create any others, they will be banned and there will be consequences. If you have a deactivated account, see 1.6; you are to ask for that to be reactivated instead of creating a new one.

I can think of some reasons why a good-faith user would create another account: for example, I need to log in from an insecure place where my personal data can be compromised; I haven't used UniLang for 10 years and forgot all my old emails and passwords. So I would allow creating an extra account provided that administrators give an explicit permission for this and the link between the two accounts is made clear to the community.

You make a good point about logging in from insecure places, I wouldn't be against adjusting the rule for that if you make the link between your accounts clear e.g. by putting your other username in your signature or choosing UserName2, and notify us preferably beforehand.

I was going to say some more about double accounts, but apparently I forgot to do so.
Naava wrote:Maybe you could send a PM to a mod or admin or someone in case you absolutely need to create a new account? Then they'd know it's not that you intend to have discussions with yourself in the forums but that you have a real reason, eg. you have no idea which email you've used when you registered here, or that that email doesn't exists anymore or you can't remember its password.

That's pretty much it. If someone forgets their password, it's fine to start a different account, use that to PM us saying that you can't log in to your previous account. Then we can change the password/e-mail/whatever the problem was, send a PM with a temporary password back, and you can use your old account again. That's happened in the past, and it's OK to do so, as long as you use the double account simply to contact us and not to make posts on the forum. Alternatively, you could use the contact form to e-mail us. Either is fine.

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Forum policy review 2018 [split]

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-19, 17:26

I think I've finally managed to fix the formatting of this post.
Ashucky wrote:As for banning people in general, perhaps an idea would be to introduce a read-only role? I'm not sure if that's possible

I thought that was already the case, but I may be remembering wrong.
Regarding warnings, IMO up to three warnings should be enough before a more decisive action is taken. If someone is unwilling or cannot change their behaviour after three warnings, I doubt they're going to do so after twenty.

The real problem here, as some of us have been saying for a while now, is that what is warning- or ban-worthy behavior is decided entirely by the global mods and admins behind closed doors, not by the rest of us users, and the person who is punished has no say in the decision-making process. This means that the admins and global mods can decide all by themselves what should or shouldn't be punished while the rest of us get no say in the matter.
Again, a read-only role could be used after the third warning, followed by a discussion between the affected member and the admins/global mods.

I don't see the point in forcing people who have been banned to discuss their actions with the mods.
If the discussion is resolved favourably, the member could be given a second chance and go back to normal but any further infractions would promptly result in either a longer read-only status or a ban.

What would be the criteria for deciding between a longer read-only status or a ban?
I don't see much reason in keeping around members who contribute nothing of worth to the community and only seek to provoke other users (this is also why I'm for keeping sections 4.5.2 and 4.7.2 bannable - the former is just a violation of one's privacy and the latter only serves to cause discomfort and has nothing to do with a language forum; and if they really want to post nudity and related, they can find another forum that, I'm sure there's a plethora of them on the Internet).

Just because the admins and global mods decide that someone violated either of those sections doesn't mean they "contribute nothing of worth to the community and only seek to provoke other users." I was banned under section 4.7.2 and told that my status as a language forum moderator was not being revoked precisely because of my value to the community. I never tried to provoke other users; what I was being banned for in fact had become a well-known joke (and was supposed to be a joke in the first place) on the forum for months before the admins and global mods suddenly decided one day, out of the blue with no prior warning whatsoever, to ban me and cite it as their reason. No one has ever expressed offense at what I did except the admins and global mods. I realize that this sort of humor would not necessarily suit the current set of users, though.
dEhiN wrote:Though I never considered (until just now) the case of someone getting a warning for different infractions. I guess the hope is that every user reads through the forum policy, and asks clarification questions in the UniLang Information forum, should they be unclear on something. But even then it's possible someone could unintentionally commit three or five different infractions. So maybe we could have two limits: one for warnings for the same infraction, and one for overall warnings? For example, something like you're allowed three warnings for the same infraction, and eight warnings overall? Or five for the same infraction and ten overall? After that the next level of corrective action is taken.

I don't see how tallying up the overall number of warnings is fair at all. If you're going to ban someone after three warnings, or five, or even twenty, I think they should be for the same infraction.
I like this suggestion. I don't know if I agree about "regardless of how disrespectful". I understand that what constitutes disrespect could be subjective, but not entirely. For example, I think that if there's a discussion between someone and the mod team, and that person is firing off expletives directed at one or more members of the mod team, that's blatant disrespect. The same would be even if the recipient isn't a mod. Perhaps sections 2.3 and 5.1 could be used to determine this? That way there will hopefully be less ambiguity.

When you ban someone, you have to be prepared for the possibility that they're going to be very upset that they were banned. This may indeed result in them firing off expletives. Escalating the situation from there obviously isn't going to lead to any resolution.
Last edited by vijayjohn on 2018-02-19, 17:48, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Naava » 2018-02-19, 17:55

A suggestion: we're now having this same discussion about vijayjohn being banned here and on the Random thread. Could you choose one place where you would talk about this instead of two? Maybe you could create a separate thread for it? I understand that it's important and also somewhat relevant to this thread, but I'm afraid it might discourage people to take part in the forum policy review because they don't have anything to say about what happened between vijayjohn and the mods.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Aurinĭa » 2018-02-19, 18:02

Following Naava's suggestion, I have split off part of the discussion. It can now be found here.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018 [split]

Postby kevin » 2018-02-19, 18:21

vijayjohn wrote:The real problem here, as some of us have been saying for a while now, is that what is warning- or ban-worthy behavior is decided entirely by the global mods and admins behind closed doors, not by the rest of us users, and the person who is punished has no say in the decision-making process. This means that the admins and global mods can decide all by themselves what should or shouldn't be punished while the rest of us get no say in the matter.

I think there are two different things in there: First setting the rules, and then implementing them.

I agree that it would be nice if the larger community were involved in setting the rules (even though I never had any specific problems with the current ones), and this seems to be happening now.

At the same time I think it would be a really bad idea to let all users vote whether a specific person gets warned/banned or not. Or what kind of system to you have in mind there? I don't really see a viable alternative option to a small admin team making the decisions there.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby vijayjohn » 2018-02-19, 18:31

I don't mean a vote. I just mean all users being notified on the forum of someone being banned and then being allowed to contribute with their own thoughts regarding that person being banned, rather than the mods deciding this without anyone else's knowledge.

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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Luís » 2018-02-19, 18:53

In principle I'm not necessarily against that, but I can think of several cases where that probably wouldn't be appropriate.

Imagine member A sent a threatening PM to member B (or harassed him/her) and member B reports it. Do we really want to be discussing this in front of everyone in a public forum?
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Dormouse559 » 2018-02-19, 19:02

Another forum I'm a moderator on has a locked forum news thread where mods announce their major actions, including bans (of non-spambots). We explain who was banned, why and for how long. The "why" part doesn't necessarily go into great detail, but we use language based on the forum rules. There is a separate feedback thread where normal users can respond to the posts in the news thread. Maybe with some tweaks, a similar concept could work here.
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Re: Forum policy review 2018

Postby Luís » 2018-02-19, 19:41

Dormouse559 wrote:Another forum I'm a moderator on has a locked forum news thread where mods announce their major actions, including bans (of non-spambots). We explain who was banned, why and for how long. The "why" part doesn't necessarily go into great detail, but we use language based on the forum rules. There is a separate feedback thread where normal users can respond to the posts in the news thread. Maybe with some tweaks, a similar concept could work here.


I like this.

We wouldn't even need a new forum if all the actions were announced in the same (locked) thread, for instance, in the "Unilang - Information, Input, and Questions" forum.
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