Author Topic: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....  (Read 1820 times)

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Offline an tha

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Dear Forum Admin and Moderators,

I am writing this as an 'Open Letter' with the intention of opening up mature and open discussion about the recent decisions taken to:

1. Close the Real World section
2. Ban discussion of political or 'hot button' issues.

I have thought long and hard about writing this, I have spent a lot of time drafting it and I have made the decision (feeling I am possibly dicing with my future participation on here) to go ahead and 'publish' it......because I believe it is an issue that deserves discussion and maybe just maybe a compromise can be found for the good of all that use here...

Please read - I have made a big effort to be respectful, thoughtful, mindful of the background etc. and to put out there a balanced thought provoking offering for consideration and discussion....so here goes.....

I appreciate that you as the people who keep this place running have to make decisions and sometimes those decisions are taken due to problems existing in our community - I also appreciate it can be a thankless task doing what you do so let me say Thanks for doing it!

I believe it is important to question the received way of thinking at all points in life, but I also recognise an internet forum is not a democracy and those 'wielding the power' are unlikely to listen to loud, shouty requests to make it more like one - so I write to you respectfully and thoughtfully to raise what I believe is an important issue within our community that is this forum.

I realise that you have not taken the decisions you have lightly and I respect your right to enforce whatever rules you decide to enforce... I also believe you are not banning people simply because you dislike or disagree with them; I've only seen you temporarily ban people who you judge to have broken the forum rules and certainly who have insulted other forum members.

That gives us some space to speak freely (which is of course a good thing) without 'the arm of the law' coming down on us, which I've been attempting to make the most of as a regular contributor and I know others have too.

However, it is my observation that the 'no-politics' rule is in danger of backfiring/becoming a problem – people don’t know what they can or can’t say and there are grumbles of discontent from thoughtful posters.

I quote former member Borack who made the following comment as his last on the forum before leaving:

“If people can be banned instantly for saying something disagreeable, based on some subjective whim, then we've all lost a useful resource”

 Edge appearing at a Women’s Right march (which was distinctly partisan) really throws up a challenge for members here who want to respectfully, thoughtfully and intelligently discuss the matter and it is my view that people are caught in a little bit of a grip of fear of doing so in case what they say crosses what is for me a somewhat blurry line.

I think that’s why mods have not elaborated when people have questioned the rule and in some cases have resorted to short and arguably borderline rude replies when dealing with issues arising from the ban on discussion.

On the other hand it is clear the “real world” section was getting nasty and was spoiling the atmosphere on the forum.... I wasn't an especially prolific contributor to the section but I miss being able to post there when I wanted to and I miss learning things from the perspective of and experience of people thousands of miles away, as well as being able to post a face palm gif as a part of banter with posters like il capo for example when he thinks I vote for Farage!  :) Yes people really were pushing it all too far and of course action was needed.... Talking about American politics brought out the worst in some users, of that there is no doubt.

However, it is my hope that compromise can be reached through open and mature discussion... the mod team is about to be strengthened which will be a good thing and hopefully any new appointees are actually active contributors to the forum and can be more proactive rather than needing to be reactive in helping keep a good atmosphere and dealing with any potential problems.

Member So Cruel wrote this after Borack left:

“At the end of the day people of all different faiths, countries, backgrounds, politics, etc.gather here because of our common love of U2.

Sure there are arguments, things can get heated, but that is life. Things aren't always sunshine and rainbows. I'm pretty shocked that the Real World thread was shut down. It was a place for me to read various opinions and learn things to people thousands of miles away that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. An example is reading the Brexit thread it gave an insight from both sides of the issue from people directly affected by it. A shame it was shut down.

I don't own this site and I can't call how it is run. The only thing I can do is determine where my time is used and if we continue losing some of our best posters I believe my time may be better used elsewhere. Any forum is really only as good as the posters that make it up. This forum just got a bit worse with the departure of Borack”

These are powerful words from a well respected member of our forum.

I honestly don't believe in or agree with telling people that they can't discuss politics etc.... I absolutely support a push to ensure people do so respectfully though - to my mind you don't close the park down just because a few people aren't playing nicely on the slide!

So what I am proposing is that a discussion between the members and the admin and mod team is instigated to see if a way forward can be found to re-instate a new and improved real world section where respectful, thoughtful, intelligent discussion of political issues etc. is allowed - but where there is a zero tolerance towards personal insults, abuse, flaming etc.....this forum is run by and posted on by intelligent decent people and it is very much view that we can all manage to discuss these issues freely in a respectful manner and be agreeable even when disagreeing.... and if some people are incapable of doing so then hey they don't deserve the chance to and the community does not need them....so I would imagine nobody would turn a hair to those people being banned - especially if we are talking about being given the grace of a 2nd chance so to speak with a compromise being made.

Experience has led me to believe very strongly in the promotion of self moderation, people knowing what is and what isn’t the right kind of behaviour within the community without it actually needing to be an issue that is often discussed......unconscious consciousness!.... and this is achieved by building a healthy respect between admin/mods and members where we are really all the same at heart in terms of how we use the forum on a daily basis with a shared goal to create and maintain the best possible community for the use of and enjoyment of all, a truly all inclusive forum where people feel part of something a little more than “Just a forum”.

The removal of a well loved section of the board whilst maybe in the short term making things seem better does in my honest opinion make the place worse mid to long term - I believe we can all work together here to save and indeed improve a much loved and valued part of our forum and then treat it and each other within it with the respect befitting of such a resource.

Some Bono quotes about free speech, debate, difference, etc....

“The hardest thing to do is to stick together. Mates, family, marriage, business, band. It’s like resisting gravity. It’s like King Canute sitting in his chair trying to talk back the tide. But you can, and we have, and we will turn the waves around. The alternative is too predictable. You rid the room of argument. You empty your life of the people you need the most.”

“To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater”

So all that said I ask you to please listen and engage in a discussion to return the real world section/the right to discuss politics - but with very clear and rigorously enforced guidelines that could leave us all with a great resource and enrich the discussion again.

Members - if you like this idea to find a way forward please add your voices - remaining silent when you actually would like to see if a compromise can be found do you and the rest of the forum a disservice....equally if I am talking rubbish in your opinion tell me so - but do so in an agreeable manner when disagreeing......just like I hope we can do in the real world and about the issues in our world we all care about/are affected by and even involved in.

Just like the band this forum is mainly about do!

Thanks for reading....

Regards

An Tha
« Last Edit: January 23, 2017, 02:51:15 PM by an tha »



Offline riffraff

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2017, 02:35:38 PM »
I personally don't like to discuss politics, BUT, an tha has made some very good points here.
I agree that the real world section should be brought back. If someone gets nasty, ban them.
But, this is a forum, and discussions should be able flow freely without fear of banishment without reason. If there is good reason, ban them. I don't think anyone has a problem with that.

I hope the mods do read the original post, and I believe they will. Our mods do a great job, generally, and I'm sure will continue to do so. I hope they will seriously consider an tha's request. I would hate to see more members leave. After all, members of a forum are what MAKE the forum.

Thanks.

Offline ShankAsu

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2017, 03:26:09 PM »
Thanks for writing this An Tha.  I agree that some threads turned very ugly and action was needed, (I still feel sorry for former forum member Maximus with how he was treated on posts a few months ago) but also think the pendulum has now swung.  I was recently banned for a week and the post that actually did it was shockingly tame, but I respect the decision of the mods and will follow the rules they set up and hope this post won't be seen as a sign of aggression or of breaking any rules of the forum.  There's been a noted absence of some forum members recently and I can only assume they've been banned.  After having nearly daily communication with people for two years, its kind of sad to just have these people gone.  I understand it must be annoying for the mods to have to put up with some of the activity on here, and honestly, I'm tired of political talk, but with U2 and their actions, think it will be tough to avoid in current discussions.  I understand why the mods would wish to outright ban political talk, and again, will follow their rules.
Peace and love, and hopefully respectful discourse can flow through that.  As for me, I am resigning my real world discussion to movies and books on the threads not involving band news as I don't want to push the buttons of anyone and would like to be able to continue to use the forum.
And also, I want to second An Tha's thanking the mods for their time and work put in here.  We can't be an easy collective group seeing how we are a global community.

Offline riffraff

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2017, 04:02:06 PM »
After thinking some more about this, I'd like to add that we, as forum members, do not need to be as aggressively toxic as I have seen some be on the pol thread. If you need to be rude, go kick your hamster or something...don't insult decent people who are trying to have a decent  conversation. And, yes, thanks to the mods for trying to keep this forum decent.

Offline m2

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 10:55:32 PM »
Thanks for the thoughtful posts. Just want to acknowledge for now that they've been read. Will reply in due time.

Offline John Galt

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2017, 12:56:28 AM »
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an tha has made some very good points here.
I agree that the real world section should be brought back. If someone gets nasty, ban them.
But, this is a forum, and discussions should be able flow freely without fear of banishment without reason. If there is good reason, ban them. I don't think anyone has a problem with that.

I hope the mods do read the original post, and I believe they will. Our mods do a great job, generally, and I'm sure will continue to do so. I hope they will seriously consider an tha's request. I would hate to see more members leave. After all, members of a forum are what MAKE the forum.

Thanks.

I agree.


Offline briscoetheque

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2017, 01:57:11 AM »
Agree.
Personally, it was U2 that got me here.

It was the debate with fellow fans about non-u2 related things that kept me here.

Probably says more about me than the site.

Diverse opinions. Diverse senses of humour. To me, those things are interesting.

Well articulated An Tha.

Perhaps an option could be to 'opt in' to the Real world forum. Software dependant.

Offline Volcanogirl

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2017, 03:23:10 AM »
Good points an tha, the only thing is. Some people are not just borderline rude, they are nasty, rude and angry.
Agree with riffraff, a section like real world should make it's comeback.

Offline il_capo

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2017, 04:51:38 AM »
I also welcome the positive and thoughtful messages posted in this thread. 

I also appreciate the work of the mods in keeping this forum running spam-free and glitch-free.  As an tha says, it is a thankless task.  But the mods help ensure there is a lively dialogue here, and it is refreshing that they are approachable, and always explain their actions to the community and its individual members.  There are not many places on the internet where moderators are as open to dialogue.  They clearly want to make the forum as free-flowing and positive as possible.  Yet some of us do sometimes repeatedly overstep the mark and ignore warnings that we are insulting/upsetting other forum members, and in those cases the temporary ban is a decent way of trying to disarm the situation – the user gets to come back after a week and hopefully will have had time for reflection. 

To be clear, I don’t like to see bans except as a very last resort.  This is especially so in the case of regular posters who’ve contributed 1000s of posts.  And I think we should make allowances for the fact that humour is easily misinterpreted given how international this forum is. 

Regarding the Real World section:  I noticed this forum become toxic in the weeks leading up to and following the American election.  I found the atmosphere improved when the Real World section was closed.  Maybe that closure should be temporary as people clearly valued the place, but there was too much polarised and aggressive political posturing and I did not enjoy that, nor learn anything from it.  People were at each other’s throats and it was bringing out the worst in us.  Since its closure we all seem to be getting along better, yet at the same time making thoughtful and intelligent posts.

I think it’s important we’re able to discuss U2’s political ideas and statements, but I also think we should desist from polarising political comments that have nothing to do with U2 and just act as a red rag to a bull: do we really want more ‘Clinton/Trump is great’ ,  ‘Liberals/Republicans suck’, comments here?  E.g. the Brexit thread became less a discussion about the consequences of Brexit and more a polarised and partisan place for scoring cheap political points.  In the words of the famous music-hall song, partisan political discussion invariably leads to “two lovely black eyes”. 

Now we’re into a new calendar year perhaps the Real World section could be given another try.  Yet for the sake of this being a pleasant place to visit I’d like us all to make it a space where everyone’s views are shown tolerance and respect.  No personal insults and flaming.  No nasty, angry and rude comments to one another.  I think we are all showing more self-moderation than we were before, and thus the actions the mods took at the end of the year have been helpful, but we need to make sure we keep in a good spirit should the Real World be re-opened.

An tha quotes Bono on sticking together and respecting difference.  Genuinely tolerating and trying to understand difference is perhaps the hardest thing to do in life – to listen to different voices on their own terms rather than imposing our categories on them.  I didn’t notice much of that in the last months of 2016.  So whatever happens regarding the Real World section let’s try and do it on this forum.  Let’s all try and ensure it remains a lively, inclusive forum where people feel comfortable to say what they think, and to argue and disagree.  If we cut out insulting one another when disagreement occurs there's no reason why any topic should be off-limits.

Offline Volcanogirl

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 05:09:19 AM »
Good post il capo, hope that we can all move forward and listen rather than post angry stuff and being intolerant.

Offline riffraff

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2017, 05:25:31 AM »
"An tha quotes Bono on sticking together and respecting difference.  Genuinely tolerating and trying to understand difference is perhaps the hardest thing to do in life – to listen to different voices on their own terms rather than imposing our categories on them.  I didn’t notice much of that in the last months of 2016.  So whatever happens regarding the Real World section let’s try and do it on this forum.  Let’s all try and ensure it remains a lively, inclusive forum where people feel comfortable to say what they think, and to argue and disagree.  If we cut out insulting one another when disagreement occurs there's no reason why any topic should be off-limits."

Amen to this...nicely done, il capo. And, to an tha...thank you for beginning this conversation. It is a very necessary conversation.

Offline jabw10

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2017, 08:05:15 AM »
Wonderfully written post, An tha. Agree with you in that it feels a bit like walking on eggshells in the days since, and that the shutdown/ban on topics seem philosophically at odds with the band who brought us all here.  I don't have the stomach for namecalling or disrespectful tirades, either, and agree that it had reached a breaking point. My typical M.O. had been to sidestep those threads/comments in order to avoid the vitriol, but I can respect that the spirit of those words remained as a poisonous vibe on the forum.

I have no answers, but I believe you are asking the right questions. And, m2, et al, thanks for reading & considering other options. Thanks so much for making the tough decisions.

Offline John Galt

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2017, 08:16:30 AM »
How about bringing back the Real World section but not allowing political and easy trigger topics such as U.S. politics, Brexit, abortion and gun control etc?

I do enjoy political, social and economic discussions but I’ll happily do without them for the greater good of the forum.

I just feel the current layout is messy with Real World topics lumped in the Lounge section.

Offline robgalloway

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2017, 08:20:31 AM »
I fully support An Thas post infact I made a post a week or so ago echoing something similar but it was quickly deleted.



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Offline Kmama07

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Re: Dear Forum Admin and Moderators - A request for possible compromise....
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2017, 08:35:26 AM »
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Dear Forum Admin and Moderators,

I am writing this as an 'Open Letter' with the intention of opening up mature and open discussion about the recent decisions taken to:

1. Close the Real World section
2. Ban discussion of political or 'hot button' issues.

I have thought long and hard about writing this, I have spent a lot of time drafting it and I have made the decision (feeling I am possibly dicing with my future participation on here) to go ahead and 'publish' it......because I believe it is an issue that deserves discussion and maybe just maybe a compromise can be found for the good of all that use here...

Please read - I have made a big effort to be respectful, thoughtful, mindful of the background etc. and to put out there a balanced thought provoking offering for consideration and discussion....so here goes.....

I appreciate that you as the people who keep this place running have to make decisions and sometimes those decisions are taken due to problems existing in our community - I also appreciate it can be a thankless task doing what you do so let me say Thanks for doing it!

I believe it is important to question the received way of thinking at all points in life, but I also recognise an internet forum is not a democracy and those 'wielding the power' are unlikely to listen to loud, shouty requests to make it more like one - so I write to you respectfully and thoughtfully to raise what I believe is an important issue within our community that is this forum.

I realise that you have not taken the decisions you have lightly and I respect your right to enforce whatever rules you decide to enforce... I also believe you are not banning people simply because you dislike or disagree with them; I've only seen you temporarily ban people who you judge to have broken the forum rules and certainly who have insulted other forum members.

That gives us some space to speak freely (which is of course a good thing) without 'the arm of the law' coming down on us, which I've been attempting to make the most of as a regular contributor and I know others have too.

However, it is my observation that the 'no-politics' rule is in danger of backfiring/becoming a problem – people don’t know what they can or can’t say and there are grumbles of discontent from thoughtful posters.

I quote former member Borack who made the following comment as his last on the forum before leaving:

“If people can be banned instantly for saying something disagreeable, based on some subjective whim, then we've all lost a useful resource”

 Edge appearing at a Women’s Right march (which was distinctly partisan) really throws up a challenge for members here who want to respectfully, thoughtfully and intelligently discuss the matter and it is my view that people are caught in a little bit of a grip of fear of doing so in case what they say crosses what is for me a somewhat blurry line.

I think that’s why mods have not elaborated when people have questioned the rule and in some cases have resorted to short and arguably borderline rude replies when dealing with issues arising from the ban on discussion.

On the other hand it is clear the “real world” section was getting nasty and was spoiling the atmosphere on the forum.... I wasn't an especially prolific contributor to the section but I miss being able to post there when I wanted to and I miss learning things from the perspective of and experience of people thousands of miles away, as well as being able to post a face palm gif as a part of banter with posters like il capo for example when he thinks I vote for Farage!  :) Yes people really were pushing it all too far and of course action was needed.... Talking about American politics brought out the worst in some users, of that there is no doubt.

However, it is my hope that compromise can be reached through open and mature discussion... the mod team is about to be strengthened which will be a good thing and hopefully any new appointees are actually active contributors to the forum and can be more proactive rather than needing to be reactive in helping keep a good atmosphere and dealing with any potential problems.

Member So Cruel wrote this after Borack left:

“At the end of the day people of all different faiths, countries, backgrounds, politics, etc.gather here because of our common love of U2.

Sure there are arguments, things can get heated, but that is life. Things aren't always sunshine and rainbows. I'm pretty shocked that the Real World thread was shut down. It was a place for me to read various opinions and learn things to people thousands of miles away that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. An example is reading the Brexit thread it gave an insight from both sides of the issue from people directly affected by it. A shame it was shut down.

I don't own this site and I can't call how it is run. The only thing I can do is determine where my time is used and if we continue losing some of our best posters I believe my time may be better used elsewhere. Any forum is really only as good as the posters that make it up. This forum just got a bit worse with the departure of Borack”

These are powerful words from a well respected member of our forum.

I honestly don't believe in or agree with telling people that they can't discuss politics etc.... I absolutely support a push to ensure people do so respectfully though - to my mind you don't close the park down just because a few people aren't playing nicely on the slide!

So what I am proposing is that a discussion between the members and the admin and mod team is instigated to see if a way forward can be found to re-instate a new and improved real world section where respectful, thoughtful, intelligent discussion of political issues etc. is allowed - but where there is a zero tolerance towards personal insults, abuse, flaming etc.....this forum is run by and posted on by intelligent decent people and it is very much view that we can all manage to discuss these issues freely in a respectful manner and be agreeable even when disagreeing.... and if some people are incapable of doing so then hey they don't deserve the chance to and the community does not need them....so I would imagine nobody would turn a hair to those people being banned - especially if we are talking about being given the grace of a 2nd chance so to speak with a compromise being made.

Experience has led me to believe very strongly in the promotion of self moderation, people knowing what is and what isn’t the right kind of behaviour within the community without it actually needing to be an issue that is often discussed......unconscious consciousness!.... and this is achieved by building a healthy respect between admin/mods and members where we are really all the same at heart in terms of how we use the forum on a daily basis with a shared goal to create and maintain the best possible community for the use of and enjoyment of all, a truly all inclusive forum where people feel part of something a little more than “Just a forum”.

The removal of a well loved section of the board whilst maybe in the short term making things seem better does in my honest opinion make the place worse mid to long term - I believe we can all work together here to save and indeed improve a much loved and valued part of our forum and then treat it and each other within it with the respect befitting of such a resource.

Some Bono quotes about free speech, debate, difference, etc....

“The hardest thing to do is to stick together. Mates, family, marriage, business, band. It’s like resisting gravity. It’s like King Canute sitting in his chair trying to talk back the tide. But you can, and we have, and we will turn the waves around. The alternative is too predictable. You rid the room of argument. You empty your life of the people you need the most.”

“To be one, to be united is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is maybe even greater”

So all that said I ask you to please listen and engage in a discussion to return the real world section/the right to discuss politics - but with very clear and rigorously enforced guidelines that could leave us all with a great resource and enrich the discussion again.

Members - if you like this idea to find a way forward please add your voices - remaining silent when you actually would like to see if a compromise can be found do you and the rest of the forum a disservice....equally if I am talking rubbish in your opinion tell me so - but do so in an agreeable manner when disagreeing......just like I hope we can do in the real world and about the issues in our world we all care about/are affected by and even involved in.

Just like the band this forum is mainly about do!

Thanks for reading....

Regards

An Tha

AMEN