Shame Posting Is Not OK

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Why did you create a thread for this? There doesn’t really seem to be a discussion to be had. I think everyone can agree that it’s bad.

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Because it was done.

If something that seems obvious and should not be done is done, then it needs to be made clear to everyone that this behavior is not to be done again and the consequences for doing it.

Edit: Getting permission is not an excuse, and it does not give you permission to do so.

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I recommend you post a quote of the forum rules where it explains the same.

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Be Kind to Each Other

This is a place for people to come together and talk about our stories and games. The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they to matter to you, too. Be respectful of not only the topics, but also the people discussing them.

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But, remember to criticize ideas, not people . Please avoid:

  • Rudeness
  • Ad hominem attacks, especially name calling
  • Extreme expressions of anger
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content

Finally, harassment of any kind, including impersonating people, spreading rumors, exposing private information, contacting someone after they have asked you to stop, or any other kind of personal attack will not be tolerated. If you see someone doing any of these things, make sure to flag the post.

(Bolding mine.)

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First of all, I’ve never posted a screenshot of any kind, so I know this bizarrely capitalized thread isn’t about me, but I will never understand how this forum is “moderated.”

When I first found CoG, I thought “oh cool! Someone tweaked the CYOA book format to make it digital and some authors are getting paid” which was amazing to me.

For something like 30 years, IF was relegated to the backwaters, and magnificent works were written by authors who never received a penny. I mean, my gosh, Andrew Plotkin should be in some kind of IF Hall of Fame for all that he’s contributed.

So yeah, finding and playing CoG games/stories was awesome.

But this forum? This place is something else. I’ve read the FAQ a dozen times, and it doesn’t say anything about “if you question the rules, you get suspended for a YEAR(!).”

And why is @Eiwynn threatening bans and suspensions almost every week, including for things like me posting “false information” (seriously, wtf) about how American corporations determine what is or is not “adult” material? That is nowhere close to breaking any of the rules.

If some kind of new “bad” behavior is happening, update the FAQ and Terms & Conditions, so we all know the ground rules.

There is no need for threats all the frigging time from the same moderator, especially just for asking questions.

I constantly feel like the users of this forum all seen as irredentist, naughty children (I mean, a year’s ban for saying someone is funny on a thread named “Funny”???) instead of a group of like-minded travelers who, occasionally, need a little reigning in.

Frankly, at this point, I feel as though I’ve just signed my death warrant, which is weird considering that I’m just here to, you know, chat about interactive fiction, not launch a war or something.

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So if I see a genuinely funny comment from someone, want to share it in the funny tread just of admiration, ask a person and that person don’t mind, I still get a ban, even if my intentions were definitely not “harrasing”? Just to clarify the situation.

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Hi, Sam, I agree that it’s a good idea to know the ground rules. It’s a work in progress, and some of the rules and guidelines are very new. We’ll get there.

One hard thing is that moderator warnings are indeed sometimes threats, but I hope more often nudges, as if to say “ok, let’s pull this back on topic” or “let’s cool things down.” But sometimes moderator intervention into a thread looks like an angry threat no matter what is said just by the fact that the intervention happens, and some of the “canned” moderator responses might not have the perfect tone at all times.

I know that’s something I’m still working on, and I’m sure I’ve hit the wrong note more than once when trying to deal with a thread on the brink.

Also, thank you for teaching me the word “irredentist.” I am going to start calling my children irredentist.

My understanding is that if the intention is to mock or get laughs at the person’s expense, then that would be not-allowed posting. Obviously that ends up becoming a moderator call since the boundary between “get laughs at the person’s expense” and “let’s all laugh together at this thing we all agree is funny” can be nebulous.

We are trying to prevent some particularly heinous behavior, and some potentially innocuous behavior can get included in the blanket ban on that sort of screenshot, as always happens when you make a really specific ban on types of posts.

Be nice, Sam. We can probably figure out some solutions, but be kind.

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Someone should probably point out that these kinds of extreme responses to such behavior, debatable or not, should definitely be added into the rules. I think @Sam_Ursu has some really good points that honestly should have been brought up for a while now. Also, yes, I agree that some of these bans are just silly, but that is not the topic, so I digress.

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I’d like to focus on moving forward to the extent possible. I want to make future calls as good as possible rather than hash over past calls.

Can you specify here? What specifically should be added to the rules?

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Such as being banned for one year. One could read every rule on the site and that means this could still happen to them. Also, I believe punishments that severe have to be, as they are, well, severe. I’d like to know what could get me in that much trouble by not having to read a specific mod post or thread in general.

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To be honest, I agree with everything said here. I left the forums, which ai had been a very active member of, for over a year due to action by certain unnamed moderators that came across as ban-hammery and power mad.

It was frustrating and hurtful. I did not get banned - I chose to leave, because I was so disgusted by the behavior that I did not want to continue to stress myself out over a forum. I even left discord groups related to IF, because I was so repelled by the rudeness and seemingly power-mad behavior.

Edit to add: for instance, moderators probably shouldn’t be allowed to just delete users’ posts without a valid reason, such as, for instance, threats of harm, severe bullying, etc. Users just disagreeing with each other shouldn’t have their posts deleted by controlling moderators, especially without a “hey stop that” warning first.

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I think and hope that that is not the case here. At least I hope examples of it are few and far between. Disagreement is fine. It would be really boring if we all agreed.

I think it is when posts turn into something more venomous that there is a problem. In this very thread, I’ve tried to have a light touch because I think this can be a constructive conversation, but even in Sam’s long post there is rancor that I hope, in hindsight, he can see is rancor rather than just disagreement.

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Unfortunately, the thing I referenced is the exact reason I left the forums in the first place. A perfectly civil discussion was interrupted by a moderator who felt it was not civil, who then turned around and deleted our conversation from the thread entirely. It’s been so long that I don’t completely remember what the topic was about or anything, but I’m sure comments leading up to the discussion are still in my post history somewhere.

I was very, very offput and disgruntled. I deleted everything I could off the forum and swore I wouldn’t come back.

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There is a lot to unpack and go through here, Sam.

Thanks for providing an illustrative example of shame posting and for bringing your grievances and grudges forward.

The moderator(s) I’ve talked with about the direction you have decided to take this discussion believe it would be best to have a conversation about grievance as you set forth here.

Before I go into the topic of grievance and the topic of shame posting is set aside, I’d like to use your post as a learning moment for the community.

As an opener, you have decided to lead off your post by pointing out what you see as a grammar-incorrect and bizarre title.

Trying to shame a person for their grammar in a public and unprompted manner is a form of bullying.

With a community made of many ESL users, this type of behavior can lead to them feeling attacked, isolated and unwelcomed.

Shame posting is a concern, because bullying of fellow forum users will lead to consequences that chip away at the forum being a welcoming and inclusive place for those often marginalized and unwelcome by other communities.

The long and short of this issue is that bullying of this nature is not allowed here.

Which leads me to:

As @Gower stated: the guidelines for the community to follow are a work in progress. Bullying by shame posting is a practice that I did not think would occur here, and I’m sure it never entered the minds of staff or other moderators.

The good news is that once this occurred here, the process for updating the FAQ setting forth the guidelines as not explicitly allowing this type of behavior was put in motion immediately thereafter.

The bad news is that this takes time; staff needs time to review and approve such changes, and this is not instantaneous, despite the times we live in. Instant gratification is something that can’t be given with changes and updates to the guidelines.

I’m going to insert a question from another user here to clarify, then I will refocus on the rest of your post, Sam.

When it comes to bullying (which shame posting is a form of) there is no way for the moderators to know if the permission granted to bully was freely given, or if it were bullied given. Because there is no way to truly tell from a moderation stand-point, forbidding the action of shame posting in all cases is the fairest thing to do. That way there are no questions where the red line is.

Now, I guess would be the time to focus on a grievance that names me specifically:

The short answer is: Because the warnings issued are needed.

@Gower does a wonderful job at going deeper on this, saying things better than I, so I will just quote him:

In your particular moderated action, after several polite warnings were issued to you regarding off-topic and factually wrong information while ranting on the faults of American society, a last warning shot with clear consequences was called for. Two other moderators thought you deserved suspension, but I wanted to avoid that outcome if it were possible.

Multiple mods have noticed and commented on the fact that the tone and focus of many of your posts violate the “Be Kind to Each Other” guideline and the lack of respect you have for others in the community is a concern.

An example, not involving myself, is how you publically called out a volunteer judge in a contest here for providing you feedback that you found to be objectable. This volunteer took her time to read and critique your contest entry… not only that but she provided detailed feedback for you to use.

Sourness, resentment, deep-seated ill will, malice or spitefulness should be kept out of posts especially when directed specifically at another. The post you made regarding that judge had one or more of those aspects in it.

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I’ve had similar experiences, and still do. What you’re saying probably isn’t going to change a thing, unfortunately, but know there’s a lot of us and no one blames you. It’s definitely a longstanding problem on this Forum. They will always respond with a positively-intended message as seen above, but will never acknowledge that everyone with authority sometimes oversteps. Appeals to this problem often go ignored, as well.

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I try not to make snap judgments, which is why I haven’t mentioned the moderator by name, because I’m not trying to brigade this person. At the time, though, I was so, so unbelievably angry by the behavior I witnessed. I hadn’t seen anything like it since my teen years on a fanfiction website colloquially referred to as Luna.

I feel that, the vast majority of us are adults. That type of “listen to me or I’ll delete your comments” behavior is more suited to disrespectful children. I am both a mother and teacher - I can tell the difference between when I am being treated as an equal and as an inferior, or, as an adult vs as a child.

I understand that the FAQ are a work in progress, but in the 5 years I’ve been here, they haven’t really been updated more than, I believe, once, in any true fashion. Maybe it’s time for the moderator team to take a weekend and rehash what is and is not acceptable - both for the average user and for moderators/leaders, because they should have rules they’re held accountable to, as well.

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This is the thread that I work with: Moderation and Forum Norms

I have updated that thread over fifty times since I made it, making small and large changes. It’s not really rules–these are my norms, but I think a lot of moderators use similar sorts of thoughts as they make judgment calls. Anyhow, I’m always trying to refine it and rethink it. I’m sure I’ll revise it hundreds more times.

I’m glad to see you back, even if it’s briefly. I noticed you were gone and wondered.

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I’d also like to add, that whenever there are issues, such as animal torture being written into games that glorify and fetishes such behavior, that are not explicitly covered by the FAQ, that there is a review and update process which is triggered.

To my knowledge, this process has been triggered multiple times in the last couple of months, so hopefully, the FAQ will be updated as well as @Gower 's thread.

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I just want to interject a few points into this discussion:

  • If a post you write seems to get a much stronger reaction than you expected, there’s a high chance that some kind of miscommunication is happening. It can be a really good idea to step back and critically examine whether your choice of words might come across more aggressive than you meant it. I know I’ve had to do so, and even have talks with people over PMs, to clear up misunderstandings.

  • Writing a response while you feel annoyed, has a very high change of using stronger language than you would use in other situations, and just escalate problems instead of solving them.

  • You can PM a moderator to clarify why they did something, and discuss it politely. Taking it without a word, or making a post to complain about it, are not the only options. I have personally done this.

  • We all have very different levels for what we are comfortable with. What some might see as a ridiculous overreaction to a small thing, might be the exact reason others feel comfortable posting here.

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