Author Topic: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe  (Read 125812 times)  

Offline KBoards Admin

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Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« on: March 15, 2013, 02:39:35 PM »
We are concerned about a growing lack of civility in posts in the Writer's Cafe. We want to remind everyone about our rules of decorum. These are the rules of the house and will be enforced.

When necessary we will impose bans on members. Here's how that works:

  a. We first give a warning to the member via PM
  b. If the behavior recurs, we invoke a temporary ban
  c. If the behavior recurs after that, we invoke a permanent ban. Please note that, in our five years of operations, we have never lifted a permanent ban once it has been invoked, despite repeated appeals from banned authors. Once you get that third strike, you're out. 

We are doing this partly to reduce our moderation load, and partly to preserve (or reinstate) the tone of productive, civil conversations in our Writer's Cafe.

Note: Some of the reasons for the bans will include not only personal attacks, but also situations where a member tends to pick apart other people's posts. That is not conducive to rich conversation. To those members: you may indeed be the smartest person in the room, but if you feel you have to prove that by continually parsing out and contradicting other people's posts, you are not enriching the conversation.

I admit some of this comes down to a judgment call, and while you may not always agree with our moderation actions, we ask that you respect the decisions that our moderators make. It takes a tremendous amount of care and effort to support a community like this, especially one that has grown to become the web's largest independent Kindle forum. The moderator role is a difficult one and is purely voluntary; do your part to make their lives a slight bit easier.

If you don't agree with the above, there are plenty of unmoderated forums out there, that allow or even welcome confrontation and belligerence. KBoards is not that kind of place.

Let me end this on a heartfelt positive note: We love this place! And we hope you do too. We appreciate our community! We want to keep the KB Writer's Cafe an enjoyable and useful place for you and for all writers.

Thank you for your understanding and support. I look forward to many enjoyable conversations to come in the Writer's Cafe!

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Offline Kay Bratt

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 02:44:24 PM »
I love this place, too. And appreciate all you and the mods do. I know it's not always easy to make that judgement call.

You all do a great job.




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Offline Quiss

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 02:59:33 PM »
vrabinec made me do it...

*bump*
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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 03:07:22 PM »
The moderator role is a difficult one...

It sure is! A huge Thank You to all the mods.   8)
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Offline Mathew Reuther

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2013, 03:09:07 PM »
For full disclosure, not that it will shock or amaze anyone, but I'm on my last step, having already been banned for a week once.

That said, I think that as I am in that position, it's absolutely worth commenting.

I think a bit too much worry is invested at times in some posts by some board members and the moderation staff. If you think of a post as a discussion in a salon at some event or the other: a group of people are engaging in chatter, and eventually in the middle of the discourse, a few people get more heated. (Happens at social gatherings of all kinds, in relation to all kinds of topics from sports to politics to cars to you-name-it.)

Now, if you were to (as host) break this up and send everyone to their corners and prohibit speaking of such things again in the near future, it wouldn't allow people to resolve things. And that's precisely what happens when you lock down a thread. You remove the ability of the (presumably) adult human beings involved to follow through with a line of discussion until its conclusion.

You rob them of the ability to come to their own kind of consensus, and to find middle ground. Middle ground we are all taught to at least try and seek. (And which, judging from my PM box after locked threads, absolutely exists.)

I certainly don't disagree that some issues need to be cut short. No doubt about it. But I mentioned to Harvey the other evening that I felt he was perhaps being needlessly pessimistic about a specific thread. (Though I freely admit to understanding that he's concerned with the whole.) A thread which was allowed to remain in play, and which did indeed result in discussion which then cooled and naturally ended. These are the types of discussions I am referring to when I say that some would be better left alone so that they could run their course and reach a natural conclusion.

I think it might lower tensions overall if some things were just left to the folks in the WC to deal with themselves. Of course, in order to know this for sure, we'd have to see some threads which were heated not get shuttered, and that's a tough call to make, as I'm sure we all understand. I'm fairly sure nobody here thinks that Harvey, Betsy, and Ann have it easy in that regard.

***

Now, outside of my own thoughts regarding the fact that I trust most of us in most situations to eventually come around to some kind of an understanding, there's one other specific statement which concerns me here.

That's the fact that "picking apart posts" is the way I have posted since USENET. Since dialup BBSes. For two decades. And as I have said to Harvey in private, I do this for clarity. So that it is possible to see exactly what I am referring to for myself while I am responding, and for others when they read. I certainly don't break a post down and reply to specific elements to insult anyone.

So despite my intentions: my established, decades long posting style, is unacceptable.

That pretty much sucks rocks. *shrug*
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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2013, 03:12:20 PM »
Glad of the gentle reminder. This is a great board!

Thanks to you, Harvey, and our illustrious moderators for keeping it great.  :)
 

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Offline JeanneM

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2013, 03:15:35 PM »
Mathew, can you change your ways in this case? :)  This place wouldn't be as much fun without you.

Offline Caddy

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2013, 03:21:16 PM »
Matthew, I could be wrong, but I don't think Harvey is referring to when you post part of a post as a quote as "picking apart".  I "think" (and I could be wrong) that he means picking apart as in taking what someone posts and hammering on a certain thing they said over and over to make a point, and breaking it down to mean something other than the OP had intended.

 For example, you may say, "We all know that nonfiction is a harder sell". (Don't think I"m saying that, I just made up a sentence.)  Now, If I quote that from your full post and then comment, that's fair.

If I quote it and by doing so make it out of context and then go to so provoke you by saying, "How do you know what everyyone thinks? You said "we all know". Do you really think you know what I know or don't know? And, for that matter, what research have you done to prove this about nonfiction? If you can't provide us with solid facts with the research to back it, I find your statement misleading and troublesome." THAT is picking apart. Then they come back and say, "You know I was generalizing. Doesn't everyone say 'everyone' at times?" Then you (not YOU, but anyone who does this, comes back again and says, "There you go again with the 'everyone'." It's intentional twisting of statements that I think he hopes to avoid.

At least, that's how I'm reading what Harvey says.
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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2013, 03:31:41 PM »
The reason KB has long been my most favoritist place is what I see as gentle but necessary moderation. There are vigorous discussions here, but knowing they can't degenerate into ugliness is great. Thank you, Harvey, Betsy, and Ann.

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2013, 03:44:05 PM »
Yeah... Hang around, Matthew. When something/someone rankles you, spin around three times and spit. It takes the edge off. ;D

I enjoy your posts!
 

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Offline KBoards Admin

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2013, 03:52:09 PM »
...
For example, you may say, "We all know that nonfiction is a harder sell". (Don't think I"m saying that, I just made up a sentence.)  Now, If I quote that from your full post and then comment, that's fair.

If I quote it and by doing so make it out of context and then go to so provoke you by saying, "How do you know what everyyone thinks? You said "we all know". Do you really think you know what I know or don't know? And, for that matter, what research have you done to prove this about nonfiction? If you can't provide us with solid facts with the research to back it, I find your statement misleading and troublesome." THAT is picking apart. Then they come back and say, "You know I was generalizing. Doesn't everyone say 'everyone' at times?" Then you (not YOU, but anyone who does this, comes back again and says, "There you go again with the 'everyone'." It's intentional twisting of statements that I think he hopes to avoid.

It's a pretty good example that Caddy gives. And even if the statements are not twisted, a hammering on approach just provokes the original poster and discourages others on the sidelines from contributing to conversations. I've seen this happen over our five years of support for this board... and when the 'provoking' poster is removed, suddenly other interesting voices come forward simply because the board has a more welcoming / congenial feel to it.

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Offline bmcox

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2013, 04:03:40 PM »
That pretty much sucks rocks. *shrug*

Geophagy aside, I hear your frustration as it was mine all during grad school. We're writers and many of us are cursed with the passion to argue our positions. That being said, I would really like you to stay, who else is reading my stuff. ;) Besides, we'd all miss you.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 04:07:48 PM by bmcox »
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Offline dalya

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2013, 04:07:00 PM »
A very smart friend of mine said that if someone goes after you, the rule is to respond once to clarify your point, in case something was unclear.

Beyond that, you're just dealing with someone who has too much time on their hands and teeny tiny underpants. Why pick a battle with someone like that?

ETA: I try to follow this advice, but the flesh is weak.

Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2013, 04:13:30 PM »
I'll point out that this is the Internet.  And the safety of not being punched in the nose allows people to say things I don't believe many of them would say face-to-face.  At least, not as strongly, not as repeatedly, and not within arm's length.  ;)

I've been a moderator here for five years.  I think we have a feel for when strong feelings can come around and be resolved between members and when they can't, which is why some threads that get heated stay open and why some don't.  There's nothing wrong with strong feelings and disagreement, but when a thread deteriorates to personal comments, that goes against forum decorum.

I'm the one who gets messages from long time valued members who say that the tone of the Writers' Caf is one of the reasons they don't post much here anymore.  And honestly, folks, it seems like this week, every thread has blown up.  I know that's not true...but it's felt that way.  It's not the way we want the Caf to feel.

Banning someone here is a painful process for all of us on the admin staff.  I can honestly say that I've liked every one of the handful of people who've been banned for cause here on KBoards. You may hear differently elsewhere, but it's true.  (Spammers excluded.)  We have long discussions in the smoke-filled admin caves before the decision is made.  It's not done arbitrarily or capriciously.  It's not done because we don't like the member.  It's done because the member is being seriously disruptive of the atmosphere here on KBoards and, despite our best attempts, refuses to change. 

This is a large, vital, sometimes unruly community.  Y'all get a tremendous amount of information and social interaction here for free.  All we ask is that you (generic "you") follow our rules and try to adapt to our culture, which, like our rules, has developed over time to be what it is today.

Lastly, personal attacks on members in this thread will not be allowed and will be removed, no matter how witty the member posting thinks they are.  This thread is NOT about individual members.

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Offline Carol (was Dara)

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2013, 04:32:09 PM »
Thank you for the reminder, Harvey and Betsy. I think it's worth remembering that non-confrontational members would sometimes like to weigh in on a thread but are scared away from commenting when the thread devolves into a heated back and forth between only two or three people who've already stated their opinions several times. We don't hear much about this because when the atmosphere becomes negative people simply leave the boards or go into silent lurk mode. I want to thank the mods for the work they do and apologize if I've ever added to their load. I've belonged to forums that were unmoderated or poorly moderated and they were very unhappy places to be, unless you were one of the vocal dominant minority.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 04:34:19 PM by Dara England »

Offline David Adams

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2013, 04:34:32 PM »
A very smart friend of mine said that if someone goes after you, the rule is to respond once to clarify your point, in case something was unclear.

Beyond that, you're just dealing with someone who has too much time on their hands and teeny tiny underpants. Why pick a battle with someone like that?

ETA: I try to follow this advice, but the flesh is weak.

Well, you could always make them a bad guy in your next book. :D
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Offline Steph H

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2013, 04:39:25 PM »
I'm one of a group of administrators/moderators for a completely unrelated hobby forum with a similar large and "top of our class" size, and we do things much like Betsy says it's done here. Moderating isn't done on a whim or in a vacuum, but after careful (and often prolonged) discussion and thought, with as little disruption to the flow of the forums as possible. Regular members would be surprised at what all goes on behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly there, and I'm sure it's the same here.

That said, our head admin there, the equivalent of Harvey here, uses a word/phrase I always try to remember wherever I go, both on the Internet and in real life -- shutupedness.  It's hard to practice shutupedness, but it's sometimes the best thing I can do rather than jump in the middle of something that will just fuel the flames...  :D
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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2013, 04:45:24 PM »
I like "shutupedness," Steph.  I have a phrase I use that has stood me well through the years both in the traditional workplace and on the Internet.  "How would I respond to this if I actually liked the person?"  (Or wasn't really annoyed at them.)  It's amazing how more someone will take from a friend than a non-friend.

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Offline vrabinec

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2013, 04:53:20 PM »
vrabinec made me do it...

*bump*

Listen, w*nch...



New word added to filters. ;-)  --Betsy
« Last Edit: March 15, 2013, 05:10:51 PM by Betsy the Quilter »

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Offline Becca Mills

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2013, 05:13:58 PM »
Living within KB's rules is good practice. It teaches me self-control.

But can't we have No-Filter Fridays, or something? I'd really like to be able to call someone a [expletive]ing [expletive] every so often.  :P




Offline jimkukral

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2013, 05:14:04 PM »
Good for you! You're running a business here. And free to boot. Play by YOUR rules or don't play.

Not sure where some people get off thinking they have "rights" to act however they want. You didn't pay to be here, and even if you did, you play by the owner's rules, or not. Their decision, not yours.
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Offline bmcox

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2013, 05:16:57 PM »
shutupedness.  It's hard to practice shutupedness, but it's sometimes the best thing I can do rather than jump in the middle of something that will just fuel the flames...  :D

Love that phrase. And indeed it is hard to practice.
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Offline Betsy the Quilter

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2013, 05:19:30 PM »
Living within KB's rules is good practice. It teaches me self-control.

But can't we have No-Filter Fridays, or something? I'd really like to be able to call someone a [expletive] [expletive] every so often.  :P

Nothing stopping you from calling someone a [expletive], Becca....they just can't read what you called them.  ;)

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Offline Nick Endi Webb

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2013, 05:21:35 PM »
Betsy, Harvey, et al.,
I love what you guys do here. I've never participated in an internet forum until KB because I've never found one with the tone, the atmosphere, and the friendliness that you guys have fostered here. And durn it all if it's not bursting at the seams with incredibly smart, capable people too.

Thanks

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Offline Steve Silkin

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Re: Managing the tone in Writer's Cafe
« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2013, 05:22:11 PM »
And honestly, folks, it seems like this week, every thread has blown up. 

I've been too busy to visit the cafe recently. And now I find out I missed all the excitement!  8)

Oh, maybe not ...  ::)