1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Change of Tone on the Forum

Discussion in 'Ask the Staff' started by Amanita, Jan 19, 2012.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    714
    124
    43
    This is something that's been bothering me for quite a while now.
    The number of topics full with arguments, personal insults and nasty comments has increased very much during the last few month. Any thread about social or political issues seems to go out of hand really quickly but I've noticed the same in some writing-related threads as well. Some of these comments really make it hard for me to keep respecting the one who wrote it the way I did before.
    And even in threads that aren't like that yet, you often stumble about some comments amounting to "you're all stupid because you don't agree with me".

    Besides that the number of topics where people try to tell others what to do are plentiful as well, be it about grammar, the books by English-language authors you absolutely have to have read to call yourself a fantasy writer, or the language stories should be written in, what has to be done to get a story published etc. This makes me feel as if I have to defend myself almost all the time.
    The rest of the discussions have become highly technical or general as well.
    The threads that feature someone's specific idea and ask for other members' thoughts hardly exist anymore at all, in the beginning, they were the most common though and this was one of the reasons why I've joined the forum. Back then, the forum was a great boost to my creativity, now it's become a place where I might be able to improve my diplomatic abilities in sensitive discussions but it's hardly helping my writing anymore at all.

    I have to admit that I don't really like the developement of this forum and I don't really enjoy being here much anymore.
    I know, I'm one person and my opinion doesn't really matter, but I'd like to know, if others are feeling the same way.
     
  2. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    741
    31
    18
    Some of the things you mentioned do have rules such as grammar. A lot of what you talk about I have seen as well, but these things happen as a community gets larger and more people start participating.

    We do a lot of things right. The moderators are even tempered and fair, something lacking on other forums. We have knowledgeable people with real industry experience. We have good articles that are relevant to what we do.

    What else do you think we are doing right? Also, what are you doing to fix what you think is wrong with the site?

    Sent from my Blade using Forum Runner
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  3. Graham Irwin

    Graham Irwin Sage

    246
    15
    18
    I agree that things get a little catty around here.

    My first post was met with negativity and criticism.

    Certain lurkers are negative, for sure, but there is plenty of good info and good threads.

    It seems unfortunate that certain users want the site to be their battlefield, rather than their stronghold.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  4. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    2,968
    1,525
    163
    Amanita,

    I've also felt discouraged at times. There is a "nastiness" which haunts much of the Internet, and it's been making inroads here. For a long time we were able to keep it at bay, but as we've grown it's become harder to do.

    Still, I haven't given up. We have many positive things going for us. Likewise, many terrific people have joined in the past few months, and have made excellent contributions. But I do understand that the hostility of a few is poisoning the water for the rest of us.

    You've been with us from the beginning, Amanita, and we really value your opinion. I give a lot of weight to your perspective on this.

    What would you propose as a solution? One possible option is to beef up the moderation, by adding more moderators with instructions to squash any nastiness on sight.

    What are your thoughts? I would like to turn things around before this gets out of hand.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  5. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    2,968
    1,525
    163
    Perhaps it's time for us to start playing "Survivor," and begin banishing people from the island?

    I've been hesitant to do this, but if it's what's necessary, then so be it.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    714
    124
    43
    I agree with your points about what's going right, sashamerideth. Other things I like include the often very interesting articles on the homepage (something new as well, if I remember correctly) and my thread in political correctness has become a very positive example of a good discussion as well, something that has never worked out with this subject on other forums.


    Stay away, especially from the questionable topics which isn't really helpful, I know. Sadly, it is my experience that trying to calm down trouble already there as an ordinary user usually doesn't help. People ignore it completely or get offended again, maybe because of some wrong choice of wording.

    On the subject of grammer. I completely agree that we don't want posts sed ar luking leik dis on the forum.
    And yet, I don't believe two threads with plenty of people declaring how they can't respect anyone who makes mistakes is helping anyone.
    I've left high school four years ago, and since then the only places I'm actively using the English language at are forums like this one. Reading and listening to yes, but there's hardly any writing or speaking. And even back in school we haven't done any comma rules at all for example. No one has been checking my writing for grammar issues since then either, therefore I'm never sure how many mistakes there are. Mistakes I'm not even aware of. Therefore, I always get the feeling, that these posts are directed at me and don't really want to post anything anymore at all.
    Some of the mistakes often complained about, such as writing there instead of their etc. just happen if you try to get your thoughts on the screen quickly, and sometimes you might not pick all of them up. (Actually happend to some of the people complaining about this as well ;))
    Anyway, sending a PMs to members having problems with their language or with certain grammatical issues telling them to put more effort into this or giving a link to a page that explains the point in question would definitely be more helpful. (And wouldn't cost much more time either.)
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,853
    3,518
    313
    One possibility is to go the other way, develop a subcommunity of people who've proven themselves through some sort of objective criteria. You can make some of the forums "Members only" and aim for a more active and trusting community on those forums. For instance, one possibility for an objective criteria might be posting work and critiques in the Showcase forum, and something which we might hope to see in the private forums could be about trying to edit and develop much larger projects, like posting your outline for the entire novel.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  8. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    1,084
    196
    63
    Mmm, we have to be careful with wielding the Ban-Hammer too lightly, or creating some sort of elite class. As any community grows the chances for friction increase. For a long time these forums were a fairly insular community with relatively few active members. We're gathering more, quickly, and as Black Dragon said some of that 'nastiness' of the internet is emerging. It is caused in large part by anonymity - and the increasing size of our community makes for more anonymity amongst the members.

    I don't think we should do anything about it, really, except stay positive and discourage people from mud-slinging. Trolls don't stick around if you never feed them - and closing threads/banning people IS one way of feeding trolls. It gives them a concrete reaction to their trouble-making, which is what they want to incite.

    Personally, I find it easy to ignore silly or ignorant threads and posts, so I don't think I'm affected as much as Amanita or others. I just hope we don't react by closing the forums off or limiting the chance for input - even if some of it is ugly. That way lies stagnation, and I've seen too many forums die of it.
     
  9. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    2,968
    1,525
    163
    That's a perfect summation of the problem.

    There's a difficult balancing act between censorship and freedom of speech. I've tended to error on the side of freedom of speech, and have always encouraged the moderators to follow my example. However, we may have reached a point at which slightly more aggressive moderation is necessary.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  10. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

    626
    27
    18
    Who in this forum is out to troll? We are all responsible and intellectual people. I wouldn't say I've encountered a single troll in this forum. We can all argue, but we aren't trolling in an immature manner.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  11. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    741
    31
    18
    Personally I would like to see the following with bad behavior on the forum

    a private warning via PM
    A public warning in the thread in question
    A short term ban
    All moderators made aware of issues that may arise

    Sometimes moderators get things wrong, make mistakes or bad judgment calls, they are mostly human, with maybe some dragon in them. If there does start to be more moderation then perhaps a mode of appeal would be in order?

    I have been on other forums that were heavily moderated and censored. Some moderators acted without oversight and abused their status to ban any who disagreed with them. I can happily say that I don't see that kind of attitude here.

    Sent from my Blade using Forum Runner
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  12. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

    626
    27
    18
    Every single one of those rules are in effect right now in the form of infractions.
     
  13. sashamerideth

    sashamerideth Maester

    741
    31
    18
    Me:) I'm not really a recent college grad trying to work in a library somewhere in California. I'm really a short, fat, middle aged troll from Wales.

    I've seen a couple that were maybe not trolling, but certainly trying to create conflict, and I may have gotten sucked in more than I wanted to be.

    Sent from my Blade using Forum Runner
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,853
    3,518
    313
    Honestly, I meant to suggest a subcommunity as a way to increase the chance for input, not limit it. That's why I mentioned the Showcase, one of the current private forums, as an example of ways to earn access to a subcommunity, if it existed. The goal of having a higher level of membership would be to create a more collaborative environment to encourage people to share more specific details of their work in order to make people better writers. I didn't mean to suggest closing off a whole bunch of the forums to everyone. I just want to make that pretty clear.

    I don't really feel like it's appropriate for me to comment a lot about moderation after the last few weeks, but I will say that if a mod jumps into a thread, quotes the perpetrator and says "I understand the point you're trying to make, but it's being lost in your tone. Please avoid the snide remarks." If you do that, you can also send out PMs saying, "Please leave the moderation to the mods, we've got it." I think that's usually all that's really required.

    But there's a bigger problem I've noticed, and it's that we seem to be a community of egos. I mean that nicely, for the most part, I really do. But I see a lot of threads where someone asks a question, and by page two people are trying to outsmart the question instead of answer it. "How's this idea for a prologue?" quickly gets a response, "Why do you even need a prologue?" And while that can be great in terms of an academic-type of discussion, it doesn't really answer the OP's question or provide a lot of value to the person posting the question. I see that kind of thing happening a lot, and I think overcoming that sort of situation is the next step in getting the community to add value to its membership. That's not something that's fixed with moderation, but it is on the subject of changing the tone.
     
    S.T. Ockenner and Black Dragon like this.
  15. fleamailman

    fleamailman Closed Account

    131
    2
    18
    ("...well I can't write like you humans do anyway, so I guess that counts me out from offering my 2cts here even if I have every faith in this forum's future as the place to get the most from one's posts..." mused the goblin who had deliberately shunned those threads that were overheated as absolutely nothing to do with our goal of writing, saying "...no, just you make it hard on yourselves, you only have to close the thread itself reopening it in the archives section, letting it die there then, at the same time you follow sash'th correct advice...", in fact, the goblin just felt that it was time for the members here to focus more on their writing and less on their fighting, saying "...you see, we have no mega thread of this forum yet, and I would really like to help everyone create a thread here that has at least 20,000 hits to it, much like I do on each of the forums I'm on, which is easy when one knows how...")
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2012
  16. Well, writers are megalomaniacs. I mean, look at us, we're all going around playing god, creating universes and everything... ;-)
     
  17. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

    1,438
    109
    63
    Hmm, I must have missed something while I was sick...

    Any how for the most part I still love this place. Regardless of some heated exchanges with members that I otherwise respect a great deal.

    I find that save for a few select posters most of which I have placed on my ignore list there is nothing to get too worked up over. With so many different personalities no one is always going to get along. The fact that the "God" thread lasted as long as it did was in fact a real surprise. I figured it would have turned sideways long before it was shut down. As a matter of fact I don't think that it ever got ugly (But, I do have some people on ignor so I could be wrong), which is something everyone here should be proud of.

    I feel that this place over all is a hidden gem. Eventually the troublemakers leave... if ignored. Kudos to the MODs for being some of the best. I would like to see a section dedicated to the members who have been here longer and proven to be worth a hill-o-beans where they could exchange ideas etc with out having to worry about some of the noobs hijacking things. It is not elitist to desire a space where we don't have to worry as much about these things, if anyone can earn the right to join those ranks.

    Most of the places I'm a member of have a probation system in place for new members and it works rather well. The Elder members still interact with the new people but have a place to retreat when needed and the trouble makers won't or don't take the time to gain the access to the more restricted areas. Such as the showcase. In most places there is one showcase but, you are not allowed to post anything for review until you have made a set number of useful critiques of other peoples work. Now I hate that site in general, but this one aspect I find useful.

    Another place I haunt has two showcases, one for senior members and another for new people. The only way to gain access to the second is by posting and being a useful member of the community. This takes A) time, one must be a member for six months before applying. B) Commitment, even a bad writer can be allowed access because they put forth a serious effort and are willing to learn and help where able. The work in the second showcase is by far way above par because the people that post there are helpful and skilled.

    In these senior areas the rules are simple no politics or religion, treat others as you wish to be treated.

    I have never seen anyone get bounced out for any reason.

    Something to think about. But no, I am not unhappy with the site in general.
     
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  18. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    9,825
    2,945
    413
    Your opinion most certainly matters, and you are definitely not alone.

    In a recent PM conversation with another member, I expressed this fear:
    Specifically, my fear was that heated discussions left unchecked would damage reputations.

    We can all benefit if everyone makes two considerations before posting. The first is to consider whether your remark will leave the reader(s) with that same feeling expressed by Amanita in the above quote.

    The second is to follow the golden rule quoted by She Who Has Reached the Level Beyond Grandmaster:

     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  19. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    2,968
    1,525
    163
    Also, there's a feature that I want to make everyone aware of.

    At the bottom of each post, to the right of the "Thanks" button, there is a caution symbol. That's the "Report Post" button.

    Whenever you encounter a post that exhibits nastiness or hostility, report it via that button. It will then alert the moderators, who will investigate the situation.

    We're going to reign in argumentative, hostile posts. They're a waste of time for everyone here. To help with this we've added two new moderators to our team as of today.
     
    S.T. Ockenner and Devor like this.
  20. Codey Amprim

    Codey Amprim Staff Article Team

    467
    85
    28
    Uh oh. It was a matter of time before it would start, and Mythic Scribes has grown incredibly since I've joined up. In my personal experience here, I have not encountered much if any of said problems, excluding a cursed-up LOTR thread.

    I'm looking at this through blade runner currently, and I'm pretty sure it exists... But wouldn't an efficient report system be one of the best ways of dealing with this? I liked the mentioned idea of a "respected group," but I entrust the moderators with holding that title. I think having an elite group would cause some friction with members feeling left out.
    However, I do approve of the idea that you should have to "earn" your way into some of the forums - the showcase and challenges boards specifically, perhaps even this one. This brick wall so-to-speak would weed out a good number of the trolls and vulgarity-users. Perhaps to gain access, one would have to participate in a special set of newbie challenges directed by a higher-up, or gain access by achieving a certain amount of reputation points, commendations that could be implemented, or by recommendation for promotion into a member rank.


    Will post more, and upon reading this, I hope I never insulted anyone in any way or provided unintended negativity. Lemme know what you think about aforementioned solution ideas.


    Edit: I just posted and noticed Black Dragon's post so disregard my report comments.

    Another idea, since there is a thanks button, why not a negativity button? Or a thumbs down? Perhaps this could be included in the report. After receiving so many you would eventually earn yourself a temp ban then a permanent-ip ban along with email-ban to prevent new accounts from being made.
    On the thumbs down button, whoever who uses this will have to provide a reason why for moderators to judge if the recipient loses rep or doesn't. This prevents abuse of the button in cases of random spitefulness or plain old douchebaggery (honestly could not think of a better way to put it).
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page