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Good evening, pony friends. I have an announcement today, from the staff.
The staff has been getting a lot of reports from /townhall/ lately, concerning the breaking of our rules on behavior and civility.
The staff has been discussing your reports, and your complaints about the system to us, and we've arrived at what we feel is a more fair, equitable way to proceed here on /townhall/ without the need for extreme action.
We've put together two plans, based on the two prevailing schools of thought here on staff.
First, is Plan A, which is our default plan, and how we'll be moving forward.
Under Plan A, everyone will be given a COMPLETELY CLEAN SLATE to start from, and thereby no amount of past history will influence decisions moving forward here on townhall, -but-, the rules will be here-on-out enforced a lot more strictly.
The first report a thread gets will cause that thread to be locked. This report has to come from a user with post history, and abuse of this system will lead to users being banned.
Thereafter, whosoever is deemed to have instigated the uncivil behavior, will receive a ban
and the thread will be unlocked if the staff determines the thread is OK after the ban, or may be kept locked if the topic has devolved too far. Posters who respond to a primary instigator and further the uncivil conduct will be given a half-ban. Please note that we will not be hesitating on bans or thread locks in the future.
While Plan A offers all of us a fresh start, know that uncivil conduct will NOT be tolerated anymore on townhall, and that those who instigate uncivil behavior WILL be banned for it.
Of course, every Plan A also has a Plan B.
Plan B proposes that /townhall/, generally, is fine, but for those users who are particularly uncivil, and cannot seem to behave within the confines of the rules. That said, we recognize our responsibility as staff in the unclear enforcement, which is why Plan A is our go-to
HOWEVER - If Plan A does not fix the civility issue on townhall, our staff does plan to go to Plan B, in hopes of resolving that issue by permanently banning those users who, during the course of Plan A, could not demonstrate civility or adherence to our rules
In this way, we hope to resolve the issues of civility present on /townhall/, without having to resort to hours long internal discussions or trudging through hundreds and hundreds of politically charged posts thereby also ensuring the best possible posting experience, for townhall.
Thank you for your time and cooperation!!
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Ah, that makes sense. For some reason, I was thinking that a half-ban would be something like "you can post, but all your posts will be disemvoweled" or something like that!>>3340>The first report a thread gets will cause that thread to be locked.
That seems like a good solution for the case where a thread has devolved into people bickering unproductively. But if there is just one person making bad posts, and other people are discussing the topic productively, is there a way to notify the staff without disrupting the good conversation in the thread?
We read the comments attached to each report, so if you leave a comment asking for us not to lock the thread, we will briefly consider whether bickering is involved. If it's just a small disruption and easily dealt with, I will certainly see no reason to lock the thread.>>3373
That's a good question to ask, and is the primary reason we've not involved a bot in this process. We won't just lock a thread and call it a day, but use the space created to evaluate if the thread should be unlocked. It should not take very long for us to recognize a false report, but you can help by reporting the lockpost with a brief and civil appeal.
This is exactly what townhall was supposed to be from the start.
The premise of Townhall was stricter moderation in order to create an environment in which matters could be discussed stringently.
Seeing as it was completely impossible to live up to this in the first place, is there any reason why the staff should now try to place their hopes in a plan so similar, when the outcome would seem to any rational observer to already be predetermined?
Users will continue to push the envelope, and the discussions brought forth from this will exhaust and tire out the staff discussion spaces, until eventually they are exhausted and desensitized enough that the board is allowed to sink another level, whatever sinking another level is definede as. Because the secondary problem to this whole situation is that no one has any idea what constitutes "civil" behavior. Is it uncivil to provocatively point out the terrible externalities of a point of view or policy, even if it offends someone? Is it uncivil to promote ideas that have externalities, such as naziism or genocidal ideas? It seems no one has any idea how to clearly or concisely define civility, and if someone does, it is not the same as someone elses inclination as to what civility is, and so it seems to me, that this is a fundamentally uninforcible policy, unless someone is willing to assert their own meaning of civility as being superior to that of everyone elses. Which is, I think perhaps a bit of a troublesome road for staff to have to tread. It is no doubt this problem of inherent abiguity which leads to endless conflicts about user reports and punishment on canterlot.
I can't think of many cases either, in which there is clearly one single person that is causing the "disruption". It seems very often, when there's a disruption to tone or "civility" that the percieved culprit is a very heated debate and sometimes even shit flinging competitions between multiple users, and these are the kinds of situations that I think this kind of policy won't be able to deal with in the long run.
I don't want to be negative. I just want to point these out, because I think anyone with any experience with ponyville staff or moderation knows this already, so we might as well have it out in the open.
Perhaps, we need an alternate theory for how to moderate tone and keep the site functioning the ways the users prefer. I'm not sure how we do this, but I really can't help but feel that this isn't the way.
I think you are right, which is why the plan B option exists. Basically those who can't keep the peace and civility will be removed until its left with posters who can hold the standard well enough.
Though I get what you are saying about "what's civil anyway". Maybe the answer to that is something like the reasonable man standard? Like, would the reasonable man be upset by what was said? That too is pretty subjective, but there's gotta be a point the staff makes an opinionated call and hope that it is the best one that they could make, even if some people aren't happy about it.
>>3386>there's gotta be a point the staff makes an opinionated call and hope that it is the best one that they could make, even if some people aren't happy about it.
This is 100% true, under this kind of system, which is the system the site has used since it's conception.
And maybe plan B is a workable solution, but then we run into another host of problems.
First of all it seems no one has the will to ban so indiscriminately, and it seems unfair also, to expect that the staff should undertake this form of tough policing. It's emotionally extremely taxing to be the hard-line mod, and alienates staff from the communities that they care about.
And furthermore, the worst "offenders" (offenders in quotation because we're talking about subjective interpretations of offenses) can't simply be banned. Any asshole with a VPN will have free access to this board, and no one can even tell that they're doing it, as far as I'm aware.
Anyway, here's my proposal for a community driven system that adresses what I personally see as the problems of the current system.
A seperate infrastructure is developed or perhaps something already exists that can serve this purpose. Anyway, the function of this structure will be to take discussion thread requests. In order to create a thread on townhall, a user has to submit a request that specifies the thread's topic and content. This will be done 2 days in advance. Then during those two days they have time to meditate on and refine the topic and the discussion prompt to make it as good as possible. Then when the 2 days are up, they have to make an active choice to go to the seperate service and enable the creation of the thread. The thread will 'expire after maybe another day, so if users don't make an active choice to continue to be interested in the topic they were before, the thread won't be created. They will then be given a one-time use mod-password, which let's them moderate their own thread, and with this they can also edit and implement the changes to the prompt that might have occurred to them over the 2 days that they waited for it to be created. With the mod-password they now also have the ability to moderate their own thread any way that they see fit. So if they're smart, and want good discussion, they'll have included the guidelines and boundaries of the thread within the OP topic.
The moderation team will mainly have to be concerned with practical things such as wether or not the board is being spammed, or if the content of the discussions are illegal under US law, or advocate certain ideas like genocide or contain inordinately hateful rhetoric.
Here are the positives of this system as I see them
1) Mods will have to intervene a lot less. Most of the time, the board will be 100% driven by the users. Everyone will have a chance to moderate and to participate in differently moderated threads.
2) The 2 day wait period will ensure that prompts are thought out and considered, and ensure that the things being discussed, are the things that are truly important to the users, important enough that they were willing to go through the slightly inconvenient process of creating a thread.
3) The format creates ample opportunity for the community to experiment and devise the styles of threads that they prefer, and let's them tailor the structure of every discussion and the moderation of every discussion, to suit the topic that is being discussed. The system is a lot more versatile in this regard.
4) It relies on the users of townhall curating their own space. No one could be more motivated to keep it clean and productive, than the people who use it.
The negatives as I see them
1) The rules and structure of moderation will have to be revised to suit this form of community.
2) There'll be less opportunity for spontaneous and fun discussion. Discussion will become more rigid and focused on thoroughly premeditated discussions. But this is as it is intended to be, of course.
3) It relies on everyone trusting the users of townhall to do a good job curating their own space. Maybe some users won't be interested in the wellbeing of the board and will make threads or rules with other purposes than creating healthy discussion environments.
4) Development of the infrastructure is obviously a big unknown.
I think this would relieve a lot of headaches, but I leave it up to the community and moderation team whether they feel this is something worth considering.
With respect, though in practice this plan could create an orderly system, that is also not the goal of townhall, and would be better served by something like a forum.
it isn't necessarily important that prompts are thought out and considered, and frankly speaking, it is seldom the OP that is the issue in any given thread
We do not wish to turn Townhall into a debate hall, with a scant few approved threads, not does anyone want this place to be a politics only board
It's meant to be a place where people can have slightly more serious discussions in a place more suited to serious discussions.
i appreciate the input, but ultimately do not feel this is feasible, or an intended outcome, for townhall. i feel, this course of action would likely substantially decrease the board's traffic below a critical amount for continuance... And i am honestly not sure i would personally want an approved threads only board either, especially considering that it is posts which seem to be the primary issue.
...that said, looking backwards now, it may be wise to restrict certain topics
As the person who along with starshine initially concieved of Townhall I'd imagine I'd be more capable of determining what the purpose of it was.
But the threads are not to be approved by the modstaff of ponyville. The 2 day waiting period is just to ensure that the quality of the board is kept high. No review process or anything like this would take place on the threads that go through that process.
I find it interesting that you think townhall is only an acceptable space, if it gets a certain amount of traffic. Why is the amount of traffic the metric by which we judge a board's worth? Shouldn't it be the quality of the discussion that counts?
>>3397>unless coding genius !!Thorax can make it so that password only works for that specific thread, and not, say, the whole site, that's not happening
Yes, obviously!>Also, I'm not sure I trust some users to be objective in their self moderations.
I think it would be very, very naive to expect anything else. Objectivity in moderation is an illusion anyhow, though. As anyone who has actually tried to do it, will gladly tell you.
It sounds like it would really be a chore. Idk, is it too much?
Have I ever told you you're like the coolest dude I know?
I don't know if the community will actually back up around this, given the responses so far, but just the willingness to say, I can do that, is really cool.
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We all contributed to Townhall. i'm not trying to say that your vision for townhall is the wrong one, but it still must be one that adheres to what the site purports to be.
i can rethink my position, as you feel strongly about this idea.
it seems i misunderstood your idea, too, as i thought you wanted the 2 day waiting period for moderator review.
If it is absent this process, i can see that being a more realistic and functional possibility
i think, you will find, traffic is only a secondary consideration: hence, why we do not have these discussions about RP
There is, however, a ratio of good to bad that the board brings to the site that i must consider: reports, effects on time, workload for staff, appeal to users, etc.
It is precisely the quality of the board that counts, and quantity is a factor of that: if the board produces few posts, for few users, but outsized trouble as a result, it is a failed board>>3392
...my friend, i think that just as i have maybe misinterpreted your words, i may have been misunderstood, too. i am worried that this idea only ultimately affects the OP posts, when the staff generally doesn't feel it is the OP posts causing the current trouble: it is the politicization of everything therein, no matter the nature of the OP.
Please understand, i may not have understood your idea well, but i am not trying to cause you trouble or outright say no or anything.
So long as it is all applied evenly and fairly, I don't have any complaints.
As I understood it, the place was supposed to be stricter anyway. I would say the problem is that, near as I can tell, staff didn't really feel comfortable enforcing the rules here before.
I have to say, I really personally preferred the old April fool's day version of the board. It was a lot more interesting. Didn't have the problems of heavy-handed rules or a specific political focus, so people just freely posted whatever they felt like.
Lacked that problem on pony where 90% of the threads were social encounters of friends, as opposed to any kind of discussion of any kind.
It was a lot more fun, as it let you talk about more general-purpose things that you might not necessarily want to in a non anonymous buyer meant, or might want to avoid the usual clouding of friends asking how each other's days are, or otherwise socializing without actual discussion.
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I'm for plan B.
>>3407> specific political focus
This place doesn't have an explicit political focus.
I don't know why people think that. That's not what it's for.>>3405>It is precisely the quality of the board that counts, and quantity is a factor of that: if the board produces few posts, for few users, but outsized trouble as a result, it is a failed board
Given that you thought a moderator process would be involved, I can see how you thought this would be a problem.>i am worried that this idea only ultimately affects the OP posts, when the staff generally doesn't feel it is the OP posts causing the current trouble
The proposed change should give users the ability to frame and moderate their own threads. To control the tones to suit what they actually want. So in this sense it should relieve this problem, I think.
I agree that tonal drift is a problem, but this is exactly why handing over moderation to every individual thread creator, allows for the creation of more varied threads. If the problem is a culture that is too monogamous, I feel you should consider my proposal all the more seriously.
You can't warn someone for turning what was meant to be a thread about molecular biology into a race-realism discussion, because legislating and updating overarching rules that specific is too taxing, but the person that want's to discuss molecular biology can specify that in their OP thread under this proposal, and warn users if they start to stray off topic.>Please understand, i may not have understood your idea well, but i am not trying to cause you trouble or outright say no or anything.
You're probably extremely exhausted from mod discussions, but I think I'd rather you didn't read or respond to this post, than respond with a reflexive dismissal in which you get 2/3s of the proposal wrong. Just, for next time.
>>3422>By participating, you accept that you are being held to the terms of the OP, no matter how unfair.
The complaints I was envisioning were about disagreements over whether the thread-local rules were violated at all. Like if the OP made a thread with a rule to discuss only sandwiches and fruit, and the OP banned someone from the thread for discussing hot dogs or bell peppers.
I agree that having at least the OP be named would be important with this system.
>>3420>This place doesn't have an explicit political focus.
It's got a serious topic focus, though
I guess if you mean more scientific or philosophic topics, sure. But, that's more or less in the same boat for me.
I was wanting something less serious.
We can't really force OP names, I think. There are some users on ponyville that are anonymous all the time.
I think you're right that it will create some discontent when users are banned for what is percieved as invalid reasons, but my hope is that people would channel that discontent by creating better threads and participating in the threads with the best frameworks.
if I'm right, I think this should lead to a system by which the quality of thread moderation systems is improved through an iterative approach.
But it could also suck major dick.
I can agree this can be a problem. And often times one mod would not see a post as a problem, then another would come and claim it was once the thread had derailed.
I think the problem with this plan is that the modstaff is relatively small, made up of volunteers with their own lives outside of moderating, and their own biases. I'm not sure this system is going to help the problem they think it will.