New Code of Conduct

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Happyninja42:
Yeah I recall getting a warning for using the word the word troll. Now I just say things like "Don't feed the thing we all know is going on, but can't use the word for in this context!" or "Don't feed things that live under bridges!" etc. So far, no issues with breaking CoC.

That is indeed the problem with outlawing certain words; people will always find ways around it. They'll even make up their own word if they have to.



madwarper:
PS: The addresses of the usergroups on the CoC are still just text.

Not only that but they're not consistent. The first two (Mod group, Ideas group) both go to the group's chat page directly, whereas the Tech group link goes to the group's home page and NOT the chat page directly.

IceForce:

Happyninja42:
Yeah I recall getting a warning for using the word the word troll. Now I just say things like "Don't feed the thing we all know is going on, but can't use the word for in this context!" or "Don't feed things that live under bridges!" etc. So far, no issues with breaking CoC.

That is indeed the problem with outlawing certain words; people will always find ways around it. They'll even make up their own word if they have to.

There is also the fact that anything banned is likely to suddenly be enjoy a significant inflation of its perceived significance, a kind of Streisand Effect if you will.

Im Lang:
There is also the fact that anything banned is likely to suddenly be enjoy a significant inflation of its perceived significance, a kind of Streisand Effect if you will.

Well yes, that's why there are an uncomfortably large number of users who try to go out in a blaze of glory and post "ADBLOCK ADBLOCK ADBLOCK" in as many threads as possible to try and get banned, thinking that the word is like Voldemort and that its mere utterance will trigger an automatic ban.

IceForce:

Im Lang:
There is also the fact that anything banned is likely to suddenly be enjoy a significant inflation of its perceived significance, a kind of Streisand Effect if you will.

Well yes, that's why there are an uncomfortably large number off users who try to go out in a blaze of glory and post "ADBLOCK ADBLOCK ADBLOCK" in as many threads as possible to try and get banned, thinking that the word is like Voldemort and that its mere utterance will trigger an automatic ban.

Any time you have centralized authority on a very small scale trying to regulate a very large number of people with a lot of freedom, it tends to end up like that. It necessarily creates a confrontational and oppositional dynamic that is hard to break, even with the best will in the world. Experience with the worst that the large group has to offer, and solidarity within the smaller group gives you the classic "Prisoner-Guard" dynamic. A small pool of authority also encourages the making of examples, or using symbolic measures to reinforce that authority. Meanwhile most people in the large group, entirely innocent of the "crimes" for which they are occasionally catching a beating, lockdown, or missed meal become furious. That system feeds back on itself.

In general, governance of a large number by a smaller number is what evolves, once all of the unstable precursors break down to inherent instabilities.

IceForce:

Happyninja42:
Yeah I recall getting a warning for using the word the word troll. Now I just say things like "Don't feed the thing we all know is going on, but can't use the word for in this context!" or "Don't feed things that live under bridges!" etc. So far, no issues with breaking CoC.

That is indeed the problem with outlawing certain words; people will always find ways around it. They'll even make up their own word if they have to.

Well yeah, I mean, just because the escapist has a problem with the word troll, doesn't mean that people aren't coming here and obviously trolling threads. Preventing us from using the word doesn't stop the behavior. So they don't want me to use troll, fine, I'm still going to point out that type of posting when it shows up, and is obviously trying to inflame and derail a thread. I'm all for being polite and non-insulting when talking, but we are perfectly free to say things like "you are being beligerent and argumentative" or "your tone is confrontational and insulting". So if we can use other words that convey a negative opinion on a persons posting style, I don't see why troll is any difference. It's just a pop culture term that encapsulates things like "beligerent and intentionally argumentative" or "confrontational and insulting" but you know, in ONE word, instead of 7+ :D

IceForce:

Im Lang:
There is also the fact that anything banned is likely to suddenly be enjoy a significant inflation of its perceived significance, a kind of Streisand Effect if you will.

Well yes, that's why there are an uncomfortably large number off users who try to go out in a blaze of glory and post "ADBLOCK ADBLOCK ADBLOCK" in as many threads as possible to try and get banned, thinking that the word is like Voldemort and that its mere utterance will trigger an automatic ban.

Oh god, the number of "I'm tired of this shit! Ban me moderators!" posts we used to get was almost comical to me. I remember even making a thread asking "wtf is up with the self-bans?" And someone had the best reply, they posted a picture of Scarlet Ohara, in a big floofy dress, and it had the meme caption of "I WILL FLOUNCE LIKE NO ONE HAS FLOUNCED BEFORE!" It amused me no end.

Why is ad-block treated the same as piracy and illegal narcotics?

I'm not trying to advocate it, it is just that to my knowledge those programs are generally not illegal, so I'm just confused why it is being treated like that.

Was there already a thread explaining this somewhere?

william1657:
Was there already a thread explaining this somewhere?

Many. But, in short, the website supports itself by ads - advocating or admitting to using ad blockers is seen as reducing the site's profits. Why it's being "treated" as the others is not that complex, either - it's not because they are thought to be inherently the same - just the way you get infractions for them is - either by proliferating or admitting the usage.

madwarper:

n0e:
And correct! The legality of posts is based on U.S. law.

But, what US laws?

The Escapist is located in North Carolina, right? So, would the discussion of Cosplay at Comic Cons be permissible since according to North Carolina state law, that's illegal unless they all filed the necessary paperwork with the register of deeds?


Or, Defy Media is located in California, right? So, would having a cultural discussion on the Japanese bathhouses be permissible since according to California state law, bathhouses are illegal?

PS: The addresses of the usergroups on the CoC are still just text.

The issue isn't what is legally allowed to be discussed, but what is allowed to be discussed here. Technically, nothing, by law, is illegal in a discussion so long as it's a debate about the subject itself. Only once you cross into ways of performing/creating or otherwise discussing said tasks in a way beyond a debate are you going to cause issues.

Also, keep in mind that this is a private forum, and we are legally allowed to restrict content that can be discussed here. Some of it is to prevent sensitive issues from being discussed that may disturb the bulk of our community or simply doesn't belong on a message board with a site that's devoted to science, technology and video games. It may be legal to talk about, but there are topics we don't want it to be here and have it against our rules.

I haven't read this whole thread to see if this has been mentioned, but could we have a rule against quoting someone, but changing what they've said in the quote and then saying 'fixed that for you'? Because it's annoying, smug, and extremely rude (unless you're just joshing your best bud).

william1657:
Why is ad-block treated the same as piracy and illegal narcotics?

I'm not trying to advocate it, it is just that to my knowledge those programs are generally not illegal, so I'm just confused why it is being treated like that.

Was there already a thread explaining this somewhere?

Yeah, as DoPo said, this site makes money through ads. Flaunting ways to enjoy its content without contributing to its earnings is simply highly disrespectful.

To those who want an ad-free experience on this site, I would say that a PubClub subscription is very reasonably priced at 20 of your Earth Buckaroos per year.

Baffle:
I haven't read this whole thread to see if this has been mentioned, but could we have a rule against quoting someone, but changing what they've said in the quote and then saying 'fixed that for you'? Because it's annoying, smug, and extremely rude (unless you're just joshing your best bud).

IMO, If it's good humour, it'll probably be let slide, but otherwise it may be considered a minor offense under the COC concerning the minimum effort required for posts and the person asked nicely not to do it, repeat offenders formally warned, etc.

madwarper:
If the D&D reference was supposed to be tongue in check, then it clearly missed its mark as I and a few others in this thread have taken exception to the wording and tone of Rule 0. Poe's law and whatnot.

I'm sorry you feel that way, but the wording of Rule Zero is quite mild really, especially compared to quite a lot of other forums, and as I say, you can't skirt around the fact that Rule Zero is what it is; it is perhaps the concept of Rule Zero rather than the wording that is something people are taking exception to, but it is unfortunately the reality of this bulletin board; it is privately owned, and ultimately, what the owners / administrators / keepers of the board says goes, above all else.

It's very important that people understand that, in my experience, because it prevents a lot of arguments, especially when particular troublemakers end up under the impression they have some kind of rights or freedoms under the law to say what they want, no matter how offensive / against the rest of the COC it is.

FileTrekker:
but the wording of Rule Zero is quite mild really, especially compared to quite a lot of other forums,

You'll forgive me if I'm a bit disappointed by this statement, as it is indicative of an attitude that I find highly troubling, though not limited to those of this site. It's my belief that aiming to merely be slightly better than something else is setting the bar incredibly low for oneself.

We are trying to help you communicate with the community in a more amiable tone, an area where Rule 0 is an utter failure.

and as I say, you can't skirt around the fact that Rule Zero is what it is;

You are correct. Your house, your rules.

But, if a host is often standoffish towards their guests, it should come as no surprise when people stop visiting.

it is perhaps the concept of Rule Zero rather than the wording that is something people are taking exception to,

No. Stop. That is the complete opposite of what I have said.

It is not what is being conveyed, it is how you are conveying it.
It is the wording we are taking the exception to.
It is the "the moderator or staff member is always right."

madwarper:
Snip

Fair enough, but I genuinely believe that, regardless of how you word it, people will find exception to what Rule Zero is trying to say stand-offish.

I don't think there's a way to say 'We're always right' without saying 'we're always right', if you know what I mean? Most bulletin boards have this type of rule in their rulebook, often a lot more bluntly then we did it, frankly.

By all means please continue to let us know if you have any suggestions on how to re-word this, though.

FileTrekker:
I don't think there's a way to say 'We're always right' without saying 'we're always right', if you know what I mean?

Then, simply don't say it? Because, "you" aren't always right.
That's the reason why we have the appeals process in the first place... Is it not?

Being a former DCI L2 Judge, I can somewhat commiserate with the position you're in. When called to issue a Ruling (either as a floor or head judge), on a few occasion I had to deal with players that were dissatisfied with the Ruling they received.

Now, regardless of whether my Ruling was in line with the Rules[1], how I chose to interact with the player was entirely up to me. I could have simply gone with a "I'm right... And, you're wrong. So, nyah." But, I went with the more diplomatic "This is the ruling as it is now. If you don't like it, here is the process to appeal and make your grievances known. However, doing so publicly at this point in time is disruptive and will lead to your expulsion from the event."

After all, the "Don't be a jerk" rule should act as a two-way street. Both for those issuing the Rulings, and those receiving them.

By all means please continue to let us know if you have any suggestions on how to re-word this, though.

madwarper:
"It's at the staff/moderators discretion of when to apply penalties if they believe your speech or conduct is detrimental to the harmony and good order of the community. If you feel you have been unfairly penalized, then you can appeal it via the appeals process."

madwarper:
If you want to say that there's a time and place to appeal a penalty, and any discussion outside that arena will be met with further penalties, that's OK.

[1] They always were, because I was that good.

FileTrekker:

madwarper:
Snip

Fair enough, but I genuinely believe that, regardless of how you word it, people will find exception to what Rule Zero is trying to say stand-offish.

I don't think there's a way to say 'We're always right' without saying 'we're always right', if you know what I mean? Most bulletin boards have this type of rule in their rulebook, often a lot more bluntly then we did it, frankly.

By all means please continue to let us know if you have any suggestions on how to re-word this, though.

I'm not particularly bothered by it, but I will say that it sets a very clear tone. If you're expecting that not to be reciprocal, then you've probably misread your position relative to your customers.

FileTrekker:

I don't think there's a way to say 'We're always right' without saying 'we're always right', if you know what I mean? Most bulletin boards have this type of rule in their rulebook, often a lot more bluntly then we did it, frankly.

By all means please continue to let us know if you have any suggestions on how to re-word this, though.

Well, you could always go with something like "Moderators are considered an authority in disputes." Simply states the order of precedence without going into abstract truth claims.

madwarper:
snip

Ultimately, if a user thinks rule 0 is being abused, they can always vote with their feet (leave the site). The mods generally do a wonderful job of letting people do their thing (I've been mostly lurking since about 2007), but ultimately everything is up to the discretion of the mods and the owners. Freedom of speech only entitles a person to say something without getting arrested; it doesn't guarantee an agreeible audience or keeping your welcome after your utterance.

Rule 0 is overall a good thing IMO, as it destroys the whole "the rules say X and I did X-1 and X+3 and neither of those equal X" argument. Given the age and maturity spread on the Escapist, this is going to come in handy.

Baffle:
I haven't read this whole thread to see if this has been mentioned, but could we have a rule against quoting someone, but changing what they've said in the quote and then saying 'fixed that for you'? Because it's awesome, cool, and extremely radical dude! (unless you're just joshing your best bud).

Wow, I feel really dirty after that. What kind of foul dark magic could be weaved with such spells!

Superlative:
[snips]

What? Have you read any of my posts?

This is not about how/when Rule 0 is applied. It is the wording and the tone of Rule 0, itself.

madwarper:
It is not what is being conveyed, it is how you are conveying it.
It is the wording we are taking the exception to.
It is the "the moderator or staff member is always right."

I think the main problem with the rules saying that "the mods are always right" is that it's patently untrue. Anyone who's had an infraction appealed and overturned can attest to that.

I don't want to bring up my checkered moderation history again, so I'll bring up a couple of other examples instead:

About a couple of months ago, there was an incident where a moderator mass-edited a large number of posts to spoiler and hide them, citing that it was a guideline he was enacting to improve the readability of the thread.
Many users complained about this and stated that it wasn't actually an official guideline at all, that it actually made readability worse, and also that it was unfairly targeting the more verbose users. Later it was revealed by a staff member that the users in this case were absolutely right, and the moderator was in the wrong.

Another example:

A month or so ago, someone on my friends list was permabanned with "banjumping" being cited as the reason. The account they use was the only account they've ever owned, so they most certainly were not "banjumping".
They managed to appeal it, and they later revealed to me that the explanation given in their appeal reply was "Sorry!, someone pushed the wrong button."

This example is especially worrying now, given that "banjumping" is no longer something that can be appealed, according to the new COC.
So what happens the next time someone "pushes the wrong button"? Is that user just shit out of luck?

Something I want to know. Me and other users have in the past purposely derailed obviously nefarious threads (created by new users with very suspicious links), that were obviously going to be shut down, by memeing the hell out of them without repercussion. Now, while this has not happened in a long time is it still OK?

As a diehard asimov fan I do love the idea of a zeroth rule.

In this particular case, if we ever have the purely hypothetical situation of a moderator intentionally antagonising part of the userbase, would that mean that moderator is still right?

Like for example using mod privileges to spy on a usergroup and post excerpts in another usergroup to make fun of the comments, hilariously in particular a comment that people in the usergroup are discussing that they have a feeling of being spied on?

And if a purely hypothetical situation like this would occur, would it be possible to discuss it on this forum so that

1. The people who were spied on can actually be informed that they were spied on
2. The community could actually start to heal from hypothetical events like this by working through them

dunam:
As a diehard asimov fan I do love the idea of a zeroth rule.

In this particular case, if we ever have the purely hypothetical situation of a moderator intentionally antagonising part of the userbase, would that mean that moderator is still right?

The moderators and staff have their own code of general ethics and behaviour that, while not necessarily written in as formal a document as the users' Code of Conduct, are there via various staff mechanisms that are not obviously visible to regular users. A moderator isn't simply knighted and set free to do as he or she pleases. They are trained and expected to represent the forum in the best possible way.

If you believe a moderator is abusing his or privilege to a gross extreme, then flag it to n0e immediately.

Believe it or not Rule Zero is not here to allow Moderators to get away with murder; you should expect us to behave in a fair and impartial way.

dunam:
Like for example using mod privileges to spy on a usergroup and post excerpts in another usergroup to make fun of the comments, hilariously in particular a comment that people in the usergroup are discussing that they have a feeling of being spied on?

And if a purely hypothetical situation like this would occur, would it be possible to discuss it on this forum so that

1. The people who were spied on can actually be informed that they were spied on
2. The community could actually start to heal from hypothetical events like this by working through them

I'm not sure I understand this, I assume you mean peering in a private usergroup of some kind and then talking behind your backs in another group, or something?

Believe me we have neither the time nor inclination!

Again, trust me, I've known n0e for over 10 years and you'd quickly incur his wrath if I or any other mod did that. And turst me, we'd be subject to Bessy The Banhammer just as much as anyone else. ;)

Rule 0 is about the Member / Moderator relationship, in which the member should respect the moderator. The Moderator / Senior Staff relationship is another matter, and therefor any very major, serious concern with a moderator on this level, which I have rarely if ever seen in my 14+ year career as a moderator, super-moderator and administrator, should naturally be flagged directly to n0e.

n0e has been hired as a full time employee for a long time by Defy Media and has an essential continuous employment going back to the early 2000's. He's well liked, respected and trusted, and got this gig because the company knows he is a decent human being with talent and ability.

You can trust him that if one of us stepped out of line to an extreme, he'd be behind you 100% of the way. But he also knows how to pick good moderators, so in my experience the issue never comes up.

Hope this helps address some of your concerns.

Saulkar:
Something I want to know. Me and other users have in the past purposely derailed obviously nefarious threads (created by new users with very suspicious links), that were obviously going to be shut down, by memeing the hell out of them without repercussion. Now, while this has not happened in a long time is it still OK?

It keeps such threads near the top of the thread view is the thing so, it's not ideal in that respect but you aren't going to get banned for it or anything.

But yeah, its best just to flag it and leave. At the very least flag it so we can quickly bin it. ;)

FileTrekker:
I'm not sure I understand this, I assume you mean peering in a private usergroup of some kind and then talking behind your backs in another group, or something?

Believe me we have neither the time nor inclination!

Then it may surprise you to learn that the incident that dunam was describing was not just a hypothetical; it actually happened.

And that's the thing, whether it be a moderator abusing their usergroup access rights, a moderator abusing their post editing rights, or simply the large number of 'weekend vacation' suspensions that later get overturned through appeal, there are a multitude of instances where the mods haven't been right.

If this site is turning over a new leaf, that's awesome to hear. I'm just saying that it's going to take a while to build up the trust again after those previous incidents.

SolidState:

FileTrekker:
I'm not sure I understand this, I assume you mean peering in a private usergroup of some kind and then talking behind your backs in another group, or something?

Believe me we have neither the time nor inclination!

Then it may surprise you to learn that the incident that dunam was describing was not just a hypothetical; it actually happened.

And that's the thing, whether it be a moderator abusing their usergroup access rights, a moderator abusing their post editing rights, or simply the large number of 'weekend vacation' suspensions that later get overturned through appeal, there are a multitude of instances where the mods haven't been right.

If this site is turning over a new leaf, that's awesome to hear. I'm just saying that it's going to take a while to build up the trust again after those previous incidents.

Absolutely.

I 100% agree trust is earned and not given, hopefully we do earn that trust from you guys, but I understand it will take a long time.

FileTrekker:
At the very least flag it so we can quickly bin it. ;)

So no more memeing the spodermon?

image

Darn, but it makes at least some sense. You might have someone new come around and click a dangerous link if the thread is trending.

FileTrekker:

SolidState:

FileTrekker:
I'm not sure I understand this, I assume you mean peering in a private usergroup of some kind and then talking behind your backs in another group, or something?

Believe me we have neither the time nor inclination!

Then it may surprise you to learn that the incident that dunam was describing was not just a hypothetical; it actually happened.

And that's the thing, whether it be a moderator abusing their usergroup access rights, a moderator abusing their post editing rights, or simply the large number of 'weekend vacation' suspensions that later get overturned through appeal, there are a multitude of instances where the mods haven't been right.

If this site is turning over a new leaf, that's awesome to hear. I'm just saying that it's going to take a while to build up the trust again after those previous incidents.

Absolutely.

I 100% agree trust is earned and not given, hopefully we do earn that trust from you guys, but I understand it will take a long time.

I just want to make it clear that I was just agreeing that the tone was harsh, not that there were any issues with honesty.

FileTrekker:

snip

For what it's worth, I think this zeroth law is potentially a very important improvement. The reason people (including me) were rules lawyering over the most minute details of the code of conduct is because of how unfairly the rules were applied in the past.

I think it began with allowing certain behavior that was clearly toxic for the forum of friend of a/some moderator(s). Of course it's hard to see for users which moderator(s) has done what, because mod behaviour is largely non-transparent for users and thus the actions of one reflect on the whole from a user's perspective.

-----

As for the specific incident, sorry if I was a little cute in my phrasing, but as far as I know the topic is still not allowed. Honestly I wasn't sure if I would or wouldn't have gotten a warning for it when I came back home.

Check to make sure if you will if this is a topic that's now allowed to be discussed or if we're expected to continue not talking about this subject, in which case I will at most check on this subject about yearly to see if the policy on this has changed.

-----

As whole it makes me cautiously optimistic. From what it looks like staff/moderators have finally found a way to turn over a new leaf and start from a good spot. The one thing I would like to know if we have to let bygones be bygones or if we can at last inform other users that may not know that they may have been spied on.

IceForce:
snip

The thing is, people seem to be ignoring the entirety of Rule Zero:

Rule Zero:
Above all other rules is Rule Zero. D&D fans will likely appreciate and understand Rule 0, which states that the DM (Dungeon Master) is always right. In the case of the forums, the moderator or staff member is always right. Any other rule that appears to have a gray area will be subject first to Rule 0, then to other aspects of the Forum and Personal Conduct rules below.

If for any reason you feel you've been wronged by moderation or staff, you are entitled to appeal their decision if they imposed an infraction on your account, but you are not allowed openly argue with them about it. This is a privately owned forum that's open to the public. Whatever right you feel you have to speak your mind is a privilege here. Don't abuse it.

Getting caught up on the tongue and cheek "the staff is always right" simply because it includes the word "always" seems a bit disingenuous to the actual intention of the rule and what the entirety of the rule as written is actually conveying. Obviously, the second paragraph outright states that no, they're not necessarily always right, and they are willing to listen to reason and overturn their decisions if you can convince them to, and they will only be willing to do so if you pursue the proper channels in voicing your complaint, but this is also ultimately their decision to make, and if they still feel their original decision was the correct one, that is what will stand, no matter how much you feel them to be in the wrong.

Overall, the rule simply states that openly disrespecting the moderators and staff or publicly challenging their decisions in order to make a stink on the forums is an all but assured way not to have your complaints heard and to have further action taken against you. It is little more than a declaration of who is in charge and that if you want to stick around these forums, you would be wise to show them the respect they deserve.

@n0e: One question I had is, would users intentionally calling someone by a slightly altered name or a different name entirely in a patronizing way on a consistent basis be considered passive aggressive? For instance, I've noticed a number of users who are rather hostile towards IceForce (whom I quoted above) refer to him as "IceForge" instead on multiple occasions. I've also noticed recently a certain user refer to another user by a different name in each post, such as "Mr. Hopkins" "Don Corleone" and "Adam Orth". It just seems like an incredibly immature way to insult someone without blatantly insulting them.

DoPo:

MarsAtlas:
What is the ettiquette when it comes to spoilers?

I'm also interested in this.

I've also have another question:

Off-Topic discussions. Interestingly, one appeared right in this thread[1] and the policy on these has never really been clear, yet most other forums I've been on, off-topic tends to be where the "minor issue offences" are if not just a tad lower - comments at least tangentially connected to the topic are certainly allowed and even one, two, or several would be tolerated but excessive offtopic posting is punished.

Still interested in these.

[1] which reminded me to ask

Zeconte:
One question I had is, would users intentionally calling someone by a slightly altered name or a different name entirely in a patronizing way on a consistent basis be considered passive aggressive? For instance, I've noticed a number of users who are rather hostile towards IceForce (whom I quoted above) refer to him as "IceForge" instead on multiple occasions.

How do you know it's intentionally altered to patronize rather than an honest mistake? Much like people who occasionally call me dunham, it seems that both the similarity and the lack of the altered name being any kind of negative pejorative that it's more likely to be a mistake.

I haven't been on this forum for a while so I don't know whatever transpired to the relevance of this specific claim, but how can you be so certain of malicious intentions?

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