Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Dumbledore, Scylla coaches Bren in the dark arts of managing respected members

bjr, I hadn't seen your post when you made it, about having second thoughts about your work here on 3A, but I'm glad that you've come through your 'dark night of the soul'.

If that comment that I sent you a day or so ago is correct and that 3A is in someone's target scope, perhaps you might consider tightening things up.

I know that you want this to be a place of legitimate discussion that welcomes antis, pros and undecideds alike, but I think that things are going to heat up quite a bit more now that there are fewer anti communities to be found, and now that the McTeam is under increasing pressure. Some of their frustration will be (has already been?) directed at us, and we know how ugly people can get when they're backed into a corner.

Some forum software gives the admins/mods the option of moderating posts by new members before they actually get posted to the board. I don't know whether our software permits this, but it's an option you might like to consider. I think it was meant mostly as a protection against spammers, but it's also very useful against trolls and other troublemakers.

My home forum started as a 'democratic community' and everything we did that affected the community was put to discussion and a vote. It was a good idea but it didn't work, and eventually there was an acrimonious split. Most of the original core group of the community got together later to revive the forum with the help of the original domain name holder and server provider. I wasn't an original member, but I was involved in the revival, and during our preparatory discussions, we agreed that since the attempt at democracy didn't work and only resulted in protracted, circular discussions that got us nowhere and left everyone distressed and exhausted, we would use a more Draconian approach with the revived forum. Trolls and other abusive people were summarily banned after a behind-the-scenes discussion/vote among the admins/mods. No announcements were made publicly about bannings, and if anyone questioned the fate of the obvious trolls (which really was only done by other trolls), they were directed to reread our Terms and Conditions and told that if they didn't like them, they were free to leave. People like xela, who only wind people up and insult them, would quickly have been given the boot.

It wasn't ideal, but it was much less frustrating for those working behind the scenes, especially since most of us had less time to commit to being online for mod duties.

Another option is to use the registration queue, doing Google and other checks on IP addresses, email addresses and usernames of new members. (You may already be using this method.)

One forum I know of periodically suspends all new registrations when their dedicated trolls make a new foray on them.

If 3A were to consider tightening things up this way, an announcement could be stickied that due to the more concentrated effort by certain factions to disrupt this community, and which seems to be tied to an attempt to stifle any 'anti-McCann' discussions on the internet, this forum is forced to protect itself by using a stricter protocol (whatever might be decided on), and explaining that this was not the way you wanted to administer the forum but the continued undisturbed existence of 3A makes it preferable at this time; that this would not be an attempt on the part of 3A to end any 'pro-McCann' input and their views are already well represented on various threads which are available to all to read; that it is unfortunate that the devious and insistent methods being used against us make this necessary, but to ensure our members' peace of mind and the sanity of the admins/mods, this new protocol status will prevail for the foreseeable future; that 3A will take steps to protect itself and its members from both blatant and subtle attacks, and disruptive and abusive members will be excised like abscesses. Finally, a recognition that some, perhaps even many, members will protest these changes. So be it. If they don't like the way the board is run, they are free to leave.

I doubt any will leave forever, though they may stop posting for a while. But we're really the only game left in town when it comes to real discussion about the case. Most other places have already been overrun by the pro faction.

There's always a trade-off. Right now our trade-off is having to deal with troll attacks and disruptive posts by near-trolls, and too much of that can really get you down, as you know all too well.

The benefit of having this as a (locked) sticky is that 3A's position can be clearly stated, with the blame being clearly laid at the feet of disruptive factions, without it being lost in a discussion thread.

Please don't feel obliged to respond to this PM. It's not my intention to drag you into a discussion about how the forum is run. I have no complaints on that score. But I know how difficult it can be, and I just figured I'd share some thoughts on how to make it a bit easier for the next while {perhaps until after the McCanns are arrested - 'cause I think that's exactly what will happen in the next couple of months}.



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