Continuing the discussion from "Yer not from round 'ere" - should we challenge posts from non-SE23 residents?:
Firstly thank you to all members for taking the time to provide feedback on the site, moderation and the issues that stop or reduce your, or others, participation here. The message is clear - some people do not feel comfortable posting here and that is not an acceptable position for us as a team, or for a local community forum.
So we’d like to start off with an apology to all members who feel that way. We will do our best to remedy the situation and hope that people who might want to use the forum will, if they do not now, feel comfortable doing so in the future.
Some common themes listed above or by multiple people include:
- A minority of people or one person taking over topics
- A minority of people or one person being overly aggressive / dogmatic / relentless with their arguments
- People responding to each other in quick succession in a heated way or directly attacking each other, or others
- The tone of responses making it feel unfriendly
- General politics being brought into local topics
- People feeling the forum is overly political in a certain direction
- When general politics or other non-local issues, these can and are divisive
- Moderators not taking swift enough action to the above, or in some cases no action
- Difficulty understanding / using the flagging system.
How we can make things better:
So how can we remedy this? Well the honest answer is only in partnership with our members, you. Moderation, ideally would be light touch and allow us to focus on key issues as they arise, and everyone can help us with that.
That said, as moderators we have some tools at our disposal that we could and should have used more in the past, that would have reduced some of the friction. We will aim to utilise these further in the future. We trialled in this thread ‘slow mode’ which stops members posting more than once an hour - we think this will be useful is potential contentious topics where we want to keep the thread open, but give people time to fully consider their responses. There is a disadvantage to this of course in that members cannot post as often as they would like, but it’s probably a good middle ground.
We also of course have the option to close topics. This is something that is done fairly regularly on some other forums and Facebook groups and might be something we can implement more if a discussion has effectively run it’s course.
In terms of general politics creeping in, we will just take a firmer line on it, but also ask members to try to be mindful not to introduce it, and if you do see it to not respond and just flag it so we can deal with one post, instead of the following 5-10 posts. It can be difficult to separate local and national politics, sometimes it is clear, and sometimes it is grey. We will make a judgement call on those - in the current climate that is incredibly difficult to police.
What we do fairly often, that is unseen publicly, is to message members directly to edit a post where it contains a political post. Often 90% of the post is fine, we just need the political slant removed (eg Tory this or Labour that). Sometimes members just ignore the request or refuse, which means we either have to move the whole post out, or delete the text ourselves (which can be difficult to do if it affect the sentence structure). Additionally, as we wait for the member to take action, people can respond to the post, making the thread then difficult to edit and giving us more posts to look at - in these instances if the flagging system can be used instad of responding it’s very helpful to us .
So this brings us to the individuals who dominate, are overly aggressive in their responses or unrelenting in pushing their views, and whose tone is off-putting to some, not to mention direct, or indirect attacks on members. In hindsight, there is no doubt we have let some things go which we should not have. There is a suggestion above for a yellow card or sin bin type type system, and we will look at that. We have a number of options from speaking to users offline, silencing them, suspending or banning. Some of this we do already, but it is hidden from view.
What we will say is that we will make a renewed effort to make sure that this sort of behaviour is identified is eliminated from the forum. Repeat offenders will receive guidance and warnings, and ultimately will be banned if their behaviour does not improve. That will apply to anyone.
A fresh start
Tomorrow is a new day and we will aim to start afresh, implementing the above, and tweaking things as we go along.
We can’t do this on our own though, we will need your assistance. We will provide more guidance on the flagging system in the coming week or so to make it clearer. In affect every member can help us moderate the forum by being mindful of their posts, and helping to alert us when posts fall below that standards expected. We are a small team of moderators all with our own personal lives that keep us busy - we give up our time to try and keep the forum going and friendly (and clearly as above some further work is needed) however we really do need your help also to achieve this.
To our regular members, thank you for your continued support and use of the site, as well as your feedback to improve. We have some truly incredible members on the site and we know how useful your input and posts are to many people - thank you. To those considering coming back or joining, we would urge you to give us another try and help make the forum one SE23 can be truly proud of.
If anyone would like to discuss any particular issues or concerns privately you can message the @moderators as a group, and we are listed below individually.
If you have further feedback or suggestions please detail it below, or in due course if appropriate start new topics in the site feedback area of the forum.
Thank you, from the moderator team.
@oakr (Al) @Londondrz (John) @applespider (Dom) @ForestHull (Mike) @moderators (for all of us).