Really interesting thread and many opinions. I thought it might be worth touching on a few issues raised here...
The community rules are worth a read.
They have evolved over time to reflect the community we desire to have and to address issues that are consistently difficult for the community. There was a time when these rules were much shorter and basically said: Be nice, be reasonable, be appropriate.
The fine print has evolved because each one of us understands those terms differently.
Regarding restriction of political speech
: Cruisers forum is and was always intended to be primarily about sailing and related topics. This is the common interest for members and the reason the board exists. Many of the forums
rules were set in place to help keep a focus on this and the reason political and religious discussions are limited. They become heated and shift the focus of the board away from boating
: Typically the site team doesn't actively moderate a topic just because they disagree with opinions posted. Heck, we don't remove posts EVEN when advice might be stupid, dangerous or daft. It's up to readers to mull over opinions and then form their own. Moderator actions are surprisingly few and we don't edit content without notifying a member
about the edit and the reasons for that edit.
Checks and balances:
When there appears to be a problem thread or post what typically happens is that some one reports the problem - usually a member
involved in the fray. A moderator may respond in one of several ways. They may message involved parties and try to smooth things over or calm the situation. Occasionally they may temporarily remove the post in question from public view pending a review by the site team. At that point the site team discusses how to proceed, determines if there is a problem and then arrives at a course of action; either restoring the content, sending PMs to those involved or taking some other action including removing the content in question. Interestingly this happens quite rarely. But one of the most important functions of moderators is participating in these decisions - we each have different opinions and unilateral decision making is discouraged so that we can find a moderate response to a problem. Most moderation actions are taken after a back room discussion about how best to proceed and reflect the will of the entire site team. Moderators are VOLUNTEERS and it's hard duty. They are also people who sail and are entitled to opinions and often post them. Moderators are encouraged to stand down from moderating if the issue involves their own posts. Other site team members will take up the concern.
About the Be nice rule
: The devil's in the details. This is the crux of most issues on the forum. Our members come from widely varying backgrounds, geo-locations and social strata. We each have a unique threshold for what constitutes "nice" and members often find themselves navigating "Nice" with fuzzy charts
. Where one member thinks a comment is funny, another may be mightily offended. Interestingly a small handful of members are the target of the majority of complaints. Some folks take grave offense when another member disagrees with them and react in ways that inflame a situation, ramping up hostilities. Predictably, we have a small handful of members who thrive on stirring the pot with very little return other than drama. Nice is relative.
The reason for the be nice rule
is that conflict that escalates to name calling and insults is a distraction from the topic at hand; cruising. Forum drama becomes the center of attention instead of great discussions about sailing. Drama drives away shy posters, new members and novice
sailors who don't want to be on the receiving end of a cyber beatdown.
Every forum has it's own vibe and there is room in the ether for all of them. Other forums
make different choices and that's fine but unfortunately sometimes folks who belong to more that one board forget the rules of the site they have logged into. Consider a factory gate bar vs. a bar at a marina, vs. a bar at a high end yacht club. All are bars, all serve beer
but the behavior standards for patrons are different at each establishment. We aim for the marina bar paradigm. Everyone is welcome and there is no dress code but brawls and catcalls are not acceptable.
Occasionally evaluating how we're doing is productive. Over the years we have done this repeatedly and we will continue. The real value of a forum is the members who participate and help each other and we would like the CF to be a reflection of the sailing community at large. Helpful, fun, open to new adventure and supportive. Thanks for your input. It's a good mirror and your are comments well considered.