Lisa Shea

Flood of New Members

Posted By: Lisa Shea

Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 07:58 AM

Greetings members. Normally I like to be very hands off in the forum - I run this as a charity effort and as you can see I make no money from it. All the ads are charity ads. I offer this forum as a safe, comforting place for people who love parakeets (and other topics).

I personally strongly support gay rights - but I also support free speech. We would never interfere with someone *maturely* discussing their feelings on these issues. The few times we ban someone, it is only after repeated personal discussions where we ask them to abide by our rules of mature discussion including the use of swears. We are an international forum, and we have members from around the world. It is critical to us that our sometimes life-saving (for parakeets) advice be available to people in libraries around the world. It would be heartbreaking to me if a teenager in India wanted to use our forum to help save their parakeet and they couldn't get onto our forum because the swears in our forum caused their library filter to block our site. I *never* want that to happen.

The people we ban are banned for violating our rules, which are clearly stated and are linked to on the right side of every single forum page. Those rules exist for critically important reasons and they are not 'optional'.

I want to add that Pinto, my 11 year old parakeet, was diagnosed with an inoperable tumor this morning and I have been dealing with that as well. So my patience for the one or two malcontents who are "having fun" by filling our forum with swears is perhaps low. There is no call for swearing, ever, and there is no call for jeopardizing the ability of this forum to be used in libraries. I take that extremely seriously. Any new members who want to be healthy, helpful members of our community are welcomed with open arms. The few who were apparently enlisted to come "harass our members" will be asked to leave if their sole purpose of being here is to attempt to damage the forum's ability to be seen in libraries.

I'm not sure how I can make this all even more clear in our guidelines, but I will certainly try.

Finally, just to clarify a point, it does not seem that all the new members are one person. It appears rather that the one person contacted some friends and asked them all to jump on the board.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 08:07 AM

Thank you for replying Lisa. This person has been troublesome for quite some time now. They seem only to post for the purpose of stirring a pot or causing trouble.

I do not know if they are all the same person, but it appeared to be so from our viewpoint, only you can see the ip addresses so if you say they are not the same person, then that must be the case, that they got their buddies to join.

In my opinion, there is a fine, yet distinct, line between free speech and hate speech. Between stating an opinion in a respectful manner and outright being abusive and disrespectful.

I am so sorry to hear that Pinto has a tumor !!! That is so hard to deal with. I found that my Spartacus had a tiny brain tumor but did not know it until after it killed him.

There is nothing that can be done for him?
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 08:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Lisa Shea
The few who were apparently enlisted to come "harass our members" will be asked to leave if their sole purpose of being here is to attempt to damage the forum's ability to be seen in libraries.
Their sole purpose here was clearly to disrupt the forum, in general, in addition to the unfortunate outcome of damaging the forum's ability to be seen in libraries.

Are you saying that these members are not being banned forthright? Frankly, Lisa, I think that you are not on here often enough to fully appreciate the issues when one or two people consistently disrupt, interrupt, harass, and offend thread after thread.

I sent you a PM months ago asking you to consider expanding the number of moderators, an idea for which there was a lot of support from many regular contributors to the forum. PDM does a spectacular job, but she is only one person, and we frequently have a great deal of damage done by trolls and troublemakers before she has a chance to stop them.

This forum is important to many people, people who feel appalled at recent events and feel that a more assertive approach is called for with the few members who make often make this forum a hostile, uncomfortable, unpleasant place.

Lastly, the recently-banned member is a 14 year old boy who was evidently on this forum morning, noon, and night; in all probability, he doesn't have any/many friends to recruit for tonight's "takeover" of the forum.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 08:23 AM

Let me add also that it's not merely an issue of swearing. I, for one, am horrified to come on here and read posts like, "I left my bird outside to die," "Can keets have abortions?," etc., none of which has anything to do with cursing but everything to do with making the forum a pitiful place!
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 08:27 AM

I agree P&R mom ...

I want the information given about birds to be good correct information. I know that people come here for good information and to ask real questions, and sometimes very serious questions needing very quick and urgent answers.

I am not suggesting ban anyone who ever gave wrong info, wrong info is out there, but there there is a difference between giving info you thought was correct and purposely given incorrect and sensational information to mislead people.

There seems to be alot of "trolls" on the forum lately.
Posted By: General Disarray

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 08:30 AM

I told you i wasn't those people Me and go_go_go apparently joined at the wrong time and PB&J Mom makes us feel like xxxx for it even though it wasnt our fault that we joined at the wrong time.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 09:24 AM

I appreciate peoples' desire to help. However, for legal reasons, there will only be two moderators to this forum - me and PDM. Being moderator is an extremely serious legal position which has access to personal information. I have met PDM in person and we have a multi-year relationship. For legal reasons, no other person can have access to the personal information this forum has access to. I realize some forums take that responsibility lightly, but I take privacy issues extremely seriously.
Posted By: Cetan

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 01:17 PM

Thank you Lisa and PDM for doing such a good job with the forum. We realize PDM is just one person; one way to help her especially on the parakeet pages which she may not read as often as other threads is to be sure to notify for any posts that are inappropriate - easy to do just click the notify button and give a description of why
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 01:31 PM

I have just spent some time going through moderator alerts, private messages, troll posts, member profiles, etc, etc.

Yes, a number of trolls have joined recently. I hope that I have banned them all now. This can take time. I have to find the posts, check which are trollish and which are ok, go to each profile, find the IP address, user name, e-mail address, etc.

Then I have to go through the procedure of banning each one in turn.

Thankfully, Lisa had dealt with the obviously obscene usernames, already.

It is possible that I have missed some trolls ~ it isn't always completely obvious which posts are innocent and which aren't, in the middle of such chaos. I have put some members on 'watch'.

If new members spam the site, then they are immediately banned.
However, if long-term members, who have been rule-keepers and sensible posters in the past, suddenly make questionable posts, then they are given a warning and / or a temporary ban, followed by another warning ~then a complete ban, if necessary.

I have to use my own judgement on this, together with consideration of comments received via moderator alerts. It would be as wrong to ban someone, who is innocent, but had simply irritated other members ~ as sometimes happens ~ as it would be to allow trolls to ruin the site. I have a 'watch' facility which I can use to keep an eye on things.

I apologise if I have banned anyone wrongfully, or if I have allowed any to stay, who should have gone. Please use the alert facility to warn us of any future rule violations.

I would like to remind those, who don't already realise this, that I come on here regularly, but not 24 hours per day. It is easy for people to see when I am on line ~ especially ex-members. I am not psychic ~ I cannot ban people before they even consider joining. Neither can I ban people instantaneously ~ I have to spend time going through various parts of the site ~ but I do it as quickly as I can.

Often obscene and unacceptable posts are removed before other members even see them. Obviously, when that happens, members don't even know that I am working behind the scenes to keep the site clean & pleasant.

When members suggest that I don't care about this kind of thing, or do nothing about it, I find that most disappointing.

Similarly, I find the attempted sabotage of the site, that we have just experienced, very disappointing, especially if this really is the work of someone who, for some time, was a pleasant, intelligent and mature site member. This behaviour is immature ~ infantile, indeed.

In conclusion ~ please do not feed the trolls!
~ Do not respond to them.
~ Do not start threads about them.
Simply send a moderator alert ~ ie. click on 'notify'.

And please do not assume that a spate of trolls means that I don't care about the site, or that I want people to leave, or that I am doing nothing about it.

This happens on most forums from time to time ~ and unpleasant behaviour even seems to be actively encouraged on some.
Not so on here! smile




Posted By: kksuns

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 01:46 PM

Lisa, I'm so so sorry to hear about Pinto. Wow, 12 years old..you must be heartbroken over the news frown

I understand the legal issues of having only you and PDM have access to personal information, but can you not appoint a few others to monitor things a bit more? Obviously it's a HUGE job for just 2 people.
I hate seeing this forum go down the tubes.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 09:06 PM

Originally Posted By: PDM
And please do not assume that a spate of trolls means that I don't care about the site, or that I want people to leave, or that I am doing nothing about it.
Those assumptions would be unfair and unwarranted, in my opinion. I admire your work here, PDM -- that's not empty flattery, that's based on observations of your battles with trolls and your obviously sincere efforts to be fair.

My issue is with the structure of the rules here, or lack thereof, whereby trolls/disruptors are allowed countless chances to "shape up" before they're finally told to "ship out."

Originally Posted By: kksuns
I understand the legal issues of having only you and PDM have access to personal information, but can you not appoint a few others to monitor things a bit more?
---- perhaps something along the lines of "deputies" with the authority to issue official warnings but the obligation to forward anything beyond that to PDM or Lisa?

(Just for the record, not for a millisecond am I offering myself as a "deputy" moderator. I am willing to work very hard for something I believe in, but I am an adherent of a "three strikes and you're out" policy.)

The bottom line, really, is that it seems to me that every few months an individual joins the forum and wreaks havoc. Regardless of the specifics of the person's agenda, the outcome is stress and drama and confusion and conflict.

More and more "old hands" have left the forum or participate solely in PMs.
Originally Posted By: Lisa Shea
It would be heartbreaking to me if a teenager in India wanted to use our forum to help save their parakeet and they couldn't get onto our forum because the swears in our forum caused their library filter to block our site.
Certainly, but it's also heartbreaking when a dozen or so helpful & informed members are so burned out on the chaos that they're not there to answer the young person's questions.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 09:35 PM

I appreciate the concerns and I will give them a lot of thought.

Trolls are a common issue across the web, we are not unique. If anything, we receive huge praise for having relatively few trolls here compared with most other forums. Our current system gets a lot of praise and has achieved fairly amazing results. There is always room for tweaking, of course.

In my experience, the best path is to always treat newcomers with respect and to gently guide them by modeling healthy behavior. Many people come into a forum with an "expectation of behavior" that is shaped by other wilder forums. It takes them a little time to realize we are different. We need to give them that time, and show them by our actions what we expect, so that they can learn how we are here.

I run two other forums and this same sequence happens. "Wild posting teens" come on, they are treated kindly, they realize that the forum is different than other ones they've been on, and often they adjust and become amazing forum participants. It's like running a boys & girls club and bringing in street teens, and watching them develop into amazing young adults. It's very rewarding.

As I said, I will continue to ponder this. For example, I don't feel the solution is to jump on and ban individuals in this category. I favor the carrot approach, not the stick.
Posted By: Luvanimalsdearly

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/03/09 09:53 PM

Im sorry to hear about Pinto. Yes some of the new members are getting on my nerves. I appreciate this forum and all the work that has been put into it. I have learned a lot and hope that this problem is resolved.
Posted By: Anonymous

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/04/09 04:28 AM

Originally Posted By: Lisa Shea
I favor the carrot approach, not the stick.
I can certainly understand that, but what happens if someone grabs the carrot and the stick, hits us over the head with the stick, and absconds with your entire crate of carrots? lol

I do appreciate that you are giving our concerns thought -- thank you. smile
Posted By: jilly

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/05/09 10:49 AM

I very much agree with all of this:

Quote:
I run two other forums and this same sequence happens. "Wild posting teens" come on, they are treated kindly, they realize that the forum is different than other ones they've been on, and often they adjust and become amazing forum participants. It's like running a boys & girls club and bringing in street teens, and watching them develop into amazing young adults. It's very rewarding.


We all learn from our peers and the people we interact with. It's up to experienced posters to model appropriate behaviors. smile
Posted By: Chelle

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/05/09 04:28 PM

I am a new member, came here from one of Lisa's other forums.

I found THAT forum quite by accident when I got fed up with Yahoo and some of the other "big" forums.

Every now and again I will try to go and post on a "non-Lisa" forum grin. I am especially fond of anime and manga (and yes I am an adult, my son got me hooked on it) - but I just cannot stay on any other forum very long because I am so used to the level of civility and intelligence that I have found.

As a newbie - I can see that y'all are getting frustrated, and trolls are frustrating, no doubt! But from my viewpoont, it looks like they are being handled pretty well.

It is hard to see sometimes when you are right in the middle of something.
Posted By: Sprite97

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/05/09 09:58 PM

I know this is off subject but just wondering. I was looking through posts and it seems as though some of the forum members have quit. It says unregistered by their posts. Does that mean they have deactivated their account?

I was wondering because some people that have been on this forum for very long have all of a sudden quit?
Is it because of all the trolls?
I really am sad that some of the most helpful people have left.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/05/09 10:20 PM

Sprite - time will tell, but at least one of those members instantly made a new account. She "quit" because didn't want her private information from her old posts to be a target for hackers, so she was dodging them.

In the past we've had several situations where someone didn't like forum policy, they made a long post and quit, and then a month or two later they were back with a fresh account. It was a form of "drawing attention to their beliefs" more than a permanent decision. Again, time will tell.
Posted By: kksuns

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/05/09 11:47 PM

Sprite,
Many "old timers" have and are leaving. I think it's a shame. Yes, in a way it has to do with the trolls but even more so I think it has to do with how the trolling was handled. It seems to me that the rude and obnoxious trolls ended up getting treated better than many long time helpful, contributing members.
The trolls pretty much got away with their repeated malicious, condescending, disruptive behavior because they "are JUST teenagers" and "don't know any better". Yeah right! NO ONE should get away with the things those kids were doing here. It's totally uncalled for. All in all they succeeded in their mission..to cause chaos and disruption for no reason at all.
and the regular forum members pretty much got chewed out for calling it as they saw it. And yes they may have called the trolls names, but none that they weren't deserving of.
As you can probably tell, I am pretty upset by all of this. It's not right. Most of the members who left were the backbone of this forum. I know that I gained soo much from them and others to come would have gained also.It's soo sad that they were treated so badly. They gave so much to this place and that is how they get treated?? Soon there will be no experienced keet owners left to help out newcomers here.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 12:04 AM

Kksuns - I believe every new member from that group was banned by PDM as soon as she saw them. If anything, some forum members wanted PDM to ban people before they were even proven to be trolls. I would not call that coddling. That was not "better treatment" for the incoming posters.

I agree I found it extreme to start banning people before they even said something. We were not treating new posters with respect, we were driving away some actual new visitors.

Which troll do you feel was not banned?
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 12:12 AM

- edit -

I had posted some details about the situation of the editors who left, but on contemplation, I will leave it up to them to explain if they wish.

I will simply say that I spent over an entire day trying to soothe and work with the four disgruntled forum members. They still chose to leave, and that is their choice.
Posted By: DELETE ACCOUNT

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:14 AM

Lisa, the damage has already been done --several people saw your post, most of which was fabricated by you. I never at any point claimed I was "special" or "didn't care about rules", and you know that. I don't appreciate being painted as a self-absorbed jerk, when in fact I spent many, many hours simply trying to persuade you to be a bit flexible with your rules for the benefit of many, many members.

I cannot begin to imagine why you would lie and put such a spin on my words. I would have thought that was below you, but apparently not. Here is one of my posts, directly cut and pasted from the original, as you, PDM, and person XXXXX know:

"Your policy of openness isn't what's upsetting, it's the policy of treating trolls with the same respect as the regular members. Further, you used a tool which XXXXX provided in a way which did not further the interests of this forum.

All posts are not equal, all members are not equal, particularly people you know for a fact are trolls, and all complainers are not equal. All posters should not be treated as though they are just as valuable as the members who contribute time and energy to help others. That is widely perceived as a slap in the face to those who frequently donate their knowledge to this forum.

If "all posters should be posting with maturity," how did you decide to let Poultry Lover stay on this forum?

Your belief that you have "treated all forum members... with a tone of respect" is incorrect. Your overall tone is one of "Who cares what members think? It's all about MY policies being enforced." Lisa, one has to earn respect, and one way to do that is to not dismiss the concerns of so many, many members who have appealed to you for a long time to try adapting or adjusting your policies. Another way is to make an effort to understand the feelings of people who have been made a mockery of on another forum. Perhaps it is time to rethink your ten year old policies?

Lord knows, PDM has suffered the brunt of conflict after conflict. You made it clear in an earlier post here, Lisa, that you would be content to come on here and work with the troll boys; they are apparently more important than people who've been on here for 1 or more years?"

Posted By: DELETE ACCOUNT

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:18 AM

There's nothing I would like better than to get away from this forum, but I do need to add that I didn't delete my account after the last troll was banned -- General Disarray is still here! I really don't care what you do with this forum anymore, but I will not sit still and be slandered.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:26 AM

PandRMom - please indicate where General Disarray has made any post which you feel is inappropriate?

Even in my initial post, I was very clear not to mention any names. I never indicated who I was speaking of. I spoke only in generalities.

As you now wish to lay claim to the words "all members are not equal" - I will reiterate that I strongly disagree with that statement. All members *are* by definition equal, all are bound by the forum rules which require respectful treatment of all other members. There is not a membership category which is exempt from these rules.

I would ask again - do you feel that members who achieve some post limit - let's say 1,000 posts - should now be exempt from following the rules?
Posted By: DELETE ACCOUNT

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:43 AM

Of course you didn't mention names because that would have opened the door for a lawsuit, Lisa. Nobody said anyone should be "exempt" from rules, other than you. Intentional misrepresentation of others' words is pitiful. With regard to General Disarray, would you really like me to publicly post the link to the "trolls' nest?" Then everyone can judge for themselves.

Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:46 AM

PandRMom -

This forum does not judge people based on their associations with other characters. We do not hold you responsible for the actions of your family or friends. We do not judge people based on what they have said in other locations. We look at what someone posts in this forum, which is our community.

Please show me - in this forum - where General Disarray has said anything for which he should be banned by our forum rules.

It would be an violation of our rules if you honestly believe we should start banning people solely because of who their friends are, or because of things they have done in a completely unrelated area of the web. I will not agree that our rules cover either of those situations.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:54 AM

I would ask the question in reverse, Lisa: Should members who have posted for several months and shown themselves to be supportive of others and of the rules be considered expendable? Where is their respect?

I have seen others leave since I've been a member here. I won't go into detail about why they left, but I will say that they meant a great deal more to me than just an attitude of *oh well, that's their decisions.*

Yes, members come and go. And each member is unique. But some are more willing to share themselves than others. IMO, they are the ones more apt to be treated coldly and the implication given that the board is more important than them.

IMO, the success of the board has been more because of some of our members and their caring ways than the forum's ownership and administrative team may realize.

No disrespect is intended to anyone. I do feel sorrow, however.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 01:57 AM

Carl -

People can choose to leave the forums; that is quite different from feeling they are "expendable". No forum member is thought to be expendable - all forum members are treated with respect and are deserving of that respect. If someone chooses to leave, we wish them well and do as they wish. To do otherwise would be disrespectful.

Are you saying, if someone asks to to have their account removed, that I should not do it? In fact one of the members asked to leave, and then kept posting. I thought this meant she wanted to stay so I left the account alone. She then got upset that I had let her keep posting vs removing her account. So if I do *not* immediately remove an account, I am yelled at.

So it seems the most respectful thing, when someone asks to leave, is to fulfill their request politely and quickly. I do not feel that is cold - that is being professional.

Would you agree?
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 02:16 AM

Fulfilling a request to have an account deleted is not what I was talking about. Even there, however, I think greater ultimate respect could be given to a "cool-down" period, where a person could reactivate an account that had been put on a phase-out stage. Say 30 days?

I know people can get heated, and they can get disgusted. And sure, they may come back and start over. But it's not the same.

But what I was talking about was the attitude that "they" made the decision to leave. "Oh, well."

Well, IMO the seeds of the distrust have been going on for some time now. I think that announcing a period of time where reassessment and healing can take place would be wonderful.

I wish you'd offer reinstatement to members who decide to come back (who voluntarily left).

Also, I think there are several who have suggested that members truly want to help. I understand the legalities that you explained, Lisa [edited to change the name I typed from habit]. Yet, you could have volunteers that you approve, plus some you appoint (if they accept), to discuss the feelings and issues and misunderstandings in a private forum.

Maybe the outcome would be a better forum.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 02:49 AM

Carl - again, when I delayed even 12 hours on removing someone's account, they got very upset. I do not believe that "refusing to delete their account" would have been a healthy way to respect their request.

Everyone who chooses to leave is welcome to return, as always! It has happened many times in the past that someone has left when they were upset, and then came back a few weeks later and once again was an active member of the forum. It is completely up to the user.

When someone wrote to ask for their information to be removed, my response was never "oh well". It was always "I respect your opinion, and I wish you the very best."

Again, these members explicitly asked for their accounts to be deleted. One specifically said she did not want her information in the system at *all* in case hackers hit the forum and could see it. I am not sure you really mean I should have refused to follow her wishes?
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 02:58 AM

No, I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that perhaps a request for a moratorium and assurances that you actually appreciate and value your long-time members might have gone a long ways toward keeping the forum progressing.

I know that you run a literary magazine, so I know you have heart.

What I, and some others, are talking about, really, is the heart of your Forum. What do you think that it is?
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 03:05 AM

I'm not sure what you're asking for? A moratorium on allowing members to leave? That would go against everything I believe in. Forum members are always free to join or leave, that is a right I feel very strongly about. I would never want to block a member's choice.

A moratorium on banning inappropriate repeated posters? I think that would be equally inappropriate, yes?
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 03:39 AM

I admit defeat. I cannot explain myself well enough. Nor does it really matter. It's all about what you believe in.

The tragedy is that many of the ones who have left also care very deeply about the keets and about animals of any sort.

And people from other sectons of the forum, who care about other issues, have also left.

I'm not saying that the new people don't have things they care about, nor that we should hate trolls.

The moratorium that I think you and/ore PDM might have requested when this last "flap" began would have been to delay asking to have an account deleted, or to suspend a deletion request that might be pending.

No, I most definitely did not mean a moratorium or suspension of the rules to delaty banning inappropriate repeated posters.

I guess what I was hoping was that you really cared about, if not liked, some of the long-time members.

I know I do, and I don't even have keets.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 03:51 AM

Carl -

I am trying to listen to and understand your suggestion.

Again, you are asking me to hold back on a deletion request. I did in fact do that - I was asked by someone to delete their account, and they kept posting. Because they kept posting, I delayed the deleting process. They got very upset with me! So I did exactly what you are suggestion - and I was yelled at. So that was not the right answer.

For the other three people, I deleted their accounts as asked promptly, and they were happy. So that appears to have been the right response.

As much as it might seem appealing to try to be "parental" to forum members, that rarely leads to happiness. It works best to respect a forum member's wishes, which I think we would all hope for? We would of course always welcome forum members back with open arms if they chose to rejoin us!

"If you love something, set it free.
if it comes back it's yours,
if it doesn't, it never was."

Giving someone freedom is not a sign of not caring - it is the sign of ultimate respect.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 04:03 AM

I'll try again. I am not saying that you should have delayed a deletion request. I do understand that one complained that more immediate action should be forthcoming.

What I'm saying is that when the talk began of trolls and banning trolls and the language that was used in talking about the issues in the topics/threads involved, as well as the issues of possible troll activity, and the issues of honoring the rules of the Forum - then a request in a topic to members considering leaving the Forum, to consider delaying that leaving (delaying the asking for their accounts to be deleted).

The request for members to consider a moratorium before leaving (or asking for their accounts to be deleted) would have more integrity, of course, if a pledge was given to attempt to solve the problems that have been raised here, IMO. I do not intend to get into a discussion of what they might be.

As for the ones who left being happy, I do not know. I just know that I miss them.
Posted By: Coco's Mama

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 04:09 AM

Ditto Carl, this all started on my birthday and I have cried every time I come on here, because the people who made me feel the most welcome and gave the best advice to me when I needed it are all leaving, sad, disappointed and hurting.

I miss them too.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 04:13 AM

I do appreciate your ideas and will give them thought.

To clarify - it is not that these members left without me talking with them. I spent a solid day talking with individual forum members, listening to their ideas, corresponding with them. I put in a serious investment of my time to try to help resolve the issue. If at some point a person says "I am done talking, I want to leave" then I believe the respectful thing to do is say "I respect your decision".

I would hope that I am more a "walk the walk" person than just a "talk the talk". I invest literally hundreds of dollars a month into this forum, between server fees and forum fees and other costs I have to pay. Maintaining the servers and software takes quite a lot of my time. All of this is done for the benefit of all members, and I do not get a dime of reward for it. In most cases I do not even get a thank you from members. I only get scolded when things are not the way they want.

I invested a lot of time in one on one conversations with specific members who wanted to discuss issues. I would hope all of these items would show clearly how much affection and care I have for this forum and all of its members.

It would be easy for me to just come on and post every week "I love and respect you all" - but hopefully my hours of work and my large investment of my very scarce funds are more meaningful?
Posted By: BLR

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 04:33 AM

OK Wow what happened. (rhetorical questions) Coco’s Mom, glad to see you and Carl are still on here. Lisa, Sorry to hear about Pinto.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 04:50 AM

I believe you know, Lisa, that I have expressed gratitude to, and admiration for, you and PDM.

And I do understand the investment in time and money, as well as how that shows your affection, care, and respect.

Posting each week that you "love and respect" us would only be effective if you show that this is indeed so.

In the ways that you state, it is true that you do walk the walk.

However, there is a fine point that you may not be aware of (and I could be dead wrong in how I think).

Before a friend invited me to come to this Forum (and she praised PDM's and your admin and direction), I had spent two or three years on a board that offered support for a group of medical disorders. It was primarily an information board, but it also had forums for members and different ages, and for families of people with the disorders.

The over-all board was owned as a non-profit organization. And the admin of the forum provided the forum used. A moderator with limited power was also used. To get to the point, the attitude of this board was always that the discussion forums were provided for the members, and we should be grateful.

A group of trolls had the entire forum at one another's throats.

People left because the admins supported the trolls, and disrespected the long-time members.

And the ownership of the non-profit organization and the admin never really got it, IMO. There was a very special group of people involved in that forum, IMO.

And I think there has been a very special group going here, also, Lisa.

I think that the life and heart of a board can be partly by the direction of how it is set up, and by the rules, and by the admin, but it is also about who are the members and how they treat one another. And in some really, really special boards, there are some really special individuals.

I thought when I first arrived, and I still think, that the mix here was pure magic! I am concerned that this is changing, as some of those really special individuals are leaving and not because they want their freedom, but because they think they're not wanted.

That's about all I can say.

You gotta have heart. It's about soul.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 06:32 AM

I am sorry that any member of the forum would feel unwanted. I try to always show respect to every forum member, and to listen to their concerns.

I do not think I have said at any point that I did not want a forum member to be here. I am sorry if a forum member felt unwanted.

I believe what I have asked for is that all forum members treat all other forum members with respect, and follow our rules. I have asked that we treat all members fairly, and equally, and have us all abide by those rules.

Every member should have an equal voice, and every member should be treated with respect and patience.

I am very sorry if anyone felt this request was a sign of disrespect.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 09:38 AM

Since my name has been brought into the conversation, I wish to add / ask some things.

I know that wounds are still raw over the recent fracas. As Lisa said, my immediate response was to ban those causing a nuisance, and, as I said elsewhere, I believe that I have banned most of them.

However, before I had even opened up my computer, and found the moderator alerts, I had already received a private message asking me if the forum even mattered to me and suggesting that we tolerated garbage, etc, etc. What am I supposed to do? I am just an ordinary person, who enjoys discussions and likes to conduct them on a clean and friendly forum. I cannot be on the board 24/7. I cannot read every single post. I cannot guess who will be offended by what. I cannot second-guess who will be a site-stirrer, so I cannot prevent people coming on here to cause uproar.

As I said, wounds are raw over the latest debacle, so, for now, I wish to leave that discussion alone, because the accusations seem to go further back.

Since I spend a huge amount of time sorting things out on here, I am just bewildered by this. I cannot please everyone all of the time. And, with my moderator hat on, I cannot have favourites. Just because I have had a dispute with one person, but have got on famously well with another, does not mean that I can never agree with the one, or disagree with the other; nor does it mean that I can accept rule-breaks more happily from one than from the other. This sort of goes with the assumption that some members deserve more respect than others. I agree that those who come on here simply to cause trouble do not deserve respect for their behaviour, but I think that some members may sometimes be too quick to assume that someone else is 'a troll'. In some cases, it is obvious; in other cases less so.

Like everyone else on here, I conduct many conversations in PMs.
Again, this can cause problems.
If I 'reprimand' someone for their behaviour on the public forum, then I am told that this is rude and inappropriate, because everyone can see it.
If I 'reprimand' someone for their behaviour in a PM, then I am told that I am doing nothing about it, because it has been done without 'public' knowledge.
Catch 22.

I receive lots of alerts and PMs from members, complaining about bad behaviour, and I can guess that PMs fly around saying that I have / have not dealt with those complaints. What many members do not realise is that I often receive an equal numbers of messages complaining about the complainers, as I do about the people who are supposedly 'trolls'. Sometimes one person's 'troll' is simply someone unused to the way the forum works, and, I agree with Lisa on this, that it is better to work with that person than to ban him or her. Of course, I am not talking about people who deliberately swear, post porn, etc, etc, I am just talking about those who need time to adjust to rules, etc.

I have said a number of times ~ and I mean it quite seriously ~ that if I were to ban everyone whom others had complained about, then there would be very few people left. You might say that, because I haven't banned everyone whom others have felt unhappy with, then people are leaving anyway, but I simply cannot ban someone because a few members find him / her irritating.

We have very heated conversations & debates, on very controversial subjects, in the 'Religion' & 'Politics' sections. That is often the nature of those subject areas. Lisa has put up a notice advising members of this and stating that they should not post personal insults and neither should they take things personally.
But people do. I don't think that it is possible not to, when things are close to one's heart. So people can get hurt & angry.
I notice, though, that there are flare-ups in the budgie section too, so maybe it's just life.
This is an international forum.
People come on here when they are lonely, happy, sad, talkative, angry, bored, etc,.
We cannot always tell peoples' moods and we do not always know how they will react.
I go on other forums; some are great ~ really friendly ~ but many I simply will not join, because, on those, argumentative and rude behaviour and bad language, etc, etc, are ignored or even encouraged. Alternatively some will censor and ban, with no logic or explanation. It is not like that here, but we cannot expect complete perfection, on an Internet forum, all the time. You cannot please everyone always, you can only aim to do so.

People stay; people leave; people return.
I have often thought of leaving ~ I do my best, but receive a lot of criticism for it.
On the other hand, I love interesting discussions and I feel that I have made friends here. I also receive some lovely messages of support and thanks, which make everything worthwhile.

So that's it.
I try to do my best. I am not perfect. I am not an automaton. I cannot please everyone always. I am very grateful for all the friendly messages & support I get on here. I enjoy most of the debates & conversations and the friendships.
I investigate all complaints at such length that it sometimes interferes with my family life.
I go with my conscience ~ which is clear.
I am often bewildered by what I am supposed to have done wrong, but, this is a public forum and I cannot expect everyone everywhere to agree with me always.

What more can I do?

But back to the recent uproar for a moment.
Some young people came on here for a bit of sport.
They caused me to waste a fair amount of my time; they upset some people; they had their fun.
It was a prank, as far as I can tell.
But, if members are going to spread alarmist rumours, about it being more than a prank, then isn't this causing every bit as much unnecessary fuss as that caused by these young people???

Yes, some people have left over all this, but some people who have asked to be deleted, have done so because they think that their personal details are at risk. One, who I didn't immediately delete, but, first, asked about the decision, has decided that she will stay, as long as she is sure that her account is secure here. Lisa has made a thread on Internet security, which should help to alleviate worries.

EDIT:
And I don't think that I have ever attacked anyone ~ even if provoked.
Posted By: SleepDeprived

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 10:49 AM

You need to learn some internetting skills.
Trolls are absolutely everywhere!
If you ignore them, they get bored and eventually stop posting.
You bite, the more they are going to post.

Ps: I think your mods have done a brilliant job, Kudos to them smile
The members who have left have MAJORLY overeacted.
The end.
Posted By: Sprite97

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 03:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Coco's Mama
Ditto Carl, this all started on my birthday and I have cried every time I come on here, because the people who made me feel the most welcome and gave the best advice to me when I needed it are all leaving, sad, disappointed and hurting.

I miss them too.


Yes I agree the people on here that gave the best advice and made everyone feel so welcome are gone.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 03:07 PM

The problem with this is that while one may indeed ignore the provocative remarks started and escalated by trolls, others on a board do not. And this is the source of much amusement to the trolls. So, it's easy to say, "ignore." And might as well also say, "why not play the trolls' games?" After all, it keeps member numbers and discussion posts up, right?

I don't promise to ignore or accept, but already the trolls have influenced me: I don't peruse this board as often as I once did.
Posted By: Chelle

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 05:05 PM

Wow! I'll just make one comment here;

I joined yesterday and made a comment on this thread and a few others then logged off.

I come back on this morning and there are 3 pages of argument between my last post and this one, and from what I can tell not a single post is from one of the "trolls".

Just something to think on.
Posted By: Coco's Mama

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 05:16 PM

Chelle, where are the arguments?

Carl is discussing his feelings, as are a few others , other than the the posts are PDM and Lisa also talking...

confused
Posted By: Chelle

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 05:27 PM

Sorry, I guess it just looked that way to me.

Heated discussion?
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 08:20 PM

Thanks, CM. Welcome, Chelle. I was born in GA & finished HS in Atlanta & went 3 years to UGA. Believe it or not, Chelle, even when I don't post often, I can see several pages of posts in a topic from one day to the next. But I'm sorry you are offended by some of us. I promise to take up much less room here.

As for whether trolls may have posted on this topic, or others, I won't presume to judge.

Whether there have been trolls - or troll behavior, or what action is taken, is not really what has bothered me. It has been more that members have been "spanked" for speaking against the troll behavior. As I've said before, it's like the penalty flag thrown at a sporting event, when the retaliation happens.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 08:55 PM

I want to make clear that PDM has always been a cornerstone of this forum system and I support her completely. She shows incredible patience and strength in a variety of contentious situations. As she has said, there are many times when she is being actively lobbied from *both* sides about an issue. A particular member will be saying they speak for "the forum" - but at the same time PDM will get 5 messages from other members saying that person is wrong.

It is human nature for each person to feel their way is the right way and the way everyone believes in. PDM is often in a situation where she "can't win" and everyone is unhappy. She deserves great kudos and praise for walking that line as carefully as she can. She does an awesome job every day and I do not think she receives enough recognition for that.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 09:09 PM

Carl -

That is a good topic to discuss. Thank you, Carl, for bringing that up.

First, and I realize this is semantics, but I am strongly against spanking. Spanking is, I feel, violence which is counterproductive. I would not look on any of my statements as spanking, but as discussion. It is not that I spanked a toddler, which the language you used draws an image of. Rather, I brought a volunteer employee into my office and had a discussion with them about their behavior. Most of the discussion went on in private, so you did not see that.

The discussion involved me talking, and the volunteer yelling. I stayed seated and attempted to treat my volunteer with respect, and the volunteer used a raised voice and language which many would count as abusive. In the end, the volunteer turned and stalked out, making sure everyone in the office was very aware of their leaving and why. As Carl said, it was very much a "loud protest leaving".

The person could of course simply stopped coming to the forum. One individual hadn't been on the forum in a month anyway. The fact that they left in the way they did clearly has meaning.

So I wanted to clarify the context of the situation. I did not "spank" anyone. What I did was have mature conversations with people who were not always respectful and even-toned in response. The conversations were about some of the language they had chosen to post in the forums.

If we want to use the sporting metaphor, the 'trolls' were banned. They were ejected from the game and kicked out of the league. You cannot get any more "final" than that. But you are implying that the people who stomped their boots on the trolls' heads after a hip-check should not have gotten yellow flags. I would reiterate that as a fair-minded referee I cannot allow "special members" to get away with being extremely nasty because they have somehow "earned that right" to do it to "people they felt deserved it".
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/06/09 10:26 PM

Now that things have become quieter I would like to say that, if those young people ~ formerly referred to as 'trolls' ~ had joined without causing any fuss, then I think that some of them would have made interesting forum members.

They seem to be interested in politics, and could probably have contributed quite a bit to that area of the forum. Maybe, in time, it will be possible to bring some of them on board??? Who knows?

I would hope, though, that they would be willing to apologise ~ willingly & sincerely ~ first. smile
Posted By: Cetan

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/07/09 12:55 AM

But unfortunately they joined with the sole intent of causing trouble with the goal of destroying the forum and unfortunately they did a lot of damage
Posted By: jilly

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/07/09 01:18 AM

I have been trying to stay out of this discussion. I have been reading this forum since July of 08, but only now am really posting regularly. I do think there are lots of nice conversations going on in these forums, regardless of past but recent events.

Maybe everyone can just take a time out from the previous strife? Take a 'wait and see' approach going forward? What is done is past at this point.

I want to suggest this with the utmost respect for the fine people who have been community members for so long. I don't even know if I should be saying anything at all. I just want us all to start over. smile
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 12:58 AM

Well Jilly, I agree that what's done is done, and that, perhaps, things will appear different ~ better ~ in the future, but, for now, it is clear that a number of people are still unhappy.

Some of this relates to the recent influx of bad behaviour, but that resulted in me banning people ~ if only to get some order back on the forum. It seems, though, that upset on the forum is also related to other things, and that things have just erupted. It happens from time to time, but I am not 100% sure exactly what it is that some people are unhappy about.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 01:06 AM

Originally Posted By: Cetan
But unfortunately they joined with the sole intent of causing trouble
Yes, I agree. It was bad behaviour.
Quote:
with the goal of destroying the forum
I think, for most of them, at least, it was just meant as a short-term prank.
Quote:
.... unfortunately they did a lot of damage
Please don't think that I am condoning their behaviour, because I think that causing trouble, using bad language, stirring people up, etc, are unacceptable.

However, young people sometimes do silly things, and this was a prank. It was short-lived and things should now be back to normal. A joke, played on us, by a few youngsters, should not be able to do such 'a lot of damage' ~ and I have to wonder why it has???
Posted By: janimal

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 08:37 AM

because people get hysterical?
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 09:50 PM

No, Jan. IMO, it's not a matter of paranoia or hysterics, but a matter of principle. On the one hand, we are told that "older" members are expecting preferential treatment. And that the "younger" members are just playing a joke, so we should just look over that. But it's not really a matter of whether the "younger" members were or were not trolls.

What it is about, IMO, is whether it really matters how responsible you are in your posting (except to yourself and your own sense of ethics). The "younger" member (even if only a member long enough to make one or two posts) can say whatever he or she wants, and only amused shrugs will result. But the "older" members cannot call a troll a troll.

After all, IMO, troll... er, excuse me, I mean "younger person" registrations and postings help the total numbers of the board, which helps with financial matters, you know?
Posted By: janimal

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 10:12 PM

aaaah. i hadn't got into that side of the iron front onslaught. from where i was there was this annoying little iron front dude who just wouldn't go away. i'd pretty much missed the 'attack' and the discussions that followed it, and was warned by another member about a potential security risk. that was what i thought was a tad hysterical.

i would be the last one to deny anyone the right to call a spade a spade, or call a troll a troll. in fact, i'm often frustrated at how restrained i have to be here.

as for preferential treatment - i don't really see people clamouring for it as such, but why not - you have to earn the respect wherever you go, and i certainly don't take poster too seriously until i feel i have a reason to do so.

i can see why you've got a beef with a situation, but maybe it would bother you a bit less if you didn't underestimate how valued your presence here is. smile
Posted By: jilly

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 10:19 PM

Lisa has said she makes zero money from this site. All the ads are charity ads. So that can't be a part of it.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 10:26 PM

Thanks, Jan. I had to wade through the syntax, but finally got it.

I'll raise my brow a bit at that, Jilly. There are indirect values to having a "popular" discussion board.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 10:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Carl
The "younger" member (even if only a member long enough to make one or two posts) can say whatever he or she wants, and only amused shrugs will result. But the "older" members cannot call a troll a troll.


Carl, maybe you missed my earlier post, where I said:

"If we want to use the sporting metaphor, the 'trolls' were banned. They were ejected from the game and kicked out of the league. You cannot get any more "final" than that. But you are implying that the people who stomped their boots on the trolls' heads after a hip-check should not have gotten yellow flags. I would reiterate that as a fair-minded referee I cannot allow "special members" to get away with being extremely nasty because they have somehow "earned that right" to do it to "people they felt deserved it"."

Being banned from the game forever is not "amused shrugs". I am not sure why you are saying that they got off lightly, given the evidence?

On the other hand, I feel that experienced members should not be abusive to anyone. They - out of anybody here - should know better what our rules are.

It almost seems that you are saying in your post that old time members have "earned" the right to act like trolls towards people they choose to be nasty to. I disagree with all my heart. Is that really the heart of the complaint?
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 10:34 PM

Originally Posted By: Carl
Thanks, Jan. I had to wade through the syntax, but finally got it.

I'll raise my brow a bit at that, Jilly. There are indirect values to having a "popular" discussion board.


Carl - I pay several hundred dollars a month to keep this board running. I don't know how you feel I could possibly be making money in return to make up for all that cash, never mind the time and effort involved in backing up the database, keeping the forum software current, and the many other time related investments this causes for me.

I make my money from the many other websites I run. This right here is a money black hole which I maintain because I love parakeets.
Posted By: joandboys

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 11:08 PM

Lisa, I am so sorry to hear about Pinto. I have been away for quite a while and have obviously missed a lot. What I do want to say to you is, have heart. Nothing is every perfect nor should it be. How boring perfection would be. There would be nothing to strive for or look forward to. There would be no higher ground to achieve. It would be like an old veteran sitting in a room full of recruits. Nothing to talk about. No common ground to share. No way to connect except in the all pervasive all consuming knowledge that you have nothing in common with eachother, other than the fact that you all wear a uniform. There are still a lot of wonderful caring people who will find a way to make a difference and stay to do so. I love the new look of the forum and I wish I could come on more often. PDM knows why I have been away. I hope you never give up on this forum. I know it is a work of love.
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/08/09 11:16 PM

JoAndBoys -

Thank you very much, I really appreciate you posting a great deal. It does sometimes seem like some members only post about the forum itself when they are upset, and rarely just to say they are happy it is here. I do get a lot of private messages and email, but it's nice to have it said out in the open smile

Thank you.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 12:07 AM

Lisa, I have often expressed appreciation for PDM, and you, also.

I try to be courteous even to people I dislike. Disagreement is not a reason for me to be discourteous.

I admit my equanimity is challenged, however, when another repeatedly distorts what I say. I try to start with the possibility that we don't understand what the other is saying.

That still may be the case.

The first I became aware of troll behavior was on a romance thread, where a person asked for advice about dating someone 3 or 4 years younger (19 and 15, I think). During the course of the initial post, the person admitted to being a homophobe.

From the tone of the post, I suspected (as I have many times in this romance section) that the topic/post was "invented" in order to start controversy. Behavior which has been termed troll behavior is of this type - where controversy is introduced and then harsh comments are made and then lines are formed and sides taken and usually people leave.

I chose to answer the person seriously. I was the first to reply. I was not discourteous.

The thread then went down hill.

I do understand that a lot of the discussions concerning how & why & even what happened went on in PMs between various ones and you, Lisa, and PDM.

And I do understand that people were banned. But we know that people will come back.

The members who left, however, would not sneak back in. They are just plain gone.

You say they demanded to have their accounts deleted. I'm sure that's right. You say further they wanted to "foul" other members. I think that's an over-simplification, and if not a distortion, at least evidence of how little you understand the members who have long been loyal to this board.

Talking it out might well have allowed the matter to resolve - without people having to leave. There might well be others who use wrong language, but IMO we can not have too many of the people who would adhere to the spirit of tolerance and courtesy.

And I think we've lost some. I do understand that you disagree, since they spoke heatedly with you, and left. But I disagree with you, on this issue, and yet I am still here.

Do you think I am being discourteous with you or PDM?
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 12:15 AM

Originally Posted By: Carl
... IMO, it's not a matter of paranoia or hysterics, but a matter of principle. ....

As has been stated, I banned the young people who were behaving badly
Furthermore, members are always told that, if 'trolls' appear, then they should be ignored and not 'fed'.
If one accepts that those people were trolls, then they are enjoying a real feast!

However, before they tuck into their banquet, perhaps it would be as well to remember that this is not all about them.

To quote you, Carl:
Quote:
... the seeds of the distrust have been going on for some time now ...

I do not understand this.
Certainly you have said positive things about my behaviour on the forum, but this implies that bad things have been happening, which I haven't moderated correctly.
No forum is perfect.
I know that I am not perfect, and I can & do make mistakes, but my conscience is clear regarding my forum behaviour.
I do my best in awkward situations and I believe that I treat everyone with respect, but every so often we seem to get threads of complaint ~ and I do not know what I am supposed to be doing wrong.

Quote:
the success of the board has been more because of some of our members and their caring ways than the forum's ownership and administrative team may realize.

Presumably I have been classed as a member of 'the administrative team', yet I would not be here if it were not for the interaction with friendly & caring members. I am a member, myself. I joined and stayed because I loved the interaction.
I have thought of leaving many times ~ I think that I have had enough reasons ~ but, so far, the interesting & friendly discussions have prevented me from doing so.

As I said before, I do receive complaints about members, but not always the same members.
Imagine this scenario:
X says that Y is a troll, but Y says that X is a bully.
Then Z complains that both X and Y are causing disruption, so must both be trolls.
Then A claims that I am being unfair, because I haven't reprimanded X, while B complains that I am being biased, because I haven't reprimanded Y.
I then suggest to X and Y that they calm down and ensure that rules are kept, only for them both to complain that I have wrongly picked on them.
It's a very difficult situation to deal with ~ and not an uncommon one. Whatever I do, someone could be upset enough to leave.
Then their friends will become upset and may complain.
It's an almost unwinnable situation.
There are always at least two sides to every dispute.
I try to be fair, tactful and caring. I can do no more than that.

Quote:
The moratorium that I think you and/ore PDM might have requested when this last "flap" began would have been to delay asking to have an account deleted ...

I always double-check with members who say that they want their accounts deleted. I explain what it means and make sure that it is what they want. One member changed her mind about leaving this time.

Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 12:27 AM

Originally Posted By: Carl
.... The first I became aware of troll behavior was on a romance thread, where a person asked for advice about dating someone 3 or 4 years younger (19 and 15, I think). During the course of the initial post, the person admitted to being a homophobe.

From the tone of the post, I suspected (as I have many times in this romance section) that the topic/post was "invented" in order to start controversy. Behavior which has been termed troll behavior is of this type - where controversy is introduced and then harsh comments are made and then lines are formed and sides taken and usually people leave....


It never entered my head that the lad in question was a troll, or that the topic was invented.
I admit that I sometimes do suspect that topics are invented!
But what do I do if the topic seems untrue?
Is it right to simply accuse someone of being a liar, and ban them as a troll, when they have broken no rules?
In the past I have tactfully questioned a poster, whose submissions seemed a bit suspicious, to try to get to the truth.
I then received messages, telling me to be careful about this, because the young man in question might have an illness.

Some members may tell me that there is a troll on the forum, while others may tell me that a pleasant new member is being bullied.
And it can happen between long-term members too, I'm afraid.

Maybe the lad you mention was simply stating the truth, as he saw it.
Maybe he will learn something from the forum.
Maybe he ~ or, rather, his opinions ~ annoyed some people. But does that make him a 'troll'?
Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 01:10 AM

Carl, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I have always found your posts to be even handed and well written.

I do not believe in any way that the initial romance thread poster was a troll. We get these exact questions ALL the time in the RomanceClass Q&A inbox. This is a common concern of teenage males. It might be that they post less often in a public forum because they do not want to talk about these things publicly. We get hundreds of questions of this nature in the private email stream.

That forum members thought he was a troll because he talked about his sexuality concerns is distressing to me. I actively encourage our Romance readers to use the forums in order to reduce the huge flood of questions my team currently has to deal with privately. If we redirect people here, and they are then not taken seriously or abused, that concerns me greatly. No member should ever be treated with disrespect. I am grateful that you answered him sincerely.

In terms of the 4 or 5 members who asked for their accounts to be deleted, I do not believe I ever said "they wanted to "foul" other members." What I did say is that they made very direspectful posts to and about other members, and that I asked them to refrain from doing that. I do stand by that statement, and by my request. If you are saying that acting disrespectful towards a member is "fouling" them then yes, I would agree. Maybe it is simply the word choice I am confused by.

"Talking it out might well have allowed the matter to resolve" - yes I spent several solid days listening to some of these members, hearing their issues, clarifying what I wanted. I did this both privately and on the boards. Those members were the ones who made the choice to stop talking and to leave. While I wish they had not, I respect their choice about where to have an account and when to remove that account. I never would have replied to them "No, I refuse to let you leave, I will not delete your account as you have requested." I just can't see how that would be a respectful action to take.
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 01:31 AM

PDM, when I first came to this board, a friend - who had been on that other board I said had been torn apart by controversy - praised this board because of the good administration and because people could talk things out.

I agree with her that this has been a good board. Better than a lot of them.

Where I have disagreed with you has been over a question of what constitutes discourtesy. I understand that the rules call for no "bad" language. But people can and do make harsh remarks.

I understand that the responsible member will moderate his tone, or refrain from posting. But often, the comments begin to heat up, and comments are made. Now, I realize that the last commenters are going against the rules, but maybe the first ones were also breaking the spirit of the rules.

But maybe there IS no spirit of the rules here. And that is what bothers me about the board, PDM & Lisa.

I don't know too much about what got discussed by the complaining members and the admin team. But I find myself wishing I could hear more of their side.

But back to me: I have not called anyone a troll. I have noticed troll behavior. And I apologize that I am "feeding" the behavior now.

Posted By: Lisa Shea

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 01:46 AM

I agree wholeheartedly that every person who is disrespectful should be asked to be respectful, whether they are the first poster, the second poster, the third poster, and more. Usually that is done in private, which I believe is proper.

I believe fully that the above behavior is what we have been asking for. Every person should be responsible for what they post, and every person should post respectfully. I agree completely on this issue.

That should be the purpose of the rules, and that should be the spirit of the rules as well. Every member is deserving of respectful conversation, and every member is held to the same standards of behavior.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:04 AM

Originally Posted By: Carl
Where I have disagreed with you has been over a question of what constitutes discourtesy ... But people can and do make harsh remarks....

I think that we are all capable of upsetting other members ~ often unwittingly. We are all just human & we may become frustrated, angry, over-enthusiastic, etc.

I also think that upset can be the result of misunderstanding, or of taking things personally, where they were not meant as personal insults, etc.

If people go too far, then they may be told ~ but not always publicly.

If I am seen to go too far, then people usually tell me.

And what one person sees as too far, another may see as quite moderate.

Discourtesy certainly isn't encouraged.

But I have had people complaining that someone is being rude, while they are being equally discourteous, themselves, and they simply cannot see it.

I have to make the best judgement a flawed human mind can make, based on the information available. But it doesn't always go down well with the person in question, or their friends.

Sometimes I have spent, quite literally, hours ~ going through threads, and evaluating posts, to see who said what and when, in order to respond, fairly, to complaints and criticisms.

I try to act as a fair and objective mediator ~ even where people have been extremely negative with me ~ but I still get the blame for whatever goes wrong.

And I try not to make a fuss, but, at times, it can be hurtful and annoying ~ which is why I have come very close to leaving on a number of occasions.

Maybe it's good to vent, once in a while, though, so maybe threads like this are a good thing. smile
Posted By: jilly

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:08 AM

I think that learning to speak respectfully to people, even when we may disagree or dislike them even, is a valuable life skill. I was not really taught this in life. Not by my parents, school, TV, or anywhere, really. We "hear" we are supposed to treat people with respect, but are not actually given practice in actual life skills with doing it. Actual tools. It take a LOT of practice, and certainly to me, does not come naturally.

At this point though, it's become habit to try to be as loving in my posts as possible, while still getting my thoughts across.

I have been talking on forums for more than a decade now and I think I have learned, through trial and error, many things about how I come across. How to think before I write, and how to not take something badly that was meant neutrally or even in a positive light.

Even as of last week, I took something meant in caring as a dig against me. Different cultures, ages and backgrounds can make one thing written taken completely wrong. So I am always learning. smile

For people that speak rudely, or are perhaps out to have 'fun' at another's expense....well, it is my challenge to still present a role model to the best of my skills. Maybe by being courteous to rudeness there will be a positive result. Maybe some of their walls will come down. Maybe they can find a safe place to learn better behaviors.

I know this is possible in real life, so why not in forums? I used to be an Outward Bound instructor, and i worked with adjudicated youth in extremely serious wilderness situations. Sometimes being respectful of someone who is acting out becomes a new experience for them. People are often used to getting negative attention as a result of their actions.

Showing that you can dislike someone's behavior, but still treat them like they are a worthwhile being, is often an extremely new and exciting experience for them. It can change many things for them going forward.
Posted By: BLR

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:11 AM

I probably should not say anything but here goes. The members that are gone are some of my favorite people. But I think that sometimes people get into a mind set that renders them “spring loaded to the xxxxxx off position.” I think that is part of what has been going on for quite a little while on the forum, particularly the parakeet forum. There were cliques that lead to people taking sides at the drop of a hat. It began feeling like that some of the “older members” took themselves and their advisory position way too seriously. There were statements made that clearly indicated that the feelings of any newcomer was secondary to reprimanding them for actions deemed unsafe or unhealthy for their parakeets. If confronted with this attitude when I first joined the forum I would not have stayed around.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:37 AM

Hi Barbara,

I think that you have hit the nail on the head.

It is wrong to treat an animal badly ~ I think that we can all agree on that ~ but if people don't realise that something is bad, or if they have been given poor advice, then it is a good thing that they should be given the benefit of the knowledge available here on the site.

If they are frightened away by accusations of 'trollism' or 'shouted at' for being silly, then neither they nor their pets will benefit.

Long-term, knowledgable members may PM me to complain, and may wonder why these 'trolls' are not banned, for wasting time and space, but surely they have as much right to post as anyone else ~ and probably more need.

And maybe they won't simply take the advice given immediately ~ but why should they? How do they know who is telling them the right thing and who isn't ~ especially if they have been given contradictory information by their vet, or by different forum members?

People can sometimes ~ not always, but sometimes ~ jump on people as trolls with no good reason at all.

And people will get upset, or complain, or leave the site over such issues ~ and their friends will be upset ~ but they and their friends must realise that there are two sides to every story and that, while some people support them, others may be complaining about them. Often a compromise is the only answer.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:42 AM

Originally Posted By: Carl
...
But maybe there IS no spirit of the rules here. And that is what bothers me about the board, PDM & Lisa. ....

I truly do not understand why you should think this ~ or why you think that I would be happy with this, or even what it relates to.

Are you talking about the recent bruhaha or about 'the seeds of the distrust [which] have been going on for some time? confused
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 02:55 AM

I know that you simply cannot read every post, let alone every thread, PDM. What I meant was that it has seemed like you don't notice even in threads that have been discussed by you.

Recently I noticed references that you and Lisa have talked, and acted, privately. This I had not thought of to a certain extent.

That is, I know that people complained and you discussed, but I had not considered that you may have been talking to people about discourtesy all along. I did see some instances where an edit was done by you on a post - sometimes a phrase or word, and so I assumed that you would have taken action in similar fashion, with like a gentle warning, "Be nicer, please" or "Reword for courtesy, please."

I think where I began to get that idea was in some of the cases where I felt hurt and you cautioned me that the rules say that I'm NOT to take things personally, and if fact you saw nothing that would suggest someone meant to hurt my feelings.

It only takes two or three of these before one begins to see that either I have no idea what courtesy means, or I take things way too seriously, or I'm too defensive and irritable, or you're more used to "discussion" language than I am. And I admit it could well be the latter. I guess what I look for in a board might not be at all what one would expect to find here.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 03:15 AM

Carl, I do honestly think that some people are more sensitive to 'harsh' words than are others.

Whatever I have said to you, I have meant, but that doesn't mean that I may never change my mind ~ and I cannot remember specifics at the moment, but maybe you can.

Certainly I have never intended to be harsh or rude to you ~ or to anyone else, for that matter.

I do think that there are frequent misunderstandings on the board and I also think that some people may interpret jokes as serious comments.

And yes, I think that some people don't enjoy debates, and many of the discussions on religion have taken the form of debate ~ which can get heated and to the point, but should still never break the rules.

When you say 'it has seemed like you don't notice even in threads that have been discussed by you', you are completely correct. I don't always notice things ~ even in the threads that I post in. Sometimes things simply don't register, or I read them differently from others, perhaps. And I know that, if they break the rules, and someone else has noticed & been upset, then they will click on 'notify' and I can respond accordingly.

But I cannot be blamed for not responding to a rule break, if no-one has sent a moderator alert.

And yes, private messages are often used, to gently remind someone of a better way to word something. Sometimes I just comment on the forum. Sometimes I do both ~ whatever seems appropriate at the time.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 03:16 AM

It's 3.15 am. I'm off to bed now. smile
Posted By: Carl

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 04:41 AM

Sorry about the delay, PDM. I had dinner, clean-up, & an e-card to get out to a great-nephew.

Yes, I understand about the actions not always being seen. I kind of think it is good for the whole board to see it, though. Not as punishment nor ridicule for the person spoken to, but as instruction for everyone. I have seen you say something like this: "I read what you said, and it was not very kind."

I think that sort of comment is good. It asks for more responsibility toward courtesy.

As for some people being more sensitive, I know this is true. I think there is a trade-off, though. I think these are the ones who are most likely to be the supporters for people who have problems, whose pets have died, or ....

You know, I'm about over all of this.

In that romance thread where I answered the person "seriously," I still stand behind what I said. It matters not whether the kids laughed over me (people taking the thread seriously). Fear & hate are things that need to be talked down, IMO.

But as to what happened, I guess it's all history now.

As for notify, actually the only times I've done that was when someone else was involved. When I've had my feelings hurt, I try to speak as openly as I can, but I admit that I can get a bit sarcastic and/or hostile if I feel attacked. In my defense, I usually apologize to the board as it settles down - even if I think that nobody understood my points.

Anyway, thanks for the reply, PDM. I have tried to pick areas that would be less "debate" oriented. But it has seemed to me that this last year has been more caustic even in the "gentler" areas of the forum. But maybe I'm the only person who thinks that.
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 09:04 AM

Hello Carl

It is impossible to be sure when someone is inventing stories on an Internet site, so I cannot guarantee that no-one has ever lied to the forum. That's just the way the Internet is. But I didn't perceive lies in that thread, and I see no reason to believe that the poster, or anyone else, should have laughed at your post.

It is important that 'notify' be used, if someone breaks a rule ~ otherwise I / we cannot know that needs to be looked at ~ and, possibly, dealt with.

I have noticed that there is less and less debate on the forum, yet you see a forum that has become more caustic ~ so maybe the two don't actually go together.

I don't really know what you mean about 'gentler' areas becoming caustic. I moderate all areas ~ when notified ~ but my personal discussions tend to be mostly in the 'general' area. However, I have seen the displeasure generated amongst some long-term members, about the behaviour of some new members, and, while I think that genuine bad behaviour has to be dealt with, I also think that, sometimes, innocent people may be blamed.

That's my opinion ~ I may be wrong ~ but I don't think that someone should be punished, simply because someone else is assuming that s/he is 'a troll'. Furthermore, there are times when I, too, suspect that 'something is up', but I feel that I have to give people the benefit of the doubt, until I am sure one way or the other ~ that seems fair to me. I don't want to make false accusations. I feel that it is wrong to ban people, simply because they irritate a certain group of members. There is an 'ignore' facility if they want to use it.

As I said, when there are camps with each 'side' complaining about the other, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. I try to do what is right ~ or best ~ and to explain my actions as best I can. No-one is perfect, especially in unwinnable situations.

If someone breaks a rule, or behaves inappropriately, and I am made aware of it, then I will respond accordingly. Sometimes people simply need the chance to settle down and learn how things work.

Regarding harsh words, I am wondering if, perhaps, I seem to be more accepting of them than others are, simply because I receive so many of them and I try to just put up with them. (Thankfully, I also receive many kind words!) If I do get upset, then my family will say that it is what everyone should expect on a world-wide Internet forum, and that we are lucky that things are generally so friendly.

My advice to everyone is that they should read through their posts, before submitting, to check that they haven't unwittingly said anything, which could be interpreted as rude or unpleasant in any way. And, if they are angry, and the harsh words are deliberate, then they should go and calm down before posting.

Similarly, if someone thinks that a post, which seems harsh in some way, has been directed at them, then I feel that they should double-check, to be certain that their suspicions are correct, before assuming that they have been insulted. As I said, I truly believe that some upset is caused simply by misunderstanding ~ and also as a result of jokes which may go wrong, because they are not taken as intended.

And, of course, people don't know what is going on behind the scenes ~ not just in my private messages, or Lisa's, but in everyone's ~ because there is the public side of the forum and the private side.

Anyway, I try to do my best. smile
Posted By: janimal

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 09:32 AM

i must say i'm quite heartened by the effort people are putting into sorting this out - situations like this in the 'real' world lead to permanent schisms more quickly and with less input. there is clearly something special here people want to preserve.,
Posted By: PDM

Re: Flood of New Members - 11/09/09 09:53 AM

That's a very positive point, Janimal.
A good one to ponder, I think smile
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