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What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

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What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Johan G » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:33 pm

What the title says. :wink: Lets both brainstorm and discuss what forum guidelines and rules you would like to see. Maybe we can even reach some level of consensus.

I think it is about time, since I have talked about a need for community backed rules with some consensus behind them over in the topic Published recommendations, guidelines and rules *...
Johan G wrote in Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:22 am:
Johan G wrote in Sat Apr 18, 2015 9:20 am:I am quite sure that some of the arguments coming up could be avoided if there more or less would be documented guidelines ... more or less based on the consensus at a given time (and that also links back to the discussions and the rationale behind them). ... Not having published guidelines of one kind or another will cause discussions about how things are done or not done.

...and since we also have had quite some heated discussions in the last weeks, and also due to statements about banning and even votes about banning users (a horrible idea if you would ask me).

And yes, I know that there are rules actually posted on the forum and indeed some formal rules, and you are welcome to look for and discuss those as well.

It will be interesting to see what we forum members as well as moderators and administrators could converge to, while hopefully not making any guidelines and rules unnecessarily complicated.**

* Yes I know that double quote is a bit ugly looking, but that post is more or less a quote from somewhere else.
** My personal preference is short simple guidelines rules that are easy to remember, backed up by a not too long or complicated rationale, in turn backed up by archived discussions.


Edit: Removed something I misunderstood.
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Thorsten » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:56 pm

My piece - still unchanged.
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Johan G » Sun Apr 26, 2015 5:17 pm

I consider that a really good and well thought through post. It also have gotten me thinking about forum rules during the last year, so I take the liberty of quoting most of the post here:
Thorsten wrote in Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:47 am:...
It's in a nutshell a question of community spirit - what values does a community subscribe to, what behaviour does it accept, how does it strive to do things. This is largely a conscious effort which needs to be maintained.

I have a lot of observational data of social dynamics in forums from back when the Lord of the Rings movies came out and I was rather active in Elvish. There were dozens of fan communities interested in Elvish script, translations,... the vast majority of them failed over the years, a few prospered and continued to do so long after the LOTR movies were over (of course the Hobbit movies now have again given a boost). The difference, I believe, is largely in community spirit.

Bear with me even if this is about Elvish, I think the parallels to FG will become apparent.

The whole point of a forum dealing with the Elvish languages is exchange of information. And based on the information they have, one can sort members into roughly three categories:

Experts: Here you could find university-level linguistics experts (many with a degree in linguistics or literature) who read through pretty much every line Tolkien had ever written, could place text fragments in a meaningful context and do comparison studies with real-world languages Elvish is inspired by. While they had the ability to translate anything to and from Elvish, they weren't actually much interested in doing so - they rather delighted in unraveling obscure points of grammar and adding to the body of assembled knowledge.

Translators: These were people who had studied secondary sources (like introductions written by the experts), knew the more obvious of Tolkien's texts and usually wanted to say things in Elvish, write poetry and songs in Elvish and such like. They would not know how to solve a grammar question except quoting a secondary text.

Beginners: A lot of people simply wanted to have things translated, or a tattoo in tengwar script, or some dialogues for roleplaying, etc - so they came asking questions. A fair share had only seen the movies and not read Lord of the Rings and they had the usual background on formal linguistics and grammar theory the average person has - close to none.

You can readily see that there's naturally a net information flow from experts to beginners. You can't run a forum on having beginners only, because then you end up with people asking each other how to translate X, and if nobody knows the answer, people just don't see the point and leave. You can run a forum with translators only, but it tends to drift into strange corners - basically these communities developed their own 'dialect' of Elvish based on simplifying Tolkien's ideas (as there was no real contact to what he had actually written) - which was fine for users who stayed inside their community, but got problematic when they wanted to show their Elvish texts to someone else.

Now, each of these groups wants something out of the experience:

The experts want to exchange interesting ideas. That mostly involves talking to other experts, but also questions by people on the translator level can lead to interesting ideas and observations. Some of them may see an obligation to help people on the translator level increase their knowledge, some of them may not. Usually they see an obligation to correct wrong information (pretty much everyone working on a scholarly level respects knowledge to the level that he doesn't easily ignore wrong information being spread around). Usually they're focused more on concise information than on social niceties. They want to be right and win arguments, but accept usually being proven wrong without much fuss.

Translators, in interacting with the experts, want to learn something to improve their language skills. At the same time, they're usually happy to do translations for beginners and expect some form of respect or gratitude for it.

Beginners come into a language community because they have a question, and they want to have this question answered as quickly as possible.

Now, the problem is that a number of human tendencies get into the way:

1) It doesn't feel nice to realize you don't know something. In particular, beginners and to some degree translators know fully well they they are not experts, but (unless they're very mature personalities) they want to keep the pretense that they know. My personal feeling is that this problem has gotten a lot worse in the age of the internet, where Wikipedia and other tools give you quick access to information which can be thrown into a conversation, giving the illusion of knowledge. But being able to look up X-bar theory on Wikipedia isn't the same as understanding X-bar theory (X-bar is Noam Chomsky's idea of universal grammatical structures). So to transmit the message 'You don't know enough about this subject, you need to understand X and Y and work through this text before continuing this argument' usually leads to violent user reactions. This in turn is extremely irritating for experts. Any university-level scientist has long ago learned that pretending to have knowledge you don't have on a conference or so works for 5 minutes, then your bluff is called and nobody takes you seriously any more. It also gets in the way of learning - in order to learn anything, you have to accept that you don't know it first. As a result, translators often try to pose as experts and react violently when they're corrected, and beginners, if they get a complicated answer, refuse to read up on anything and just claim that the fault is with the other who can't explain properly and expect simple answers they don't have to work for to understand.

2) Experts are concerned about correctness of information, so they frequently insert comments with corrections into discussions they're not primarily involved with. To other users, especially combined with 1), this appears as a 'king of the hill' game who is best in showing off what he knows.

3) Beginners often feel entitlement. That's a phenomenon of the internet. Try in real life walking into an university linguistics department, interrupt a discussion between the professor and his visitor and ask for a page of text to be translated into middle-Egyptian, demanding that you need it by tomorrow and complaining how unfriendly everyone is when the professor asks you to leave the office. Chances are you get thrown out, and even if not, you'll get a bill of 200 Euro. Yet online, for some reason many people feel that they have a right to get their translations done by world-experts on the matter for free and within their deadlines, and they feel that because they're entitled, they can interrupt ongoing discussions and avoid words like 'please'.

Combine 1), 2) and 3), and the natural tendency of a forum left to its own is to self-destruct - the experts don't see why they have to put up with interruptions and demands, no respect for expertise and accusations of bad attitudes and just leave to go to places where only experts are. The better of the translators follow because they want to learn, the rest of the community finds out that indeed now there's nobody around who makes them feel like they don't know anything and enjoy this for a while, but eventually there's also nobody to answer any questions and so all becomes uninteresting.

Basically, what needs to be done is to negotiate a contract in which everyone gets out the most important thing he wants, and to ingrain this contract in the community spirit with a conscious effort.
...


In particular I like the short simple points in the end and the reasoning behind them:
Thorsten wrote in Fri Apr 18, 2014 8:47 am:Elvish communities who have thrived have usually followed a different approach, trying to foster a certain community spirit based on a few principles like the following:

a) Respect for knowledge: Correcting information is valued above social niceties, i.e. it is accepted by the community that 'You are wrong' is not a personal attack and acceptable. At the same time, it is expected that assertions are backed up by evidence.

b) Equal burden: The burden on both sides of answering a question should be equal. The community doesn't accept entitlement, getting an answer is always a privilege, not a right. It's not expected that whoever answers the question must explain things that are written down elsewhere or has an obligation to make the questioner feel good. It is accepted that the answer involves pointing someone at a text of relevant information, and expected that the questioner works through the text before following up on a question. In one case, the community doesn't translate or transcribe texts at all, beginners have to come with their own draft which is then (patiently and with much explanations) corrected.

c) Changing management: To avoid personal connections (which are unavoidable among long-time forum users) affecting the moderation structure, giving newcomers the feeling it's pointless to argue against some people because the moderator will always take their side, forum moderators are changed every year.

d) Low tolerance for rudeness: The community doesn't accept rudeness and refuses to give any help or translation to somebody who moves in the forum showing disrespect. Instead, he is informed that if he wants anything, he has to ask nicely.

Such principles are something everyone is responsible for, they cannot be left to moderators or admins...
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Johan G » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:59 pm

A good point about informing posters about merged topics:
clrCoda wrote in Tue Apr 28, 2015 3:38 pm:@Johan G/ moderators admin et.al.
A guideline might include letting posters having threads moved was for the purpose of consolidation and not "censure by replacement" --for want of a phrase.

In this particular case it would require going through three to four pages and PM every poster individually though. :?
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby clrCoda » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:28 am

Sounds like a forum feature request for moderators where the system notices an admin is moving a post to another thread and the originator gets an automated PM stating where and the global why. No? Maybe?

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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Hooray » Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:14 pm

as per my PM: don't delete stuff, just move it to the trash bin - or if in doubt, provide a copy of the deleted posting via PM to the OP - maybe that can be scripted.
Please don't send support requests by PM, instead post your questions on the forum so that all users can contribute and benefit
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Bomber » Mon May 18, 2015 8:07 pm

larf, I nearly wet myself
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Johan G » Tue May 19, 2015 6:34 am

Huh :?:
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Bomber » Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am

1) a moderator has to be active in the forum
2) a moderator should have a fixed term of 12 months
3) a moderator should only serve 3 consecutive terms without a 12 month break.
4) a moderator should only moderate a single forum, and ensure all topics relating to that forum are discussed there and only there, moving topics where appropriate.
5) a moderator doesn't have to be liked.
6) a moderator should be a forum leader, encouraging debate, even thrashing over old topics to maintain an active community within that forum.
7) a moderator should promote and advertise their forum as 'the best place to discuss their topic'
8) a moderator should work with other moderators and core developers in ensuring cross disciplines collaboration.
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Johan G » Tue May 19, 2015 12:50 pm

Thanks for bringing the topic to life again. :D

Bomber wrote in Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am:1) a moderator has to be active in the forum
2) a moderator should have a fixed term of 12 months
3) a moderator should only serve 3 consecutive terms without a 12 month break.

Good points that I would not mind for several reasons:

a) Consider that forum members could be more responsible if they had been moderators one or more terms themselves.
b) Moderators have an end date to look forward to.
c) Regular forum members have an end date to look forward to.

Something to consider is having overlapping terms to help novice moderators learn all the ins and outs, as well as to refresh older moderators returning for another term after a while.

Bomber wrote in Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am:4) a moderator should only moderate a single forum, and ensure all topics relating to that forum are discussed there and only there, moving topics where appropriate.

Not enough moderators (currently).

Bomber wrote in Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am:5) a moderator doesn't have to be liked.

But I think it sure would help. :wink:

Just consider a moderator being partial in a conflict. While that could be handled by another moderator, doing so would ultimately spawn conspiracy theories, in particular in more heated and/ or polarizing conflicts. :wink:

Bomber wrote in Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am:6) a moderator should be a forum leader, encouraging debate, even thrashing over old topics to maintain an active community within that forum.
7) a moderator should promote and advertise their forum as 'the best place to discuss their topic'

Trolling risk? :lol:

I do see your points though. I guess what you are after is that the forums should be alive and topics, well , on topic. :wink:

Bomber wrote in Tue May 19, 2015 11:43 am:8) a moderator should work with other moderators and core developers in ensuring cross disciplines collaboration.

Working together should be a given, but I am not sure I understand how the core developers would be related to this.
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Lydiot » Tue May 19, 2015 6:26 pm

I have to say that I find the forum to function quite well compared to some other forums I've visited. Only a couple of times have I stumbled upon posts where users were being deliberately and unfairly rude and disrespectful. If anything there sometimes seems to be a difficulty in keeping the discussion appropriately technical (or not), and it sometimes drifts somewhat, neither being unusual on the net nor always that bad.

As far as the points having been made my thoughts are:

- One moderator per forum/section doesn't seem necessary unless there are a great deal of moderation that needs to be done in many areas.
- A moderator being liked is difficult, but I think a lot of problems stem from unclear rules and arbitrary or inconsistent moderation, particularly if the moderator's own views on topic get confused with the actions/explanations of moderation taken.
- I agree with the risk of trolling, and I sort of see the point in trying to make the community "alive". There's maybe a middle ground somewhere.

For what it's worth I can probably offer my services if anyone wants it. I suppose that really brings to mind how it is or should be decided who is chosen to moderate...!?
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Bomber » Tue May 19, 2015 7:17 pm

Only a couple of times ?.....

You need to get out more, maybe communicate with people face to face..

This place is notorious...
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Lydiot » Tue May 19, 2015 7:48 pm

I have a life, that's the problem. :P
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Thorsten » Wed May 20, 2015 5:28 am

4) a moderator should only moderate a single forum, and ensure all topics relating to that forum are discussed there and only there, moving topics where appropriate.


Specializing is all well, but in the end, there are topics where we bring it together, and fruitful discussions just branch out.

Say we have this topic in Nasal where someone sketches a computation, and someone else points out how you could do it much better as a JSBSim system, and then the discussion weighs these possibilities.

You can instantly kill such a discussion by too rigidly insisting that all topics are discussed only here and a new thread needs to be created.

In general, I think moderation should not interfere with an ongoing productive discussion even if that discussion happens to be in the wrong place - that can be sorted out afterwards. Moderation should only interfere with unproductive discussions.

6) a moderator should be a forum leader, encouraging debate, even thrashing over old topics to maintain an active community within that forum.


I think that sort of contradicts the definition of a moderator - that should be a person who moderates the debate, not someone who encourages it.

(Okay, think me as moderator of the Flight Dynamics section were you like to hang out - you even write a moderator wouldn't have to be liked - I certainly am rather opinionated and encourage and create debate - would you really want me as moderator then? I think not... I think I would do a bad job, because I cannot do impartial moderation if I participate in a debate).

8) a moderator should work with other moderators and core developers in ensuring cross disciplines collaboration.


That'd be difficult if he's rigidly making sure that inside each subforum only discussions to that particular subtopic are okay, no? This would then lift all relevant discussions from the forum to PMs and email exchanges which can no longer be seen by others.
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Re: What forum guidelines and rules would you like to see?

Postby Bomber » Wed May 20, 2015 10:08 am

To answer...

Moderator is just a name.... I'm calling for this person to be more active in a single forum of which he's active and has a passion for the subject and not just moderate....

A single forum isn't limited to a single moderator, but a moderator can only be a moderator in a single forum....

The person has to be active within that forum to be considered...

A moderator can do more than just moderate, take this thread for example....

Promoting a forum, isn't trolling..... "can I suggest you post a question in the fdm forum where I'm sure someone will answer"

As for moving threads or splitting threads to ensure they remain on topic and clarity.... It's done now, nothing new here.

As for working with other moderators and core devs, well there should be concern that modifying code requires changes to configurations.... Shouldn't that be passed on to the community and to those it specifically involves.
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