Group: Super Admins
Joined: Dec. 1999
||Posted: Mar. 25 2014, 10:50
Crazily enough, it's the tubular.net forum's 15th birthday this November. So far, it hasn't been a difficult teenager, but now it's getting to the age for wild parties, so we'd better watch out...
What I really mean to say, though, is that we've been doing this a scarily long time and have picked up a fair amount of insight on the way. Obviously I didn't see the particular comment in question and also don't know what other things might constitute the bigger picture over there, so it wouldn't be fair of me to comment on that, but I'll share some of the things we've learned in the hope that it might prove relevant.
Making sure that everyone's on the same page from the beginning is really key - like you suggested, if a particular kind of conduct beyond that which is generally considered reasonable, that needs to be stated up front (i.e. it probably shouldn't need to be said that hurling abuse at people isn't acceptable, but if saying in a matter of fact way that you don't like a piece of music isn't welcome, that really does need to be said). We learnt that one the hard way, after a few incidents where we realised that what we considered obvious wasn't necessarily obvious to those joining the forum. We sat down together and put together our guidelines, which are linked to in the terms of service section of our registration page.
Doing that felt like quite a Big Thing, because the forum had always been an informal kind of place, and lists of guidelines feel like a very formal thing, but it does mean that everyone knows (in theory, at least!) what's expected.
It's pretty rare that we have to even remind people of those. Occasionally there'll be a thread which perhaps seems to be going in a dangerous direction and one of us will step in and try to gently pull it back in the right direction. It's then rare for it to be necessary to delete a post (or topic - for those, we have the ability to hide them so we can calmly take a look without any more people getting upset in the meantime) and even rarer still to need to ban someone.
Banning isn't a particularly great solution, because if someone's really determined to cause trouble, they're going to work out a way of doing that whatever obstacles you put in the way. It sends out a strong message of "That kind of thing is really not welcome here" and we do sometimes do it here, but I don't think getting too trigger happy with the ban button is ultimately a very helpful thing.
Personally, if there's a problem here, I'd much rather be having a discussion about it on this forum than have someone going over to another forum to complain about me (which inevitably means they only get presented with one side of the story), which is what seems to be happening here. That's possibly with the slight proviso that things are voiced in as non-provocative a way as possible (I do try and just breathe deeply and give a sensible reply however things are voiced, but that's easier at some times than at others...).
I think the other really important thing is that there's a team of us here. That means we can ask each other whether we're being reasonable (and we're not the sort of team who'll just go "yeah man, you show that guy who's boss!" - we do try to gently balance each other out, to a degree at least). Also, there are times when there's a particularly problematic person and it really feels like we're under siege. That's not particularly nice as a team, but it'd be far, far worse if there was just one of us here, feeling singled out and under attack. That's the position Caroline potentially finds herself in when running Mike Oldfield Personal, and I imagine that, especially considering how active it seems to be, that could potentially seem like a very vulnerable position to be in.
I also imagine the fact that part of its aim is to provide a channel for Mike to interact with fans directly makes Mike Oldfield Personal a difficult place to run. I'd think that, by necessity, there's a certain requirement to keep the place free of stuff which Mike doesn't want to see, which may include things as seemingly inoffensive as someone saying "I don't like this song". Of course, if he really doesn't want to see something as mild as that, I'd have to ask whether an open discussion group is really the appropriate space for what they're trying to achieve.