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Rule Change (New Staff Power)
#1
Rule Change (New Staff Power)
This is an announcement to let our members know about a change to the rules which is now in effect. This isn't a new rule or a modification of any current rules, but rather a new staff power. Ordinarily we wouldn't publicize what is basically an internal staff procedure, but in this case we are making an exception in order to be as transparent as possible.

First, here is the new power:

Quote:Nuclear Option

Staff reserve the right to ban any member who is judged to have an overwhelmingly negative influence on the forums as a whole, even if no rules have been technically violated by this member. Staff are required to vote on the ban during a 48 hour time period. A single vote of dissent will prevent the ban. Only unanimous agreement of the staff who vote within the time period will see the ban enforced.

Ok, so before everyone grabs their pitchforks and declares us power-hungry, it's probably a good idea to explain a bit about how the staff works. We take pride in the fact that we do things differently from most other forums on the Internet. Staff are not all-powerful, we are democratic and limited by the rules and our processes. The rules have been reviewed extensively and rewritten multiple times to reduce ambiguity, and when making decisions on whether a rule violation occurs, we take an extremely literal view of them. No one staff member can perform a moderation action alone, other than those that are urgent and obvious (e.g. spam removal). All potential rule violations are discussed (sometimes at length) and voted on.

Recently, we have had a number of exceptional cases where a member was clearly having a negative influence on the forums, not contributing to discussions, being rude, alienating other members, etc, but was not technically violating any rules. Rather than change particular rules and introduce potential subjectivity, we decided that in these exceptional cases, where the staff unanimously agreed that a member did not belong, the staff should have the power to ban them. However, such a power would be unprecedented here, and naturally it makes us uncomfortable. We don't want to be seen as a forum which bans people just because they annoy or bother the staff, that's not who we are. With that in mind, we have added limitations to the new power, specifically that a single dissenting staff member completely nullifies the potential ban. The vote to use the "Nuclear Option" will be open to all staff members over a period of 48 hours, and all staff will be contacted to let them know the vote is taking place.

We hope that these conditions will set everyone's minds at ease. The only reason we feel this power is even necessary is so that people can enjoy the forums without their experiences being ruined by negative people who only come here to disrupt conversations. Luckily, the vast majority of our members, even those who may have totally conflicting opinions, manage to get on well in discussions. As stated previously, this is for truly exceptional cases, and we do not anticipate having to use it very often at all.


Due to discussions in this thread, staff have decided to remove the "Nuclear Option" and replace it with a new rule, which is worded as follows:

Quote:Overwhelmingly Negative Influences

Members are not allowed to engage in any activity which has an overwhelmingly negative influence on the forums as a whole. The purpose of these forums is to promote discussion and debate between people of different belief systems, which all members should try to do in a non-disruptive manner. Whilst there are no points of view that a member can hold which would be considered a negative influence, a member can be a negative influence if their behavior is consistently disruptive and upsetting to active members.

Staff will judge whether a member has an overwhelmingly negative influence on the forums, and will punish that member appropriately. All punishments for violations of this rule will require active staff to vote during a 48 hour time period. A single vote of dissent will prevent punishment from being carried out. Only unanimous agreement of the staff who vote within the time period will see the punishment enforced.

Feel free to ask questions in this thread.

- Tiberius
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#2
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
Great idea.
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#3
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
Will it be from orbit? I heard that it's the only way to be sure...
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

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#4
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
Serious question though:

- is there a MO how a potential nukee can get warned concretely that he or she might become subject to the new procedure before an actual vote and decision needs to take place? With clear rule violations, it seems more obvious that one can issue a warning after an initial violation, and then one can ban on repeat violations. But with this more ineffable criterion, how would that work? There should be a clearly defined "nuke warning" imho.

- Are we talking permanent and/or temp bans here? Will be voted on both, or will the first time always be temp?
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

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#5
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
I think this was well thought out and explained well. Thanks for having the best forum on the interwebs.

Good questions though. ^^^
[Image: dc52deee8e6b07186c04ff66a45fd204.jpg]
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#6
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
(January 12, 2016 at 5:27 pm)Alex K Wrote: Serious question though:

- is there a MO how a potential nukee can get warned concretely that he or she might become subject to the new procedure before an actual vote and decision needs to take place? With clear rule violations, it seems more obvious that one can issue a warning after an initial violation, and then one can ban on repeat violations. But with this more ineffable criterion, how would that work? There should be a clearly defined "nuke warning" imho.

- Are we talking permanent and/or temp bans here? Will be voted on both, or will the first time always be temp?

Staff will discuss issues with certain members when they arise, and if we feel like a member is becoming a candidate for getting banned like this, we will reach out to them and ask them to consider changing their behavior. If they ignore us or continue their behavior despite our warnings, we will move to a vote on a ban.

Staff will ultimately decide on whether a temporary or permanent ban is required, which is why we didn't specify which type. If we feel a member would benefit from a week ban, we will give them that. If we feel that they nothing is going to change their behavior, and they haven't given us any reason to believe they will, we will use a permanent ban.
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#7
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
Suffice it to say that a person that is being considered for this will have had multiple run ins with us. Again, this is a last last last resort. The creation of the rule also has the added benefit that we can issue verbal warnings that a person is in violation of it.
Edit: Ninja Tibs.

Speaking for myself, I would always vote against using this option on a new member. Until a person has had enough time to create a good track record, it would be a 'no' vote from me.

Also, by the time we invoked this, the action would not be a surprise to anyone on the forums.

Think DespondentFishDeathMachismo.
"There remain four irreducible objections to religious faith: that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos, that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum servility with the maximum of solipsism, that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking." ~Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great

PM me your email address to join the Slack chat! I'll give you a taco(or five) if you join! --->There's an app and everything!<---
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#8
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
I completely understand, I just would like it to be as transparent and predictable as possible. Since I've never caused such trouble, I don't really know how much *official* reaching out you do to people with problematic attitudes who do not technically violate the rules.
The fool hath said in his heart, There is a God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
Psalm 14, KJV revised edition

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#9
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
I think it is a good idea and so long as staff continue to be of the high caliber we're used to I'm confident it would only be used when someone fairly deranged comes along who poisons every thread he touches. I'd prefer that there be a safety valve like this to prevent staff from being run into the ground dealing with endless annoyance from such an individual.
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#10
RE: Rule Change (New Staff Power)
Yeah, as long as it doesn't get abused or anything then it is a decent idea.
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