Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

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Nalates
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Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Nalates » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:41 pm

Well a new development just revealed a problem I had never seriously thought of… aspects of it are discussed in many forum threads and the Google video Surviving Poisonous People…

One of the main resource linking threads on the MOUL forum was edited out by the creator. This is a thread that attempted to collect links to threads that answer many of the community’s FAQ’s. Essentially removing what the author thought was of great value to the community. While several negative adjectives come to mind to describe the behavior and person the actual problem I see is how the community decides to treat those involved, how moderators handle it and why.

I am deliberately omitting links to the MOUL discussion.

Personally, for a commercial site such as MOUL, I would have the “I’m taking my ball and leaving’ post removed. On the other hand, leaving it lets people decide about those involved.

Restoring a removed post from a backup raises ethical questions. Technically, once the information is published on a forum, it generally becomes public domain. I don’t recall a copyright disclaimer on the MOUL site or on many forums for that matter. I mean this in regard to the content. The site designs, brand names, other trademarks, etc. are all copyrighted. But a contributor’s original material is in a grey area. Without the presence of a clear statement in the forum rules that all material added becomes the property of the forum owner, I can’t see using a removed/restored post. Even then I doubt it would be a choice popular with the community.

Another aspect is whether one discusses the poor behavior or lets it pass. We generally consider challenges to ideas acceptable and often desirable. Debate is not bashing. Comments on personality or implying the idea is of a weak mind are bashing. Being questioned on ones thinking seems like a purposeful way to either understand or pull another into thinking out their position. In general I see the questioning as educational even if people can misuse it. So, what type of behavior do we want to encourage or discourage? And how do we go about it?

From psychology we know that bad behavior has to be challenged or it continues and evolves. Whether training animals or kids (I hear there is a difference) negative behavior has to be corrected. So, allowing such behavior to continue on a forum tends to lead to escalation of bad behavior. How does a moderator make corrective posts?

Another problem is how does one protect valuable information? The poster in this case was generally considered trustworthy… What happens when such a person proves to be … my thesaurus is not helping me be PC here … whatever and starts removing what we consider of value to the community?
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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by JWPlatt » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:47 pm

It might be questionable for the owner of a site to use a backup to circumvent the will of an author. But there are other authors with their own will who could freely use Google cache, new feeds, etc to post their own restoration of the same data, now deleted, that they previously acquired from a public source. That very thing was done here with Christian's help from his news feed database to restore some posts which were lost because of an account hijack due to my usage of a dictionary password for the host account.
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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Dot » Tue Mar 23, 2010 6:54 pm

The information is still in the rest of the thread. It is possible to copy and paste relevant items from it.

Perhaps individual groups need to maintain their own threads, and to point to general (and trustworthy) sites like rel.to .

I realise that the original point of the thread was to combine the information in a single place on the main forum.

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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:40 pm

It's in the same vein as the revisionism thread, really.

Some forums implement mechanisms to prevent editing of a post, say, after it has been replied to, or after some period of time. However that kills any convenience for maintaining a Top Post with a summary. As Dot points out, in this case the original material has been re-posted to the forum - if someone so wished they could now use that to create new threads for each of the subject areas. As JW noted, it's a dangerous area for mods or admins to reverse edits like that unilaterally.

I always try to remind people that as soon as you post something on a forum, blog or anywhere else on the internet, it becomes "published": If you choose to revise it or subsequently delete it, you should always assume that someone will have a copy, and may "call you out" on your edits.

We have no way of knowing what other pressures the author was under so we need to wary of presuming that it was all just petty fit of pique; "poor behaviour" may not be an appropriate description. As we know, this person has previously been been very supportive and helpful, and this seems out of character, so I suspect there is more depth to this than we can see.

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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by JWPlatt » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:45 pm

Right. It's important to ask, "What's really wrong?" instead of going straight to even more criticisms for the perceived action. There's some crisis counseling involved sometimes and moderators are often really good at recognizing the presence of deeper issues.
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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Dot » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:46 pm

I've quickly gone through the thread and created a new list of the information that is there. It probably isn't as complete as the old list, and is organised slightly differently, but hopefully it will do in the meantime.
===
Edit: 'Crisis counselling'... Well, from my own experience, this is in keeping with earlier incidents. I've had to tread particularly carefully in that thread in the past. It does get a bit wearying. But I'm not a moderator there (thank goodness).

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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Nalates » Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:39 pm

Thanks Dot. :)

JWP & Mac_Fife, you are most certainly right. Mac_Fife had directed them to PM. What went on there, we don't know.

I've seen his posts trending in a negative direction over the last few weeks. Rude negative comments that seemed out of context for the thread they appeared in. But that could be my bias and past awkward experiences with him. I ignored them. I know you can't question his ideas. It sets him off. Been there done that. That may be a cultural thing. Many societies just do NOT directly question another's ideas. Americans have great difficulty with those social systems. I decided that must be his situation and started taking a different tack with him.

To me the reaction was over the top from my past personal experience, a surprise. So, I believe something more went on in PM and included things beyond what was written in the thread. I suspect it is even beyond what we see in the forum. Several have posted similar surprise on the post-reaction. They don't see it. So, this may be RL issues that are being expressed in the forum, emotional transference. There is so much that is possible and that we can't know. Patience and tolerance are good to a point.

However, justifying or excusing one poor behavior because of another or ignoring it and tolerating it because it might be 'justified' somehow, does not correct future negative behavior. If the problem is a person's personality, they never have to face it. They learn they can act it out on the forum with no consequence. If it is a cultural disconnect none of us realizes it and we can't correct our approaches. So, I'm a believer in challenging negative behavior.

Those concepts only address the trigger. May be my imagination is limited in this case but I can't think of a justification for removal of the 'linking' post. Letting it pass without comment seems counter productive.

Mac_Fife made an excellent post to return to topic and take issues to PM. At that point I can't think of a better way to handle the thread. What we do with it now... is probably closing the doors on an empty barn. I don't like locking threads after a time limit. I update posts with new information months and years after the initial post. I'll put up with these types of problems to keep that freedom.

Moderators are in a good place to become aware of people and issues. I'm not sure we can expect them to be aware of how 14,000+ people post and their issues. Nor do I think we can charge them with that. Nor can we expect them to handle issues like a psychological counselor. Asking them to exercise an extended amount of patience is all I think we can ask.

What a forum does to correct the behavior and how they choose to handle it has to be simpler than psychological counseling. We can't ask them to understand all the whys. I think to some measure they can only respond to what is posted and acted out. Othrewise it is too easy for people to game the system, 'its ok because'. I can't see evaluating things on the 'why'. Consider it and mitigate the action taken to correct it, but some corrective action is important... at least in my thinking.
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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:18 am

Just as a point of information: I received a couple of PMs yesterday on this subject, one from the author in question. Without going into details, it appears that I wasn't too far off the mark and that the "bashing" that was referenced in the thread on MOUL was simply the "final straw" on top of much bigger issues that lie outside of MOUL.
Nalates wrote:One of the main resource linking threads on the MOUL forum was edited out by the creator.
Those concepts only address the trigger. May be my imagination is limited in this case but I can't think of a justification for removal of the 'linking' post. Letting it pass without comment seems counter productive.
I know it's slightly different in this case, because this was information that was directly posted in the MOUL forums and was intentionally removed by it's author, but is it really that much different to someone posting a pic on some sharing site, linking to it in the forums with a "Look at this really spectacular thing I saw" post then removing the pic some time later? Or linking a thread to a blog post and then either editing the blog, or allowing the account to lapse?

Either of these things, whether done intentionally or not, degrade the thread, and can make it incomprehensible.

Ascribing "poor behaviour" or possibly "impaired judgement" to an action means that you need to determine what was behind it. That may be more intrusive an inquiry than anyone would want to make, but I guess you need to look at things on a case by case basis.

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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by Nalates » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:37 am

I disagree on a couple of points. But I think I understand your meaning.

To add some definition... We have justifiable and acceptable reasons for ...less than desirable... behavior (even justifiable homicide). Once we class any behavior as good or bad people bring in their value judgement. Whether we call it bad or poor makes little difference people judge it. But, poor does have another connotation. Saying 'exceptional' behavior wouldn't work but it would be accurate for the instance. The debate and philosophizing about inherent good and bad has continued for millennia. To shortcut that consider those things good that are generally beneficial to all people in general. Those things that are bad or evil are the things that cause unnecessary suffering to all people in general. Special circumstance gets one into situational ethics, I think, a good thing to avoid.

Removing a post placed to assist a community and providing assistance is closer to the negative side. One certainly would not say it is a desirable behavior.

Whether the author was bad, justified, a saint or what... the act affects the community in a negative way and remains the act. In this case I believe it was the author's intent to cause harm. But we can't know that unless told. Nor should we base a rule or example for a moderator or forum member on something that requires knowledge one is unlikely to have.
Mac_Fife wrote:but is it really that much different to someone posting a pic on some sharing site, linking to it in the forums with a "Look at this really spectacular thing I saw" post then removing the pic some time later?
Since it was deliberate and, I think, intended to cause harm, yes it is very different. The physical result may be the same. The emotional impact on the community and those involved is drastically different.

I am not convinced that one has to know the reason behind someone's behavior to evaluate it. The reason behind an act has to do with different questions. Mine is about the act itself, which we can see. Is dropping an anvil on your foot a good thing? No, and it does not matter why it got dropped. Was the person that dropped the anvil being malicious? Now we need to know the reason. I think Mac_Fife and I are looking at different aspects of the event.

Causing harm to another or a group for whatever reason is only ever justified after the community passes judgement (legal system). Otherwise there is no justification in our society for causing harm. I see causing harm as negative behavior and I labeled it poor, not because I was so much judging a person as a behavior.

I did have this 'post removal thing' in mind while writing the OP. I definitely linked my questions too closely to it. The thread name there and the one I chose here tie them too closely. While I was thinking in a broader scope, obviously I did not convey that well in the title or writing. Sub sequent posts drifted in a too specific direction.

That particular instance also brought up the issue of recovering a post from archive and reposting. I think we have a clear answer on such situations now.

It brought up the question of recovering useful or important information. JPW pointing out how we recovered and how the removed information was recovered by others shows that as pretty much covered.

We have again reiterated we are not in favor of locked posts.

Mac_Fife has pointed out the need for speed-of-response in conflicts, which brings up other matters.

But I don't feel there is as clear a concept on what to do with those behaving badly. We have discussed it somewhat in other thread's here. And I'm not just talking about this instance, I mean in any instance. I think this event gives us something to scale against and casts a unique light. What does a moderator do? After a negative out burst do moderators let it pass? Is there any clear rule violation? Is there some clear harm to the community? Is there some challenge to the one exhibiting the negative behavior? What is done to discourage it in the future?

I think negative behavior involving significant parts of the community can cause division in the community. I don't see it as serious in this instance. But how does one prepare to handle and avoid further conflict and prevent it growing into divisions? This section of the form is my answer.

I see each case as unique and moderators will make the decisions they make based on the information they have. It is not always going to be possible to explain to those watching what is going on. I think that can cause more problems. Having privacy rules helps on that point. Simply posting them so moderators can point at them negates most of the sour grape and by-stander response.
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Re: Important Threads/Info & Poor Behavior

Post by JWPlatt » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:40 am

In the online world, all of us being peers (also true in the network sense), we can't take action against anyone unless we are truly a legal entity with jurisdiction. We can take action against content and access, but not people. And the people who can do that, generally, are domain owners and the people they appoint to positions like moderator. So the only recourse against bad behavior is good moderation the user community can respect. And we're back to the other topic in this project, Forum Moderator Issues.
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