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Proposal for slowing down heated threads
Thread poster: Arnaud HERVE

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:49
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A global trend, now reaching Proz? Mar 6, 2009

It is a global trend: personal responsibility is in its all-time lows, and in all groups and societies methods are sought and implemented to impose penalties to the whole of the population because of the alleged or real abuses of a few. The names of the accused are not revealed, they are not fined or get a reprimand, and instead more and more and more regulations, laws, controls, and restrictions are imposed to all.

And it looks like the sad moment could have arrived when this trend
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It is a global trend: personal responsibility is in its all-time lows, and in all groups and societies methods are sought and implemented to impose penalties to the whole of the population because of the alleged or real abuses of a few. The names of the accused are not revealed, they are not fined or get a reprimand, and instead more and more and more regulations, laws, controls, and restrictions are imposed to all.

And it looks like the sad moment could have arrived when this trend lands in Proz.com: some people dislike the way things are, accuse some other of causing the problem but don't mention names, don't report bad attitudes to the moderators and Proz.com, or don't dare to simply email these people asking for a change of attitude, and instead feel that it is rightful ask the authorities (in this case Proz.com) to cut freedom to everyone.

Just sad.
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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:49
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Genres Mar 7, 2009

Henry D wrote:
It has been my feeling that we all are still in the early days, in terms of finding the right structures and cultures for online forums. For this reason I personally would not shy away from experimentation.


Thanks to another job I have been doing years of research on computer literacy.

Among many other things, I am now convinced that we can speak of genres, as in literature you could say that a novel must be longer and contain more descriptions than a short story.

Especially since the spread of chat applications, it has become apparent that forums are for slower and more meaningful posts. Replying too fast and too frequently on a forum is called "flood" now. A chat post is meant to be forgotten, a forum post should ideally remain useful, and worth archiving.

The proper rhythm for the forum genre is piano, andante, largo.

A good rhythm should allow for the time to read the previous posts, at least, and then some time to think about the proper, most meaningful, most helpful, most coherent contribution.

And of course much much time for the others to speak in their turn.

Forums are for the wise. You know, those who would be called old morons by teenagers on their chat platforms. There should be some place left on the Internet for older, more literate people.

Literate in my sense is not compulsorily very intelligent, but more like able to master the parameters, the know how, the proper behavior, of a skilled communication. And computer literate includes being able to distinguish a forum from chat.

I am certain that we would attract more users with a slower forum, and that those who already post would not suffer intolerably from posting only one post a day on the same thread. If you think about it, it even allows you to post many posts on many threads... You may call it fascist, I call that mild.

[Edited at 2009-03-07 01:23 GMT]


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:49
English to Hungarian
+ ...
my opinion Mar 7, 2009

That is the worst idea regarding online fora I have ever heard.

Have a nice day, and please devote it to something other than inventing a square wheel, in the interest of all of us.


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:49
French to English
Up to a point Mar 7, 2009

Arnaud HERVE wrote:
Especially since the spread of chat applications, it has become apparent that forums are for slower and more meaningful posts. Replying too fast and too frequently on a forum is called "flood" now. A chat post is meant to be forgotten, a forum post should ideally remain useful, and worth archiving.

The proper rhythm for the forum genre is piano, andante, largo.


I think your point is valid to an extent. Certainly in the sense of cyberspace as a whole, it is an interesting distinction.

And in the realm of personal communication, many of us now enjoy many, many options to communicate - letters (snail mail), email, text (SMS), phone call, voice mail (in the sense of deliberately calling when you know the other person won't answer), chat, telegrams (still exist?), Facebook walls.... there are probably others.

However, not all options are available everywhere. And so it is on Proz. The forums are the only venue for discussion. If people wish to have a relatively quick-fire "chat" open to all comers (assuming none of the parties is subject to post vetting), this is the only place available. You are right, it is not the ideal environment. But it is all we have. So it needs to be flexible enough to cater for a range of uses.
Just my opinion


 

Kristina Kolic  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 06:49
Member (2007)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Restricting number of posts vs. valuable exchange of information Mar 7, 2009

Sorry, but I don't seem to understand the purpose of limiting the number of posts from a particular member or user to one on a daily basis. Isn't it already in contravention of the concept of exchange?

There has always been, and will always be, people who participate more actively in forum discussions than others. Many of those who actually don't participate so actively in the discussions benefit anyway from this exchange (me included) by reading the threads. And you can learn a lot
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Sorry, but I don't seem to understand the purpose of limiting the number of posts from a particular member or user to one on a daily basis. Isn't it already in contravention of the concept of exchange?

There has always been, and will always be, people who participate more actively in forum discussions than others. Many of those who actually don't participate so actively in the discussions benefit anyway from this exchange (me included) by reading the threads. And you can learn a lot just from reading these threads. Limiting the contributions of members or users on a daily per thread basis as a general rule would in fact result in a lack of valuable information that might help anyone of us, now or in the future. However, I do not see how it could increase the contribution of other users or members who do not participate so actively or do not participate at all. I just do not think that it would make any difference in this respect.

Each forum has rules that have to be followed and enforced, perhaps more promptly and more consistently, as mentioned before in this or another thread. And they should apply equally to all forums. I do not think that it would be wise or manageable to have different sets of rules for the different forums since it would only cause more confusion.

Therefore, such a limitation could not apply to all forums or threads, and in particular not to technical, business or linguistic forums where users and members often ask for help or advice, which should, as far as possible, be provided in a timely manner in order to make sense. Just imagine a member or user asking for advice, another member replying and being then compelled to wait for the next day in order to comment on answers provided by peers or additional information or issues raised by the topic starter. This would definitely not serve the true purpose of a forum discussion or the needs of the community. An this is precisely what I like about ProZ.com: that any of us can receive, find and benefit from the advice, assistance or input from peers, i.e. valuable exchange at any time and in a timely manner.

However, the concept of "heated threads" could be applied on a case-by-case basis, which should be clearly defined, although the concept itself seems somewhat unclear and should be explained further. In such case, many questions would have to be addressed
- How would it be implemented? By flagging particular threads as "heated"? Flagging a whole forum would not seem to be appropriate.
- To what kind of topics would it be applicable? This would heavily depend on the answer to the following question.
- Who would decide whether a thread is "heated" or not, thus restricting contributions to one post per day? The topic starter could decide it when opening the thread if he/she thinks or can be certain that he/she could receive valuable answers and information by doing so, which might be useful for polls or similar threads if the topic starter wishes for a brief answer only. If I were to post in such a thread, I would personally always fear to have omitted a valuable point knowing that I could not add anything or provide any additional explanation before the next day. And I would find it difficult to opt for opening such a thread for the very same reasons, because I always expect to receive as many answers and comments as possible. Should it then be performed by moderators or site staff? Well, it just could be, provided that a new forum rule is defined allowing for moderators or site staff to "flag" specific topics or threads as "restricted to one post per day". This would, however, be a kind of sanction instead of warning the poster or after having warned the poster, which moderators usually do in order to avoid off-topic comments.
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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:49
English to French
+ ...
Recommendations Mar 7, 2009

1. Change the delay that allows editing a posting from 24 hours to 48 hours. This would allow the editing out of irrelevant or disrespectful content if one realizes they posted too hastily.

2. Allow the thread starter to devet posts that don't comply with forum rules 3 and 4 (off-topic posts and disrespectful posts). The thread poster is held liable for such actions, and if she abuses of this privilege, she may lose it temporarily or permanently. This would give more control to the
... See more
1. Change the delay that allows editing a posting from 24 hours to 48 hours. This would allow the editing out of irrelevant or disrespectful content if one realizes they posted too hastily.

2. Allow the thread starter to devet posts that don't comply with forum rules 3 and 4 (off-topic posts and disrespectful posts). The thread poster is held liable for such actions, and if she abuses of this privilege, she may lose it temporarily or permanently. This would give more control to the community that makes up the forum over their threads, allowing for faster interventions, and the moderators' workload would also be somewhat lightened (moderators would intervene only after the community intervened, and only if the community intervened improperly).

3. Allow the community to quash non compliant posts (three quash requests from three different users automatically quash a post). The offending user is invited to post again, omitting parts of the post that were out of line. This helps to avoid the devetting of an otherwise intelligent and useful post in which only a mere sentence was out of line.
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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:49
English to French
+ ...
Another recommendation Mar 7, 2009

This may be somewhat off topic, but I think it is relevant here.

Many of us eventually edit a posting, an hour, six hours or even 24 hours later, to add information or to edit part of a post to make it more readable or intelligible. I've also seen posts where users edited just to delete a phrase that may have sounded offensive to some. However, many of us have also learnt to make a new post instead, to adapt to the fact that most people don't reread a thread to check if anybody edit
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This may be somewhat off topic, but I think it is relevant here.

Many of us eventually edit a posting, an hour, six hours or even 24 hours later, to add information or to edit part of a post to make it more readable or intelligible. I've also seen posts where users edited just to delete a phrase that may have sounded offensive to some. However, many of us have also learnt to make a new post instead, to adapt to the fact that most people don't reread a thread to check if anybody edited a post.

May I recommend to highlight posts that were edited since I last logged on? More than once, I have been witness to someone posting a somewhat offending remark that prompted protesting posts from other users - the poster of the offending post eventually edited the posting, but nobody realized it and they kept protesting against stuff that wasn't even there anymore (sometimes even replaced by apologies). The highlight would only be visible to me. I believe ProZ is already monitoring who logged in when, so this may be easy to implement. This way, many of us could simply edit a post instead of creating a new one without fearing that nobody will notice, and those who care to read posts that were edited could very easily detect such posts. I think that changing the background colour of posts would be efficient.

While we're at it, I would also be in favor of a new forum rule that would require that users read the entire initial post before posting. I recently posted a thread where I anticipated that some people may be tempted to 'heat up' the thread, and as a measure of prevention, I qualified in my initial post what an off-topic post would be. In that case, I would have found it only fair to have the option to devet the out-of-line posts that ensued, since the posters knew that I wasn't interested in discussing what they wanted to discuss (and I even suggested to them later to open their own thread for that purpose). What do you think?
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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:49
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
Trying to watch a video on a dial-up connection Mar 7, 2009

Hi Niraja et all,

Niraja Nanjundan wrote:
We always see the same group of people "hanging out" in the forums. Too many users just hide behind their profiles and we never get to hear what they think, and their views are equally important to maintain a healthy atmosphere in the community. Something definitely has to be done to make the forums more welcoming, and I think it's up to active participants to do that.


(short digression on this point: IMHO one can't make the forums more welcoming, if it is not known what keeps very many colleagues from posting in the forums.

This needs to be analyzed critically upfront. I believe that there are many reasons and factors contributing to the status quo.

(Even though I am not forum-shy, I for one don't feel compelled to post my opinion often - provided I have one, which is often not the case, because a) I am not interested in the subject or b) I lack the necessary background for coming up with a formed opinion based on solid ground or c) I am not competent enough for answering what is asked or d) I'm buried under work or e)....... (various other reasons). There are so many qualified colleagues, who can say anytime the same I would (another reason) or much better, so why should I come forward)

I wouldn't therefore marry the «hide behind their profile» theory excluding all other ones without conducting any thorough analysis.

Still, I happen to have an on-topic opinion this time: freezing the natural course of an animated, but rule-respecting discussion would be as frustrating as trying to watch an online video on a dial-up, apart from the already mentioned other reasons, such as mutual respect and professional behavior just to mention a couple.

Giuliana


 

Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:49
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Ipse dixit? Mar 8, 2009

Arnaud HERVE wrote:

I am certain that we would attract more users with a slower forum.



I could just as well say that I'm certain that we would not attract more users with a slower forum, and, without any supporting data, both statements would be worth exactly the same.

I can certainly say, however, that my preference is to leave the forums as they are, without any such silly artificial limitations, and that, in my opinion, this would also be the preference of most ProZ members.


 

Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:49
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Trying to read a book on an optic fibers connection Mar 8, 2009

To answer Kristina, I imagine it as an option, triggered by moderators, as a preliminary stage before closing a thread.

It would apply to threads that consist of mere arbitrary opinions, not of urgent help requests. I don't think it is necessary for the whole site.

More generally, I think some parts of Proz forums are sick presently. Something must be done. Locking threads is a surface solution, but it won't cure the atmosphere. And the atmosphere, like in a restaurant
... See more
To answer Kristina, I imagine it as an option, triggered by moderators, as a preliminary stage before closing a thread.

It would apply to threads that consist of mere arbitrary opinions, not of urgent help requests. I don't think it is necessary for the whole site.

More generally, I think some parts of Proz forums are sick presently. Something must be done. Locking threads is a surface solution, but it won't cure the atmosphere. And the atmosphere, like in a restaurant, deserves being cared for.

Why many people don't post? Well I have one explanation: they are cautious. They don't feel it's safe. Let me quote an anecdote. You won't find it displayed because it's been deleted, fortunately. It's been told to me through private email :

A non native accepts to participate in a discussion on a general English thread. Being a non native he makes one lexical mistake, among thousands of correct words from him. A native then seizes this opportunity to point at the mistake publicly, and proceeds to infer from that that the non-native is a bad translator and should get no job from outsourcers.

You see, the situation is not only unpleasant, it has become downright dangerous. And I think ProZ deserves better than that.


Riccardo Schiaffino wrote in his title:
Ipse Dixit?


but Riccardo Schiaffino wrote in his post:
...and that, in my opinion, this would also be the preference of most ProZ members.


And I can't find an answer to that...

[Edited at 2009-03-08 01:20 GMT]
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Niraja Nanjundan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:19
German to English
Fully agree Mar 8, 2009

Hi Giuliana,

Giuliana Buscaglione wrote:
(Even though I am not forum-shy, I for one don't feel compelled to post my opinion often - provided I have one, which is often not the case, because a) I am not interested in the subject or b) I lack the necessary background for coming up with a formed opinion based on solid ground or c) I am not competent enough for answering what is asked or d) I'm buried under work or e)....... (various other reasons). There are so many qualified colleagues, who can say anytime the same I would (another reason) or much better, so why should I come forward)

I wouldn't therefore marry the «hide behind their profile» theory excluding all other ones without conducting any thorough analysis.


I fully agree with you. I often don't participate in forum discussions for the same reasons and I'm sure others have good reasons not to as well.

Perhaps my previous post was not well formulated. Basically, what I feel is, that in an international site such as this one, it would be more beneficial to members, whether they are participating in the discussion or just reading it, to have a variety of views, instead of the same views being repeated all the time, which is unfortunately what tends to happen. I would be interested to know what ProZ.com members from some of the African countries think about all the discussions on rates and other business issues, for example - that's what I was really trying to say, nothing more.

Edited to add the following:

Repetition of views expressed in forum discussions is also related to Arnaud's comment on archiving of forum discussions, in a way. I once used the forum search to look up PDF converters and found loads of discussions repeating the same thing with only one or two posts providing me with the actual information I was looking for. I think it's worth trying to work out a way of restructuring the way forum discussions are conducted and/or the way they are archived so that a really useful and interesting archive can be built up. At the moment, I don't have any ideas on how to do this myself, and it's a bit off-topic, but I just thought I'd share it with you anyway

[Edited at 2009-03-08 02:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-03-08 16:37 GMT]


 

Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:49
Member
English
+ ...
Flexibility? Yes, please! Mar 8, 2009

Charlie Bavington wrote:

...... The forums are the only venue for discussion. If people wish to have a relatively quick-fire "chat" open to all comers (assuming none of the parties is subject to post vetting), this is the only place available. You are right, it is not the ideal environment. But it is all we have. So it needs to be flexible enough to cater for a range of uses....


Couldn't agree more Charlie!


 

K Donnelly  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:49
Italian to English
+ ...
Viktoria's suggestions Mar 8, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

1. Change the delay that allows editing a posting from 24 hours to 48 hours. This would allow the editing out of irrelevant or disrespectful content if one realizes they posted too hastily.

2. Allow the thread starter to devet posts that don't comply with forum rules 3 and 4 (off-topic posts and disrespectful posts). The thread poster is held liable for such actions, and if she abuses of this privilege, she may lose it temporarily or permanently. This would give more control to the community that makes up the forum over their threads, allowing for faster interventions, and the moderators' workload would also be somewhat lightened (moderators would intervene only after the community intervened, and only if the community intervened improperly).

3. Allow the community to quash non compliant posts (three quash requests from three different users automatically quash a post). The offending user is invited to post again, omitting parts of the post that were out of line. This helps to avoid the devetting of an otherwise intelligent and useful post in which only a mere sentence was out of line.


I like points 1 and 3 of Viktoria's suggestions. I think point 3 would be particularly useful. Moderators cannot be expected to check every post as they are written. This method would enable inappropriate or off-topic posts to be removed quickly and would allow the community to "police" itself.

I think point 2 is good in theory, but it might be difficult for the original poster to remain impartial.

Karla


 

Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:49
English to German
+ ...
Spot on, Giuliana! Mar 8, 2009

Giuliana Buscaglione wrote:
freezing the natural course of an animated, but rule-respecting discussion would be as frustrating as trying to watch an online video on a dial-up...
Giuliana


That's a good example!

I could mention an even better example from everyday life (something that everybody loves to do), but I think it would be against site rules


 

Charlie Bavington (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:49
French to English
Tools in place Mar 8, 2009

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
2. Allow the thread starter to devet posts that don't comply with forum rules 3 and 4 (off-topic posts and disrespectful posts).

I take the point about less work for mods, but I really do not think that a thread starter (almost by definition) can ever be objective enough.

And, er, what does "devet" mean here? It is not a word I have ever heard before (this may be the sheltered life I lead). Yesterday evening, I was interpreting it as "edit" or amend. This morning, I think it means suspend or hide or quash or.... Anyway, can you explain the precise effect of a post being "devetted" in order to aid further discussion? Whatever it means, I genuinely think it hints at thread starters being allowed to censor divergent viewpoints. Sure, they may have right to "devet" removed if they abuse it, but by then the damage is done.

3. Allow the community to quash non compliant posts (three quash requests from three different users automatically quash a post). The offending user is invited to post again, omitting parts of the post that were out of line. This helps to avoid the devetting of an otherwise intelligent and useful post in which only a mere sentence was out of line.

I would say not, if only because:
a) if it is simply a "quash" function, the poster may be genuinely unaware of what part of the post caused offence
or
b) if the "quash" function includes an explanation/reason, the poster may receive 3 different specific complaints. Then what?

However, a few forums I use have a "report post" function. On Proz, we can only report the whole thread. A report post function allows a specific complaint to be made to a moderator. It is a watered-down version of your quash idea. And again, it removes the final decision from the hands of those who may not be able to be objective.

But overall, I think that we do essentially have the tools in place already to address the points you make. Threads can be reported, and you can specify what the gripe is (I would only ask that those mods in the habit of closing a thread a soon as it goes off topic are reminded that this is not the only option open to them).
And any of us is allowed to email anyone else to ask them to edit a posting. Perhaps this point could be stressed in the forum FAQ, to remind people that they are not posting in a vacuum, and that people can and will respond either on the forum or privately, and that offline discussions about forum postings can be forwarded to the mod if necessary (perhaps the initial request could be cc'd to a mod?).

As I say, I don't think there is much need for further legislation and development work. Let's just use what we already have properly and effectively.

[Edited at 2009-03-08 13:00 GMT]


 
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