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Locking the threads: Why?
Thread poster: Ali Bayraktar

Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Jun 6, 2009

Good Weekend to All ProZ Society,

In my spare times I try to read the previous topics in various sections of this site.
And discovered that whenever a discussion (participants) go hot, site staff or moderators used to block such discussions.

I am trying to find something positive in such action but I can't.

The people in those threads are professionals, that means: even they used/will use an agressive or anger tone in their written language I don't believe that such action will result with swears, affronts, threatenings, or hostility.

On the contrary, locking the thread at the time when it becomes heated wont help participants because they remain with the last negative feelings about the other side/opinion (if they had very heated discussion)

Also it is not fair to limit or destroy whole developing brainstorm or debate when you face a sign of heat or temper in it. It is a developing thing, and there are people with emotions, with different point of views. And this development seeks a way to a better/reasonable level of understanding. By blocking it whole development goes back to the zero.

I kindly suggest not to close or lock any thread no matter what happens in it. If somebody brakes the rules then you may ask him to edit or just delete his posting.

I will be glad for my colleagues' opinios on this subject,

Have a nice weekend

M. Ali


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Enrique Cavalitto  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 10:14
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
Locking a thread is a valid rules-enforcement resource Jun 6, 2009

Locking a thread is a valid resource available to moderators and staff members, for instance when it is perceived that the issue that was the reason for opening the discussion has been already discussed and that subsequent posts are more fosused on personal questions than on professional issues.

Enrique


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:14
English to French
+ ...
Enforcement is an interesting word Jun 7, 2009

It took me time to understand exactly what "enforcement" meant in the U.S.
It has no satisfactory equivalent in my language (although "mesure coercitive" is not very far). And it may be the same in other languages as well, as - in my opinion - it reflects a whole culture.
A culture where people don't really question whether rules are good or bad (in terms of general interest), where they obey blindly if their manager (or whoever has authority) orders something. A culture where people will never question decisions, but will do whatever they want if it doesn't show that they are doing things their own way... And those who have authority, although they never face any opposition, understand very well that there is no consensus, and that each rule must be followed by its own enforcement...
If some cultures fear debate and dissent, some others value them... and, on the other hand, are somewhat offended by "enforcement". I hope that, someday, Proz can become a multi-cultural place.


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ad hominem arguments Jun 7, 2009

Not in this particular thread, but sometimes on this site I "see" proz-ers attack one another -- not their ideas, which are fair game, but their integrity, intelligence, ability, and so on.
Not only do I find this unprofessional, but actually frightening. If colleagues are free to make insinuations about other peoples' character because of a disagreement with their professional philosophy, then I am not safe from public insult either, and I am going to avoid posting. The site would no longer be a safe, rational forum. (If you are not as thin-skinned as I am, then more power to you.)
In fact, just last week one member was making snide comments about a fellow forum poster -- comments that were totally unsubstantiated from what I could see -- and I e-mailed the staff and told them that I was uncomfortable with the tenor of the discussion
I support, of course, a multiplicity of ideas and perspectives on this site, but I do not think that this is the right place for impugning each others' character. There are many sites on line where personal insults may traded back and forth, but I appreciate the fact that this is not one of them.
There are several areas in which I do not agree with the administrators of this site. However, I do applaud them for enforcing rules against personal attacks.


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:14
French to German
+ ...
... Jun 7, 2009

Jessica Noyes wrote:

There are several areas in which I do not agree with the administrators of this site. However, I do applaud them for enforcing rules against personal attacks.


Agreeing. Personal attacks don't have anything to do on professional websites which give the opportunity to discuss professional matters in fora.

Fora should be used to discuss ideas and not persons, anyway. It has nothing to do with multiculturalism - from the (very) different viewpoints expressed in the fora, I think multiculturalism is already in there!

Laurent K.


[Edited at 2009-06-07 09:29 GMT]


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Ulrike Kraemer
Germany
Local time: 14:14
English to German
+ ...
Wrong topics Jun 7, 2009

Enrique wrote:

Locking a thread is a valid rules-enforcement resource

Locking a thread is a valid resource available to moderators and staff members, for instance when it is perceived that the issue that was the reason for opening the discussion has been already discussed and that subsequent posts are more fosused on personal questions than on professional issues.

Enrique


It also comes in quite handy whenever staff wants to prevent members from discussing topics that are "inopportune", doesn't it?


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:14
German to English
Locking threads Jun 7, 2009

LittleBalu wrote:

It also comes in quite handy whenever staff wants to prevent members from discussing topics that are "inopportune", doesn't it?


Or "controversial"


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:14
French to German
+ ...
Wrong topics (contd.) Jun 7, 2009

LittleBalu wrote:
It also comes in quite handy whenever staff wants to prevent members from discussing topics that are "inopportune", doesn't it?


The other face of the coin, I assume... unfortunately.

Laurent K.


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:14
English to French
+ ...
Depends Jun 7, 2009

I admit the principle of closing a thread when the situation is helpless, and every poster is more or less guilty.

However, when there is a clear offender, closing the thread seems to me a way of avoiding being moderators.

I think it even encourages serial offenders to continue, and makes the atmosphere of this site a bit lethal, or at least not serene. The offender just waits for the next thread, he knows the ultimate sanction will be a closed thread, and he will be able to go on like that for a long time.

For a long time... having clearly offended many users who paid real money for being members, who are professionals, and who have a sense of dignity in their life.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
When the topic is not within the scope of this site Jun 7, 2009

Lots of fascinating topics, some controversial and some not, are simply beyond the scope of this site, which is a primarily a workplace for translators and clients looking for translators.

http://www.proz.com/scope

Sometimes the thread is removed entirely, but there are occasions when an announcement is allowed, e.g.

Examples of content that is outside of ProZ.com's scope but may be allowable in some circumstances:
travel tips
poetry contests
recipes
discussion of literary works
humor
greetings and commemorations, including customary birthday or holiday wishes
natural disasters (see FAQ)

In these cases the initial announcement may be allowed, but if a general discussion is outside scope, then the topic may be locked with an explanation that it can be discussed elsewhere on the Internet.

Members who are interested can then see that the subject has been raised and where to go if they want to discuss it, send help to a disaster fund or whatever is appropriate.

It helps to keep the site clear for its main purpose, and channels topics that rightfully belong elsewhere to the proper places.



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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 14:14
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
Nice summary, Christine, but not really the point of this thread Jun 7, 2009

Hi Christine,

Christine Andersen wrote:

Lots of fascinating topics, some controversial and some not, are simply beyond the scope of this site, which is a primarily a workplace for translators and clients looking for translators.


Thanks for summarizing part of the forum FAQs, but this is not the thread topic, i.e.
that being the locking of threads deemed within the scope. Those you mention are simply removed totally

Locking is a double-blade weapon, which is supposed to be used with the utmost care both by staff and moderators according to a specific decision-making process. And consistency in applying (all) forum rules might be the soft spot of rule enforcement.

As far as I am concerned, I can't say I am against locking, I have occasionally done so in a very specific forum area (Jobs Systems) when I was a moderator and asked staff to consider thread locking on various occasions.

Giuliana

[Edited at 2009-06-08 14:05 GMT]


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:14
Italian to English
+ ...
Less locking, more moderation Jun 8, 2009

It's my perception (which may of course be mistaken) that whereas in the past posts that trangessed the rules were deleted or the posters requested to edit them, the general tendency is now to lock the thread altogether. I would prefer a return to the old days of more active moderation rather than stifling a discussion as soon as it gets heated.

In essence, I agree with Jessica, but I don't believe that locking threads is the best way of keeping things respectful.


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:14
English to French
+ ...
I agree Jun 8, 2009

Locking a thread puts offender and offended at the same level. We are like little children in primary school : "Be quiet now and I don't want to know who started first".

Unfortunately we are grown ups, and we wish to have rights. For instance the right to continue a thread decently without the offender.

Let me mention another anecdote :

1) A guy causes in the same week the closing of two threads, with clearly identifiable offensive messages.

2) The same guy appears on a third thread, making offensive remarks again and making jokes about urine, peeing and so on.

3) That guy is asked to stop, but he comes back and points at "inconsistencies" of the original poster from an older thread to this one. Unfortunately the older thread was on a different topic, and the guy then becomes guilty of both being off topic, and stalking the original poster from thread to thread. Again, in the context that was clearly identifiable.

4) When the original poster complains about off topic and stalking, the moderator, a Proz.com staff member, choses to sanction the original poster, and puts him "under watch" for a month (which means the messages of the original poster, who is right, will always have to be approved by the Proz.com staff member, who is wrong). Of course the Proz.com moderator leaves online the message of the offender, clearly showing off-topic and stalking.


Well, it is the sort of things that make doubt whether I will renew my membership this year.

When you witness that sort of things, you wonder whether you are in a good place.


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Off topic/on topic Jun 8, 2009

bohy wrote:

It took me time to understand exactly what "enforcement" meant in the U.S.
It has no satisfactory equivalent in my language (although "mesure coercitive" is not very far). And it may be the same in other languages as well, as - in my opinion - it reflects a whole culture.
A culture where people don't really question whether rules are good or bad (in terms of general interest), where they obey blindly if their manager (or whoever has authority) orders something. A culture where people will never question decisions, but will do whatever they want if it doesn't show that they are doing things their own way... And those who have authority, although they never face any opposition, understand very well that there is no consensus, and that each rule must be followed by its own enforcement...
If some cultures fear debate and dissent, some others value them... and, on the other hand, are somewhat offended by "enforcement". I hope that, someday, Proz can become a multi-cultural place.


Bohy, I am not sure I understood your comment completely, so, for starters, I kindly request that you "bear with me" in case I have misunderstood you.

The thing is, by your initial mentioning of the USA, that I am not sure you are referring to "enforcement" in regard to the USA (where Proz.com is based) only? If that is the case, I find it rather amazing that you should make such generalizations about this country.

If I remember correctly my History classes, some Europeans left Europe exactly for the reasons you are now blaming the Americans. That is, basically for freedom of speech, freedom to dissent, for rights in general, etc.

Of course, nowadays, after more than 200 years of the American Revolution, those values seem a bit shaky at times, but I seriously doubt that people in the USA are (in general) "A culture where people don't really question whether rules are good or bad (in terms of general interest), where they obey blindly if their manager (or whoever has authority) orders something [...etc.]" That sounds more like the case of a country with a totalitarian government, which I hardly think is the case of the USA, in spite of some of the sometimes negative presidents it has had.

I mean, I am not American, but I have lived in/visited the USA long enough to know that things are not always (or even often) necessarily as simplistic as you described them. I mean, apparently you are living in the USA full-time, so you probably have much more information than I do, but I am just wondering if you honestly think that such a generalization about enforcement, the USA and Americans is completely accurate.

Again, I may have misunderstood you.

Also, I completely disagree that Proz.com is not a multicultural website. Quite the contrary, if you check the declared residence/country of origin of profiles. And precisely because it is quite multicultural, a middle point always has to be found in order to keep the community/the forums in harmony. As you probably know, finding a middle-point is not always an easy task.

About locking threads, I agree mostly with Jessica Noyes. I agree that if (notice I am saying "if") locking a thread has to be applied in order to stop an "alley CAT fight" (pun intended), I see no problem with this. I believe we are all adult enough to identify rather immediately, by the tone of some replies, when we are witnessing such an unpleasant situation.

I don't think forums (in Proz.com or anywhere in the Internet) should allow endless aggressive/irrespectful exchanges that will most likely lead to nothing constructive. I think some people are clearly irresponsible (for whatever reasons, sometimes even pathological in nature) and don't seem to see any limits when expressing an opinion in the Internet, because they may believe that the Internet should have no rules/limits/laws.

But imagine, in real life, a bar, a cafeteria or a restaurant where a clearly aggressive exchange of opinions is taking place and things start heating more and more. Would you enjoy such a "show"? I doubt it (even though TV has proven lately that many viewers seem to enjoy "reality shows" where people engage in this kind of behavior).

Furthermore, most likely you would request the manager to kindly ask the persons involved to keep it down or even to leave. If, after being requested to stop the aggressive argument, the persons involved continue with their heated discussion, chances are that the manager will request them to leave, for respect towards the rest of the customers. This is what I see as the equivalent of locking a thread.

Does it sound "politically correct"? Maybe, but most community-related formalities (virtual or in real life) are usually so, in order to avoid "anarchy".

Of course, where we may not necessarily agree is when this locking is applied to a thread which some may not necessarily consider "irrespectful" or "heated". We may then get tangled in this website's rules regarding allowed/controversial/within scope topics, etc., in which Proz.com has clearly complete control to decide (as they own the place).

Although these rules/policies are something that we are free to either "take it or leave it" (and both options are obviously perfectly valid, especially if related to paying or not paying membership), I honestly/subjectively think, after years of non-active/active (paying/not paying) participation in this website, that Proz.com tends to be "fair enough", that it tries to improve/evolve in general, including forum moderation/locking, even though sometimes it has made some clear mistakes. But obviously this is a personal view/opinion.


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Ali Bayraktar  Identity Verified
Turkey
Member (2007)
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Some comments, Jun 8, 2009

ICL wrote:
About locking threads, I agree mostly with Jessica Noyes. I agree that if (notice I am saying "if") locking a thread has to be applied in order to stop an "alley CAT fight" (pun intended), I see no problem with this. I believe we are all adult enough to identify rather immediately, by the tone of some replies, when we are witnessing such an unpleasant situation.


Actors of the said CAT fight are generally max. 10% or 20% of the participants of the whole thread. That means if there were 20 participants, because of the (max) 4 persons the whole thread is being destroyed. Also, the responsibility of achieving such CAT fights mostly belongs to the controllers those who allowed the postings of possible attackers appear at the beginning. And generally CAT fights have two sides but a thread serves as an informational resource and may have unlimited participants/sides.
For example if you in a Library and there are 4 persons who break the silence and dirturb other participants of this library, so will you close whole library?


I don't think forums (in Proz.com or anywhere in the Internet) should allow endless aggressive/irrespectful exchanges that will most likely lead to nothing constructive. I think some people are clearly irresponsible (for whatever reasons, sometimes even pathological in nature) and don't seem to see any limits when expressing an opinion in the Internet, because they may believe that the Internet should have no rules/limits/laws.


By suggesting not locking the threads anymore I have not mentioned allowing agressive/irrespective manners in those threads. I have suggested just limiting those who have manners against the forum rules. If several participants began aggresive actions/words just warn or limit those people.


But imagine, in real life, a bar, a cafeteria or a restaurant where a clearly aggressive exchange of opinions is taking place and things start heating more and more. Would you enjoy such a "show"? I doubt it (even though TV has proven lately that many viewers seem to enjoy "reality shows" where people engage in this kind of behavior).

Furthermore, most likely you would request the manager to kindly ask the persons involved to keep it down or even to leave. If, after being requested to stop the aggressive argument, the persons involved continue with their heated discussion, chances are that the manager will request them to leave, for respect towards the rest of the customers. This is what I see as the equivalent of locking a thread.


Actually this example attracts my point of view: This is not equivalent of locking thread. Locking thread mostly looks like closing whole cafeteria, restaurant or company.



Although these rules/policies are something that we are free to either "take it or leave it" (and both options are obviously perfectly valid, especially if related to paying or not paying membership), I honestly/subjectively think, after years of non-active/active (paying/not paying) participation in this website, that Proz.com tends to be "fair enough", that it tries to improve/evolve in general, including forum moderation/locking, even though sometimes it has made some clear mistakes. But obviously this is a personal view/opinion.



I agree with the expression "fair enough", except locking threads

Best Regards,

[Edited at 2009-06-08 13:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-06-08 13:47 GMT]


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