Proposal for additional options for forum administrative action
Thread poster: Jaroslaw Michalak

Jaroslaw Michalak  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 19:48
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Aug 9, 2009

For the past several months I've noticed rising negative reaction towards administrative actions taken in various forums (both by the site staff and the moderators). One of the reasons for this, I believe, is the fact that while the possible offences which may be committed in the forums are (heavily) regulated, the actions taken in each case are not. This in turn leads to perceived discrepancy in application of rules (as similar issues are dealt with in a different manner) and the accusations of heavy-handedness and inconsistency.

I am therefore proposing a (slightly) extended system, where each issue is resolved in the same way. The actions taken might be:

Deletion (hiding) of topics and posts:
This is certainly most controversial, as we know. I believe that it might be partially caused by the fact that the administrative options are quite limited now. However, this gives an unwanted impression of heavy censorship, fueled by wild speculations and rumors, which in the long run hurts the site's reputation more than an occasional "rogue" post. Therefore I propose it should be reserved only for posts where hiding the actual content is critical (inappropriate language, insulting/discriminating remarks, revealing of sensitive data, etc.). For example, if a topic is started which violates rule 6 (resuming of locked topic), it makes no sense to delete it - it should be just locked. In my opinion, most posts which are deleted now should be dealt with in another way - please see below.

Locking of threads:
Application of this measure is also somewhat inconsistent. For example, if thread about topic A (allowed by the rules) is taken into direction of topic B, it is often locked (justly so, I would say). However, if topic B is also within the site's focus, it should be allowed to be resumed in a new topic, which is often not the case (and in itself is in disregard to rule 4). Therefore it would be useful if mods had an option to "redirect" the discussion to a new topic, so that the old one may resume its original focus.

Temporary locking:
I believe that in some cases it would be enough to lock a particular topic for a certain period. It is easy to forget the manners in the middle of heated discussion. However, when everyone has a chance to cool down, the discussion might be resumed again. Therefore a message from the mod "I'm locking the thread for the eight hours on account of rule X" could give everyone a chance to get back on track.

Flagging posts/topics:
This should be the main administrative action. Whenever a post is found in disregard of the rules, a mod could "flag" it, giving specific grounds. If the post is flagged, it would appear in the thread only as a line with the poster and the subject (unless the subject itself is also offensive), not visible to anyone who wants to focus on the subject. It would, however, be available after clicking (possibly preceded with a message "This post has been removed because of violation of rule X"). Naturally, posts referring to the flagged posts should be deemed inappropriate and flagged as well.

Warnings:
This would be a simple comment (visible below the body of the message) from the moderator that the post violates a certain rule. It would certainly be sufficient in many cases (e.g. rules 2, 5, 10), where no stricter action is necessary. As it is now, those rules are not enforced at all (or rarely), which enhances the perception of inconsistency.


Of course, there might be other options (for example, moving the offending topics/threads to another area of forums, which is practiced on many boards). I (and possibly others) would be happy to hear your opinions on the ways to make forums work smoothly as a result of cooperation and self-governance, without unnecessary antagonization of administrators and users.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-08-09 21:49 GMT]


 

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:48
English to Slovak
+ ...
Seconded plus... Aug 9, 2009

Deleted: I think I strayed off topic.

[Edited at 2009-08-09 18:30 GMT]


 

Andreas Kobell  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Kudos, Jabberwock! Aug 9, 2009

Thanks for your brainstorming efforts regarding this. The handling of administrative actions in certain forums is somewhat weird at the moment and there is a tendency towards censorship, at least I perceive the actions taken this way.

I think your suggestions regarding temporary locking of threads and giving warnings are really worth considering. In general, I hope this thread will lead to a bit more transparency. The way things are handled right now make me want to vote with my feet.

Thanks a lot for opening this thread and I hope it will be available long enough to initiate a productive discussion.


 

Ansgar Knirim  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:48
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Well worth considering Aug 9, 2009

Thank you so much for these proposals.
Anything that leads back to a more open discourse of freelance professionals without unnecessarily restricting censorship is warmly welcomed by me (and a lot of colleagues, I guess).
Let's hope the ProZ staff does not take this discussion as an offence but as a chance to improve the overall mood within the site.


 

Shouguang Cao
China
Local time: 01:48
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
censorship has been here for a long time Aug 9, 2009

There is no tendency. There IS ridiculously heavy censorship in this forum.

I have had the impression that proz.com forum is heavily controlled and patrolled.

It is understandable that "I love proz.com" eulogies are welcome here. What puzzles me is the way criticism and discussion of problems are disallowed (or should I say, not encouraged). Site security problems, for example, are not allowed to discuss, based on the reasoning that such discussions will cause "confusions" and are not related to translation profession which is presumably the only thing that people here should talk about (isn't it related?).

It takes time (for slow writers like me, a lot) and mental work to write a post. It really pains me when I see it disappear. I notice massacres take place in many forums. Can we really encourage discussion by relentless deleting? Can we see the whole picture when disputes arise and many of the discussions are deleted? I think Jabberwock would agree with me: I always thought that deleting should be reserved only for the most severe. But here long posts of hard work are easily deleted based on the sole discretion of the moderators that they stray off the topic even if they are actually not, or they are too political, or they are unrelated to translations.

Jabberwock's suggestions of temporary locking and flagging are wonderful ideas, but if proz.com authority continues to use moderators as enforcement tools rather than respect their autonomy and expertise, the situation is not likely to change.


[Edited at 2009-08-09 22:37 GMT]


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 13:48
Censorship or not? Aug 9, 2009

As far as I can see, there hasn’t been any intervention in threads where the discussion goes peacefully. The moderator takes action only when he/she believes that personal attacks are launched, with the off-topic excuse of course.icon_smile.gif

The real reason to close or delete a post is actually to stop a war on the forum.

If we are sensible and tolerant enough, we can talk about anything here,


 

sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:48
English to Russian
+ ...
Censorship: I wish.. Aug 9, 2009

You say personal attacks..

A short while ago a translation variant was suggested in my pair containing an insulting anti-semitic comment. I wrote to the moderator about it and expressed an idea of banning the user from the site.

The reply I received was quite shocking: something about a minor violation which cannot result in severe measures. I preferred not to follow up - although I should have, shame on me. Disturbing and sad at the same time.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:48
SITE FOUNDER
Good ideas, Jabberwock Aug 10, 2009

Jabberwock,

I think you are on to something here. I'll think about what can be done along these lines.


 

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:48
SITE FOUNDER
Turns out some of these steps were already underway Aug 10, 2009

Hi Jabberwock,

It turns out that implementation of some of your suggestions was already underway before you posted. There should be something along these lines out shortly.


 

xxxwonita
China
Local time: 13:48
The particular situation with the Chinese forum Aug 10, 2009

Dallas Cao wrote:

There is no tendency. There IS ridiculously heavy censorship in this forum.

I have had the impression that proz.com forum is heavily controlled and patrolled.


Hello Dallas,

Since you talk about “heavy censorship” on the Proz forums, I would like to draw attention to the special situation with the Chinese forum.

As we both are aware of, there is internet censorship in a certain country. One year ago, the KudoZ section was banned in that country because some very sensitive political terms appeared there. Some site-users/members, especially some living outside that country, who are used to “speaking freely” are very insensible with their words, despite of the fact that their posts could lead to the ban of the whole site. Under such circumstances, it is more than necessary that some posts should be checked before they appear.

I am not advocating censorship, I am not supporting a certain government, but we participants on the Chinese forum should think twice before we speak, so that the site will continue benefiting Chinese translators all over the world.

Bin


 


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