Following on from my last post about the issues of forum censorship, I offer some proposals to improve the situation below:
- Censoring (hiding or removing a user’s post) should always be used as a tool of last resort, not a tool of first response
- Censoring should be a decision taken against strict, defined and objective guidelines. It should never be at the moderator’s subjective discretion (which will inevitably lead to an abuse of such power).
- Moderators who carry out censorship should be known to the person whose posts they are censoring so that they can be challenged as to the legitimacy of their decision. They should never be anonymous or hidden.
- Moderators should provide a proper explanation, linked to the aforementioned guidelines, as to why any particular post is being censored and what the posting user may do to make his or her post more acceptable to the community and/or in line with the aforementioned guidelines.
- Before even considering censorship moderators should, either privately or as a post-reply to the user (depending upon what is appropriate), set out why the post is inappropriate according to the guidelines. This could be a simple “Please can you return to the topic at hand” or “This is a little off topic but still important so please can you start another thread for this issue” or “Please can you refrain from using offensive language” or whatever.
- Moderators should recognise that the forum has contributing users from different countries and cultures where different standards of behaviour apply. They should above all be tolerant and flexible - only intervening ‘softly’ where it is absolutely necessary, and only censoring a user as an absolute last resort.
- Moderators should recognise that the vast majority of people do not intend to be offensive (“offence is rarely given, but often taken” - anonymous) but differences in culture often mean that misunderstandings take place. Users should not be censored for such, but given the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps “Three Strikes and Out”, with suitable warnings, might be an appropriate guideline in this respect.
- Everyone should recognise that almost all of us are here because we want Sailfish to succeed, even if legitimate frustrations do occasionally show themselves.