2008-04-21

State of the MLA.

I am a moderator on an internet discussion forum called the 68k Mac Liberation Army. It was founded in 2001 or 2002 by a few people with a bit more than an average interest in older 68k [motorola processor] based Macintoshes. I joined sometime in 2002 or 2003, and in late 2007, I became a moderator.

I had another post scheduled for today, but I think this is a bit more pressing and important than a post about how far away summer seems to be.

The following is something I have posted in the moderators-only section of the board. It's modified for public consumption, because the original post is a bit more abrasive.

Over the past few weeks, I've seen more than seven instances of "f***" in the Lounge on the forum, specifically from two users. [I'm sure my audience is mature enough to handle a bit of profanity, but I'm not putting it here, simply because I think it's rude and in poor taste to be so coarse on-line. I know, it's "just the Internet" but I consider the Internet not to be completely informal, but rather, to be a freakishly formal collection of everything. ever. So I find it important to communicate as effectively and cleanly as possible.]

Do we [The moderators and administrators.] have an exact policy on how we deal with things like this? I know in the past when I've tried to edit out some profanity, it was edited back in -- but it was my understanding ever since I joined like six years ago that this was a family friendly forum.

I'll admit I've had my fair share of bad days, and therefore one or two profanity-filled lounge posts (in 2003 though!) but I think the way the forum is getting these days is downright ridiculous.

It's gotten to the point where I don't want to read the new threads in the Lounge because they either seem pointless, completely overdone, or something that simply can't under any circumstances end well.

Is anyone else bugged by this? Wasn't there once some time when the MLA didn't receive seven f***s each weekend, and when our self-governing capabilities were basically in place and activated.

Is there some secret of zen moderation that I'm not aware of that'll cause the whole thing to balance out and the 68kMLA to once again become "happy" if we just let it run it's course?

Almost more importantly, is there something we can or should be doing to sort of guide the community back into having the expectation of needing to behave properly? I'm all for the idea that the occasional rude word isn't going to kill any of us, but I think it paves the way for the mindset that posts composed entirely in profanities is an acceptable mode of communication, and that's a dangerous way to go because that's when I start unashamedly deleting posts out of the middle of threads.

I know that the IRC and the forum are basically distinct and separate entities, but when the IRC channel gets out of control, I typically shut that shenanigans down. I lock down the channel with +m [+m is a mode where only the operator (irc word for moderator) of the channel can speak.] and lay down the law. I've had to do it a few times, but ever since laying down the law a few times and banning a few of the very worst behaved people, the channel has been keeping itself mostly pretty well behaved.

To put it shortly, the IRC channel is now on better behavior than the lounge on the forum, which mainly goes to show how bad I think the lounge has gotten.

So what is the state of the 68kMLA, and what, if anything, will we do about it?

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