Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Techno-quette => Topic started by: Elfmama on August 10, 2010, 10:55:13 PM

Title: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Elfmama on August 10, 2010, 10:55:13 PM
... and it's not working very well.

BG: I am a moderator on another forum.  This forum is not related to etiquette, but to general news discussion.  It is divided into the general forums and a separate 'Members Only' area.  One of the subforums of 'Members Only' is the Oubliette, described as 'the place to go when you must act anti-socially.'  One of the threads is an ongoing one where people bring their day-to-day gripes and grumbles. /BG

Toxic Woman is on this thread at least twice a day, sometimes more.  Her posts are invariably bigoted, hate-filled screeds full of four-letter words.  Instead of "I hate traveling on public transportation" it's always something like "So I got on the bus today and this stupid [ethnic slur] [scrabble-playing] [female genitalia] gave me the Evil Eye because I'm Purple and she's Green, so I gave her the finger and said 'who are you looking at, you [parental-unit scrabbler][woman of negotiable virtue]' and the [scrabble-playing][female dog] pretended that she didn't understand English!!!"  Or maybe someone didn't look at her, so "the [parental-unit scrabbling][female genitalia] thought she was better than me!!"   ::)  I don't like them or her, but because that is the appropriate area I haven't said anything.  She drops the f-bomb in the public forums, too, and has been cautioned on it more than once.  Those posts are removed to an area only visible to the mods. (We do not delete anything but blatant spam.)

Today I lost it.  One of the members, in the Living Room area of Member's Only, posted a sobering video composed of about half re-created auto accidents and half actual footage of fatal accidents, captured on security and traffic cameras.  It is intended to remind (or teach) people about the need for mindful driving and the consequences of even a moment of distracted driving. 

Toxic Woman responded about how "hilarious" she found this video to be.   :-X The video was bad enough, but that left me nauseated and shaking.  I split her message out into another thread and threw it into the Oubliette, then told her exactly what I thought about her.  Without using her language, with the exception of [female dog].  I have backup from other mods and the board owner on this.

I feel that I can't put her on ignore.  That throws the burden of riding herd on her onto the other mods, and one of them (previous to Toxic Woman's hilarious post) has already said that she was taking a break from TW's bigotry.  If we all do it, then she'll run roughshod over everyone.

But I'm finding it more and more difficult to maintain a fair and disinterested attitude to TW's posts anywhere on the board, public or members-only.  Suggestions?

Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: anonymoose on August 10, 2010, 11:01:50 PM
Well, she sounds like an AWESOME person...
Could you all just ban her? Since you and the other mods are sick of her and she has violated your forum policy it seems to be a reasonable solution to me.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Cyradis on August 10, 2010, 11:07:44 PM
Well, she sounds like an AWESOME person...
Could you all just ban her? Since you and the other mods are sick of her and she has violated your forum policy it seems to be a reasonable solution to me.

This! I belong to a forum for my favourite football team, AC Milan. It's no Etiquette Hell and insults and bad words are allowed. Ethnic and racist slurs, however, aren't tolerated and are bannable offenses there.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: shhh its me on August 10, 2010, 11:08:05 PM
  It might make you feel better if people actually did what they say they did/said in the supper venty threads we couldn't be in public without being physical and verbally attacked every 5 seconds. Not saying it never happens but I do believe most people exaggerate while in their evil persona.

I'd decided my advise is more appropriate in pm for this forum
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Hanna on August 10, 2010, 11:15:44 PM
Are you getting paid?
I can't really fathom spending time in such a place where these things are allowed, nevermind being a moderator there.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Shoo on August 11, 2010, 01:20:00 AM
As a moderator, why don't you ban her?
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Ereine on August 11, 2010, 01:37:28 AM
I'm a moderator on a small forum with a rather patient view of troublemakers (because they tend to be 11 or 12 due to the subject of the forum and can grow into nice members) and we would have banned her after disregarding forum rules and warnings a few times.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Bright on August 11, 2010, 06:32:00 AM
That sort of behaviour should not be acceptable, even if she is posting in the appropriate area. I agree with the other posters, why do you not ban her from the forum? If she has already been warned multiple times and doesn't actually listen to the warnings then surely it is time to ensure that she sees there is consequences to her actions. If one person is being so disruptive that they are making multiple mods uncomfortable undoubtedly they are doing the same to the other posters as well.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: smidget23 on August 11, 2010, 08:24:25 AM
Just ban her. It sounds like she has been warned in the past.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Amava on August 11, 2010, 08:31:41 AM

Today I lost it.  One of the members, in the Living Room area of Member's Only, posted a sobering video composed of about half re-created auto accidents and half actual footage of fatal accidents, captured on security and traffic cameras.  It is intended to remind (or teach) people about the need for mindful driving and the consequences of even a moment of distracted driving. 

Toxic Woman responded about how "hilarious" she found this video to be. 

That is blatant trolling.
How do y'all go about banning? Is it only the forum owner who can do it, or can mods do it too?
I think banning really is the appropriate way to go here.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: high dudgeon on August 11, 2010, 08:56:59 AM
Either ban her yourself, or tell the other mods you'll be resigning if no one can do anything about her. No one should have to put up with that, and if you keep trying it sounds like you're going to snap sooner or later and say something rude. And then she can go on and on about how the mods are against her. There's no winning there. If she doesn't heed the site's warnings, and if you don't have the power to ban her yourself, or can't convince the appropriate people to ban her, maybe it's not worth the stress and hassle of being a mod anymore?
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: KaosP on August 11, 2010, 01:56:53 PM
It sounds like the existence of the "Oubliette" forum opened the door to her, that she figured other things are allowed in other areas, too.

But a warning about inappropriate language won't do any good unless you actually do something about it.

Ban her. Explain why, but get rid of her.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: HollysCats on August 11, 2010, 06:30:16 PM
BG: I am a moderator on another forum.  This forum is not related to etiquette, but to general news discussion.  It is divided into the general forums and a separate 'Members Only' area.  One of the subforums of 'Members Only' is the Oubliette, described as 'the place to go when you must act anti-socially.'  One of the threads is an ongoing one where people bring their day-to-day gripes and grumbles. /BG

Is the Oubliette truly a free-for-all, or is it covered by some rules (like "you can post whatever you like, as long as you don't use ethnic slurs", the way a company might say "you can dress casually on Fridays, as long as you don't come to work dressed only in your underwear")?  If it's the former, then it may be time to either give her a final warning and then ban her, or maybe to revise the rules to make sure that over-the-top objectionable stuff is disallowed.  If it's the latter, then there's really no reason to moderate the Oubliette at all.  I understand you can't put her on ignore because you need to see her posts in the other areas, but you can skip over all her Oubliette posts.

Quote
She drops the f-bomb in the public forums, too, and has been cautioned on it more than once.  Those posts are removed to an area only visible to the mods. (We do not delete anything but blatant spam.)
Do you have procedures for what to do in general when cautions don't work?  Like a three-strikes rule, or an escalation from warnings to timeouts to bans, or something?  Procedures like that could be really useful here.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Elfmama on August 11, 2010, 09:01:13 PM
It generally goes in this manner, as decided by the forum members:

Member posts inappropriately.  Post is sent to the Oubliette or the Cemetery (mods only) as appropriate.  Member is PM'ed and cautioned privately, although the other mods are usually notified in the staff room if not cced.  I always cc the site owner.

If the behavior is continuing, then they are warned publicly for two strikes and given a temporary ban each time.  A third strike results in a permanent ban.

Posters who advocate illegal activities are banned immediately and permanently.  Extreme personal attacks get banned immediately and permanently.  (One person got the ban hammer for saying that handicapped babies should be killed -- right after another member gave birth to a Down Syndrome baby, even though s/he did not address the mother directly.)

So Toxic Woman has been skirting right on the edge of being given a Time-Out for some time; mods discussion now is tending towards that for another offense if not this one. 

The Oubliette is pretty much a free-for-all.  Ethnic slurs might be tolerated toward another members, but few posters reveal their ethnicity so I've never seen one.  I have seen language directed at others that would make a Marine drill sergeant blush, but those threads can usually be avoided since it is very clear when one member calls another out.

The thread in my OP got a number of hits before it was closed, most of them just as appalled as I was.  The ones that were not were posted by the resident poo-stirrer who said it was a matter of 'different standards of humor'. ::)
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: baglady on August 11, 2010, 09:02:00 PM
I would ban her. There's venting, and there's vicious, obscene hate spewing. The latter would not be welcome on any forum that I moderated. (I have been a forum admin and while I never had this sort of problem with a poster, I would not have hesitated to throw her out on her virtual butt.) I don't mind obscenities in moderation -- I use them myself -- but I know where the line is between "can you effing believe this?" and "that effing (obscene adjective) (obscene noun directed at a person) ... ."

BTW, elfmama, I love your euphemisms. "Parental-unit scrabbling" -- hee!  ;D
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Master_Edward on August 11, 2010, 11:58:37 PM
Why on earth don't you just ban her? She totally deserves it.

Ed.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Twik on August 13, 2010, 11:49:53 AM
I would say if someone is giving a mod constant stress, it's time to ban her.

As a longer-term solution, perhaps the site should consider the message given by the oubliette. Does, perhaps, a "no holds barred" area on the site lead to "leakage" of the bad behaviour into other areas?
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Elfmama on August 13, 2010, 12:30:08 PM
I would say if someone is giving a mod constant stress, it's time to ban her.

As a longer-term solution, perhaps the site should consider the message given by the oubliette. Does, perhaps, a "no holds barred" area on the site lead to "leakage" of the bad behaviour into other areas?
Toxic Woman and two others (one banned, one on the verge of a permanent ban after multiple time-outs) are the only ones who seem to have any trouble remembering the difference between the Oubliette and the rest of the site.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: high dudgeon on August 13, 2010, 02:00:01 PM
Then the oubliette isn't the problem, the poster is. If she's already been warned about her behavior and has chosen to continue it, just ban her. If you can do it yourself, do it right now. If you need someone else's approval to do so, go about getting it. If she doesn't have enough warnings to warrant it yet, pay attention to her posts and warn her when she says something against the rules (and it sounds like she will) until she has had her two warnings and then block her. I think you're overthinking this.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Yvaine on August 13, 2010, 02:09:06 PM
BTW, elfmama, I love your euphemisms. "Parental-unit scrabbling" -- hee!  ;D

I second the love of your euphemisms, OP!  ;D
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Chartreuse on August 14, 2010, 07:55:17 AM
I've been a moderator at more than one board/community over the years.  The thing is, people who are toxic and are trolls are looking for a weak moderation team.  If they find that a moderation team is hesitant to ban or take appropriate punishment measures, they will push things again and again, ad nauseum.  They delight in seeing how far they can push things.  It will get worse, until you folks are willing to decide where the line is and punish appropriately.

Think of it like dealing with an overgrown two or three year old with a keyboard, ugly attitude, and potty mouth.  They are going to constantly test your boundaries.  If you aren't willing to swiftly take care of a problem, said overgrown-toddler is going to pick up really quickly that you're ineffective and isn't going to take you or your threats remotely seriously.

Personally?  Ban her.  Then have a little online meeting with the rest of the moderation team, CLEARLY figure out the rules, appropriate punishments for infringements, decide how many warnings posters will get, and then post the rules clearly on the board. 
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: baglady on August 15, 2010, 02:45:43 PM
I belonged to a forum that an acquaintance (I'll call him Fred) had started after a forum that he and I belonged to had discontinued the "area of very specific interest" subforum that several of us frequented.

Shortly after Fred started this forum, four young women, who were friends of his (two of them were also his neighbors, and they were sisters) joined. Three of them were perfectly lovely, but the fourth (younger neighbor sister, I'll call her CG -- for Crazy Girl) had some serious issues with histrionics and anger. Sort of a cross between Veruca Salt from "Willy Wonka" and the "South Park" portrayal of Paris Hilton. I don't give a rip about football, but I was *praying* for CG's team to win the Super Bowl, because I knew she was going to go bat-poo crazy on the forum if they lost. (They did. And she did.)

I also think CG had a crush on Fred. She always called him "Fred Hun" -- somehow it never registered on her that "hon" is short for "honey" and has an O in it.

So Fred's forum had a free-for-all, anything-goes subforum similar to the Oubliette in the OP's post. Which CG proceeded to turn into her own private PM-to-Fred area. I remember one memorable exchange in which she was doing the text equivalent of *screaming* at poor "Fred Hun" that he *had* to come over and install a new OS on her computer RIGHT! NOW! The computer wasn't malfunctioning or anything; she just got it into her head that she had to have the new OS because it was new.

I told her, gently, that she really needed to take this to PM, that this exchange was painful to read, and the rest of us didn't need to be privy to it. She got very indignant because after all, this was the "anything goes" area.

Fred traveled a lot, and this was before the days of widespread WiFi, BlackBerrys, Internet phones and such, so he had to be home on his computer to access the forum. It took a lot of pleading with him (privately) by the rest of us before he finally suspended CG. I don't think he ever banned her, but she did clean up her act ... a little. Shortly afterward, the forum was shut down because it had been hijacked by a troll -- unrelated thing not involving CG.

The moral of this novel is that even a free-for-all subforum needs rules. In the OP's situation, I'd get with the admin and the other mods and agree to a set of rules. Maybe something like this:

Personal attacks are not allowed. Venting about the effing a-hole who cut you off in traffic is OK. Calling another poster an effing a-hole is not.

Slurs of any kind -- racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, sexual orientation-related -- are not allowed, whether the person being referred to is another poster or a third party. Neither is implying that someone's bad behavior is related to his or her ethnicity, gender, orientation, etc. So while venting about the effing a-hole who cut you off is OK, venting about the effing N-word C-word who cut you off is not.

One-on-one communication with other members should be done via PM if it is not something of general interest to the membership at large. "Fred, congratulations on the promotion!" is OK. So is "Fred, your new avatar is awesome!" But "Fred, want to have lunch at Chez Yummy tomorrow?" or "Fred, we need to talk about X" belongs in a PM.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Elfmama on August 15, 2010, 03:41:52 PM
Toxic Woman has not been seen for several days.  We think she has gone off to sulk over being called on her behavior.  And there is a pending letter of reprimand, waiting for the next time she ignores the site rules.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: O'Dell on August 15, 2010, 09:10:48 PM
I agree with baglady...even the free-for-all areas needs rules. Ideally there would be stricter rules covering more topics than what the owner of your forum seems to have put in place. Then, as long as all the moderators stuck to the rules and guidelines, it would be much easier to identify and ban trolls and toxic people like this woman.

Frankly, I've never belonged to any online community where racial slurs were not a ban-able offense, and I would quit one that did ASAP.

I say ban this woman. Suggest to the owner that better defined rules be designed and posted. If he/she isn't interested in that and/or the other moderators don't back you up, then consider giving up your position as moderator. The stress of having to deal with this woman and/or others like her isn't worth it.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Kaylee on August 15, 2010, 09:26:43 PM
Seriously?  Banhammer.  Now.  This kind of under-bridge-dweller does not reform.  Get some screencaps and her IP address for future reference, and get rid of her.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Winterlight on August 16, 2010, 11:16:53 AM
Nthing the vote for banning her. She sounds horrible.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Shiraz_Much? on August 17, 2010, 08:25:57 AM
I agree with banning her.  I'm not sure of the reason that you seem to be hesitating to do that. Could you maybe enlighten us?  Thanks.

ETA: I apologize if that came out snarky.  I did not mean it to be so.  I am just honestly confused and was wondering why this Toxic person hasn't been banned yet.
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: Elfmama on August 17, 2010, 11:30:20 AM
A large part of the forum is devoted to discussing politics, so members who are extremely opinionated are not unusual and are generally tolerated.  Insult another member outside of the Oubliette, and depending on the severity you may find yourself on Time-Out for a week or two.

Basically, we moderate to community standards (which are pretty lax), and until the comment about 'hilarious' car accidents, Toxic Woman didn't violate them.  The mods don't like her, but she hasn't done anything quite bannable yet.

I guess what I am asking is "How do I treat this woman if/when she shows back up?"  I think "What an interesting assumption" may figure prominently. :D
Title: Re: I keep telling myself "It's only an internet forum"...
Post by: O'Dell on August 17, 2010, 02:28:38 PM
I'd go with the internet equivalent of "cold but polite". Don't respond to her posts unless you are responding as a mod. Basically act like she's on ignore other than when you have to moderate one of her tirades. If she tries to engage with you otherwise, tell her you won't discuss whatever she's bringing up.