Open and honest discussion regarding moderation on MSO

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by frootloop, Aug 14, 2017.

  1. frootloop

    frootloop Otago Trainee Intern (MBChB VI) Moderator

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    Ok, so the reason for this is obvious.

    Let's start with the unfortunate case of Yam. I'm willing to go on record saying that I cannot find a single rule - or even bend an interpretation of any rule - which warranted an immediate, permanent chat-ban for Yam. Even if there was a clear breach of the rules, in the majority of cases an infraction is supposed to be the punishment metered out. But in this case, that's irrelevant, because in no way had Yam broken the very simple hatbox rules sufficiently to warrant a permanent ban:

    Be civil. No doxxing (revealing other people's personal or identifying information).

    So in this instance, what happened is clear - the administrator made an executive decision, entirely separate from the rules, and bypassed the standard punishment pathway to inflict a permanent ban.

    This is hardly the first instance of a moderator or administrator dishing out frivolous bans - often 'in jest', so it is hardly a one-off problem, nor an attack on Mana .

    What I want an open and honest discussion of is how the regular members of MSO - not us mods - feel about it.

    Do you feel that executive decisions with serious consequences should be allowed? Or should moderators and administrators be bound to the rules as well - enforcing them, rather than creating them on the fly?

    Do you take your frequent short bans from the chatbox as the 'good fun' they are intended to be, or do they make you feel alienated or frustrated?

    Lastly - and most importantly - how does the way MSO's staff operate contribute to your feeling of community on here?

    Would you like us to change the way we moderate, and if so, how?

    (If any other mods want to add their signatures to this, go ahead)

    ~rustyedges
    - Ruth

    ETA (Ben): Unfortunately I've been out of the loop here a little. I entirely support this discussion & probably should try to remain a bit more involved / at present I don't largely have an opinion on the specifics. I will add a comment shortly detailing my thoughts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2017
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  2. pi

    pi Junior doctor Moderator

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    Regarding bans, I think it's actually very rare people have been banned from the hatbox or forum for a period of time longer than a few minutes. Those very short bans I see as banter, some users make some good calls against the mods (eg. me) and we have a laugh about it and ban (or more commonly, mute) them with a witty reply. As a consequence, I'm yet to see a ban/mute occur in a convo that wasn't jovial or silly. Don't see an issue with those, and I'd be surprised if people felt really strongly about them.

    Regarding Yam's situation, I wasn't privvy to the discussion at the time. Upon reading the logs the impressions I got were that she was banned for shitposting and using CAPS for no reason at all despite warning. Whether the former indicates a ban from hatbox, I wouldn't think so, especially given the large amount of shitposting (among many good posts too) we have here from users of all levels of seniority. Whether the latter indicates a ban from hatbox, not too sure, I missed the context to the conversation so not sure how high tensions were running and so forth. But I'll admit I was surprised it was a permaban.

    As for the recent "boycott" of hatbox - LOL. Probably one of the least ineffective protests I have ever seen. The users protesting weren't very vocal about the ban when it happened (the conversation quickly moved on), so not sure what their point is now... Sherlock reporting my last comment that was in CAPS (justifiably so imo) was extremely petty and demonstrated a clear vindictive immaturity. For that reason alone I personally don't care what happens. I've enjoyed the more high-brow conversations, albeit less frequent, that we have now. They're welcome back at any time. Until then: their loss, not mine.
     
  3. frootloop

    frootloop Otago Trainee Intern (MBChB VI) Moderator

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    Ok, this is kind of why I asked for how the regular members feel about it. It's an awful lot more difficult to post a legitimate grievance after you've just seen a senior moderator s**t all over the very idea of there being grievances, and laughing off their own frivolous bans.

    Chur, pi
     
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  4. pi

    pi Junior doctor Moderator

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    Well I don't think I was s**ting on anything there. Merely agreeing with this:
    ie. that yes, they are intended to be "good fun" in the appropriate context.

    If anyone feels otherwise (*looks at people who liked your post*), I'd gladly like to hear their point of view. But as I said, I'd be genuinely surprised if people really had a lot of issues with 15 second mutes and the like.
     
  5. Clav

    Clav Otago MB ChB II Gunner

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    Do you feel that executive decisions with serious consequences should be allowed? Or should moderators and administrators be bound to the rules as well - enforcing them, rather than creating them on the fly?

    No and yes. That should go without saying.. that is if you want your site/forum to be taken seriously. Otherwise people just become unsure about what they can/can't say and it can stifle discussion/end up with people leaving.

    Rules should be written out clearly, and unless it's something drastic (think outright racism which wasn't put in the rules for some reason for example) then the person should probably get removed, otherwise for your more typical offenses that might have been left out of the rules they should at most get a warning and the rules should be amended and followed after that. Mods/admins enforce the rules and if you enforce the rules you should be subject to the rules, double standards aren't fun for anyone
     
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  6. Sherlock

    Sherlock Breaker of order

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    I think it is important that these decisions (that could lead to users' omission from the site, whether that be a direct omission or a causation of omission) should be an open discussion with all the staff members. It is crucial that varying opinions are put forward and finally a decision made with proper assessment. Shouldn't this be the case for every decision made in every field?

    Who better to talk about this than either Yamster or myself. Probably most frequently and most banned users from the hatbox in the history of MSO. For me personally, there have been numerous times when I've been banned for talking about a particular topic and that topic has been 'banned' and no longer allowed to talk about. I am not targeting any specific topic or any specific instance here because I don't want this to turn into a personal battle with any moderator.

    I've been banned for as long as 24 hours for simply discussing a topic and disagreeing with moderators. Not to mention that there was no reasoning given when asked for. Thought MSO was meritocratic? There have been bans for 30 seconds and less for fun and as a counter argument, sure, I don't mind that so much but it all accumulates to a point where even those are not tolerable and we're all humans, of course that will eventually make someone feel frustrated.

    If change means moderating in a way that isn't arbitrary, that it's done sensibly, respectfully and without favouring anyone then yes, there should be a change.

    The conversation didn't move on quickly pi. I know I spent more than 3 hours discussing Yamster's ban that night on the hatbox. So did LBoG.

    For the record, please stop calling it a 'protest' or a 'boycott'. It is merely a choice that was made voluntarily by me and I could probably say the same about LMG! and LBoG. It was also about time I took a break from the hatbox and focus on my studies.

    Keep going on about those 'high-brow' discussions pi, don't tell me you didn't partake in most of the discussion that have been what you are imaging as 'not-so-high-brow' discussion.

    How exactly is me reporting your caps lock sentence petty? When the norm is that, when users are being banned for using caps lock, this should apply to every user on the forum. This isn’t some kind of selective banning is it? You are guilty of using caps lock. Just like Yamster was and the result of which is permanent ban from the hatbox. If what you wrote and I quote, ‘FINALLY FINISHED MY LECTURE’ is justifiable, so is ‘OMG HI LMG!’ or ‘OMG HI LBOG’ where the only caps lock used is in the word ‘Hi’.

    Lastly, for everyone participating in the thread or intending to, please, let's make this a civilised discussion and not let our egos get ahead of ourselves and further lead to personal problems on the site. That'll be of no benefit to anyone at the end of it all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  7. A1

    A1 Certified Admissions Guru Moderator

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    I like to offer a few explanations. The reason capslock incurs a ban is, from Mana himself, MSO/hatbox rules require us to be courteous to one another. Capslock can be read as uncourteous shouting.

    By itself it doesn't warrant a permaban. However in Yam's case she had been banned once before for this reason and was let back. This time was a repeated offence thus in Mana's view, needed a higher penalty.

    That's on the technicality side. Otoh my own observation was Yam wrote in capslock that evening on 3 separate instances (ie. not in a row), all of 3-4 words each, one of which was "OMG HI LMG", the other two were kind of exclamation remarks to something Sherlock said. Ruling these as uncourteous shouting I think is quite extreme.

    Pi's saying "The users protesting weren't very vocal about the ban when it happened" is not accurate. Several of the users who were on hatbox at the time did protest vigorously, a few others weren't on at the time but joined the boycott later after reading Yam's goodbye PMs.
     
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  8. frootloop

    frootloop Otago Trainee Intern (MBChB VI) Moderator

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    Show of hands: Who genuinely interprets the average hatbox capslock post as 'uncourteous shouting'?

    That has to be the worst quick rationalization for a bad decision I've seen in a while.

    Let's try another insane interpretation of the courteousness rule:

    Everyone who doesn't enter hatbox with a courteous bow is banned for life.

    Bows are courteous, so not bowing is uncourteous. Banned.


    If you're going to apply a really specific interpretation of a very broad rule, you have to include it in the rule itself. Otherwise, you're just making (very) lame excuses to justify doing whatever you want.
     
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  9. Ri97

    Ri97 serial tea drinker

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    I don't have much to add except that I was definitely there when Yam was banned, just after actually, and I did protest it. I didn't know much nor have I been removed from hatbox or given a warning for anything I've ever posted on MSO, but I do think that recently the 'vibe' on this forum has been way too uptight. I think the some of the moderators have simply matured and forgot that heaps of the 16/17/18 year olds using the forum are very young and communicate differently. I'm only a couple of years older and I sense it.

    I don't think the average hatbox capslock is uncourteous shouting. Yam would exclaim "HI RI" but continue normal conversation in relatively normal capitalisation (I honestly can't believe this is a point that needs to be made, ahaha).
     
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  10. Clav

    Clav Otago MB ChB II Gunner

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    This happens a lot with forums. And if the staff want it to be that way then a clear set of updated rules should reflect it, otherwise just banning/timing people out because you're now a grumpy old fart isn't an acceptable reason imo.
     
  11. Ri97

    Ri97 serial tea drinker

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    Worded a little more blunt than I'd put it, but yes - you're spot on.

    I'm down for following a set of straight forward rules. I think they should be drafted, brought to members to discuss and refute and then set in stone for good. Otherwise these random and moody restrictions will just get out of hand and ruin the environment MSO once was. I suggest moderators go back and have a look at what MSO was set out to be and what their mission statement was. It was never a "take so long as you give/add valuable discussion" sort of thing as Mana once suggested. It was an open space for everyone to take and give whatever they pleased - an extension of the internet specifically for Au/NZ/International medical students - not some sort of exclusive club that you need to censor yourself to be a part of.

    I'm going off on a tangent but I feel like this is the bigger picture worth looking at regarding moderation on MSO.
     
  12. A1

    A1 Certified Admissions Guru Moderator

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    Mana did not mean that as mission for everyone on MSO. He was saying there was not much in that regard from Yam to mitigate for her.
     
  13. Mana

    Mana Resident Medical Officer (UNDS MBBS) Administrar

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    First of all, apologies for leaving it this late - as always, on a busy term.

    Lets clear up a few things here from my perspective because I think people are looking at these in isolation.

    Firstly, MSO staff are given the ability to make their own judgment on issues. I notice that some members (including MSO staff) have been complaining about particular members on chatbox talking about illegal or unethical activities (drugs, cheating, etc). For this, every moderator has the ability to warn and/or ban the member from chatbox. However, despite this, I don't see much action being taken, and in this sense I would have expected that more than a slap on the wrist is given. I notice that it's quite difficult to ban someone from the forums as a mod (which was an issue I raised earlier with isuru) but in that sense I haven't seen anyone even try to do so.

    Secondly, the decisions we make are intended for the better of the community as a whole. This can and does extend to unpopular decisions, such as (but not limited to) limiting particular topics of discussion, giving people bans, or removing particular features. Examples of this include when the post limit for particular features was increased, or when we banned most discussion about cricket on the chatbox.

    Re: Yamster:

    Yamster was permanently banned from chatbox a long while ago (way before this incident).
    This was due to essentially making it unusable whenever she was on, making it essentially impossible to have any reasonable discussion on there (spamming pictures, derailing conversations, and accusing everyone of being rude, among other things). For this, she got a permanent ban, which I don't think anyone was contesting the validity of.

    Recently, she was given some leniency, also an executive decision made on behalf of only one person (Ben) who decided that it was reasonable to lift this ban (noting that we have never lifted any permanent ban on any member in the past, despite dishing them out for much less severe offences in the past.)

    Obviously, her behaviour was different to that prior to the ban (I don't think anyone was contesting this).

    I noted that despite this, she continued to be the only one to post in caps on a reasonably regular basis (literally all the other regulars didn't). This may be banter or whatever, I don't care - it made it unpleasant to interact on the chatbox. Furthermore, in assessing the other contributions to MSO that might have made justified the first unbanning, it was very difficult to find them, and I could literally delete Yamster's account and posts without any loss whatsoever to the information base on MSO. However, despite this, I thought it would be reasonable to see if she would actually justify it by not banning from the forums completely, which also to date I haven't seen.

    Of all the people on MSO that it has taken the most effort to moderate, Yamster stands out as the one that has taken the most effort that I can think of - mostly because permanent bans were issued for people in the past for less severe offences. However, to date, I have had to manually delete/fix more of Yamster's posts and activity than anyone else in my ten years here, including wall posts ("like" farming, anyone?), spam posts (just because there is a chatbox limit) and chatbox posts (derailing conversation/posting images/videos that take up the entirety). Easily this is someone I would have banned several times over in the past.

    Thus, I deemed that the original ban was valid, and that the activity that warranted the original ban was still present.


    As per the other members who were "protesting" - I stated early on that my inbox was open to discussion.
    To date I have received only one message to it, and that was from someone who was in agreeance with my rationale.





    Re: Ri97
    While information and help is given freely on MSO, that doesn't mean that everyone is free to give and take as they please. All the information is free. Your contribution is appreciated as long as it's helpful. Basically this means you are free to take and give information as long as you don't
    do it to the detriment of others. There are parts of people's behaviour which I fully expect them to censor before coming on here, otherwise all you
    have is lots of crap. Furthermore, it's not acceptable to be exclusively posting things diluting out anything useful anyone in the future could use, as anyone who has every trawled through threads for data has surely found. Thus, it's not use it as you will - it's use it with respect for other people, and that means turning your censors on as appropriate. This also extends to things like distributing misinformation that could be interpreted by someone as real.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  14. frootloop

    frootloop Otago Trainee Intern (MBChB VI) Moderator

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    Someone with enough clout to take that many people out of hatbox with her, probably had enough value to MSO to 'mitigate for her'...

    But I think focusing on Yam's case obscures the actual point, which is transparent and consistent moderating - WITHOUT the frequent abuse of our powers.
     
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  15. biom

    biom Regular Member

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    I think that at least some of the regular correspondents decided to leave chatbox due to a range of concerns that had been building for some time. May's ban is a part of it but other concerns were mentioned. They can share these concerns directly if the choose to.

    I hope that this discussion can lead to an amicable and generally accepted outcome.

    While it is no doubt good for all of us to spend less time on chatbox.... it would also be good to have an environment where some of the regulars decided to return.
     
  16. Mana

    Mana Resident Medical Officer (UNDS MBBS) Administrar

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    I'm not sure if you were here during Yam's initial banning from chatbox, but essentially here are some things I had to specifically ask her not to do:

    1. post in caps
    2. speak in l33tsp34k
    3. accuse everyone of being rude during normal respectful discussion
    4. derail conversation
    5. post large unrelated images of Kim Kardashian during otherwise respectful discussion
    6. impersonate people
    7. post in large font
    8. speak in another language (I'm not talking things like German here, I'm talking about literal junk languages like l33tsp3ak)

    Now at some point, usually earlier rather than later, you realise that the person is literally trying to find ways to make things unpleasant. As I stated during the chatbox discussion, the onus isn't on the moderator at that point to point out every little thing that makes their interaction unpleasant - that's on the person.

    Most people who get onto the chatbox learn pretty quickly how to interact on it. Usually if they are new you might give them some gentle direction as to how to interact if they aren't doing it appropriately. If you don't learn how, then that is reason enough to remove the privilege.
     
  17. Dr.Blunt

    Dr.Blunt Member

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    I got banned literally yesterday for 24 hours for "sexism and being an idiot" and I honestly don't see how you can call someone sexist that easily --- I was making a clear point to not be sexist and I acknowledged that women had unfair points as well but Ruth misconstrued it and somehow that warranted me a 24 hour ban and I really doubt "being an idiot" warrants a ban as well. YES, this made me feel alienated and very frustrated frootloop (responding to the question in your post) and I honestly think it was an unfair ban.

    Yes, I understand being offensive warrants a ban, however thats a very weak and subjective policy because I could literally say "hey i dont like your chat colour" and someone could just say "wow im offended" and what im saying here is if you read over the chat archive I dont think anything I said was worthy of a ban and yet I got one just because I was arguing with a moderator and they took offense to what I was "supposedly saying" even when if you read off the archive you can see she was taking my words and twisting them and then getting angry at those twisted words. I'm not saying this because I have anything against Ruth, I'm just frustrated that MSO seems to have let me down in that its way less structured and just in its banning system than I initially thought it was. I know I'm not in any position to say this, but please make a few changes as to what warrants a ban and what doesn't.

    I get that Ruth felt very strongly about the topic we argued about, but that doesn't mean that just because I have a conflicting opinion (and this aggravates her) that I deserved to be banned for "sexism and being an idiot" (honestly I still can't understand how that is a legitimate enough reason to warrant a ban unless you have literal evidence of me being 'sexist'-- and even then sexism is not necessarily me purposely trying to be offensive it might just be the way i view things given my religion/culture/ etc and as long as that isnt impinging on your right to converse (ie im not saying omg you're a woman you should follow my ideals as well)) then im reserved to what i want/like and you're reserved to waht you agree with). If anyone's willing to discuss why I felt the ban was unfair any further I'm happy to, but thats not what I'm getting at, what I'm getting at is that I, as a member of MSO, feel that we really need some more structure and justice and objective evaluation (as per some pre-set guidelines that are more specific than just "no doxxing and be civil") as to what warrants a ban coming down on someone (and for what length of time/severity).

    Also, just out of curiosity, is making someone angry (whether it be them being angry for justifiable or nonsensical reasons) actually something that can bring a ban down? Because conflicting opinions often will make someone angry if one person feels very strongly about it but that doesn't mean either side is right or wrong (and even if they are, if the matter is not black and white you cant exactly say "yeah you're wrong shes right " etc) and so I dont see how it warrants a ban.
    EDIT: Having a look at Sherlock's post a lot of what he is saying resonates with what I'm trying to get across. Full support.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  18. frootloop

    frootloop Otago Trainee Intern (MBChB VI) Moderator

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    From Ruth's description of what you said, your temporary ban was far more reasonable than you seem to think,

    But you do raise a valid point in that I've seen moderators use a temporary chat ban as a way of shutting down a viewpoint they don't like. When we moderate things as 'offensive' we should try and make sure that it's something most people would find offensive, or whether it's just something we have a particular issue with.

    But there's some give and take here. If a moderator asks you to stop doing something because it's really getting under their skin, it's the same as if any random member asked you that. The decent thing to do is to stop it, so the other person doesn't feel uncomfortable.
     
  19. Ruth

    Ruth Maderator Emeritus

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    So I think this has pretty much been resolved but I do feel the need to add this, Dr Blunt:
    We were not having a general discussion about women and pregnancy in medicine (even if we were, you were still pretty offensive). We were having a very personal discussion about my personal reasons for not doing medicine, which I'm sure you can understand were very very personal. You barged in without reading any of the discussion around it, then felt need to comment on my choices even though you did not understand the conversation happening, and in addition you - even if you did not intend to - offended me, and continued on even though I made it clear that it was not appropriate (you were being quite inappropriate actually). This discussion was only even made possible because I have always felt that hatbox is a safe place and that as someone who has been through training and education, and is now out the end of the tunnel which you have not yet entered, sharing my again, very personal views, benefit others, and in addition I was answering - very truthfully - a question that was posed to me by someone else on hatbox.
    I'm sure you can imagine that talking about my reproductive capabilities is very intimate and personal and so if you think about it very carefully, you might understand why I would find it inappropriate for you to be commenting on my said reproductive capabilities. Throughout the past discussions you've talked about 'emotional detachment' and 'just having a discussion' (just a prank bro) but we aren't having a discussion, we are talking about my f^&$ing vagina so I would appreciate it if you would stop doing that thanks. (Also I would argue that medicine requires a great deal of empathy and compassion, and the opposite of emotional detachment)
    In addition, I do think that your comments were sexist, and I would advise that you do not talk to any women about their vaginas at all, unless they are your partner and have given you permission to do so. Or in the event that they are a patient and have initiated the conversation themselves, and have given consent for the conversation to take place.

    I think you will find that Sherlock does not agree with you at all. I also think that, even though it is actually in the rules, it does not need to explicitly be said in the rules that sexism or other discrimination, being offensive or inappropriate is a bannable offense. Hatbox is a privilege which can be taken away from you.

    Any more discussion about this topic will be deleted.
     
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  20. Sherlock

    Sherlock Breaker of order

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    I don't think that warranted a permanent ban in the first place. I remember she was permanently banned from the hatbox because she had some disagreements with you. I don't think she made it impossible to have any discussion either, tbh. Unfortunately I don't think we have any evidence to show this, but if we do, I'd love to see it. I wanted to contest the validity of the ban then too, but I was too afraid it would lead to my ban. Honestly.

    This instance you speak of, it was one instance and she wrote something like 'OMG HI LBOG' and you deemed it as a perma ban for her right there and then. I don't think she did anything frequently enough for hatbox to be unpleasant to interact and literally no one else thinks so. To be fair to Yamster, you haven't really been active enough to judge how she has been on the hatbox and that's to do with your work and that's completely understandable so I am not sure that she deserved a permanent ban (again) without warning her that day. Not only that, when you wrote something like maybe you deserve to get banned or something, Yamster replied immediately that she wouldn't do it again but you didn't let her show that. Obviously it isn't compulsory to contribute to MSO so I am not going to get into that discussion.

    Let's see how everyone else feels about this, do we think she deserves a permanent ban for something like this? Or should there be a ban for a few days to let her reflect for what she has done?
     
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