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Question 3: The challenge of sarcastic and rude members and replies

Question 3: The challenge of sarcastic and rude members and replies

 
Old Nov 1, 09, 5:40 pm
  #1  
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Question 3: The challenge of sarcastic and rude members and replies

submitted by gdeluca
While I understand FT cannot police everyone, in order to engage newbies and those of us in the silent majority, do you feel the TB should develop a policy to require or a permanent sticky to suggest that posters (new and old) refrain from being sarcastic or just plain rude to legitimate questions and comments?

I like what B747 said on many users being “stifled, discouraged, attacked or simply made to feel unwelcome.” I indeed appreciate all of the wonderful advice I have gleaned from reading FT and applaud the hard working road warriors who provide it. However, it is difficult to see someone berated for simple questions, especially when you do search only to find 1000 posts to wade through.

I did read the comment about refining the search capability, which would help.

Also, I am very happy to see candidates running that are new to FT and don’t have huge post counts. It makes me think I might be able to run someday

Good Luck Everyone!
Randy Petersen is offline  
Old Nov 1, 09, 6:44 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen View Post
submitted by gdeluca
While I understand FT cannot police everyone, in order to engage newbies and those of us in the silent majority, do you feel the TB should develop a policy to require or a permanent sticky to suggest that posters (new and old) refrain from being sarcastic or just plain rude to legitimate questions and comments?

I like what B747 said on many users being “stifled, discouraged, attacked or simply made to feel unwelcome.” I indeed appreciate all of the wonderful advice I have gleaned from reading FT and applaud the hard working road warriors who provide it. However, it is difficult to see someone berated for simple questions, especially when you do search only to find 1000 posts to wade through.

I did read the comment about refining the search capability, which would help.

Also, I am very happy to see candidates running that are new to FT and don’t have huge post counts. It makes me think I might be able to run someday

Good Luck Everyone!
The TOS already prohibit personal attacks on people. I know that in the fora I help moderate, we admonish people for making personal attacks. Sometimes people are warned, sometimes people are suspended, and sometimes people are even suspended indefinitely.

On the other fora I read, personal attacks are also quickly acted upon. If there is a problem with personal attacks that go unresolved, the senior moderators should be re-training their moderators to deal with them.

While I feel that personal attacks are unacceptable, I am also a strong advocate of people being able to express themselves. If someone is sarcastic, but not attacking someone, I personally don't take any action.

Thanks for the question, gdeluca. I hope to see you running for the TalkBoard next year.
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Old Nov 1, 09, 8:20 pm
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First of all thank-you for your question. I understand your concern and have seen the downside of this type of behavior on flyertalk.

I think your question is a two part question, because i see two seperate issues in your question. The first issue is sarcastic comments and the second is the rudeness issue.

The difference in these two I beleive is important. Sarcasm is often a way in which many people communicate especailly when responding to a question that seems so obvious to them, has been asked many times before, or is something that community has turned into a joke on its own. (thought that came to mind was the warm nuts in the United forum.) Sarcasm is fine, at least from my point, as long as the sarcasm is clear. Rudeness on the other hand is a different animal. In a community as large as Flyertalk, we cannot legislate or even stop folks from being rude. It is human nature. However, what I think we can do is try to encourage responsible behavior of our members. Further, rudeness takes away from the sense of community that is flyertalk. A new member (either to FT or a forum) can easily be turned away by continued rudeness by members. If this happens then it can become a problem.

So to answer your question, I don't know if we need a sticky to remind members to be nice to each other. I know that the TOS prohibit attacks by members against other members. So do we need to consider a policy against rudeness, i am inclined to say not at this time. I think that the members of the forums in conjuntion with the moderators can encourage good behavior and limit rudeness without having to have the TalkBoard step in. however, if rudeness becomes an constant issue, then i would say that i would reconsider my position.

Again thanks for the question.
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Old Nov 1, 09, 9:17 pm
  #4  
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I think the Moderators have worked pretty effectively to stop the snarkiness that once existed in some fora. In some places it is was a feature of their board. However, by dealing with members on an individual basis considerable success has been achieved.

When I have had to reach out to a member about a post I have found that they have listened and considered what I've said. Very often, in the cold light of day, they agree that their post was intemporate.

Many people have posted that they are different on the internet than in real life. I think this is often true, as when we speak there are other visual and aural clues as to what we mean. That is not possible, even with the creative use of smilies

A reminder to all members would be useful, but in truth I think most people know how to be polite and civil, but sometimes just need a reminder to re-read their post before pressing Save.
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Old Nov 1, 09, 10:23 pm
  #5  
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I don't feel a permanent sticky is really worth much, as there are stickies on a number of forums now that I've probably never read.

Instead, I think there needs to be a welcoming attitude from people who post -- especially those who post a lot in forums, especially the miles and points forums where many first dip a toe into the water.

Me? I've always been turned off by those people who tend to jump on people who perhaps haven't learned how to use the search feature or who ask questions that were recently asked. It takes some restraint sometimes to not be snarky towards people, but it wouldn't be hard to simply ignore the post or to send a link or answer by PM or simply post the answer even if it is for the 10th time.

And some of the snarkiest people in these areas are the ones who've posted the longest and are unapologetic about it. Definitely something I feel is worth having the TalkBoard discuss (something like an ambassador program, which I believe was discussed before) and something I would bring up if I'm elected.
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Old Nov 1, 09, 10:24 pm
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First off, I feel that the moderators do an amazing job of keeping discussions civil. Many of the snarky and impolite responses are to people who are new to our community asking junior varsity questions. I feel that having a wiki for every forum, with a link posted in a sticky a the top of that forum would dramatically reduce the number of posts which result in more experienced users introducing the glories of the search window to less experienced users. I feel that it remains too difficult to glean all information, in particular from longer posts.
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Old Nov 1, 09, 10:37 pm
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Originally Posted by worldwidedreamer View Post
First off, I feel that the moderators do an amazing job of keeping discussions civil. Many of the snarky and impolite responses are to people who are new to our community asking junior varsity questions. I feel that having a wiki for every forum, with a link posted in a sticky a the top of that forum would dramatically reduce the number of posts which result in more experienced users introducing the glories of the search window to less experienced users. I feel that it remains too difficult to glean all information, in particular from longer posts.
I agree with this, but I also think that the main fault here lies with the experienced, snarky posters and not the newbies posting the "junior varsity" questions. Being rude is easy. Being friendly, helpful, and patience isn't always easy.

Having a wiki requires having people willing to keep those up to date (a perfect job, IMO, for those people who write up snarky responses to JV questions!).
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Old Nov 2, 09, 3:39 am
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Terrible question! JK

Sarcasm is part of most peoples personalities both online and in real life. I have no problem with well placed sarcastic humor. So long as it doens't cross the line into insulting or mean spirited. Moderators can make this distinction I feel, as they know their own forums and posters best. If it is questionable simply remove it. This is an area where less moderating should be directed IMO. There are some forums, UA for example since I post on there quite a bit, where any hints of sarcasm are removed. Again I think some posters take themselves and their FT personality too seriously and use the report a bad post button if their ego is bruised.

In regards to rude responses and blatant attacks these I feel have certainly been removed and I can't recall of an obvious instance where the mods haven't removed it.

I agree with previous posters that legislating "being nice" to all posters is impossible, however wiki's for each forum (if maintained and subsequently used) can certainly cut down on redundant questions.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 5:00 am
  #9  
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do you feel the TB should develop a policy to require or a permanent sticky to suggest that posters (new and old) refrain from being sarcastic or just plain rude to legitimate questions and comments?
I doubt this question will draw a huge amount of disagreement among candidates.

Personal attacks are against the TOS.

Moderators do their best now to discourage unwlecoming behavior towards new members.

People don't usually read stickies. READ ME FIRST or START HERE in a thread title are ways to guarantee a thread doesn't get read. :P

Unfortunately, this is a bulletin board on the internet so there will always be challenges. We just need to be vigilant to them.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 6:19 am
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This is a great question.

First of all, I think that this is one of the most effective, consistent and best organized moderating team I have seen anywhere, and I think that their judicious actions not only keep things in order for the most part, but they provide a deterrent to some of the snarkiest posters. While this problem will exist everywhere, I think it has declined somewhat of late.

To the question, I don't think a sticky or post "reminding" people to behave would be very effective. In some cases, it might spotlight the bad behavior and encourage the worst offenders by bringing attention to such posts. A comedian thrives when he has an audience, but can be very discouraged if he is ignored. While not in favor of a specific message to the effect, I think one of the best ways to deal with the wise guys is to ignore them...pretend their post doesn't exist (until the mods remove them that is). I would encourage all members to speak up freely, ask the questions they need answers to, and saying what's on their minds without fear of taunting, teasing or other criticism.

To the comment by B747-437B, this is a community and NO ONE should be made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome here. Everyone has a right to be here and to be heard.

To sum up, I don't support the idea of a constant reminder because it actually might have the opposite effect, and I would rather encourage everyone to completely ignore the wise guys, DO NOT engage them, and instead encourage a free and open exchange.

To this end, I would also support a revamping and beefing up of the search function to make finding information easier to find if one doesn't know where to look.

Thank you.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 7:27 am
  #11  
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I agree exactly with what gleff wrote above. I know some forums used to try and "sticky" threads about recent changes regarding the airline, but it quickly became obvious that even more threads were started about the topic as people overlooked the stickies. So I don't really think a sticky would help.

The best way to tackle rude responses is to either PM the person or outdo their rudeness with kindness. On several occasions I've PM'ed someone that had a rude response to a new member asking a simple question, and usually they're better about it afterwards. Rude people will be rude regardless of what a sticky says. There's very little that can be done to make them less rude, short of working hard as a community to show that we're a friendly bunch. Hopefully friendliness is contagious, and rudeness not so much....
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Old Nov 2, 09, 9:20 am
  #12  
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Thanks for the question.

You know how they say there is no such thing as a stupid question? Well, after reading that question, that sure has changed.

If that last paragraph raised your eyebrows or concerned you, that's a perfect illustration of how communication over the internet, including FT, is very different in text versus having the luxury of voice inflections and body language when delivering that line while in-person.

By the way, that paragraph was offered as illustration and not to offend (but if you laughed, I'll take credit for it).

I'm in the same boat regarding "sticky effectiveness" as some of my fellow candidates.

For example, in the OMNI Forum, Randy's sticky about behavioral guidelines is not read much. There are 103 threads in OMNI with more views.

That's not to say stickies are entirely ineffective, but I don't believe they are THE answer.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by schley View Post

I agree with previous posters that legislating "being nice" to all posters is impossible, however wiki's for each forum (if maintained and subsequently used) can certainly cut down on redundant questions.
To clarify, I feel wiki's (which should be sticky's) are a positive for each forum. It isn't because it cuts down on rude replies, it is a place to direct the newbie questions that come up constantly. Someone can simply say, "check out the wiki sticky at the top of this forum." Boom, done, reply given and poster educated.

I don't believe that a sticky with posting guidelines needs to be in every forum. Put it in one place and refer to it if needed. People don't break posting rules because they aren't accessible, they simply don't care or don't think they will be enforced. They are clear and it is up to the mod's to enforce them consistently. People tend to pay attention to posting rules after they are suspended for a while.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 9:59 am
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A community is made up of all types of personalities. Online communities are no different, with the possible exception that the community members are drawn together by more sharply defined shared interests.

The Moderators do an excellent job at policing particularly aggregious violations of community standards. However, one cannot legislate or enforce away the perception of being unwelcome.

The TalkBoard, as representatives of the userbase at large, can however work to create a more welcoming and enabling environment for the users - present and future. This can be done by many means - encouraging better mixing of ideas together with a more stategically viewed diversity of forums.

As an example, is the broader regional tone of threads in forums like Air Canada or Qantas welcoming to those who are not Canadian or Australian respectively? Could off-topic but regionally relevant threads be better served in a sub-forum structure? Would a new user seeking information from, or better still, seeking to provide information to a forum be more likely to focus his participation in a forum with wider or narrower scope? Is the everyone-knows-everyone attitude that many forums promote as strong community spirit actually a deterrant to new users who will initially feel like outsiders?

These are the kind of questions that TalkBoard needs to debate. The right decisions can really make a difference in setting a welcoming tone for both new and existing members.
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Old Nov 2, 09, 9:31 pm
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I like to consider myself a warm, welcoming member of FlyerTalk. I get a lot of joy helping people, especially when I can help them in an area that I have knowledge. I also don't like to see unhelpful or sarcastic responses to posts, especially to posts from newer members. So I'm with you 100%.

That said, I don't think a permanent sticky is the solution. For one, most people--especially regular posters--tend to not even see the stickies, so I don't think it would even be seen by those it is targeting. Two, what would it say? "Please be nice?" That'd be completely ignored by some people, and it really wouldn't be enforceable without a major change to FT's TOS banning rudeness and rolleyes (that wouldn't go over well! ). (Sticky FAQs and links to wikis may be a good option to help newbies find answers (they'll be more likely to see and pay attention to stickies), but I don't think sticky reminders would do much for existing, active forum members.)

Instead, I'd like to try to change this by positive means. I'd support taking another look at the FlyerTalk Ambassador program--recognizing certain members who consistently make FlyerTalk a warm, embracing community for newer members while also giving newer members an idea about who to go to for help if they need something. They're also the ones that people attending their first FT dos can seek out in person and feel welcomed. There's nothing worse than a shy person going to a big party where everyone knows each other and feeling left out. Ambassadors would be the designated greeters who would be there to get the conversation started.

For example, one of the forums I frequent has a member who actually maintains a Word document with commonly-asked questions. When newbies ask one of these questions, which happens on a regular basis, of course, he simply copies and pastes the answer from his Word doc into a post, tailors the answer as needed, and adds a welcome. Person welcomed, question answered, boom, done--no snark or rudeness, since he's very active on the forum and usually intercepts the questions before anyone could even think of posting a snarky reply. People go to him for help after that all the time, and he's happy to provide it. That's a FlyerTalk Ambassador if there ever was one!

I think the program has a lot of merit, and I was disappointed to see it fail on what at some points looked like petty bickering. I'm confident we can overcome those sticking points and get a working, constructive Ambassador system in place, which would help newer members perceive the tone of FlyerTalk to be that much warmer and friendlier.
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