The ARLnow.com forums have re-opened, with five volunteer moderators to help improve the level of discourse.
The moderators for this self-policing forum are: Alex, ARLwahoo, Bard, John Fontain, and Ipitythefool. They will have the power to close topics and delete posts that violate our discussion guidelines. Per those guidelines, the following are prohibited.
- Hate speech, racism or discriminatory remarks
- Strong personal attacks against forum users
- Threats of violence
- Off-topic diatribes
- Negative remarks directed at victims of tragic events
- Especially profane or vulgar language
- Unsubstantiated, specific allegations of criminal wrongdoing directed at an individual or company that has not, in fact, been charged with a crime
- Unsubstantiated allegations of corruption or conspiracies
- Personally identifying information, such as phone numbers, home addresses or the full names of private individuals
- Topics not directly relevant to Arlington, the D.C. region or Virginia. National political discussions without a strong local angle will be considered off-topic.
- Business reviews. Please use Yelp if you want to review a local business.
- Posts designed to stifle or disrupt conversation. This includes intentionally provocative "troll" comments.
- Strongly negative comments about the personal appearance of individuals
We encourage our moderators to enforce these guidelines like a hockey ref — let ‘em play through minor infractions, but step in when things start to get out of hand. In turn, we encourage our users to be mindful of the guidelines. Please do your part to ensure that the forums are a place for thoughtful discussion and useful information, not back-and-forth arguments.
We hope you enjoy the relaunched ARLnow.com forums.
Thanks ARLnow for reopening the forums and to the 5 moderators for stepping up!
Yes, thanks, but please consider revising this rule to apply to anyone (not just “forum users”):
- Strong personal attacks against forum users
This rule has too often been cited as a form of invincibility cloak. Of course the moderators ought to be able to silence that brand of nonsense anyway so…
It’s unfortunate that it’s come down to something like this… but it’s a necessary evil nonetheless.
Hopefully the forum will get better as a result.
Thanks for reopening the forum.
No more trolling, no more hate, these moderated forums sure gonna be great!
And with your username, we’ve already started the same BS that got the forum shut the first time. Nice work.
Apologies to all,
Above message was meant to be a lighthearted endorsement of new moderated forums. Moderator please delete if you see fit.
All in all, a good development. I’m not a big forum guy myself, but it will definitely be nice not to have the constant trolling back and forth.
Some of the rules seem a bit odd to me, though.
On the not printing personally identifiable information – will that include a ban on links to the Facebook pages of suspected criminals? In the main section of the site, too?
I wonder what counts as a “business review?” And why specifically mention Yelp? Is there some sort of kickback? But, in general, this seems really misplaced. Sharing restaurant experiences seems pretty benign. Is there some reason to think that some of these posts are insincere? Certainly that would also be a danger at Yelp, wouldn’t it? I just don’t get it.
“Strongly negative comments about someone’s personal appearance” – again, what does that mean? You can’t say someone is ugly? Why not? Wouldn’t this already be covered under “no personal attacks?” Is this intended to cover something else? We can’t say Fissette is ugly, if we want to? Can we say he’s fat? What about if we say the tie he wore yesterday was ugly? Would that count? All of this seems pretty ridiculous.
What is an “off topic diatribe?” You mean if someone starts a thread about the budget, then someone can’t get on that thread and complain about traffic? Is that it? Jeez, that’s pretty petty, isn’t it? I guess that’s maybe annoying to someone, but worth banning? Again, seems odd.
Unsubstantiated allegations. Are you asking moderators to conduct investigations now? How do you know if its substantiated or not? Also, will this apply to the comments section after blog posts? People do it constantly over there – accusing Zimmie of being corrupt, accusing the county board of extracting bribes / ransom from developers. (In fact, I think it wouldn’t be too difficult to find examples from one or more of the new moderators.) Seems like a lot of room for subjectivity here.
I don’t think the guidelines are odd. I imagine the business review thing is meant to prevent people from posting/starting threads in an effort to drum up business for themselves or their friends (it happens sometimes). The other rules you cite are very general guidelines, meant to preserve decorum and keep the board on-topic, for the most part. If you don’t post the same political claptrap over and over and you don’t go overboard with namecalling and whatnot, you’ll probably be fine.
I’m actually with speonjosh on some of this. Is there a reason why we can’t discuss local business? That seems like exactly the sort of thing a community forum should be for: discussing businesses in the community. Is the reason that people shouldn’t be coming in here and shamelessly promoting their own business? If that’s the case, then make that the offense, not just discussing a business. Would a thread asking where to buy pretzel rolls constitute breaking that rule because people are discussing what businesses carry them? Or the thread awhile back asking where to get a good breakfast sandwich and people listed places? Or the one where people wanted to discuss where they’ve gotten good or bad bartending services? These were actually pretty helpful, very civil, on topic, and fun to take part in.
I agree that there needed to be much stronger rules, and I’m so happy that there will be moderators (thank you to them!!), but some of these rules seem easy for someone to break even if they are acting productively and respectfully. I can think of about 20 different examples of times when something I’ve said or seen could technically fall under those guidelines but were actually positive additions to a discussion.
I suppose I’ll have to go back to being a lurker for awhile until I see how things go.
I’m with Bard in that we’re not here to stomp on everybody’s parade, but just keep the forums constructive. For awhile, it wasn’t even possible to post a legit question/comment/feedback in relation to Arlington without something from another thread spilling over. I don’t intend to crack down on stuff like “these sandwiches from ____ are awesome!” or “beerfest in DC this weekend!”. Those kinds of threads can be useful to folks and while some may not benefit from said threads, others may. Not my place to judge that. But while folks should have some free-range on topics to post/comment on, at the same time, folks should have the right to not have to sort through a massive amount of off-topic, non-helpful, negative stuff. Somewhere in that middle will be a balance..
I side with speonjosh and meowkitty – color me skeptical (and quite possibly the first one banned under the new rules). I find it hard to believe that all the ills can be blamed on one person. Know what? It is possible to just not read or respond if a poster offends you that much, although when entire topics revolved around 6-year-olds playing ‘am not’/’are too’, it is to be expected and difficult to completely ignore, but it isn’t just one person. One of the new mods called that poster a “loser” on the last banned topic – is that what the solution is? Are the inmates running the asylum now? So the mods get to decide which posts are acceptable and which are not based on what logic? Just about ANY reply can be deemed ‘off topic’. I forget – with which nation are we at war – Eurasia or Eastasia?
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