To all Members - Political and Social Rants

Discussion in 'Forum Announcements and Feedback' started by Eric La Fountaine, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,495
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Hello Forum Members,

    I have had to close two threads that were taken over by political rants today. As I stated in closing them, I feel the UBCBG forums have a roll to play in these discussions as they relate to plants/agriculture/environment, but this type of discussion should take place in the Conversation and Chat forum and not overtake threads started in other forums. Please keep discussions positive, scientific and on topic.

    I realize many of us are frustrated by the current political environment and the state of the biosphere, but please try to limit such conversation to the Conversations and Chat forum and keep the conversation focussed on issues concerning how these political/social problems/issues affect or are affected by gardeners/plant researchers/botanists/ecologists, etc.

    I see more interest in these topics on the forums and I applaud people being concerned and working to learn/educate and find solutions to the great environmental problems facing us today. I feel the UBCBG forums have a definite roll to play here as we are a community of concerned and knowledgeable individuals. However we owe it to our community to be positive and open to solutions. Ranting and personal attacks are not helpful and not welcome on this forum.
     
  2. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Eric I agree that some moderator presence was appropriate in those two threads. However, what was done was unnecessarily heavy-handed and makes a mockery of the time and effort put into the threads by forum members.

    In both those threads, there had been one post made that politicized the discussion, however in neither case was the comment so offensive as to require removal. Also, in both cases the members had collectively quite effectively and adroitly steered the discussion back into safer channels and were either back on topic or on a topic that was related and clearly engaging a good number of participants.

    There should/could have been a moderator comment made in the thread, or that comment removed, at the time it was made. But that opportunity was missed. While I understand that the moderators cannot catch every posting in real time, one cannot moderate in retrospect in a case like this. By the time several days had elapsed, many members had invested time and effort in redirecting the discussion and diffusing any tension, and that investment has now been summarily dismissed by the removal of our postings.

    You and Daniel obviously have a nice clear vision for the forums, and to be fair, you have a mandate from the UBCBG to adhere to a certain model. What seems to be missing in either the mandate or the moderation is an understanding of the co-dependence of the forum with the personal "mandates" of the individuals who participate. There is also a distinct failure to understand that a dynamic evolves in a community of participants that has a life of its own and is worthy of respect.

    I cannot speak for other forum members, but my minimal requirement for participating in this and all other forums is to be treated like a self-determining adult, and I participate with the understanding that other participants hold the same status. Dramatic missteps, of which there have been a few, do happen, and those require moderation and even post removals - I've asked for it on some occasions. But for the most part, as long as we can manage ourselves and each other, we don't need to be managed.

    Discussions happen, and they carry some personality and they veer off topic. They go in unexpected directions, and sometimes those directions bear unexpected fruit. The parallel to a garden is obvious - each plant plays a role, but the way they interact is unpredictable, not always fantastic, but mostly the whole is greater than its parts. When you ruthlessly edit everything that has a negative effect, you end up editing out most of the positives as well.

    When newcomers enter the forum, they often make remarks about how friendly and helpful the place is. That is because participants are freely choosing to be here, and feel relaxed enough to provide warmth and ambience along with information. With the warmth and ambience comes personality, which is not always to everyone's taste. The conversation ebbs and flows according to interest and mood and is not always to be neatly categorized into "Conversations and Chat" vs. Botany. My advice: deal with it. For those of us who come here regularly, the botany may be the initial draw, but I doubt it is what keeps most of us coming back.

    And I think you need people to want to come back. The alternative is to have an "ask the experts" set-up where you and Daniel simply answer all the questions. If you set up forums rather than an advice column, then forums are what you have. And forums need to give their participants a reasonable amount of personal space. These threads were, in my opinion, well within reason barring a single remark that could have been "duly noted by administrator" without otherwise disturbing the integrity of the discussion.

    I would request that you reinstall those deleted posts. You were too late to the party in both those threads to do any productive moderating, but if you had to do something you could have simply posted a comment and left the substance of the thread intact. Instead, you have treated us all like naughty children whose behaviour is yours to direct, something I for one take very strong exception to.
     
  3. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,495
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Vancouver
    The two threads in question are here:

    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=38290

    and here:

    http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/forums/showthread.php?t=37770&highlight=personal+attacks&page=2

    I had removed the posts from the first, but left the second intact and closed it. Daniel went in and deleted the posts. I reviewed the comments in the deleted posts and I don't feel that they added anything to the original discussion.

    That is all I was trying to do. As I stated, I think the forums has a definite role (thanks, really, I appreciated the gentle correction.) to play in these discussions, but moderating political banter is a lot harder than moderating discussion of plants. I think political and social topics are interesting as they relate to plants/ecosystems and other topics relevant to the forums, but can be undesirable on the forums if they do not relate to the basic subject of the forums or if they are biased or written with a mudslinging tone.
     
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,350
    Likes Received:
    490
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    There are certainly a lot of projections about my knowledge, understanding and motivations.

    For now, things stay as they are. If other folks want to share their thoughts, feel free to do so.
     
  5. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Mission, BC, Canada
    One of the threads was mine. I hadn't been on the computer for a bit and missed a lot of the posts so I don't really know why it was closed.
     
  6. smivies

    smivies Active Member

    Messages:
    793
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    I'm of the view, "My house, my rules"....which seemed to work when I grew up. Also, don't speak of politics & religion unless you know your audience. Most of us haven't had any problems abiding to these standards.

    Some light hearted debate between ºF & ºC or use of common names is fine, but multi-paragraph posts pushing non-botanical views, semi-personal attacks, and emotionally fuelled rants is NOT what draws me to these forums. It's the botanical & horticultural knowledge, presented in a professional manner, coupled with the absence of off-topic passionate conversations that draws me here. If I want to read or participate in such discussions, I'll find a topic appropriate forum or host a dinner party.

    Keep up the good work in moderating!
     
  7. Margaret

    Margaret Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Sunshine Coast, B C Canada
    Smivies. Well said. Margaret
     
  8. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

    Messages:
    2,707
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    philly, pa, usa 6b
    i'll second that!! WELL SAID, smivies!!

    the comments in question were SO out of place/context to the forum in general and to the specific threads in particular, they deserved to be deleted.

    being unnecessarily rude is also unwarranted and those posts (as they happen) also deserve to be deleted.

    we ARE a friendly bunch here - let's keep it that way as that would be the best way to keep learning as well as sharing our knowledge and experiences with others as they come along.
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Sure, but if you're hosting a potluck dinner, you don't get to control the menu.

    I should add that I didn't see the most recent posts on the threads, which may well have warranted removal. It was the gutting of the earlier comments, which were political but were short and non personal and which HAD been neutralized by the group, that I objected to.
     
  10. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    479
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC, Dunbar area
    'Tis true that those who host potluck dinners cannot control the menu. But like most statements, only true to a point. If someone tries to place a pot of compost or worse on the table, you throw them - and their dish - out, and do not let them return. There are limits to everything.

    Plus, even if I can't control the menu, I can sure control who I invite to the dinner. Bring a yukky dish and you can't come back.

    Posts can be eliminated for many reasons. Subject matter is one - this is, after all, the Botanical Gardens forum, not the China-Tibet forum; I frequent sites where I can discuss the latter already, thanks. Similarly the pot luck diners have to bring food to eat; they can't bring pieces of material and announce that it is now a sewing bee.

    "Style", if I can use such an inappropriate word, is another: on this site civility is mandatory, not optional. Same at the potlucks, no? I assume that you do not let your guests swear and brawl.

    Of course the decisions may seem arbitrary, but that is the case of any decision-making process that involves human beings.

    And no, this site isn't a democracy. Can't for the life of me imagine why it should be.
     
  11. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    630
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Denman Island,BC
    I did not see these posts, so I won't comment on them specifically, and I very much appreciate these forums and the way they are managed, however Karin has a point, one that the rest of us need to keep in mind.

    We all have the capability to steer these forums, and I would argue also the responsibility. It appears from Karin's comments that this was happening in this case. I for one am not usually willing to sit back and wait for Daniel or Eric if there is an offensive or inappropriate post. On the other hand I don't have or wish to have the authority to alter or remove posts, but I can and have used the Personal Messaging function to reply privately without "rubbing anyone's nose in it". We can also send a message or a "heads up" to Daniel or Eric.

    This may not always work, but it's better than escalating a flaming and it's better than wringing your hands in frustrated silence.

    Ralph
     
  12. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

    Messages:
    59
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island
    You know, everyone's thoughts and comments regarding this thread are both valid and well reasoned. I realize that sounds a bit like fence sitting - but this is a tough topic!

    All I can say is that I truly enjoy this Forum immensely and love the opportunity to learn from it and occasionally participate. As someone else had indicated, we truly are a friendly bunch here ... the nature of a gardener I guess. If every now and then we need a pruning, so be it, as long as it allows the Forum to continue to grow in a healthy manner (and maintain true to its original purpose). A sincere thanks to Eric and Daniel for all your effort and managing to do such an exceptional job overall with regards to both maintaining and moderating these Forums ... very much appreciated.
     
  13. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,668
    Likes Received:
    548
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Much of the appeal of the site is the close moderation, something lacking at GardenWeb for instance and I am certain making all the difference in the comfort levels between the two sites.
     
  14. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Smivies - well said.

    I'd like to apologise for my part in this, as some of my posts were deleted in this whole debacle; I've put the individual to whom I was reacting on permanent Ignore. I can get a bit reactive, and I'm sorry for that.

    I come here for the depth and focus of the botanic knowledge and the friendliness and willingness to share of the community - we're plant-geek central, and I mean that in the kindest possible way. Besides, you are sometimes the only people who know what's growing in my garden!
     
  15. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    3,495
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks everyone for the comments. We will try to moderate judiciously. I reacted to the posts in question because I was alerted by a couple of members who had pressed the bad thread button. Unless I make a mistake (happened once) all posts are removed softly and can be replaced, so if there is error in moderation even that can be undone.
     
  16. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

    Messages:
    9,616
    Likes Received:
    1,612
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I'd like to second that. I've always been impressed by the care and attention given to everything on this site. I've been bailed out more than a couple of times that I've screwed things up trying to moderate my forums, and usually before I had to ask for the help.
     
  17. muriel

    muriel Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PEI
    See, now I'm desperate to know what set all this off. Closest I've got to adolescence in years.
     
  18. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    A number of rants about the Bush government as well as Socialized Medicine. It got kind of nasty.
     
  19. muriel

    muriel Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PEI
    Thanks lorax.....both those things are on thinking peoples' minds so they do pop up.
     
  20. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    4,776
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    Oh, and a digression into the X-Files as well, if I recall correctly.
     
  21. muriel

    muriel Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PEI
    I recognize the role of a moderator and they both sound sympatico but I am sorry I missed the rumpus. I'm sure you guys (gender neutral) handled the situation in an adept manner. X-Files, someone else is remembering their adolescence! I suscribe to a bridge site out of NZ and it has instituted a dandy way to treat abusive players; you can click them off the table.
     
  22. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,668
    Likes Received:
    548
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    So is it then "a bridge site" or "[an] abridgement site"?
     
  23. muriel

    muriel Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    PEI
    Ah, good one, RonB.
     
  24. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    I wanted to weigh in and say I did not see the posts in question but I am very happy to have the moderators keep politics and touchy topics or emotions off the forum... it is relaxing and informative to come to this place and just learn about plants. There are other forums for other matters. Thank you for having such a well-moderated site.
     
  25. greenthumb7

    greenthumb7 Member

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Elkins, Ark.
    This is a rant about the 3 or 4 members who have made it their life goal to humilate degrade and be as hateful as possible to members who's views they don't agree with. This gratuitus hatefullness has extended to sending a blizzard of personal emails several times a week and sometimes several times a day!!! This should not be tolerated on any level and I for one feel these members should be expelled if they can't control their childish rants that have no basis or purpose except to hurt as deeply as possible. I don't want to name names or post these horrible emails for the whole of UBC to see but if it doesn't stop I will do just that. SO L., H. and R. Stop now.
     

Share This Page