State of the Channel: March 2020

Hey folks. We’re happy to announce a few things we’ve been working on, along with some general updates.

Mod Feedback Survey

As announced in the last SotA, we’ve set up a form where you can send in anonymous feedback to us. The purpose of this is to allow you to voice concerns about one of us as well as other users under the protection of anonymity.

The results will be processed by Anna, Kaywise and dw.

And if you have something nice to say, feel free to do that too!

Survey link is here. Thank you for your help!

How Modding Works

In addition to the feedback survey, we also promised a page where we lay out the modding process. It should be mostly self-explanatory and can be found here. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Related to this, please keep in mind that due to the new modding guidelines we’ve put in place, it’s possible that we’re not going to be quite as quick to respond to an issue in some situations. We do want to be consistent and fair, and make sure we talk things over before acting if it’s a delicate issue involving a lot of nuance, and depending on how many mods are around and how much is going on, that can just take some time. Some things are obvious enough and are generally acted upon quickly (e.g. personal attacks), but other issues will take more time to resolve.

Please note that the new guidelines don’t mean we’ll be modding less or ignoring serious issues, it just means we may take longer to respond while we consider HOW we moderate. 

Rule and Guideline Updates

Trolling

There has been a minor update to our rules. Specifically, we’ve added a section about trolling:

Trolling is also not accepted here. If you are posting just to get a rise out of or upset others, you may get a warning.

Thirst Posts

We asked for input from you about thirst posts a few weeks ago, and after processing the feedback, it seems most of you are okay with how things are currently being handled, so we’re going to keep the rules and enforcement about that as-is for now. Straightforward objectification will stay against the rules, and we’ll keep tackling this on a case-by-case basis.

So I guess this technically isn’t an update per se, but we wanted to be clear in communicating the results of this process.

No Threats

We’ve updated Guideline No. 9 to be a bit broader.

Formerly The McSquirrel Rule, we updated the language to get across the seriousness of this rule. Threats (real, hypothetical, or otherwise) against public officials, public figures, ordinary people, and other commenters is strictly prohibited not only by the Avocado but by Disqus guidelines. Do not use the word “McSquirrel” to get around this guideline. Such comments will be deleted.

Also, refrain from making comments wishing harm upon others in general.

Minimization

We have added a new Guideline about minimization.

■ Do not minimize the lived experiences of others, particularly fellow site members and marginalized groups.

■ Do not trivialize the impact of bigotry and discrimination.

General Notes

We’re going to address a few trends and issues we’ve seen popping up lately.

Bad Faith Arguments

We have been seeing a lot of accusations of bad faith in disagreements. I.e. people are assuming their counterpart is being intentionally dishonest and misleading. We have talked about this a lot within the team, and have often found in these arguments that we’re really mostly just seeing people disagreeing with each other, not being intentionally malicious. We would like to appeal to people to be more cautious with throwing such accusations around.

Aggressive Behavior

There continue to be people exclaiming how angry they are at other people in the community for a perceived slight. We have found this to not be helpful. Please remember that we do have rules about vagueposting and handling arguments, and also remember that we’re all trying to make this a place where we can enjoy shitposting and discourse alike, not where our goal should be to cause and escalate arguments. We also cannot help but notice that this problem is disproportionately common among our cis male commenters.

Speaking on Behalf of Others

We’ve noticed a tendency where members of privileged groups presume to speak for people from marginalized groups and make assumptions about their thoughts and feelings and needs, without actually checking with them. While we definitely think standing up for others is a good thing, it might be worth trying to take into account the words from the people you’re actually trying to help.

Twitter Posts

For any who post there, you know there are a ton of Twitter posts in the PT, but what you might not know is how many people can’t see tweets either because of work blocking Twitter or because they have media turned off.

Having a short description of the tweet you’re posting can go a long way toward getting more people interacting with your top level comments in the PT (and the OT for that matter) and can help clear up misunderstandings when someone doesn’t know why you’re posting a tweet. There have been many misunderstandings due to Twitter posts because people don’t know who the accounts are and who they’re talking about, and it’s easy to misread the poster’s intent when posted without further information.

We encourage people to give some context to what they’re posting for these reasons.

Community Policing Outside the Rules

Community policing is a good thing usually, and we appreciate that the community keeps out a watchful eye for problematic content and speaks up against it. But when you decide to push back in a situation like that, please remember to stay within the rules yourself. Somebody else violating site rules is not a blank cheque for you to do the same. If you see shit-stirring posts (whether they do so intentionally or accidentally), please do not make it worse by helping to stir the poo!

We have found ourselves having to intervene on both sides of an argument on several occasions and had to moderate even the person(s) we actually agreed with about the issue itself because their behavior was out of line. This makes it harder to deal with the actual problem posts themselves. 

We will remove posts and hand out warnings in such situations if need be, even if we agree with you about the matter of actual argument itself. If you find yourself becoming too aggravated to deal with an issue constructively, please just flag and/or email us about it without escalating further. It makes it much more likely that we will be able to deal with the situation quickly and effectively, and also will make your day much less stressful. Remember: We have a site guideline (#4) about taking a breather if you find yourself getting too worked up over a disagreement.

Maybe ask yourself what you actually want to achieve in such a situation: To vent at another person and blow off steam, or to have them improve their behavior?

Problematic Post in Serious Threads

Many of you use the regular Mental Health, Serious, and Sex & Relationships threads to speak frankly and cathartically about your life experiences, and that’s great. However, please keep in mind that site rules still apply to these threads. In particular, bigotry (sexism, racism, etc.) and harassment remain prohibited.

Site Info

See also this post by our dearest Kappa.

  • The top-level menu has gotten increasingly unwieldy, so we’re going to be archiving some posts and features which are no longer being regularly updated. Please note that this does not mean your WordPress posts will be removed, just that they will no longer be directly accessible from the top-level menu.
  • There are some features which are no longer being maintained by their authors. For those, and for any authors who might want to pass the baton to somebody else for something they’ve been doing on the site, we’ll be setting up a comment down below to which you can respond and where you can coordinate for this. The mods will confirm the change once everything is settled so that everybody knows what’s what. A Disqus post for this is here.
  • We’re looking to create some new default header images to replace the current stock ones for some threads and are looking for volunteers for those. See also the comments below if you’re interested.

Staff Changes

Resignations

With a heavy heart and a longing sigh, we’re saying goodbye to MLA’s modding days.

Yes, you read that right. We’ll give you a moment to process. We’ve been where you’ve been, so we understand the sentiment. Just keep breathing.

Okay, onwards. We know, we know. The Avocado without MLA among the mods sounds just as unlikely to us as it does to you. But alas, she is not the wavering sort, so this is indeed actually happening.

She will of course be dearly missed. Part of the soul of our group, so to speak, always trying to make sure we do what is right, not what we want to think is right. Always a kind word on her fingertips on a bad day, and most efficient in keeping modding as organized as it can be and preventing us from descending into utter chaos.

All in all: An amazing friend, an all-around great person, and an important voice in the squad. Your absence in our ranks will be felt.

Before the comment section descends into total despair: She’ll still be among us, just as a civilian! So please don’t panic! Her personal post can be found here

Recruitment

Partially related to the above: We’re looking for new mods. The European/African time zones are still somewhat understaffed (the middle of the Night Thread, more or less), so if you can help out there, that would be great. But we’re also happy to have you if you live in a North American time zone.

If you’d like to throw your hat into the ring, you can either reply to this comment here or email us at avocadomods@gmail.com