Logo FB

State of the Channel: Rule Revamp

Hey folks. Been a while. On one hand, that means we didn’t have any huge fires to put out in the last few months. Good! On the other hand, it doesn’t mean there haven’t been issues to address. Not so good.

Mainly, there have been two areas where we’ve been wanting to get better as a moderation team:

  • Simplify the rules. As often happens with rule books, the old rules were the result of organic growth over time, and thus had become rather … verbose. This sometimes made them hard to interpret. For the community when it came to the more subtle points of what was okay and what wasn’t, and for the mod team when deciding which posts to act on. We hope our revised rules will bring more clarity.
  • Cases where people had been causing harm to the community, but because they were skirting by just within the existing rules, we didn’t act against them as decisively as we would have liked. Instead of just going outside our established rules and doing as we pleased, we wanted to rework them so that we can be more effective at keeping you safe while still holding ourselves accountable to you as a community.

Besides that, we’ve also been wanting to apply tweaks to some areas (e.g. the Mod Guidelines), which have been folded into this.

So, with the context out of the way, what’s in the box?

Summary of Major Changes

The most important thing is that the new rules broadly cover the same ground as the old ones, but should be easier to understand and to apply while offering fewer loopholes.

We’ll spare you verbatim quotes of the new rules. The updated pages can be found in the top menu, or here:

Site Rules

The Site Rules are split into three major blocks:

  • Rules to which any posts — Disqus and WordPress — have to adhere.
  • Our community etiquette. These are items which might not necessarily result in an outright warning or deletion when breached, but will still be enforced, and serious and/or repeated violations may result in warnings (see below).
  • The fundraising rules.

Two major changes of which to be aware:

  • In cases where people are not in obvious violation of any given rule but still are clearly causing harm to the community, we reserve the right to act for the greater good of the community. This is mostly intended for rule-skirters and situations which we couldn’t predict when writing the rules.
  • We will be tracking lower-level infractions more consistently and diligently. This is less a rule change, and more of a change to how we record these kinds of incidents. It has come from a lot of reflection and many conversations within the mod team coupled with feedback from the community about members with toxic patterns of posts who manage to skirt around warnings (note that microaggressions are now covered in the rules too). We hope that better record keeping will allow us to spot harmful patterns and to intervene sooner. So if we keep deleting your posts, even though no single one has necessarily been egregious, you might find yourself with a warning sooner rather than later.

Warning and Ban Policy

  • Warnings now stay active for twelve instead of six months.
  • The default ban period is three months.
  • Using alternate accounts to violate site rules will likely result in a permanent ban on all your accounts.
  • We may opt to use shadowbans for persistent ban evaders. We will not use shadowbans for regular bans — temporary or permanent.
  • Deviations from default ban rules can be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Moderator Guidelines

We didn’t make any major changes here, but streamlined a few items based on our experiences with these rules now that we’ve lived with them for eight months.

Other Notes

  • While vagueposting and dragging up drama are still against the rules, allowances for speaking up in safe spaces like the Women+ thread, the LGBTQ+ thread and similar places will continue to be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, a member of a marginalized group speaking up against systemic issues on the site affecting their group will not necessarily be considered to be in violation of the rules even if the identities of specific people involved might be inferred from context.
  • We can’t be everywhere. Please flag posts you think we should have a look at. Not all posts will be deleted just because they are flagged, but we will look at all of them and flags are still valuable for establishing a pattern. They are also helpful for us to gauge whether or not a specific post is upsetting people.
  • Downvotes have been hidden for the time being. They might be re-enabled at times to sweep for downvote trolls or pending a policy reversal based on community feedback. The rules for downvotes stay in place regardless of visibility.
  • If there is a situation which requires more context than a flag, don’t hesitate to email us at avocadomods@gmail.com
  • Kappa will have a few administrative items he’ll address in the comments directly, so be on the lookout for his posts there.

That’s it! Thanks for reading, and happy posting!