As some of you are no doubt aware, we had a bit of drama related to the Pit recently, which has led to me reconsidering my approach to how I moderate the Pit.
Previously, I’d held to a position where pretty much any sort of insult was allowed, short of racial slurs. I used this standard because I felt it was about as objective as possible, but it’s led to a number of situations in the last couple years where I was defending behavior that made me nauseous, and I don’t want to do that anymore. We’re also having this discussion in the mod loop right now, but I thought I’d take a page from Jonathan Chance and solicit some input from you [del]terrifying degenerates[/del] valued board members.
Before I continue, I want to make an important point in red text.
I placed this thread in the Pit, because I want people who post regularly in this forum to see and respond to it. However, I don’t want to see fighting or insults in here. I intend to moderate this discussion as if it were in ATMB. Please keep this in mind. If you absolutely have to call someone a name, start a new Pit thread to do it. Also, please don’t illustrate your arguments by linking to posts that demonstrate what you feel to be unacceptable behavior, as I don’t want to use this thread to re-litigate old issues.
My goal here is to reign the Pit in, not neuter it. I want to still allow posters a lot of latitude in how they express themselves, without turning the Pit into a refuge for toxic assholes. I’m hesitant about any more “bright line” policies. The previous “(almost) Anything Goes” policy was a result of me trying to find a bright line that didn’t rely on my personal opinion about what was “too far,” and that hasn’t worked out great. I don’t want any policies that allow abominable behavior because it falls on the right side of a poorly-worded bright line, but I also don’t want to draw a rule so broadly that it penalizes common idioms or mainstream opinions. I think we need to move to something a little more subjective. There have been a few ideas that come up a lot as behavior that shouldn’t be allowed, so I’ll start with those. Note that, while I’m going to share my opinions about each of these as I introduce them, I’m not set in stone about any of this.
Making personal attacks against posters
This is both the area where I intend the most immediate change, but also the most subjective. I want to make attacking someone over deep personal trauma out-of-bounds, but that’s going to necessarily be a lot of subjective decisions on my part. I’ve certainly seen a lot of people report posts because they were “traumatized” by the most picayune insults, or even simply criticism and disagreement. On the other hand, as an able-bodied white guy, there are entire oceans of trauma out there of which I have only the vaguest understanding.
Insulting other poster’s minor children
This is maybe a part of that whole “oceans I don’t understand” thing, but I honestly don’t see why this is a big deal. If you were insulting the kid to their face, yeah, that’s awful, but presumably they’re never going to see it, so who cares? Well, a lot of people, apparently. This is actually a pretty easy bright line to draw, because while I’m not personally bothered by it, I don’t really see any scenarios where it feels necessary.
I’ve often seen variations of this suggestion that include insulting other posters performance as parents, which I feel is over-broad. While this area is certainly ripe for “too far” posts, I think there are some areas where criticism is legitimate and even necessary. Someone posting about how they’re not vaccinating their kids deserve to be roasted at least a little, for example. I think there’s also some value in the idea that, if you introduce your kids into a debate, you’re inviting commentary on your relationship with them.
Calling other posters "pedophiles"
This is something else that gets brought up a lot, that I’m not personally bothered by. (For the record, yes, actual pedophiles bother me, but I don’t see saying “You’re a pedophile” as necessarily worse than, “You’re a motherfucker.”) And this is an area where I think there is some room for legitimate attacks. We’ve had posters (again, I’m not naming anyone in particular, and please don’t offer your own examples of what I’m talking about here) who have posted things about children that, while not something that you could take to the cops, still comes across as deeply skeevy, and I’d like to retain the ability to call that sort of thing out when it happens.
Anyway, this is where I’m at on this subject right now. I’m open to ideas or suggestions for other changes, or arguments that I’m not taking the right approach on these specific issues.