Dreamstorm

Discussion about forum moderation

113 posts in this topic

59 minutes ago, BraidedRose said:

There’s a misperception I’ve seen perpetuated throughout the forum (as above) that the entirety of a 96 page thread was directly about ships. In reality the conversation evolved again and again to cover a wide range of topics having anything to do with all three characters. I get that this is part of what some are arguing against and there may be a point to that. But the closing of the thread in an atmosphere of dismissiveness around any discussion of relationships leaves many who enjoy character based discussion feeling less welcome. Many seem to feel that problems have been solved by closing a thread. I can see that some have been created (or at least worsened) without being addressed yet.

This has been addressed before, but I would like to reiterate - the biggest problem with the ASK thread is that it was too general. It was a mishmash of a ton of different things, and it got extremely intimidating very quickly. Over the past several months, we've had numerous reports, PMs, and comments over Discord about it. I personally have seen several people say, "I really want to talk about this stuff, but that thread scares me." When you have a multitude of people stating that they're afraid of a thread, then we have to take a hard look and consider taking action.

We encourage you all to open up new discussion threads on a tighter focus. Please. We don't want to shut down discussion, but find ways to make it more accessible to everyone.

50 minutes ago, Calderis said:

And I'm fine with the rest of that discussion. I intentionally stayed away from the thread though, because that was it's focus. 

My issue with shipping has nothing to to do with the character discussion. I am fine with seeing that as one facet of many. 

That thread though, in the few times I did pay attention to it, was factionalized. All of my exposure to "shipping" has been these factionalized shipping wars that are about which ship is the "right" one. Because of Feather I have a much greater appreciation for what shipping should be... But what I saw were all of the reasons I have an issue with it to begin with. 

There were probably portions of the thread that I would have gladly taken part in. Things that were about the characters and their motivations as individuals. I didn't want to wade through the fighting and picturization of the people as only parts of a relationship to find them though. 

I dislike even the names of ships really, because as much as it's meant to be a cutesy thing to easy convey meaning... It has an implication of the two characters as incomplete without the counterpart. Relationships shouldn't work that way. 

Of course, if someone starts an actual shipping thread, then I'm going to have to start spouting my nonsense somewhere other than Discord. Imagine, the entire Shard rolling their eyes at the crazy unicorn lady whose solution to every love triangle is to throw polyamory at it. :ph34r: Yessss, my darlings, LOVE IS EVERYWHERE!

33 minutes ago, maxal said:

Now the mods are going to freak out, but I kind of wish the downvotes were back... :ph34r:

Who are you, and what have you done with maxal? :P

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4 hours ago, maxal said:

 Adolin's sense of fashion (seriously this discussion was interesting and the thread was closed before I had time to respond :(:angry:).

Oh look, a topic like the one Eric was just saying he wanted to still see. Maybe someone who maybe had thoughts to share but didn't get a chance to should start just such a topic.

 

*Walks away whistling*

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14 minutes ago, Kaymyth said:

This has been addressed before, but I would like to reiterate - the biggest problem with the ASK thread is that it was too general. It was a mishmash of a ton of different things, and it got extremely intimidating very quickly. Over the past several months, we've had numerous reports, PMs, and comments over Discord about it. I personally have seen several people say, "I really want to talk about this stuff, but that thread scares me." When you have a multitude of people stating that they're afraid of a thread, then we have to take a hard look and consider taking action.

We encourage you all to open up new discussion threads on a tighter focus. Please. We don't want to shut down discussion, but find ways to make it more accessible to everyone.

Of course, if someone starts an actual shipping thread, then I'm going to have to start spouting my nonsense somewhere other than Discord. Imagine, the entire Shard rolling their eyes at the crazy unicorn lady whose solution to every love triangle is to throw polyamory at it. :ph34r: Yessss, my darlings, LOVE IS EVERYWHERE!

I've made a point of bringing this up in Discord a few times, but I am also a lover of character-based and relationship-focused discussions. The A-S-K thread wasn't a sterling example of what shipping threads can be, but I know this is something that 17S' culture has had issues with in the past. There's nothing more fun to me than having a chill, friendly conversation about characters and ships and plots and narrative arcs and stuff like that. Unfortunately, 17S hasn't been home to most of those discussions. They've happened elsewhere. But I think it'd be great if they happened here too.

I've had too many fandom friends say they don't feel like 17S is a place for people like them, the shippers, the character experts, the fanfic writers, the artists, the AU people. They get intimidated and think you've got to be a Realmatics expert and know at least 200 WoBs of the top of your head to post here, and I don't want that to be true. It's great that we have experts who really know the nitty-gritty of the cosmere in and out, and I think they're amazing resources for this site. But no one should feel like those are the only people who are welcome.

One of the things that both saddens and encourages me about what's happened with A-S-K is hearing how many people seem to be really wanting those kind of discussions too. I hear it both from people who were active and supportive of the thread, who feel sad that it's gone, because it felt like it was the one place they could talk about these kinds of things. And I hear it from people from people who really wanted a place to talk about those kinds of things, but didn't want to jump into A-S-K for whatever reason, and felt like they were stuck and had no other places to go.

That thread, for better or worse, agree or disagree, is done with for now. But I like this idea that maybe we'll get some new character-focused threads in the future and we can all have those cool, fun character or ship talks that apparently, a bunch of us have been wanting threads like that. I say, let's do it. It's silly for us to all sit around wishing someone else wanted to talk about this stuff. Let's just go for it instead of wishing!

13 minutes ago, Kaymyth said:

 

Quote
Now the mods are going to freak out, but I kind of wish the downvotes were back... :ph34r:

 

Who are you, and what have you done with maxal? :P

I don't know what they've done with her, Kay, but I'm scared. Who is this new person????

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8 hours ago, Calderis said:

And I'm fine with the rest of that discussion. I intentionally stayed away from the thread though, because that was it's focus. 

My issue with shipping has nothing to to do with the character discussion. I am fine with seeing that as one facet of many. 

That thread though, in the few times I did pay attention to it, was factionalized. All of my exposure to "shipping" has been these factionalized shipping wars that are about which ship is the "right" one. Because of Feather I have a much greater appreciation for what shipping should be... But what I saw were all of the reasons I have an issue with it to begin with. 

There were probably portions of the thread that I would have gladly taken part in. Things that were about the characters and their motivations as individuals. I didn't want to wade through the fighting and picturization of the people as only parts of a relationship to find them though. 

I dislike even the names of ships really, because as much as it's meant to be a cutesy thing to easy convey meaning... It has an implication of the two characters as incomplete without the counterpart. Relationships shouldn't work that way. 

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t saying there is anything wrong with not wanting to participate in relationship discussions. That seems to be a popular opinion, but unfortunately often accompanied by a trivialization of what’s involved in those discussions.

I don’t like the word shipping either. It has a negative connotation of fan wars and a lack of critical thinking. I don’t like that any discussion involving relationships gets categorized that way, but that seems to be the way of things.

Essentially, discussion of Shallan’s progression as a KR, her Lightweaving abilities, etc, are all fine. But if I want to discuss her motivations for choosing Adolin, how her relationship status at the end of OB might be affecting her mental state or her bond with Pattern, or what it might mean for her character development, that is all “shipping” and as such easily dismissed. 

Because so many people shut down when those sorts of topics are broached it can be hard to know where/when it is acceptable to discuss them, especially now. A lot of people are now saying to start those topics in new threads (which is a new sentiment I never saw before the ASK thread closed). Which is fine, but I was pointing out the context of attitudes toward relationship discussions and how that might affect such potential threads.

@maxal and @Kaymyth and others, the point of my original post was not about why the ASK thread was closed, as I have been given the same explanation before. I get that it is done with now and we need to figure out a way to move forward with character based discussion from here. My point is that the general attitude towards relationship discussion has been less than welcoming so those who happily participated in the thread and don’t see the whole thing as “toxic” are feeling even less welcome as a result.

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9 hours ago, Kaymyth said:

Who are you, and what have you done with maxal? :P

I gagged her and I locked her up in the closet :ph34r:

But seriously I think the event of the last weeks have shown how negative upvotes could be. I can now better appreciate Chaos's point over how downvotes had a "leveling" effect. I do thing seeing dismissive, vindictive and aggressive posts get 10 upvotes because they were written by someone championing the preferred ship into this one thread was bad for the discussion. Just a year ago, a character-related post had to be absolutely superb and fantastic to get more than 1 or 2 upvotes and suddenly average condescending posts were getting 10 upvotes. It gave the impression one had to defend a given opinion to be included within the discussion: it probably steered away some of the new comers. 

Obviously, I was kidding when I said I almost wished the downvotes were back. Back we had them, it was really difficult to write an unpopular opinion: it demanded extraordinarily tact to manage to pass an unpopular opinion without getting downvoted. Some are eloquent enough they succeeded in doing so, but I have had posts being downvoted just because I wrote them and they were against the most popular belief which also isn't good for the overall discussion.

I think the hybrid system moderation is proposing might work better. Either way, I appreciate the moderation team efforts to make the 17th Shard a friendly environment to discuss Brandon Sanderson's books.

9 hours ago, firstRainbowRose said:

Oh look, a topic like the one Eric was just saying he wanted to still see. Maybe someone who maybe had thoughts to share but didn't get a chance to should start just such a topic.

 

*Walks away whistling*

I'll think about it. I wasn't kidding when I said I was really busy in real-life these days.

8 hours ago, FeatherWriter said:

I've had too many fandom friends say they don't feel like 17S is a place for people like them, the shippers, the character experts, the fanfic writers, the artists, the AU people. They get intimidated and think you've got to be a Realmatics expert and know at least 200 WoBs of the top of your head to post here, and I don't want that to be true. It's great that we have experts who really know the nitty-gritty of the cosmere in and out, and I think they're amazing resources for this site. But no one should feel like those are the only people who are welcome.

I have never been a Cosmere expert nor a realmatic knowledgeable individual... I never felt one had to be one to engage into character related discussion, but I'll admit the mood within the thread was very defensive. Some readers just love to discuss characters, how they read them, how they interpret them, without wanting to fish out quotes or WoB to support each and every single point they raised. The Thread, at times, got stuck into moods where one couldn't phrased thoughts or pass a point without being accused of not having interpreted one given passage in the book into the ways the thread has said it ought to be interpreted and this, I can see why, would steer people away. 

There has however always been some great character discussion onto the 17th Shard. I'd love a nice threads about AU, discussing fun ideas for alternate ideas which go outside the canon. I absolutely love College AU :ph34r: but there never really was a place for this onto the Shard. There is one Tumblr poster who wrote such an excellent post on Adolin, I wanted to link it to the 17th Shard, but I do not know this individual. I have no idea of she/he would react positively to this, so I didn't.

This being said, there is a way for everyone to cohabit together. I have always appreciate when posters such as @Calderis and many others popped in to offer WoB support. I think it is great when both groups collaborate.

2 hours ago, BraidedRose said:

@maxal and @Kaymyth and others, the point of my original post was not about why the ASK thread was closed, as I have been given the same explanation before. I get that it is done with now and we need to figure out a way to move forward with character based discussion from here. My point is that the general attitude towards relationship discussion has been less than welcoming so those who happily participated in the thread and don’t see the whole thing as “toxic” are feeling even less welcome as a result.

The attitude towards relationship discussion, elsewhere than within the thread, has been poor lately. I think everyone needs to accept we all get something different from those books and to respect there are readers who just do not care about the Cosmere, but cares about who ends up with whom.

I think the moderation team is trying to make the climate better for more character-related discussion to happen, like it used to.

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This thread exemplifies exactly the double standard I have come to expect from the staff of this forum. Past actions have revealed to me the extreme bias and inability to take criticism that characterizes the staff. Instead of admitting responsibility, it is elected to close ranks and start making excuses, lament about the nature of humanity and how actions and intentions are misunderstood.

I have no confidence in the ability of the staff to fulfill the role they have chosen with fairness and to treat all users and their opinions in an even-handed manner. It seems that users who do not align with their opinions get unfairly called out and publicly ridiculed, while users that are friends with other influential users only receive a gentle slap on the wrist even when they have been consistently offensive and argued in bad faith. That preferential treatment cannot be allowed to stand. Public admonishment apparently has its uses as has privately. I wonder on which standard its decided who gets what. Just because some people are more easily reachable does not mean they should not receive the same treatment as everyone else. And every user is approachable by any mod through this forum's PM system. Just because you are not Skype buddies with a user does not mean you cannot privately tell them to cool off. That reasoning and excuse is extremely weak. Not to mention that it has been proven that it is not applied uniformly, judging by which users get the ever so “useful” public scolding and who does not.

So you can see why your unconvincing attempts at providing excuses about your handling of the situation do not convince me as to the staff's intentions. It runs contrary to what I have witnessed happening these past couple of months. In addition, your pronouncements about what role you aspire to play run contradictory to what I have witnessed.

I feel you want a stratified community which is ruled with an iron fist. Also, apparently, dissent is to be silenced because it leads to contention and some people cannot handle that. I think that a small minority would prefer this to be their private club where only they can share their theories, have everyone validate them, throw praise at their feet, pat each other on the back about how great fans they are and gush about how great the product they consume is. Which is ironic, because it is the same people that create that contention and “unfriendly atmosphere”. And when said dissent cannot be shutdown, then a private platform will be used to provide commentary, without including the opposing argument, in an attempt to further promote highly opinionated views in the eyes of the community.

I write the above statement with great trepidation as I am quite afraid that you will use the tools you have at your disposal to ban from this forum or to further silence me. That may not be the case, but it is problematic that a user would fear the administration of this forum. It suggests some severe mismanagement of the interactions between the two groups that need to be addressed. You have a breach of trust. To put it simply people do not trust you. There is this misinterpretation that people are paranoid and developed a tribal instinct or whatever, which is purely ridiculous. I guess that you are allowed to do the same and call it a “rapport” or “being a closely knit group”. Instead of calling out conspiracies and cabals, maybe you should take a hard look at yourselves and recognise that if we are this cabal you make us, we are only following your own example. A community will follow the example of its moderators and admins after all. Do you now see why posting personal beliefs and promoting certain practises under the guise of an especially recognisable title is problematic?

I have given the moderation of this forum way more chances than they deserved and they have been consistently failing me. This thread is another instance of more of the same. You are not interested in doing anything real and tangible. You just want to provide yourselves with an alibi and to be able to say that you talked about it and couldn't find a solution or that we were uncooperative.

Since the subject of the ASK thread has been brought up in an attempt to derail this discussion and discredit what is considered here as “shipper” blathering, let me just say the following. The lock-down of the ASK thread is not the reason we are having this discussion but the excuse. This problematic behavior has been obvious since November to me. This latest decision is the straw that broke the camel's back.

We were contained into one thread in a sea of a community that runs contrary to the opinion we want to express. You ripped away the space we had carved out where we can speak freely because some people get offended due to the fact that they do not want to see our position expressed. Or, as has been expressed repeatedly, there are many prolific posters who publicly rail against the idea of romantic storylines being discussed at all. Would you mind if we created a new thread? I think you wouldn’t, as long as they are under the administration’s complete control. I think you just want a docile and hobbled community that doesn't talk about some issues because you feel that they bring contention (which was expected by the author) so you choose to silence it, ostensibly to keep a "friendly atmosphere" which it not even upheld by staff members themselves. I know that emotional topics, such as a romantic storyline, bring heated emotions, but the contributors to that thread have been mostly respectful and considerate. Until somebody who gets offended at our criticism of a fictional story or character takes it personally. Should we be expected not to engage with them to defend our opinions? Should we be the ones that are made an example of? Frankly I've had enough of being made a pariah for expressing my inoffensive opinions because some people take personal offense at my views.

 

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3 hours ago, BraidedRose said:

My point is that the general attitude towards relationship discussion has been less than welcoming so those who happily participated in the thread and don’t see the whole thing as “toxic” are feeling even less welcome as a result.

BraidedRose, if you're ever in a character or relationship (or any other) discussion and feel like somebody is dismissing the very value of that discussion, we'd definitely like to know about it.

Personally, I was under the impression that the issues in ASK were more about people wanting to talk but being unable to get a word in--not people dismissing the value of those conversations.

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24 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Personally, I was under the impression that the issues in ASK were more about people wanting to talk but being unable to get a word in--not people dismissing the value of those conversations.

All due respect, that’s kind of been the point of why people have been upset that the thread was just closed the way it was—because there was a general perception of hostility in those discussions everywhere outside the thread, so the thread closure reinforced the idea that those of us, who liked the discussions in that thread, those thoughts weren’t wanted. 

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10 hours ago, DimChatz said:

I have given the moderation of this forum way more chances than they deserved and they have been consistently failing me. This thread is another instance of more of the same. You are not interested in doing anything real and tangible. You just want to provide yourselves with an alibi and to be able to say that you talked about it and couldn't find a solution or that we were uncooperative.

DimChatz, we're all busy people. This is the first time you've spoken yourself in here if I'm not mistaken. We've got lives, babies, jobs, and this takes time. We didn't make this to pretend we're listening and then call it a day. We've been talking about some of the points from this discussion privately and will probably change some things. We're just still decide what that looks like. We're still trying to process this conversation, which is barely a day old.

And to that end, it would be really helpful to me personally if you could explain exactly and concisely what you think has been done poorly. Your general dissatisfaction is noted, but it's hard for me to pull specifics out of that.

One thing I gather is that you feel like we're moderating different people in different ways. Thanks for expressing that.

 

 

10 hours ago, Alderant said:

All due respect, that’s kind of been the point of why people have been upset that the thread was just closed the way it was—because there was a general perception of hostility in those discussions everywhere outside the thread, so the thread closure reinforced the idea that those of us, who liked the discussions in that thread, those thoughts weren’t wanted. 

If you ever try to start a character discussion and somebody makes you feel unwelcome posting such a topic, I definitely want to know about it. That's not okay, if I understand right.

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20 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

If you ever try to start a character discussion and somebody makes you feel unwelcome posting such a topic, I definitely want to know about it. That's not okay, if I understand right.

Thank you for your reply and also for checking out my analysis thread. It means a lot to have some of the bigger community members participate. It's good to know you guys are talking and discussing what ways you can implement change. For my part, when I created the thread I fully expected about three people to participate, and to receive a lot of criticism for even creating it, but I decided to go through with it because it's a project that's dear to me. The reception I've received over there, as well as some of the replies I've seen here, has given me some hope that maybe things aren't as bad as they have seemed to this point, or that things are going to change for the better.

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1 hour ago, Alderant said:

Thank you for your reply and also for checking out my analysis thread.

That thread is awesome! Truly top notch analysis and I am excited to see more chapters analyzed. Great work!

I think that it's better to have more specific threads, I know that I largely stayed away from the ASK thread because it was so freaking large. I have a limited amount of time to read things on this forum, and at 100+ pages that's getting to the length of a Stormlight Archive novel, I don't have the time to read the whole thread, and I don't like to comment unless I've read all of the previous posts.

I would like to say, though I've only been on the forum for a little over 3 months, and I haven't been on the ASK thread except for one post which was basically a silly meme (due to it's daunting size), all the times that I have seen moderators step in on other threads were when the tone of the posts had gotten to the level of personal attack. Obviously we all feel passionately about these books, or we wouldn't be on the shard, but I have seen Chaos, Mestiv and Jowfu do a great job at diffusing situations that were spiraling into the territory of ad hominem attacks. The advice to walk away and grab some relaxing herbal tea is great advice, because at the end of the day, everyone that is on the shard is here because they like discussing their favorite intricacies of the complicated works of Brandon Sanderson with some of the nicest, most intelligent and interesting people in the world. I personally am interested mostly in the Science of the magic systems and the Philosophical underpinnings of the Cosmere and the different shardworlds, but the relationships in the books are amazing, the characters are incredibly well done and I like reading well formulated, well though out posts no matter what subject they are on.

I also think that we as a community are truly lucky to have the some of the foremost experts on the Cosmere administer, maintain and update this site and give so freely of their time. Arcanum is freaking awesome, and it was built by unpaid volunteers whose only payment is the satisfaction that they have made a central repository for the out of book definitive statements about details of the Cosmere so that it is accessible to all. I love arcanum!

I think that it might be possible that more slack is potentially cut to some users because of the commitment to the time they put in to make this a truly amazing place. Someone that volunteers to spend a lot of time to do a difficult and time consuming task has shown by this commitment that they are doing what they are doing for the right reasons. It would be silly not to cut people who are working hard out a love for their project some extra slack, because one of their fundamental intentions is known, to add to the collective knowledge of fans of Brandons work.

I know when I first came over from the Tor forum (which was really fun, but was like community college level speculating) I would say things that weren't really thought out or supported and would be shut down pretty fast. This is to the good, like Nietzsche said "What does not destroy me makes me stronger", if a theory can't get past a cursory comparison to the known facts then it needs to be revised and rethought. If you look at how active both Calderis and RShara and how they try and head off speculation that is going against known facts, this is a great service to the community, that comes at no small commitment of their time. I personally appreciate their hard work of correcting errors because they are in reality sharing their deep knowledge of the more arcane area of cosmere knowledge, namely the Words of Brandon, Peter and Issac (man that makes it sound like I'm talking about the bible).

I am in no way trying to minimize anyone else opinions in expressing my own, but I have been nothing but impressed with this forum. From the quality of the administration, to the quality of the intellectual level of the posts, to just the overall decency of everyone that participates on this forum. I think that these kind of conflicts are bound to happen, but I think another testament to both the forum users and the admins base level of decency is that these are the exceptions not the rule.

End of Wall of Text (slightly paraphrased from the Master Control Program)

Edited by hoiditthroughthegrapevine
typo, like usual
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I am extremely tired today so will likely not be engaging much in this thread. To be honest, I did not get much sleep because I am so bothered by this thread. I know, in my heart of hearts, I do not censor opposing opinions, and neither does the staff. It really hurts to hear that. 

That doesn't mean that other people aren't hurt either of course, so I guess we have to do better, but at the core, I know we are not censoring dissenting opinion or trying to get people to shut up. It's just false. 

You know I have opinions too. You know I hate Sixth of Dusk. I hate Zane. If you like those things, cool. This situation is exactly the same.

  • First, writing a post acknowledging that having discussion with staff in a contentious thread can be difficult, and new policy to counteract that (short version: staff don't converse in divisive or heated topics)
  • Another post describing how moderation actually occurs and how it is determined moderation is necessar Short version: we discuss it, get people who aren't involved in the thread to help make a judgment. It actually self corrects for bias really well. Obviously we don't get everything right but the core premise that we are too biased to judge what is respectful vs. disrespectful is not true, and this will explain how things work in practice.
  • ‎A follow up to the ASK closure post describing the plan for character discussion that I talked about earlier, as well as a list of various possible character topics to start with. But please if you want to discuss something, just make a topic now! Make a bunch of topics!
  • ‎Lastly, a post somewhere describing the importance of character discussion, condescension towards a class of threads will not be tolerated, and that we will have people leave specific topics if they are causing things to get heated. We want to try and solve the issues ASK presented and leave members feeling like they can discuss what they want in a relaxed environment


That's a lot for me to do and this next week is busy for me, so you might need to wait a bit...

If you want to make some character topics, do that right now. The thing in that last bullet point is policy effective immediately.

1 hour ago, DimChatz said:

In addition, your pronouncements about what role you aspire to play run contradictory to what I have witnessed.

Be specific. I am not ashamed of what has occurred and I am happy to explain the course of action in every circumstance. 

1 hour ago, DimChatz said:

You are not interested in doing anything real and tangible. You just want to provide yourselves with an alibi and to be able to say that you talked about it and couldn't find a solution or that we were uncooperative.

Serious question, what actually do you want? We're here. We're talking. Tell us what you want and what we can do better. 

1 hour ago, DimChatz said:

We were contained into one thread in a sea of a community that runs contrary to the opinion we want to express. You ripped away the space we had carved out where we can speak freely because some people get offended due to the fact that they do not want to see our position expressed. Or, as has been expressed repeatedly, there are many prolific posters who publicly rail against the idea of romantic storylines being discussed at all. Would you mind if we created a new thread? I think you wouldn’t, as long as they are under the administration’s complete control. I think you just want a docile and hobbled community that doesn't talk about some issues because you feel that they bring contention (which was expected by the author) so you choose to silence it, ostensibly to keep a "friendly atmosphere" which it not even upheld by staff members themselves. I know that emotional topics, such as a romantic storyline, bring heated emotions, but the contributors to that thread have been mostly respectful and considerate. Until somebody who gets offended at our criticism of a fictional story or character takes it personally. Should we be expected not to engage with them to defend our opinions? Should we be the ones that are made an example of? Frankly I've had enough of being made a pariah for expressing my inoffensive opinions because some people take personal offense at my views.

I do agree that there are posters who don't like discussing romantic storylines, and I agree that's a problem, but if you read my posts in this thread (and in the PM reply to you) you can see we are trying to make character discussion and romantic discussion more accessible to a wider variety of people. 

Just as a note: having contrary opinions are not bad, but there have been times where people were disrespectful and they were dealt with. I fully expect that someone will be upset when--undoubtedly--tensions run high and we will remove people who get heated in those discussions, but there are many, many aggressively levelheaded individuals on the staff. If we think something might be out of line, we discuss it. I'd like you to tell Mestiv, jofwu, Pagerunner, Argent, eerongal, Comatose, KChan, Shivertongue, firstRainbowRose to name a few, and more that they cannot see where the line is between good discourse and someone being way more aggressive than is positive for discussion. 

Public admonishment apparently has its uses as has privately. I wonder on which standard its decided who gets what.

 

The group, collectively, but if a mod has a bias--for example, Feather--she obviously doesn't get the final say at all. 

1 hour ago, DimChatz said:

I think that a small minority would prefer this to be their private club where only they can share their theories, have everyone validate them, throw praise at their feet, pat each other on the back about how great fans they are and gush about how great the product they consume is.

Completely false. Plenty have personally said my theories suck, and that's great. And to claim that only staff make theories is ridiculous. That is the extreme minority of theoretical posts, as you can clearly see by looking at the forum indices of anything. 

2 hours ago, DimChatz said:

Also, apparently, dissent is to be silenced because it leads to contention and some people cannot handle that.

There is a difference between respectfully disagreeing and being disrespectful. 

2 hours ago, DimChatz said:

And when said dissent cannot be shutdown, then a private platform will be used to provide commentary, without including the opposing argument, in an attempt to further promote highly opinionated views in the eyes of the community.

Shardcast was not to shut people down. I know you have a serious problem with that Shardcast episode, and we will do better in finding opposing viewpoints, but to say that we want to shut down opposing views is objectively false. 

Shardcast is a group of people just discussing their feelings. It's not to attack. I'm sorry if you felt attacked, but if an episode doesn't connect with you, feel free to not listen. Sorry about that. Shardcast listeners are not sheeple who will just agree with everything we say. In the specific instance of the love triangle, I'm pretty sure everyone who has read Oathbringer has already formed their opinion. On Shardcast, you'll get to know a small cast pretty well over the years and it's totally fine to disagree with them. For the love triangle podcast, we asked for people who cared a lot about character analysis who we could get a time scheduled. Josh, resident Shalladin shipper, doesn't usually come onto podcasts (generally because he knows too much). I'm sorry you felt aggressed by that Shardcast. 

I guess that you are allowed to do the same and call it a “rapport” or “being a closely knit group”. Instead of calling out conspiracies and cabals, maybe you should take a hard look at yourselves and recognise that if we are this cabal you make us, we are only following your own example. A community will follow the example of its moderators and admins after all. Do you now see why posting personal beliefs and promoting certain practises under the guise of an especially recognisable title is problematic?

I know exactly what you are responding to--he's responding to Josh's point in PM that we pick moderators with a certain rapport. Yes. We do select moderators who will have an intense zeal for the site, who are extremely passionate about it for a long time, who, in staff chat, can take heat and also bring new perspectives, too. I'm not sure if you've ran a staff of 20+, but you do need to self-select for insanely passionate people for the organization. That's how it works. If I'm the manager of a grocery store and a customer is upset, I don't just hire that person solely because they have contrary opinions. There are kind of other prerequisites there, right? We also select people who have been long time members. There's a lot in this thread who have very young accounts in the nearly eight year span, and yeah, we wouldn't likely make them into mods. Argent has been around in the fandom for longer than this site's existence, from the Time Waster's Guide era, and we modded him just a bit before Oathbringer. Our timescale is long. 

Did you know in our staff chat, things get heated and we argue with each other? It's true! We tell staff that what they say is confidential and we will make decisions as a team, and yeah, we get into long, heated arguments. But you won't see us make an official action where another staff member does something else. That's teamwork. You decide on the course of action and then you implement it. Call it a cabal or whatever, but yeah, that's how any management team would work. 

Would you rather us just not share opinions? If we just hid in holes and you knew nothing about it? We'd still have opinions. If there were posts that some find disrespectful, we'd still evaluate them in the same way. Or, would you rather like to know what some individuals on the staff think? 

I'm very up front with my own biases with everyone. I don't like Sixth of Dusk. I hate Zane. I like Venli. The word "intent" when referring to a Shard must be lowercase. Sure, you might not care about those things, and some will definitely disagree with me. That's fine. This situation is not different because Feather and Grey feel very strongly on a subject. We have never removed posts for stating a contrary opinion, ever. There is not an example of that being the case.

I find the notion that, "because there's no staff member that espouses my opinion, staff can never effectively judge posts," to be a very ineffective argument. Are we supposed to mod people every time there is a controversy or argument purely so members feel the staff is unbiased? I can imagine in forty controversies later, that's not an effective way to run a team. That expectation is wildly unrealistic and impractical. 

We do realize that the moderator badge carries a lot of weight, and we don't want people to fear moderators. We will be instructing staff to not engage in heated discussions. We will also make it clearer which is Official Moderator Action, probably with boldface, when written in a post. We do wish to improve things and improve moderator communication, and make our disciplinary action more clear. We don't have a handbook and maybe we can codify things. The fact that people feel the staff has been biased in our moderator actions means there is work to do. We can work better. 

We are trying. Please, anyone, tell us what specifically you want, and we'll talk about it. 

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I’m under the impression that this thread was created in order to close the gap between moderation and ‘people dissatisfied by the closing of ASK thread’. If this is true, as a person dissatisfied by the closing of ASK thread, the moderation’s attempt to open discussion is very much appreciated.


Admittedly, the way this thread was created, by moving ‘a disagreeing opinion towards moderation’ from an irrelevant thread and placing that post as the ‘OP’s position’ on a new thread might make irrelevant people fall into the assumption that the people actually involved want to know what their thoughts are on the matter, but I’m not sure that was what @Mestiv wanted.


At least I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt he didn’t mean to, because quite frankly, the fact a lot of originally irrelevant people, feel the need to defend the administration ‘from an older member’s point of view’ is actually causing more harm than good, in bridging the gap of disagreement; especially when these ‘older members’ name the underdogs of the disagreement as ‘shippers’ and a ‘cabal’.

This is not constructive to the discussion; it only causes the opposition to get even more heated and disbelieving the authority’s intent. And it is ironic, because that’s what @Dreamstorm is exactly calling out as passive aggressiveness in the first place.


Personally I never found the 17th Shard, the [OB] sub forum specifically, as hospitable as the older members of this thread are trying to paint it. Maybe back when you all joined it was as nice as you describing it, but this is not the case now.  Admittedly, I found joining 17th Shard appealing for the following reasons:
-It didn’t have a down vote system that buries unpopular opinions (like reddit)
-There is constructive discussion on certain theoretical matters
-A majority of people provide coherent arguments and discuss rationally


It’s just that a vocal (with a large number of posts per day) minority, who seem to always skirt on the edge of the rules by being passive aggressive instead of clearly insulting, that make the experience unpleasant. 


To address the said ‘cabal’ statement, the most active posters in [OB] basically have their own cabal, their own echo chamber, tooting each other’s horn with the upvoting system, while at the same time demotivating new members that have opposing theories and opinions.

From an outsider’s point of view, the fact that they call each other “old friends” only strengthens the image of a cabal. Even more so when some moderators are included, it certainly seems that this is the forum’s status quo. From a new member's POV it feels like "if you disagree with the status quo, not only you are a minority but you are opposing authority. If you don’t like it, it’s time to move along to somewhere else" .


Now, when a large influx of people after OB joined in and had an opposing opinion to the general concensus and thus creating their own allegedly opposing cabal (this whole fiasco created it actually), the administration itself intervened in threads and directed all people interested in character and relationship discussions to move themselves into that specific ASK thread. This was again a ‘passive aggressive’ move because people were basically told that if they have strong feelings on certain matters, or were interested to discuss feelings of characters, to ‘contain themselves’ in that thread. Personally, I would interpret that it was done for at least the following reasons:
1.For the agreeing ones to contain their opinions in a single thread, so they are easily ignored.
2.For the opposing ones to deal with the 'shipping' because they didn’t want to bother themselves in disagreeing with "absurd" opinions and participate in such a "mundane and immature" topic.


Of course it would get heated because you basically stuffed that entire emotional vent of people with opposing opinions on a large variety of topics into a single thread!
I personally strongly believe that this was done intentionally to keep old fans (clearly friends as well) satisfied, because the administration didn’t think the influx of new people would be motivated enough to keep on posting up to 96 pages, or they assumed that at some point the disagreement on that thread would get so heated that they would be justified to close it all together. And this is what actually happened.


Now the administration’s decision to take all of the above actions bothers me. If this is not at least admitted from the administration’s part, I have no reason to keep faith to the honest intentions and candour whatsoever.


In conclusion, the administration’s attempt to open discussion is appreciated, but quite frankly, I am not convinced there is genuine interest on indeed pleasing the minority of new users trying to find a place to express themselves.

Edited by insert_anagram_here
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@insert_anagram_here I've seen many people directed towards the ASK thread in the past, but I'm not aware of the staff ever being the ones to do so. I could definitely be wrong in that, but in my opinion at least, this is a community created problem that the staff is being dragged into.

I'm not staff, so I'm not privy to the ongoing discussions behind the scenes, but I've seen nothing that says that anything that's happened was ever what Chaos wanted. This site is his baby. 

However we got here, good or bad decisions, let's try and focus on going forward in good faith. 

Edited by Calderis
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As one who has been dismissive of shipping threads in the past, I wanted to explain my reasoning.  The few times I stepped into "that thread" it seemed like two armed camps.  One group wanted one ship, the other group wanted an opposing ship, and voicing any kind of opinion mean the other group would immediately pile on.  That was the mentality that I objected to letting seep into other threads.  Fearing that would happen, I was preferring that it stay out of other discussions.

I realize now how that was perceived, and I apologize and you are right.  It's no harm for me to skip past any discussions that I don't like or don't agree with, and that's been my policy for the last few weeks, instead.

In-depth character discussions should be welcome, and I've never had any problem with those.  I've just shied away from "shipping" because of the very polarizing nature that it seemed to generate.  If that can be avoided, I would gladly see those discussions emerge, and possibly even participate, if I have a decent thought on the matter.

@insert_anagram_here we've clashed a few times because we have somewhat opposing views on theory crafting.  If I've ever come across as dismissive, arrogant, or aggressive, I apologize.  I feel like it's just because I'm a very proof-oriented person.  I like things backed by textual and Wordish evidence.  If a theory doesn't have that, I'll probably argue about it.  There's no Odius intent here, that's my method of exploring and understanding and clarifying ideas.  If you want to just explore where an idea leads, just say, (nicely, and without insults, please), "Hey R'Shara, I get that you want to make sure we're grounded but I just want to see where this goes anyway" and I'll probably back off.  If you feel like I'm being aggressive, say, "Hey, that was kind of rude, did you mean it that way?" And I'll apologize and rephrase.  If you notice, there were several instances where I dropped out of a thread, because I was getting heated, and I didn't want that to become a problem.

For everyone:  Just be open about when you're feeling like a conversation is getting out of line.  99% of the time, for EVERYONE, it's unintentional, and the person will apologize.  We're all very passionate about this subject, and when we're defending or promoting a point, we can all forget about our tone.  If you're offended, say so, so that it can be dealt with appropriately. 

Just my thoughts on this matter.

 

Edit:  Re: downvotes.  I never used downvotes unless I felt the person was being extremely rude or confrontational or out of line, personally.  I've also never upvoted someone just because of who they were or because they were arguing on my "side."  I only upvote when I think the person stated their argument well and clearly or in some way benefitted the thread and the site.  Admittedly, I don't often upvotes the posts that I disagree with.  I think I should probably do that when it is also well written and clear, going forward.

I think having downvotes has pros and cons, and that the mods have thought over the issue much more than I have, and have decided what's best for the site.

Edited by RShara
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1 hour ago, insert_anagram_here said:

Of course it would get heated because you basically stuffed that entire emotional vent of people with opposing opinions on a large variety of topics into a single thread!

This is exactly why we closed ASK, so that doesn't happen. What happened in Oathbringer is that things sort of evolved where this thread was relationship central. I don't think the staff actually directed that to be the case, but it kind of self-selected to be the case. The only thing I can think of is that at Oathbringer's release, we were too aggressive in merging topics. That's because in previous releases, like in the Bands of Mourning release and Secret History release, it was really a fiasco when there were so many topics on the same thing. I don't really think we specifically said "character discussion can only be here" ever, but I do absolutely recognize many members didn't want to discuss that. As I have said before in this thread, I wish to make a topic that's basically enshrining character discussion as being valuable, that people who don't like it can shove it and this kind of passive aggression will not be tolerated.

I do want to expand the amount of character discussion and relationship discussing. Having it in one thread was a mistake. There should be many threads. I think having many threads, as you say, will lower the pressure of things a lot. 

I would like people's feedback on my post regarding a character discussion board. I feel there are some pros and cons and it could end up quite poorly, or it could end up great. But I do want more discussion of this type.

Regarding some of other moderators' posts: I don't know. We can only say our perspective. Many of Feather's words, I feel, were twisted in the most negative way possible. We want to have an open dialogue and we're going to be honest with you with how we feel. That's what we're doing. 

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1 hour ago, insert_anagram_here said:

Admittedly, the way this thread was created, by moving ‘a disagreeing opinion towards moderation’ from an irrelevant thread and placing that post as the ‘OP’s position’ on a new thread might make irrelevant people fall into the assumption that the people actually involved want to know what their thoughts are on the matter, but I’m not sure that was what @Mestiv wanted.

I'm afraid I don't understand. Probably because English is my second language. Can you phrase it differently? 

In the discussion that we wanted to start here (the decision to split this into separate thread was a team decision) there are no irrelevant users. And, as a result of that, no opinion is irrelevant.

 

@DimChatz thank you for finding time to contribute to this topic. I know it takes courage to stand up and criticize those with power. What you said was harsh but not offensive, just the way good critique should be. Can you please share with us your opinion on how this situation should have been handled?  What would you have us do in the future to avoid those unpleasant situations? 

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Personally, I don't think creating a different board for character discussion is a good idea. It would act in direct opposition to what I understand is the desired outcome - that character discussion and relationship discussion would not be a love-hate-topic for everyone, and that it wouldn't be this divisive thing where some people can't stand to look at it and others almost exclusively focus on it. Separating the topic into its own board would create a tangible barrier between fans of that topic and fans of other topics in addition to the soft barrier that already exists due to the ASK megathread kind of having been its own mini universe. I do think there were some very good theorybuilding resources in the ASK thread that should be retrieved (at the very least the discussion summary itself is quite useful), but that reminds me that there's no theorybuilding how-to thread around here, or even a place where that kind of stuff could be put. Kind of like a... not exactly a how-to, but like an archive of the best and most popular theories we have at the 17th Shard. I mean there's Cosmere 101 around in the Cosmere Theories subforum, so maybe something like that except for theories and stuff like that? I know that idea has almost nothing to do with this discussion though, haha. 

Edited by Vissy
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6 minutes ago, Vissy said:

Personally, I don't think creating a different board for character discussion is a good idea. It would act in direct opposition to what I understand is the desired outcome - that character discussion and relationship discussion would not be a love-hate-topic for everyone, and that it wouldn't be this divisive thing where some people can't stand to look at it and others almost exclusively focus on it.

I completely agree. We just need to be cognizant of what we do and don't want to take part in, and stay out of what we don't. Creating barriers runs counter to inclusion. 

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1 hour ago, Chaos said:

I do want to expand the amount of character discussion and relationship discussing. Having it in one thread was a mistake. There should be many threads. I think having many threads, as you say, will lower the pressure of things a lot.

Thank you.

1 hour ago, Chaos said:

I would like people's feedback on my post regarding a character discussion board. I feel there are some pros and cons and it could end up quite poorly, or it could end up great. But I do want more discussion of this type.

I think both ways on this. While I can see the importance of not segregating the fandom and the practicality of not having a dedicated character forum with regards to making spoilers and such easier to manage, I do think that, with the overwhelming amount of non-character related threads already in existence, trying to add a large amount of character threads into the various boards that already contain a large number of threads would add to the frustration of those who don't want to see the topics. I can easily see others getting frustrated with having to scroll through or past threads that they think should be there just to find the threads that they like, that were once on the front page.

I do think, however, that a dedicated board to character discussion isn't a bad idea--we already have a dedicated board for Cosmere Theories, and it hasn't really segregated the fandom who want to post in there from being able to post in specific book threads. And people will still have questions, ideas, and thoughts on the books, but perhaps restricting in-depth character discussion to a separate board, like we do for the really in-depth cosmere theories, and still allowing general, lower-level character discussion to their respective book boards, wouldn't be such a disaster in the making.

Or perhaps maybe there could just be broader-level subforums for general series, like a subforum board for Stormlight, a subforum for Mistborn, etc. That way you stay away from having a board for every single book, but they still maintain a coherence to their source material, rather than having a "Vin/Elend marriage analysis" thread next to a "the struggles of Lopen" thread.

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1 hour ago, Mestiv said:

@DimChatz thank you for finding time to contribute to this topic. I know it takes courage to stand up and criticize those with power. What you said was harsh but not offensive, just the way good critique should be. Can you please share with us your opinion on how this situation should have been handled?  What would you have us do in the future to avoid those unpleasant situations? 

I appreciate your praise and your candour. I know it is difficult to take harsh criticism and you are handling with an astounding amount of class and grace. So mad props to you.

It is obvious that I find the handling of this situation by the current administration quite dissatisfying, to say the least. As for the future suggestions you request here's how I look at it.

I think a good place to start for the future is for all users to be treated the same despite personal relationships between them and the moderation. Public call outs and examples cannot be allowed to me made. Warnings where no names are mentioned are fine. Quietly removing especially offensive comments is fine as long as in the name of transparency the specific reason is mentioned and comments don't simply disappear.

Threads that call out other threads and are being judgmental should not be permitted. One of them got locked but the one that preceded it displayed a high level of condescension by which I felt personally attacked was allowed to proceed, in a subforum that isn't even for meta discussion. In that thread like minded individuals where called a gang and it spread the false narrative that “Shalladin Shippers are everywhere” and yet no action was taken.

Moderators and admins should be beyond reproach and a big part of how this is accomplished is by the image that is elected to be presented and by considering how much impact their words and actions have, by mere virtue of their position. A community takes its cues from it leaders. Those leaders should be especially careful of the example they set.

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1 hour ago, Mestiv said:

I'm afraid I don't understand. Probably because English is my second language. Can you phrase it differently? 

In the discussion that we wanted to start here (the decision to split this into separate thread was a team decision) there are no irrelevant users. And, as a result of that, no opinion is irrelevant.

Funny, English is my second language as well, so let's hope this works.

Well, the original @Dreamstorm post (the OP's position - which wasn't intended to be OP, hence the 'quotes' in my original post) didn't intent to make a thread in the first place, but posted her opinion on another thread trying to support another user and his dissatisfaction to the moderation. I'm assuming it was moved by you into this separate thread, in order to initiate discussion with her and other members that share her view. Some people though, totally clueless to the situation, probably assumed that 'OP made this thread in order to express her opposition', that's why they gave us their own opposing perspective on the matter, trying to support the moderation (as if moderation needs support in any matter) even though 'OP' didn't even request it in the first place.

Having an antagonizing opinion being re-enforced when you are trying to initiate negotiations with the weaker side of the argument really didn't help the promotion of discussion. That's what I was trying to say.

2 hours ago, Calderis said:

I'm not staff

What is an Arcanist exactly? Is it related to why you and @RShara have this insistent need to reply to every single post? Quite frankly from a new member's perspective it feels like you are always ganging up to whoever is on the other side of your argument. You guys need to chill, seriously. Apologies accepted of course.

1 hour ago, Chaos said:

I would like people's feedback on my post regarding a character discussion board. I feel there are some pros and cons and it could end up quite poorly, or it could end up great. But I do want more discussion of this type.

My first suggestion is to actually moderate threads and posts even if they aren't reported. You are moderators and not judges. The 'What topic do you feel has been discussed to death' thread was antagonistic in it's nature towards any other threads. That's self destructive to the forum itself and the notion of discussion. Do no criticize what people talk about for storm's sake, you are in a forum discussing a book!

It's probably because I'm a programmer, and already people told me it's not a good idea to put people into code, but I'm going to voice it anyway. Maybe we could use optional tags in order to denote what kind of responses we are expecting to receive? (kind of like Access Modifiers for the IT related :ph34r:) [Talk] for a purely opinions expressed, [Theory] for a purely hypothetical scenario [Challenge] to challenge that theory with WOBs and in book evidence, [InBook] to provide in book evidence when bringing a point into the discussion. Or something like that. Yeah I know it's way too orderly to work on people, but maybe another idea could sprout from this one that could actually work?

 

Edited by insert_anagram_here
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28 minutes ago, Alderant said:

Thank you.

I think both ways on this. While I can see the importance of not segregating the fandom and the practicality of not having a dedicated character forum with regards to making spoilers and such easier to manage, I do think that, with the overwhelming amount of non-character related threads already in existence, trying to add a large amount of character threads into the various boards that already contain a large number of threads would add to the frustration of those who don't want to see the topics. I can easily see others getting frustrated with having to scroll through or past threads that they think should be there just to find the threads that they like, that were once on the front page.

I do think, however, that a dedicated board to character discussion isn't a bad idea--we already have a dedicated board for Cosmere Theories, and it hasn't really segregated the fandom who want to post in there from being able to post in specific book threads. And people will still have questions, ideas, and thoughts on the books, but perhaps restricting in-depth character discussion to a separate board, like we do for the really in-depth cosmere theories, and still allowing general, lower-level character discussion to their respective book boards, wouldn't be such a disaster in the making.

Or perhaps maybe there could just be broader-level subforums for general series, like a subforum board for Stormlight, a subforum for Mistborn, etc. That way you stay away from having a board for every single book, but they still maintain a coherence to their source material, rather than having a "Vin/Elend marriage analysis" thread next to a "the struggles of Lopen" thread.

I'd say that the problem is more in the context. Those who enjoy character discussion, relationships, shipping and so on are already seen in a negative light due to the ASK discussion megathread. I think if there is a separate board for character discussions, there is a real danger of this feeling of alienation turning permanent. The only way to get rid of that is to force people to interact with one another. That's not too much to ask on a fan discussion forum.

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15 minutes ago, insert_anagram_here said:

What is an Arcanist exactly? Is it related to why you and @RShara have this insistent need to reply to every single post? Quite frankly from a new member's perspective it feels like you are always ganging up to whoever is on the other side of your argument. You guys need to chill, seriously. Apologies accepted of course.ually work?

 

An Arcanist just works on Arcanum.  We snip, transcribe and add to the WoB database.  That's all.  We have no control over anything else, and our opinions aren't worth any more or less than anyone else's. 

I...don't know how to respond to this civilly...but here goes.

I am interested, invested in, and passionate about this fandom.  I like discussing theories, and I like providing evidence for or against an idea.  I have the ebooks in front of me, and I'm familiar with Arcanum, so I can get quotes quickly.  Apparently...this is...not pleasing to you?  I mean, if a new member posts a theory, and it has holes in it, then shouldn't they be pointed out, so that the new member can learn?  And if they have an original idea, shouldn't it be added to with quotes and statements?  This idea that an idea shouldn't be debated on is...puzzling to me.  I mean...look at my post history.  When someone asks for a question or a quote, I'm among the first to answer.  Not because I want to denigrate them but because I want to be helpful and educational.  I...really...don't...know how else to respond to this.  Consider me completely baffled.

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26 minutes ago, insert_anagram_here said:

What is an Arcanist exactly?

It means I volunteer time to work on Arcanum. Just like someone with "Keeper" next to their name has consistently volunteered time and effort to work on the coppermind. 

26 minutes ago, insert_anagram_here said:

Is it related to why you and @RShara have this insistent need to reply to every single post? Quite frankly from a new member's perspective it feels like you are always ganging up to whoever is on the other side of your argument. You guys need to chill, seriously. Apologies accepted of course.

We both happen to be very active, and both want the information that Brandon has shared to be known. 

It's not meant as an attack, and it's not coordinated beyond us both being in similar time zones and active at similar times. 

I'm sorry if it feels personal but it's not. If there were WoBs I felt run counter to any proposed theory, I would post then, regardless of who proposed it. I also post WoBs that I believe support theories in the less frequent event that a poster hasn't already included it in a theory that is not countered by other known WoBs. 

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