Some thoughts on lack of punitive response

Discussion in 'The Undercity' started by seebs, May 26, 2016.

  1. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    Some recent conversations with people have made it clear that we have a sort of a communications issue that needs to be addressed.

    In general, this forum doesn't do punitive responses. People don't get "warnings" and "bans" for acting badly. And if you're used to forums where that's the dominant paradigm of correction or response to transgressions, that can look like we don't care about the offenses, or we don't see them as things that need changing.

    And I want to make it really clear that this is not the case. We do care. We do not want people getting hurt. And we aren't just saying "oh, well, learn to avoid it". No, we're interested in taking steps to make hurt less severe, and less common.

    But this site is also for people who sometimes, even often, screw up. Which means that we are looking for ways to help people do less harm, so they can continue to engage with the community, develop the skills they need, and heal. Because in general, people aren't mean because they're fundamentally bad; they're mean because they're scared or hurt. And if we just kick out whoever snaps first, or something like that, we aren't helping them at all, and that means lots of people here wouldn't be able to get the help they need.

    I'm going to try to be more careful to make sure that, when there's some kind of conflict, I make clear statements about the problems with behavior that I think was harmful. But I'm not planning to start adding punitive responses. The closest we have is placing users on moderation, and that's a thing we do to help them, not just a thing we do to protect other people. It is not intended as a punishment; it's intended as a way to give people who have problems with self-control the chance to continue participating with reduced risk of harm, both to others and to themselves.

    And yes, this is obviously related to specific real instances, but this is not just a claim about those specific instances. This is a statement of general board practice.

    But this next part is about a specific instance:

    OnnaStik, when you got attacked a while back, we did not do a good job of making it clear enough that we genuinely thought the attack was inappropriate, out of line, and not in any way "justified" by any previous conflict or posts. It was not your fault, and you did not "deserve" to be attacked. And we didn't make that clear enough, and that made things a lot worse than they should have been, and I'm sorry. I hope this post helps prevent similar hurt in future, both by giving a general statement that people can have in mind, and by serving as a reminder to me to be more careful about that.
    • Like x 36
  2. BlackholeKG

    BlackholeKG I saw you making fire

    @seebs, I have a question about something that you may have spoken on before, but that if so I have forgotten.

    What would happen if somebody signed up here purely to attack/troll other users? Say for instance that a group of transphobes got word that a lot of trans people used these forums, and signed on to post hateful, triggering and harmful content with zero intention of engaging or working to stop the behavior? I don't see anything constructive in not banning/forcibly moderating such users, as at that point they are essentially just particularly vicious sentient spambots, but as they would not be bots and be actual people doing bad things, such a ban would be a form of punitive response. Would such a situation be one in which your policy here would have an exception, then? (Does "only a guideline" also apply here?)
  3. seebs

    seebs Benevolent Dictator

    I don't know. I think it'd probably depend a lot on specifics. I might put 'em on moderation, I might give them forum-specific bans or something... But I've seen people who thought they just wanted to fight find out that they just wanted to make friends, and didn't know how, so.
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