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TOPIC: [FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy

[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 22 hours ago #1273455

Disclaimer
Hello again fellow community members. Here comes a suggestion that has been hours in the making, eight pages of writing and ~5000 words later (ended up being around 4 pages (2500 words) because I rewrote a lot of it). This one is a bit of a doozy and is designed mostly to address a policy the intent of which me and another member of the community managed to read in two different ways, which is an issue. Some may not think it is an issue but I feel it is (otherwise I would've not written eight pages worth of a suggestion) and hope this is not immediately dismissed.

I made sure this post does not break the Terms of Use and wish to see it remain unlocked and out of drama hole. Any TOU breaking posts may obviously be removed but out of respect for the effort at least, leave it open until handled.

Chapter 1 - Template
Server Name: ZARP Gaming Forums

Suggestion Title: Rewrite the “locking/deleting posts” policy

How would it benefit the forums: I feel that the forums is in a bit of a shaky position as it stands. As of writing this post a lot of “discussion” has occurred between forum users and staff (specifically the community team) which has gotten quite heated and well, lots of people seem to show concern that their opinions are being silenced, their posts unjustly removed or for no reason are being moved to the “Drama Hole.”

Recently I had found a policy known as “Removing/Locking Posts” which is something that, when I originally read it something that I saw as a really solid idea, but it was pointed out to me that I may have misunderstood the policy. Which leads to the next problem...

Policies are something that ZARP is built upon, much like the Terms of Use they must be crystal clear and in no way be able to be interpreted wrong. They must stand in clear (or formal) English which everyone is capable of reading. People must be able to understand what the rules are in order to follow them after all. After all, we do not want to end up in a situation where people are using a platform of which they do not even know the rules.

Potential Issues / Exploits: I’ll go into more detail about this later, though as always there could be unintended loopholes found within the policies which some may exploit, something that the people who will write the final policies regarding the subject will have to handle. Then again… exploiting is against the rules so...

Additional Notes: I do not have any additional notes, however, I will put the rest (and the majority of the suggestion below. See that as the additional notes, if you will.

Chapter 2 - The Issue.
Reading through the Terms of Use (yes, I actually did, don’t look so surprised) I found the following entries in the TOU I knew I’d need to include to set an even playing field for all who wish to discuss things about this topic. They are as follows:
  • Deliberate misuse of the forum or any of ZARP's services is not allowed.
  • Our moderation team may delete offending contributions and account details that violate these terms of use. If you feel your post or account details were removed unfairly, please contact a site moderator for an explanation instead of re-posting.
  • Our moderation team may ban accounts that consistently violate these terms of use. If you feel your account was banned unfairly, please contact a site moderator for an explanation.
  • If your account is banned for deliberate misuse, spam or illegal activity your details may be sent to one of our trusted third parties who will manage reports to ISPs and authorities on our behalf.

When encountering an issue on Zarp the last thing a player thinks about but the first thing, that might really help them out is by going to the forums “help” section as it contains many helpful things, such as frequently asked questions, the policies, the terms of use, and a contact form each of which has its own uses into which I will not currently go as there is much to discuss already.

If I were to go into the “policies” (A place I’ve been in quite a lot as of late) then I will find a policy named “Deleting/Locking posts” created on the 19th of May 2019. This policy consists of three sections I will outline below, or you may click here to go to the policy directly.
Deleting/Locking Posts
When forum moderators wish to delete posts or lock topics in order to help other forum mods and the original poster understand why they have done so they should always EDIT the post, or the first post, if it's an entire topic and include in quotes the reason why and their forum username.

e.g.
Post deleted - Personal insults on another user - Chuteuk

Always make sure your reason for locking/deleting follows the Terms of Use.

Disagreements
If you disagree with the actions of another moderator, you should contact them and explain why you think the post or topic should be unlocked or restored. If you still cannot decide which action would be best, you must raise the issue to the CM team who will make the final decision. In the case of a CM member disagreeing with an action, they will first contact you to explain why and then reverse the action.

Respection Decisions
You should always try to respect other forum mods and consider that they may have good reasons for locking a post or wanting to unlock it for example. Don't get angry or hold grudges because someone has a different opinion than you. You must always respect the final decision of the CM team.
Keep an eye on the part bolded out, it’ll be important later.

Based on my reading, especially regarding the “Deleting/Locking Posts” policy explains to me that it is in place to assist both forum staff and users, however, I fail to see how the current way that forum staff are acting assists the users. Yet I have personally very rarely seen a forum staff member edit a post that is breaking the Terms of Use explaining the user directly in their own post what it is they did wrong, and that is something that kind of saddens me.

The amount of effort that it takes to edit a post, as we all know is almost null (maybe except when you are on a mobile device, I'll get to that later), and the information that editing the post provides, (in my opinion) towers over the effort investment from the staff member's part.

Now, if all staff members were to edit a post, or post a reason in a post themselves at the end of the topic before locking it that would assist greatly already! Silently seeing a post being locked and then being forgotten about is sadly a thing that occurred way, way too much, granted that was years ago but still, regardless I fail to see how editing a post then deleting it would help the user at all. And it's something I seek to remedy with this suggestion.

Xnator has provided me with a helpful piece of information which led to me starting to think about this to begin with. I’ll quote it below or you may click here to go directly to the post in question.

Xnator wrote:
just want to point something out here, because I think you've slightly misunderstood the policy - it's more intended for communication between forum staff members, since users can't view their own deleted posts, so in this case whether the post had been edited or not wouldn't make a difference to the user, since they made no attempts to contact forum staff.

I must admit, I wish to make educated and well thought out posts and hate to be wrong about something that I could've been right about, but when I am wrong I want it to be pointed out so that I may better myself - what I said above is something that I hold dear to my heart, for those who missed it I’ll quote it once more:

Kemi wrote:
Policies are something that ZARP is built upon, much like the Terms of Use they must be crystal clear and in no way be able to be interpreted wrong.

Based on this I feel that the policy should be rewritten whether it is because I was right and forum staff are required to edit a post so that the user may benefit, or I wish to see it rewritten to see it accurately state it only helps out forum staff and that it is there to support them, rather than them and the user. As it currently stands there are three ways I can see this being solved.

Chapter #3 - Solutions
I feel that this can be resolved in three ways, each of which I will provide below. I will state ahead of time that two of the solutions that I’ll propose require a rewritten version of specifically the “Deleting/Locking posts” section of the policy, the others may stay as they currently are and I will refrain from adding them to the rewritten version to save time and to avoid making this suggestion look longer than it really is. So here goes.

Solution #1 - Favour the Player
More difficult but in my opinion the most fair

What do we need to achieve it? In order to achieve this result we must edit the policy and reword it to be clearer on its intent to assist both the original poster and the staff member. Reword it as such:
When a forum mod wishes to delete and or lock a post they always have to first EDIT the post, or the first post, if it's an entire topic and include in quotes the reasoning why the post was locked, changed, and or removed as well as their forum username and a method of contacting them.

If at all possible a post should not have all of its contents deleted if part of a post may still follow the Terms of Use, such as a single jab at another community member in an otherwise well written and constructive post.

When a staff member wishes to move a post to another section they must also edit the post or leave a post saying why it was moved, unless it is in such case that a post was accidentally posted in the wrong section, such as an application in general discussion.

e.g.
Post deleted - Personal insults on another user - Jack (Jack#0000)

Always make sure your reason for locking/deleting follows the Terms of Use

What is the predicted result? I predict that if staffing on the forums is handled as per the policy above that we may avoid a lot of unnecessary bans. A user will be alerted of their wrong doings and have a clearer and easier method to contact the staff member who handed out the punishment to begin with. This is crucial in clearing up misconceptions, misunderstood posts, and will make it more fair to the user as they have a chance to see what exactly it is they did wrong without jumping through many hoops.

I had reportedly seen forum users state that they would not have reposted a post had they known the reason for its deletion right off the bat, this method provides clear and direct information and may avoid people from reposting things that were deleted/locked in the first place. In addition this method avoids the “Why was X locked” posts which saves Forum Staff effort in the long run.

However, the bad side: Yes, it does need more effort on the staff member’s part in every post that brekas Terms of Use but they are willing to do the work for the forums and if they are truly dedicated to the job I’m sure they are more than willing to add this onto the list of things to do. (I’d love to get forum staff’s opinion on especially that last sentence)

Solution #2 - Clear the Air
Easier but perhaps not the best solution

What do we need to do to achieve it? In order to achieve this option we must edit the policy and reword it to make sure that it does not state it assists the user, as in its current state in my eyes it does not. Reword it to be as such:
When forum moderators wish to delete posts or lock topics in order to help other forum moderators understand why they have done so they should always EDIT the post, or the first post, if it's an entire topic and include in quotes the reason why and their forum username.

e.g.
Post deleted - Personal insults on another user - Chuteuk

Always make sure your reason for locking/deleting follows the Terms of Use

What is the predicted result? (Some) Users will still be banned for breaking rules which they do not know they even broke, but it saves forum staff time in moderating the forums especially when on a mobile device where editing posts requires more work.

I do wish for you all to consider that going to ask why a post was locked and or deleted can be a very imposing and discouraged task because the poster might not know who deleted/locked their post (it is difficult to find out exactly who did something, I can tell from experience and the amount of “Who locked X” posts) or even if they find out who to contact they might be super hard to get a hold of.

Disclaimer: This is trusting those users on their words and they may have in fact lied on the post in question, however, the idea is still there. I would not wish to have to jump through many loops to find out who deleted my posts only to know the reason, it is a time consuming process that is simply not worth it in some cases. In addition, even if it avoids 1 ban its still a worthwhile investment in my opinion.

Solution #3 - A Compromise
The most work but it sits as a bit of a middle ground between the two

What do we need to do to achieve it? Allow users to see their own deleted posts.

What is the predicted result? In my eyes this still achieves the above requirement, users can see their mistakes and might be able to clean up problems, however, this requires the editing of the forum itself and thereby might be a lot harder to achieve. Having seen the platform myself and how it is built up there might be an option to change the roles in the administrative interface to be able to view their own deleted posts, but in case that is not possible something will have to be jury rigged together.

The End…
Well that is it, I wish for the policy to be cleaned up cause in its current state it leads to misconceptions and at least one party, whether it be my interpretation or Xnator’s is wrong. I have so far failed to get a hold of Chute to help me clean this up but I will attempt to get a hold of him over the coming week and I'll post an update on what he says when I am able.

Regardless of the answer I wanted to post this suggestion regardless, I feel policies should be clear and should in no way be able to be interpreted wrong. Thus I proposed solutions to the issue. And with that, that’s that - I wish to see the issue resolved quickly so I wish to bring it to the public’s attention. And I hope we can come to a solution that will be beneficial towards both Staff and Users.

I thank everyone for reading this post and I hope that it may help some of us in the long run. I invite everyone to share their opinions on the policy and I'd love to know how each of you interpret it in its current state below. I will, however, ask that you keep the discussion civilized and avoid creating drama, so that this post may stay unlocked and that everyone may have a chance to read it.

With that, I’ll go back to the drawing board to think of more things to write about. I'll gladly take suggestions through my Steam or Discord. Add me on steam to get my Discord Details. I do not expect to get too many replies on this one as it mainly is an issue that concerns me, I doubt many people even look at the policies or care much about them, regardless it has to be put out there.

Kind Regards,
Kemi
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Last Edit: 5 days 22 hours ago by Kemi. Reason: tiny edit
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 21 hours ago #1273463

Thanks for the post Kemi. This is exactly the kind of thing we are looking for somebody who can identify problems but then also offer up some solutions that can be practical to implement. There are some really great ideas here and I wouldn't be against going through this at the CM meeting and making a few changes as a result. I'll be online later too if you wanted to talk to me about it.
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 21 hours ago #1273465

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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 21 hours ago #1273467

Chuteuk wrote:
Thanks for the post Kemi. This is exactly the kind of thing we are looking for somebody who can identify problems but then also offer up some solutions that can be practical to implement. There are some really great ideas here and I wouldn't be against going through this at the CM meeting and making a few changes as a result. I'll be online later too if you wanted to talk to me about it.

I'd like to thank you as well Chute for taking the time out of your day to reply (and in such a timely manner too)! I'll gladly come on later today to have a chat about the subject, it should not be too long of a chat, I simply wished to get into contact to figure out what the actual intent behind the policy was. I'm very happy you're willing to take it into the Community Team Meeting and I'm looking forward to see what might come out of it.

When I return home (after all of my tasks for the day are complete) will give you a poke on TeamSpeak so that we may have a chat unless you'd prefer me to contact you in a different way in which case feel free to state as such I'll make sure to keep it in mind.
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 18 hours ago #1273532

I'd like to add that something which people have suggested to help out with this would definitely go well hand-in-hand with any changes that were to be made. When this policy was originally added after I had a chat with Chute back when I was a Community Developer, the intent was that there would be some modifications eventually made to the forums to bring up a dialogue when deleting posts where a reason could be put in for the process to be somewhat automated, but we could definitely build upon this further. This would make it a lot easier to do as sometimes the forums can be a little bit slow with certain moderation features, which can make it quite annoying to delete and edit the posts, especially when there is a large volume of posts to deal with.

I was thinking about this system and somehow also sending a notification to a user somehow with the reason their post was removed and the name of the staff member who deleted it. The only issue with doing this is the requirement for modifications to the forums, as doing this properly could take quite a bit of time to implement around other things that we are focusing on, but I definitely think it is something which would help out with the issue outlined.
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 5 days 18 hours ago #1273539

TheXnator wrote:
I'd like to add that something which people have suggested to help out with this would definitely go well hand-in-hand with any changes that were to be made. When this policy was originally added after I had a chat with Chute back when I was a Community Developer, the intent was that there would be some modifications eventually made to the forums to bring up a dialogue when deleting posts where a reason could be put in for the process to be somewhat automated, but we could definitely build upon this further. This would make it a lot easier to do as sometimes the forums can be a little bit slow with certain moderation features, which can make it quite annoying to delete and edit the posts, especially when there is a large volume of posts to deal with.

I was thinking about this system and somehow also sending a notification to a user somehow with the reason their post was removed and the name of the staff member who deleted it. The only issue with doing this is the requirement for modifications to the forums, as doing this properly could take quite a bit of time to implement around other things that we are focusing on, but I definitely think it is something which would help out with the issue outlined.

I'd have to agree with you, it would be wonderful solution! Though as I had stated, and you have as well applying modifications to the forums is a lot of work and things are very prone to breaking for my experiences with it. I find it a miracle things work as well as they do now.

The issue outlined would indeed be resolved using your methods, however, I feel until such a point to where it is on the forums and functioning perfectly one of the suggestions I have provided might still work well as a temporary solution. Regardless thank you for sharing this info, and thank you for the reply.

And much like how staff members are sent emails when a report is posted you can sent a mail using a similar format, PHP makes doing so really easy. The rest would require some real work, however. And I recommend that, if tested, you at least do so in a test environment first. :side:

But I'm sure you had already thought of that last one. Either way, thanks again!
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 4 days 22 hours ago #1273794

Before you start; yes I am aware its only been 19 hours since the last post, but I'd like to give everyone a status update on the situation about going to have a chat about the suggestion.

We've been on Teamspeak yesterday having a chat with both ChuteUK and Xnator and we have discussed some things regarding this suggestion, I will not go into specific detail about what we talked about but I can at least confirm that we were on pretty even grounds when it comes to whether or not we think this is a good idea or not.

Some great ideas have been suggested by Xnator and we've talked in detail about some of the technical things in the presence and to the dismay of certain staff members. Sorry Spectrum and Bunnionrings. :S

We've settled upon that that the policy changes will be reviewed during the Community Team Meeting this week, hopefully EMP is able to attend it as well! After which alterations will be made based on what comes out of that meeting, but things are looking good based on the conversation we've had yesterday.

I do not wish to leave you guys out in the dark when it comes to what might happen in the future. Xnator explained it pretty well yesterday in his post, if you are interested I recommend you give it a read. But for those that are allergic to too many words I made two screenshots of the ideas discussed below.
Screenshot #1

Screenshot #2

Keep in mind that these screenshots are in no way final or official. They are merely the result of a couple of minutes of small edits here and there that somewhat illustrate the things we had discussed yesterday. You'll have to see about an official post from the Community Team when it comes to actual content that may or may not be added to the forums. However, until anything is officially announced we have this suggestion, something that we could all agree on is a good temporary solution to the problem described.

Thank you for your patience, everyone is still free to post their opinions and how they interpreted the policy. Any additional ideas, feedback, or suggestions are always welcome as well! As always I will request this discussion remains civilized to give everyone a chance to speak their minds. With that, I'll be going back to the drawing board.
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 4 days 19 hours ago #1273815

I'd definitely like to see a Deleted Posts tab like in the photo you made :plussp:
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[FORUMS] Rewrite Deleting/Locking Posts Policy 4 days 14 hours ago #1273925

With forum experience myself I could see how it's possible, but it's still not the simplest of things to implement on a framework like this one. I think a better more immediate solution would be for staff to post their reason for locking or moving threads whenever they do so. In the case of deletions, I would say lock the thread temporarily and then delete it like 30mins later (in cases where it's not obviously harmful to keep it up, etc.) - obviously not a perfect solution but more attainable.
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