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  1. #1
    Online Dating Guru rawnet's Avatar
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    Unhappy How do you stop your members fighting?

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but I would welcome a lot of debate on this topic - how do you stop your members fighting?

    I run an ex-military website (http://www.servicepals.com) and as member numbers have increased, so has the exchange of views which can get very nasty indeed. Personal attacks, etc, which make the forums rather less than light-hearted.

    Has anyone got any hints and tips as to how to handle these kind of situations where nobody in particular is to blame, but each member of the exchange bears some responsibility.

    Due to the semi-commercial nature of the site, such exchanges does not bear well.

    Any thoughts?

    Ross
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard Ian Glass's Avatar
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    I don't really know. Many still get offended even with the exchanges that occur on SitePoint. The biggest thing I can suggest is for you to have some sort of system for moderating the forums. Outside of that, there's little you can do but shutdown the threads, I think.

    Good Luck! :-)

    ~~Hope This Helps

  3. #3
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    The simple way to stop a fight is to close or lock the thread - like we do here at SPF. You have to know when to draw the line, that's usually when things become personal and attacks occur - there's just no place for that.

    To "lighten" up the atmosphere, you can start less serious threads that will let you members get to know each other better.

  4. #4
    Ex-SitePointer silver trophy
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    Just don't lock threads too early... people will really get to hate that. I took a quick look at your site, but nothing too in depth, so you probably have some of what I am going to mention.

    An established set of guidelines which must be followed to maintain membership at your site. Make sure your Moderators, staff members know these and know what it means when one is broken.

    When something gets heated, I try to defuse it a bit or that is the first reaction from my staff. If it continues and it is clearly out of hand, then I close it. People will usually have said their peace by then and not mind the closing of the thread - and even understand it in some cases.

  5. #5
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Get some guidelines, and keep to your guidelines.

    Ensure that no abusive comments should be made against other members at your forum. Then when something happens, give a warning immediately. If the offender ignores your warning, or sends you (the mod or admin) a rude message, ban them. Make sure this is all in your guidelines.

    Some people will continue to be troublemakers, whereas others will heed your warning. Let them choose whether or not they should be banned. An administrator is the highest level of authority. An administrator can be generous, kind, tolerant, friendly and patient. However when an administrator can no longer do this, he or she must adhere to his or her own guidelines.

    Don't worry too much about banning members. Remember that by banning problem members you are improving the average quality of all of the remaining members.

    I read through what I have just said, and I realise that I sound very harsh. This is necessary. Don't worry, your members won't get angry. For example at SitePoint forums, everything goes very smoothly. However, behind the scenes we have a large number of moderators that are constantly removing problem posts and taking action against problem mentors. That is what allows this community to continue to be a very free and open community. The regular members don't even realise that half of this is happening.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Short answer: you don't.

    Long answer: you can, but I wouldn't recommend it. The only way to have it completely stop is to ban it...and that'd be ridiculous. They have to be able to express themselves one way or another. You can, however, ban disagreements and arguments that becoe disrespectful, petty, or vulgar. You've got to draw the best line you can and stick to it, for the most part.

    I had one of my most loyal members, who'd been at my site since it's birth, roughly, leave recently...after over a year and a half of posting there. He left because, when someone insulted him, I didn't spring to action immedietly against him. I stuck by my guns: I'm not going to tell people they have to be nice to each other. I'm not going to swing an iron fist around. While my rules may have lost me this member (he was also a friend of mine beforehand), I feel I've made the right decision.

    IMO, you should let your members disagree with each other, and even be a bit rude/insulting. Step in as late as you can...better to air on the side of freedom than of restriction, I think.

  7. #7
    Ex-SitePointer silver trophy
    Patrick's Avatar
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    Some nice suggestions. I would say pick what is best between the people that have replied because we are all experienced admins.

    I personally don't believe in insults or namecalling, etc. I don't believe it has a place. I may adapt what Tom said about saying something rude to staff and then they have to be banned. That is truly a great way to go by it as long as the admin/mod started the conversation respectfully.

    Here's a little humor for the forum admins here, this is a message I got from a user in regard to the guidelines at KarateForums.com. Well... I found it funny anyway. Get this guy:

    "As far as the forum rules? I only clicked agree cuz it wont let u have the forum acct if u dont...do I neccessarily agree...no."

    That was a first for me. The guy is saying that he doesn't agree with our guidelines... but he clicked agree. lol I mean, I wonder what a future possible court appearance may be like for this guy.

    "Your honor, I signed the contract because I had to do so to get the money, but do I neccessarily agree to the terms of that contract? No."


  8. #8
    SitePoint Member Steve_S's Avatar
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    Good thoughts. Mind if I add a few of my own

    Running a Community is an art and not a science so their are at least 2 ways to accomplish most things.

    1. You and your team of Mods should set the example. I'm sure you do but the thought bares a blurb given the fact that not everyone is experienced

    2. In the back room I'm fond of saying "turn it around" which means to very carefully and respectfully post on the original topic which often is lost when the fights break out.

    3. You also must learn to anticipate fights which is a fuzzy kind of thing to explain but after thousands of posts this will come. I get a twitch in my left eye

    4. Be very conscious of the global nature of your "guests" For many, a given word may have a different meaning in another culture/country.

    5. Publish a Posting Guide to help your guests understand what you mean in addition to the offical Rules. Give them some examples they can hang their hat on.

    HTH and best of luck
    Last edited by Steve_S; Feb 3, 2002 at 03:20.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    I try to keep things open and fair except in extreme circumstances. I've had a few fights break out on forums I run and I've always contacted the individuals seperately and asked them to control their behaviour otherwise they'd both be banned. Whether they comply really depends on how mature the members are, but you need to follow though. Allowing nasty fights to continue uninterrupted only encourages more such activity.

    Luckily, I now have a great collection of people using my forums and whenever someone tries to stir up trouble they all shout him/her down.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Guru jkcity's Avatar
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    depending on what type of community you have, you may not want to just delete the thread, move it to an idiots forum, and get them to fight there, they soon get sick of getting there thread moved to the idiots forum.

  11. #11
    ********* Callithumpian silver trophy freakysid's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mmj
    problem mentors
    haha - slip I suspect. There are no problem mentors at spf Read problem members.

    And yes, there is a lot of activity behind the scenes that probably goes un-noticed. Which raises another point. SPF has lots of staff members which does help in keeping the forums clean of unsavoury content.

    Also, one thing I noticed that worked at SPF is this. For a while there the general chat forum was out of control in terms of very heated debates on all sorts of religous and political debates. This seems to have calmed down recently, I think September 11 has been an influence. People have tended to pull their heads in and just generally have bee more cautious about pontificating on world affairs and cultural and global issues because a lot of people are probably more aware that these can end up being serious issues and these differences are significant and might not be addressed so well in a such a light hearted and closed minded manner.

    Another thing, though is that a new forum was created under the general chat forum "World Events". This channelled all this sort of geo-political discussion into a seperate forum which seems to have calmed down and lightened up the general chat forum considerably.

    I don't know the specific structure of your forums, because I have not visited them, but creating a seperate forum for whatever topic themes are causing the troubles may help. Those that want to go hammer-and-tongs on those issues can argue with themselves and others who want to avoid those topic areas can just not visit those more contentious forums.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard dethfire's Avatar
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    i say zero tolerance and make clear guidelines

    freaky also hit the spot, i had a religion and philosophy forum and it was getting crowded with crazy religious fanatics, so I make religion a sub forum of philosophy and everything is going good now.
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    I like the idea of an 'idiots forum' - although on a more serious site you would need to come up with a more politically correct name for it... maybe the 'free-for-all forum' or 'anything goes' forum... In any case, channeling topics/feuds that become very distracting into new forums away from the general topic is always a good idea as others have mentioned...

  14. #14
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Originally posted by dpickup
    I like the idea of an 'idiots forum' - although on a more serious site you would need to come up with a more politically correct name for it... maybe the 'free-for-all forum' or 'anything goes' forum... In any case, channeling topics/feuds that become very distracting into new forums away from the general topic is always a good idea as others have mentioned...
    IMHO, it still encourages poor behavior from forum members. And those "feuds" could carry over in other forums and cause problems. I really think you should either have rules and enforce them 100% or not have them at all. You can't tell someone they can do anything in one room yet obide perfectly by the rules in the next.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    mjames - Very true, I was going a bit off topic. In my previous post I advocated pretty much the same thing - coming up with rules and enforcing them. Although I do think its important to try reasoning with the offenders before you throw the book at 'em.

    In the latter post I was thinking more in terms of a debate that begins to take up too much room. Occasionally even very civil debates expand and become too much of a focus for one forum. In the past I've had goofballs take up a lot of room on a forum I was running - they never did anything really rude or obscene, just enjoyed themselves and got carried away. I think if I had thought of it at the time an 'idiots' forum might have helped - more like an area set up for just general meanderings and less serious talk so that more serious conversations wouldn't get buried. Maybe the 'zany' forum would be a more apt name.


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