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MOD Pimping/Promoting Policy Discussion - Everyone please participate!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by mavjade , Jan 3, 2015.

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  1. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 4, 2011
    I may not be a mod here, but I'm a current mod elsewhere and have roughly 12-13 years of moderating and administration experience under my belt. My résumé includes large and small forums and wikis, with tech admin experience both past and present. That said, I'm going to offer my mod opinion.

    Having a complicated rule with various degrees and conditions that serve to intimidate and confuse new readers, while muddling up veteran users and even confusing the rest of the staff to the point that they have to discuss the rules they created with other staff will not work. I tell you this from experience. If the rules are simple and easy to follow, without all the little bits of fine print, then you will have far less hassle. It's okay to have a blanket policy.

    This is where administrative autonomy comes into play. If you—as a mod—feel that a user had crossed the line, then you are within your right to enforce policy and correct them. This includes rescinding on a previously-blanket policy.

    If a user takes advantage of a blanket policy regarding the permission of linking and mentioning fics in a discussion topic, and they exploit that to repeatedly plug their fics and derail the conversation, then you have every right to enforce the "no pimping/promoting" policy within a discussion topic.

    These will be isolated incidents, however. I understand the fears, but I can assure you with well over a decade of experience under my belt backing this claim, that veteran users are more than capable of policing themselves and if we allow a blanket policy, we will not abuse it. We know our boundaries.

    You don't want to scare off the new users. Leave the rules simple. If they have questions, open a dialogue with them. Invite open discussion and questions. The rest will sort itself out.
     
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  2. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    The things Chyntuck bolded are something I firmly believe in, having worked on the 'net for nearly fifteen years and having maintained a lot of forums myself. They can be boiled down for this: if somebody needs information, we should make it as easy as possible for them to find what they want.

    I say "we" because, in a healthy and helpful community such as this one, it's pretty clear that, next to mods, users with more experience and knowledge on topic, will provide help. :)
     
  3. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Sorry if I'm blunt, but the reason we're having this discussion isn't that we have a blanket rule. It's because we have a rule that quite a few of us find doesn't make sense.

    The only argument I've seen so far against mentioning fics in resource and character threads is that people would take advantage of it to promote their fics, i.e. a hypothetical situation that may arise and that can be dealt with in an appropriate way. The arguments in favour of mentioning fics are that, well, in every possible way, fics are relevant to the discussions we have in threads about fics.

    Total 6 drachmas. Inflation is settling in.
     
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  4. jcgoble3

    jcgoble3 Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 7, 2010
    I pretty much agree with TrakNar here.

    A couple of observations on the state of this discussion: mavjade and Briannakin seem to be advocating a system of having specific restrictions for specific types of threads, while pretty much all of the non-mods seem to be advocating a blanket policy of allowing mentioning and linking throughout Resource, other than the social thread, wherever the fic is relevant. Related to that, as I type this, Mav and Bri's posts in this thread each have anywhere from zero to three "like"s, while pretty much all other posts that express something more than simple agreement with someone else have more than that, sometimes up into double digits.

    Now, I'm aware that this is not a democracy and that Mav and Bri have the final say here, but what is abundantly clear here is that the mods are not only in the minority here, but they are essentially alone in that minority. That should be something to be considered in pursuing further discussion, and in making the final decision.
     
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  5. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    Just to be clear, neither Bri nor I think that the policy should stay the way it is, we are just expressing our feelings on the situation both as people who are members and as mods.

    There have been some in recent memory, and not all of them have been new people. I'm going to give a completely made up example that's similar in nature, because I wouldn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable for making a mistake, and even if I were to use it as an actual example, I'm not sure I could find it anyway. If it's not something major, I won't remember it, and if it were a continuing problem with that one person their user notes would remind me. Here is an example of what I'm talking about, completely made up from my own mind and hasn't happened in this thread that I recall.

    An example that could be in Writers Desk Thread:

    UserName says "I'm working on my fanfic "Titles -R-Us" [link or no link] where Han crashes the Falcon on Wayland and I wanted to know what language native beings there speak."

    The person could just as easily say, "What do the natives on Wayland speak?" Granted, it is on topic for the thread and has relevance to the thread (which is why I say there's a gray area), but there was no reason to insert a fic there and to me that is trying to slide a fic into a conversation. To me this is pimping and it has happened in recent memory.


    I wasn't saying that "it kinda works and it kinda doesn't" be the criteria, I was trying to say that is where the grey area is for me. Kinda like the example above, it's a situation where someone could say it was on topic, but only tangentially related or extraneous.

    Regarding Using Mod discretion:
    I can not tell you how many times we as mods get the "Point to the exact place where the rules say that", in fact the big discussion on racism/sexism/discrimination policy that's going on in Comms and in MS comes in a large part from that mentality.
    That's not to say we don't do that all the time, because we do, but in a situation where you say to someone, please don't do that, often times the reply is, show me where it says I can't.

    I'm not saying any of you guys would do that, but people have and do all the time and we can't just think about those who are responding here in the thread, we have to think about the other people here and the possibility of people who have yet to discover these forums.



    I think maybe the answer right now is for Bri and I to take what has been said here and make a draft of a policy and then we can all discuss that. Seeing as how this was started on the weekend, I would like to take a few more days because there are members here who don't really post on the weekends. (This isn't to say that the discussion can't continue on, I just think it would be more productive seeing as how everyone who has participated in this thread so far does want a change.)



    Edit:
    I won't speak for Bri, but I'm not saying that at all. I'm asking where is the line of relevance, because my line might be different than yours and if I don't have something that shows that line it becomes "It's this way because I'm a mod and I say so" and I don't want that.
    I don't know that there is a blanket that can cover it all, is also my issue. I want simple, but I also want to be fair and being fair means having rules that I can point to and say here they are.
     
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  6. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    I'm in favor of the suggestion up-thread that the policy (whatever it is) should be stickied and obvious at the top of the forum. That would really help new users -- it seems that they often start off by making a mistake and disappear, which is unfortunate. Some of those cases are spammy, but others just seem uninformed. And on reflection, I'm pretty sure I've been guilty of "Han in the Falcon" mistakes at some point -- all without meaning to do so.
     
  7. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    It would be stickied at the top for some time, any rule change is going to be. It would not remain there forever, however.
    As Bri stated, we've already started formulating a different way to do the FAQ that should make things easier.

    People make mistakes, it's fine, most people don't do it on purpose and we are happy to just say "Please don't do that.", but there are people who want to get as much notice as possible and will do so by any means they can find. It's human nature, we all want people to read our fics and comment, but we don't want that to be an issue either.
     
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  8. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2014
    One thing I'm almost sure of: people who post in general discussion, off topic etc. on most message boards and rarely wander elsewhere are far more of troublemakers than any of us would be. We don't troll each other for the sake of it. From what I've seen, nobody trolls anybody.
     
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  9. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    mavjade,

    That's all very reasonable. I'd just like to see it become a little harder to mess up by accident. And I feel like a sticky that disappears in a few months will only be known to those who would already know, mostly. If that makes any sense.

    Anyway, I'm inclined to wait and see the new policy before forming further opinions on this.
     
  10. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Posting from a hospital bed, so bear with me (insulin pump issues; don't worry).

    Mav and I are not the "Do as we say because we say so" mods. We want a clear policy we can point to. I too have had people ask me (and not just new people either) "where does it say I can't do this?" We know most of you guys will listen if we do a “this is not relevant” edit. But most newbies need to be pointed towards the rules so they can learn exactly what is allowed right from our collective mouths.

    We want a simple policy. What we don't want is a simple policy with all sorts of stipulations (IE linking and mentioning is allowed everywhere, except for a list of 10 threads). We want to work with you guys so that we aren't always making executive judgment calls.

    I'm just using my example because no really clear viable alternative is coming to me. We all want something clear and simple. 3 different classes of pimping policies really isn't THAT complicated. But I'm sure we can bring it to 2.

    Mav and I want to work with you guys, but we KNOW some things will not work. If you guys are not willing to work with us, we will have to make a dictatorship decision which I don't want to do unless we don't have to.


    Feel free to continue stating your opinions, but I think mav and I are going to take some of your main concerns and draft it into a concrete policy you all then can discuss.

    I just want to make a note. You guys are all great and if this was an invite-only community, I would have no problem relaxing on the rules. But it isn’t. We are constantly getting new members who may not know the general etiquette we have here.
     
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  11. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay, here's one last contribution from me before this thread gets officially killed off.

    --------------------------------------------

    From the Rules of the Jedi Council Forums
    Emphasis mine.

    Also:
    • Rules of the JC forums: 2583 words
    • Fanfic rules: 8310 words
    I actually understand that a sub-forum needs a more detailed set of rules than the boards as a whole, but 24 standard pages on MS Word feels a bit over the top -- if nothing else because no one will read it.

    -------------------------------------------

    A clarification: I'm speaking only for myself here, because I believe that others on this thread have something different in mind, but my idea wasn't to allow mentioning fics in every single thread in the resource forum except social threads. What I suggested was a blanket rule to allow mentioning fics in threads tagged with "resource" and "characters" (and "index" but that tag seems to be falling out of use.) The ban on mentions stays as it is for other threads, unless otherwise specified in the opening post.

    -------------------------------------------

    About the availability of rules to point to and the issue of simplicity.

    Preliminary note: To avoid misunderstandings and because "pimping" has such a negative connotation, I'll be using "mentioning" instead when I mean a legitimate, relevant reference to a fic in a discussion.

    Let's imagine a set of rules along these lines (I am NOT arguing that this is perfect, so take it easy on the bickering ;) )

    I simply don't see how anyone could challenge a mod's decision to edit out a reference with rules such as the above, unless they're hardcore troublemakers, and troublemakers will cause trouble regardless of the rules. Honestly, if the laws of the various countries we live in were as clear as this, the courts would be out of a job real fast!

    -------------------------------------------

    Lastly:
    You will forgive me if I say that I find these two lines incredibly condescending. The message I get is, "talk all you want, we'll come up with our own thing anyway." I like to think that this wasn't your true intention but simply undiplomatic phrasing on your behalf because of the hospital thing and I hope you are sorted out now.
     
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  12. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 18, 1999
    Sorry for the delay in posting again. I won’t touch on everything that others have written so succinctly and eloquently, but I do want to add my $.02 on a couple of things.


    @mavjade I completely disagree. One time? Not offensive. More than once? They might need to be spoken to, yes, of course.

    Now, if you, using your “mod’s discretion” want to speak to that person and inform them to be careful, that’s one thing.

    Perhaps people can get one “free pass” (with a PM warning) before being slapped down?

    While we’re on the subject, I feel as though there should be some standard verbiage for the mod edits, but that can be taken up at another time.


    I honestly feel like you’re borrowing trouble by using another area’s problems to justify rules that we’re telling you don’t work.


    Why not? I don’t think @Kahara’s suggestion is unreasonable.


    If you’d rather, consider making the FAQ a sticky thread. If the policy is always accessible and visible, there is no excuse for not following it, and it can be something we all can readily link to when/if necessary.



    I’m of middle ground here. While I completely understand the prohibition of direct links to outside fics thing (we need to protect the kiddos from naughty things :p), I would like to suggest that we be able to mention fics by name (and author) in the aforementioned discussion threads, and also in threads like:
    • Looking for Fics?
    • New Recommendations Thread
    • Fanfics you read you wish were completed or a sequel
    • What is your favorite type of fanfic to read?
    Again, it’s a matter of being able to discuss fanfic in a fanfic forum. This isn’t rocket science or re-inventing the wheel.



    I have nothing to add to @Chyntuck’s suggested verbiage other than to say that I completely agree. Short, simple, to the point, and still leaving plenty of flex-room for moderators, present and future.

    And lastly,



    If you really do want to work with us, then that language needs to change. I think all of the users have been assertive and thoughtful in their criticisms, but I didn’t see that in your response.


    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, too, Bri, because I know you (and Mav) are taking this seriously. But that response just smacks of a kid on the playground throwing a tantrum and threatening to take their ball and go home.
     
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  13. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    I have to agree with both Chyntuck and taramidala here. I strongly advise against the use of different communities' rules and situations as justifications of certain viewpoints in other communities; it smacks of trying to use one tool for several different jobs. And as Corran Horn famously said in I, Jedi when discussing the Force with Mara Jade, "when the only tool you have is a hydrospanner, every problem looks like something that needs to be torqued."

    We are not 7SA, we are not the JCC, we are FanFic. We come here to discuss fan fiction, not ISIS or some other hot-button issue. Take the fact that we're a group of highly-focused users that take one particular aspect of the broader TF.N community seriously above all others as a blessing, because that means we're far less likely to be a problem. Nearly all of us here, whether consciously or not, have elected to leave our other thoughts and passions at the door for the sake of this community and our craft, because that's what really enables us to do it justice. At least, that's how I see it.

    Sorry for the mini-rant.
     
  14. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 3, 2001
    One thing that I think should be kept in mind: a new policy does not have to be forever. If it really does not work, it could be altered or reversed. I feel like the perceived stakes of this are influencing the discussion more than they should -- as though this is a once and for all thing. It doesn't have to be.
     
  15. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    Precisely.

    This is one of the best arguments for mod discretion in the application of policy, as well as the drafting thereof. It is a great boon indeed that this particular sub-forum has a tight focus that, at least during my time here, hasn't deviated much (when it has done, most folks put a stop to it PDQ through judicious application of community pressure).

    I've been a mod/admin myself, and I know what it feels like to not have mod discretion, particularly when subjected to the whims of a sociopathic website owner who insists on overruling one's decisions and placing arbitrary restrictions on the mods' and admins' ability to run things—to say nothing of throwing out all the hard work I did on organizing a promising forum RPG. But I've also moderated on good forums with wonderful users that were easy to chat up as a user and didn't need much moderating. At the time I didn't really have the perspective I do nowadays, which is partly why I wouldn't actively pursue assuming another chance to be a moderator at another community. Truth be told, I've shot my mouth off as a mod before and it has stuck in my brain as something like genuine regret.

    So trust me mav and Bri, I do feel your pain.

    Edit: As Chyntuck mentioned, there will always be troublemakers, as well as wannabe forum lawyers, no matter where you go. Trying to design a policy to avoid them isn't going to do you or your community an ounce of good; you just have to be prepared to lay down the law when the trolls do eventually pop up.
     
  16. Goodwood

    Goodwood Jedi Master star 5

    Registered:
    May 11, 2011
    crap, double post
     
  17. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Sorry if this is blunt, but no one is killing off the thread. We wanted to hear a general consensus of the concerns before we drafted a proposed change that we could all then work with.

    I agree, that is a bit silly. I'm not trying to push the blame off of me, but I didn't write them. But as it stands now, Mav and I ARE going to revise them as we feel a lot of it can be simplified. A lot of that length is probably because stuff has been added, but no one has bothered to take out the irrelevant stuff.


    That is very similar to the proposal I just sent Mav. I can't speak for her, but I just think the change should just be a clarification to the "some threads allow you to mention fics while others do not". My proposal was basically to split the tags into the two groups.


    The issue is, from a mod standpoint, is that even people that don't want to cause trouble want to know WHY they can't do something. We see it all the time.

    I'm sorry. That line sounded bad because I was feeling really sick and frustrated at that moment. I apologize. I probably shouldn't have been posting in the state I was in. What I meant to say was, we hear your concerns and agree with most of them. Let us draw up an actual proposed change so we can work together towards a solution, rather than debate this endlessly.



    I'm sorry I can't touch on everything, and sorry if this is blunt, but the FAQ IS a sticky thread. It is just stupidly long and people don't really bother to go back to it often because it is so long.



    Again, I am sorry for posting in the state I was in. My point was, we can't please every single person here, while still being able to mod in an effective manner. We don't want to make a decision behind closed doors and slap it onto you people, but at the end of the day, we will try to do what is best for the collective membership, both present and future.

    I wanted to try to move this forward, that was the purpose of that statement. It is useless to debate something endlessly without us mods saying "Okay, we hear you, what about if we change the rules to THIS."
     
  18. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Then show us a proposal draft and we'll weigh in, both as users as as former/current mods (elsewhere). Right now, we're going in circles. Us users want to be able to do one thing and one thing only: freely discuss fanfic in a fanfic forum. We have offered our thoughts on how to allow this ad nauseum.

    Show us what you got.
     
  19. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    - The Fanfic FAQ length: THe vast majority of the FAQ is examples, mostly from fics that show examples of baiting, bashing, how much sex you can use in a fic, examples of what books are what rating etc. It also includes some things that the board rules include such as the Disallowed words list. It also includes things about plagiarism, the spoiler policy, etc. All of these things make it long, but it's not all that complicated.

    Bri and I have already said we are going to restructure it and make it so that general idea is at the top and the more in depth explanations go closer to the bottom.



    - The issue of people saying "Show me that rule" is not just in 7SA or parts of the other parts of the boards, I've had ficcers say the exact same thing (new and old) many time, and recently. They also aren't all people who are trouble makers or trolls, not at all, most are perfectly great posters who just want the rules.

    I'm not at all using other parts of the boards in my thought process, believe me I know how different they are. Everything I've said has come from fanfic experience. The only reason I brought up the sexism/racism issue is because it's a good example of something that's going to effect the entire boards as it will be enacted board wide when a decision is reached.



    - Re: "Smack downs" - When someone does something that is against the rules, it gets a mod edit no matter if it's the first time or the 10th because if it is left, others will think it's okay. You guys mention letting other users be the guide, we do, and that's part of it. Leaving something that is against the rules makes it seem okay. Sure there's probably things we miss, but we try our best. We will often also PM with an explanation and asking for someone not to do it again. Only if it becomes a major problem does that escalate to more serious things. The first time or two isn't even a warning, just a please don't do this.

    When we post an edit, it's not a punishment, it's just a fix. We think nothing less of the person. It's bolded and in our color so it's clear what was the user and what was the mod. That is how things are done all over the boards, it's how we are instructed as mods to deal with things.

    With my Han and the Falcon example I'll tell you exactly what would happen (Say it's their first time):

    In the thread: Mav Edit: [Link Removed] Please don't post links when it isn't pertinent to the discussion.

    Then I would then PM the person and say:

    Hey User Name! (Currently I would say: Just to let you know, we don't allow posting of links resource threads. You can find the FanFic FAQ Here(link) that will let you know the ins and outs of the forum.
    Please free to PM me anytime if you have any questions! :) ~Mav

    With a new policy, I might say something like: Just to let you know, while we allow posting of links in resource threads, this is a situation were it's not pertinent to the discussion/question, so I've edited it out. And then add the rest about the FAQ

    I would then put a note in the user notes that says something like: Edited out a link in Fanfic resource.

    And unless their user notes start filling up with that comment, that's the end of it.

    ~ Regarding leaving a sticky all the time - It wouldn't need to be up longer than a few months, it would be in the FAQ. If we had every single rule to have a stick, even just a few of the major fanfic ones, the whole page would be stickies.

    ~Regarding Making the FAQ a sticky thread -- It already is, always has been.


    ~With regards to the rule not being forever - I've already stated that this could be the case. :) So yes, we are thinking for now and the near future.


    Re showing you a draft - Please give us a moment, we both have jobs/school outside of here, not to mention other parts of our lives. We aren't alway on at the same time so it takes a while for a discussion between us sometimes. Please be patient.



    As I said yesterday, I want to give a day or two for people who aren't on here on the weekends to chime in too.
     
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  20. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Just a suggestion (not related to the rules). How about we make a Pimp you Fic thread? I'm serious. A writer can put in their link and a small synopsis of their new story. I know I never ever go to Before or Saga eras. Maybe there is something there I would like. I read a synopsis about a Obi/Ventress love/hurt story and I think..."Hmmm...that may be interesting." Allow one pimp per fic. It may be fun and if nobody uses it it will be buried on page 10 in a few weeks.
     
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  21. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    That's something to think about!

    Along the same lines, I was thinking about restarting the Prolifc Writers Index. The old one isn't very good due to the change in linking and the truncation, but it might be nice to have a new one.
     
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  22. Lady_Misty

    Lady_Misty Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 21, 2007
    It would be nice to be reminded every so often of the rules. Strong language isn't something I use on principle; however time to time I have a character say something potentially stronger in Huttese or another alien language.

    Is it pimping to refer to your other fics when you're posting a new chapter for one of your fan fics and in an author's note you give the readers an update on the progress of _________________ since at least here I have the same readers for almost all of the fics that I post here?
     
  23. mavjade

    mavjade It's so FLUFFY! Fanfic Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2005
    The rules are always posted, so they can always be referred to. Even having been here for almost 10 years, I still look at some of them from time to time. :)
    When we edit a post, or post a general mod announcement in a thread, that's kinda a reminder of the rules.

    Nope, it isn't pimping to mention you are working on an update for another story in your own story thread. :)
     
  24. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Feb 25, 2010
    Just is just a quick post between my classes because people want this out here:

    Pimping/Promoting Policy Proposal


    Promoting policy remains mostly the same:

    Then right under it we define Pimping

    And this is where we add the new stuff

    We put the discussion tag under “no” because these are mostly threads like the pet peeve thread (which we don’t want people posting fics), writing environment, craziest idea ever - where discussion tends to be general and not about specific fics. There may be cases like the Resolutions thread where we would be indifferent about mentioning fics. So we are open to change this.

    Keep in mind, threads can always be retagged if say, a general discussion thread turns into more of a resource thread.

    EDIT: keep in mind this is just a proposal. We are open to changes or alternatives.
     
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  25. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 4, 2011
    I like the proposal. It seems pretty sound to me. It hits all the major points that we've been discussing; namely simply being able to talk about fics in topics where one would expect to talk about fics.

    This would allow for discussion in the Writer's Help Desk, a thread that I've felt was a good spot to discuss fics, but the current policy made such discussion utterly impossible. You can't get help if you are prohibited from discussing the problem itself.

    Now, I can see where you'd take issue with that. If someone is really, really stuck and are desperate for help, I can see how a page or two would be used to help that person, and I can see how that could easily be misconstrued as "monopolizing" the thread. Thus, I offer a solution: If someone comes in really stuck and they inadvertently derail the topic, offer to take the discussion to PM.

    Problem solved.
     
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