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What's the long term goal for this forum from Yellow Pages' view?

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  • Jun 24th, 2012 6:48 pm
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[OP]
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What's the long term goal for this forum from Yellow Pages' view?

You guys are doing your job, but I think its important to communicate back to us what are the long term goals of this ownership and what exactly is going on.

On the current path, the site that was built by the members and the community created by the members, seems headed towards a hierarchic non-forum . Its important to understand that Ryan and Derek really understood well that it was the members of the site that create the site. The site can exist on its own if we all leave, but only for a very limited amount of time.

I also believe if the editing of the Off-Topic forum begins to occur in the Hot Deals section, people will stop posting altogether in Hot Deals. This could single-handedly destroy the site or leave it open to a competitor. Its just really annoying to read a thread and see tons of posts vanish, replies edited, causing me to lose context of the conversation. I've managed to catch a glimpse at some of these vanishing posts, and many if not all of them didn't break a rule, even under the new rules.

I find way less humour in the site now, and that was partially if not strongly the basis from which RFD was built on. And the difference between a site being a success or not, is the forum community. I won't even get into how all the forum mods are previous members who participated in these types of threads and helped create the community that they are now policing, editing, and dismantling. I don't believe its some revenge conspiracy against their forum-mates, but more of a Yellow Pages business direction. Some of these mods and pro-mod members, used to be the same ones posting hundreds of times over days in Off-Topic or in our short-lived politics/conspiracy forum, healthily and amusingly.

So I'm asking a simple question to clarify, before the community invests any further into this site. Does the "Yellow Pages" intend to shut down the chat forums and only keep the Hot Deals going? It appears that way to me.

It was really hard back in the day to set up a site with a forum and a news/deals scraper bot feeding it. These days its a weekend task. The reason they don't take off is due to community. And over time I can see people choose a competitor and jump ship at this rate.

I personally think the best way to handle this, is to be transparent and let us know what's going on. If the intention is to sharply reduce the chatter and make this a business oriented web site, it'd be wise to inform the community. We can start building up our Feedback/Thanks/etc. on other sites.
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[OP]
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There may be some benefits to the "new way", but I think it only boils down to the fact that the new mods aren't protecting the old members who were ruining off-topic a year ago. Its been a while since those members were wrecking the site with impunity, so I have a feeling they actually left on their own, it may not even be the new rules that did them in.

So it might be an overreaction.

I mean, if the new rules were just meant to just mute Yao, I think it went a bit too far. In my opinion, posts like his weren't what's killing Off-Topic, it was the people who were using abusive language and getting away with it, with Moderator support. But, as I said, they seem to be either dealt with, or gone.
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masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 2:14 am
I find way less humour in the site now, and that was partially if not strongly the basis from which RFD was built on. And the difference between a site being a success or not, is the forum community.
I don't think humour played any significant part in why RFD is so successful.

Beyond that, if anything, I think there is just as much ( if not more ) humour on this site as there has ever been.
masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 2:14 am
I won't even get into how all the forum mods are previous members who participated in these types of threads and helped create the community that they are now policing, editing, and dismantling. I don't believe its some revenge conspiracy against their forum-mates, but more of a Yellow Pages business direction. Some of these mods and pro-mod members, used to be the same ones posting hundreds of times over days in Off-Topic or in our short-lived politics/conspiracy forum, healthily and amusingly.

So I'm asking a simple question to clarify, before the community invests any further into this site. Does the "Yellow Pages" intend to shut down the chat forums and only keep the Hot Deals going? It appears that way to me.
I think you're completely over-reacting.

It doesn't appear that way ( " intend to shut down the chat forums " ) to me in the least .....it appears to me, that the mods / admin etc. are simply cracking down on inappropriate behavior by some members....especially in OT.

One reason RFD a much better site before ( from a non deal forums perspective at least ), is because ( with the possible exception of the old politics forums ) OT wasn't the cesspool of sophomoric / low content thread topics, with rampant racist / offensive / inflammatory content & conduct that has characterized it in recent years.
masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 2:14 am
I personally think the best way to handle this, is to be transparent and let us know what's going on. If the intention is to sharply reduce the chatter and make this a business oriented web site, it'd be wise to inform the community. We can start building up our Feedback/Thanks/etc. on other sites.
I think it's more specific, the intention is to sharply reduce the rude, disrespectful, offensive, inflammatory etc. etc. chatter
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masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 2:21 am
There may be some benefits to the "new way", but I think it only boils down to the fact that the new mods aren't protecting the old members who were ruining off-topic a year ago. Its been a while since those members were wrecking the site with impunity, so I have a feeling they actually left on their own, it may not even be the new rules that did them in.

So it might be an overreaction.

I mean, if the new rules were just meant to just mute Yao, I think it went a bit too far. In my opinion, posts like his weren't what's killing Off-Topic, it was the people who were using abusive language and getting away with it, with Moderator support. But, as I said, they seem to be either dealt with, or gone.

I disagree....I see no reason to ' cheap shot ' our mods by accusing them of " supporting " members who used " abusive language ".

Abusive language is against the rules - it's represents conduct the mods condemn..... not " support "
" The placebo effect is the most powerful supplement of all "
" The pain of discipline weighs ounces, the pain of neglect weighs tons "
" The best training in the world can't overcome a lousy diet "
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Distilled version:

Off-topic is being over-edited. It's not funny.

Also:

[QUOTE]On the current path, the site that was built by the members and the community created by the members, seems headed towards a hierarchic non-forum . Its important to understand that Ryan and Derek really understood well that it was the members of the site that create the site. The site can exist on its own if we all leave, but only for a very limited amount of time. [/QUOTE]

You do know that Derek is still around, right?

Also, RFD is a deals forum first, everything second. If a deals forum's Off-topic is more important than the deals themselves, there are problems. So if they're focusing on nurturing that, then I can see why'd they are trying to clean things up a bit - deals is their milk and bread.

[QUOTE]I personally think the best way to handle this, is to be transparent and let us know what's going on. If the intention is to sharply reduce the chatter and make this a business oriented web site, it'd be wise to inform the community. We can start building up our Feedback/Thanks/etc. on other sites.[/QUOTE]

They did. Oranr stickied a thread informing that Off-topic was going to be rebooted to clean things up. Whether on purpose or somehow overlooked, some folks didn't read it. Much likes the rules (ha). Also, the first time someone posts in Off-topic, they're informed of changes and rules via a message box that you have to click.

The reboot was forewarned.
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Everything that was done was forewarned. We didn't do anything in secretive or without warning. We have announced all major changes, functionality changes or improvements to the site. We left the threads open to have user comment on it. I have been very transparent with everything, sometimes too transparent, open and lenient as some would say.

Hot Deals

This is the most important aspect of the site, this is why everyone is here. We noticed a couple growing trends that were unacceptable for the site and for the users. We want to correct these trends and get the hot deal section back on track.

1. Low content or no content posts - this clutter ups the threads and doesn't provide any information for our users to make informed decisions about the deal or product. If you don't like the deal that's perfectly fine and in your right but provide some insight to our users to why its a cold or bad deal. I think this is common sense and courtesy. Posts like +1, bad deal, wallet is safe, do not help our community or provide good insight. We are deal and shopping discussion/resource and if the threads are filled up with +1's and wallet is safe, how does this help the shopping resource that we have all come to use and learn about deals and products.

2. Hostility and Bickering - there have been numerous times when a user comes to me or another staff member and says, I tried posting a deal but I got harassed to the point were I don't want to come back. This is not good for the site or the community. We are trying to make this site a friendly place were users can come look up deals, post deals, talk about products and shopping and not have to worry about the e-jerks coming to ruin their time on our site. This trend is very troublesome for us and it will not be allowed to continue. This goes with bickering between users, doesn't provide any useful information for the deal and just derails the thread. I am sure that nobody wants to go through pages and pages of two users bickering just to continue reading on the deal or product.

3. Search - When users post a thread with the title St00ples or bhell, it prevents that thread from being included in the search. Just say for instance, you were looking for a staples thread and did a search but nothing came back and you missed out on the amazing deal. This could have been prevented if the OP used the proper store/business name in the title. We want everything to be searchable so that our users will be able to find it when they search our site.

For the most part, Hot Deals is great but we have to crack down on those few users and trends that ruin it for everyone. This is why we created the new guidelines to Hot Deals.

Off Topic

1. There was too much racism, sexism, discrimination against all types of people. This is totally unacceptable, I don't see how in this modern day one can accept and tolerate racism, sexism and discrimination. If that's what you want to do, there are many non-moderated forums you can go too (reddit, 4chan, etc) We have a mandate of a PG rated site and that's what we will achieve and maintain. We have no intention of closing down the chat portion of the site but have a responsibility to the community to provide a clean, fun and accepting place to post.

We did the OT wipe to let everyone know we were absolutely serious about the new policies and moderation. It was not about one user, it was about the OT community as a whole. If you want to troll, you will find it a hard place to visit.

The moderation team is a volunteer team that wants to help better the site. They don't deserve to be called out, taunted and harassed because a user broke the site policies. This is a very negative trend and will stop. I have been to nice to let users challenge any removals but I was for openness and transparency. I have been pretty lenient with users calling out mods and this was taken as open invitation to attack the mods, which wasn't my intentions and will stop. I wanted to empower the user and give them an avenue to the mods and admin. This avenue is still there but I am taking a no tolerance stance on calling out mods or admin going forward.

Summary

I don't believe these changes are site ending like you have claimed. To me it will make the site a better place for all. I know some users aren't accepting to change and it may take a little while for everyone to air their grievousness and their displeasure but that is great. It has opened up a great dialogue and conversation. We learned a great deal and will turn that into better policies and moderation practices. We have no intention of killing the site but we have to get to a place were it's a great shopping resource that is filled with quality content and deals.
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[OP]
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poedua wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 7:18 am
I disagree....I see no reason to ' cheap shot ' our mods by accusing them of " supporting " members who used " abusive language ".

Abusive language is against the rules - it's represents conduct the mods condemn..... not " support "

no, these are different and new moderators.

There would be a league of people reporting some older members, with no effect. These days, the effect is instant. What I'm saying is the new mods are TOO GOOD.

Just seems to be a hard swing in an opposite direction.
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oranr wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 10:40 am
Everything that was done was forewarned. We didn't do anything in secretive or without warning. We have announced all major changes, functionality changes or improvements to the site. We left the threads open to have user comment on it. I have been very transparent with everything, sometimes too transparent, open and lenient as some would say.

Hot Deals

This is the most important aspect of the site, this is why everyone is here. We noticed a couple growing trends that were unacceptable for the site and for the users. We want to correct these trends and get the hot deal section back on track.

1. Low content or no content posts - this clutter ups the threads and doesn't provide any information for our users to make informed decisions about the deal or product. If you don't like the deal that's perfectly fine and in your right but provide some insight to our users to why its a cold or bad deal. I think this is common sense and courtesy. Posts like +1, bad deal, wallet is safe, do not help our community or provide good insight. We are deal and shopping discussion/resource and if the threads are filled up with +1's and wallet is safe, how does this help the shopping resource that we have all come to use and learn about deals and products.

2. Hostility and Bickering - there have been numerous times when a user comes to me or another staff member and says, I tried posting a deal but I got harassed to the point were I don't want to come back. This is not good for the site or the community. We are trying to make this site a friendly place were users can come look up deals, post deals, talk about products and shopping and not have to worry about the e-jerks coming to ruin their time on our site. This trend is very troublesome for us and it will not be allowed to continue. This goes with bickering between users, doesn't provide any useful information for the deal and just derails the thread. I am sure that nobody wants to go through pages and pages of two users bickering just to continue reading on the deal or product.

3. Search - When users post a thread with the title St00ples or bhell, it prevents that thread from being included in the search. Just say for instance, you were looking for a staples thread and did a search but nothing came back and you missed out on the amazing deal. This could have been prevented if the OP used the proper store/business name in the title. We want everything to be searchable so that our users will be able to find it when they search our site.

For the most part, Hot Deals is great but we have to crack down on those few users and trends that ruin it for everyone. This is why we created the new guidelines to Hot Deals.

Off Topic

1. There was too much racism, sexism, discrimination against all types of people. This is totally unacceptable, I don't see how in this modern day one can accept and tolerate racism, sexism and discrimination. If that's what you want to do, there are many non-moderated forums you can go too (reddit, 4chan, etc) We have a mandate of a PG rated site and that's what we will achieve and maintain. We have no intention of closing down the chat portion of the site but have a responsibility to the community to provide a clean, fun and accepting place to post.

We did the OT wipe to let everyone know we were absolutely serious about the new policies and moderation. It was not about one user, it was about the OT community as a whole. If you want to troll, you will find it a hard place to visit.

The moderation team is a volunteer team that wants to help better the site. They don't deserve to be called out, taunted and harassed because a user broke the site policies. This is a very negative trend and will stop. I have been to nice to let users challenge any removals but I was for openness and transparency. I have been pretty lenient with users calling out mods and this was taken as open invitation to attack the mods, which wasn't my intentions and will stop. I wanted to empower the user and give them an avenue to the mods and admin. This avenue is still there but I am taking a no tolerance stance on calling out mods or admin going forward.

Summary

I don't believe these changes are site ending like you have claimed. To me it will make the site a better place for all. I know some users aren't accepting to change and it may take a little while for everyone to air their grievousness and their displeasure but that is great. It has opened up a great dialogue and conversation. We learned a great deal and will turn that into better policies and moderation practices. We have no intention of killing the site but we have to get to a place were it's a great shopping resource that is filled with quality content and deals.


In my OP I noted that I didn't like the swearing, etc. going on. We were under siege by a few members in the past, who I don't even see post here anymore, and just wouldn't stop despite being reported. Recently and before the new rules changes, they stopped swearing, toned down their posts, or stopped posting here.

We may have different opinions of whether it actually stopped or not BEFORE the rules change. But, I can tell you people are very scared to voice their opinion on this now, and its a tell tale sign when its the same people protecting this new movement and I'm not seeing any objective members reply.

I'm not saying to do a vote, but this site is visited by millions right? None of them were polled, talked to, or involved in this. And from my viewpoint I suspect many people find the new editing going too far.

I do think we should remove:
-swearing
-fighting
-instigation

I don't think we should remove:
-comedy
-humorous content (extent memes, +1's, etc.)
-anything related to internal memes, internal culture or behavior


The reason why we got big, and if Derek really is around (or even Ryan), was due to the culture and community built. That includes things that we recognize and built upon. Now, that perhaps seems hard for a new user to get into.

So I think what I really want to know then is the new focus on Reach or Retention? If its on Reach, making this site more mainstream and editing all of our posts will yes, make it a little easier to read to a newcomer. But, I will ask you then, how do you think this site grew so fast and so big? I feel its because of our retention and members sticking to the site and repeatedly posting deals. And when you under-develop or even harm the community/culture, it will hurt Retention by not being the "cool site to recommend to a friend" anymore.

If you go purely for Reach, you risk losing Retention.

There must be a common ground or compromise, where the site remains cool, yet isn't under siege by instigator members.
oranr wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 10:40 am
I am taking a no tolerance stance on calling out mods or admin going forward

calling out a user is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Note that despite all the new rules, the rules are from the trend I see protecting some of these instigator members who don't swear, but get just under your skin and continue at it, trying to bait you out to get banned. I know for a fact these people were being reported heavily in the past and have left the site since, but never received a ban. And I can bet you several people are being reported now to no avail.

In the past, people could rebuke those members publicly, and now that we can't "call out mods OR members" we can't point them out or deal with them. So, there are ways too that this new system can backfire.

I'm calling for a happy medium that addresses everything and makes the site cool at the same time. This new system seems too right leaning, too much of a strong reaction.
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I'm appending to the above list of "things to not ban":
-talking about your real life community and including that into the chatter

I notice that many talks of real life are also being banned/locked/etc.. I realize this sounds ridiculous, but from my viewpoint its what I see. If we can't talk about a city or the mayor a little, while trying to remain nonpolitical, we'll lack the ability to absorb external/real life communities into this community. It seems like a bad idea.

Poedua and I can attest to how often we posted in the political forum and how fun it was, greatly contributing to our yearly and daily retention numbers.
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I haven't chimed in on these things in a long time, but there's a few things I want to say.

First, I think the current team is doing a good job. It's always hard to introduce new rules and it takes time for things to find equilibrium. If you go by what's said in the Comments and Suggestions forum, RFD has been "going downhill" for 11 years and every change has been "the end." The reality is you try different things and some things work and some things don't. I think that the new rules will work. If they don't, they'll change. Running a large forum is like herding cats. There's no playbook.

Second, people seem to forget that Politics was already banned when I left. At one time we had a Politics forum. Want to know why it was closed? It was by far the least popular forum on the site (less popular than the Green forum even!) but it required at least 50% of the moderation time. It didn't make sense to spend time modding a subforum that 150 people a day would visit, when that time could be spent modding the rest of the forum that over 200,000 people a day visited. When Oran came on, he decided to open up political discussion again. It had been a long time and a lot of the old trolls had moved on (or had gotten themselves banned, ahem ;) ), but the same problems came up. The big issue that politics seems to cause is that the inflamed rhetoric tends to bleed into other non-political areas of the forums. There are better places to discuss politics.

Lastly, RFD is a business, sure. But it always was. Any well run business will recognize that the community is the most important asset of the site and work in a way to grow and nurture the community.

The hardest part about modding is that you have to put aside your own personal beliefs and be as objective as possible. People will second guess you and you'll second guess yourself sometimes. You get reported posts 24/7. It wears on you. I think it cost me some of my hair. I have nothing but respect to the people who volunteer their own time and energy to help this community.
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masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 11:38 am
Poedua and I can attest to how often we posted in the political forum and how fun it was, greatly contributing to our yearly and daily retention numbers.
+1

Yup...those were good times ! :D

As I've said before, I do regret that political topics are banned again ...but that said, I completely understand why it had to be done ( due in part for many of the same reasons Ryan alluded to in his post ) and support the admin's decision 100%.
" The placebo effect is the most powerful supplement of all "
" The pain of discipline weighs ounces, the pain of neglect weighs tons "
" The best training in the world can't overcome a lousy diet "
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oranr wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 10:40 am
2. Hostility and Bickering - there have been numerous times when a user comes to me or another staff member and says, I tried posting a deal but I got harassed to the point were I don't want to come back. This is not good for the site or the community. We are trying to make this site a friendly place were users can come look up deals, post deals, talk about products and shopping and not have to worry about the e-jerks coming to ruin their time on our site. This trend is very troublesome for us and it will not be allowed to continue. This goes with bickering between users, doesn't provide any useful information for the deal and just derails the thread. I am sure that nobody wants to go through pages and pages of two users bickering just to continue reading on the deal or product.

3. Search - When users post a thread with the title St00ples or bhell, it prevents that thread from being included in the search. Just say for instance, you were looking for a staples thread and did a search but nothing came back and you missed out on the amazing deal. This could have been prevented if the OP used the proper store/business name in the title. We want everything to be searchable so that our users will be able to find it when they search our site.

These two things were desperately needed and it's been a long time coming. Hot Deals may (or may not, you would know, I wouldn't) still get as much traffic as ever, but a lot of people who used to post deals don't bother anymore as they always got flamed. I used to post hot deals as I came across them (not nearly as much as some people did, but I would post some) but it seems like unless the deal was absolutely scorching hot, people flooded the threads with negative remarks. A lot of times it was people blasting me because the deal had already been posted and I was told to search. The problem with that is like you mentioned, when people don't title a thread properly, you can't find anything when searching. In the end I just stayed away from Hot Deals altogether. Unless I'm looking for something specific, I don't even go into Hot Deals. I really do hope it gets cleaned up a bit as that's what made this site.
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Ryan wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 11:40 am
I haven't chimed in on these things in a long time, but there's a few things I want to say.

First, I think the current team is doing a good job. It's always hard to introduce new rules and it takes time for things to find equilibrium. If you go by what's said in the Comments and Suggestions forum, RFD has been "going downhill" for 11 years and every change has been "the end." The reality is you try different things and some things work and some things don't. I think that the new rules will work. If they don't, they'll change. Running a large forum is like herding cats. There's no playbook.

Second, people seem to forget that Politics was already banned when I left. At one time we had a Politics forum. Want to know why it was closed? It was by far the least popular forum on the site (less popular than the Green forum even!) but it required at least 50% of the moderation time. It didn't make sense to spend time modding a subforum that 150 people a day would visit, when that time could be spent modding the rest of the forum that over 200,000 people a day visited. When Oran came on, he decided to open up political discussion again. It had been a long time and a lot of the old trolls had moved on (or had gotten themselves banned, ahem ;) ), but the same problems came up. The big issue that politics seems to cause is that the inflamed rhetoric tends to bleed into other non-political areas of the forums. There are better places to discuss politics.

Lastly, RFD is a business, sure. But it always was. Any well run business will recognize that the community is the most important asset of the site and work in a way to grow and nurture the community.

The hardest part about modding is that you have to put aside your own personal beliefs and be as objective as possible. People will second guess you and you'll second guess yourself sometimes. You get reported posts 24/7. It wears on you. I think it cost me some of my hair. I have nothing but respect to the people who volunteer their own time and energy to help this community.

Ok, so you agree that the "event" occurred. I knew a Ryan or Derek would be truthful in this matter and objective.

This event is :
-"It had been a long time and a lot of the old trolls had moved on (or had gotten themselves banned, ahem ;) ),"

This is WAY before the new rules came into effect.


So you're saying the reason for the newest rules is this:
"but the same problems came up"

I agree, some threads were too prolific. There was a right leaning almost brainwashing type post posted every day. For this, there's an easy solution, let members only post a new thread once a week or twice a month in off-topic. This will prevent certain members from abusing it.

However, I will tell you those threads are amusing and have a lot of day to day retention on members.

If there was an automated way to ban over swear words, instigating, or fighting. I think it would be easier on you guys. But, in reality I really still think its just a few members trying to get under people's skin and if they were dealt with, it would all smooth out, until another "troll" joins the site.

Either way, you must admit that the site grew fast, when there were smaller forums such as the Politics forum, which kept those threads entirely out of the Off-Topic area.

Whereas right now, I bet the mods are being overworked trying to deal with all the reporting going on. I mean, if I were to strictly follow the new rules, I will be reporting about 100x a day. I honestly see that much of a frequency of infractions under the new rules.
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poedua wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 11:48 am
+1

Yup...those were good times ! :D

As I've said before, I do regret that political topics are banned again ...but that said, I completely understand why it had to be done ( due in part for many of the same reasons Ryan alluded to in his post ) and support the admin's decision 100%.

Ok good, you are indeed real. I was thinking you gave your account away.

There was a time and space, where Poedua and I could debate nonsense, politics, and conspiracy theories. And that time was amusing. Also, we had our own "playpen" in the Politics forum. Off-Topic was void of Politics at this time.

I believe strongly that if name calling, swearing, personal attacks were the only 3 things moderated in the "sectional Off-Topic forum" (that means separate forum for Political, etc.), and Off-Topic was moderated under the new rules and not just under those 3 terms, that we'd have a happy medium.

As I said, I've seen multiple posts, including my own being removed or edited for "low content" or "not needed" <- I thought Low content was just for +1's or spam threads re-posting reddit stuff. Not for individual posts, where there's a sentence, picture or video posted, including memes.

I think the new rules are too vague and allow for too much editing without a clear limit as to how far a moderator can go. I want to be clear, its not the non-PG13/swearing/racist posts I see vanishing.

And this is why I believed outright, strongly, that Yellow Pages was shutting down the forum gradually, probably keeping only the Hot Deals section.
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masterhapposai wrote:
Jun 7th, 2012 11:59 am
As I said, I've seen multiple posts, including my own being removed or edited for "low content" or "not needed" <- I thought Low content was just for +1's or spam threads re-posting reddit stuff. Not for individual posts, where there's a sentence, picture or video posted, including memes.

I think the new rules are too vague and allow for too much editing without a clear limit as to how far a moderator can go. I want to be clear, its not the non-PG13/swearing/racist posts I see vanishing.

And this is why I believed outright, strongly, that Yellow Pages was shutting down the forum gradually, probably keeping only the Hot Deals section.
Fair enough.

Given you think " new rules are too vague and allow for too much editing without a clear limit as to how far a moderator can go " ......how would you improve upon the rules to deal with the " vagueness " issue so that it is much less of an issue and allowing for much less editing on behalf of the mods ?

Are you perhaps suggesting the rules need to be more detailed, include more specific examples / clearer and more robust definitions of what constitutes improper conduct etc. ?
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