Forum Etiquette

Evening All.

I met another person today who has abandoned using the forum as he described it as occasionally "toxic".

A real shame.

Suggestions, please?

Comments

  • Maybe actually getting together occasionally would help - could the moderators have an "Open Day" somewhere to discuss any concerns? Personally I think - no matter how much people are divided that actually getting together - whilst not guaranteed to make people "bezzies" as they say in Liverpool - at least promotes civility and understanding.

    (In other news - I've very recently started experimenting via Facebook with a "Breakfast Club" once a month at the Horse and Groom for people from different walks of life to get together for a lovely brekkie, conversation & possible cooperation - and at least one of those things is pretty much guaranteed  - if you would like to join one month - let me know and I will keep you posted on dates) 
  • just don't be a dickhead, the same as you would in real life. Pretty simple really?
  • It's almost too late to turn it round. I've yet meet anyone who has any respect for the forum or who even shares the general consensus of most of the posts. 

    More often than not if it comes up in conversation it's anger at the views provided and that to an outsider they are taken as the general view point of our village. The general flavour of some posts in attacking the competency of those in the public sector and others who are trying to help our village is a disgrace

    Unless there is a change, I and many others would wish to see 'Wivenhoe' removed from the title as it's currently an embarrassement to the village that we have known and loved for many many years.
  • mikep said:
    just don't be a dickhead, the same as you would in real life. Pretty simple really?
    So Mike, are you suggesting that no-one is a dickhead in real life?
  • edited March 31
    Glyn said:
    mikep said:
    just don't be a dickhead, the same as you would in real life. Pretty simple really?
    So Mike, are you suggesting that no-one is a dickhead in real life?
    I'm saying that if you're a dickhead in real life then you're showing poor etiquette...
  • Probably controversial, and maybe technically difficult to police, but how about removing the element of anonymity?

  • adrian said:
    Probably controversial, and maybe technically difficult to police, but how about removing the element of anonymity?

    I personally agree with that wholeheartedly. If someone is not prepared to own up to their postings, then that is good reason not to waste one's time reading them. The right to free speech comes with the responsibility for transparency.
  • Well said Chris, whilst I thought that the forum was a "good thing" originally, permitting anonymity has turned into little more than a source of random noise.
  • I would like to put the point of view that the Forum also has a very positive side to it as well.
  • I am sorry if my comments on Mark's proposals for a tree fund could be construed as councillor baiting or "toxic".  Mark works hard for the community.  However I thought in this instance more information about his proposals would be helpful (I tried very hard to think where these problem trees could be).

    I rather value anonymity on the Forum - for two reasons; firstly I can express my own views without them being thought to express the views of any organisations to which I belong, secondly if people are then rude I can shrug it off more easily.

    My concern about the Forum is not so much the sometimes unpleasant exchanges but the fact that there seems to be very little discussion of some of the real issues facing Wivenhoe, such as the proposed Garden Settlement and little concerted Wivenhoe response to these.   

    The nickname for the Forum amongst some, as you may know, is the Borum. 

    The Forum does however have some splendid pictures, and has proved useful for some initiatives such as Daisy's women's coffee meetings/walking netball etc.  Do not dismiss it too readily.
  • If it's any consolation this is perhaps one of the biggest challenges of our age - how do we communicate through digital media? It was all fine when it was one way traffic: static webpages, blogs etc pushing info out, but now it is clear that communication between people is actually quite difficult online, with people frequently getting the wrong end of the stick and being easily manipulated. I don't profess to know an answer but look past any Brexit/Trump headline and the news is all about this.

    Personally, I think the forum is great for many reasons: the most uptodate info when local things happen (eg when we went into "lockdown") and to share ideas and get community projects happening. Keep it positive, keep it civil, and this will continue to be a fantastic online community.

  • The real issues facing Wivenhoe are regularly discussed during the Council meetings which are public, and to which anyone can attend - if anyone wishes to raise a point / question during these meetings, there is a process for doing so which the Town Clerk will be happy to explain.

    Alternatively, one could put oneself forward and take on some of the entirely unpaid and voluntary work that the Councillors do, for example, working with the tree warden.
  • The forum has been a fabulous resource for me. I knew of it before I moved here a couple of years ago and it was definitely one of the many things that appealed about Wivenhoe.

    Of course, I don't agree with all the opinions expressed but neither do I in the 'real' world. The forum reflects our active, friendly and diverse community. 
  • There is what appears at first sight anyway, to be a reasonably intelligent and well balanced paper on why people seek anonymity on line here: 

    https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~kiesler/publications/2013/why-people-seek-anonymity-internet-policy-design.pdf


  • The Forum is a great local information resource and you can ignore the political discussions if you don't care for that sort of thing.  As for anonymity, I see your point Poopdecker but surely it is possible to make it clear you are posting in a personal capacity where necessary.  It might also be the case that anonymity encourages lack of civility from some people.

    As for town council meetings, not everyone is able to attend or would have the confidence to raise issues in that sort of environment (however friendly councillors try to make it).
  • edited March 31
    You can ask for a point to be raised by the chair and it will be discussed - you don't have to stand up and make it, but none of us bite, at least, I don't think we do though I'd be a bit wary of Andrea if she's getting close to a baccy break .... 

    Seriously, we would welcome more participation - people that have attended meetings often comment that the experience has been something of a revelation to them.
  • NickT said:
    The real issues facing Wivenhoe are regularly discussed during the Council meetings which are public, and to which anyone can attend - if anyone wishes to raise a point / question during these meetings, there is a process for doing so which the Town Clerk will be happy to explain.

    Alternatively, one could put oneself forward and take on some of the entirely unpaid and voluntary work that the Councillors do, for example, working with the tree warden.
    Being an observer with limited rights to speak has its limitations and also people may not want to sit through an entire WTC meeting.

    What tree warden did you have in mind to work with?  Wivenhoe does not have a tree warden.  Efforts to appoint two potential volunteers a few years back were not pro-actively supported by the Borough and it did not provide details of training courses.




  • Thanks for all.the suggestions so far.

    And @poopdecker, please be assured that I don't think anyone reads your comments as toxic or overly critical. The observations were anecdotal and not aimed at anyone in particular.
  • There are some topics on the forum to which I would not now  contribute. Sometimes what I would take as a reasoned discussion seems to inflame certain groups. I visit the forum every day because I am interested in Wivenhoe. I love the photos and some discussions I also am interested in different points of view but I hate the bullying, belittling and dismissiveness some forum members display to others.
  • Perhaps this is just due to what else I read online, but I was surprised by the anger the OP and others describe that some have for the forum... compared to other online communication areas, I feel this is very much at the top of my list for "civility."  Yes there are problems, but it feels like there are far fewer than with say Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit etc in a general sense.  And if compared to the comments left on news sites, be they local or the big national papers, again, I think the Mods on here tend to do a much better job.  Free speech v offensive harrassment is often an obvious division, but there is a grey area, where offline the tone and body language would make it obvious, but in a text post online it can come down to a matter of opinion.

    The one I hate is when I join a supposedly moderated forum (naming no sites at all) and then find the rules being blatently flouted and participation becomes impossible.  There are always issues in any public fourm, online or not.  People can be rude, they may even enjoy winding others up.  

    So, it seems my experience differs with the one described, or perhaps my standards are lower given my other online reading materials.  But, in terms of improving this forum to tackle the anger it is contributing to, maybe some kind of time delay posting?  Last year I had to exchange emails with a correspondent who was driving me up the wall.  I just saw the unread email and I would start getting angry.  But, I still had to come up with polite constructive responses.  So, I started drafting a reply then waiting for 24hrs before reviewing and sending it.  The first draft would be an angry out pouring of my frustration, but by the time I sent it I just had one paragraph of bland text.  User options to draft and review on a forum like this would not combat those "trolls" out to get a reaction since why would they wait, but might be helpful as an option for contentious issues?  For those of us who want to be constructive, but can get caught up in the moment and later regret it?
  • Agree with greenback.
  • edited April 1
    This is an interesting article about incivility online. It confirms what @Steph says really that it's a generalised problem in online forums and in society. The relevant point in it is that researchers found that everyone is capable of posting angry comments, that people are most likely to troll when they post in anger, and this flames a thread for others.

    I think what might help on this forum is to end anonymity (so long as everyone did it), having the capacity to edit or delete your own comments if you say something you regret (more than an hour's window) and tougher moderating (which also deletes comments). Moderating should be kind of educative in a way, but moderating ensures online forums remain a safe space.

    Definitely I think we should all try not to post in haste, particularly when we are exercised about something (just like @Steph does with her email).
  • edited April 1
    thanks @Treestump for the supportive comment and finding a reference along similar lines.

    btw. I wonder on the proportions of forum members that are anonymous, semi (like me) or fully identifiable? I am not sure I'd want to lose what anonymity I have left (i.e. be searchable by name & surname) but I'm pretty sure most people who know me in person don't have much doubt about this being my profile.  I do think there is a place for anonymous posting too.  Sometimes there are questions I'd like to ask, but fear them being a millstone of stupidity around my neck until a supernova kills the internet.  

    I wonder whether a combination would work well?  A certain level of identity required for an account, but perhaps a handful of annoymous posts allowed per month on a renewing basis.  And any anonymous posts automatically being flagged to the mods, or having a time delay.  Say you can post immediately if you identify yourself, but if you as an account holder want to make an unattributable comment, you can only do so x times a month, and all such posts have a four hour delay?  

    [edited for typos]
  • I totally support and end to anonymity as a way of increasing civility. I very much like living in Wivenhoe, but I find it difficult to recognise the generally friendly, open and tolerant place I've come to love in this online forum.  
  • Steph, one of the first things I usually say to people I am tutoring is that there is no such thing as a stupid question, possibly excepting rhetorical ones. For every person who thinks a question stupid, there'll be another who wants to ask the very same thing, and that is one of the main benefits of a forum like this IMO.
    I often research things on photographic fora, and what strikes me is the ignorance displayed in some answers, not the questions - people who flame others for not knowing something they themselves (claim to) know.

    There may be very good reasons for maintaining anonymity as an option here, but I do think the reputation of the forum has suffered in recent months, which is a shame because this is a fantastic resource that Jason has initiated here.


  • I believe that anonymity, like so many other things, can be used for good and bad, it is an enabler for some, and viewed with anger by others.
    Online etiquete and respect I wholeheartedly agree with. Ending anonymity on this forum i believe will reduce diversity of views and opinions.

    In reality demanding real names of individuals might have the perverse effect of  shutting down the forum, how ? There is a mountain of EU legslation (which the UK has stated it  will adhere to even after we leave Europe) which demands compliance in order to protect personal information. Realistically demanding identity of all posters would be impossible (how would that work in practice?, Demand Passport numbers?, Drive out anonymous posters with pitchforks and flaming tourches?). 

    So the only pragmatic option for an OPEN forum is good moderation, bi-lateral exchange to encourage diversity of views, underpinned by respect, humility, patience and a certain degree of restraint. which from what i have seen over the long years (decade?) appears to be happening most of the time.

    Which prompts another question, how old is the forum now, 10 years ??


  •  I joined in Jan 2011 and that was at the start so I think the answer to @Scoobz is 6 years. 
  • Thanks Moira, you are right, should have read this

    http://www.wivenhoeforum.co.uk/about

    I thought it was much older, ho hum..
  • There's quite a good statement on anonymity in this article:

    "It ends up boiling down to figuring out exactly what you want from an online community. If you're simply looking for a sounding board to unleash all your thoughts without worrying about judgement, anonymous is probably the way to go, and it's not hard to do. However, if you want to build something larger from an online community, it might be best to be somewhat transparent with your identity, and practice the same restraint for conversations as you do in real life."

    The purpose of this forum would seem to fall in the latter category. It's a local forum, and there's a clear interaction between the virtual and the real.

    I actually don't think ending anonymity would be that hard. I doubt if anyone's using encrypted identities on this platform, so the mods would simply check email addresses against names. That's widely different from data protection issues. And as a reminder, Facebook has a rule about using real names - that's gone a bit awry recently but still.

    However, Fb also shows us that ending anonymity is no guarantee of civility. Proactive moderation is, in my view, an important way to preserve online civility, where the mods are actually posting as mods and where people get banned for trolling.
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