Removal of posts containing offensive language

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Message 9682 - Posted: 24 Jan 2006, 5:59:02 UTC

To Whom it may concern;

As I have been scanning the boards and trying to organize things a little, I have noticed a few posts containing some unacceptable language content. This problem is not extensive or pervasive, but it exists. In recognition of the fact that some schools are now using projects like Rosetta as activities for young people. I will be removing a few of these posts as I encounter them.

I am mindful that this does create a few problems, and may upset a few people. But I have also seen a number of posts concerning the lack of monitoring on these boards. I tend to be very open minded where this sort of thing is concerned and will use as light a hand as possible.

I have no intention of arbitrating arguments, and I will not rescue people from assaults they have prompted through their own words. I will remove posts based on language content that would be unacceptable in polite mixed company usage. I feel certain you all know the type of language involved here so I need not be overly specific. I would encourage people to avoid this issue by treating each other with a degree of respect. Debate the merits of the topic, not the personal aspects of other posters.

In many cases the posts of concern may have been prompted by posts where openly offensive language was not used, but personal attacks of some nature prompted a strong reaction. It is my opinion that it would be unfair to remove the reaction and allow the original attack to stand unchallenged, not with standing the actual words used. For that reason I feel I should also remove the post that prompted the reaction. While controversial, and open to interpretation, this is the only way to be fair to all parties involved.

Clearly, removing some posts will have an impact on the \"continuity\" of the thread where some continuity exists. If any posts are removed from any thread that is the natural result. For that I apologize.

I think we all realize children will learn about this kind of language in due course, but they don\'t need to learn it here. Rosetta does have a public image that they need to protect and project

There will be an e-mail message with as much explanation as room permits sent to the author of any messages removed from the boards.

Thank you in advance for your understanding.


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Message 9727 - Posted: 24 Jan 2006, 20:33:44 UTC


Given the international flavor of all BOINC projects including Rosetta, you may want to be very explicit in your definition of offensive language. For example, you might use phrasing such as \"...profanity and/or obscenity as defined using American English will be removed...\" or something similar (I list American English given the location of the Rosetta project). I\'d also assume that racial slurs and other such terms would be considered offensive. Since \"offensive language\" is open to interpretation, cultural differences, etc., I think it is necessary that you be \"overly specific\".



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Message 9730 - Posted: 24 Jan 2006, 20:44:09 UTC

I disagree with you Scott, I think the referee`s decision is final and it`s his definition that counts.

To ask for a precise list is asking the infinite as I have proved already here by using colloquial terminology detrimentally. Every swear word in every language would be hard to list so I think it`s best left to interpretation of the Mod and if necessary an appeal to him from the offended.
Not all Czech`s bounce but I`d like to try with Barbar ;-)

Make no mistake This IS the TEDDIES TEAM.
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Message 9731 - Posted: 24 Jan 2006, 20:45:25 UTC - in response to Message 9727.  
Last modified: 24 Jan 2006, 21:13:53 UTC


Given the international flavor of all BOINC projects including Rosetta, you may want to be very explicit in your definition of offensive language. For example, you might use phrasing such as \"...profanity and/or obscenity as defined using American English will be removed...\"
...


As your guest moderator from the UK, I\'d hope that the response would be more general.

Language offensive to any group of participants should be removed, even if the intention was not to offend and even if the perceived offence arises from cultural difference.

At the same time, removal of such posts should not be regarded as a punishment but as a learning experience. In an international project, each of us can usefully learn what kind of language offends other groups, and then word future postings around it.

edit: in this regard it would be good, in the longer term, to have mods from as many other countries as possible.

m8
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Message 9733 - Posted: 24 Jan 2006, 21:12:16 UTC

On a more general note, and even harder to draw the lines around, I think that by the time the insults start it is actually too late.

A discussion (whether on the net or face to face) is spoilt when the participants start attacking each other as people (or as groups) rather than attacking the arguments and opinions of the others.

To say, for example, \"you are entitled to say that even tho only an idiot would believe it\" does not contain any offensive language, but is already offensive in another way - and might be exactly the kind of post that was removed along with the expletive-laden follow up.

But then, how far can mods step in and ask people to re-phrase something before we get labelled as thought police? I was criticised in another thread merely for suggesting that people moved a certain debate out of the thread it was in... I\'d appreciate participants\' thoughts on this one please.

M9 is thinking about school children seeing bad language - in my opinion it is at least as important to try to avoid setting them an example of debate by personal attack as to try to avoid certain words.

m8
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Message 9747 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 0:40:57 UTC

I moderate a forum for professionals in a completely-different field, and the rules of that forum are very strict. Offensive and even just non-productive posts are removed. It turns out that the majority of members appreciate the strict rules, as it prevents them from wasting their time reading useless posts.

I get annoyed enough reading the \"Where\'s my credit?\" posts here, and I wouldn\'t mind at all if all of the bickering and offensive posts were removed. This is a science project, not a game or a chat room, and participants should conduct themselves accordingly.

Because school children may be involved as part of classroom projects, the standards of behaviour here should be high. In fact, depending on their age, the COPA may impose a legal (U.S.A.) requirement to keep this forum clean.

Cheers for volunteering your time!
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Message 9752 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 2:02:16 UTC

I want to thank each of you for your thoughts on this matter. I will keep this thread open for a while so others can contribute their ideas as well. As you move around the boards, feel free to come back here and provide additional feedback on the moderation issue. If you see anything that needs attention let us know.

Looking back over the last few months of posts, I would have to agree with some of you that there has been a decline in the quality of discourse since the start of the project. It is my hope that by reminding people of their responsibilities to one another in this kind of international community, that together we can raise the level of discourse and avoid massive intervention by the moderation team.

Again thank each of you for your comments.
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Message 9755 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 2:28:44 UTC - in response to Message 9752.  
Last modified: 25 Jan 2006, 2:30:09 UTC

Again thank each of you for your comments.

I think if we all view ourselves as professionals (and we indeed are, very few in the world know much if anything about BOINC and distributed computing), that might help. This is not to say that good humor and good natured comments would not be accepted as we continue to get to know one another better. But focus on the merits and logic of the discussion in a professional manner, and not on personalities. :)

Regards,
Bob P.
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Message 9772 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 6:50:25 UTC

I have had 3 e-mails sent to me telling me that 3 of my posts have been removed for offensive language! That makes me look a real ogre, esp as I could not remember using any offensive language...being a Mod elsewhere I do know all about this.
However it turns out that in all my posts I had been quoting the post of the guys who had used the foul stuff....but....the e-mail tells me off for ME using it...not right guys you need to have a different e-mail for this otherwise all you are going to do is needlessly upset folks.
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Message 9781 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 7:20:52 UTC - in response to Message 9772.  

I have had 3 e-mails sent to me telling me that 3 of my posts have been removed for offensive language! That makes me look a real ogre, esp as I could not remember using any offensive language...being a Mod elsewhere I do know all about this.
However it turns out that in all my posts I had been quoting the post of the guys who had used the foul stuff....but....the e-mail tells me off for ME using it...not right guys you need to have a different e-mail for this otherwise all you are going to do is needlessly upset folks.


There is only a small field where the moderator can enter an explanation as to why the post was deleted. In your case that would be the note saying you had quoted offensive language from another post. The entire rest of the message is a system generated form letter over which I have no control.

I only have available four (4) selections to choose from as the reason I am deleting the post. I will have an example of these mails sent to myself so I can pick the least annoying of them for future use. I had seen the duplicate post message and assumed the form letter was the same all the time. My apologies to you as it was not my intent to chastise people. The whole idea of censoring is annoying enough without that.

Unfortunately I have no other way to notify a user of the deletions, and people should know if their posts have been deleted. They may want to clean them up and re-post them.




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Message 9804 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 12:28:40 UTC - in response to Message 9781.  
Last modified: 25 Jan 2006, 12:31:20 UTC

They may want to clean them up and re-post them.

That is a good idea. I had a post deleted that I did not think was offensive and had no intention of being offensive when I posted it, but perhaps my wording could be misinterpreted, so I will re-post the same thought with different wording.

Edit
Oops, I see my post was judged off=topic, so it was moved to another thread. This is fine with me, and glad to see my phrasing was not the issue! :D
Regards,
Bob P.
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Message 9805 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 12:31:19 UTC - in response to Message 9772.  
Last modified: 25 Jan 2006, 13:16:02 UTC



...

However it turns out that in all my posts I had been quoting the post of the guys who had used the foul stuff....but....the e-mail tells me off for ME using it...not right guys you need to have a different e-mail for this otherwise all you are going to do is needlessly upset folks.


Yes, this happens, when you quote the offensive posts. I have had posts removed from the Seti boards for the same reason, so I learned not to use quotes, when answering an offensive post. Even an emoticon (not an offensive one!) was removed, because I posted it as a comment to an offensive post. :-/

The difference is, as far as I understood it, that your post is still in your postlist, where the original offensive post has been removed from the person\'s postlist.

I think this is perfectly Ok, as a flamewar can go on forever, when it\'s being fed with quotes, even the answers to the offensive post are not offensive and kept in a proper language. And if you make your reply directly to the post, people can look for themselves, what was said in it by clicking the link to the answered post.

EDIT: I came to think of this: The mods are not able to edit in a post. Last year at Valentine\'s Day I posted a cute Valentine\'s Day pic hotlinked from a site I found with some of these in the Seti Cafe. People started to complain about some nasty cookies were found on their computers, and it turned out that they came from that site, I had hotlinked my pic from, and then it was too late for me to remove the link.

A little later I asked Janus if I could make him do me a favor and remove that link, and he answered me, that he wouldn\'t and couldn\'t. It was his conviction, which he shared with the rest of the dev team, that mods should not be able to edit people\'s posts. They are only able to remove it, which I then asked him to do with my post with the nasty cookie pic. So this is something that has been decided from the dev team.

And I think it\'s Ok that mods are not able edit the offensive quotes away from people\'s posts, and by notifying people about a removed post, they can post the same again, but without the quotes.

But if somebody feels this should be changed, please post about it on the BOINC message board http://boinc.berkeley.edu/dev/, and then the devs can decide about it again, if needed.


[b]"I'm trying to maintain a shred of dignity in this world." - Me[/b]

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Message 9808 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 13:34:05 UTC - in response to Message 9730.  


To ask for a precise list is asking the infinite as I have proved already here by using colloquial terminology detrimentally. Every swear word in every language would be hard to list so I think it`s best left to interpretation of the Mod and if necessary an appeal to him from the offended.


I think you may be misinterpreting my intent (probably due to my quote of Moderator9\'s \"overly specifc\" terminology). I am not suggesting that precision is the issue (meaning a precise listing of terms), but rather that the project needs to provide clarity regarding the policy. For example, LHC@home provides a very explicit forum policy that is clearly noted on the main webpage. A sticky post in the forum is simply not displayed with the appropriate visibility. I also find it completely unacceptable that this be left entirely to each moderator\'s discretion (e.g., would each moderator agree without an overarching policy to follow?; what are the explicit sanctions for violation--or continued violation--of these rules?; etc.).
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Message 9810 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 13:49:29 UTC
Last modified: 25 Jan 2006, 13:53:09 UTC

I would certainly agree Scott that the general rules that one normally signs on joining a forum are missing and it has crossed my mind as to any legal fall out there maybe. It is not my problem though and I would hope that the owners of this board have taken that into account.

As for forum moderation I still go a long with my view that the mods should take responsibility. A post can be viewed in many different ways and a robot cannot make the interpretation.

So yes I agree it needs some formal rules but the interpretation of post`s should be left to mods. There are people who are extremely good at playing with hard defined rules and would make a mockery of them should they choose to do so, then proclaim their innocence.

We have to accept this is just a forum and there are no Courts to backup the ruling or appeal to.

The mods on Teddies board have my complete backing, there are few rules if any. If I don`t trust their judgement or it becomes out of touch they won`t be in that position, simple as that.Delegation.
Not all Czech`s bounce but I`d like to try with Barbar ;-)

Make no mistake This IS the TEDDIES TEAM.
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Message 9813 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 15:16:23 UTC - in response to Message 9808.  
Last modified: 25 Jan 2006, 15:28:29 UTC

It is my personal belief that moderators should be open to ideas and guidance form the moderated community, but not express opinions or join into lengthy discussions on the boards they moderate, as a moderator. Entering into a discussion slowly chips away at a persons objectivity, and compromises their ability to be fair with the moderated community. So it is with some intrepidation that I offer the following comments.

(e.g., would each moderator agree without an overarching policy to follow?; what are the explicit sanctions for violation--or continued violation--of these rules?; etc.).


In my opinion, moderation of a forum such as this is achieved mostly through reorganization of the material provided by the user community. At times reorganization requires tossing something out. But this forum does have an overarching policy. The functional part of my original statement concerning deletions is actually is based on the guidance that is provided for the forums on this site and is encapsulated in this statement.

... I will remove posts based on language content that would be unacceptable in polite mixed company usage. ...


That wording was intended to conjure an image, for each of us to use as a guide under which I will conduct my moderation duties. For most people that image is not of the sports pub, and it is not a bunch of mates out on a fishing trip. These are not normally considered polite mixed company gatherings.

For example ... Consider for a moment you are attending the wedding of your bosses daughter, and it is held at a place of worship (faith of your choice). You are having a conversation in a small group. The group consists of your boss, his daughter, his wife, yourself (and perhaps your wife), the person who performed the service (faith of your choice), and two young children who participated in the services.

Or maybe you are in court, presenting the merits of your case. Perhaps you are making a presentation to a classroom full of children. What ever image the language presents to you.

What tone would you take? What language would you use?

Now add to that -

... Debate the merits of the topic, not the personal aspects of other posters....


This makes it fairly clear to most people the kind of decorum that is expected in discussions on this forum, and the kind of posts that might draw unwanted attention from a moderator.

You ask do I think all the moderators would agree to such a loose statement of the standards of conduct? Well, 99.9% of the time I think they will, assuming they understand what BOINC and these projects are all about. But it really does not matter if there is a consensus among the moderation team. Each moderator works on the slice of the moderation problem that they are most comfortable with. For example I am trying to organize things a little better. If I notice something during that activity, that I think is over the top, I will try to take care of it. I do not go looking for stuff to purge from the system.

On some of the other lists there are moderators that spend their entire time looking for speech code violations, against the backdrop of very specific and growing lists of possible violations.

As someone pointed out earlier, this is a scientific research project, concerning serious scientific inquiry, run by real scientists to solve some of the most vexing problems facing the human race. The scientific community is all about the exchange of ideas. The less censorship of ideas the better. But people from all walks of life, all age groups, all religions, all races, all nations, and all cultural backgrounds may participate. These boards will be read by all of them, and will represent this project to that world community.

If you look at all of this in the context I have outlined above, what kind of demeanor and language should someone use as they click \"Post Message?\" Do we really need a detailed list of rules beyond what is at the left of every text box people type for a post? Will the moderators really be that confused?

If the community presents comments in a professional and respectful way, and avoids personally attacking other posters, there will be no need for further moderation by me or anyone else.

EDIT: If the moderation, or a particular moderator becomes a problem, then people can use the links on the home page to contact the project team and present the issue. They would have the final word. They can add and remove moderators in less than the time it takes to post the issue.

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Message 9816 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 15:48:17 UTC - in response to Message 9813.  

I agree totally with Moderator 9\'s below post, which is presented very well and very reasonably in my opinion! I must say I personally find it a relief, because I was uncomfortable with the tone of some of the posts beforehand. I find this new environment very refreshing and a breath of fresh air! :)
Regards,
Bob P.
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Message 9856 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 22:22:25 UTC

My post was deleted not for offensive language as was stated but for objecting to carl.h and his high handed manner. I am not surprised, scientists make their living begging rich people for money. A high RAC means lots of machines and carl and the FADs choose to use that to control this project. The mods mean to suck up to him and his cronies. I don\'t have enough RAC to be allowed a disenting opinion and I am too stiff necked to put up with that. I have set my computers to \'no new work\' for FAD(formerly rosetta)@home and will detach from this project when current work is done.

I leave this place forever!

David Stites
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Message 9867 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 23:25:31 UTC - in response to Message 9856.  

My post was deleted not for offensive language as was stated but for objecting to carl.h and his high handed manner. I am not surprised, scientists make their living begging rich people for money. A high RAC means lots of machines and carl and the FADs choose to use that to control this project. The mods mean to suck up to him and his cronies. I don\'t have enough RAC to be allowed a disenting opinion and I am too stiff necked to put up with that. I have set my computers to \'no new work\' for FAD(formerly rosetta)@home and will detach from this project when current work is done.

I leave this place forever!


I can see this place getting quite messy in the coming weeks with people leaving due to heavy handed Mods be it intentionally or by accident but lets hope it doesn\'t drive too many out
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Message 9872 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 23:47:12 UTC - in response to Message 9858.  

Ahhh Young ...


This is out of bounds and off topic for this thread. and it will be deleted.
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Message 9873 - Posted: 25 Jan 2006, 23:54:44 UTC - in response to Message 9856.  

My post was deleted not for offensive language as was stated but for objecting to carl.h and his high handed manner. I am not surprised, scientists make their living begging rich people for money. A high RAC means lots of machines and carl and the FADs choose to use that to control this project. The mods mean to suck up to him and his cronies. I don\'t have enough RAC to be allowed a disenting opinion and I am too stiff necked to put up with that. I have set my computers to \'no new work\' for FAD(formerly rosetta)@home and will detach from this project when current work is done.

I leave this place forever!


I am sorry you feel that way. I have deleted e-mails on both sides of these arguments. If you quoted language from an e-mail that was offensive then that is why it was deleted. I do not care who posts the offending language either as a quote or as the original poster. If the language is offensive it gets deleted.


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