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Taw
11-24-2014, 04:58 PM
Hello everyone,

As we near the end of the year I’d like to take the time to talk about some changes we’ve made to the forums recently. Some of these changes are more noticeable, such as the visible upgrades and features, while others are behind the scenes and less noticeable. Additionally, I would like to address a few concerns regarding the current community which the forums has fostered.

Here is the breakdown of changes, beginning with overhauls we put in place recently.

-Backend upgrades and maintenance: Our forums were upgraded with the latest versions of the software. A few plugins and products which were not used commonly or were not up to our quality standards have been removed. New plugins were added as replacements, causing some remaining older outdated plugins to break, however most have been adjusted and fixed to be compatible with our forums again.

-Visual overhaul: “Weasyl 2.0”: During the maintenance downtime last month and new theme was applied in order to update the outdated visuals of the forums. We will continue to keep the previous theme as a legacy theme, however, it will not be maintained. Future forum updates may possibly break legacy themes, at which point users may find it preferable to switch to a newer theme.

-Twitter sidebar: A twitter sidebar has been added to help keep users up to date on important site events, including but not limited to downtime or server issues, community events, and coding updates. Twitter is one of our main communication hubs outside the Weasyl network and we felt it was important to make the information easily available for users, particularly minor updates that may not be presented in site announcements.

-Forum Rules: In response to user feedback regarding the forum rules, the rules have been rewritten. We’ve changed the formatting in an effort to make the rules more clear, readable, and straightforward. We encourage all users who have not done so to read the new forum rules to better understand the mod position on acceptable Weasyl forum behaviour.

-Forum community: This leads to our final topic of discussion, the forums and concerns amongst its community. We would like to explain where we have come from and where we would like to be in the future.

Since we initially opened out forums to the public over two years ago, we have tried to be lenient on the users and foster a minimal presence of moderation. We wanted users to feel free to contribute to a wide variety of discussions and debates without feeling pressure from the moderators to watch what opinions they presented or otherwise felt they must walk on eggshells while participating in the community. However, as our forums have grown and more users have joined to participate we have been seeing a disturbing trend of discussions turning from friendly debate to devolving into personal attacks, insults, and mudslinging towards other users rather than addressing discussion topics or points.

Many of these problematic interactions take place in discussions which stem from controversial subjects, many from current news or trending topics from various outlets. While there has been suggestions to ban these controversial discussions, we do not want to restrict subject matter which users may discuss. We feel open discussion is important to the health and viability of the forums, however we will be monitoring the situation carefully and if things do not improve, we may begin to restrict certain subjects to prevent further degradation of the forum community.

In addition to the aggressive and insulting posts we have seen aimed between users, we have seen many users skirting the lines in terms of their behaviour, teetering on the edge of violating forum rules and receiving administrative action. This has been a long standing concern and we are going to be cracking down on users who purposefully and continually skirt the line to aggravate users and threads. We expect the community to follow the rules in place and treat each other with respect, regardless of whether or not users agree with them on various subjects or if they have a history on other 3rd party websites.

If a user feels they are the target of harassing behaviour they should immediately contact forum staff with an explanation of the behaviour. If a user is being insulting or otherwise violating the rules the forum staff must be contacted immediately. Most importantly if a user’s behaviour is problematic in any way- do NOT engage them, immediately cease all interaction and report the user instead!

Users who respond to violation behaviour will not be exempt from moderation. Once content has been reported users should refrain from engaging with violation behaviour until moderator action may be taken. Again, according to the old adage “two wrongs do not make a right” and violating behaviour will be moderated whether it is the original user or a user responding.

When reporting content, please explain your reasoning for reporting as clearly as possible to best inform the staff of the exact nature of the problem. Do not issue reports which are overly vague, consist of a single word, contain insults toward other users or staff, expletives (unless relevant to the report issue), or reports filed to target another user for non-violation reasons (differing opinions/views, past history, etc.) Continued misuse and abuse of the report function in these ways will result in an infraction and possible suspension from our forums.

We take each report seriously and have zero tolerance for misuse. If you have a question or are uncertain regarding forum rules or policies please PM a forum staff member. We are happy to to help our users, and look forward to more productive interactions amongst the community.

Gamedog
11-24-2014, 05:43 PM
Thank you for the update, Taw

Regarding the new Weasyl theme, is there any way that users can alter the colours on the layout to make it less bright? The main complaint about the new theme based on what I've seen is that the bright white is a little painful on the eyes, and this is the reason why most of us wanted to continue using the old/blue theme.

Taw
11-24-2014, 06:34 PM
Thank you for the update, Taw

Regarding the new Weasyl theme, is there any way that users can alter the colours on the layout to make it less bright? The main complaint about the new theme based on what I've seen is that the bright white is a little painful on the eyes, and this is the reason why most of us wanted to continue using the old/blue theme.

The only way for a user to customize the colours for the style would be to use a browser plugin such as Stylish and write up some custom css to override it. Since the theme initially came out, we did tweak it to fix all the blank white space everywhere, particularly on the background. It should be much better than it used to be.

Ibuuyk
11-24-2014, 07:48 PM
Reporting users is nice and all, but what if it's a staff member who's harassing you? You can't report or ignore 'em 'cause they're part of the staff, you can't say names 'cause that'd count as calling out, you can't take it to PMs 'cause that'd count as harassment and you can't appeal your bans 'cause the staff is always right and you've had "precedents" before Weasyl was even an idea so obviously it's your fault. You just can't defend yourself and ignoring what they say doesn't even work 'cause then it's reputation that gets hurt and everyone starts thinking you're an asshole 'cause the staff doesn't like you.

The worst part is, this post will probably get deleted for "incitation".

Kurk2288
11-24-2014, 08:34 PM
Pretty sure you can report mods & staff, and-
there's a way of addressing a person with out actually "calling them out".

It's not harassment, unless you continually spam someone with messages or threats,
and ignore requests for it to stop. Also, evidence of this "harassment" that you received, please?
Edit: with the person's name censored of course.

Offtopic:
What do you mean you can't defend yourself and ignore what they say (who is they?).
No, not "everyone" thinks you're an asshole. You're acting a bit melodramatic and presumptuous imo.

Gamedog
11-24-2014, 08:38 PM
Reporting users is nice and all, but what if it's a staff member who's harassing you? You can't report or ignore 'em 'cause they're part of the staff, you can't say names 'cause that'd count as calling out, you can't take it to PMs 'cause that'd count as harassment and you can't appeal your bans 'cause the staff is always right and you've had "precedents" before Weasyl was even an idea so obviously it's your fault. You just can't defend yourself and ignoring what they say doesn't even work 'cause then it's reputation that gets hurt and everyone starts thinking you're an asshole 'cause the staff doesn't like you.

The worst part is, this post will probably get deleted for "incitation".
Not sure if it's the same on Weasyl but most sites have a "go up one tier" in regards to staff behaviour.
If a mod is harassing you, report them to an admin. If an admin is harassing you, report them to a.. director.. or whatever the term is here. KingPin of Weasyl.

Taw
11-24-2014, 10:45 PM
Reporting users is nice and all, but what if it's a staff member who's harassing you? You can't report or ignore 'em 'cause they're part of the staff, you can't say names 'cause that'd count as calling out, you can't take it to PMs 'cause that'd count as harassment and you can't appeal your bans 'cause the staff is always right and you've had "precedents" before Weasyl was even an idea so obviously it's your fault. You just can't defend yourself and ignoring what they say doesn't even work 'cause then it's reputation that gets hurt and everyone starts thinking you're an asshole 'cause the staff doesn't like you.

The worst part is, this post will probably get deleted for "incitation".

If it is not a violation but is a concern, as with users please try to work it out privately and in a CIVIL manner. It's not appropriate to PM anyone to insult or shout explitives at them, but calmly stating your concerns is not harassment and is fine. If you are still concerned please report the staff member (see next paragraph)

If it is a post, pm, comment please report it. A staff member can't act on a report that they themselves are the focus of (the exception being if you literally report the majority of staff so no one can act on it.) Note that behind the scenes there is a lot of group interactions so a problem staff member can't just subject you to their whims. This is particularly true in issues involving staff. It's simply not one staff member looking at the issue, if a staff member is reported it will be looked at by a group of staff and the reported staff member will not determine the outcome action taken.

If reporting is not possible please send an email to support@weasyl.com which will bring this to the attention to higher level staff. Again the staff member(s) in question will not determine the outcome, and again it is a group decision so the outcome is not subject to the whims of the individual. The only case in which it would be is if the problem escalates to the point that the site owner must act to determine the best possible solution for the overall good of the site.

In terms of history, if it is off Weasyl we consider it, but only in so far as how the letter of the rules and the policy is applied. No one is treated due to past history off site (exception for credible threats to the safety for site, users, or staff). A substantial history for a user really only means we're less likely to see some violation as a pure accident, but a violation is treated as a violation no matter what your history.
History on site and on forums always follows the same line of policy. As far as forums are concerned if you get a certain number of points you will be suspended. Each violation has a set number of points.

During deliberations, it is not the case that "Staff are always right" obviously we have access to behind the scenes action and exactly what was done and said by the staff member that might inform differently than what the user has access to, but it is not the case that a staff member is able to get away with violating behavior. Again staff members in question can not determine the outcome, they abstain from the issue.

Now, if it is the case that you feel the entirety of the staff wish to act against you, that if there is ever an issue between yourself and staff there is no possible action that can be taken, that literally every single possible tier of the staff is against you and will act against you no matter what, there is no reasonable alternative in this case.

At that point you simply don't trust staff, will not give the benefit of the doubt, and if you truly believe that staff will always act against you there is nothing viable for us to do to gain that trust back. That is an extreme at which point it may be best to find a forum more suited to your tastes.

This is not to demand every user with a problem with staff must leave. We have made a point to be as objective as possible, this is why we stress staff acting in groups or abstaining when necessary, but if a user does not trust on a basic level that this occurs, there isn't really an alternative and we can't do much but say that we are sorry this is not a place best suited for that user.

Ibuuyk
11-25-2014, 09:48 AM
Good to know, thanks for answering