The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #109916   Message #2308081
Posted By: GUEST,Tom Bliss
06-Apr-08 - 05:12 AM
Thread Name: Our ghastly folk tradition
Subject: RE: Our ghastly folk tradition

Thank you for the work you do here. It can't be easy, and it's great that you're willing to make the effort. I'm sorry that we Brits so frequently manage between us to mess up.

I wouldn't blame you if you just gave up and closed us down, but if you do want to continue and really are interested in ways things might be improved then I also have some suggestions. They might involve losing some of what makes Mudcat such a good website, but they might possibly improve matters in the long run.

First I'd like to explain that it's actually not quite as easy to walk away from a discussion that is going off the rails as you suggest. If you were able to find time to read all of this thread, you would see that it didn't suddenly go bad. It started with a few misunderstandings, which people quite reasonably wanted to see corrected. And the early smaller tantrums did not dislodge what was a wide-ranging but interesting and relevant discussion, all loosely tied back to Parris' remarks.

The nastiness crept in in fits and starts, and throughout there have been a majority of people doing their manful and womanful best to keep the ship head to wind.

I'm not sure where you get your figure of twenty people. I think less than five have actually stepped out of line - and it's the same group as usual.

However, even these people have a massive amount to contribute and when in the right mood can be funny, forgiving and helpful.

It just happens that some people (probably all of us to different degrees) have a raw touch-point. One topic or opinion which sets off an emotional reaction, where the adrenaline surges to the fingertips and reason, and manners, fly out of the window.

It is in the very nature of web forum debates that without the usual tells of facial expression and tone of voice, misunderstandings are commonplace. And those of us with careers in folk music are bound to want to correct anything that could have an inverse impact on - for example - our relationship with another poster who we need to ring tonight about a booking. And those without careers have just as much right to feel understood. So the urge to remain in a discussion that is going haywire, in spite of potential damage, is very strong. Trust me, it's not a nice position to be in - and I have NOT enjoyed a lot of the above (I'm not enjoying this). But I'd started and thought I should do my best to continue - because I really believe we have a job to do in Britain somehow to cauterise the rivalry without loosing the diversity of views.

I'm sure you know all that, but you post seems to deny it, so forgive me for wanting to set it down for myself.

Now. I take your point about deletions. They are a clumsy tool and can make a nonsense of a thread very quickly. If that policy became prevalent you'd probably soon have no forum.

What I would suggest would be a time-out system - something like the BBC method, well, nothing like the BBC method actually, but properly achieving what they were trying to achieve.

First it would be good if you, or your volunteers, were able to post more warnings within the discussions. When it seems like you've just blown in because of a complaint and haven't had time to read the thread though, as above, (and I know you don't have time, so no complaint, ok?) this doesn't always work (and indeed this is where the BBC mod system falls over). But when a warning is issued by a moderator who DOES seem to be up to speed with the discussion it DOES tend to work. Ian Anderson manages pretty well on the admittedly tiny fRoots forum. You could maybe do something similar here if you had enough reliable volunteers with the right diplomatic skills.

But even if not, it should be technically possible to introduce a cooling off system. After one warning, for jumping on newbies, direct personal attack, persistent wilful misunderstanding for effect (trolling), rudeness without humour - whatever you like, members could be locked out for - I don't know - three hours, a day, a week?

All that's needed is an opportunity for the adrenaline to leak away.

The nastiness will continue, but there wold be a sense of support and security - and some of the people who slip away to the wings as soon the fighting breaks out might stick around, and so help to keep the ratio of reason to unreason more healthy.

Now, of course with an open forum, timed-out people could just jump in again as guests. So you'd probably need to make it a membership-only forum, and maybe that's a step too far for you. But most others do this, and there are other benefits.

Perhaps you could allow one post per day (or two or three?) by non-members. Time-outers could still fire off one more volley from the cage, but they'd be in the cooler, and it would do less damage because we'd all know it was about to stop soon.

And newcomers could still ask questions, and be encouraged to join up.

Newbies would also be more noticeable, so with luck the more welcoming members would therefore find it easier to provide that early support.

Finally I should say that my reasons for not joining mudcat are not as simple as wanting to protect myself. I'm easy to google, and I get a lot of off-list emails from people - usually supporting what I'm saying, but not feeling able to post (and sometimes not!)

I don't join because I'm not a natural joiner (the fewer passwords and cookies etc the better, in my book), and if I can be part of something without joining that's how I'll do it (put it down to incarceration in a violent school system :-)! If Mudcat became membership only I'd have to make a decision - and I honestly don't know if I'd join or not. It would depend on the other checks and balances you put in place. But as long as you'll let me post like this, I'll take that option thankyou. (Assuming I feel like continuing after the battering I've had on this thread)!

I'm not saying these suggestions will work. But perhaps they might prompt some better ideas from someone else.

Thank you

Tom Bliss

My Website (with email)