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Discussion Starter #1
It's a chilly winter day. You don't bother wearing a jacket or coat before you drive to a store named All Things A to Z. When you arrive, you get out and walk in. You're feeling fine and not cold at all. You approach a several customers standing in close proximity, and you ask,

"Where can I find xyz?"

The mood changes. Instead of being given a direct answer, the people around you looked concerned, or even angry.

"Well, needing xyz is the least of your problems," one person says kindly. "You need a jacket first."
Another says with mild contempt in her voice, "I never leave the house without one on a day like this."
Several argue over some other letter in the alphabet.
Then another responds angrily, "Some lady at my job did what you're doing, got sick, spread it to everyone, and I ended up missing two weeks of work!"
Then yet another says "You don't need xyz. Go get abc."
A few sound nice but haven't answered your question.
Another says you can't afford xyz.
No one has bothered to tell you where in the store to find xyz.
A final one says with hate in her voice, "We don't like or want your kind around here."

Suddenly you are feeling cold.

You look around, and depending on what day when you came, there may not be a manager to help you.
But on this day, one approaches you and tries to be helpful, and asks the other customers to be respectful. The crowd is not pleased with being told this, because they only want the store to offer items A to W, not A to Z. The manager is now feeling a bit chilly too.

****

This example is a metaphor I created. It's about what many new members and some old ones since 2009 have experienced when asking questions or talking about breeding if they didn't have on that figurative jacket or coat, which is credentials and knowledge. There are no hotter or ruder threads than those.

As the new Super Moderator, I am not the metaphorical manager who can't be found. Why? Personally I can't stand disrespect of others and needless conflict. This happens in threads about breeding, simply because many members have very strong opinions about it: who should do it and who shouldn't. It's an emotional topic and for good reason: it's literally one of life, death, and potential genetic diseases for puppies yet to be born.

Poodle Forum is All Things Poodle. It's supposed to be an A to Z kind of place. Being a moderator under these circumstances has it's challenges.

Earlier this morning I pinned a new thread titled "Nearly Everything You Want to Know About The Technical Aspects of Breeding". This may make some of you wonder (or continue wondering), Has Vita lost her mind? Is she for or against well-bred poodles?

It has links that answer "how to" questions about breeding-related concerns and problems that can literally save a litter of poodles, or convince a newbie thinking about breeding to learn a whole lot more or to not do it at all after they read and see the photos of all the problems with it. They educate, and it's compelling to read.

My concern is that visitors and members can't get much information here and they're generally not received well when they do. This leaves the door open for the clueless or partially informed to take their chances in breeding their dog anyway, hoping rather than extensively learning and planning for things to go well, with too often disastrous results. Like parents of a teen who censors sex education and their kid gets pregnant, is that their fault or ours?

So members, I ask you now to offer suggestions on how to deal with this problem, which was a problem years before I heard of PF. And feedback, insight, criticisms, etc, and especially what you might do instead.

Respectfully,
Vita
 

Super Moderator
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I've been an active member on various social platforms since 1998, and I'm not sure that personalities, passions, and opinions can be moderated to the extent your analogy proposes. (Much as I love it!!)

The thread you linked is excellent, and it's nice that it can be so readily referred back to. And, of course, if people are rude or otherwise uncivil, they can be warned they're in violation of forum rules.

But, in attempting to solve one problem (members receiving unwelcome information or opinions) it's easy to create another (members feeling over-policed or censured). Both result in the same undesirable outcome: lost members.
 

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Expressing tone is difficult in writing. Some people are better at it than others. Additionally, people tend to interpret writing through the screen of their own experiences. Plus, to be perfectly honest, not everyone writes well enough to construct an easily interpreted question.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for all the responses so far.
I have a question for members about this comment on Post #3.:

From Peggy The Parti:

"... And, of course, if people are rude or otherwise uncivil, they can be warned they're in violation of forum rules... But, in attempting to solve one problem (members receiving unwelcome information or opinions) it's easy to create another (members feeling over-policed or censured)..."

In your opinions, where's the sweet spot?
  • If you warn, some will get mad because they're used to saying what they want and not caring about how their disrespect affects others as long as they "win" the argument and quash other viewpoints.
  • At the same time, I don't want myself or future mods to over-police where PF acts as a Nanny State.
  • If you don't warn, or minimally or intermittently warn only after chaos has reigned, leaving hurt or angry members who also may quit, then both the old and new updated Rules have no teeth, and PF is another version of the Wild Wild West and anarchy.
Thanks,
Vita
 

Super Moderator
Joined
5,105 Posts
Thank you for all the responses so far.
I have a question for members about this comment on Post #3.:

From Peggy The Parti:

"... And, of course, if people are rude or otherwise uncivil, they can be warned they're in violation of forum rules... But, in attempting to solve one problem (members receiving unwelcome information or opinions) it's easy to create another (members feeling over-policed or censured)..."

In your opinions, where's the sweet spot?
  • If you warn, some will get mad because they're used to saying what they want and not caring about how their disrespect affects others as long as they "win" the argument and quash other viewpoints.
  • At the same time, I don't want myself or future mods to over-police where PF acts as a Nanny State.
  • If you don't warn, or minimally or intermittently warn only after chaos has reigned, leaving hurt or angry members who also may quit, then both the old and new updated Rules have no teeth, and PF is another version of the Wild Wild West and anarchy.
Thanks,
Vita
I think there's a line between offering up unwanted advice and being uncivil. It's occasionally blurred, but it's there.

If I were moderating a forum, I wouldn't intervene unless someone was being overtly inflammatory. In such cases, I would delete the comment in question, replacing it with a generic "Comment deleted due to violation of forum guidelines" and follow up with a private message to the poster in question, sharing a link to the guidelines. Even better, copy and paste the relevant line(s).

It's going to result in bruised feelings, no question. And maybe some kicking and screaming. I'm a neighbourhood lead on Nextdoor and I've seen some truly vile responses to polite requests for adherence to the rules. Some people have deep, deep anger, often compounded by a persecution complex, which no amount of politeness will mollify.

So my M.O. is to speak softly (i.e. keep public intervention to a minimum) and carry a big stick (the big stick being the forum guidelines).

P.S. Kudos to you for taking on such a thankless job! We appreciate you.
 

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I think the line is drawn at personal attacks. People should be allowed to make comments and ask questions, but name calling, abuse, or saying something offensive about the person is not okay. It should be okay to debate or make a comment about a subject, however. But yes, people should be sticking to the topic as well, and sometimes that is difficult. Once the ball gets rolling, and everyone is off topic, then more and more seem to join in. I know I did this a few weeks back. Sometimes it's hard. For those of us who have watched living creatures suffer due to purchasing pets from bad or careless breeders, sometimes emotional responses are just under the surface and come out.

I think your warnings within threads about people getting "triggered" or potentially getting triggered by a specific subject are helpful when things get heated.
 

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PF is an excellent forum and I鈥檓 still learning after six years about the breed! I鈥檓 interested in everything from breeding, showing and performance sports not that I do any of them. I鈥檝e read some abrupt, judgmental and hurtful replies, but the vast majority are generous, informative and fun. Google needs to pay us and Vita, too:)
 

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Once the ball gets rolling, and everyone is off topic, then more and more seem to join in.
Even those situations are tricky to moderate, because you don't want to stifle the organic evolution of a conversation. That's where some of the best interaction takes place! And interaction (rather than just commenting on the original post, as if in a vacuum) is鈥擨 think鈥攑art of what keeps people coming back to a particular forum.

Then again, pile-ons are not welcoming. And those occasionally occur organically, as well, when everyone starts chiming in to agree. That can enter into bullying territory, even if each comment on its own is fairly benign.
 

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This is an interesting and difficult question. I left this forum for around five years because some of the discussions were getting to be too toxic. It wasn't just a matter of people attacking me. It was that I did not like the person I became when I was in those discussions.

I'm often on interview panels at my office. It's not unusual for us to poke around in social media to see if any of our candidates do interesting stuff. When I reached a point where I realized my behavior on this forum was not something I ever wanted my professional colleagues to see, I put myself in timeout.
 

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I'm thinking in a couple of different ways...and I am being serious.

This idea is for an individual who crosses the line of civility.
First, I don't remember which movie or which sketch I saw this in, and I won't repeat the joke as it's incredibly behind the times. I will say that a donkey figures in heavily (not in a Tijuana sort of way!).

If someone makes a comment which is not civil (to name one), instead of calling that person out publicly, send a pm to let them know privately why it was not civil, then, publicly, simply make a Mod post with just this statement:
"That's once...". and give them the opportunity to edit themselves. The count goes to three in the joke, btw. Could work for real life, too.

This idea is for a snowballing downhill thread.
It's an uncomfortable part of PF history, and happens wherever and however people gather, but threads which turn to flaming are a fact of life. Do they really have to be?

An OP starts a thread, not with this intention, but either with a topic likely to inflame passionate opinions, or the thread sidetracks quickly to a controversial topic. Opinions are thrown down like gauntlets, opinions are stated as fact, things become personal and the battle begins. It can be a page or so of posts before nothing new or helpful is being added, and/or things become really heated, and the thread becomes unproductive to say the least. Also, often the OP has left the thread and the remaining participants keep going amongst themselves, not even noticing.

What if the thread itself gets a timeout? Break the momentum. Make a Mod post that the thread is on a timeout for X days, and may be reopened if someone sends a private message to the Mod that they have something new to add or would like to change something they've written. Mod's discretion to ask what, Mod's discretion to reopen regardless. Voices will still be heard, but there will be consequences if the thread doesn't return to or remain civil, and there will be limits, like any debate.
 

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This is a timely post for me. I have decided to get back to this site and another poodle social media venue. I am now retired and living in Mexico with three standard poodles. More than ever I need the poodle community for advice as I don't know of one single spoo owner in my current area. And couldn't speak to them since I don't speak Spanish even if I did.

One of my problems is even though social media sites can be huge, they still become very "clickish." I feel like a stranger here even though I use to be extremely active on this forum. The other poodle venue is smaller and I am getting totally iced with no one responding at all to my posts. And it isn't because these are bad sites with bad people, it just is human nature to circle the wagons until you are sure about a new person's intentions.

The new breeder questions have always turned nasty regardless of if it is here, Facebook, Reddit, or some other outlet. I see time and again were theoretical puppies become more important than an actual human being's feelings. And as soon as one person jumps on the newbie, the pack follows. Still as with real life, with just one person sticking out their hand to another, people can still leave feeling okay about the whole exchange.

You may want to consider requesting some of the more frequent members become "mentors." Not to give advice about things they don't know - but help point the person to sticky's or another member that may be able to help. And to talk the crowds down by reminding people that everyone starts somewhere and asking "the pros" is the best way to go. These members could be people that not only use the site a lot but are know to be kind and not have any complaints about bad behavior. They would not need to be publicly named. Just PM'ed asking them if they would assist the moderators in officially steering the pack to helpful suggestions. It also might help to ask a few trouble makers to help in the task. Sometimes having the "job" of being nice is easier than being that way naturally.

My personal problem right now with sites is asking for advice on a sick or injured dog. People immediately scream "go to the vet NOWWW!" They don't think that the person could be on a farm where the vet is too far out, or in my case, living in a country where they don't speak the language. Most often a dog owner who is asking for help knows they need to go to the vet but don't have that option and that is why they are asking. If a person never had a puppy in their life and got on saying "my puppy just threw up," the good advice would be to further watch the dog but that most likely it is just because puppies throw up. Instead, we send new owners into a panic that they need to toss the dog into a car and go spend $50 to be told what is common sense. Your "mentors" could help with that too please ;)

But for real! Thank you for taking on this task. Very nice people get behind a keyboard and become monsters. Sometimes it takes a small quiet voice to talk the crowd out of going ape. Since you can't be everywhere all the time, maybe ask for more eyes (not to moderate - that would be too many chiefs. Just mentor.)
 

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I totally understand being flamed on a forum (not this one). And if you'll bear with me for a moment I'd like to share and keep it as short as possible. (Please keep in mind that what I'll describe is so much worse than what I've seen here).

I got my first 2 rats from Craigslist. He was giving them away for free and said "first come gets them". I was horrified as I knew they'd go for snake food. Within the hour I had them with me. I posted on Craigslist describing the situation to see if someone had a cage to lend me until I found a proper one. I got a cage that day, and it was fairly big, just old with the tiniest bit of rust in one corner on 2 bars.

I joined a rat forum because I was almost immediately enraptured with these two. I wrote how I had gotten them, how instantaneously I fell in love and how amazing they were. I had taken a picture of them inside the cage.

In 2 days, there were 100 posts on that thread. Now, nobody asked me anything, ever. It started off from the first reply scolding me for having a cage with rust on it. Next, the cage was too small and they just knew I would never bring them out to have playtime with myself or otherwise. It was conjectured I couldn't afford a good food. Then it was that they were sure I didn't have an emergency vet fund if they needed to go. The poor rats didn't have any hammocks! It was assumed I couldn't (financially)/wouldn't get a better cage.

It went on and on until it was said I was abusing them and since I got them off Craigslist I would use them for feeding. The entire thing was so ridiculous. This happened so long ago I can't remember everything they said about me. Not one person on that forum knew me, or anything about me. If they had simply asked questions regarding all those things, they would have heard answers they would approve of. I finally posted a reply, (I had kept quiet just to see where it all would go) and scolded the lot of them for being a$$es.


While I don't see anything like that happening here, I wanted to show how easily people can get caught up in things like this. It just snowballs, and some get fueled by it to add to it.

IF there was a mod there, she/he certainly do anything about it, so I say you should go ahead and police some. It's better to get a few "noisy" people a little upset, than it is to let the OP, and the possible hundreds or couple thousand people who read it, to have a really bad experience here. Most of the people on here are not like that, but a few see breeding as a really hot topic, and can't resist posting a very negative reply. I think this goes to the rules you just posted saying we have to show respect to everybody. And if you can't say something in a civil way, then maybe it's just better not to post at all.

Thank you Vita for bringing this up. I'm interested in hearing how you decide to handle it.
 

Super Moderator
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Discussion Starter #14
Kudos to all members who replied so far. Your thoughts and experiences are well-thought out, intelligent, insightful, heartfelt, and solution oriented. It's incredible reading them, and everyone of you helped out in ways that I hoped for.

Before I began this thread, I worried that few cared, and after I started it, I worried I'd get roasted (and of course, this could still happen). Instead you all chipped in to help and I feel appreciated. Thank you so much for this. It shows readers that many PF members care deeply about respect and this forum being a feel-good, interesting, and emotionally safe place to unwind from the troubles of the world.

I'll get back to this thread later (I have some real life stuff to do now) and give some preliminary thoughts on your comments.

Thank you,
Vita
 

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I totally understand being flamed on a forum (not this one). And if you'll bear with me for a moment I'd like to share and keep it as short as possible. (Please keep in mind that what I'll describe is so much worse than what I've seen here).

I got my first 2 rats from Craigslist. He was giving them away for free and said "first come gets them". I was horrified as I knew they'd go for snake food. Within the hour I had them with me. I posted on Craigslist describing the situation to see if someone had a cage to lend me until I found a proper one. I got a cage that day, and it was fairly big, just old with the tiniest bit of rust in one corner on 2 bars.

I joined a rat forum because I was almost immediately enraptured with these two. I wrote how I had gotten them, how instantaneously I fell in love and how amazing they were. I had taken a picture of them inside the cage.

In 2 days, there were 100 posts on that thread. Now, nobody asked me anything, ever. It started off from the first reply scolding me for having a cage with rust on it. Next, the cage was too small and they just knew I would never bring them out to have playtime with myself or otherwise. It was conjectured I couldn't afford a good food. Then it was that they were sure I didn't have an emergency vet fund if they needed to go. The poor rats didn't have any hammocks! It was assumed I couldn't (financially)/wouldn't get a better cage.

It went on and on until it was said I was abusing them and since I got them off Craigslist I would use them for feeding. The entire thing was so ridiculous. This happened so long ago I can't remember everything they said about me. Not one person on that forum knew me, or anything about me. If they had simply asked questions regarding all those things, they would have heard answers they would approve of. I finally posted a reply, (I had kept quiet just to see where it all would go) and scolded the lot of them for being a$$es.


While I don't see anything like that happening here, I wanted to show how easily people can get caught up in things like this. It just snowballs, and some get fueled by it to add to it.

IF there was a mod there, she/he certainly do anything about it, so I say you should go ahead and police some. It's better to get a few "noisy" people a little upset, than it is to let the OP, and the possible hundreds or couple thousand people who read it, to have a really bad experience here. Most of the people on here are not like that, but a few see breeding as a really hot topic, and can't resist posting a very negative reply. I think this goes to the rules you just posted saying we have to show respect to everybody. And if you can't say something in a civil way, then maybe it's just better not to post at all.

Thank you Vita for bringing this up. I'm interested in hearing how you decide to handle it.
I am sorry this happened to you, Jojo.
 

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I left a forum because I started getting bullied. I had watched others being bullied and observed no consequences, and I just became too anxious to stay. Words spoken online matter just as much as they do in person. I know adults are adults, and should be able to discuss things as adults, but there is a line between discussion/debate and bullying/ongoing personal attacks. It is nice to know that people here care about how we treat one another. Forums are the only social media I use, and what I like about this one is that there seems to be more trust here, and it feels more like family.

So yes, thank you Vita for your work here.
 

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Thank you Vita for all your work that you have done here. The thread that you linked was very well thought out and easy to read, thank you for putting the time into it.

As you stated it is very highly probable for multiple people to get offended that can and does happen when you have people with very animated personalities. I also agree with the member who stated that trigger warnings would be good. I also agree that mentors would be good, there job might also be to guide new members around the forum and help them get to know what to do. When I think ahead I see the possibility of someone wanting to have someone be like a mod for just the mods. On the other forum I am a part of they have a group of people who are called watchmen there job is to basically mod the mods. It gives you that layer of insurance so to speak.

Thank you again Vita.
 

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I am on another forum that has a great community dynamic. The rules that are in place there that I wish were in place here are:

1. Leave room for others opinions - so you can say "I wouldn't do X", or "I don't agree with X" but not "No one ever should do X" or "You are an idiot for doing X". This kind of translates into - you can give advice, but not tell people what to do.
2. Don't say someone else is less than perfect. So never saying "I think you are a bad person" or "I think you don't deserve to own a dog", but you might be able to say (Depending on what else you say at the same time!) "I think you need to consider what's best for you and your dog" or "I think you should consider this"

The other thing that makes it work is the large number and variety of active moderators. Moderators talk a lot behind the scenes, so everything is presented to the forum as a decision with lots of thought not one person's opinion, which gives it more weight. It also means that (unpaid!!!) moderators don't feel like they need to check the forum every single day, or be responsible for all things. Moderators have a life, and deserve internet free days, just like the rest of us!!! Some months one moderator will be very active, and then maybe they will have something come up, and they are gone for a while. Many hands make light work is cliched, but true.

The mods have each other's backs, and will discuss things with each other (and probably let loose some steam at the same time). There also is an informal rule that they don't moderate things that they feel passionate about/or are part of the thread, because when you are passionate, it's hard to be objective. The other thing they do, is lock or temporarily lock a bunch of posts, and delete a lot of things. They often write "This thread is taking up too much moderator time, so we are locking it." Sometimes they unlock them later, sometimes they don't.
 
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