Moderation and the environment here

OK, I saw this topic when it was first posted, and I’ve sat quietly reading the back and forth since it was deleted.

I’m not sure I entirely disagree with deleting the original post, as I have no idea of the merits of what was alleged. Be that as it may, I personally believe that freedom of speech is a very important principle, which when violated has a ‘chilling effect’. I’ve sat on my opinion on this for a while now, as I believe in thinking before I speak.

First, no-one here has a ‘right’ to say what they wish to say. This is a privately-run forum and so those who run it have the right to moderate it as they see fit. We all agree to the guidelines when we decide to post here. Be that as it may, the fact is that if the rules become so restrictive that enough people simply leave, the forum wouldn’t achieve it’s goals and indeed wouldn’t succeed at all. So what I am really discussing here is not whether ‘freedom of speech’ is protected per se, but whether the moderators are striking an appropriate balance between freedom of speech and moderation.

As I said earlier, violation of free speech (whether in the realm of government or in the realm of forum moderation) has a chilling effect. It has a chilling effect on what people say, how they say it, the political views expressed, and the authority figures they are willing to speak out against. I believe this has occurred at this forum. But it wasn’t always this way.

Don’t get me wrong; most of the mods are just fine in my book. Others, well, not so much. I refuse to name anyone or call them out here, as I have no wish to publicly embarrass or attack individuals. But I think this is an important topic.

I have been here from the very beginning; this is my second login name here. I became aware of the SAFE project days before the crowdsale, and quickly shifted my crypto holdings into the crowdsale. I was a participant member of the dev Google group before this forum was founded. I was very excited about the project, and was delighted to see such heated discussions about freedom of speech, free markets, foiling the NSA and other entities’ ability to spy on us all etc etc etc. I participated in some of these discussions myself.

But things changed. Over time, I noticed a few things occurring:

1. Mods taking sides in heated discussions when moderation wasn’t the issue
Now, I assume that the mods here are not paid employees who are professionally agnostic to the content and issues discussed here, and that they have as much of a right to express their opinions as anyone else. Fair enough. And a moderator taking a position on a topic is not, in and of itself, a negative thing. A problem occurs, though, when we see heavy-handedness and perhaps soft bias employed by those same moderator/s. Which leads me to -

2. Mods editorialising users’ comments
In the last year or so, I have seen certain members here being given ‘advice’ on how they might comment ‘correctly’ by a moderator. This went on for some time, and since I now do not read here very often, I have no idea if this behaviour persists. In my opinion at the time, I saw no reason to believe that the individual comments were in breach of the ‘guidelines’ in any way. Basically, the moderator in question differed in their opinions from the commenting member, and felt the need (nay the RIGHT!?!) to spend time policing how they should speak. Honestly, I’ve never seen this anywhere else, and I hope I never see it again. It seems to me insulting and condescending to treat another adult in that way, at least in the way it was handled at the time. I see no problem in people suggesting others how they might make their argument/s more clearly and less emotively, but this was well beyond that. (It is important to note that this was limited to a very small number of moderators)

3. ‘Off-Topic’ pedantry
I’m all for people staying on topic, but at times, side-issues tend to come to the fore during the discussion. The most common form of this that I have seen here is when a technical topic is posted, and then political or value-oriented side-discussions begin that pertain directly, and importantly, to the original topic. Some of the topic-splitting that has gone on has been reasonable, and some has been iron-fisted and frankly pedantic. I think when a value or principle pertains directly to a technical topic, it can affect the pathway of that technical aspects’ development. Splitting the topic at this point effectively pushes the issue out of view for those viewing the original topic, and pushes the arguing parties out of view also. Obviously, as with all of these issues I am discussing here, there is a sane balance that needs to be struck in order to avoid discussions being hijacked by completely OT content. I understand that. But in my opinion, the balance has not been healthily maintained. I have seen this sort of behaviour by new moderators on other forums, and I believe it is a form of ‘power-drunkenness’. For some reason, when some people are elevated from their positions ‘under’ the rules to a position of ‘power’, they overstep reasonable boundaries and make pedantic and to-the-letter decisions that remind me of dealing with my local government’s various bureaucracies. All in the routine of ‘just doing their job’. This does not help to spur conversation when dealt so harshly, but instead stifles creativity and limits the marketplace of ideas.

I want to make another comment on 1) and 2) combined. In my opinion, there is a level of political bias displayed by one or more of the resident moderators. I see no problem there, in and of itself. I also see no problem in moderators taking part in the discussion, and holding views that are contrary to my own. However, there is a reason we ask, say, judges in court to put aside their political beliefs when judging a case. As an example, what justice could a rape-accused male expect from a radical-feminist-female-rape-victim judge expect, should that judge not put aside their political and personal leanings and judge solely upon the law and the merits of the case? What chance for justice does an alleged rape victim have from a biased, misogynist male judge who doesn’t put aside their biases?

So when I see certain individuals singled out here for making comments that are alleged to be opinion only, by a moderator who has made their political opinions very clear, and people on their side of the political spectrum make equally, if not far more ideological and opinion-based, comments, and they get left alone, well. It starts to seem that those of us who hold contrary views to moderators on this side of the fence are less than welcome here, and our views count for less. In the cases here that I am thinking of, it seems to me that particular moderator/s have taken ‘political offense’ to some of the views expressed here, and then have used expansive interpretations of the guidelines to try to undermine that speech. I can’t prove that, but I think it’s pretty clear.

This issue is not so important when carried out by another user, rather than a moderator. The fact is that a moderator is an authority figure and this greatly influences, and magnifies, the effects of this behaviour. It puts people off. It makes people feel as if their views are unwelcome. People are less likely to argue with a moderator, and so, as with an activist judge, behaviour and expressed opinion begins to be shaped and moulded in the presence of an ‘activist moderator’.

I will say again, the majority of mods here do not do this, and I have no problem with them in this regard. One further point, though, might be that some of the mods here are veritable cheerleaders for MaidSafe, and seem to take the position that certain criticisms (such as the roadmap issue) should not continue. I disagree. Criticism creates momentum for change. I understand the FUD issue, though. People should not be allowed to needlessly spread FUD in these comments. I just think that there could be a less, say, dismissive approach to these concerns. If we care about the project, we don’t want people dropping off in their support because of FUD. So when someone raises an issue, even if it is FUD, I believe that it would help the project greatly if the complaint was responded to in a way that helped to allay the concerns of others who may agree with it, and may be swayed by the original complaint.

The sum total of all of this is that I, and I assume some others (as I have noticed names disappearing over time), no longer feel positive about engaging in discussion on this forum. I feel like I have to be unreasonably careful about what I say and how I say it, I feel like I have to be very narrow in my discussion in terms of the off-topic issue (even though I strongly believe that some of these issues are extremely important to the development of the main Safe project and other side-projects), and I feel like there is a politically/ideologically-based skew on this forum in regards to certain acts of moderation. I have frequented many politically charged forums, where opposing views were not ridiculed or ignored, but encouraged, in the name of logical argumentation and the marketplace of ideas. I feel far less comfortable here than I do in those places, even though the discussion there was often heated far beyond the point that we observe here.

So what environment do we wish to have here? Personally, if I was running this thing, I would want to create an atmosphere that maximises the flow of ideas and perspectives. We all have something we can learn from each other, even when we disagree. But frankly, over the last year or so, this place has become so narrow and restricting that I no longer wish to engage. In my view, a Safenetwork forum ‘utopia’ would include these qualities: apolitical stances from the moderators and lack of bias, all views welcomed besides abusive or insulting communications, and a mostly ‘hands-off’ approach to how people choose to express themselves.

In my opinion, if moderators are strict, they should not be biased. If they are biased, they should then be tolerant of those they disagree with.

Let me finally say this: I, personally, have not actually fallen ‘victim’ to any of what I call this ‘activist moderation’. I am not here saying this because I have been personally offended or snubbed. But I don’t need to be a direct victim of these policies in order to feel suppressed by them. Which is the real damage that the ‘chilling effect’ inflicts. Specifically, that even those who are not involved in the dispute feel that the balance of ‘power’ is leaning against them.

The mods have a very challenging and difficult job, and for the most part, many do it well, and are welcoming and friendly people. But the moderation is not consistent across moderators. I am here saying this because I am concerned about the environment here, and concerned about the direction of the project itself, particularly once MaidSafe relinquishes control over the project, and the community takes over.

This post is therefore an appeal for the moderators to consider my opinion, and hopefully take steps to improve the environment for those who feel marginalised.

To those who would tell me “If you don’t like the way the forum is run, then start your own”, you have effectively said that my view doesn’t count for anything here, and this effectively means that you are not listening to a portion of the community that frequents, or wishes to frequent, this site. Often times I hear this view expressed, both here and in the public sphere, when the person who said it is unable, or unwilling, to consider the complainant’s viewpoint. Obviously, only those who are impacted by a policy are going to complain about it, or find a problem with it. If you asked most people whether they have a problem with this issues I have raised, they will probably not think my points are important. But this is likely because they are not impacted by it, and are unwilling or unaware of the effect it has upon others. An important liberal principle is that, within the sphere of government power, we take an apolitical approach and do not allow bias against those who dissent when it comes to administrative matters. For the purposes of this forum, the moderation team is the government. My question, then, is do (all of) the moderators here consider this a valuable principle?

Justice should not require a majority of agreement among those who partake in the system. The aforementioned principle exists to protect the minority against the majority, not the other way around. Democracy alone cannot provide justice, and so I care not whether I am in the majority, or the minority, on these issues. Just because most people believe something, doesn’t make it true.

Should the forum cater to all people, all of the time? No. But it is not necessary to cater to all, in order for all to feel welcome here. All that is needed for this situation, is a tolerant, apolitical stance from the moderators and even-handed treatment.

Summing up, you guys/gals can run the forum the way you want. But if it continues the way it has been, then I, and perhaps others, won’t want to contribute here. And it is clear that what draws people to any website is the content. The discussion here is the content. And if people don’t feel comfortable here, then they won’t comment. I’m one of them. Make of it what you will.


Holy moly you wrote 2366 words about moderation! Maybe time to step away from the computer.

This kind of thing is really toxic for new users like me.

My opinion is toxic to you? Sorry, but perhaps you need a thicker skin.

As I explained in my post, I have let this simmer for quite some time now. However, I don’t think I was abusive, insulting, or unfair from my perspective. Just said it as I see it.

Edit: Also I would think that new users might read this post, and the replies to it, and think it was a healthy thing that people are allowed to express opinions here.


Also, I am aware that there has been a large amount of vitriol and argument between the mods and other members here. I’m not here to take that path; I’m simply here to say my piece, observe whether it is taken to heart, and make my decision whether to stay or not. I have had great experiences with the majority of the moderators here, and certainly don’t wish to try to poison the environment myself. I think there needs to be a respect-on-both-sides, reasonable, open and honest dialogue on these issues, rather than goats butting heads in a field.

I am also aware that mods have encouraged a PM-type solution to this problem, but I believe there may be others on this forum who feel the way I do, and so I think they all lose the opportunity to express their opinion, should it be made private.

Also, reading other posts, I noticed that I should have added this: @moderators

Thankyou for you input to this subject. There is always room for improvement and sometimes room for explanations of why things are/have been done a certain way.

There is quite a bit to digest in your post and it will take more than one reading for me to do that.

I will attempt to provide some insight to this. PM is perhaps the quickest way to get our attention so we can correct something we as mods have done wrong, or should have done. It is not to silence or keep quiet anything, just some things people may feel they don’t need to post a topic about if they want something fixed.

For example occasionally a poster will mess up their topic and decide they don’t want to correct it or keep it since they perhaps noticed another better suited topic. Every so often we get a request to delete a topic they created and abandoned. Or they feel we made a mistake and don’t want to post publicly.

BUT at all times people can post their genuine concerns like you have in the meta category.

So any suggestion to PM the mods is to give the person an option to address something they feel is in error or to privately complain about what we did, and not limit them from posting publicly about something.


That’s fine; I wasn’t suggesting otherwise, just that I think others benefit from being able to read and air their opinions on subjects such as these :slightly_smiling:

What I was concerned about in mentioning this is that I wanted to explain my view on the ‘airing of dirty laundry’ implication in @Piddlestrom 's reply above, and to explain that I have no desire to drag anybody’s name through the mud, or to cause unnecessary conflict here on the forum. It’s all just my opinion, but I think it is important and relevant, as the Safe project appeals to many different people with many different political viewpoints. The project will undoubtedly be more successful if there are no ‘outgroups’, whether in fact or in perception only.


Thank you very much, that’s quite a long post with a lot of points to address.

This was quite a post indeed. We explained in the topic why we did it. I made a reply this morning explaining why we couldn’t let the topic open for everyone to view. Not that I like it, but we really had a discussion about it and agreed this was the best to do. I agree on the freedom of speech, I wouldn’t put time and energy in this forum when it was run by people with a different view then that. or maybe I would just to bring in the freedom as far as I could. You are very welcome by the way with your post, because this gives us a very clear view on what people think about the forum and moderation.

I agree, we have almost 2000 members on this forum and everybody should be open to talk whatever they want in the right categories. We have 3748 topics on this forum and 50003 posts. I know for a fact that we don’t touch over 99.99% of all posts. But please understand that not everything is black or white. We spend most time talking about Flags or requests in the grey-area. This is the hard part and it’s harder than I thought it would be. And with that many topics and posts, if only 1% got flagged or debated, we would end up with 37 topics and 500 posts that need attention and discussion. That’s over 20 posts a month (in the last 2 years) so just under 1 a day. And I think we’re even under that. weeks go by where I only move 1 topic to the right category and for the rest just read the forum like anybody else.

Not to wave away anything you said, but please, really please use the Flag option when you notice something like that. Nobody (except for mods) see your Flag like a little red alert. It works like magic, all mods notice when we come online and it automatically starts a PM where we discuss the issue.

Again immediately Flag the reply by the mod so we know that you view the reply this way. We won’t blame you if you are right or wrong. We have set topics/replies back. We did an un-split after we split a topic, we even put topics back to the category chosen by the OP when they make a strong case for it saying we made a mistake. Again, not everything is black and white but we really need to know where people disagree with us. Just point us exactly to that point and we always reply.

We are just volunteers and we are members/readers/posters on the forum as well. I personally not gonna hide any political view when I want to express it. The great thing about this forum is we actually allow topics in “Off-topic” to talk politics, views, religion or whatever. We almost don’t moderate at all in Off-topic. People can go off-topic in off-topic as far as they want. When I reply to an issue I always ask myself: Would we (or I) act the same when it was some other user? And when I get into a sort of personal thing I let other mods decide.

I’m quite shocked to hear this because this really shouldn’t be the way moderation works. We should not have politics rule a decision one way or the other. You say it’s pretty clear, well I don’t know where that happened. But when you experience a reply that way, again Flag it.

Is this about the latest Dev-update? Feel free to link to that point so we can discuss it here.

This is no fun to hear. I think we are quite strict when it comes to swearing or personal attacks, but for the most part, as I experience it, we have a very open forum. When people ask a question, most of the time under an hour they have several replies. When they want to talk politics, they’re allowed to open a topic in Off-topic. I don’t know that many technical forums where these topics are allowed. I follow other projects on Reddit and when I get critical, my posts are voted down or just removed. On this forum we have some heat in a number of topics. Just look at all the topics in META about moderation not being democratic and what more. With other projects your not even allowed to bring that issue up, they just delete your reply.

Guilty! I did think I made that point several times. But not after replying in depth to the points made by the user. If you look at META you see a lot of mods have put a lot of time and effort in explaining what we do and why/how we do it. But again, your views are very welcome.

Next to what you feel I really hope you will stay on this forum and enjoy the discussions etc. When you leave because you feel the way you feel we miss the points you make and I would love to see you Flag all these replies/topics where mods are not doing the right thing. I promise we always reply, no matter if it’s 3 Flags a week. Just let us know where the pain is so we can focus on each one of them when they appear.

Again, thanks for taking the time to point all these things out. It’s appreciated.


Great post. Overall I think the Mods here deserve a great deal of praise and many take their role very seriously. But as with many forums, I do think there are certain Mods here that are not yet equipped with the maturity and skills to properly manage a forum.

The toxicity here is palpable for many reasons.

It appears that the clouds are breaking up, the sky is blue and the drums are prepping a roll. Things can only get better.

1 Like

@Team_2E16 I hope you stay. Please stay! I’ve been here since the beginning as well even though I did not start to post until about a month ago. This is the first time in my life participating in a forum and I feel like I’ve found a new family with all the flaws, perfections and ups and downs I see in my own family. I will do my best to flag whenever I see some of the things you pointed out but I need your help.

I have no problems flagging community members but how do you keep community members anonymous when they flag moderators?


You can’'t I think :yum:. A Flag is a notification tool to get the attention from the mods to a specific post. But don’t hold it back when you want to. Everybody is free to criticize moderation. We actually encourage people to do so, because that’s when we see where people disagree.

But that’s the problem for me and people like me who have a hard time confronting authority. (This is a part of my core development which I am slowly getting over. My children challenge me all the time and I welcome it but the relationship is well established and they trust that there will not be a backlash to non submission /compliance :slightly_smiling:)

Maidsafe welcomes whistle blowers by giving them anonymity. I hope this forum can reflect some of that by developing a process / procedure to keep people who flag moderators anonymous. Until then, I do not think much will change.


@Safety1st those are very good points.

I’m not sure how we can address them, except as we do now in doing our best to respond to feedback and criticism. It is hard for us when people attack or criticise us (especially knowing the dedication, hard work and integrity we see from each other behind the scenes), but as mods we have accepted that and can - like you - use it to grow.

I’m sure there will be alternative models of forum enabled by decentralised and democratising technology, including in SAFEnetwork. But primarily I think for most cases, quality moderation will win out. I’m also too used up by the work here to think much about that, so maybe when one day I step down I’ll have more to say about other ways of doing this. I’m sure it is possible, but I don’t see or have any ideas that I think would help at this point. I’m all ears though - and very keen to see what @Seneca can create. He’s a great thinker so I’m hoping his project Decorum will be a great success :slightly_smiling:


Woow, that’s quite amazing. Glad you started posting and glad this is your first Forum :relaxed:. I was active on others years ago, but not that much as I’m here. We indeed have ups and downs here, it keeps surprising me.

My authority is that I’m allowed to move a topic to a different category all by myself. Same for removing spam :heart_eyes:. But for all the other actions like deleting a topic I should always discuss it with other mods who are online. I see myself more like a volunteer that does this instead of working for a local sports club.

Would be ok if we had a mechanism like that, but I don’t think it’s possible with a plug in here on the forum or so. And on the other hand, it’s good to have some PM back and forth people to get all points clear. So again, feel free to do it, you’ll become part of a discussion over PM and can make your points clear. You’ll always get a reply. We do make mistakes and it’s great when someone flags a reply and says: “I don’t agree with this decision” or “I have a question about this or that”. It makes us look at it again.


I witnessed this happen and while I understood why you did it I still did not agree with that approach.

Especially if you are volunteering which I think you did for a long time and I have a lot of respect for you because of that. Our natural response is to defend ourselves when being attacked. When the moderators were addressing Al_Kafir a while back, I did not agree with his view or his approach. But the moderator that responded to Al_Kafir the best IMO was @frabrnelle.[quote=“frabrunelle, post:10, topic:6691”]
Hi @Al_Kafir,

I think you raise a lot of good points and I agree that the current moderation system is not as open, transparent, democratic and decentralized as it could be.

I am certain that there will be major improvements to the moderation system in the upcoming months and years.

On the other hand, I strongly believe that it’s currently not the right timing to make major changes to the moderation system.

Then he goes on to list his reasons. I appreciated his response and so did Al_Kafir

What I appreciated about Team_2E16 is that he did not go on a personal attach like Al_Kafir did.He even said[quote=“Team_2E16, post:1, topic:7361”]

Let me finally say this: I, personally, have not actually fallen ‘victim’ to any of what I call this ‘activist moderation’. I am not here saying this because I have been personally offended or snubbed. But I don’t need to be a direct victim of these policies in order to feel suppressed by them. Which is the real damage that the ‘chilling effect’ inflicts.

I stand in the same position and have had a great experience with the moderators so far.

May I recommend a video that was recently shared with me by a wonderful forum member (@Jabba) that is rocking my world. It is possible to not here criticism my friends.

I too look forward to what @Seneca can do. Until then, I guess PMs will have to do.


That video is life-changing isn’t it?! Once you’ve ploughed through the first 30 mins you get completely hooked and start to see communication in a completely different way.

I just wish I could live up to the ideas in it… goingdeep found out the other day that I’m still capable of being acerbic, aggressive and fighting my corner to be ‘right’ instead of just listening to what feelings and needs are being expressed by others.

/sigh, life is a learning circle, not a learning curve.

I :heart_eyes: Marshall almost as much as I do David lol.


Thanks @Safety1st I’m familiar with NVC so won’t watch the video. I agree it is powerful and we can all learn from it, though it isn’t easy to practice of course - hence my points about accepting the challenges here and using them (as you mentioned) to grow.

Now I’m off to write some code! Well, at least think about it, I’m so rusty (no pun intended :slightly_smiling:) I’m constantly having to scale back my ambitions until I find something I have the time to try… once there was SAFEpress, now there is The First SAFE Web and SAFE Webring, and who knows, maybe a little web app!


Thank you everyone who has answered the topic so far; it’s heartening to see the subject being taken seriously, and in the spirit in which I intended it to be received :slightly_smiling:

Absolutely. I managed to read it before it was taken down. I think it was a very edgy post, and see the mod’s point on extortion etc, and the fact that it may be airing grievances of legal nature, and this is not the place to do so. It was rather the ensuing conversation that spurred this post; it brought up some issues that I believe have been relevant for me over my time here. I also think the replies on the replacement thread show a simmering in some members (not naming any names), that may indicate how they feel. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re right, but I’ll note that in many arguments, nobody is really ‘wrong’ per se, at least when it comes to qualitative/opinion-based/emotional arguments, rather than logical ones.

No, that’s a great point. I think, though, that my level of interest increases where I see disagreement, and so I tend to be reading more contentious topics, and probably more likely come across the active moderation that I describe in my OP. I certainly am not claiming that this attitude is widespread, either among mods or in how they/you apply policies across the forum. But I’ve seen some pretty stunning attitudes/actions as well.

I never thought of flagging a mod, to be honest lol :slightly_smiling:
It sounds like reporting the police to the police haha. But ok, if the occasion presents itself. After all, you all can’t arrest anyone for real.

The problem with this is that much of what I refer to in the OP are not really individual instances, but rather a pattern of behaviour over time. I would think that if one of these posts was being flagged, people wouldn’t see much of an issue with it. But over a period of days or weeks, the pattern (I believe a harassing pattern, at least in the ‘correct speech’ example) emerges. Also note that this activity was always worded in careful language, and on it’s face, could sound reasonable. It is only when you place all elements together (moderator authority dynamic, posts taken as a sum total, passive-aggressiveness, and certain mods’ eternal opposition to the political viewpoints expressed) that it becomes something of a problem. Just consider that most people, perhaps mods included, would not be able to decipher all of this particular issue easily, had they not been following it closely for a period of time, or had they not been the user, or the moderator, involved.

And you certainly shouldn’t! The issue isn’t whether mods should or shouldn’t be allowed to express themselves. You have just as much a right as anyone else to do so, and if my post here was to result in mods having to limit their speech, I would be saddened, and consider that I have failed. The real issue, for me, is in how moderation decisions intermingle with political positions. It’s obvious that many people’s morals are the foundation for their political positions; some use principle, but it’s often not the case. And so people feel a need to counter other’s ‘errors’ because they consider it a ‘moral duty’, or at least it seems that way.

I’ve been dealing with individuals for about a decade in daily forum use. It may be annoying when a user decides to morally patrol your speech, or make it their mission to ‘correct’ you on your ‘errors’. But this is expected, and tolerable. Consider, though, that when a mod does it, it carries far more weight, and always involves an element of risk (of banning and other forms of disciplinary action).

Imagine you are a protester. If an individual citizen who disagrees with you follows you around, giving you a menacing, steely glare, you would probably feel as if you are intimidated, or that they were trying to intimidate you. Imagine now that that person is not a citizen, but a member of the police. There’s a reason for the difference; you know that this particular individual not only is intimidating you, but that you have much less of an ability to defend yourselves against accusations and infringements upon your freedom, should they decide to abuse their power. So it is this dynamic that I am calling attention to. But of course, it’s not as black and white, or as clear-cut as my example, on this forum. Even so, the dynamic exists, and it affects the users actions and the conversation (or lack thereof) that persists.

That’s a good policy, and speaks to your integrity in your role.

Yes, I think that the off-topic topic is a positive one, and does indeed allow for non-Safe-related talk. The problem, IMO, is the shifting of conversations to Off-topic is, or at least has been, performed at a lower threshold than I think appropriate. It’s a difficult choice. But Safe is inherently political. It takes a stand against censorship, spying, breaches of ownership of private data etc. So it is inevitable that political principles are brought up. I understand that there is a subtle difference between two people simply doggedly arguing about, well, often dogma, compared to trying to make their case about an important principle which relates to the topic at hand. I’ve seen and taken part in both here, so I understand the problem.

Some poor soul starts a topic about data types, and minutes later, a socialist and a free-marketer are arguing about philosophical underpinnings of liberty, monetary policy, and inflation. I’ve been guilty of this in the past.

That’s clearly dragging the conversation too far off-topic. But what about cases where decisions are to be made in the thread; cases that concern an important feature, or where community members are pushing projects, or even MaidSafe, to consider their opinion? Sometimes, the philosophical position applies and is very important to the outcome. And when the moderator on duty is sympathetic to one side of the argument, I’ve seen everything progress nicely until their political opponents start to question the principles employed by others. BAM! Off-topic! I think this detracts from the idea’s development, and perhaps even detracts from peoples’ opportunities to learn more and consider other arguments.

Solution? Heck, that’s a tough one. I fully understand that all moderators, biased or no, have to make a subjective decision at the time, in consultation with other mods. One’s political positions or emotional inclinations are somewhat inseparable from their logic. And so we get what we have. I would say we could have some sort of mini-vote (in-thread vote) at the time, but then we would simply see the minority political view silenced (shifted to OT), and I actually think that it’s the minority view that matters, simply because in the worst case, these views can sharpen your skills and improve one’s arguments, and in the best case, unearth one’s own errors in one’s own logic.

Again, it’s more a pattern of behaviour than direct, easily-understood examples I could point to. There are some examples, but I didn’t want to make this about individuals or take a ‘name-and-shame’ approach; there’s not much to be gained there. Also, when I see other users treated this way, I’m always careful to allow them the freedom to take their own exception to what’s going on.

No, it’s another attitude I’ve seen expressed over time in response to questions about the ‘roadmap’. Personally, I don’t feel a need for a roadmap (outside the fact that I’d love to dev something, but without knowing what’s coming and when, it makes it harder), but was simply bringing up a point I’ve seen raised. It’s been dismissed a little quickly IMO, as people out there obviously think it’s something important. But I will note that context matters, in this case successive dev updates, and I am probably unaware to what extent these members raising the issue are engaged in FUD-mongering. That said, as I put forward above, I just think that in the interests of the project, we should all try to ease the doubts of the user concerned, but more importantly in the case of FUD, ease the doubts of those others that they have injected with worry…

I do broadly agree with this.

This is true, and when it comes to info on the project, you guys and long-standing members have put a great deal of effort into providing a ‘welcoming front door’. I appreciate that.

I won’t repeat what I wrote above, but I will reference it. Sometimes there is a clear case for OT, sometimes it is important for the technical topic at hand, IMO. I’ve seen very important discussions of a political nature shifted to Off-topic from inside threads that (IMO) benefited greatly from their inclusion.

I appreciate your view here. These are the reasons I don’t frequent those types of forums very often at all (if at all). It’s certainly why I never post there. I do agree that a forum about c++ shouldn’t have to tolerate people arguing communism vs capitalism, for example. But do you see my point about this? Safe is inherently political, though the stance of the organisation is apolitical, as it should be. Safe even existing raises political issues. C++ obviously does not, and many other projects do not. Further, it’s up to the mods at those sites, in consideration of the community’s views, to decide whether they will allow/tolerate/encourage/ban these types of conversations. Without seeming rude, I think your point amounts to comparing this forum to the worst kind of examples. I don’t think that’s entirely relevant, save a pointing-out of terrible examples that hopefully we don’t wish to experience here. (On the other hand, it’s important for me to acknowledge what we do right here. And so I do broadly agree)

To counter your examples, I have spent time on around six or seven different forums over the past decade whose policies were less restrictive than here. No off-topic comment-shifting. Certainly no ‘correction of speech’, save abusive/threatening people. They lacked certain activist moderators who were willing to act in a way that I believe is inappropriate. I guess they were less, shall we say, ‘paternalistic’.

Again, consider my position. I come from a minority political viewpoint. If you do not share that political viewpoint, you may not be sensitive to, and so you may not notice, marginalisation when it occurs. What I’m talking about is somewhat subtle, rather than necessarily always direct.

And I don’t really blame you for that! I’ve seen you personally in endlessly circular arguments with people who seem stuck on details, rather than the important points. At some point, you have to disengage and say these things. I often see this retort given out too quickly, though (not by the mods), and it can quickly silence opposition in some.

Thank you for your reply on this; frankly your response has helped already.


@BIGbtc I agree with all of your points here. Thanks for your comment!

Well, how could I refuse such a request :slightly_smiling:
I’m certainly willing to try to do that; the mod response so far has been very positive, and it’s good to know that others who take a positive stance here also see some truth in what I pointed out. Thanks for your comment :slightly_smiling:

I think the perception has varied on this. To be clear, I know the policy has never varied. But I think the danger lies in when we see certain characters who clash with the mods, and the user doesn’t go and read everything relevant to the discussion. Having clashed with some of these characters myself, I never really let this affect my opinion of the mods, but have preferred to stay agnostic on the issues. Having gone and read some more of the context, I often find myself swinging over to the mod’s side of the argument anyway.

Agreed, and also the fact that people have in fact been banned for simply (stubbornly) standing by their points of view. I think if we look carefully into context, we do indeed find that they just won’t stop haranguing the mods about their position, but still. It puts everybody on notice, and we often don’t get to see a clear timeline of what took place to get that user to that point. I would say that the best thing to do would be to have a timeline (IE a sequence of back and forth posts that show what lead to the banning), like a justification thread. Kind of like public court documents, something to help the users and the mods get on the same page.

Agreed on both counts.

Thanks, I’m glad this came across clearly to people. There’s been enough animosity going on without adding to it :slightly_smiling:


Everyone brings value in one way or another IMO. I don’t normally check the Meta category and was lead here when viewing @Piddlestrom who is new to the forum and I find to be hilarious.

The nice thing about the forum setting is that I never have to worry about having to restrain someone from physically harming me. What I appreciate about the mods here is that they help filter the verbal assaults that can sometimes be more damaging. For example, I don’t mind cursing every once in a while especially when it is meant for humor. However, I do not want to participate in a forum of sailors even though I am not a ‘child’.


Thank you. :slightly_smiling: