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Old 11-12-2007, 07:06 PM   #1
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Banning and Negative Karma

Wow. I don't follow MobileRead as closely as some others, but I'm really unhappy that both of these options exist in this forum and have been used. Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions. I hope so.

One of the things that I admired about this place was the friendly, helpful attitude (especially towards newcomers) and a willingness to debate, if not necessarily accept, new ideas. I don't know what happened in any specific case, but here's a thought:

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
-- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:48 PM   #2
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No one has been banned (that I know of), and only one person has been noticeably hit with negative karma.

I am an argumentative and obnoxious person, and at my worst I have never gotten negative karma. That would require going way beyond any concept of polite behavior.
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Old 11-12-2007, 09:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle View Post
Wow. I don't follow MobileRead as closely as some others, but I'm really unhappy that both of these options exist in this forum and have been used. Perhaps I'm jumping to conclusions. I hope so.
Hey, bingle, I can understand why you're alarmed.

First let me say that yeah negative karma and banning exist here, they're kind of built into the forum software. However, negative karma is only available to Editors and Admins, to limit its impact, and it's used extremely sparingly as a dissuasive measure.

Banning is almost exclusively reserved for Spammers, who oh so richly deserve it.

The case you're probably referring to is, as I understand it, the second time in the history of MobileRead in which a non-spammer has been banned. I wasn't around for the first one some years back, but I understand it was similar to this more recent incident.

In this case, if you'll have a look at the posts of the former user over the past couple of weeks, you'll see a consistent attitude on his part of abrasiveness, discourtesy, and disrespect. He mostly didn't cross into outright rudeness, but he skated that line about as closely as you can without crossing it too much. You'll also see a lot of effort to persuade him to comport himself in a manner consistent with the atmosphere that you refer to: one that's friendly, helpful and willing to entertain a very wide variety of ideas in a civil manner.

It got to the point where we finally concluded that we simply had no recourse but to ban the user in the interest of preserving that atmosphere. We agonized over it quite a bit, but reluctantly came to the conclusion that there just wasn't another option.
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:04 AM   #4
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My guess who got the negative karma was right on spot (wasn't really hard).
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Old 11-13-2007, 04:09 AM   #5
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Actually i got negative karma. And this was only because the moderator did not read, what i had written correctly. This misunderstanding (one that really offended me by the way.) earned me a negative karma entry.
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Old 11-13-2007, 05:33 AM   #6
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Hi bingle,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. MobileRead is all about communication, and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable and respected here. Unfortunately, in a large community of users with many different viewpoints, there will always be a few people who will not be happy with the way our community works.

We don't arbitrarily ban people we don't like, or ban people whose comments are even bitterly critical. Criticism isn't a problem. A problem it becomes when someone lives for stirring up trouble in the forums, someone who
  • feuds with other members and has the compulsive need to type things that will provoke a reaction;
  • continues to post the same material over and over again without changing his position or developing the discussion;
  • derails the conversation and community and has everyone focus solely on him.

Experience has shown that this behavior results in inhibiting productive discussion. Some readers are discouraged from contributing to the original topic, anticipating that they may also become the target of insults. Others may feel obliged to take a side and jump into the fray, adding kerosene to the fire. Once this happens, it becomes very difficult to return to the original topic of the thread. The exchange of thoughts, ideas, and experience comes to a grinding halt, and the topic of the thread no longer indicates what is contained in that thread. Once a thread has decayed to the extent that it becomes irrelevant to the vast majority of readers, it becomes a signpost to everyone that we are collectively incapable of intelligent discussion. That is not the way we want the rest of the world to perceive MobileRead.

When someone gets banned (as Nat mentioned, it happens only very *rarely* here), it's not to punished this person, but rather to remove a cause of constant friction from the community.

Regarding negative karma - I agree with you. We thought about it again and decided it's not helping anyone (whether someone "deserves" it or not).

Therefore, we have now completely disabled negative karma.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:04 AM   #7
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To me, more than users, some subjects should be banned because controversial.
DRM comes to mind...

Kidding!
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:08 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible View Post
To me, more than users, some subjects should be banned because controversial.
DRM comes to mind...

Kidding!
The suggestion alone is quite controversial
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:18 AM   #9
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Any thing is good for a laugh.
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Old 11-13-2007, 10:33 AM   #10
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I have broke many rules on this site (first few weeks here) and i have never got negative karma or been threatened with a ban.
The guys here are flexible, you get a warning if you post illegal content or copyrighted material but other then that they usually have a quiet word with you. The only reason for a person to be banned or get negative karma is if they continue to break the site rules even after they have been informed of there wrongdoing.

It has to be this way, this a good site that is a valuble source of ebook information, if they didnt keep people in line, this site would be banned itself or even worse it would not aquire the information it gets for us to read because no company is gonna share information with a site that doesn't keep to strick rules on such things as copyright law.

DON'T BREAK THE SITE RULES KEEP MOBILEREAD ALIVE
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Old 11-13-2007, 11:56 AM   #11
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We don't really have all that many rules, actually, and they can probably be mostly summed up by the statement: Don't post illegal stuff and play nice.

That's a gross oversimplification, of course, but it's probably good as a rule of thumb.
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:50 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh View Post
We don't really have all that many rules, actually, and they can probably be mostly summed up by the statement: Don't post illegal stuff and play nice.

That's a gross oversimplification, of course, but it's probably good as a rule of thumb.
That's a great way to put it. Works for me.
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:58 PM   #13
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Huh? I must have missed something in the past few weeks. Inserting my two cents... I asked about negative karma and banning quite a while back, not that I was concerned with it myself but simply due to the fact that I was curious about the matter. The response was the same as you've heard here and seems more than justified. A little while later I saw it put into action when some user did something that flagrantly violated the rules, I don't remember what but it was more than justified.

Your quote is quite interesting; however, one point being missed is that it's regarding opinions and not actions.
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic View Post
Hi bingle,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. MobileRead is all about communication, and we want everyone to feel welcome, comfortable and respected here. Unfortunately, in a large community of users with many different viewpoints, there will always be a few people who will not be happy with the way our community works.

We don't arbitrarily ban people we don't like, or ban people whose comments are even bitterly critical. Criticism isn't a problem. A problem it becomes when someone lives for stirring up trouble in the forums, someone who
  • feuds with other members and has the compulsive need to type things that will provoke a reaction;
  • continues to post the same material over and over again without changing his position or developing the discussion;
  • derails the conversation and community and has everyone focus solely on him.
Hi Alexander,

Thanks for responding.

Again, I don't know what went on behind the scenes in this particular case, which is why I'm trying to refrain from drawing any particular conclusions. However, what went on in public did not call for a ban, in my opinion.

The list of things you've posted, after all, could refer to me, too. I'm sure I made a lot of people unhappy with my dire predictions about the state of intellectual property business, and some people could have construed that discussion to hit at least some of the bullet points above. I may even be making some people unhappy with this topic! Am I provoking people, or just bad at coming across in a neutral way, or just discussing a topic near and dear to my heart? I imagine it's hard to say (and I experienced that firsthand in the aforementioned discussion).

bowerbird is obviously a person with strong feelings about many topics. He has a grating way of expressing himself - he occasionally pushes boundaries just to challenge them, or as a statement. That's not pleasant, but it got his point across really well, I think (At least I found his postings thought-provoking, especially when he explained his personal style and how it relates to his crusade on ebook formatting).

I guess I felt that despite his style, bowerbird was contributing to a discussion in a positive way. Especially his ideas (and implementations!) of ebook formatting tools. I'd rather see thought-provoking ideas than pleasantness, I suppose. (Of course, both together are even better).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic View Post

Regarding negative karma - I agree with you. We thought about it again and decided it's not helping anyone (whether someone "deserves" it or not).

Therefore, we have now completely disabled negative karma.
I appreciate this. I think it's a great change for the better, and helps more than anything else to avoid users feeling attacked for their ideas, or oppressed by moderators.
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Old 11-13-2007, 06:15 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Azayzel View Post
Your quote is quite interesting; however, one point being missed is that it's regarding opinions and not actions.
Yes indeed. And <philosophy_geek_mode=on> Mill was a big proponent of the idea that individuals should have perfect freedom, until the point where they began to harm others - and it's tough to harm others in speech (though not impossible).

Of course, that line where you start to harm others gets fuzzier and fuzzier the more you think about it, so maybe it's not so easy. In fact, we're seeing this in the current case, where the moderators believe that the speech of one member is causing harm to the entire community.

It would have been interesting to see Mill's incredibly liberal speech philosophy tested by placing him as the moderator of an internet bulletin board. I wonder if he would have given up after the 14th goatse link, or C|-|34p C|al|s ad. ;-)
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