A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

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A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by lefthandedism » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:18 pm

In Depth Bants is an open, respectful, and safe forum for the discussion of Dan and Phil (and additional topics).

Because of a number of recent concerns, we wanted to post a PSA to remind forum users of a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure that your experience stays safe and comfortable.

First and foremost, the moderation team is always available to discuss any concerns you may have. You may reach out to us collectively via email at indepthbants at gmail.com, individually on IDB through personal messages, or by using our off-site contact information.

As with anywhere online, please use caution with revealing personal information to other forum users either publicly on the forum or in personal messages, particularly if you are approached by someone you don't know.

If you receive a personal message from a forum user that makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may report it and the moderator team will see the message and take action accordingly. (Note: Moderators cannot under normal circumstances read your personal messages. Reporting them is the only way moderators will see them.)

If you do not want to read any threads on the forum, you can of course avoid them. If you do not want to read the posts of any particular user, you can add them to your "Foes" list.

See the Forum Rules here and FAQs here for additional information about the forum.
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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by Stakhanov » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:49 pm

"If you receive a personal message from a forum user that makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may report it and the moderator team will see the message and take action accordingly. (Note: Moderators cannot under normal circumstances read your personal messages. Reporting them is the only way moderators will see them.)"

This also means that no private personal message is actually private, if the receiver of the message decides to report it. Good to know the moderators can read your personal messages, I know I won't be sending anything that I would really consider personal especially since "feeling uncomfortable for any reason" is an extremely vague criterium that can literally mean anything if not specified.
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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by Ablissa » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:39 pm

Stakhanov wrote:
Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:49 pm
"If you receive a personal message from a forum user that makes you feel uncomfortable for any reason, you may report it and the moderator team will see the message and take action accordingly. (Note: Moderators cannot under normal circumstances read your personal messages. Reporting them is the only way moderators will see them.)"

This also means that no private personal message is actually private, if the receiver of the message decides to report it. Good to know the moderators can read your personal messages, I know I won't be sending anything that I would really consider personal especially since "feeling uncomfortable for any reason" is an extremely vague criterium that can literally mean anything if not specified.
That's kind of the point? If you're sending something to another user and it makes them uncomfortable, you shouldn't be sending it in the first place. For some people it will be an elaborate PM they didn't want, for some it will be a hello. Either way, the mods' job is to allow people to feel safe here.
I'm not sure if the 'foe' function works like a block and prevents PM but I'm guessing not. In that case, having no way to force someone to stop sending you messages, reporting is the only option.

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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by Stakhanov » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:08 pm

I'm not sure why you quote me. I'm not here to start a conversation with you, my point in to the moderators of the forum who published this note and linked to this thread.

My objections to this note is that "feeling uncomfortable" is in no way defined and can mean anything. If you can report on those grounds, this effectively means that the privacy of private message is non-existent.
As brought up, one might feel uncomfortable just by just reading "hello", receiving an "elaborate message" or by the color of the font used. What creates discomfort in the head of one person is extremely subjective and even the most well meaning and polite message can create discomfort.

The forum rules already apply to private messages. In the interest of respecting the personal and sometimes confidential nature of private messages individual users send one another, I would propose limiting the grounds one can legitimately report a pm to clear rules that are publicly available. The rules of the forum could be altered to include harassment, or the other "number of recent concerns" that gave rise to this post. As it stands, I can only conclude that one should not expect any sort of privacy when sending a pm to a person, which in my opinion severely undermines the use of having a private messaging function. So I can only caution people who have an expectation of privacy against using it.
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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by jesp » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:11 pm

Stakhanov wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:08 pm
I'm not sure why you quote me. I'm not here to start a conversation with you, my point in to the moderators of the forum who published this note and linked to this thread.

My objections to this note is that "feeling uncomfortable" is in no way defined and can mean anything. If you can report on those grounds, this effectively means that the privacy of private message is non-existent.
As brought up, one might feel uncomfortable just by just reading "hello", receiving an "elaborate message" or by the color of the font used. What creates discomfort in the head of one person is extremely subjective and even the most well meaning and polite message can create discomfort.

The forum rules already apply to private messages. In the interest of respecting the personal and sometimes confidential nature of private messages individual users send one another, I would propose limiting the grounds one can legitimately report a pm to clear rules that are publicly available. The rules of the forum could be altered to include harassment, or the other "number of recent concerns" that gave rise to this post. As it stands, I can only conclude that one should not expect any sort of privacy when sending a pm to a person, which in my opinion severely undermines the use of having a private messaging function. So I can only caution people who have an expectation of privacy against using it.
Since the beginning of the forum we've had an FAQ thread with useful forum-related information. One of the posts covers reports - here's a link to it. It covers reporting public posts, and also covers reporting private messages. The post states, quite clearly, that private messages can't normally be seen by moderators unless they're reported. I'm quite sure that this is something we've been open about for most of the forum's existence since I wrote that FAQ post and made sure to include the information about private message reports.

"Feeling uncomfortable" is not something we are able to define, or interested in defining. As you say, the cause for a person's discomfort is subjective, and in previous situations with PM reports we've taken the reporting user's unease into consideration along with many other factors when making moderation decisions. We're not able to offer a one case fits all approach to moderating these situations, but I can say that we're covered by rule one, rule ten, and a general sense of what is right and what is wrong - for example, a person being inappropriately sexually explicit when the recipient does not want to read explicit material. We're also not going to change any of our processes around private message reports.

I hope that you can look past your disagreement with our note on forum safety and realise that we only want our users to feel welcome, and that it is not unreasonable for us to be able to fully moderate the forum, private messages and all.

As a final note, I want to include a sentence from the linked FAQ post - "you can report a post for any reason, if you feel that the post should be brought to the attention of the moderators. " This applies to anything that can be reported on the forum, and the moderation team feels very strongly that this is the best way to run the forum. I would rather something is reported ten times unnecessarily than not be reported at all but require our attention.
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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by Stakhanov » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:48 pm

Thanks for the reply. I disagree that you could not attempt to more clearly define grounds on which a user can report a post. This doesn't have to be an exhaustive list that covers all possible situations. Much like is the case with the forum rules, you could use some broad concepts like "being respectful of other users" or "no name calling", which still leave a world full of room for review and subjective interpretation, as I have experienced myself. Certainly situations like harassment, bullying or inappropriate sexual messages sent through pm would deserve their own mention. This would at somewhat limit the subjectivity of "discomfort" or needing to rely on your "general sense of what is right and what is wrong", which frankly differs from person to person and in practice gives a white card to the moderator in question (or at best the moderating team) to do whatever they please. It would also help people who might feel unsure about sending or receiving a message to make a better informed decision, especially if they value the privacy of their "private" messages. As stated in the FAQ thread you linked, I have always understood the reporting to be -at least in principle- limited to the the forum rules and not an extremely vague notion as "discomfort".

However, I also read you have no interest in defining "feeling discomfortable" and are not going to change any of your processes around private message reports. So it seems useless to me to further explore the issue.
Finding my own inarticulate prose
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Re: A Note on Forum Safety and Comfort

Post by jesp » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:13 pm

You seem to be under the impression that the report function is a way to ensure that action will be taken when a post or private message is reported. That's simply not the case, it is nothing more than a way of bringing a post or PM to our {the mods} attention. Posts can be reported for any reason, from fixing a typo to removing copyrighted material. There is no permanent record on each user's account of how many of their posts have been reported. The same outcome as reports can also be {and frequently is} reached by sending a PM to one of us with questions or concerns - we prefer reports simply because the whole mod team gets a board notification and this means that issues can be dealt with faster.

Again, about defining reasons to report posts, there's simply no need to. Posts and private messages are already covered by the forum rules {such as the broad concepts "being respectful of other users" and "no name calling" you mentioned}, as well as our being totally fine with reports submitted for any reason.

To quote one part of your post {with the goal of making this clear for every user, not one in particular} -

"As stated in the FAQ thread you linked, I have always understood the reporting to be -at least in principle- limited to the the forum rules and not an extremely vague notion as "discomfort"."

The linked FAQ post makes it clear that posts can be reported for any reason, and to add to that here are a couple of my old posts referencing reports:

From April 2016 -
jesp wrote:
Wed Apr 06, 2016 11:33 pm
Mod Note
Aurdie wrote:Yeah, I asked admin to redact since I wasn't able to edit.
I've removed the full names in your post.

Also, reporting the post you want edited in the future will get it done faster, as all mods see the report.
May 2016 -
jesp wrote:
Mon May 23, 2016 11:41 am
IckleMissMayhem wrote:NOT EVERYONE HAS SEEN/PLAYED UNDERTALE.
Pleeeeeeeease use spoiler tags, some of you are giving me whiplash again. :(
If you see a post that you feel contains spoilers, you can report the post {and reporting a post isn't a bad thing}, letting the mods know what you think is a spoiler, and we can add spoiler tags if needed.
September 2016 -
jesp wrote:
Tue Sep 27, 2016 10:32 am
Moderating
kuensukki wrote:When you misspell "documentary" on a topic title and you're planning to become a doctor :?
I've fixed the title.

It's absolutely fine for people to report their own post {reports aren't always a negative thing} to ask for a typo in the title to be corrected, and similar issues.
I feel that these show that we have always welcomed reports for reasons other than the forum rules.

All of this is, however, detracting from the main point of this thread - and I'm 100% sure that I can speak for the whole moderation team here - the wellbeing of IDB's users is the most important thing to us. We're always open to messages from people with questions or concerns, even if they seem silly on the surface, and we're always looking for ways to improve the board.
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