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The Moderators Guidelines (related to MOD applications)

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The Moderators Guidelines (related to MOD applications)

The Moderating Guidelines

The purpose of this post is to outline various offences that can occur at this forum, and the various ways in which these offences can be dealt with by the moderators. Of course, this list isn't exhaustive; there are probably many "other things" that can "go wrong" in a forum. Nevertheless, this should be useful as a basic guide, and remember that this can always be added to, once authorised by the moderators and the administrators of this forum (this ensures everyone agrees with the modification).
There are also various other small jobs and things to look out for for moderators. These will also be detailed below.

Offences: Actions To Take

N.B.1 Note that "remove" or "delete" (or anything synonymous) means "move the thread/post (you'll need to split a post into a new thread first) to the Thread Storage board without leaving a shadow topic". This allows the post or thread to be recalled if ever it needs to be.

N.B.2 When editing posts, always leave a note below the post. We use two colours, either red or green. Red for a serious transgression of the forum rules. For example Spamming / Cross posting, All caps posts or Titles, Inapropriate material. or where repeat offences are occuring.
Blue for minor offences such as full quotes, oversize links, and Oversized images.

Green For where corrections have been made to assist posters such as BBtags.
Quote
Posts/threads in a totally wrong place:
Undermining of people’s opinions:
Arguments:
Spamming:
Intentionally provoked arguments:
Use of inappropriate language:
Use of Bump:
Personal attacks:
Posting inappropriate material:
Impoliteness toward forum staff:
Accidental double posts:
Over-sized images:
Quoting the previous post:
Too many emoticons:
Illegal file sharing:
Signiture Images:
All CAPS titles/posts:
Problematic titles:
Oversized links:
Contact Us ticket posting:
"Rubbish" posting:
Fixing UBBC tags:
User removal of a red moderators note:
Threads going off topic:


Notes should be in the following format-
[size=9][color=<red//blue/green>][Moderator's note by <name> (<username>): <Reason the post was edited>][/size][/color]
(Just cut and copy the code above to use it in a post.)

N.B.3 Whenever an offence is committed by a certain member in these boards, that member should be reported in the "Problematic Members" sticky thread in the Senior Lounge. This allows the moderators and admin to keep an eye out for trouble-makers, and allows a record to be kept of what "position" those members are in (i.e. banned, suspended, warned). Furthermore, if you have cause to deal with a member, yet that member doesn't respond or amend their action, this must be reported to the "Problematic Members" thread in the Senior Lounge.

This sticky thread also has a "Recycle bin" and problematic members may be moved into here by the original Moderator if they have proved that they are no longer causing concern.

Posts/threads in a totally wrong place:
If it is a thread that doesn't belong in a board, move it to the correct board, with the shadow topic on. If it is a post that doesn't belong in a thread, split the post from the thread, and create a new topic based on that thread in the relevant board. Then leave a message in the original thread stating that the rogue post has been moved, along with a link to where the new thread is.
In repeat cases send a PM to the offender.

Undermining of people’s opinions:
These need to be dealt with swiftly, for they can all to easily lead to flame wars, which can ultimately degenerate a thread. In this instance, remove the offending post (or edit out the offending comment), and edit out or remove any responses to the post. Then leave a post in the thread explaining what you have done and why.

Arguments:
The problem with arguments is that they can occur in the middle of a useful thread... in some cases, the actual argument itself can bring useful facts/information to light. Therefore, it is not a good idea to remove a post/thread like this. Just put a heavy hand in (i.e. try and break the argument up; make your presence noticed in the thread). If an argument still continues, lock the thread if it has any useful information (but remember to post in the thread before locking, explaining your actions). Then delete/edit out the argument (this allows the useful information to be viewed by other members in future). However, if the thread has no useful information, remove it.

Spamming:
If you see a repeated topic, remove it, unless there are some replies which make the thread worth keeping (use your own discretion to determine if this is the case). In a similar manner to if someone posts in the wrong place, send a polite PM to the offender, again remembering that this can (and does) happen totally accidentally.
Spamming can also be in the form of advertising. Do not assume that just because someone's posted a useful link with, say, a referral ID, that that is spam. Such links will be allowed, as long as they may be beneficial in the context of the thread. However, outright uncalled-for advertising will not be allowed. In this case, edit/remove the posts/thread and send a PM to the offender.

Impoliteness toward forum staff:
Forum staff can be subject to varying amounts of abuse from the members of that forum. If anyone does approach you in such a way that is defined below, a post should immediately be made to the Senior Lounge, with a short description of what's happening, and a copy of the offending post/PM. This will allow it to be evaluated by other moderators and the administrators.

Intentionally provoked arguments:
(This is similar to the argument clause, except a bit more serious. This is often the work of trolls: intentional argument-starters in forums.)
If you catch the post/thread fresh (without replies), or the only replies are not useful, remove the thread/posts. If, however, the replies to the argument do have some value to them, lock the thread and leave a note explaining your actions. In both instance, send a stern PM to the offender, explaining that starting arguments will not be tolerated.

Use of inappropriate language:
Swearing is becoming second nature these days. However, some people do not like it, some even find it offensive to hear. Therefore, for the forums to remain friendly to all, action has to be taken.
The swear-word filter installed as part of PhpBB should take care of most swear words. However, if you find one that hasn't been censored, or if you find one that's been deliberately disguised, edit the post using the quick link "link: censored" (without the space between : and censored) and leave a note at the foot of the post. If the member is seen swearing often (censored, disguised or not) then send a PM to the offender.

Use of Bump:
Use of "bump" in a thread should be discouraged. Repeated use should have the post removed or thread locked as deemed appropriate by the moderators.

Personal attacks:
Personal attacks may need to be dealt with fairly severely, because they can lead to disgruntled members, arguments, and even flame-wars. Therefore, if you see a personal attack in a thread, you must remove the attack, and edit out or delete any responses, before leaving a post yourself to explain what you have done - including a warning to people to not repeat such activities. If there are repeats, lock the thread if it has any useful posts within - if not, just remove it.
If a particular member consistenly personally attacks people, a stern warning should be sent by PM.

Posting inappropriate material:
This is a serious offence, and depending on the content/references, could be illegal. Therefore, any references/content must immediately be edited out of a post. If an explicit thread has been started, remove the entire thread. Then send an e-mail to the offender, and debate with the other moderators the action that should be taken - depending on the severity of the incident, a temporary suspension could be considered (hence the need to send an e-mail: the offender won't be able to read a PM if he/she is suspended).

Offences: Definitions

Posts/threads in a totally wrong place:
This is when someone posts something in a board which is obviously not suited to the post’s content. An example of this would be posting something that clearly belongs in “Off Topic” in “Customer Feedback”. Of course, small mistakes (like talking about ADSL modems in the "Computers and Hardware" board rather than in "ADSL and Broadband") will be allowed.

Undermining of people’s opinions:
This is when someone says something like “Anyone who thinks X is good is just plain stupid!”

Arguments:
This is when someone "goes against" another member of the forum. This is basically the same as the “intentionally provoking arguments” clause, except this generally applies to people being provoked, rather than a person provoking someone else. The purpose of this subtle difference is so that a provoker gets more serious treatment than an arguer.

Spamming and Cross Posting:
If you see a repeated topic, remove it, unless there are some replies which make the thread worth keeping (use your own discretion to determine if this is the case). In a similar manner to if someone posts in the wrong place, send a polite PM to the offender, again remembering that this can (and does) happen totally accidentally.
Spamming can also be in the form of advertising. Do not assume that just because someone's posted a useful link with, say, a referral ID, that that is spam. Such links will be allowed, as long as they may be beneficial in the context of the thread. However, outright uncalled-for advertising will not be allowed. In this case, edit/remove the posts/thread and send a PM to the offender.

Impoliteness toward forum staff:
This is when someone impolitely argues against any of the forum staff. (Forum staff are administrators and moderators.) An example would be: “How dare you lock that thread you stupid moderator!” However, saying something like “Could you please unlock my thread? Because I feel there was no need for it to be locked.” would be perfectly fine.

Intentionally provoked arguments:
This is when someone posts a new thread or reply which is apparently intended to work people up. An example would be “X is just so obviously better than Y. Why won’t you all just shut up and agree with me?” Whereas, saying something like “Hmmm. I personally think X is better than Y. What’re your opinions?” would be fine.

Use of inappropriate language:
This is when someone uses one or more swear words, or disguised swear words, in a post. A disguised swear word is one that, for instance, includes an * or – in place of a letter (for instance, “f**k”).

Personal attacks:
This is when someone tries demoralising someone, or when someone abuses a person. For instance, a personal attack would be saying something like “You stupid idiot!”

Posting inappropriate material:
This is when someone posts or makes references to explicit material/content, which is generally material that isn’t suitable for children. An example would be linking to a page with pornographic material.

Other Things To Do And Watch Out For

Accidental double posts:
Sometimes, if a member is disconnected just after submitting a post, the member may not think the post has gone through and will re-submit after reconnecting. If this happens, just remove the duplicate. In the original leave a Moderators comment in geen.


Idea numbers:
Of course, the communications team may not always remember to edit a thread's title to reflect an idea number it has been allocated. If this happens, just add "[Idea <number>]" (without "") to the beginning of the thread's subject.

Over-sized images:
Sometimes people may get over-zealous and post large images. Depending on the situation, two different courses of action should be taken:

  • If an image disrupts the layout of the page at a monitor resolution of 800*600, then turn the image into a URL and leave a note. You can tell if the image will be disruptive at 800x600 by looking at the PlusNet header (i.e. the alignment of the envelope symbol next to "logout"), which is designed to fit on a screen of 800 pixels wide.
  • If an image needs to be visible on the thread page, but is of a large file size, append "[56K beware]" to the beginning of the thread's title.


Quoting the previous post:
Sometimes people will quote the whole previous post when replying to it. This is unnecessary; the idea of the quote feature is to highlight a post that is further back in the thread, or to highlight a specific part of the previous post. Therefore, if someone is directly responding to the post just before, and has added an entire quote of that post, you can either: remove the quote and leave a mod note in that post, or just edit out the parts of the quote that are not needed, if this is the suitable action to take. This can be left to your own discretion.

Too many emoticons:
Some people do get a tad over-enthusiastic with their emoticons. If there is an unreasonable amount of emoticons in a post, remove some (not all), and leave a mod note in that post to explain your action. The amount you remove can be to your own discretion... generally though, don't leave more than about three clumped together.

Oversize avatars and signatures:
Similar to the oversize images clause, people can go a bit too far in expressing themselves with avatars. If a moderator sees someone with an oversize avatar, they may remove the avatar immediately,(follwed by sending a PM), or send a PM to the offender first, at their own discretion. In general terms action should definitely be taken if any of the of the dimensions are exeeded by 10% but moderators should use there own discretion if the avatar looks obviously oversize at less than this 10% tolerance.
Similar action should also be taken if someone has too much text in their signature (i.e. more than approximately 4 lines).

Illegal file sharing:
Make careful note that P2P (or peer-to-peer) software is not illegal in itself... nor is sharing files over it. What is illegal is the sharing of copyrighted files - over P2P or not. Therefore, discussions about P2P software in general are allowed on these forums... However, if any mention of sharing copyrighted files is made, action must be taken; the action being editing out the comment (and possibly removing subsequent replies if necessary). This process is also applied to discussion of acquiring software illegally from websites - in which case, also remove any URLS pointing to such sites.

Signiture Images:
Certain signature images that are available for use on the internet reveal information like your IP Address and Browser. These are not allowed on the forums as some more inexperienced users feel that these are in some way breaching their security and privacy.

All CAPS titles/posts:
These can be annoying not only because in general "netiquette" they represent shouting, but the letters are also harder for the human brain to distinguish, thus making them harder to read. Therefore, if you come across a title or post using all CAPS, edit it if you have the facility to do so (such as MS Word's "Change Case" command), then leave a mod note in the post itself, so as to not disrupt the flow of conversation.
In extreme cases where it is difficult to change the capitalisation, we will remove the post and PM the user pointing them to the forum guidelines.

Problematic titles:
Sometimes people post titles that either over-use punctuation, or don't give an accurate description of the thread's topic (i.e. ">>>>>I need help!!!!<<<<<"). In these cases, edit out the surplus punctuation, and where possible edit the title of the thread to make it reflect the topic better. This is up to the moderator's discretion, because some threads are centred around complicated problems which can't be summed up in a title of a few words... in these cases, don't edit the words in the title.

Oversized links:
Some URLs can be extremely long and well over 100 characters. Unfortunately, PHPBB doesn't wrap URLs on to a new line if the link exceeds the page width.
If you see a URL that is so long it disrupts the page width, simply add some display text and make it into a link.
Leave an explanetary Moderators note in the post

Contact Us ticket posting:
The posting of Contact Us tickets is approved but without the CS Agents name included unless prior permission has been given.
Therefore unless you know that this permission has been given you should edit the name out by replacing it with the "CSA Removed" link: shortcut.

"Rubbish" posting:
Some people think it is amusing to post in "rubbish" language... i.e. using odd characters instead of letters or even letters in no particuar order.
If this practice makes the main point of the post illegible, then the post should be removed and a PM sent to the poster requesting that they cease doing this, with a warning of more serious action if they persist.

Fixing UBBC tags:
Not everyone is experienced in posting at forums, so sometimes they make a mistake when using the various code tags for formatting a post. If someone does make an error, just correct it and leave a note, possibly including a link to this page: http://portal.plus.net/central/forums/faq.php?mode=bbcode

User removal of a red moderators note:
If we leave someone a red moderators note, and they decided to remove it from their post, then they must be immediately warned by PM...
Quote
Dear <name>,
It appears you have removed a red moderator's note from one of your posts. The forum moderators are very concerned about the removal of this note, as they are left so the forum community knows what has happened to your post, and why we have carried out any action. Hence, we treat this unofficial removal very seriously.
Please take this as an offical warning. If you continue to remove or edit these moderators' remarks then more serious action may be taken, which could result in the removal of your ability to post on these forums.

Yours Sincerely,
<Name>


Threads going off topic:
When it first looks like a thread is about to go off topic, just post a polite message in the thread to make people realise "where" they're going. However, if a thread gets to the point where it has gone totally off topic, split the OT posts into a new thread. You may also need to edit some of the posts in both threads, so the posts still make sense after some of them have been split. Please note that reasonable deviations from a topic's starting point are allowed, if discussions on the topic's original subject have finished.
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Please ensure you have read through the above guidelines before making any application to become a forum moderator. Many Thanks Dave T & Ivan.
1 REPLY
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Locking Ivan

Hi,

This posting wasnt meant to be replied too and should have been locked and so IS now being locked. No replies are requested as such.

Ivan