I don't want to annoy/upset Ulf as he has been unfailingly polite and extremely helpful in the past, but I would like a chance to discuss how this was handled so that we can perhaps improve things in the future?
I'd also like someone to point out the guidance that I can't seem to find - and if it doesn't exist, would respectfully suggest that something needs to be drafted before more members fall foul and become upset/embarrassed as I have.
I think what Ulf did is fine. There are lot of undocumented rules/convention in any community. It's hard to imagine everything someone could do to come up with an exhaustive list. Especially for signatures - if we were listing things, you can't have anything offensive, blatent ads, irrelevant things, etc. I don't think we would have listed that your signature can't be 5 lines. However, we know it when we see it.
That said I do think it's reasonable to have an incomplete list. We can always add to it as more things come up.
Ulf calmly asked you to use a shorter 2-3 line signature. I'm sorry you became upset and certainly hope you weren't embarassed.
And congratulations on your most recent SCBCD pass!
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my message, and so quickly! Also, thank you for congratulating me on my pass, and for your signature suggestions.
I do understand that a moderator's job is difficult (and I probably would want that role), and I also understand that your list of rules cannot be entirely exhaustive (or you'd be there all day writing them!) - although I think that your linked-to article is a great addition - thanks!
I also understand that some control is needed on signatures - otherwise they would end up out of control and would detract from the messages on this forum.
My irritation on this issue was from the following points:
- Embarrassment. I think that the word "upset" was too strong - I wasn't sat here with my head in my hands and tears streaming! However, I do try very hard to follow the rules of this forum where I can, and so being pulled up by an administrator/moderator (even one as polite as Ulf, and even in the discrete way that he rightly chose) is never a nice thing. It's a bit like if your neighbour or the local policeman knocked on your door and asked you to park your car differently - I don't think anyone could help being embarrassed.
- No guidance in this area. Following on from the above - without guidance in this area, I'd 'broken' or 'not followed' a rule or convention that I didn't know existed. This has now been solved by your link, which will hopefully stop more people falling foul - thanks.
- Not asking. This is probably the bit that irritated me the most. Whilst I'm not the most active poster on the forum, I have been here for the best part of 5 years and have taken pride in being able to help others where possible. My signature is part of *my* identity on this forum, and is set the way I want it. "Ulf calmly asked you to use a shorter 2-3 line signature." - no, I'm afraid this isn't what he did. What he did, was he changed a detail about my account, that is important for my identity, without my permission. I'd respectfully ask you to just think how you would feel if I changed your signature without your permission. A much better alternative, which would perhaps show a little more respect, would be if Ulf sent me a message saying "Could you please change your signature because...." - however to just change it without my permission, especially for an undocumented convention, is quite offensive.
- Not being able to respond. I tried to respond to Ulf to solve this issue in a discrete way which showed him respect, and was unable to do this because he doesn't accept personal messages. So, not only has my signature been changed without my permission for reasons I didn't understand, but I am unable to respond to question why or ask for further details.
I don't want to come across as simply moaning - this is an excellent place, thanks mainly to hard working volunteers like Ulf. However, from my perspective, this was handled quite badly and I'm hoping that there are some lessons that can be learned for future interactions.
I really hope the above is useful. Thanks for your time,
Definitely agree on the private messages part. Moderators should accept private messages.
Don't know if I agree with the "embarrassment" part, as this was original done in private -- where is the embarrassment when no one sees? Heck, this topic didn't even show up on the moderator forums.
As for the rest, the process, maybe it could have been handle better. Don't know. Don't have a strong opinion -- especially since I have been known to be overly blunt (and sometimes offensive) myself. Elaborate signatures also never bothered me, so don't know how I would have responded.
While I appreciate the policeman analogy, I can't think of a better way to deal with things. Private and nice is as good it gets. And you'd rather hear about it that way than by getting a ticket!
I understand your point on the not asking thing. That said, I do the same thing as Ulf a lot. Make the change and send an e-mail after. Otherwise I need to follow up to make sure it got done. As far as making changes, this is a moderated site. The moderators are going to change things at times. And it's not like Ulf did it without telling you.
I'm starting a private discussion about the site's inability to let you respond to PMs. That might be something we can fix through software - allow PM replies. Even the owner of the site has PMs off but if he sends a PM and there is no way to respond, that's a problem.
Moderators: I'd like to continue the discussion about PMs to be moved to a separate thread that I will start in the moderator forum.
I'll admit that I was under the impression that PMs could in fact be answered even if they're turned off in general. Since that's not the case, I agree that this didn't go down as intended. As Jeanne said, we'll take it up amongst the moderators.
Thank you for looking at this issue so fairly and in such depth.
In relation to the above topics:
- Embarrassment - For Henry, I would suggest that it is possible to feel embarrassed when a moderator taps you on the shoulder, even privately, although Like Jeanne, I can't think of a better way than a private IM. A "prevention rather that cure" strategy of documenting the rule in question is the best I can think of, and this has been done now by Jeanne - so I think we're in the best position possible for this.
- No Guidance In This Area - Solved by Jeanne.
- Not Asking - This is the one that gives me the most trouble. I'd suggest that you have a dichotomy here. On the one hand, you want this forum to be a friendly place where people can feel welcome, and to have the rights to personalise how their account looks. Further to this, you want to encourage people to give up their own time to answer questions of others - this isn't a place where people just come to ask the moderators questions - you actually want people to feel like they "belong" here and even "own" a bit of the success by giving up their time to help people they've never met.
On the other hand, you want to moderate the forum to quite a fine level, and whereas before I felt after 5 years and helping a number of people I was "part" of this forum - by having my account modified without my permission for such a minor infraction, it is very clear to me that my status here is simply that of "guest". Naturally, this would go against encouraging contribution.
The best analogy I can think of is the difference between a community centre (where everyone plays a part, everyone has a say, and everyone gets involved) and a shop (where the owner can change the rules at their whim and boot you out when they feel like it).
I'm not niave though - forums can deteriorate amazingly quickly without moderation - but it comes down to discretion, and this is where IMO Ulf got it wrong. If I had been spouting racist material on a forum - then you cannot afford the time to politely ask me to reword my posts - immediate action is required. But for a signature that was 5 lines instead of 2, in this instance - politely asking the person is the right route here. By not doing this, I now feel as a "guest" in your "shop" who no longer has control over my own account.
- Not Being Able To Respond - Thanks again for agreeing to look into this.
I feel that I've explained my case as best I can (it's not the easiest thing to word), and together I feel that we've covered all of the above points and consider the issue resolved.
I am happy however to answer any further questions/comments that you may have.
Finally, I would reiterate that this is an excellent place, thanks largely to the hard-working volunteers like yourselves, and would encourage you to keep it up!