If executed, this will all lead to a more positive, collaborative community. The internet is a cesspool of snark, trolls, egos and cynicism. CR4 will not become a habitat for this general internet toxicity.
But that means users need to consider how they interact with each other. As corny as it sounds, invoke the golden rule. If you are not looking for an argument, do not be argumentative.
This means you may sometimes need to let a sideways comment go, or ignore someone who is trying to bait you into an argument. This also means not giving cynical answers or purposefully unhelpful replies to users, especially new ones who might not be up to speed on CR4 etiquette and quirks. If you feel a user is too antagonistic or offensive, please remember to report them.
To quote former queen Savvy, “Please remember to be courteous to one another on the forum. If the only response you can formulate is a nasty one, don't post a reply.”
It is a bit hard to define my message any further than “be nice to each other,” but that is the gist.
The moderators and administrators of CR4 are employees of Globalspec, and [a small] part of our job is to keep CR4 running. Since this is a business and a private entity, we fulfill the vision and enforce the rules of CR4. We are the judges, jury and executioners of CR4.
We enforce the rules via four mechanisms.
Comment or post revision or replacement: We will edit or remove content that breaks the site rules. Depending on the infraction, we may also follow-up with one of the following actions.
Warning: We will PM you and ask you not to do XYZ again.
Limit: We will limit your account privileges (e.g., commenting, posting, mailbox, login) for a specific period of time.
Ban: We permanently limit your account and ban all associated IP addresses from accessing CR4.
We’ve banned multiple members throughout the years for myriad reasons, although it is rarely the first step in corrective action. We’ve yet to unban a member because in most cases those users had several warnings before it was executed.
Remarkably, no one has gone mad with moderator power on CR4 yet. (Admittedly the temptation exists, at times.)
We also have a resident Spamkiller (shout out SolarEagle!) who helps us keep some of the annoying spam at bay. He is currently the only Spamkiller and the admins and moderators appreciate his help.
However, these threads would be valueless without the comments answering questions or continuing the discussion.
Since last week we talked about posting best practices, this week let’s talk about comments.
Thankfully, the majority of parent-level replies to threads and blogs are on-topic and help further the community’s understanding of the topic at hand.
Too often, comments consist of overly simplistic answers, cynicism or off-topic replies. These types of answers discourage posters from engaging with respondents or asking future questions, and are what we want to prevent.
Also, keep the attitudes and arguments in check. It is okay to disagree, and to criticize each other’s ideas. When the conversation turns personal or insulting, that is when it is time for a moderator to intervene.
CR4 is an excellent resource – if you know how to use it.
One of the areas where CR4ers sometimes struggle is with creating high-quality posts. A high-quality post opens a topic for discussion or asks a question that entices readers to participate. There are a few key similarities of high-quality posts.
Provides all information: Don’t make users ask more questions to answer yours. Help them, help you.
Content is clear: The language makes sense and is not too abbreviation- or jargon-heavy.
Media: Pictures or videos always help illustrate questions or data.
Title: Users know what to expect if they continue reading.
Depth: The question requires actual analysis, brainstorming or recommendations.
Moderators will hide low-effort posts from the front page; these threads are not deleted, however. So if you want to create a post that will get a lot of replies and views, focus on creating good, thoughtful threads.
It is always nice when the poster is engaged with respondents, whether it be to exchange ideas or just to say thanks. Posters should also be prepared for negative feedback or criticism – that is part of the deal when submitting ideas or challenges to public judgement.
As long as it is constructive criticism, then fair play. If the criticism turns into berating or personal attacks, a moderator will step in (mash that report button people). Please recognize the difference between constructive and personal criticisms.
Our longtime users know that administrators and moderators intervene when CR4 threads or blogs get too political. See rule 5.
This is a tough topic to moderate. First, science and engineering have a clear intersection with government policies and agencies. Second, what one moderator deems “too political,” another might consider relevant discourse.
Moderators are instructed to replace comment chains that dovetail into policy or political party debates. Individual, off-topic political comments will get removed, or marked as permanently off-topic, depending on circumstance. Political threads get moved to the Break Room. Political blogs are removed.
So then, what are the best practices?
It is OK to state a truthful fact, even if the topic has been politicized. Example: Climate change is supported by scientific evidence.
It is OK to state an official policy in generic terms. Example: The U.S. backed out of the Paris Agreement.
It is NOT OK to discuss politicians or political parties. Example: Trump hates the environment!
It is NOT OK to debate ideology: Example: Liberals are too sensitive about climate change!
If you think a discussion or comment is too political, then report it.
If the conversation has turned into a political argument, it has likely gone too far. Report it.
If you want to have a political discussion, have it in the Break Room and message people to join it. (The Break Room is opt-in; join it here.)
Other prohibited discussion topics:
Thanks for reading! Please keep this in mind as we try to improve the CR4 community.