One of our most difficult situations in attending to the well-being of the boards is deciding how to handle a discussion that has turned tense or offensive. Sometimes a reminder of the rules is appropriate and this is usually the approach we follow when the tension is just beginning to build. We may do so directly in the thread and/or by Private Message. A warning may be given if parties involved do not heed the reminder. But in some cases a thread is best removed from the boards until the situation can be sorted out and resolved. This latter approach is the rule if there is a personal attack within the discussion. We will not allow a personal attack or any other clear violation of our rules to remain on the boards. We uphold our responsibility to our community to protect our members from such things.
A personal attack is a clear violation of our rules. To leave such a discussion on the boards in the hope that the individuals will work through their differences or agree to edit is a haphazard approach that allows the offensive statement to remain in the public view. This only increases the personal hurt and offense of the individual at whom the comments were directed and displays behavior to our Guests that is not acceptable, which affects the MotheringDotCommune's reputation as well.
As stated in the User Conduct Rules, we ask our members to contact us when they come across something inappropriate on the boards. We ask this of those involved as well as those who just happen to read the discussion. It is true that in some cases the members involved will edit and apologize for their comments on their own when they are shown the error of their statement yet often it does not work out this way. Much time can pass before anything is resolved on the board or by PM. Ongoing reading of the thread by the community, with insults and namecalling intact, often causes a more complicated situation: sidetaking; further arguing and insulting; off topic discussion related to the comment, much of which must eventually be edited out; posting in other threads to direct unaware members to what's going on (another rule violation); hurt this all causes to the member(s) while it stays up to be read. While some of us are fairly immune to personal insult and take it in stride, many others are not thick skinned or are so only to an extent.
In the past, when the community was much smaller, the boards were administrated with a more hands-off approach. Growth and ongoing experience has resulted in the need to set firm rules, guidelines, and procedures to deal with situations that arise. With our editor and publisher Peggy O'Mara, we discussed the board issues that we continually face and she set these rules and procedures with our input. We try to follow them as fairly and appropriately as we can and the decision of how and when falls squarely on our shoulders and occasionally with her consultation. While it can be frustrating to have a thread removed we find that it helps us diffuse an issue quickly while protecting the integrity of the boards and community. We do not delete discussions but rather move them off the board to a private administrational board until the problem can be resolved and the thread returned to it's place. Yes, it does mean that some people do not get the chance to read the offensive statement to learn what is acceptable and what is not. But the fact is people have varying definitions of what is offensive and seldom apply previous violations to themselves. Most know what it is to call someone a name. Most recognize an offensive statement. For those who don't we take it upon ourselves as moderators to educate them individually rather than at the expense of others or of Mothering.
All of this is to say we cannot sit back and allow behavior that has been clearly deemed inappropriate in our rules and guidelines to remain on the boards in the hope that it will work itself out. Such is the approach for a small community that restricts membership and viewing and does not have the greater concern Mothering does. While some situations can be handled without removing the thread as the first step this is most possible when we can get involved in the beginning.
So in the interest of keeping all threads of discussion civil and on the board, please help us by posting respectfully and contacting us should you see a problem arise or be involved in one. I personally thank all of you for your devotion to this community and appreciate your help, understanding, and support, particularly in relation to this issue.
Peace and Blessings,
I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.