I wanted to summarize what we have covered and the feedback received thus far. Overall the meetings and suggestions submitted privately have been really productive and -- I believe -- have provided a path to *hopefully* lead in a more positive experience for all involved (self included! LOL) I would like to have your input as well!
Here are the main issues we are working on:
The political boards aren't the main focus of the site... but we recognize the interest and desire of our members to maintain them. That said, many of us (particularly in Admin) do remember the last election season and the devastating effect the negativity generated throughout the community. In recent months we have witnessed this escalating on the boards with a growing problem of exchanging bashes, barbs, and even personal attacks. Each side finger points at the wrongdoings of the other -- but then refuses to look at their own... or somehow "justifies" it away. The amount of time that has been involved along with the desire to limit the negative impact throughout the community had Mollee (owner/founder) offer us a rather stiff challenge. Either we -- together -- figure out a way to make this work... or we lose the boards and will have to direct members to offsite resources for their respective party. We argued (and won) this opportunity to try again.... but do take it serious. We have other things that we do need to focus on.
We are challenged with finding a way to allow members to express their passions, frustrations, etc. while maintaining the community guidelines for the benefit of the site. We have achieved this goal (for the *most* part! :P) on some of our other "oppositional" boards -- most prevalent lately being the spiritual/religious forums.. so we KNOW it is possible!
One misconception is that we have not been "fair" in dealing with the problems and any necessary bans equally. We had an opportunity to explain our policy re: bans. First and foremost, it is not a "one person" decision. We all work together to determine if a member's actions have warranted a ban and the consequences under the specific guideline parameters the member is operating within. Unless the ban is permanent - and even then -- a "community needs to know" basis, we do not publicly hang members. From *our* standpoint, we wish to have temporary bans serve more as a "cooling off" period. We understand -- particularly with political issues, that passions run high and people are human. It is not our intention to try to embarrass or publicly humiliate members as that would defeat our purpose not to mention furthers discord between groups. We also recognize the impact that it has when the members do want to come back. For this reason, we do not publicize and leave it up to the individual member whether or not they wish to draw attention to their absence and/or reasons surrounding it. Since the beginning of the year, there have been approximately 9 (maybe 10?) temp. bans involving political board members (not including Stacey's which was for a different issue.) Out of these, only two chose to make it public knowledge. Granted, there have been things "missed" -- but again, those showed up on both sides.
We recognize the need to allow members to work *together* across party lines.. and with *admin* -- in order to achieve all of the above.
Feedback that we have accepted thus far and will be formalizing for the boards:
Current political support boards will be retained.
Additional PRIVATE political discussion board is to be added. Wendy (Isis' Mum) and Kati (Thrice~Blessed) have agreed to launch this. A memberlist and board specific guidelines will be posted ON the board. Members of the board will be required to participate at a bare minimum status or will be removed periodically without notice. (i.e. This board is not for lurkers.) Sign ups will take place on the respective boards. Members will have to meet an eligibility requirement of 3 months Pregnancy.org membership AND 300 posts. Target launch date is nlt July 7th.
Each board will have its own private chatroom for their group. These chatrooms will have hosts selected from the board (2 each?) that will be responsible for giving out the password to *regular* members only of their respective boards... and keeping track of who has access. If there are problems or issues that crop up during chats, members can contact their host to report -- or to a member of Admin as needed for input. Chats are allowed a bit more *freedom* in sharing vents or discussions but do keep it reasonable and recognize that these do still fall under the jurisdiction of the community guidelines.
On the main support boards -- all agree that flagrant bashing of a specific member or the opposing view board is not to be tolerated. Examples: Everyone on the dems board is a complete godless, unpatriotic bunch of loons. Or... All the members of the Cons/Repub board are homophobic, religious fanatic, sheep that can't think for themselves. or... _____(insert membername) is a MORON!!!!!!!! Did you see her post???"
On the main support boards members DO however wish to have some more freedom to express their passions regarding *their* opinion on topics, authors, and even -- yes, *about* the other political party. We do want to allow this -- but still have to figure out how to encourage this to be done w/o going outside of the community guidelines. We'll work on coming up with some acceptable examples.
Obviously, regardless of what is said on the opposing party's board, you may find things that you'll take offense over. Either don't visit or don't let it bother you. Because someone else have an opinion -- even one that is a misconstrued stereotype -- doesn't make it become YOUR personal truth. We need to get past one side justifying their own remarks yet taking the opposition's as a personal attack. This goes BOTH ways.
Members giving feedback agreed to start stepping up to "self police" their own instead of being so focused on what the "other side" is doing wrong. This includes posting (or dropping the member a private message if preferred); or if needed, dropping a member of admin a note regarding their OWN board. This suggestion alone will TREMENDOUSLY reduce our workload and to remove a lot of the animosity between the board groups. Opposing board members are then able to see that not "ALL" Dems or Reps believe a certain way.
Find a way to stress things that we all do agree upon. It likely is far more than expected.
We are still open to more comments, questions, and suggestions. Just drop us a note!
Thanks in advance & we look forward to witnessing the improvements and success of these forums!
~Missy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Angelia (email@example.com)