|Chiff and Fipple Forums
|Guidelines for avoiding inappropriate posts
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|Author:||Dale [ Sun Jul 15, 2001 10:30 am ]|
I've been asked to clarify my policies, if you will, regarding inappropriate messages on the Chiff & Fipple boards. Specifically, there are two categories in question--abusive attack messages and commercial messages. Let me begin by saying that I remain proud of the fact that these are rather active and busy boards and there are remarkably few problems in either area.
Let me also say that on those rare occasions I've had to step in and delete a message, someone often cites free speech concerns. I'm all for free speech. But, these message boards are not public property and it isn't a place where total freedom of self-expression exists. . I think that a better analogy is that this is a social gathering in one's home and the home owner and host reserves the right to turn away solicitors at the door and also to require a rude guest to leave.
First, regarding "abusive" or "attack" messages or flames. The balance here is, of course, between allowing people to interact freely, on the one hand, and being personal and abusive in their attacks. I have erred more than once in both directions: Deleting a message which probably should have been left up and allowing messages that made me uncomfortable 'remain. I make this suggestion: Anytime you are moved to be negative or critical of someone, or you have a problem with someone, try to deal with it first in private email or other private communication. If you can't resolve it, I'm willing to try to mediate. In public messages, DO NOT, please, use abusive language and name-calling. Avoid categorical language such as "you never", "you always," etc.
Regarding use of the board to promote one's commercial interests. This is not as straightforward as it may appear. A poster who frequently promotes his or her own business, criticizes or discourages competitor's businesses, offers special deals, and so on, is stepping over the line. On the other hand, I don't want to discourage private individuals from selling whistles to each other. If someone wants to sell a Copeland, there's no better forum for making that known and I regard that kind of thing as a good service. I also don't particularly object to a business owner using the forum to announce a new product, for example. This is also more likely to be a welcome when the business owner balances the occasional "advertisement" with lots of other messages that are helpful and entirely noncommercial. In other words, when the person has proven himself or herself to be a good contributor to the community. If, on the other hand, the majority of the person's posts include a pitch for business, this is unwelcome and will be deleted. Again, I would encourage people to use me in this regard. If you want to post something about your business, and you are unclear if it would be welcome, run it by me. I might well post a message myself that says something like "Hey, guess what, Billy Ray Johnson over at WhistleWorld is carrying Acme whistles now." That will be better received by readers than a message directly posted by the vendor.
I hope this helps. Thanks to everyone for maintaining a (generally) civil and helpful forum.
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