What is harrassment ?
In recent times, there has been an exponential increase in requests for mediation from moderators with regard to interpersonal disputes.
A frequently levelled accusation is one of 'harrassment.' However, there is considerable inter-poster variation in what is considered harrassment and this makes delivering consistent mediation a challenging task for moderators.
As a result, this guidance is being posted for poster consultation before they request mediation so that they are forewarned of potential pitfalls and indeed dissatisfaction with the outcome of mediation.
1. You can handle harrassment yourself in most cases.
Posters are strongly advised to carefully consider their own positions and track records before involving moderators in their disputes as, once involved, if your behaviour is partly to blame it may lead to you being included in sanctions after investigation.
There are a variety of options available to posters to deal with harrassment themselves and these should definitely be the first course of action in most cases.
(i) The ignore user function means that you will not see the posts, reputation comments or private messages from another poster if they are on your ignore list.
It is an excellent method of making distressing comments disappear and you are all strongly advised to make use of it.
(ii) Addtionally, you are also advised to review your own posting.
Eg. If you recurrently criticise a player, that player's fans are, most likely, to take it personally and criticise your opinion in return. This is their right.
(iii) As another alternative, you can approach a poster yourself via private message and attempt to reach a compromise.
2. Abuse via reputation and private message systems.
Abuse via private message or reputation is not acceptable.
Please forward any PMs that you consider to be spam or abuse to a supermod or admin so that it can be dealt with accordingly.
Any use of the reputation system to leave abusive comments that you consider offensive or spam can be reported to supermods or admins by reporting one of the offending poster's posts or, if they have no posts, by sending a PM to a supermod or admin.
Do not start threads naming posters in the public forum as there have been occasions when one side does not represent the entire story accurately.
As mentioned above, there is great variation in what posters consider offensive harrassment.
If someone is calling you an 'idiot' or a 'jerk' or a 'loser' via reputation comment (or indeed any medium) and you find that offensive, it is worth reconsidering whether you have the emotional fortitude to post on this forum as a lot of such words are frequently interchanged on this forum between posters without any complaints.
Hence, insults deemed of a minor or colloquial nature by the moderators will not result in any action taken and you will have to manage the situation yourself. You are referred back to point no.1 in this thread.
Clearly, widely accepted offensive expletives, racist epithets or harmful directives - eg. wishing death upon another poster or their family - are considered absolutely unacceptable and will be deleted upon request with appropriate sanctions taken.
However, in this instance, you are warned that we look at all reputation comments interchanged between yourselves and said posters and, if there is evidence of you issuing similar directives in return then, either no action will be taken against either of you (other than comment deletion) as you will have been considered to have solicited the abuse or you will both be subject to sanctions.
Retaliation means that you potentially as culpable as anyone you accuse and hence, you are again advised to carefully consider your position before levelling a charge of harrassment.
3. Harrassment in the public forum.
When poster feuds spill into the public forum for all to see, this is probably the most likely time that a moderator will be inclined to intervene.
If you are fighting with one of more posters and derailing a thread, the pertaining posts will probably be deleted as they are discovered.
We accept that posters get emotional at times and also get personal on issues that are close to their hearts. As a result we are unlikely to take any action more than that unless it becomes a regular occurrence.
If you and other posters are recurrently fighting (eg. throwing personal insults and moving threads off topic over and over again,) you may be approached and asked to desist. The reasoning for this is that recurrent fighting derails threads and is completely unnecessary on this forum.
In those situations, you are referred to point no.1 in this thread and the use of ignore lists / alternative methods of mediation that you can arrange between yourselves.
It is common, when approached for posters to blame one another and not accept any responsibility for their actions.
The moderators have no interest in who 'started it,' only in that it does not continue.
The only way for you to show yourself to be devoid of blame is to completely ignore another poster (and this includes making 'innocent' posts about them or designed to bait them in any way - as such posts will obviously only inflame existing tensions) and, if it really isn't your fault, they will, most likely reveal themselves to be at fault by continually picking on you.
In which case, they will face sanctions and you will not.
Otherwise you will both face sanctions - if your track record is worse than the other poster, it is conceivable that you may get suspended or banned whilst they may simply get a warning (if it is their first offence.)
It is not infrequent to hear the argument 'I'm not using my ignore list because that way I can't see what they're saying about me to report it etc.'
This is a weak argument at the best of times because the ultimate goal of reporting harrassment should be your wish to not see it, not your wish to remove another poster from this forum. If you and another poster have been told to categorically avoid one another, we will be observing if one of you is not following the directive and will sanction them further if we deem it necessary.
4. Harrassment in the player forums.
This is a currently topical issue, however, despite what some posters may think, it is not a new issue.
Player forums are small communities of fans on this board. We encourage them to grow and for like minded posters to congregate, befriend one another and chat without the general discord of the larger main forums.
We take a very dim view of non-fans going into player forums and disrupting them and therefore sanction appropriately when such matters are brought to the attention of the forum moderator (if one exists, otherwise via report post function.) Usually, this translates to a removal of their posting priviliges in said sub-forum if they do not respond to simple measures.
There are no rules against talking about other posters in player sub-forums provided you are not using the player forums as a cover to repeatedly bitch about them. They confer no protection for this and this does, ultimately constitute harrassment if it is discovered and such posts / threads are likely to be deleted.
The same applies to using such forums to get your friends to gang up against (eg. recurrently bad rep) posters that you have issues with. You are referred to point one of this thread for suggestions on how to manage such problems.
At the same time, we are not interested in trawling through every post on this board to sanction every poster that makes a comment about a poster they don't like. Posters that deliberately wind up other fan bases and then flag up themselves being abused in another forum will receive limited sympathy.
If you are not a fan of a particular player and you don't have any interest in their player forum other than to go in there and search for comments to report then we will remove your access to that forum as your purpose is to do nothing more than aggrevate the community in there.
This is usually easy to spot - posters that don't post in a particular forum yet report posts from it are pretty obvious cases so, once again you are advised to think before involving moderators in such matters.
Valid reported complaints will, however, still be acted upon as there is no place anywhere on this forum for recurrent smear campaigns against other posters.
5. Follow-up of complaints.
It is appreciated that posters want to receive feedback as to when their concerns have been acted upon but we balance this with the view that poster sanctions remain between that poster and the moderators and are no one else's business, unless they choose to bring it into the public domain.
If you are unhappy with this cornerstone of forum policy, you are reminded that there are other forums on the internet that may be more suitable for your posting needs.
The most you will receive generally is an acknowledgement of your concerns and that have been acted upon, possibly instruction of how to proceed if there are further problems.
Last edited by Kart; Sep 8th, 2009 at 08:20 PM.