People are Pretty Selfish: Should I Continue the OBD Forum?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

The Our Beloved Ducks Forum has been a massive sociological experiment that I never saw coming…from so many angles.  So many surprises…so much confirmation of the goodness of people, yet so many heartbreaking moments for me. It has been an indictment of the current culture, one that is not limited to those who are young. These events with those who have violated our rules have pulled me away from my NFL betting, and have also made me reconsider the whole project…is this forum something I want to continue?

I have to look at the big-picture with this decision, as I believe the forum provides a tremendous public service for free to thousands of Oregon fans. Yet I have to look at the cost to me personally, the emotional toll, and whether I wish to continue living this forum life. There have been 14 months of this forum, and I am confident of knowing what to expect going forward.

My Goal Has Been Realized…

We set out to do something different and we have achieved it, all the volunteers (over 30 in total) and I. We wanted a safe place to post, and a safe place to read about Oregon football without all the uncomfortable exchanges you see on other large forums. We wanted a place to find the links of news articles about Oregon football; we have that now, as there is always so much to read in the forum–thanks to those who share links to articles. (The Duck News Hunters)

I love all the really smart takes on current Oregon football events from the OBD members of this savvy community, as I learn from them every day. And I do love the atmosphere…the absence of malice and personal agendas. It is not just rare, as this has never been done before–especially to the protective extent I have taken it. People can feel safe posting their opinion without a Troll maligning them, shaming or castigating them with the denigrations you see everywhere else.

Our posting participation rate is very high relative to our community. One pay site is twenty times larger, and yet OBD has more posts each day.  Why? Because members over there are discouraged from posting, with almost no rules. (I know it well with over 180 denigrating/insulting posts written at those two sites in total about yours-truly a year and a half ago…simply because I disagreed with the majority at that time)

All types of fans_Kevin Cline.jpg

Kevin Cline

We want you to share your opinions, and loud is fine! (Just be polite)

The OBD forum has published over 63,000 posts with just 236 posts that had rule violations. That deletion rate is below 4/10ths of 1%, and thus I call it accurately as 3/10ths of 1% is all. That is fantastic; a low deletion rate from a clean forum that is enjoyable to read, or converse with others in posts. So what is the problem?

Somebody has to haggle with the 15 violation posts a month (the first year) where not every violator is a good sport about it.

How Do We Do It?

Our web developer in Sheffield, England customized moderating software of which was added to the site that you as readers don’t see.  Only the moderators and I can see it, and the blockbuster element is how…in just a few clicks…a moderator can hide an offending post from public view. This is why you rarely see a post that breaks our rules, because a moderator has spared the public from reading the nasty-nonsense by quickly hiding it. (Hug those moderators!)

And that is heaven in a forum.

One of the dozen moderators notifies me by text or PM to let me know about the hidden post, and then I send out a notification-of-violation email. It usually explains (the first time or two) that the violator is not being banned, or even warned. He/she is simply being notified of a rule violation, and is being politely asked to “please be more conscious of the rules,” and then we forget about it and move forward.  Pretty benign, huh?

Not for a ton of people; they fight back.

Fox Sports Video

Insisting on civility can make you feel isolated at times…

Our New Culture is a Very Selfish One

These people don’t care what the rules are, what the impact to the community is–or how their actions, if left unchecked, would destroy the fragile atmosphere we have in the Our Beloved Ducks forum. All that matters is that they can write whatever they want to write, when they want to write it. Age has nothing to do with it, because while I have snarly exchanges with a young men of age 23…I recently banned an 83 year old who was incredibly accomplished in his field, and still very talented behind a keyboard.

He flaunted his disregard for the rules by not only violating them, but attacking me as well in public. In private emails he went further with dreadful insults–because he could not write anything he wanted to on my forum. And this 83 year old is someone I know well, has written FishDuck articles before and someone I even helped with on a tech problem in the last month. He exemplifies today’s selfish culture, and is another friend I’ve lost over our rules.

Yet our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to just three: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

Post violators will get angry because I deleted a mild violation; they don’t understand that I have to remove it because otherwise everyone sees the new low-bar for writing, and whatever-I-allow-I-will-see-again-soon. (Multiplied) Our forum is incredibly delicate, and I could remove the rules and ruin the culture of civility within two weeks.

Kevin Cline

Some people can’t even handle a notification email…

These are TOUGH GUYS….Internet TOUGH GUYS

I am often astounded at the good posters who leave us! They tell me how they love the rules, and how nice it is to have a clean forum…until they break a rule. These guys are tough enough to break the rules, but cannot handle one soft notification-email? They tell me, “I’m out!” Over one email?  What a bunch of Big-Babies!

Everyone wants an exception for them–but allowing just one month of exceptions for all violators would destroy unique and special forum we have. I do not give exceptions to anyone…

Recently I wanted to encourage the reluctant members who rarely post–to share their opinions. So I put a muzzle on myself in early October to discontinue all reference in the forum to the rules, people getting banned, etc. Boy, I did not see this coming…as we set a new record for violations in November with 36, over twice the normal amount. So that means I have to haggle with people in private, and remind everyone in public to “please be nice to each other?”

Would anybody want to do that month after month?

In today’s culture we are all incredibly selfish. I am not happy with these developments in the forum at all, as I believed a year ago that by now–the only violations I would have would be with newbies learning to tone down the aggression. I never thought I would sending out all these emails to regulars, people I thought of as good, decent people….but in the end, for each person it is only about them.

Eric Evans of Oregon Football Twitter

I like to be in the middle of it all as well, so…

I’ve Made My Decision…

You all know I love to post in the forum, and I love to banter with everyone. I want a safe place to post as all of you do, but I cannot continue to live this way. So I will keep the forum up for the long-term, but I am changing how I am going to notify OBD members who break the rules. The Web Developer is creating new code (Oh goody, more expenses) to alter my process, and while for now I am still sending emails to notify them–it will change in the future.

We will still have fellow OBD members as moderators who catch the violations, as software cannot catch the nuance often of what is written. So our moderation by people remains the same, but how I notify violators will become digital and automated.

It will be a very distant and callous way of dealing with violators, something I can do with just a few clicks. Instead of spelling out each offense individually for violators–they will simply be informed of a violation, given links of what to read, and he/she can figure out what they did wrong. Three strikes and you’re out, which also means that the bonds with some OBD members will not be built, and some new FishDuck Friendships will not begin.

But it will preserve my mental health.

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Screenshot from ESPN Video

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The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there.  At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.

Be a part of the forum and stay caught up!  When you wish to post there, do know that you are protected just as you were on FishDuck. Join us on the free forum right here!

Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!

OBD Forum members….we got your back.  No Trolls Allowed!