I know some of our members think we never listen, but for the last year or more, the moderators have been discussing tweaks and changes to our site terms, rules, privacy policies and such like and it is largely based on feedback from the community of users as well as a couple of other factors.
Normally, rule changes happen as a result of something bad happening on the site or some member or other pushing the limit and responding with "well, its not in the rules ... where does it say that?" .... forcing us to add yet another line, paragraph or section to the ever expanding rulebook to cover this or that eventuality. However, this time it may surprise some folk to hear that we are going to be going in the other direction over the summer and simplifying them !!!
The reason for this is threefold ....
- Almost a year ago (or possibly longer) we received a detailed suggestion and framework from a site member who is neither a mod or an admin suggesting we adopt a system of "golden rules" that relied on the common sense of users to know what is and is not appropriate on the forums at any given time.
We liked this idea and it formed the basis for a lot of discussion over several months before we put it to one side as we got busy with other. We did however vow to come back to it later ..... well now it is later !
- The software we use for the boards - especially as it relates to warnings and banning - has evolved since we started discussing the changes we wanted to make, and it now fits nicely into the framework without too much effort. This was fortuitous rather than planned.
Until last month you all had warning bars you could see beside your user info on your own posts (but not on other peoples) and we (mods/admin) would issue warnings based on our interpretation of our not inconsiderable ruleset. Sometimes you would get 10%, sometimes 20% sometimes none .... no consistency.
This system has been replaced by warning 'points' and we can now assign a value and reason for each infraction with specific points awarded - so consistency regardless of moderator/admin personal feelings. Minor things may attract a single point, more major breaches would have a higher points total. Once you reach a certain points total you may find that your posts are moderated for a while, that you have a posting (but not viewing) ban for a specific time, and ultimately of course the "Ban Hammer" is still around ! Its still the same consequences, just a more consistent way of reaching the decision. Of course, if you are sensible and dont disrupt the forum then this is all irrelevant !
As we are a football forum we are classing these as Yellow / Red Card offences. Get a yellow and all that happens is your points add up. Once you reach a certain number of yellows you get what in football terms would be equivalent to a 1 or 3 match suspension (moderated/suspended for a short length of time). Get a red card offence and you will either be moderated or post-banned but eligible to return after the suspension is served ... unless its so serious we remove your account privileges forever. All points are valid for 14 days and automatically disappear after that so again there is consistency and no bias in the matter as the system does this all automatically.
So what to expect ????
We havent quite worked out the full details yet, but you can expect the Terms of Service, Forum Rules and Copyright Notice pages to be rolled into a single Rules page that is shorter and vastly easier to read than the original. The current pages run to about 4000 words of legalese that we have had to add over the years. The new draft is about 1500, and although that might sound a lot, its written in plain English so sometimes takes more words to express the same thing !!! I would say that overall, the document is about 25% of the size of the original ! By the time it gets to final draft, the rules may be even shorter if we can manage it !