Lack of Clarity About Thread Locks


#1

So I’ve been confused with some recent threads that have been locked by mods. I’m not going to cite any of these threads directly, though you might be able to recognize them by description.

In one case, there was a kind of a serious subject matter that occasionally veered into difficult contention. A rule that was cited frequently was Rule 3, of “Not asking people to explain their oppression to you.” But when the thread was locked, the mods pointed to Rule 10, which had not seemed to come up prior. This confused me as a participant, and I did not understand what needed to be curtailed in the discussion. Threads have been shut down in the past for “running their course”, and I think there needs to be further clarification of that status? I’ve also seen threads that have been shut down for veering off topic, rather than been steered in a different direction. Threads have also been locked due to tense arguments, which I empathize with, but also would appreciate some clarification on this.

The most recent thread I’m thinking about, though, truly honestly confused me. A Jokes N’ Dokes thread was shut down less than a day after it’s posting. The final mod post didn’t give any reason as to why it was locked. As far as I could see, the thread violated no rules. This… actively bothers me. It not only felt like an unnecessary lock, but the community was also given no way to understand why the discussion warranted a lock in the first place.

I’ve been frequenting the Waypoint Forums for a while now, and I deeply appreciate and value the space it provides and the community that is here. In order to have the discussions (serious or silly) that make me value this forum, there needs to be clarity in what does and does not consist of unacceptable behavior, and when someone is doing it. I would greatly appreciate more communication and more clarity behind that, especially when no rules have been cited.


#2

I’m going to say upfront that I’m speaking for myself here and not the rest of the team, in part due to the reason I’m about to get into. Once more of the mod staff are available we will definitely talk through this feedback.

For my part, I think I can chock up some of the recent thread locks to us being understaffed. Among other reasons, due to it being the holidays and an ongoing forum event taking up some of our input, we’ve not had as many moderators on hand to keep watch over the more contentious threads. This is something we’re actively looking to remedy, for what it’s worth.

I understand wanting more insight into those decisions. Sometimes we have our reasons for not elaborating but I agree that it’s something we could strive to do better on. As I say, once we’ve had the opportunity to talk through this as a team we’ll be in a better position to say more (or at the very least be able to take the feedback on board).

Thanks


#3

FWIW, I know the mods have put threads on timed locks before (i.e. overnight) when staff is low or a cool down is needed.

It’s obviously disadvantageous to users in different parts of the world, but until Waypoint spins up its London and Tokyo mod teams, I think it’s a pretty clever solution when threads get too busy or maybe seem to be nearing a tipping point.

(Side note: I’ve never modded anything near the size of Waypoint, but I definitely think you start to develop a sixth sense for when things are on the verge, so I understand the desire to nip it in the bud before it needs to be.)


#4

Locking threads is not something we do lightly. Deliberations over whether to lock a thread involve discussions that can last hours, and writing circumspect messages to communicate our thoughts is just as time consuming, to say nothing of the emotional energy and labor that it takes to do so.

It is also important to note that thread locking is not always explicitly grounded in the presence of violations of a single rule, but are often connected to Goal D and Rule 11 and 12. When we cite rules, those are often the main reason, but reasons may go beyond single rules or a list of infringements and are often in pursuit of one of the four larger goals.

You mentioned when we’ve shut down threads for “running their course,” for going off topic, for getting heated, and for tense arguments. When we say a thread has run its course, we mean that the main arguments or topics of discussion brought by the OP have been addressed. We strive to avoid circular arguments and contentious ancillary topics. It is hard for anyone, be it community members or mod, to put broader, more charged conversations back in the box. In those cases the thread has exhausted its discursive potential and, as stated before, has escalated to a point where we need to make the call. Locks are not inherently us saying that a topic is bad or that people have necessarily done one thing wrong. They are also a tool for us to cap tension, mitigate damage and cool tempers. Not everyone is going to see or agree with our reasoning.

The thread titled “Donut County and Cultural Appropriation” was locked in part due to our concern that the conversation had shifted to focus on the merits of the developer as opposed to a critical discussion of the game and its development (this was mentioned in the lock message). We felt this was off-topic and within the realm of rule 10, which asks that users don’t speculate on or treat the lives of creators as content. Multiple mods made posts trying to steer discussion in that thread. We felt a lock was appropriate because in addition to the aforementioned reason, we’d seen some posts in which users were speaking down to marginalised perspectives and making poor faith arguments, which is a violation of Rule 3. This is an issue that will undoubtedly come up again and it is our hope the next thread will avoid these issues.

In the case of the “Smash Ultimate Political Compass” thread: Our “Jokes N’ Dokes” category is intended for light-hearted threads that are less strict about the quality of posts (we still ask that people respect the rules but we are more flexible and don’t expect in-depth discussion in these topics). That said, the political bent of the Smash thread, while in good fun had us uncomfortable with the notion of leaving it unattended. We have all seen those kinds of conversations, that start in jest, turn sour when someone takes it a little too seriously. It was locked because there was only one mod online and after talking it over we are reopening this thread now that more of us are around to follow it. We recognize we could have communicated that better, but ask that you recognize the circumstances of a single mod needing to make a judgement call, and our flexibility after talking it over as a team.

Ultimately our role and goal is to promote thoughtful, good faith conversation. We do this by nudges and steering conversation back, but we also do it through locking threads when we think community members are not giving each other the benefit of the doubt or assuming bad faith.

We appreciate your feedback and recognize we can always improve. Additionally, we plan on reaching out to some people about joining our team soon, which we hope will help alleviate these issues by having more eyes on the forums as well as more energy and range of experiences to inform our decisions.


Smash Ultimate Political Compass
#5

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I feel there is merit in treating the development of Donut County as a case study, but also recognize that it was a small team so criticism is going to seem personal. Like, when dealing with a small team, where does a critical discussion of a game’s development end and where does a conversation of the merits of a developer start? I missed thread while it was active and it was disappointing to see the thread end in a negative place, but maybe that can’t really be helped since it’s good to lock a thread when it’s getting ugly.

Maybe it would be helpful for moderators to voice their concerns more and earlier on (and also I would encourage topic creators to cognizant of what they’re opening up and remind people early on in the thread) as that could help discourage excessive dunking as many of the people here seem to have an interest in being civil and hopefully will make an effort to steer the thread to a more civil place. I don’t like asking for more from the mods though, and I obviously don’t think the community is free from blame when threads get locked. Just adding my two cents. The mods are doing a great job in running one of my favourite online communities, and I appreciate the work you’re all putting in.


#6

First off, I just wanna apologize if my tone came off as belligerent or anything. Reading back over, I’m concerned I could be read wrong. (In my defense, it was incredibly late where I was.) I’m well aware the mods are volunteers so I really hope I didn’t sound unappreciative. I probably should have been able to make the connection to understaffing, but color me ignorant. I also wasn’t aware of overnight thread locks, so thanks for telling me @WastelandHound!

Thank you @M_o and @emily for the responses. These are genuinely helpful responses. I greatly appreciate the communication of reasoning. Like I said, I was hoping for a clearer metric, so I think I have a better understanding now. Thanks so much :heart:


#7

I was the person who created the Donut County and Cultural Appropriation thread and I feel bad about the topic getting out of hand. I should have said to not speculate about Ben Esposito’s personal life explicitly. I was hoping that not mentioning him in the topic and other post later on in the thread would have made other people not mention him either, but I was wrong. I will do better in the future.