Another new rules proposal

+15 votes

It's been suggested that I make my own proposal, so here it is (pasted from the recent Chris Whitten thread):

Revise the Discussion Rules to say this and nothing more:

1.  Don't change someone else's topic (once in a while, there may be brief off-topic exchanges, but for longer discussions, start your own thread).

2.  Don't make personal attacks.

3.  Do not discuss a living person's genealogy or other personal information.

 Get rid of the Application page entirely.

in Policy and Style by Living Kelts G2G6 Pilot (517k points)

9 Answers

+20 votes
I like the help page since it helps me in my roles of mentor and moderator. There are things I can quote to back up any advice I give to a user; otherwise what I say could be construed as random or as my personal feelings.

Edited to correct a typo.
by Natalie Trott G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
edited by Natalie Trott
If the rules were as simple as I propose, I don't see why you would really need much guidance.

I disagree, so this is my opinion. Thanks, but my opinion is not changed.laugh

I agree with Natalie that the Application Page seems to be created to Help People understand

  • what Members have for guidance 
  • what Moderators have for guidance.
Explanations written out like this, for each group, probably didn't exist previously. These should help to clarify what the following, so people don't 'assume':
  1. what should be done if someone thinks there is a problem in G2G
  2. why things may have been done or should be done, such as a flag or message
  3. what they should do if their message is flagged, or they got a message from someone.  
  4. why messages could be hidden
I am a Mentor, but I am not a Mediator or Leader. 
Thank you, Linda.  What bothers me most about the Application page is the sample messages.  I honestly don't think most members will want to send them, nor to receive them.  It would be interesting to hear from anyone who has experience with either.
I have sent something similar to people on a few of those and people thanked me for letting them know that I thought something was borderline 'not very nice'.  

If you receive one and don't think you did anything wrong, then there may be a perception / interpretation problem, but probably you should review what and how you said something because obviously at least one person thought it was a problem.  Better than getting an MIR.

I will say that, as a Mentor, I have seen a definite drop in MIRs coming in to the Mentor group, because of G2G issues since these new Rules were started. We get plenty of MIRs for things, unrelated to G2G. The MIRs that I have seen and worked with for G2G issues are usually new people that don't understand the 'friendly' nature of wikitree or 'how wikitree works', as far as profiles, etc.

I will say that, as a Mentor, I have seen a definite drop in MIRs coming in to the Mentor group, because of G2G issues since these new Rules were started.

And without actual data being kept, what is to say it is not because more people have simply stopped posting, or have left? 

When people's posts get flagged for offending someone for unstated reasons, it causes more people to feel unwelcome.  Quashing people's expression of ideas also makes them feel unwelcome.  Expecting people of different cultures to all fit a single mould makes them feel unwelcome.  They are more likely to simply leave as a result - which would keep those numbers down / cause them to appear to drop.  Without actual data to say WHY the numbers are changed, no definitive statements should be made.

Melanie, I fully agree with you, but there is no way to know why some people no longer post on g2g, some people have left wikitree, etc.  It isn't always because of the new Discussion Rules, especially with everything that everyone is dealing with around the world this year.  

I made a statement that I, personally, have seen less MIRs coming through the Mentor area for G2G related issues.  Who knows why can not be determined because most people that are referred to the Mentor group are referred once, understand what should be changed, and they are not referred again. To me, the number of MIRs that I saw being referred was always very small for G2G related issues.  It is normally about sourcing issues, merging issues, or trying to help with differences in a profile.
+12 votes
I agree with this proposal.
by Living Tardy G2G6 Pilot (734k points)

It's not punishment, Leandra.  I picked up 13 downvotes yesterday--in one day!  (I confess to keeping track of these things.)  I didn't give out any, but the day before I gave out 3. People feel very strongly about the new rules!

There was a time I would have cared about getting downvotes, or had my feelings hurt, but that day is long gone.  Downvotes are here to stay, so I suggest people try not to care so much.  

Apparently I should indeed be paranoid.  I had made this comment:  I am pleased to see that Eowyn has restored the Disappeared posts. and it was removed.

So someone objects to my thanking a Leader on this thread.

I am beginning to think we do need a Rule against the abuse of flags. I wonder if it is technically possible to remove the ability to flag from a person.
Lois, there has been some discussion of flags and their use. For the most recent that I know of, go to Chris Whitten's current post on the discussion rules, and scroll down to the Brian Kerr post.

I can see a post above from Lois, which is similar to what you are saying was removed. 

I want to thank Eowyn for reshowing the comments that were Disappeared. 

It seems to me that I had done this already,

Julie, you may not view down votes on your personal stats as punishment, but some do and it is normal to view it that way. There have been several comments on Chris' proposal voted into the negatives because others don't agree with them. There was nothing wrong with most of the comments, but the people who made them collected down votes on their stats.
@ Linda -- there was an earlier post that was vanished.
I reposted it.
Leandra, what I was trying to say was that people who make the choice to contribute to G2G might be happier if they hardened their attitudes a bit about downvotes.

People downvote posts for many reasons.  Sometimes they disagree.  Sometimes they think a post has taken a thread off-topic.  You can type "down votes" into the search box at the top of the G2G page and find many discussions.

Even if it seems like a slap in the face, well, it is only virtual.  I was severely criticized for making a post in the first rules debate saying "sticks and stones..." and at the very least I should have finished the quote for the benefit of those to whom it was not familiar.  Here it is:  "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words shall never hurt you."  (You can find it on Wikipedia.)  My mother used to tell me that when I was a child.  I still think it is good advice.
Downvotes express an opinion. Expressing a negative opinion is legitimate. IF you don't like my opinion and downvote it, that's your opinion and you're entitled to express it because this doesn't harm me. I may not LIKE it, but I just have to accept it.

Flags are a different matter. They hide a post, harming the poster, by eliminating the the ability to express the opinion.

The only way a downvote can harm me is if I care too much about my vote collection.
+11 votes
These are perfect in my opinion, and all we need, Julie.
by Jim Parish G2G6 Pilot (161k points)
Thank you!
+11 votes
I agree with this proposal. I cannot recall seeing any post in G2G that cannot be addressed with these rules, plus the Honor Code.
by Living Ford G2G6 Pilot (148k points)
Thank you, Leandra!
Agree with this completely, I don't think we should be making things more complicated or intimidating. The Honor Code is also important and should be stressed and directed to if needed.
+13 votes

For me the application page is the most valuable as it makes it clear how moderators should do their work. I can therefore not agree (but do like the shortness of the rules yes)

by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (267k points)
+20 votes
As a couple others have mentioned, the Discussion Rules are meant to help with the 'tougher' aspects of Moderating G2G. So I find them useful as Natalie does. The page provides a place we can link back to that contains more expanded wording that can be reviewed and considered across a number of functions.

It is not only used by Moderators, but can also be used by Mentors and Mediators (as needed) when working with a member to help explain where a breakdown occurred, try to get everyone on the same page, and then get everyone back to working on our shared tree (not run anyone off as has been suggested in multiple threads across G2G recently).

So unfortunately, I do not feel the proposed new "short rules" and removal of the Application page would provide the depth of information needed in order to effectively enforce them when and if needed.
by Steven Harris G2G6 Pilot (610k points)
+13 votes
I like these proposed guidelines. In my experience with other forums they would not be difficult to moderate. Kick out the trolls. Gentle reminders for the rest. I also understand they won't be adopted.

Although I sincerely appreciate the time and efforts of the moderators, I think it's a little sad that "civility," which allows for frank but polite disagreement, has been sacrificed to very well-intentioned but ultimately limiting notions of "niceness," "kindness," and "gentleness," as  well as an apparent need for detailed rule books for the moderators' reference. (I was, honestly, surprised by the post in the other thread that it took these rules to incent moderators to talk to each other about consistent moderation.)

G2G had the possibility of being a great platform to discuss crowdsourced genealogy. I spend less time contributing to G2G not because I'm concerned about being censored, but because it just isn't so interesting.

That being said, thanks to those who volunteer their time and to those who provide the Wikitree platform. I'm a daily user and recently, after a long time of toiling alone, profiles I manage have actually been added to by others. So two big thumbs up.
by Ellen Curnes G2G6 Mach 8 (80.0k points)
Thank you, Ellen.
Very well said, Ellen.  I too have greatly curtailed my G2G activity because I was blocked for most of September, because participating on G2G is no longer worth the required tip-toeing, and because every day I find fewer discussions of interest to me here. I have sought less restrictive venues for the kinds of conversations we used to have here.
+4 votes
What you say does matter and the opinions you bravely give do inspire text changes.  All this from looking at the bottom of the Discussion Rules page ( and finding: "This page was last modified 16:22, 19 October 2020. This page has been accessed 2,603 times."

The top of the page has the 'in short' rule list, which I think you can take credit for inspiring, Julie.


by Living Britain G2G6 Mach 2 (25.9k points)
Thank you for the compliment.  I wouldn't presume to take credit for any changes.  As you might guess, whatever the changes were, they do not go nearly far enough for my taste.

Those 'shortcuts' were at the top of the page originally. The only change that was made was to point the G2G discussion (See line below the header) to the current version, not the one about Preliminary Discussion Rules G2G.
Thank you for clarifying, Linda.
Yes, thank you, Linda, from those of us who cannot see change logs to such pages.
Someone told me how to check 'activity' on pages where you don't have access to 'Changes Log'.  I thought I had remembered the 'shortcuts' earlier.
Linda, is that something any WT member can do?  I'd like to know how.
+18 votes
I am afraid that I would regard these short rules as inadequate. They do not cover some of the offensive behaviour that moderators, mediators and mentors have to deal with. The problems we deal with go a lot wider than these short suggested rules do. For example, we see remarks that disparage groups of people; posts that are insensitive to others' feelings but not personal attacks; posts that say things that are likely to upset religious, political and other susceptibilities; posts that are worded in ways that are very intemperate and that would be seen as offensive by most people; the use of colourful phraseology that may be familiar to people in one country but is not familiar to people in other countries who may interpret it as aggressive or demeaning...

I very much welcome the fuller guidance we currently have. I am sure it can be improved on, but my strong view is that short rules of the kind Julie Kelts has suggested are not enough. Indeed they would make life more difficult for moderators, mentors and mediators, since they would imply that anything not clearly within the short rules was acceptable, however intemperate, offensive, inappropriate or upsetting it was.
by Michael Cayley G2G6 Pilot (163k points)

Thank you for your comments, Michael.

 With all due respect, you and I disagree about what is acceptable speech, and what should be regulated.  I would also note that it is not always possible to predict who will be offended by what, and I think by trying to regulate every possible offense that might be made, we lose important contributions.  

On this very thread, two days ago, I said something that I learned afterward had not communicated my intent well.  Instead of someone asking what I meant, two people flagged me and the comment was gone!  I don't think that is the best way to handle discussion.  I think nearly everyone who posts to G2G is well-meaning, and we should tolerate different forms of self-expression.

I am afraid, Julie, we will remain in considerable disagreement on this.
If the "rules", as currently still (supposedly) on trial, were fairly and evenly applied, it might -- and that's a big might -- be seen differently than it currently is by those who disagree they are needed.  As it is, if I were to use a quote from a classic, well-known, famous author to explain how I feel, I would be flagged, sanctioned, and likely handed over to a mediator.  So I don't use my quotes elsewhere than in emails with people who do NOT take offense at the slightest little thing.

When the "rules" are fairly and evenly applied to all (as they should be, according to what we have been told elsewhere), g2g might be a more welcoming place to all, and not just to those who agree with those who are applying said "rules".
Thank you, kind person, for the flag.  It supports what quite a few of us have been saying.

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