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Forum Rules & Moderating - An Explanation

Bill Edwards

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Dear All


The Forum, Admin/Moderator/Forum Panel team and especially me personally have recently come under heavy criticism and the basis for this is largely due to mis-information and vindictive individuals. In an attempt to address this, I would like to explain why we have rules, how they are enforced, how ex-members became ex-members and the truth behind some of the outrageous lies that are being told with the single intention of destroying the forum. 


I started All The Fun Of The Fair in 1997 as a web site intended for UK Travelling Funfairs only. It was hand coded in HTML and hosted in free web space. The site combined two of my hobbies - Funfairs and the Internet.  The site grew beyond my expectations and moved from free space, to paid space, to its own server - all at my own personal expense. I introduced a message forum and eventually, as suitable software became available the entire site became forum based. The site has also evolved, now taking in Theme/Amusement Parks, Circus, Transport, Non UK Fairs etc. The platform the site is based on has changed, the hosting has changed, the resources we have available have changed - each change requires us to re-evaluate the way we do things. Change is often unpopular, but it is necessary if we are to keep up with demand and technology. 


Initially the forum had very few rules, but over the years problems arose and as they did I altered or added to the rules all with the purpose of keeping the forum available for the maximum number of members. I would receive complaints about a post and realise that the post wasn't in the best interests of the site and I would amend the rules accordingly. At the beginning all these decisions were taken by me alone. However, over the years I've been very lucky to have the help and support of excellent Administrators and Moderators and the vast majority of the rules we now have are as a result of the team consulting. More recently we set up the Forum Panel to bring in more members on the decision making process and I now believe that the rule/moderating decisions we make are as democratic as they can be without putting every decision to a public vote, which isn't practical.


The forum is Moderated by a Team of Moderators. They are all volunteers and do as much or as little as they are able. They do NOT patrol the forum looking for poor posts, they respond to "reported" posts and occasionally may come across poor posts as part of their normal browsing. No one has the time or inclination to go looking for bad posts. I don't have exact figures, but I suspect that I only read about 10% of what is posted. I simply don't have the time or the interest to read more.


Generally speaking forum posts fall into one of four categories:-

1) The post is in the right place and isn't a problem - this is the overwhelming majority of posts and they are ignored by the Moderator Team

2) The post is OK, but is posted in the wrong forum - A Moderator will move this to the correct forum and inform the poster of where it has been moved to

3) The post is clearly a bad post, against the rules - A Moderator will hide the post and inform the poster

4) The post could be bad, but it isn't clear - The post will be discussed by the forum panel and if the majority agree it's OK, it stays, if the majority agree it's not acceptable it will be hidden. The Moderator flagging up this type of post has the choice of leaving it in situ, or hiding it while it is discussed - which way he deals will be a judgement call depending on what he thinks the final outcome will be. If it is hidden you will be informed.


None of the Moderators has the ability to delete posts. Posts are merely hidden from view so when a Moderator looks at either a reported post or a bad post it cannot be deleted.  This means that if the initial decision to hide the post is subsequently discussed and found to be the wrong call, it can be unhidden and displayed. None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes and occasionally posts will be hidden only to be redisplayed. No one, not myself, not individual Moderators or Admins has a veto - all decisions are purely on a Team decision. If the majority of the panel feel the post is bad, it's hidden - it takes personality out of the decision and should ensure a fair decision. To blame myself or an individual Moderator for a rule/moderating decision is simply unfair as that is not how things work and haven't for some considerable time.


No one on the team enjoys banning members, it is used very much as a last resort, we would all like for us to get along and enjoy our hobby, but it is a sad fact that some people don't like rules (although my experience shows the majority do like rules, they just want them applied to everyone else). I cannot recall a single instance of a member breaking the rules and being banned. There is always more to it than that, although the banned member won't tell you that! The team believe that it's very wrong for us to announce that "Member A has been banned for the following reasons" and the result of this is that you only hear the banned member's side of things  - We like to think that you trust us, trust that we have carefully considered all the factors and come to a decision that the majority of the team feel is the only way forward.


Banning usually occurs after multiple rule breaks and multiple warnings where it is clear that the member has no intention of being a team player. The other instance where we feel banning is justified is where someone deliberately tries to damage our forum. In the past we've had members destroy dozens of threads by editing and/or removing photos, more recently we've had an instance of someone taking to social media with a vindictive, untruthful vendetta with the sole purpose of destroying the forum - is it right to expect to remain a member in these circumstances?


No one has ever been banned for life - any member who has been excluded can approach any member of the team and ask for his ban to be reviewed, the team do this regularly and again a majority decision will win. There are many members who have been banned that are now back in the forum. However, if you take to social media or email and bad mouth me, the team or the forum, it shouldn't suprise you if your request to rejoin isn't looked on favourably.


If anyone feels that a rule is unnecessary and should be taken out, a decision we've made is wrong or has any suggestions, comments etc we are only too glad to hear them. They will be discussed by the panel and if the majority of the panel agree they will be implemented. It is perfectly acceptable to say "I don't like rule X - it is wrong and should be taken out". None of the team, myself included has any problem with members being critical of rules, policy and decisions. Having said that, I personally find comments like "the forum is dying, nobody contributes" unhelpful and hurtful. I want the forum to succeed and if you have constructive advice we are willing to listen, discuss and implement if the majority agree it is the way to proceed. It is impossible to keep every member happy all the time, so the decisions we make will be in the best interests of the majority. 


Over the years that I have been running the site/forum, I have invested many thousands of hours of my time and thousands of pounds on software and hosting etc. With the generous support of "Forum Supporters" and current hosting fees I just about break even most months. Taken over the life of the site I am considerably out of pocket. With such a huge investment of time and money I am passionate about the forum and I want it to succeed and be the best it can, which is why when someone runs down the forum (often without basis, or based on the way things were done years ago) I am defensive - who wouldn't be? In the past I HAVE MADE MISTAKES, I HAVE MADE BAD DECISIONS, there have been instances where I would do things differently. I have never claimed to be perfect, but I have always had the best interests of the forum at heart. It is precisely these mistakes and 'knee jerk' reactions that have caused a lot of soul searching and the setting up of the Forum Panel. I have an input in rule/moderating decisions, but I have the same input as the other Moderators, Admins and Panel Members - you can blame me personally for decisions if it makes you feel better, but the truth is that it is the Mod/Admin/Panel team majority that came to that decision.


I genuinely feel that the forum is "ours", a community resource - I've done everything I can to give the decision making to the members and take the decisions away from myself. A public poll on every rule change, moderating decision etc isn't practical, but I believe that the Panel is as good a compromise as we can get. It may be my name above the door and I do have an input on decisions, but anything that happens in or to the forum or members is a Panel Decision. And for anyone who thinks that I in some way 'control' the panel - please feel free to ask them. We frequently disagree and I am often on the losing side of decisions (and as I said, no one has a veto). You are free to form your own opinions, but the fact is that it is a free democratic process!


Bottom line Ladies and Gents, we all have this hobby, we all have different interests and levels of commitment and knowledge, but our passion for Funfairs brings us together here. We can work together to make the forum the best resource we can or we can run it down until either myself, the team or the members say "enough" and someone pulls the plug. I know which outcome I want and will continue to work for.


All the best



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I've seen the blog, someone certainly has a bee in their bonnet!

  • Like 7
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blog? where?

most if not all of the rules are fairly common sense, cant honestly say ive not really ever felt I either disagreed or couldn't see where you were coming from in all the decisions ive seen so in absence of seeing or even knowing where said blog is or what is being referred to in OP I can only add to the above "keep up the good work" vibe:)

  • Like 9
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Although the content of the blog prompted the above post from me, the comments are more to satisfy general curiosity about rules and decision making.


Given the warped view of the incident, the lies and the intentions of the blog writer, I don't think it is appropriate to post the link here!

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