The future of Quarter to Three's message board

What has happened in the past

Except for the last three months, this forum has always been moderated. Moderation has included variously vetting accounts, talking to people privately, sometimes intervening publicly, sometimes closing accounts, and so forth. The methodology has varied, but the goal has always been the same: to encourage a certain kind of interaction.

So a few months ago, after lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth – from me and others on the forum – concerning accounts being banned in full view, or behind the scenes, or some combination of the two, I somehow figured maybe I could just ask people to leave. Imagine standing in your living room, and asking someone, “Hey, I think you’re out of line and this is my house. Would you please go away?” Now imagine that person replying, “No. You’re going to have to throw me out.” What kind of house was that?

So I closed my own account, and opened everyone else’s account, and decided to abandon the whole idea of this being my house for a while. It would be the house of anyone who wanted to come into it. It would belong equally to the guys who’ve been here all along, to the guy who refused to leave, to the guys who had been thrown out earlier, and to whichever new guys just strolled in.

That was Qt3’s forum for the last three months. As the admin, I still saw all the reported posts, some valid, some specious. But beyond deleting spam, I let things run their course. Mostly, everything was pleasant. But the things that weren’t pleasant were extremely unpleasant. Things happened that I don’t want happening on my site. And I’m convinced those things will continue to happen. So I had to make a choice, which brings us to what is happening today.

What is happening today

Quarter to Three is once again a moderated forum. New accounts will be vetted. The rules for participating are posted here. Unfortunately, several accounts have been closed. The following message was sent to Abilio Carvalho, Adree, Blackadar, BobJustBob, Brandon Clements, Charles, Cubit, Damien Neil, Frank Austin, Hans Lauring, James Johnson, Kalle, Matthew Gallant, quatoria, Raife, Sebmojo, Therlun*, and ZekeDMS.

Apologies for the impersonal nature of this message, but I’ve attempted to work directly with almost every one of you. It hasn’t ended well. I consider that my failing as much as yours and I wish it could have turned out differently. Since you’re one of the folks who is unhappy enough with how I’ve run the forum, I’m going to save you the gesture of quitting. I think you’ll agree that we have what could be called irreconcilable differences. Therefore, it’s best we go our separate ways. As of today, you won’t have posting privileges. You have a week to send out PMs if you want to grouse, commiserate, or just let folks know how to reach you. Your account will be completely closed a week from today. I wish you the best.

I have also PMed several other posters, and the contents of those PMs are between me and the person in question. My hope in each instance is that the person I’ve PMed will stay. But I expect that there will be other accounts closed, mostly by mutual agreement. We’re probably going to lose at least 20 and maybe as many as 50 frequent posters. I’m not happy about that because I know many of these people are good people, and I even like some of them. Almost all of them can make valuable contributions to the forum. But there’s a point where irreconcilable differences are, well, irreconcilable. If you’re interested in staying in touch with any of the people Quarter to Three has lost – and I encourage you to do so – you can find many of them at this forum.

Why this is happening

Here is something I’ve never articulated because I thought, perhaps naively, it was understood:

The priority for participating on this forum is not the quality of the content. I ultimately don’t care how smart or funny or observant you are. Those are plusses, but they’re never prerequisites. The priority is on how you treat each other. I expect spats, arguments, occasional insults, and even inevitable grudges. We’ve all done that. But in the end, I expect you to act like a group of friends who care about each other, no matter how dumb some of us might be, no matter what political opinions some of us hold, no matter what games some of us like or dislike. This community is small enough, intimate enough, that I feel it’s a reasonable expectation.

Furthermore, if you’re unhappy with how I run the forum, there are plenty of other communities available to you. You have no right to be here. You furthermore have no right to use this forum to frequently air your disagreements. If you can’t get along with everyone – and that includes getting along with me – then you’re not welcome here. And there is therefore no reason you can’t go to Facebook, IRC, Google Plus, Neogaf, or some other place. Those are all fine places, and many of them will offer what you want. But here, on the Quarter to Three forum, you get the community I want. Not the community you want. You can do that somewhere else.

What’s going to happen after today

  • We are going back to the old rules about the forum being safe for browsing in the same room as your daughter, grandmother, or coworkers. You might not mind hawt gifs of bouncing breasts, but please be considerate of other people’s browsing habits.

  • I will not tolerate compromising someone else’s anonymity. Many of us are open about who we are with each other. But everyone else is welcome to be as anonymous as they like, and I will not have their real identities (photographs, real names, job histories, etc.) used against them.

  • Multiple accounts are no longer allowed. If you’re using multiple accounts, let me know now so we can settle on which account you’d like to keep. If you have a good reason for needing multiple accounts, I’ll happily work with you. Otherwise, anyone caught using alts will have all of his or her accounts closed.

  • I hate the spoiler tags and how they affect the flow of conversations. But I’m in the minority, so they’re here to stay.

  • As much as I’m loathe to do this – it just seems so silly – I’m implementing an infraction system. See the updated rules post for more information about how this will work.

I hope we’ll eventually go back to the policy of each banning being a mostly private matter between me and the closed account. But for the time being, I’ll try to keep everything above-board and transparent, so long as it doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy. This thread is the place to discuss forum moderation stuff, past, present, and future. I’ll try to answer any questions, address any concerns, and so forth. Some of you might be tempted to jump in here with Hurt Locker hur hur hur, tapir this, cunt that, how dare you condone child abuse, here’s a picture of a skateboarder wiping out that represents you, etc. Spare me. I can tell the folks who want to have a discussion from the folks who want to heckle or cajole. This thread, although I expect it will get messy, is for the former. So yenta away and I’ll try to keep pace with you. If you’d rather contact me directly, send me a PM or email me at [email protected].

I expect some of you will want to leave, and I respect that. But I mostly hope you’ll stay. This is going to be tough for a few weeks, but I’m convinced it’s necessary. 2012 could be very interesting for Quarter to Three for reasons that I can’t talk about yet. And as things change on the front page, I want this forum to continue to be a certain kind of place. This is a place for you. You should feel welcome, safe, and like a full participant. I intend to do everything I can to make that happen for the greatest number of you.


  • account reactivated

Welcome back?

Thank you. Seriously. I work at a pretty open company that allows some surf time, but the NSFW posts were getting out of hand.

Should we infer from your resuming control over the boards that you are also returning to participate?

It all makes sense to me, with one exception - if the forum is going to change its moderation style, even if its a return to past rules, why not give people a last chance to conform? If they cross the line again, they get the chop. It seems a bit arbitrary to ban first, then moderate.

I don’t know the history of these people and their posting problems. I just saw some names there that seemed like reasonable people in the time I’ve been reading regularly (the past six months or so).

I second this motion. Clean(ish) slate.

I’m glad you’re going to be part of the forum once again Tom. I hope 2012 is a great year for Qt3 and that we can all take advantage of a fresh start.

My participation in the forum is mostly focused on reading and browsing at work, so I’m not the most active, but I will say that the forum, from my perspective, has gotten along pretty civilly. I’m sorry to hear that some folks were “extremely unpleasant,” but I’m glad to have missed most of it. The only thing that springs to mind that fits that description is an incident where some folks were calling a female forum member variations on terms for one that takes money for sex. That was definitely beyond the pale and I look forward to never seeing that again.

Yeah, some of those names are a suprise to me as well, though I don’t follow some areas very well and generally stay out of threads I have no interest in. I guess we have to give the benefit of the doubt that those people have been given multiple opportunities to reform in the past.

Its going to be different, for sure.

Definitely thirded, it seems appropriate to at least offer a probationary period first.

I can’t speak for the whole list (nor would it make a difference if I could, because I cannot know the PMs and such) but many of those on the list have been very vocal (or the writing equivalent) about Tom and his policies, despite repeated warnings against such behavior. I can almost guarantee that they would be continuing this course in this thread if they were not banned.

I agree that from my perspective many of the people on that list are good posters who have been respectful in my experience. I’m just noting why Tom might (rightly) feel that there is no need to give a clean slate to them. It would not be a second chance. In many cases, it would be a fifth or sixth chance.

Note that this does not mean I agree with the bannings (or disagree). I’m just trying to explain them a bit, especially since Tom dislikes doing so.

Oh, and welcome back!

Yeah, I think there should be some sort of amnesty in light of what happened the past few months.

Granted, there have been a lot of disputes. I just think it’d be nice to at least make the attempt. Why start the new regime with an unnecessary tide of blood when we could have flowers, right?

I was saddened to see Cubit’s name on the list after reading these posts:

I guess the important part is that he’s turned his life around for the better, not whether or not he can post on Qt3. But maybe there is more going on behind the scenes that I don’t know about.

Jeremy Johnson? Maybe you mean James Johnson as Jeremy is the most inoffensive person I know.

Then perhaps a one chance and done thing. I don’t want to speak for anyone on that list because I don’t know them, but at least one member on there was posting in the last few days about the reason for his poor behavior in the past and seemed apologetic and sheepish about it. I’m hoping some conversation can get him back on.

Wow, had no idea those folks were volatile or anything. Guess I missed those conversations. Whew! :)

I think this is a terrible move, it doesn’t improve the forum in any way, and it’s very telling that the handful of genuinely awful posters who screw up every thread they participate in are left untouched.

Everyone on the banned list has had a problem with Tom, but Tom has also had a problem with them. They do not drag down this board. Tom’s inability to get along with them (and in some cases, their inability to not harp on about it - not the world’s biggest crime) is the issue here, not the health of the board in general.

Really? Where? I literally cannot remember running across a single NSFW image here in the past six months.

I was thinking the same thing, actually, but I may be biased since Jeremy was my Secret Santa! He’s good peeps though, in my book.

Hugin, check the example in Tom’s post. (here is the link again: NSFW, obviously.

BTW, Tom, I can’t see the infraction on the post. I can see why it was given one, and maybe that’s what you meant by ‘example’ but I expected us to be able to recognize when one was given.

My take: Sounds like you have an affiliation deal in the works and the habits of certain posters could put a damper on that.