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Feedback thread for PI, RI & Bereavement



  • Registered Users Posts: 9,065 ✭✭✭ leggo

    The thing with forum moderation is that it’s not natural and doesn’t apply to any form of life aside from this one specific, increasingly-dated purpose. Like in a pub, when a conversation is being had, you don’t have someone be ‘the boss’ and tell everyone to stay on topic. On social media, freedom of speech (but don’t go too far or break laws) reigns. On Reddit, moderation can be strict in certain places but all rules are created under one unifying header (usually ‘make sure the best, most relevant posts get highlighted’). Also the moderation is impersonal: the mods aren’t the most opinionated and active members of the subreddit and their opinion doesn’t really matter because the rule is thorough, explained well and falls under the unified goal of the board so it’s near impossible for users to dispute because it’s not left open to interpretation.

    I know you guys are volunteers, probably don’t have the time to do the job you want, are doing a thankless job…but I still feel the moderation here over the past couple of years is WAY too personal and inconsistent. It comes across as more “I’m a mod and here are my personal pet peeves so now they’re the rules”*. As a user, tbh I don’t understand when discussion is allowed and when it’s not. I’ve had several discussions with you (probably in this thread) in the past where I feel like we’ve agreed on the idea that OP’s reading back and forth debate on an issue can be helpful in many cases. I’ve also been warned for having these exact debates. There’s zero consistency and the severity of the reaction/punishment can often be left up to “How bad has the situation deteriorated”…when another way of phrasing that is “How bad have mods let the situation deteriorate to before doing what they volunteered to do?”

    Like you guys say you leave it open to interpretation but without any kind of firm guidelines everyone understands that essentially translates to, in practical terms, “You can feel free to discuss things but if we decide we don’t like the points you’re making or direction of the conversation, we reserve the right to do whatever we want.” That’s nonsense and is only going to disengage people as they either post freely within your loose guidelines, then get reprimanded when you feel like it, or don’t post because the rules are so vague and unclear that they don’t know if they’re breaking them or not.

    You can give all the assurance that “oh our longtime posters understand”…but guys, I’m one of your longest posters here and probably someone a lot would consider as a somewhat valuable contributor here over the years, and being honest I don’t have a ****ing clue and ended up being banned for a week without warning not too long ago for having a debate while there are threads open with debates ongoing as we speak (never mind why yellow cards exist if they’re not used etc).

    Tbh I think certain mods need to decide if they want to be contributors and personalities here or if they want to take a wider view and make it a more hospitable board for OPs and users alike. If you want to be all over every thread hammering your opinion down everyone’s throat, grand like, but then accept that you’re an opinionated person and maybe that’s your role here as being objective or diplomatic isn’t a strongpoint. I look at Neyite and I see someone getting the balance between being a valuable poster and an objective/transparent mod right, others need to make a decision because this interpretation and catering the forum to the whims of a couple of super-opinionated users who are also all over every thread isn’t working.

    I suspect the usual “We’ve discussed this and disagree with multiple people giving the same identical feedback because of this silent ‘majority’ who actually all agree with us” response to any constructive criticism (you’ve actually done this already and taken a passive aggressive swipe at the poster in doing so btw), but I hope I’m wrong and it’ll be addressed internally instead of being dismissed with a dig to boot.

    *To give an example of this: there have been multiple complaints in this thread about sexist language and generalisations, something serious that consistently derails constructive threads, and the rule on that is wishy-washy and inconsistently applied with threads allowed to break down regularly before action is taken. However the rule on "Don't quote full posts" - which isn't a particularly serious, damaging thing but more a personal pet peeve - is VERY clear and consistently applied (to the point it's been brought up in this thread within the last 5 posts). That's mental and shows the personal biases that dominate moderation here and lead to this confusion about what are the rules, what matters etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,371 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    Are mod tools not working on the new site yet? The Ann/Barry thread is clearly a discussion thread not an advice thread and may be better suited to State Benefits in any case but it's still in PI and still open?

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,163 ✭✭✭ YellowLead

    Totally agree. In the past this would have been moved.

    But I guess mods have lives too and maybe it’s a timing thing

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    Recent feedback in this thread has asked that threads be allowed drift naturally into discussion.

    The moderators have taken a 'wait and see' approach on how threads evolve using this approach.

    If posters aren't happy, or if it seems like the purpose of the Forum is being adversely affected due to this approach then we will revert back to insisting replies offer advice.

    It would be nice if other regular posters submitted feedback here regarding this. The last two posters Loueze and leggo have asked that PI not be so heavily moderated and that discussion be allowed to develop.

    What do other posters think?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    I think it's more of a personal issue because I think this is a real problem in their relationship and how they proceed as a family.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,163 ✭✭✭ YellowLead

    My opinion is that a bit of discussion should be allowed develop but not on a continuous basis - eg two posters having a very long back and forth. I don’t think somebody should be warned right off the bat for ONE message that is responding to another poster rather than directed at OP, but long back and forths should just be started as a spin off in another forum.

    I don’t agree with the Ann and Barry style thread being in personal issues - that’s not somebody with a personal issue that’s somebody looking for opinions about his friends situation but not even stating that at the start. I think it should only be for those with an issue personal to them.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 5,563 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Hannibal_Smith

    Sorry folks... I actually closed it there not realising ye were discussing it here. I've reopened it there. I left it open because I hadn't an option to move it as yet and thought the OP would get a steer at least.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,371 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    It's ultimately none of the OP's business though? It's not personal to them? Yet it's been open in PI for since Boards came back on line, and reported as not a personal issue.

    I've seen threads that are much closer to being PI/RI shut down over the years because OPs asked for opinions on types of relationships etc so were discussions rather than advice. The only explanation I could come to for this one being left open is that mod tools hadn't come back online yet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,065 ✭✭✭ leggo

    Guys to be fair, the feedback was more people being confused about when discussion was/wasn’t allowed, so I don’t see how just letting this drift into further confusion is productive unless the idea was to have people come back here and beg you to go back to the way you liked it in a bit of a passive-aggressive, Irish Mammy way. 😂

    Look I probably won’t be long for boards as the recent redesign is godawful and has made the site unusable for me, so it’s much of a muchness for me personally what you do. But if you want a firm guideline you can enforce that most people can probably get behind, how about some variation of the below:

    Be constructive: remember the purpose of PI is to give OPs advice at all times. While sometimes discussion can be helpful to allow OPs to tease out pros and cons of different approaches, the purpose must always be for this and moderators will intervene if they feel the discussion has become a personal argument.”

    You re-enforce the overarching goal of the forum, give firm guidelines people can understand and identify for when discussion is/isn’t allowed, and can feel confident yourselves in identifying what’s ‘good’ discussion and what’s ‘bad’ by weighing up if it’s constructive towards the OP or personal arguing. I think most if not all users can get behind that.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    The thing about your suggested edit above though leggo is that moderators don't shut down discussion only if it becomes a personal argument. Quite often the discussion is shut down becomes it becomes hypothetical arguments with "But what if the OP was x, y or z" etc. Or is simply completely irrelevant. It's human nature to go off on tangents when discussing something.

    Discussion tends to lead to discussion rather than advice.

    For as long as I have been a member of Personal Issues has been an advice forum. Not a discussion forum. I often look back through old threads, from long before I was a moderator and always posters were reminded "Personal Issues is an advice forum, not a discussion forum"

    Your line about letting it drift into more "confusion" is not what the moderators want, but it does seem to be what some posters are asking for.

    The rules of the Forum have always been simple, and to the point. To avoid confusion: "Personal Issues is an advice forum, all posters are expected to offer advice to the OP in their reply".

    If we change that, then personally I feel that allows for confusion. There are too many variables to allow for. Discussion allowed, up to a point? What point? Discussion allowed, only if it's relevant? Are hypotheticals relevant? Sometimes?

    Already we have posters complaining of inconsistent moderation, when the moderators genuinely are trying to do their best in keeping replies on track with advice that helps the person who came looking for it. We might not always get it right (we're human, and volunteering in our spare time. Could be sitting on a park bench enjoying an ice cream! We're not sitting at a desk with designated hours to 'work'). But I think as a forum, in general, it is well organised. I know forums develop and evolve over time but if we allow PI to become a discussion forum, which seems to be what's being called for, then, in my opinion, that allows for more argument from posters who are pulled up for dragging threads off topic. Wondering why they were pulled up this time, and not the previous time etc.

    It's not something we are intentionally doing in an "Irish Mammy" way so that you all beg to go back to the old way. It's something we have agreed to try, following persistent calls from some regular posters. It is also holiday season and moderators are not online as much.

    At the moment, we will continue to "wait, and see". Also the site itself is still being finalised, and we as moderators are users just like everyone else and are getting used to the new layout, functionality, tools etc.

    If posters continue to report posts or posters for being dragged off topic, into discussion, over-and-back etc then we (the moderators) will agree to revert back to "offer advice" and that will be the guidelines of the Forum!

    The direction the forum takes will be a majority rules type situation. For now, we wait and see what direction it will take (and we'll also enjoy the good weather and any holidays we might take!)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 9,065 ✭✭✭ leggo

    Look I’m the first to acknowledge you guys volunteer for free, I did it in my first post on this discussion, so I get it has its challenges absolutely. But what I’m suggesting isn’t a new rule that will double everyone’s workload, it’s a strong clarification that ideally will let good posters know what is/isn’t okay and, if anything, that should cut down on your voluntary workload.

    Let me give examples of how the rules contradict themselves: on one hand, you say the above and for us to only ever address the OP. On the other, I’ve seen you say multiple times how this forum is quite good for self-policing bad comments. Well…we can’t self-police unless we address someone else’s comments. So if I see someone post something offensive and damaging that a vulnerable OP could see and it hasn’t been addressed by mods, do I self-police or am I breaking the rule of addressing anyone but the OP? Or does it all depend on the mood of whoever on the mod team catches it? Is it personal? I mean in that post you make a LOT of generalisations there about the type of people who engage in discussion (which is a pretty normal thing for people to do), so are you making judgements on us all personally, without actually knowing any of us at all, then applying the rules based on your assumptions/generalisations?

    I speak from experience too. I’ve been an OP here years back, that’s how I began posting here. I had someone say something quite inflammatory and damaging to me when I was in a really low place and needed support, and it was seeing others post “WTF”, defend me and tease it through that helped me clear up my own head strongly about the issue. It was the kinda comment that was damaging but would’ve skirted under moderation, so if it was allowed to stand unchallenged it would’ve just been a dagger to me at a time I really didn’t need it.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    We always tell posters they can of course challenge bad advice. Sometimes we will see a reported post and by the time we have gotten to it other posters have dealt with it. They will have commented on the post in question. Said why they disagree and then continued on to give the OP proper advice.

    There is already a balance in the forum. But some posters consistently drag threads off topic by continually posting their own arguments dragging other posters into argument and inevitably ignoring the original poster and their actual issue.

    This isn't something the Mods have just dreamed up. This is how the forum has always worked. Often Original Posters will report a post asking for it to be locked or deleted because it has just become an argument.

    We regularly nudge posters back using on thread reminders to not argue with each other. Sometimes, when we find we are nudging the same posters all the time we then card, or ban for a short period to hopefully focus the mind of the poster who persists in posting discussion (often times not relevant to the original posters issue).

    I understand you are a bit peeved leggo because you were on the receiving end of one such week long ban recently. But you have to admit you have been asked multiple times to stick to offering advice and to not allow yourself get dragged into over and back. Lots of your over-and-back discussion regularly include you saying "but this has nothing to do with the OP". So you admit that you allow yourself get dragged into irrelevant discussion. I'm not sure what you want the moderators to do in that situation? Give you a pass because you're a regular? Action the other poster/s, but not you? Indeed I believe the moderators here have been more lenient with you and other regular posters because you are good, regular posters.

    Look, I'm afraid I'm going to step back now for a while. The weather is good. The site is still finding its feet. The moderators have made a decision, based on feedback here, to let threads run a bit and see what happens. If posters don't like it and would like Personal Issues to remain an advice forum where posters are asked to offer advice then we ask that they make their voice heard either by commenting here or reporting posts they don't like the look of.

    We will watch how things unfold over the coming weeks and act accordingly.

    I really don't think we can do any fairer than that leggo. You have asked for something. We are now going to trial it.

    Post edited by Big Bag of Chips on

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,371 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    Can a mod please clarify that PI/RI are for advice threads only, whatever about allowing a little on thread discussion. Framing it in this way allows a little wiggle room while still keeping the forums to offer support.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    Thanks Caranica. Yes the charter states that it is an advice forum. It's not really an ongoing issue that inappropriate threads are posted, and if they are they are always moved, locked or deleted.

    I understand that a dubious thread was posted recently, but the OP did mention that one of the relevant people had read the thread, so in that sense it was still providing advice.

    I think the next few weeks will see things settle down with the new layout, and our tools will return (for now we can't move threads, or at least if we can, I haven't figured out how too!!)

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,055 ✭✭✭ Jequ0n

    Since the decision to allow “some” discussion was only communicated once confused posters had questioned the changes: will you communicate if/ when this decision will be overturned? Or will there be on thread warnings for all posters, incl regulars?

    Also, since you cannot moderate around the clock. It might be worth prioritising the current threads/ discussions. It’s kind of pointless when a post gets a warning or infraction long after the discussion has run its course, i.e. several days after the post was made.

  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,497 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ Neyite

    I can't speak for all the admins but I can't see them agreeing to remove that rule. It's the reason the forum functions the way it does. The key consideration from a mod point of view is "is this helping the OP? There may be some leeway for a little on thread discussion up to that point.

    When I have a problem, I don't want long-winded back and forth between my friends. I don't want them going off track or arguing amongst themselves - my head is already mixed up or I wouldn't have asked them! What I want is a range of options or suggestions so that I can pick the best solution I feel works in MY situation.

    And that's how I see PI/RI. You might tell an OP that X is the ideal solution to their problem. I might disagree with you which is fine, but instead of us going at it in the forum, the best way to be helpful to the OP (the point of the forum after all!) is for me to point out what I might see why I feel your advice might not be the best option and offer solution Y. That kind of brief back and forth discussion is fine - we are teasing out advice ideas for the OP. But the moment it stops being helpful to the OP is probably where a mod should nudge people back to giving advice.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    Jequ0n, no decision has been finalised. Personal Issues is still an advice forum. So posters will still be expected to reply to the query posted by the OP. Posters post here looking for advice. We still want replies to focus on that. If posters drift into a little discussion with each other, moderators are (for the moment) going to be a bit more lenient and maybe post less warnings to stick to offering advice.

    However warnings will still be issued if the thread has gone way off topic. As Neyite mentions above, the focus will always be the OP and whether or not replies are helpful to them. Squabbling amongst posters is rarely useful to anyone.

    The premise of the Forum remains an advice forum. NOT a discussion forum. Moderators may take a more lenient approach to allow some discussion if it is considered helpful to the OP. And yes, this will always be at the discretion of the moderator.

    Nothing really changes. It's still an advice forum. But the moderators will take more of a backseat for now and let threads run a bit more. If the thread is veering way off topic on thread warnings, cards and bans will still be applied.

    Personal Issues is an advice forum (my phone now autofills that sentence!) There's no need to complicate it! Personally I feel this suggestion of allowing "some" discussion is complicating matters because now posters are already asking, what, how, when etc.

    We will let things unfold a little over the coming weeks. We will allow "natural discussion". But posters are asked to bear in mind that they are posting to a poster who has asked for advice. It's simple if you bear that in mind. Petty squabbles or digs at other posters that are not relevant to the OP will be actioned. A bit of discussion concerning the issue and relevant to the OP will be left stand.

    (Personally, I think that is the way the forum has pretty much worked up to this!)

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,371 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    Neyite I'm totally with you. I follow these two forums because people help each other, I've received help over the years too. But that's why I got so frustrated that the other thread was left open for so long. From the first post it was clearly not a PI.

    There's hundreds of discussion forums on here, or at least it feels that way 😂

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,055 ✭✭✭ Jequ0n

    I agree that “some” discussion will be more confusing than none. Well, so be it.

    Post edited by Jequ0n on

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard

    My 2c is that allowing "some" discussion on threads that are actual P/RIs may have some merit, albeit does run the risk of confusing people. However, allowing threads that clearly aren't actually P/RIs to remain open/in situ shouldn't become a thing. I went to report the Ann & Barry one until I saw BBoC had responded, at which point I didn't bother because that to me says it had tacit mod approval. Still have no idea why, though.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,195 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Faith

    Most people never fall afoul of the "discussion" rule. If you find that you're falling afoul of it repeatedly, then the question should be "Hmm, is there something problematic about my posting style?" rather than "Change the rules to suit me!". Hint: The rule was created for a reason.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,208 ✭✭✭ HildaOgdenx

    Agreed. The function of the forum is advice. It works well, in my opinion.

    Discussion, particularly if it is a subject that posters feel strongly about, can quickly take a thread off track, and the OP can get forgotten about.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,371 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    Will flag this in feedback thread too but PI/RI posts are now showing up on people's profiles where they never did. It's quite enlightening but I don't think it's deliberate?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    Thanks for that Caranica. I'll flag it in the moderators forum too.

    PI posts were always treated with respect and privacy (in so much as posting on a public forum allows). They were never included in post searches.

    I wasn't aware that had changed with the move.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard

    Folks I have to say, the decision to allow "some" discussion has been an unmitigated disaster in my humble. So many threads are just getting dragged completely off-topic and into whataboutery and hypotheticals and now I'm never sure when or whether to report because of the new "rule".

    I genuinely think the forum would be best served my returning to the original status quo. My 2c, anyway.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    I agree Dial Hard.

    I think Personal Issues is, and always has been an advice forum. I will admit that we are all still getting used to the new layout and new functionality so the moderators are maybe letting some things go that would be flagged and actioned in 'normal' circumstances.

    Allowing "discussion" was something that was flagged by more than one poster on more than one occasion, so I think it would have been arrogant of the moderator team to not at least give it a trial. This is a feedback thread after all, where we asked for feedback from our posters to help improve the forum.

    Personal Issues has always been a special area on Posters post feeling a bit delicate or fragile and posters have respected that and handled OPs with respect and care.

    Allowing discussion this past while, I feel, has allowed a different atmosphere to develop in the forum and it doesn't feel as respectful as it used to.

    But, I am quick to say, it is still early days in the cross over. A lot is still being ironed out. A small bit of discussion regarding the actual issue should be OK. (I think this is how PI actually worked all along!) But, the trouble happens when that leads to general discussion and straying from the topic at hand.

    We would ask posters to always report any post they think isn't PI suitable. That way we get a concensus for how posters feel about the forum. So please continue to report posts.

  • Registered Users Posts: 219 ✭✭ hole in my lovelywall

    Can posters not post anonymously in the personal issues forum anymore?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 11,491 CMod ✭✭✭✭ Big Bag of Chips

    Hi hole in my lovelywall,

    It seems that’s a feature that didn’t migrate successfully to the new platform. A lot of bugs and glitches are on the to-do list, and we are bringing them to the powers that be as we notice them, or as they’re highlighted to us.

    I’ll flag it with the office.


  • Registered Users Posts: 10,662 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard

    Guys, can we ask if the mods are still automatically notified of any reported posts, or does the new system only create an alert if a certain number of reports are received? There seemed to be some confusion about this when there was still the option to "flag" posts as well as report them. It'd be great to get clarification on this because I'm not seeing any action on a number of posts I've reported, Obviously I know that not all reports will be deemed actionable by the mods but some of them are pretty clear-cut, imo (old threads getting dragged back up, posts that aren't actually PIs, e.g.) so now I'm genuinely wondering whether mods are even seeing the reports in the first place...

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 30,195 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Faith

    I'm not a PI mod, so I can't speak for this specific forum, but your post made me curious. I test reported a post in the Weddings forum and I've received no notification of it. I used get emails, but there's no email and no pop-up here. I also can't even find the Reported Posts forum, so it's entirely possible the mods aren't seeing the reports.