Private messages are not exempt from community guidelines

Once again, we have a spate of users choosing to abuse or threaten other users in private messages. Doing this is incredibly creepy, shady, and disrespectful to the entire BBS: “I know I won’t get away with saying this in public, but my insults/attacks/threats are more important than civil discourse or the extra work it puts on the moderators to deal with these issues, so I’m going to say it anyway, just privately” is not appropriate here.

Worse, personal attacks like this are very often levied against vulnerable classes of members - users identifying as female, those coping with mental illness, or identifying as minorities. These groups receive enough prejudice, bigotry and strife in their normal lives for just being who they are. Do not add to it because you decided you didn’t like them on a forum. Please try and have empathy for your other members who exist in meatspace outside of the BBS.

I have updated the community guidelines to make it clear that they apply for any communication on the BBS, public or private. However, unlike public communications, the moderators will not see violations unless they are flagged.

If you receive threatening, harassing, or otherwise inappropriate private messages, flag them, as you should for any message you see of this type. We will take apprioriate action. Because this sort of behaviour is especially personal, such action will almost always include, at minimum, a suspension from our community. Don’t engage in this behaviour.

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45 posts were merged into an existing topic: Ignore feature bug reports

Explain to me how even a lack of an ignore feature justifies private messages attacking other users, please?

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That’s not what I was arguing? I don’t think it does, but if you have someone on ignore, it’s not working, and you continue to get harassing messages from them in the meantime… :woman_shrugging: If they keep harassing and you keep seeing that…

Also, I figured I’d post a link to this thread here as well:

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Can mods see the entire thread when a message is flagged or should we follow up with screenshots?

Absolutely - FLAG any harassing message! Nowhere does any policy suggest anyone should receive harassing messages from any user!

I spent many weeks of my personal time (well outside any official role I have with Boing Boing) working closely with the Discourse team to try and get that feature to work properly. I am, unfortunately, not a software engineer and am unable to make any changes myself, and the reality is - issues with the ignore feature will be better heard on meta.discourse.org than here on the BBS topic. Folks are welcome to post in one or both, but I think you will get better mileage from the one on meta than here were only a limited number of developers read the BBS.

Still though, it’s important not to lose site of the reason for this topic - harassment is not permitted, even if the software of the BBS is not perfect and it causes one to read messages that are otherwise within the guidelines from users you may not wish to see. No one would like things to work more smoothly than the mods who have to deal with this shitstorm, I assure you.

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We are able to see the entire posting history and conversations of any user. However being alerted to the problem in the first place is key.

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Thanks for emphasizing this, @orenwolf, even if the current system isn’t ideal.

Like so many things, it boils down to consent. Except by mutual consent, I’m personally in favour of keeping discussions and disagreements to the public forums. Because they are targeted at an individual, PMs by their nature can be more harassing and stalkerish than public posts, even if they are superficially “civil”. For that reason, and because only one user can flag a PM, I think the guidelines should be more strictly applied than for a public post, and “I don’t want to receive this” should be justification enough for a flag.

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At the very least, I think requests to end the PM conversation should always be honored, and any attempt to continue that thread beyond the request should be flaggable.

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Agreed.

Thankfully, this is one place the ignore function works properly - if you don’t want to receive PMs from a user, you can simply set them on ignore. We aren’t going to take action against a user sending a PM that is otherwise within the guidelines when they can’t know if you would, or would not, like to receive a message from them. Set them to ignore, problem solved.

Also, it’s important to note for those who feel vulnerable because of this behaviour, that there is a setting in your Preferences (under notifications) called Allow other users to send me personal messages - disabling this will prevent any non-mod from messaging you.

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Except it’s not solved, when “Ignore” often doesn’t work correctly… and it eventually expires, with no advance warning.

Badly designed function is badly designed.

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That answers my follow-up question :+1:t2:

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That can be useful in many cases, but it also prevents two or more users from making private contact to discuss shared interests, hobbies, etc, or for mutual support.

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We can usually quit a PM with the Add or Remove … button

but there are multiple steps and it’s not terribly obvious

Same with the Muted function

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Indeed; ‘all or nothing’ isn’t a very viable solution either.

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OTOH if someone is being a hothead, removing the audience and talking 1:1 can de-escalate things (if you’re civil) - it’s something I’ve done successfully.

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Fair, but you can use the ignore feature to keep specific users from messaging you. If you’re suggesting a whitelist option, I think that’s a great idea, and something you may want to suggest on meta.discourse.org.

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Any attempt to continue a PM after being requested to stop should be grounds for immediate suspension.

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I would flag that behaviour, but there’s a difference between “I don’t want to continue this PM” and “don’t contact me again”, I do not expect users to remember such requests, and they are beyond annoying to try and track down and moderate. That’s what the ignore feature is for.

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I can see that, and wouldn’t ask you mods to be doing more work than you are already doing. TBH though, if a person has been told by someone not to contact them again, they really ought to be able to remember that. If they can’t, it likely means that many people have asked them to go away, which is itself a problem.

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