Moderators will only intervene if they discover violations of the forum guidelines. In general, this means:
1. Dealing with threads in inappropriate forums.
2. Dealing with inflammatory posts.
3. Dealing with name calling or ad hominem attacks.
4. Dealing with violations of intellectual property.
The following actions are available to the moderators to deal with these issues, depending on the type and severity of the violation.
1. Issuing the subject party a reminder or warning about a potential or existing violation of the forum guidelines.
2. Moving inappropriately located threads to their proper location
3. Closing a thread to further input
4. Deleting posts if deemed a serious breach of the forum guidelines
5. Deleting an entire thread if deemed a serious breach of the forum guidelines
6. Banning a member.
The first recourse for a moderator should always be to try and work out any perceived infraction of the guidelines with the responsible member. This is preferably done through PM’s as opposed to an open forum message to that member. However, there may be occasions where an open post is most appropriate, specifically if it involves infractions by more than one person in a given thread.
If a moderator deems that a thread should be moved, the originator of that thread must always be contacted to explain the action through a PM. Whether this occurs in advance or after the fact depends on how clear cut the violation is. For example someone posting a “for sale” notice in the “General” forum is in obvious violation of the posting guidelines. Such a post would be moved directly and the originator would sent a PM to notify him of the move and why it occurred.
Where it is less clear that a thread is off topic, then the originator should be sent a PM in advance of any action to indicate why it is perceived to be in violation of the guidelines and offering an opportunity for input from the originator. The final decision to move or keep the thread will be the moderator’s.
Closing a thread to further input is a fairly drastic measure and should only be used if it is apparent that continuing the discussion has a significant risk of escalating violations. The moderator taking this action must post a final message in the thread explaining that it is now closed and why. The moderator should also let it be known that questions about this action can be made in the “Forum Issues” board or in a direct PM to the moderator in question.
Deleting posts and threads are the most serious actions a moderator can take short of banning a member. The actions themselves have the potential to inflame members and discussions. Because of this, the first recourse of a moderator should be to ask a member in violation to edit or delete the offending post themselves. After 24hrs of posting, members no longer have editing access to their messages. In such a case, the moderator should request permission to edit or delete an offending post. If permission is not granted, the moderator has the final decision on whether to proceed with the edit or deletion. The originator must be contacted again if these actions are taken and given notice that they have occurred. For all posts edited or deleted by the moderator, the post field labelled “Reason for edit/deletion” must be filled out by that moderator.
Posts can be deleted or edited without prior notice by the moderator if it is obvious that waiting for notification has the potential to escalate a situation. For example, profane name calling will be dealt with immediately. Violations of intellectual property rights (posting proprietary or copyrighted materials) will also be dealt with immediately when brought to a moderator’s attention. In these cases, the originator must be notified that these actions have been taken.
All deletions by the moderators are “soft deletions”, meaning they are not physically removed. These posts can therefore be “undeleted”. If a member feels that his post has been unfairly deleted by a moderator, they can make an appeal to the Administrator to have the post reviewed. The Administrator will consult with all of the moderators to make a final decision. If, in hindsight, the post is deemed to not be in violation, it will be restored. Otherwise it will remain deleted.
Deleting a thread is an order of magnitude more serious than deleting a post since it generally involves messages from numerous members, and very often innocent bystanders. This action shall only be taken if it the infractions cannot be dealt with by deleting or editing specific posts. For example, if a sufficient number of posts must be deleted so that it results in the loss of coherency of a thread, then the thread may be deleted. As a further example, if the thread topic itself is in violation of the forum rules, then the entire thread may be deleted. All thread deletions must be accompanied by a new post by the moderator in the “Forum Issues” board with notice that the deletion has occurred, the rationale for the deletion, and an offer to discuss an appeal. The entire moderating team will decide any appeal requests to restore a deleted thread.
Banning is the most serious action that can be taken on the forum. Banning can only be performed by the administrator with concurrence of the moderators. Banning can be temporary or permanent depending on the infraction. For example, physical threats will result in an immediate permanent ban. Spammers will also be subject to an immediate permanent ban. Lesser offences will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the entire moderating team. In general, banning will be limited to repeated, flagrant abuses by a member or abuse so egregious that no action short of banning would suffice. In the case of repeated abuse, the moderators should first warn the offender that continued violations have the potential to result in a ban
In every case, a banned member will be sent an email notifying them of the ban's existence, the duration and the reason. The member may appeal to the moderating team to reconsider. Bans will only be reconsidered if the member can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the entire moderating team why a ban would be inappropriate for the circumstances.
As a final word, it should be obvious in reading through the above that openness, communication and understanding are the guiding principles of moderation for this forum. For this reason, the moderators must never act without making the impacted parties aware of their actions. They must always give reasons for their actions and opportunities for recourse.