Complaints about breaches of the Netiquette
should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org oh87 two 41330three. In general, the moderator
will not act without being contacted, except in serious or urgent cases.
The content of this document is structured in three parts:
- Forum Etiquette
- Forum Moderation
- Be respectful of all contributors
- Delay your response if you feel very strongly about a matter
- Substantiate your comments with objective information, wherever possible
- Don't be self-righteous - have an open mind and try to understand others' points of view
- Don't keep repeating the same point
- Be honest and truthful
- Once a final decision has been made by the committee, accept it and move on
- Forum Etiquette
- Formulate your post in a manner respectful of others
Comments should not be personal and
people should not be criticized explicitly or implicitly.
Try hard to understand the opinions
of others before reacting to them. If you strongly disagree with
something, it is good practice to delay your input for 24 hours, or
at least overnight, before responding.
Don't make comments that could
be hurtful - remember that not everyone has a thick skin!
And obviously, do not slander or libel anyone! It is a public
Do not be sarcastic!
Assume best intentions on the part
of all contributors. We're all part of the same association;
it is our leisure pursuit. It is reasonable to assume that people
are genuine in their opinions. If their opinion is different to
yours, it may be that they have some experience that gives them an insight
you lack. All the more reason to be respectful, even if you don't
understand their point of view.
Don't give in to the temptation of ‘scoring points' in a debate.
- Base your comments on objective information and facts
As far as possible support your opinion,
suggestion or comment with objective information and facts; rather than
expressing generalized and unsubstantiated opinions.
- Avoid a self-righteous tone in your comments
Bear in mind that most situations
that give rise to a debate are not amenable to a black and white solution.
This has been a significant issue in some threads - there have been
some inputs that appear to believe there is only one possible, right
solution. Even though other, very experienced persons have different
Consider the possibility that your
own opinion might be misplaced! Bear in mind that people with
different opinions may well be IMRA members with very substantial experience
of the hills and hill running (mountains and mountain running).
Remember that even if your opinion
appears to be supported by others contributing to the Forum, this does
not mean it is necessarily widely supported by IMRA members. Many
members do not read the Forum regularly and even if they do, many choose
not to get involved in discussions. The Forum is very democratic
in concept but not necessarily in content.
In an association like IMRA, it is
normal for there to be a huge range of opinions - nobody has a monopoly
of wisdom. The Committee has to interpret the feelings of the
membership more generally; and also use their extensive experience and
collective wisdom to take the best decisions possible.
- Avoid undue repetition of the same argument
There have been cases where an individual
keeps repeating an argument made previously by himself/herself or others.
One sometimes gets the feeling that they expect the argument to prevail
by sheer weight of number of repetitions (if you hammer at the door
enough times, it will eventually open). I am quite sure that they
are well intentioned in their actions, and simply passionate in their
opinions; however, this could certainly be interpreted as political
behaviour which has no place in the Forum.
So, make your point and leave the
field free to others. Don't expect others necessarily to adopt
your opinion - there is nothing wrong with diversity of opinion and
it is up to the committee to take decisions, not the Forum. Endless
repetition just makes it difficult to follow the debate.
- Be honest and truthful!
This obviously goes without saying
- Accept committee decisions with good grace
We have elected the committee to
run the association, and they expend very considerable time and energy
doing so. They deserve our respect and support.
By all means disagree with decisions,
or events, or plans, or policy, or strategy; but don't criticize the
people who have formulated these or who have been involved in communicating
or implementing them. And once final decisions have been taken
there is no benefit in beating a dead horse - if you have heartfelt
opinions on some matter and disagree with something that is going on
in IMRA, the AGM is the place to get policy changed - put forward
a motion or get yourself elected.
All comments on the forum should be respectful of the other parties involved, but this is particularly the case for committee members. Other people make a conscious choice to put their heads over the parapet of the forum, but committee members often have no choice but to get involved. Yes, they have allowed their names to go forward for election to the committee, but in reality this just means that they have had their arms twisted and have agreed to take their turn. There is never a queue of people to join the committee - let's not frighten potential members off.
- Style of Forum Moderation
as a Q&A (comments by current Moderator, Diarmuid O'Colmain on
his appointment in August 2009 - one recent modification of minor
substance relating to anonymous posts
- opinions on this welcome to moderator at imra.ie))
Apart from the desirability of having
a constructive debate in the forum, the IMRA committee has a responsibility
to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the debate is appropriate,
that nobody has reason to feel personally attacked, or to feel upset
at comments made.
This is why there is a need for a
Do we currently have major problems with the operation of the Forum?
No! I think it's a great
facility for exchange of information and opinions and it works very
well. I am reasonably active in reading Forum content, but I can
only think of a handful of occasions when I felt a post to the Forum
was so inappropriate as to warrant removal.
Why does the Forum need a Moderator?
The IMRA Executive Committee have
a legal Duty of Care to the members; obviously this applies mainly to
the safe operation of races, however, it could also be considered to
apply to the content on the website managed by IMRA. So there
is a need to provide for protection of members from obscene, abusive,
threatening, bullying or otherwise inappropriate posts to the forum.
There are occasional cases (thankfully
rare) where the good-natured, fun atmosphere of the forum is soured
by an angry or unpleasant or generally nasty post. Sometimes the
forum benefits from these being removed, in other cases, once the heat
of the moment passes, the individual realizes the post was inappropriate
and makes a further post to ‘fix' the problem.
The Moderator is responsible for
managing these situations. That can mean deleting individual posts,
even exceptionally whole threads, or it may just mean putting up a post
reminding people of their responsibilities. Finally, occasionally
I might have an off-line discussion with people who have put up posts
that other members object to.
Why not get one of the Committee members to act as Moderator?
That is a viable solution, but the
Committee have decided to appoint someone to act as Moderator who is
independent of the Committee. That approach tends to reduce any
suspicion that the Committee will remove anything critical of the Committee.
How long will the Moderator act as Moderator?
The role of Moderator is not a Committee
role, therefore unelected. Nobody has said how long I should be
involved, but I think myself that since I have been appointed by the
committee, I should in principle exit the role when the new Committee
takes up office, unless I am fired before that, of course!
What will be different about how the Forum will operate?
Nothing! Except that anyone
who considers that a comment on the Forum is of an abusive, threatening
or otherwise inappropriate nature, can contact me at moderator
at imra dot ie to request its removal.
Will the moderator be continuously monitoring the Forum ready to pounce at the least infringement of the Netiquette guidelines?
No! I have never had email
alerts from the forum and don't intend changing that. I will
not be highly proactive at all, rather I'll depend on members to
alert me to a problem as they see it. On the other hand if I see
something on the forum that I feel warrants urgent removal, I may act
on my own initiative.
What is the purpose of the Netiquette guidelines?
Simply to provide guidelines on what
is best practice behaviour in formulating posts to insert on the Forum.
I would encourage people to read them. (see also post of Feb 12
Will the Moderator not bring his own prejudices to bear on the role?
I hope not; my attitude is that I
don't care whether I agree with a comment on the Forum or not, that
has nothing to do with the role. However, in the event of any
controversial comment arising, I will as far as possible consult with
one or two other members for their advice before taking a decision about
what to do with the comment, in order to help ensure a balanced approach.
What about the insertion of advertisements, and comments by non-IMRA members?
The frequency of these has been low
up until now, and I am not aware of any particular problems related
to them; so I am pretty relaxed about them at present.
Are anonymous comments allowed on the Forum?
In August 09, in taking up the (not
very arduous) role of Forum moderator, I wrote as follows:
No. I don't consider
anonymous comments to be acceptable. However, I wouldn't go
to the trouble of removing them except in a situation where a member
objected to a particular post, or it was obvious that the content was
This Q&A was reviewed and approved
at the time, so on balance I am inclined to leave this as it is.
Since August 09 I think I have deleted one anonymous post, although
there have been others I didn't bother with. This is a somewhat
ambiguous way of moderating but that doesn't trouble me. On
the other hand if the Committee wants a more clear-cut approach, I will
accept that. Other opinions are welcome (in the somewhat unlikely
event that anyone actually reads this!).
What should IMRA members do to help the Moderator?
Read the Netiquette guidelines and implement them in your own posts on the Forum
Don't refer posts to me for removal
unless you feel the matter is serious - I want an easy and quiet life!
Finally, I definitely do not have a monopoly on wisdom in relation to these matters. The above are my thoughts at present; I would be really grateful for comments and opinions from members, that will help me to adjust my approach to the role of Moderator to better serve the IMRA community.