Hah! rdearman responded while I was writing! I've kept my post below, because it says almost exactly the same thing, just phrased a bit differently. So consider this from my perspective as a moderator.
Arnaud wrote:The whole thread is not about language learning, as its title says. Either you close it immediatly, either you let it live its life as long as people are not insulting themselves.(is it the case ?)
I agree that the "Why are Europeans thinner that Americans" thread was about as polite as we could have hoped, given the subject matter. So thank you to everybody for your restraint. I know that lots of people get impassioned about the subject.
(Seriously, I was tempted to post an analysis of my food logs and the number of steps I walked in France versus the US.)
Under other circumstances, we might have left the thread open. But over the last few weeks, the number of sort-of-political and/or off-topic threads has been higher than usual, and we've been relatively generous about about interpreting the rules to let these discussions continue. But from a behind-the-scenes perspective, we're seeing more and more fatigue with these threads—there are multiple people sending PMs saying, "I want to write a really angry flame about X, but I know I shouldn't, so I'm being good, but I really wanna have a flame war, and how come so-and-so gets to bend the rules and I have to be good" and so on and so forth. And the moderators are spending more time keeping an eye on off-topic threads than usual as a result.
So we've decided it's time to cut back on the sort-of-political threads for a while. This doesn't mean we're upset at the people who were posting in those threads! People were acting with a fair bit of restraint, as a whole. But we're thinking it's time to take a break from politics for a while. And weight-loss threads.
Arnaud wrote:If people are not interested, they are free not to read it (as yourself and myself).
We do encourage people to avoid reading threads they dislike! Not every thread will be to everybody's taste.
But at the same time, the forum does have rules
. These rules have existed in one form or another since 2009, and we've tried tweaking them in various ways over the years. Sometimes these tweaks have been successful. Other times, the entire forum suddenly remembers why we had the rule in the first place. It's like Chesterton's Fence
, where some mysterious old rule turns out to exist for a good reason.
Forums exist in a weird balance: They do
exist to serve a community, and if we were to approach moderation with a "my way or the highway" attitude, it would be disastrous for the community. So we try to always keep the needs of the community in mind. But at the same time, it does us no good to adopt policies which eventually exhaust our administrator and cause him to hide somewhere in the mountains! And of course, if there's no moderation at all, the community eventually starts looking like the comment section of an online newspaper.
We don't have all the answers, and we will sometimes make bad calls. But at the moment, we feel like we're keeping an eye on too many potentially contentious threads lately—despite the mostly-admirable restraint people have been exercising!—and we'd like to cut back a bit. So some threads have been locked. This doesn't mean that we're about to go on the warpath and start enforcing the rules ridiculously strictly, and it doesn't mean we might not allow a bit more leeway in the future. All it means is that we're doing more moderation work than usual, and we would like to get back to our usual equilibrium.
Now, this is distracting me from working on subtitle OCR software, and I need to figure out which BDs I want to buy in Montreal, so I'm going to sign off for a bit.