Re: Interesting Sailboats
For those of you paying attention to the recent events on this thread, and more recently others as well, we apologize for the delay in formulating a response. With time zone differences and actual lives to live outside SailNet it can take some time to finalize things amongst us.
The moderators have been closely following the discussion here and the ongoing situation that has been unfolding for a long time on the forums and behind the scenes. There are quite a few days where this particular thread and its associated personality issues has racked up over 50 P.M.’s in each of the moderator’s inboxes. Whatever any of you think, we have not taken this lightly, and we have not shied away from being involved.
There seems to be a whole lot of accusations and restructuring of history and we would like to address these points.
First of all, all of the moderators thoroughly appreciated the work that Paulo put into compiling the information in this thread. It represented a lot of work, and provided a view of what is happening in the yacht design world with an emphasis on the unfamiliar European market. It was definitely a very popular thread. That this thread has become limited and lost its major contributor is a real shame.
As moderators, we do not care at all about ‘click counts’. What we do care about is that SailNet remain a useful resource to those who visit the site. Assuming the site remains a valuable resource, the click counts will take care of themselves, and the members will remain loyal.
For better or worse, a very conscious decision was made (way back in the 1990’s) that SailNet would be a place that promoted civil discourse, but that there should be a level of informality to that discourse that kept the place a lively and fun place to visit. The forum rules are purposefully simple. Amongst the moderators there has always been an agreement that we would try to the best of our ability administer the rules fairly, even handedly, and to moderate with as light a touch and as minimally as possible.
What that means is that when there is an infraction of the rules, or a situation heating up, we tend to reach out to people behind the scenes and initially request that they behave differently. Generally, this first contact does not contain a warning of any kind; it merely explains the rule infraction(s) and suggests how that person can comply with the rules. It is a request and not an order.
No matter who someone is, no matter how they contribute to the site, we do not make special exceptions. While it is considered bad form for a moderator to discuss past moderation efforts with individual forum members, in this case both of the parties have chosen to air the dirty laundry in public on SailNet and on other sites, so all bets are off. (Or at least most of them.)
Which brings us to the situation on this thread. A while back things began heating up between Paulo and Bob Perry on another thread. The moderators considered the situation carefully and reached out to Paulo, and asked him to tone it down. It was explained to him that his posts sometimes came off as being vitriolic and inappropriately aggressive; that much of what he was debating with Bob was a matter of semantics and did not represent an accurate reflection of the material being discussed. That while much of what he was arguing was correct, what Bob was trying to get across was that Paulo’s position was perhaps not completely accurate.
In that exchange, Paulo accused Bob of being rude and off-topic. Again, we pointed out that this is not a formal debating society and that much of what Paulo was objecting to was a matter of writing style and the casual culture of the internet. And by the same token, it was also pointed out that many of Paulo’s responses could be seen as accusatory and argumentative. He was asked to scale it back some. Also during that exchange, Paulo asked if we would have a similar discussion with Bob. Our response was that we would mention this issue to Bob, which we did. We also indicated that if things escalated and enforcement became necessary, the moderators would also reach out to Bob and ask him to scale things back.
When things began to heat up further, Paulo reached out to us again and asked us to ban Bob from participating in this thread. The moderators went back and read weeks and months of discussions in this thread. There were several things that we all agreed to. First of all, we do not grant special privileges to anyone. So, as much as we appreciated Paulo’s hard work on this thread, and valued the contribution that this thread made to SailNet, we could not grant him the special privilege of saying who could and could not participate in this thread.
For Bob’s part, we moderators agreed that nothing that Bob had posted was in violation of the rules. But we also agreed that Bob was clearly posting material that was appeared to be purposefully provoking Paulo and which wandered off topic more than the majority of the discussion on this thread. Consistent with the moderation style described above, the decision was made to reach out to Bob and ask him politely and casually to stop baiting Paulo and to try to stick more closely on topic within this particular thread. Andrew (TDW) wrote that message to Bob.
To those of us who read Andrew’s message, it was clear that it was intended as a request, and that Bob was not being threatened with being banned. To this day, neither Paulo nor Bob have ever been threatened with being banned. But both have been requested to do the same thing; to scale back their aggressive tone towards the other.
Bob’s response was one that frankly left all of us disappointed and baffled. While we may need to agree to disagree, and with all due respect, the comments made here and other forums concerning Andrew’s private message struck us as a mix of being unfair representations of what Andrew had actually said, and accusations which seemed to make little sense relative to the situation, or the actual message that was sent.
Bob’s public posts suggested that we moderators threw Bob ‘under the bus’. They bluntly suggested that we were covering our butts, or kissing someone’s butts, and claimed Andrew had threatened him with a banning. Frankly, no matter how hard we try to understand where Bob is coming from on these charges, none of that makes sense to us. We firmly believe that these comments have been out of line and utterly unfair to Andrew. In retrospect it’s clear that Bob has been given more leeway than what any other poster in a similar situation would have been given – and yes, perhaps it was a ‘celebrity’ perk - as such it has been rather abused.
In the mean time, as this drama has been playing out in public, like any internet kerfuffle, sympathizers for both parties have jumped in and placed the blame firmly on whomever gets under their skin, whether that is Paulo, Bob Perry, or the moderators.
In reality, there is no one solely to blame. Paulo had the right to ask that this thread be treated more seriously and to try to keep it more closely on topic. Bob had the right to insert relevant comments and to couch them in a casual and sometimes irreverent manner. The moderators did what we signed on to do, enforce the rules of the site, and try to maintain harmony and order in as fair-minded and balanced a manner as we can.
But for better or worse, we cannot tell you, the membership, how to view all of this. Of course, you may feel free to disagree with these conclusions. You certainly may wish, as we do, that things had gone differently than they did. But whatever you may think, or may have been led to believe, these are the facts as we, the moderators, experienced them.
Jeff, Brian, Andrew, Ron, and Donna