I want to take a minute (or more accurately, quite a few minutes) to address a problem that has been growing steadily over the past year or so. Recently, it's reached critical mass, and frankly, the staff around here has sat by on the sidelines too long, and we need to do something about it.
I'd like to think that everyone at this forum is a nice, decent person. For the most part, we all are. Despite my minimal history of posting, I spend quite a lot of time here. I lurk pretty much all day long, so I see what goes on. And right now, I'm bothered by the overt hostility that is shown by a few members of the forum. I'd have a hard time pinning down everyone who's responsible, but regardless, even a small amount of this is too much. New people come in and ask questions that maybe have been asked before, and rather than nicely answering them and telling them where to look for these kinds of answers in the future, people practically jump down their throats. Or threads that a few users don't like are hijacked with incredibly rude image-posts or statements. In short, the forums are, on the whole, not a nice place to be. I can't tell you how many e-mails I've received from people who tell me they went to post here, and were essentially shouted out. I'm not happy about that one bit. You can argue that the forums have taken on a life of their own, and are now essentially community property, but I hate to break it to you, they're not. They may be run and moderated by people other than myself, but these forums are first and foremost a place for readers of my comic to come and congregate. If they are hostile to newcomers, then that reflects poorly on me, and that's not cool.
One of the main problems with this is that much of what's being done isn't against the rules. It can't be. You can't fit "hostility" into a black or white category. It's judged on a case-by-case basis. Up till now, we've been restricting using our moderator and admin power to simple and overt disregard for the rules. That's going to change. From now on, you will receive a warning if you are seen as being overly and continuously hostile. If you disregard this warning, it will result in a temporary or permanent ban. Also from now on, all bans will be soley my responsibility. I will not ban someone unless I have proof that they have deliberately gone against a fair warning issued to them, but if I see that such a violation has occurred, I will issue the ban. That may sound harsh to a lot of you. It is. Something needs to be done. We tried to avoid this by posting rules so people would take in the spirit of them, and lose the grey area. The result is that now people operate on the sheer brink of the rules, doing as much as they can within the loose confines of the law. That's not good enough, and if we need to be harsh about it, we will.
Many people also seem to think that they are above punishment because they have been around so long, or been such an active member of the community. They tout their "contributions" as immunity to retribution, but that's not going to be the case any more. You might say "You can't do that! We haven't been breaking the rules!" I assure you, we can. I try and try to fight for everyone's right to freedom of speech around here, but as has been pointed out on a few occasions, this is not the United States of America. This is the United States of the Real Life Forums. We're not a democracy. Here, speaking is a privilege--not a right--which can and will be taken away if it is seen fit.
I realize the tone of this post is fairly heavy, but I don't want people thinking the staff here is going to be going crazy banning people left and right on a whim. That's not what we're setting out to do. Don't feel you can no longer speak your mind, or worry incessantly about whether or not what you say is verboten. You'll know when you're going too far, because you will receive a warning from someone on staff to that effect. Most of you already know where those limits are, and you have nothing to fear.
In closing, I want to say that I care about everyone here at the forum. I want to create an environment where everyone can share and discuss whatever, without jackasses ruining it. I realize these actions may upset some people, and cause them to leave. That's regrettable, but it's also unavoidable. I'd hope that you all can learn where the limits are, and stay to enjoy the forum for what it will become. These new guidelines are now in effect. Only posts made from this point on will be taken into consideration as far as moderation is concerned. And rest assured, these rules are here to make sure that the mods follow a set of guidelines as well. This is to ensure everyone acts appropriately. Thank you for your patience.
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