It's no secret that the overall quality of the board has gone down hill lately and I'll be the first to admit it. I think that there are several reasons for this, but I'm not really interested in debating who's responsible for this and who isn't. I'm much more interested in solving the problem over the long haul.
One thing that GIK and I have always tried to do is listen to the users of the site by giving them a voice in the way things are run. While I admit that it's harder for the board to work as a democracy with an increasingly large member list, it's something that I feel still can work. I'd like to use this thread for members to air out their grieviences as to how things can be improved so that we can spend our time discussing Reds' baseball and eliminate the nastiness that has occurred. I do not want to see individuals called out or demeaning names used, such as statheads and the like. Concerns should remain in this thread as opposted to within other threads, like I've seen recently. I don't want to see this thread become a microcosm of the problems that plague the board. I want to see things improved and this thread is a good place to start.
I also want to use this thread to remind everyone the purpose of distributing reputation (for the users that it applies to). It should be used for posts that you think represent the positive quality that has been associated with RedZone. I've seen two uses that are not the proper way to give out reputation. First, reputation should not be given out for the purpose of attempting to have all users "promoted" to the Old Red Guard. This is something that should be earned by making quality posts and not just because someone has less then 200 reputation points.
Secondly, I've seen negative reputation left for personal matters, i.e. two users have a disagreement that turns nasty and it's "settled" by negative reputation being left. This should never been done; instead, the users should try to work out the issue privately. If that can't be done, then they should place each other on ignore. Administrators and moderators should not receive private messages and/or emails regarding reputation they feel is unjust. We have never gotten into the habit of moderating reputation because it undermines the purpose of the system, which is to let the users of the board determine what is and isn't a quality post. These type of matters should be handled between the users in question - the administrators and moderators should never been involved in these type of matters. Additionally, we've never had to revoke the ability to leave reputation, but if users continue to knowingly misuse it, we will. Finally, I want to remind everyone that reputation members should never be discussed on the board, such as discussing reputation that has been left for you or asking for reputation points. If I continue to see this, the offending users will be disciplined appropriately.
Since I'm asking for people's two cents (again, in a respectful manner) I'll start with my own thoughts. I think that one of the problems is the way that newcomers become acclimated to the board. RedsZone has existed for over six years now and I think it's safe to say that it's not your average message board. We have different rules here and it's my responsibility to ensure that they are clearly communicated to the users (new and old). This is a process that I think can and will be improved.
When new users come aboard, they're often not familiar with the fact that we've already covered a number of frequently discussed topics. As a result, some of the responses to their posts are not particularly friendly. It's important that we keep in mind what's allowed on other web sites may not be allowed here. We should all keep in mind that we were all new around here at one time or another and do what is necessary to help new users adjust to the way we do things around here.
In short, I know that the system we have in place here works because I've seen it work. The concept of two forums and a reputation system is something that most forums don't use, but they're things that have proven to work for us. If the administrators and moderators continue to see the overall rudeness to other users, we will be much less tolerant in dealing with it than we have been to date. Everyone can do their part to improve things by ensuring that others are treated with respect. Having said that, I'm interested to collect your thoughts (again, in a civil manner) about what we can do to improve things around here.