moderated Language

Sharon Villines

Late comments on Terms of Service:

• There will be no racial, ethnic, gender based insults or any other personal discriminations. This will not be tolerated and can lead to immediate suspension.
Immediate suspension "of the group by” The message, the group, the member?

Shorter and parallel construction:

Racial, ethnic, gender based insults, or any other personal discriminations will not be tolerated and can lead to ...

• Spamming is not permitted
Longer but defines spamming:

Spamming, indiscriminately sending copies of the same message to a large number of people. is not permitted.

• This forum has the right to request alteration or deletion of any offensive post. If this is not done in a prompt manner, the Staff will delete the material themselves.
The switch from “groups” to “forum” is confusing. While forum has a general meaning, online it refers to a site people visit to ask questions and make comments. While can be used like a forum it is much more than that and can also be misleading.

Adding “promptly" raises the issue of you didn’t do it promptly so you can’t do it a year later. It also suggests that you are constantly monitoring messages.

Shorter: has the right to request the alteration or deletion of any offensive message.

• Posts may be deleted for any reasons the forum administrators deem reasonable.
Again language switch to Forum, posts, and administrators. Administrators has a general meaning but here it would be better to use the specific titles used by — The group owner and/or moderator. The “group." And “messages" Use the words people would search in the help files or the homepage of the group. Some would look a long time for “posts.”

All these language issues are particularly important for those whose first language is not English. The dyslexic. And those with poor vision.

• Linking to hate, anti-Semitic, racist, pornography, warez, or other illegal sites is not permitted.
I would say “Links to”. It’s parallel construction with other items in the list.

• Members may have only one account on this forum. There is no need to have more than one.
Why? Aliases are not generally understood. I have people on my groups with 3-4 accounts. They want to be able to send from their various offices but only receive at one address. I shudder at having to explain aliases to them.

• Any impersonation of a user from these forums, in any mode of communication, is strictly prohibited and will result in a banning.
Again, parallel construction and specific language:

• Impersonation of another member, in any form of communication, is prohibited and will result in a banishment of the member from

I find that adjectives like “strictly," “forbidden," etc, actually weaken the statement. They are often distracting and sound like threats instead of statements of fact. Do you want all members to feel threatened when they read these? Only a small percentage would do any of these things. Others are looking to see what kind of organization is. Is it respectable? Does my group fit?

One of the things I’ve found is that routinely posting list of rules kills conversation for days. It makes people too anxious about breaking the rules. Much better to explain the parameters of the list when the need arises. Then people are more likely to read the reasons for it, not just try to memorize it or feel reprimanded.

As you see I have experience editing policies, contracts, instructions, syllabuses, etc.

Sharon Villines
"Neighbors Talking to Neighbors”
Takoma Park DC and MD

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