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Author Topic: Forum philosophy statement needed!  (Read 18349 times)
K4FMH
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Posts: 254




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« on: October 30, 2013, 09:38:55 AM »

Hi Mike,

It would be of great help to eHam subscribers if the Company Reviews Forum had a sticky post by that administrator on the "philosophy" of that Forum. If it's just a rant haven, then say so. If it's for any sense of an objective review based on factual experiences, then give some clear guidelines to that effect.

Many posters state that they're "outraged" when vendors do not respond directly in the Forum. After speaking with representatives of many vendors, few see the current state of the Company Reviews Forum as a venue to which it would be helpful to respond outside of their own customer service resources. In fact, I've only noticed Texas Towers respond but then only to a factual statement by an eHam subscriber. Most vendors, I believe, see it as a no-win situation to respond, given the current lack of ground-rules.

Recently, some heated posts of which I was a part were summarily deleted in the Amplifiers Forum without any contact with one if the parties who let it get out of hand (me!). It is difficult to be personally attacked, even emailed at home due to postings of which I was wholly unaware, without responding eventually somewhat in kind. Posting some clear guidelines for the Forum would go a long way toward maintaining a healthier atmosphere which is certainly in the best interests of the eHam enterprise. And, for keeping the current subscriber base on board.

My two cents, Mike, to you as one eHam administrator in the Forums. Pass it along to whoever makes decisions.

73,

Frank
K4FMH


I am an Admin on two forums, and I would never delete a thread unless it was a very serious rule infringement.

Even so, I would PM the offender and explain why, and if the thread was not offensive, I would lock it and make a post at the end explaining why the topic was not acceptable so all the other members could learn from the member's mistake.

It's very easy to find out who deleted the thread by looking in the SMF logs.  Smiley It keeps track of all that good stuff.
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N2MG
Administrator

Posts: 122



« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2013, 10:42:49 AM »

Quote
Mike, to you as one eHam administrator in the Forums

I'm the right guy - I do most of the damage here. I asked other managers to stay out because I was unable to defend actions of which I had no knowledge or control. So I asked for it and I got it. Wink

So....

This topic has been discussed in various threads on this site numerous times.

We've considered, on and off, for years to post some kind of set of rules or mission statement or whatever and for all the forums, not just "Company Reviews".  However, once we put down in words any specifics, there will be those who will take us to task regarding exceptions and other digressions. 

It has been our philosophy to basically let "common sense" be the rule.  Even that has its detractors - it just seems some folks need to be told where all the limits are - but that's probably not going to happen here.  If you see a post that looks out of place, or off-topic or off-color, use the "Report to moderator" link. We will read it (admittedly I do the VAST majority of deletions and I read ALL the reports) and maybe react or maybe not.

Once eHam has decided to muck with a post/thread we have neither the time nor the inclination to explain every deletion we may perpetrate. This goes for all our features in which the applicable manager deletes things regularly. Our Classifieds and Reviews come to mind as having strict posting rules and in those cases the rules ARE clearly posted (although ignored by many).  These forums are rather "Wild West" in comparison.

Quote
some heated posts of which I was a part were summarily deleted in the Amplifiers Forum without any contact with one if the parties who let it get out of hand
Isn't that self explanatory?   I mean that in all sincerity.

Some history: The "Product Reviews" feature is and always was limited to products only.  eHam management regularly and summarily deletes company-centric reviews.  So a "Company Reviews" forum was started because users (and some manufacturers - maybe to their own detriment!) asked for a place to discuss "companies", rather than "products".  Now, we knew such a forum was going to be a place that invited mostly negative posts (that's human nature) and some of those might be thought of as rants - that can be of no surprise to anyone. 

I don't think it's a lack of ground rules that prevents the manufacturers from posting.  I'd bet many companies feel by defending their actions they just come out looking more guilty. 

But hold on... we might yet post some guidelines. Anything's possible.

Mike N2MG

PS. Kudos to TT for posting.  I've dealt with them several times over many years (they were very likely the first over-the-phone credit card order I ever placed in my life for any product some 25-30 years ago - before that was considered normal). I've had nothing but good transactions with them. You're welcome to feel otherwise.
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K4FMH
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2013, 01:42:58 PM »

Mike N2MG,

Glad I have the right guy! I've been involved in computer-mediated-communication since the early 1980s and realize all too well that your job as the Sheriff in these here parts is not an easy one.

My sentiments have been to help. To help make company reviews more factual rather than just rants. IF it's the latter that eHam wants, count me, and from what I can tell, a lot of others, out. It's worthless and especially so to vendors (see comments below).

"This topic has been discussed in various threads on this site numerous times. "
One thing that this view omits are new subscribers to eHam. Something may have been discussed to death but if it's hidden down in the bowels of old pages, newcomers will repeat the questions. This is why many forums, whether they're on amateur radio or other topics, have sticky posts to ward off Qs with As that have already been provided.

"It has been our philosophy to basically let "common sense" be the rule....These forums are rather "Wild West" in comparison."
This seems to be a simple, laissez-faire approach which should work....except when it doesn't. My contention is that it simply doesn't in the Company Reviews (and pseudo-CR posts in other Forums, such as the thread on Ameritron Amps recently). The only sense that is held in common is that off beating up on companies without a disclosure of basic consumer facts: what did someone purchase, what precisely was wrong with it, did the purchaser contact the vendor with details of the problem, what did the vendor do, etc. If eHam were being reviewed on another website, I'm willing to bet that eHam owners would wish the same principles were applied. They often are not. My posts have rankled some when I've pushed them to provide these basic facts. This has especially been the case with the MFJ Enterprises companies...even back to when I asked you to remove a patently racist rant about MFJ being a "Chinese" company, etc. This is the case for other companies as well but there seems to be folks ready to go off on MFJ's companies without clear facts. More importantly, without even contacting the company!

"some heated posts of which I was a part were summarily deleted in the Amplifiers Forum without any contact with one if the parties who let it get out of hand
Isn't that self explanatory?   I mean that in all sincerity."

No Mike, it is not. If your site were hacked by Anonymous, would you think that's self-explanatory? You could guess that eHam had somehow offended the Anonymous hacker group. But you would not know. By saying nothing...even in a PM to those whose posts you deleted...you invite further guesses as to what the rules are and whether some receive differential treatment (e.g., do you edit negatives against companies you favor, etc.). Note that this parenthetical example is NOT a charge against you but merely an example of what may be drawn from silence by the Administrator. The counter that you don't have time to write one or that it will only get parsed by subscribers seems to pale in comparison to just saying nothing. Remember, you said you asked for the job!

"I don't think it's a lack of ground rules that prevents the manufacturers from posting.  I'd bet many companies feel by defending their actions they just come out looking more guilty."
Mike, have you actually talked about this with a variety of vendors? You give vague allusions to some vendors asking eHam to provide a Company Reviews Forum. I have talked with representatives of a number of vendors over the past couple of years, including MFJ, and to a person they feel that the CR Forum on eHam is not worth their time (think $$$) to read. I've never done any business with Texas Towers, the only one whom I've seen respond and that not to a rant but to a factual statement of occurrence in which they had a different view of those facts. Those can be discussed. It's not that they will come out looking "more guilty," it's that there's NO RULES for what eHam wants in the Company Reviews Forum. You put it well: it's simply a Wild West venue. But even Wyatt Earp made gunslingers check their arms at the Sheriff's Office before heading into the bar! Vendors do not want to have eHam become their customer support system. Why should they cater to this Forum when ranting customers buy something, find fault with it (rightly or wrongly), get on eHam and blast the company, all without ever communicating with that vendor's customer support. Should I be posting this opinion on QRZ, for instance, without replying directly to you here as CR Forum Admin? You've had this communications disconnect here on eHam for several years now, it seems to me.

"Once eHam has decided to muck with a post/thread we have neither the time nor the inclination to explain every deletion we may perpetrate. "
You're right. You have the power of the printing press. You can do what you want. Just as subscribers can.

My sentiments, Mike, have been toward helping the eHam Company Review Forum to become more objective in what is said so that it is indeed a help to customers as well as vendors. You and I have different views on how to achieve that, it seems. I've stated mine and I'm now done. Best of luck!

73,

Frank
K4FMH
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N2MG
Administrator

Posts: 122



« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2013, 06:52:14 AM »

Frank,

"This topic has been discussed in various threads on this site numerous times. "
One thing that this view omits are new subscribers to eHam.

My point was that we have talked about it in the past so it's nothing new.  And we have not (for better or worse) done anything about it for the most part. We've stuck to the "laissez-faire approach" for the most part.  It was not meant to be dismissive in the sense that I was suggesting users should scour our history to see if it's been brought up (although of course one should always attempt that!)

Quote
"It has been our philosophy to basically let "common sense" be the rule....These forums are rather "Wild West" in comparison."
This seems to be a simple, laissez-faire approach which should work....except when it doesn't. My contention is that it simply doesn't in the Company Reviews (and pseudo-CR posts in other Forums, such as the thread on Ameritron Amps recently). The only sense that is held in common is that off beating up on companies without a disclosure of basic consumer facts: what did someone purchase, what precisely was wrong with it, did the purchaser contact the vendor with details of the problem, what did the vendor do, etc. If eHam were being reviewed on another website, I'm willing to bet that eHam owners would wish the same principles were applied. They often are not. My posts have rankled some when I've pushed them to provide these basic facts. This has especially been the case with the MFJ Enterprises companies...even back to when I asked you to remove a patently racist rant about MFJ being a "Chinese" company, etc. This is the case for other companies as well but there seems to be folks ready to go off on MFJ's companies without clear facts. More importantly, without even contacting the company!

It's not eHam's responsibility to patrol the threads and save people from their own words.  I'd prefer that users post rebuttals or challenges (as you've done) - I think that kind of activity goes further to demonstrate what is expected on the site.  Further efforts on our part will just cause more grief for us than the original post.  I have experience with this!

Quote
"some heated posts of which I was a part were summarily deleted in the Amplifiers Forum without any contact with one if the parties who let it get out of hand
Isn't that self explanatory?   I mean that in all sincerity."

No Mike, it is not. If your site were hacked by Anonymous, would you think that's self-explanatory? You could guess that eHam had somehow offended the Anonymous hacker group. But you would not know.

Well, I don't think any hacker group, once in, would limit their damage to simply deleting a post or two.

Quote
By saying nothing...even in a PM to those whose posts you deleted...you invite further guesses as to what the rules are and whether some receive differential treatment (e.g., do you edit negatives against companies you favor, etc.). Note that this parenthetical example is NOT a charge against you but merely an example of what may be drawn from silence by the Administrator.

We get that charge anyway.  One of the main reasons we created the "Company Reviews" category was to allow people to post (vent) about their experiences with a company outside the Product Reviews.  Before the category existed people posted complaints about Company X within reviews for Company X's products we would delete the review.  Of course we then got accused of playing favorites.

Quote
The counter that you don't have time to write one or that it will only get parsed by subscribers seems to pale in comparison to just saying nothing. Remember, you said you asked for the job!

Yes, but why would I go out of my way to add to the burden?

Quote
Why should they cater to this Forum when ranting customers buy something, find fault with it (rightly or wrongly), get on eHam and blast the company, all without ever communicating with that vendor's customer support.

Exactly why we have elected to NOT get involved very much.  How are we to prove that user K1ABCD is a licensed ham, holds that call, actually owns the equipment about which he's complaining, or has contacted Company X's customer care to try to resolve the issue?

Overall it would be much easier for us to turn off the Company Reviews and leave it at that.

Quote
"Once eHam has decided to muck with a post/thread we have neither the time nor the inclination to explain every deletion we may perpetrate. "
You're right. You have the power of the printing press. You can do what you want. Just as subscribers can.

True enough. We get as much hate mail as we get those that express gratitude.  Can't please everyone.

Quote
My sentiments, Mike, have been toward helping the eHam Company Review Forum to become more objective in what is said so that it is indeed a help to customers as well as vendors. 

I sincerely believe and appreciate that.

Quote
You and I have different views on how to achieve that, it seems.

Less than you might think.  However in our experience and opinion, implementing something "more better" is always "more harder" than it seems and comes with the potential for lots of unintended consequences.


Your post was quite thoughtful and I appreciate your having taken the time to write it.


And, after all that...
As I said before, we may yet post some rules.  All in all, I think I'd more easily tolerate being accused of "caring too much" (being overly strict with interpretation of these rules) than or "not caring enough".

73 Mike N2MG
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N5INP
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Posts: 743




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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2013, 07:30:50 AM »

Can I add some thoughts as a longtime Admin/Owner of several forums?

I find it odd and inefficient that Admins are doing the "menial" work of moderating and deleting threads and the like. That job is supposed to be handled by board moderators and even Global Moderators. This forum is large enough so that you should be able to get plenty of skilled/trusted volunteers to moderate each of the boards. That way you won't have the excuse of not having enough time to post reasons for deleting threads and so on. Why do you not run the forum using board moderators as it was designed?

By the way, the version of SMF you are running here is very outdated. It isn't even the most recent version of the 1.x.x series. It would behoove you to upgrade to the latest version, which is the 2.x.x series ... (it's free as you should know). Now that's a job for the Admins to take on.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2013, 06:31:28 AM »

Without going to extremes, I'll just say that this site has been going well for over a decade now--except for the few malcontents who want everything to be absolute.

If it ain't broke--why try fixing it?  You just may break it by your fix!
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N5INP
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Posts: 743




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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2013, 09:56:06 AM »

If it ain't broke--why try fixing it? 

Define "broke" as relates to this discussion and my comments.
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1236




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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2013, 06:02:33 PM »

... this site has been going well for over a decade now-... If it ain't broke--why try fixing it?  You just may break it by your fix!

1+; absolutely right, IMO.   Seems we had this discussion a while back, didn't we?   If we all play nicely with others and don't go out of our way to be jerks, we don't need a lot of rules.   Every now and then one of us may get a bit cranky and need to sit in the corner for a bit ...   Smiley  (Been there, done that.)   But it's better (again, IMO) to treat our fellow hams with courtesy, than to have to worry about specific rules, right?
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K1CJS
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2013, 06:36:23 PM »

If it ain't broke--why try fixing it?

Define "broke" as relates to this discussion and my comments.

Broke:  Does not work or operate as intended.  
'Ain't' broke:  Works well as it is, unless taken to extremes by malcontents.

I hope that makes the meaning plain enough.

Added:  BTW, disclaimer:  If you think you see yourself in that light, don't blame me.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2013, 06:39:59 PM by K1CJS » Logged
N5INP
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Posts: 743




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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2013, 04:38:43 AM »

Define "broke" as relates to this discussion and my comments.

Broke:  Does not work or operate as intended.

Then this forum is broke. The version running here is 1.1.11. The latest version of SMF in the 1.x.x series is 1.1.19. If you don't believe me, then see for yourself -

http://www.simplemachines.org/

The reason for the version updates is bug fixes and security fixes. So yes, this forum is broke as it stands. If it wasn't then the version wouldn't have been upgraded several times over to 1.1.19 by the software engineers at SMF. Why they haven't upgraded it here is a mystery. They should do so immediately so the latest bug fixes and security fixes are in place for the members here. That's the job of the Administrators of a forum - to make sure the members are not being subject to bugs and possible security problems - it's not to delete threads or respond to "Report to Moderator" complaints. Why do you think it's called "Report to Moderator" and not "Report to Administrator"?

Another thing that's missing is the "Show all unread posts since last visit" button. I never have gotten an answer as to why that isn't available. No I'm not talking about "Show the most recent posts on the forum".

Also, it (SMF) isn't being used as intended here. The intent is to have board moderators do the moderating - not Admins. That's the way the forum is designed. So again, it isn't being used as intended by the designers of SMF. Having Admins moderate threads is like swatting flies with a sledgehammer. The sledgehammer isn't being used as intended and neither is the way the staff is set up here.

So the forum is neither working as intended or operating as intended.

K1CJS - do you know anything about Administering forums?

« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 04:43:39 AM by N5INP » Logged

K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2013, 07:33:21 AM »

'Ain't' broke:  Works well as it is, unless taken to extremes by malcontents.

You know, it's funny that you're the only one that sees this forum as 'broke.'  Nearly everyone else sees it as 'working as intended.'

Also, this entire site has a mix of different software all working together.  The administrators have said so before.  It could well be that some upgrades have a detrimental effect on that mix--and that is why those upgrades haven't been included yet.  Could be too that the administrators can't see the need to re-engineer every single upgrade that comes along to the different software that is being used on the site.  Since this site is run on contributions of its users, maybe they simply can't afford it.

Could be many different reasons for the way things are done.  The majority of the users are very happy with the site, and only the few who insist on criticizing the way things are done aren't.


« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 07:46:22 AM by K1CJS » Logged
N5INP
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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2013, 08:01:01 AM »

You know, it's funny that you're the only one that sees this forum as 'broke.'  Nearly everyone else sees it as 'working as intended.'

How do you actually know this to be true? To know that would require the input of hundreds of members, which I am positive you do not have.

Quote
Also, this entire site has a mix of different software all working together.  The administrators have said so before.  It could well be that some upgrades have a detrimental effect on that mix-- ...

Then they should not have painted themselves into a corner. Always make sure you can apply the security patches with any mods you make to the forum.

Quote
Could be many different reasons for the way things are done.  The majority of the users are very happy with the site, ...

Well people were happy with horse and buggy carriages before they were replace with something better. So in effect, saying you are happy with something without knowing what better is available is a false choice.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2013, 08:02:22 AM »


Could be many different reasons for the way things are done.  The majority of the users are very happy with the site, and only the few who insist on criticizing the way things are done aren't.

« Last Edit: November 03, 2013, 08:08:17 AM by K1CJS » Logged
N5INP
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2013, 10:00:38 AM »

... and only the few who insist on criticizing the way things are done aren't.


You seem to easily confuse criticizing with the constructive suggestions which come from someone experienced with the topic in question (me).
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1236




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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2013, 10:33:02 AM »

You seem to easily confuse criticizing with the constructive suggestions which come from someone experienced with the topic in question (me).

No offense, INP, but you're the only person whining about this.  And if you're so darned great at moderating web forums, why don't you go start your own?  If you're so brilliant and clever, people will FLOCK to your website, right? 

IOW, if you can do it better, go do it.  Otherwise, maybe you need to quit banging your spoon on the highchair.
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