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Old 07-05-2012, 03:20 AM
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LCARS 24 LCARS 24 is online now
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 639

I tried the above link for Starbase63's Star Trek Logs but got a message "This page has been disabled."

Anyway, after several years of occasionally posting on forums I still feel like a newbie. One forum uses angle brackets instead of square brackets for formatting and has no guide or preview feature (only regular posters seem to know how to use it). On one forum I asked a tricky question about a new use of Euler angles I had come up with and wanted to try out, it took four days for my post to appear (since they require review by a moderator), and I had figured out the answer a few hours after posting (after which I discovered it was virtually impossible to contact them and tell them so). Some forums are very strict about profanity, X-rated images, comments in favor of illegal drug use, flaming, bigotry, etc. while others are virtual free-for-alls. I noticed one that is strictly moderated but has one unmoderated section clearly labeled as such, with an appropriate warning.

In the case of TrekBBS, I just should have been paying more attention. There were plenty of warnings about it here and elsewhere, and I just didn’t give them much thought. And I couldn’t help but notice a few people there that go around attacking other members all the time in a manner the moderators generally claim is not allowed yet they seem to ignore. So I really wasn’t keeping my eye on the ball but instead ignoring all the warning signs.

Anyway, one day on TrekBBS one of that forum’s most notorious trolls directly called me a liar for pointing out that a triangle with three right angles can be drawn on the surface of a sphere (equator to one pole, back to equator at a 90-degree angle, then back to start, forming an equilateral right triangle), even though it’s true and I’m certainly not the first person to know that. Another made a direct personal attack accompanied by an image of a gun pointed at the viewer. I clicked on the Moderator Call button and waited a day. Nothing happened. Then I posted “I’ll just skip answering any trolling posts” and posted some links to science papers relevant to the topic of the thread. Although one moderator had posted previously in the thread in a very positive way (exhibiting definite interest in and understanding of a difficult concept) about one of my ideas, a different moderator suddenly appeared and jumped down my throat about the mere mention of trolls—even thought I hadn’t quoted or mentioned anyone in particular!

I contacted that moderator by PM, still not mentioning anyone by name but simply asking why he was coming down on me in the thread (my first time ever to be slapped down by a moderator). He made no mention of troll No. 1 but said the post with the gun pointed was “hostile and obnoxious but not against the rules.” He also claimed that he had discussed the matter in a staff-only thread with other moderators and staff before posting. I didn’t want to argue. Mods have the power to do whatever they like. And I didn’t want to make a public stink about it, either. I just responded by PM that I had deleted by location, signature, and avatar and wouldn’t be posting on TrekBBS anymore. He didn’t answer.

But I have to take his word for it that official TrekBBS policy (although not stated anywhere but in a PM to me) is that including an image of a gun pointed at the viewer with a direct personal attack is indeed allowed, even though moderators have made hundreds of posts over the years stating that personal attacks would not be tolerated (let alone those with guns pointed; maybe troll No. 2 was the first to think of that and will win some best-troll award, although I was told that another forum recently added a rule specifically mentioning any image that includes a “weapon pointed at the viewer”).

Since TrekBBS is the largest Star Trek forum, the staff must know something about drumming up activity. There are plenty of people who like to fight and even more who like to watch. But trolls attacking trolls probably isn’t the best formula. Muggers don’t want to mug muggers. They want to mug old women. Anyway, I won’t pretend to know how to maintain a high-traffic forum on a subject for which most other forums fail. But the management of TrekBBS does seem to have a secret formula that works. They know all the tricks, and they know that very few long-term members (7 years in my case) will quit over an incident like what I mentioned above.

By the way, I didn’t get a warning or other formal admonition, just a comment that only moderators are allowed to use the T-word. I couldn’t find that mentioned in the rules. So how come not being mentioned in the rules lets gun-pointing off the hook but not use of the T-word? I guess one has to read between the lines and ignore most of what is visible on the screen. I’m too busy (or lazy or dumb or disinterested) for that. It’s like Calvinball, in which on every play each player is allowed to change the rules as he/she pleases, except that rule-changing is a one-way street on the largest Star Trek forum, and maybe that’s the key to how they hold the No. 1 spot--not that I'm recommending such tactics for other forum operators.
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