blonde is unique in many ways among the many poker fora out there. Time and time again we hear this mentioned as a reason why so many people choose to post here. Unfortunately, it also seems to be unique in the sense that the work, behind the scenes, of the Mods and Admin team is subject to so much scrutiny. Perhaps this is because one of the key aims of blonde at inception was for it not to be like other places, where flaming and abuse was so prevalent. However, there is little doubting that Moderators here are much more visible than on the majority of other poker sites.
With this in mind, we have drafted an informal set of guidelines to hopefully explain our decision making a little better. This is done in the hope that, with a little more guidance, we will have fewer posts to deal with as Moderators.
So, without further ado, here are the guidelines for using the blonde forum:
The Obvious Stuff
Most people who post here are sensible enough to know what is and isn't acceptable. Those who don't tend not to last very long. However, for the purposes of clarity the following are examples of posts that would undoubtedly be subject to some form of moderation:
Pornographic, vulgar or obviously offensive material.
Defamatory, hateful, potentially libellous posts or those that seek to promote illegal activity.
Posts which seek to discriminate on the grounds of sex, race, ethnicity or religion. (Some latitude will be given to posts of a clearly humurous nature in some circumstances)
Unsolicited spam, including using the blonde PM service for commercial spamming purposes.
The Subjective Issues
In addition to the above there are some moderating decisions which do not fit neatly into these categories. These are discussed specifically below:
Unlike many other sites, blonde operates a non-flaming policy which we ask all users to respect. This does not mean that members are not allowed to disagree or debate with each other but we ask that they avoid personally abusing or insulting other members in their posts.
Many users have differing views as to what constitutes flaming and in some cases we disagree with people regarding this. A quick read of the forums will show up a plethora of good-natured posts which are sarcastic, competitive, argumentative and/or mildly insulting in some form or other. Consequently we have many judgement calls to make in this area. In general we will seek to act where we can't see a funny side.
There are many definitions of what constitutes a 'troll' post but as a general rule we consider it to be a post which is inflammatory, rude, offensive and intended to annoy and antagonize or disrupt the general flow of discussion. Troll posts do not necessarily come from 'troll members'. In fact, we have seen many examples of posts which we consider to be trolling from otherwise well-respected members.
Trolling is considered by the Moderators to be a serious issue on the forums, and one which has increased in frequency as the forum has grown and developed. Consequently, we have recently taken a more pro-active stance against this and will continue to do so, including a more liberal use of temporary suspensions as a method to deal with this.
Members are no doubt all too aware of the numerous incidences of blatant spam which take up a significant amount of our time to deal with. Many of you also take the trouble to report these posts to us, for which we are grateful.
However, in addition to this there are many posts made which include links to external websites of various types, including other poker fora, blogs, and other poker and non-poker related sites.
Generally, we allow links to other poker fora such as 2+2, as these are usually made to draw attention to a topic of interest or to provide reference or guidance to another member. With regard to other site links, our decision to allow or remove a link is largely based on whether the linked site is seeking to gain commercially from the link being there. This includes, but is not restricted to, affiliate sites and sites which compete with blonde and/or its paying sponsors. This policy is also intended to protect blonde members, particularly those new to poker, from innocently activating affiliated links without their knowledge.
We also ask that members do not copy content directly from other websites in their posts without proper accreditation being given to the source.
In the early days of blonde, a number of duplicate accounts were created (e.g. PokerGirlie) which were tolerated due to their humorous intent. However, as the site grew, we experienced an increasing problem with duplicate accounts being used for flaming or by banned members attempting to re-join blonde under another alias. Consequently, blonde now operates a policy of not allowing duplicate accounts to be created and the Mods will take steps to immediately close down any such accounts which are discovered.
Thread Deletion / Editing
Generally the Mods try to avoid deleting or editing posts unless considered absolutely necessary. The method of moderation used in any particular circumstance can vary according to a number of issues, the most obvious being the time taken to spot the offending post and the subsequent reaction to it. The trickiest circumstances occur where an offending post occurs on a 'hot topic' and is quoted and/or responded to at length prior to action being taken. This is part of the reason why Moderator decisions may appear to be inconsistent. Simply put, no two circumstances are quite the same.
PMs should not be posted on the public boards and if they are will be deleted by moderators.
Moderators do not intend to be involved in PM disputes unless in exceptional circumstances such as severe flaming. If such PMs are reported to moderators they will use their discretion how to handle them and action may be taken as if it was a public post
The Moderators And Their Decisions
As most people are aware the Mods are unpaid volunteers, many of whom do the role in addition to other full-time occupations. First and foremost, we are members and users of the forum and, in general, we seek to moderate the forum to the standards that attracted us to post here in the first place. The most obvious rule we try to apply to our decisions is 'common sense' and the simplest request we can make to our members when posting is to use the same.
The options available to us to deal with issues of moderation range from a simple PM request, to temporary suspensions to permanent bans. We don't make any decision lightly and we would ask that our decisions are respected and not endlessly debated, as has seemed to become the norm. Ultimately, we make decisions which we believe are in the best interests of the forum and its members. The debates, although sometimes mildly amusing, tend not to be in possession of all the facts on which these decisions were based.
Moderator issues hit the forum 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and are typically dealt with by whoever is available to do so at the time (be it one person or a group of them). Consequently, although we strive for consistency, it is not something we can guarantee to provide in every single circumstance. If you want an idea of how difficult this is to achieve, think about the well-paid, professional football referees and the variability of the decisions they make week in, week out.
The Mods treat all complaints made to them seriously and we seek to respond to them as quickly as possible. Sometimes we don't agree that a complaint is merited and take no action, but this does not mean that we ignored it. Ultimately, our aim is the same as yours - to make blonde a forum which members old and new will choose to be a part of. Those that choose not to abide by our guidelines are welcome to go elsewhere.
The blonde Mods Team