Bullying on Towers Street

Discussion in 'Guest Services' started by Bear, 16th Jun 2020.

  1. Bear

    Bear TowersStreet Member

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    I've been a member here for a long long time, and used to play a semi-active role in discussions until some years ago. I've got to know a lot of people, most fell by the wayside but I ended up with a niche little group that I'm perfectly happy with. The friends I kept from here are very special to me and I'm lucky to have met them. This forum enabled that to happen, as I'm sure it has many of you.

    However...

    The bullying I've witnessed and experienced on here over the years is absolutely appalling. It's not a matter of "I'm going to beat you up", or even "you're an XYZ I hate you", but more "ribbing" as mods here seem to put it. It's all just a joke that wasn't intended harshly and it sucks you got upset by it right? You must lack the constitution to participate in a discussion forum, you have no sense of humour and you don't "get it" right? It's not a joke when 20 people are laughing at someone who isn't laughing back; that is victimization and bullying. People who are banding together to descend on some poor kid or another who is trying to be liked and accepted it makes my blood boil. This is not limited to one specific forum role whatsoever.

    Nobody here is here because they 100% gel with the rest of the world out there; they have a niche interest that they don't share with terribly many people compared to most other hobbies. Many people here suffer from anxiety or depression. Many people here are on the autism spectrum. Things like that are always over-represented on internet forums, that's the way it's always been.

    It stops being a joke when 20 of you do it. There are people on here who post consistently who are mindful of others, keen to join the discussion, and respect the rules. There sadly are just as many who for some reason aren't a fan of that and constantly pick on them, and I mean constantly.

    It is enabled when mods issue the party line of "Can we get back on topic guys ;)". While the moderation was pretty good 9-10 years ago when I joined, I'm not sure what happened, but I'm astounded at what people are getting away with now. It is also enabled when the mods and admins of the TST discord don't really seem to do anything either, but that's it's own paragraph. Private messaging clearly solves nothing and is a low effort approach, it is clearly inadequate if it's even still happening any more.

    Rowe's Recent Post

    This is not a post that should need to be posted. It is indicative of a serious problem that was obviously immediately ignored. No more to say about that, it speaks for itself.

    MattN's Recent Thread

    Two replies to this without a mod message checking in with the guy would be bad. The two PAGES that have been allowed to stay up is disgusting. Whether or not a poster is bothered about the replies they get or how badly they're picked on, it doesn't make it right. The point is that it shouldn't have needed to be posted in the first place.

    The TST Discord

    Holy jesus effing tish. Awful. It's difficult to even put it into words.

    I lurk in there to observe for this exact reason. There are admins, mods, many of the same people who administrate the forum. Over the course of 3 pub quizzes than have occurred during lockdown, which by the way took *tremendous* effort on the part of the people who created it, I've been absolutely disgusted by some people's conduct. Again, 20 of you "joking" isn't a joke, that's harassment. Having somebody need to take a break to compose themselves or to take a break entirely from running the quiz is unacceptable. I find it pathetic that grown men and women are behaving this way.

    It should be added that somebody spoke up about how people were treated in the Pub Quizzes, again it was totally ignored by the staff.

    As staff (self-appointed or otherwise) who admin a chat based on rules they wrote out to ensure appropriate behaviour you have some level of duty of care to the people in there. You are there to enforce the rules, no matter who breaks them. You're there to kick people who are harassing people. You are there to ensure everybody has a good time.

    They're not having a good time. There are cliques, behind the scenes nastiness, and convenient looking the other way when certain people start playing up. Why was nobody told to pack it in during each quiz? Why was this allowed to happen? Why weren't the rules enforced? Why have rules if they're meaningless, and why are there even admins/mods besides some measure of a power trip? Why aren't staff held accountable?

    To conclude, the culture of bullying on here against people who just want to be accepted, no matter how annoying, is beyond unacceptable. Many of you should be absolutely ashamed.

    Delete this if you want, but that would only really prove my point. Don't fob me off with "use the report button *winky face*". That obviously doesn't work. In anticipation of the line "well you can't catch everything", that is completely untrue of a discussion forum where everything is spelled out in defined topics that aren't exactly infinite. You CAN catch almost everything as you have access to everything including PMs.

    I eagerly await your responses, especially those who get picked on. If you get bullied on here, and having watched Dar's interactions on here who has been a poster for a very long time like me there are many of you, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TOLERATE IT, YOU DO HAVE A VOICE, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO APOLOGIZE.

    I don't want a response from TheTeam.jpg, just sort this out TST for f***s sake.
     
    Last edited: 16th Jun 2020
    Posted 16th Jun 2020
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  2. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    I think on the whole the team do a good job, it's a completely thankless task that presents many "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenarios. It's easy to criticise, I certainly don't miss it having done it on another forum.

    I can relate somewhat in terms of Discord, the one time I dared venture in there it was full of hardcore porn and giggling about said hardcore porn, I was then slagged off for taking issue with it. That felt somewhat jarring against the usually good natured and 'family friendly' vibe of the forum - but I guess that's up to the team if they think the two things can co-exist with such different applications of rules/standards.

    That said, on both fronts, the internet is a lawless wasteland - that kind of makes it what it is.

    "Someone said something nasty to me on Twitter" ... "That's what it's for".

    Speak for yourself!
     
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    Posted 17th Jun 2020
    #2
  3. MattyH

    MattyH TowersStreet Member

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    I'm sure Craig or one of the team will respond to this in due course,

    With regards to the discord, That first night was bad and was dealt with afterwards.

    I'm general I don't think the pub quiz gets particularly bad. As we pointed out in the last quiz a lot of the issue is that you can't see tone or facial expressions on the Internet.

    We have had one member who made a lot of nasty comments during one quiz however since then the member in question has messaged those affected to apologise for their behaviour.

    Looking at Matt.Ns Thread, it is full of people saying he shouldn't need to apologise, a lot of the comments about his posts in threads I've read are usually quite polite about his positivity...

    I'm sure there have been occasions when members might have felt bullied or attacked, but I get the feeling that this is not intentional and urge anyone who feels like this is occurring to message a team member with their concerns so that they can deal with any issues.

    Remember TST was built as a community, in order for a community to work we all need to look out for each other.
     
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    Posted 17th Jun 2020
    #3
  4. Bear

    Bear TowersStreet Member

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    Yeah no sorry guys, things are not being dealt with as well as it appears and if you think the nonsense in Discord during the Pub Quiz was limited to one person and one quiz then sadly you're very wrong.

    I've been watching this build for 10 years now. I know what I've seen and experienced, whether or not this sub-surface level stuff is being noticed doesn't really matter. I've seen a number of threads where people announced they were leaving the forum due to bullying. Others will have left without saying anything. It's not a matter of "feeling attacked", it's about direct and pointed attacks at people that obviously are going under the radar, either by accident or otherwise.

    Point is this forum is not as unmanageable or enormous as it's made out to be, it's not impossible to moderate properly with a team that cares about it. The internet is wild west land, but this is a discussion forum curated by people who love it to death, and sadly spoilt by people who have it in for each other.

    Bullying happens in plain sight and purposely looks innocuous. There is a reason so many people in life come out and say "no way, I had no idea you were being bullied!" in response to people from school recounting their time there.

    I should add that immediately after I posted this a *bunch* of people messaged me to thank me for posting it. Not one or two, but a bunch of them. No specifics obviously, but they all recalled periods of being bullied and not feeling like the staff are doing much about it. Deny that and you're basically denying gravity.
     
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    Posted 17th Jun 2020
    #4
  5. Sazzle

    Sazzle TS Administrator Team Member

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    Bear,

    I note you don't want a response from the team, but your post does make a point of referring to mods/admin/staff a number of times. Therefore, we feel it’s appropriate to respond to both you and the wider community.

    Please be aware that Craig and I have spoken to both of the original posters you refer to, and have held individual conversations with them about the issues both they and you have raised. This thread is not the place to relay these private discussions.

    We’ve taken some time to review the issues you’ve raised and want to make sure we address the key points. Your post is not going to be deleted and hasn’t been ignored.

    Forum points

    On the subject of Matt N’s topic in general, evilcod put it best:
    “As has been said by many other people if this thread has been brought on by people on the forum upsetting you then it is certainly an issue that needs addressing. If on the other hand; this is just something you’re worried about and it helps to see people's responses in this thread then great, long may it continue.”

    I think the above is important to remember, rather than just focus on the original post. It’s not right that we just simply remove a topic. What started out as an apology topic quickly turned into one of appreciation for Matt’s posts. Yes, many sometimes disagree with Matt, but I think the topic does a good job of reinforcing that there’s no offence intended and ultimately his posts are welcomed here.

    It should be noted that a reply was made by Craig on that topic very soon after it was posted, reminding Matt that he was available to chat to privately if he wanted to.

    We realise, as do you in your post, that not everyone will see eye-to-eye all the time. We oversee a public forum and are not here to monitor individual differences, that is unless they manifest as posts that appear against our Member Expectations. With this in mind, unless we come across them directly when browsing, we are unable to take action on perceived problems until we are made aware of them. We are happy to work with our members to support and mediate where absolutely necessary, but we cannot take responsibility for proactively identifying each individual issue.

    You mention that moderators and team members don’t really seem to do anything in response to reports, and that people get away with anything nowadays. We’d like to assure you that reports are always reviewed by team members and escalated appropriately if individuals feel they need additional insight before taking action.

    We do send private messages to people where required, and there is a lot of behind the scenes work that the majority of ‘rule abiding’ forum population will never see, including the deletion of posts. In addition, moderation isn’t just a case of banning, warnings and topic locking. Our team members also assist by adding their own posts within topics to steer the topic toward more constructive discussion.

    We are keen to ensure that our forum is open to things like differences of opinion, and that members feel they can have a heated debate as long as things are kept civil and in line with the Member Expectations. Each of our members has a right to express their opinion on any of the topics that are running. Where it may seem like one or two people are in the minority of opinion, we understand that this may feel like bullying by the majority with a different opinion.

    We also understand that humour can be incredibly subjective. What one person may find acceptable can come across as offensive to someone else - and that includes the team when we browse the forum. We know there are a large number of people who participate on the forum and within the wider enthusiast community with ASD or similar, and sarcasm cannot always be understood. But at the same time we do not wish to completely sanitise discussion on the assumption that someone may not find it acceptable.

    So I’d like to make something very clear to all of our members:

    • If you find yourself on the receiving end of comments on the forum and it makes you uncomfortable, or you find it upsetting, then please get in touch with us. This can be via the report button or drop us a private message to discuss, and this of course will be in confidence. We’ll review the posts against our forum guidelines and moderate where necessary. Even if posts do not breach guidelines, we’ll assist by moving discussion along where needed.

    • If you feel that someone else is in one of the above situations, then we encourage you to get in touch with us in confidence so that we can review the posts against our guidelines. Regardless of the outcome when reviewing posts, we’ll also contact the member concerned to check in with them and progress things accordingly.
    Discord points

    We relatively recently introduced Discord chat to the community as a way of replacing the old Slack chat, which wasn’t too popular. We hope that the majority of people who use the Discord channel feel that it is a positive change, especially during lockdown when our meets have not taken place.

    We realise that during Pub Quiz nights things can get excitable, and people can sometimes post things that don’t convey well. We have previously taken action to address this where members’ behaviour has been on the line of acceptability. However, we have to advise that at no time has there ever been formal moderation of the Discord chat channel. Our team members are there to enjoy the freedom of the chat world as much as anyone else – our Member Expectations advise that ‘pretty much anything goes’ in the Chat. As a general guide, the Discord channel is very much regarded as a chat version of the Courtyard Tavern board.

    We as a team, and I’m sure I speak for many members of the community who have played along on the Quiz Nights, are well aware of the tremendous efforts that go into preparing the sessions. Many of us have given our personal thanks and shown our appreciation to each of the hosts for their sterling actions to date. I personally spoke to the quiz hosts following some behaviour that was raised, so please do not state that it was completely ignored.

    After seeing some of the issues in the first quiz, some additional team members immediately offered assistance for future quizzes. This again goes back to my earlier point about moderation not being just a case of warnings and topic locking. Where we can improve things for the community and members, we will do so.

    @Rick, I just want to address your point about inappropriate images on Discord. This was on the very first night of Discord launching, people were excitable and getting a bit silly. That said, it was inappropriate. As mentioned in the Discord topic in here, the images were immediately removed and the person spoken to. Craig removed the images, and he can’t remember you being ‘slagged off’ for raising it. I have reviewed the chat logs from this night (21st March) and I cannot see any public posts that might give that impression (in fact many were in agreement that that type of content was not wanted), though if this was done via a private message or similar, please get in touch with the details and we’ll address it.

    As a note we have since done some background work to Discord to add features that can prevent the posting of images and of course we can ban or kick if needed. As we mentioned, we don’t moderate the chat and we can’t guarantee that it will be as family friendly as the main forum (you should expect the Tavern standards!) but there is no excuse for posting such images. Our Team members can’t monitor the chat all the time so if you see something that you feel shouldn’t be there, please alert one or more of our Team members as soon as possible to allow us to review things.

    Conclusion

    To conclude, if anyone feels like they have been bullied in this community, please get in touch. If anyone would like to send me, or any other team member, a private message in confidence we’d be pleased to hear from you. This includes people who Bear says has contacted him about actions that have taken place on the forum or Discord. Please get in touch privately with your concerns and we’ll address them as best we can.

    We have had since the day we set up TowersStreet, and always will have, our Promise to You. If anyone feels that we have broken our promises, or not upheld the Member Expectations, please let us know.
     
    Posted 17th Jun 2020
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  6. Bear

    Bear TowersStreet Member

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    Disappointing, stock response to be honest. I *know* that some of the staff are to blame. Does the report button work on them too?

    Judging by how many people defend the mass "ribbing" on here, I'll get me coat. Shame that this place has gone so downhill and nobody really seems to care.

    If people on here are ok with what goes on, and don't want to speak up, then that is fair enough. I know what I've witnessed, who I've talked to, and the messages of support I've received all over the place.

    If people think I'm lying, well you just haven't been around long enough or don't want to make waves.
     
    Last edited: 17th Jun 2020
    blackholes crow and imanautie like this.
    Posted 17th Jun 2020
    #6
  7. Dar

    Dar TowersStreet Member

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    Disappointingly, a large amount of the bullying doesn't occur on the forums, but in private in other places. This is one of the worst aspects of it, I know a few people that haven't posted on these forums for a long time because they've been driven out by offline bullying.

    Not to mention a mod on here replied to me that if you can't handle a bit of banter you should get off the internet. Which is what bullies say. Should I report that so they can investigate themselves?
     
    Posted 17th Jun 2020
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  8. Poisson

    Poisson TowersStreet Member

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    As someone who recently got poked with the big stick (not hit with it thankfully) a lot of back and forth happens in BTS PMs. I got pulled up, discussed with those I had offended and apologised out of view. Yes that was on the lawless land of Discord but I imagine if anything it'll be stricter on here. It's not completely bandit country on here, hell it's much, much nicer than elsewhere, discussions flow better and insults are minimal. And no, I'm not shirking from making waves and yes I've been here long enough.
     
    Posted 17th Jun 2020
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  9. Alsty

    Alsty TowersStreet Member

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    Maybe people don't see any evidence of bullying? That could be another reason.
    I've been on TowersStreet for over two years (so granted, not as long as some people but long enough to have an opinion). In those two years I have seen what I consider inappropriate posts only a handful of times. In all cases, I reported the post and it was removed and the moderators stepped in. It wasn't ignored.

    I also know for a fact I've locked horns with one or two members since I've been here. I have not sat on the fence or tried to placate people so this is to be expected, but it was only ever differences of opinion and never personal or bullying. I do not try to account for the experiences of others but this has been my experience.

    I have not been on Discord so cannot comment on that.
    I am not sure how you expect TowersStreet staff to police the real world.
     
    Posted 17th Jun 2020
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  10. Islander

    Islander TowersStreet Member

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    I don’t quite get what the forum team can be expected to do in private circumstances though?

    This is an Internet forum; it’s not a school, it’s not a place of work. There is no obligation for the team who run the site to control behaviour beyond obvious attacks etc., of which there are very few. But expecting them not just to run the forum with an iron fist, but extend that beyond the forum to private functions, discussions etc.? Hardly reasonable or practicable.

    While it’s always sad when anyone feels victimised or bullied, and steps should always be taken to avoid that, I think the general mood of the forum can be gauged quite easily from the number of likes for the original post here, vs. the number of likes for the team’s response.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Craig

    Craig TS Administrator Team Member

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    I have to refute that this is simply a stock response. As a team we've been chatting about this at length and speaking to others since both this and Matt's topic cropped up.

    I can only reiterate what Sazzle has said, our door is open for people to raise specific issues, and we will deal with them as best we can and support that individual. That goes for incidents both in the past and going forwards.

    In terms of that response, admittedly that could have been worded better. In any case, I again hope Sazzle's post above makes it clear that as a team we will fully review anything that we are contacted about. And most importantly where someone raises a concern on be half of someone else that we will check in with that individual privately.

    Naturally, like any group either offline or online people don't get on. Where issues spill onto the forum itself, Discord or official meets we will of course intervene where necessary. However, we cannot and will not intervene in something going on in other places. We are moderators of the site, not of people's wider personal lives just because they are signed up to TowersStreet.
     
  12. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Having once been a member of the team and not involved in any of this happily, I can vouch that all reports are taken seriously and action is taken where it needs to be taken. Very little of that is public as it doesn’t need to be, it’s moderation not a public flogging.

    I think people also need to fully appreciate what they are expecting the team to do here. They are not around to police peoples personal friendships and private interactions, they are volunteers who spend their own time working on the forum and the site (and there is no money or income either, it’s all at the cost of the admin). At times when I was on the team we could easily be putting in 20-30 hours a week on top of full time jobs/ education.

    If something goes against the standards set out in the members expectations then report it. If it’s outside of that remit then it comes under your own personal responsibility, though I imagine people including the team will happily help and advise in all situations.
     
    Last edited: 17th Jun 2020
  13. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    @Sazzle what I was referring to was on voice chat - which I understand adds another layer of complexity. I am not troubled by it!

    A very fair and rounded response.
     
  14. Bear

    Bear TowersStreet Member

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    Hey if it's considered a non-issue then you guys have fun. Hopefully someday you'll get wise.
     
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  15. evilcod

    evilcod TowersStreet Member

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    I think for the most part people are struggling to see where the issue is. If the people who see there being an issue want to give actual details to Craig or Saz (choose your favourite face) then they can do something about it, otherwise they are just chasing a very vague idea.
     
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  16. Rick

    Rick TowersStreet Member

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    Post some tangible solutions to what you suggest are tangible problems and let them respond to those.
     
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  17. Dave

    Dave TS Founding Member

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    Yup, and unless features have changed recently people should be aware that moderators cant see private messages unless the message thread is reported. That’s why they are private.

    Just seems a lot of vague accusations and demands whilst also demanding that there be no defence of the team as though they are inhuman bots with super-analytical abilities that can stop upsetting discourse as it happens.... or maybe i’m missing something?
     
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  18. jon81uk

    jon81uk TowersStreet Member

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    I don't think Craig or Sazzle's responses make it out to be a non-issue, they seem to take things that are reported to them quite seriously.

    I post on here semi-regularly, but haven't got involved in chat, discord or real-life meets and I don't think there is anything on this site that comes across as bullying. Yes not everyone agrees all the time, but its a discussion site and most of the time it is discussion, even if it gets occasionally quite in-depth.

    Although to me your posts about this topic do come across like you don't want to engage so if you would rather discuss on other sites then its up to you.
     
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  19. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    My personal two pennorth.
    I love it on here.
    Moderation is pretty much spot on...both reporting and being "modded upon" I have found reasonable and responsible.
    The discussion group is a great mix of ages and political persuasions.
    Other sites I visit do not get an overall balance right, so I go read only.
    For balance, I think one regular poster on here has shut up because they feel the site has been over censored recently.
    Some topics were great at first..brexit and covid come to mind, but sides became entrenched.
    I have seen no bullying, but I dont do discord or quizzes.
    To be told we dont discuss things appropriately from someone who hasnt been part of the conversation for years I find a bit rich.
    But what do I know...for I am yet to discover wisdom.
     
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  20. RicketyCricket

    RicketyCricket TowersStreet Member

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    The internet... Serious business.

    What @rob666 said basically. There's a good balance on here and it's one of the more pleasant forums out there. I'd be the first to call out any bullying and I'm sure most others would too.

    I've not met anyone on here but the meets seem very welcoming to all.

    The discord server is a good laugh and it would be a shame to see it heavily moderated/censored really. Same on there though, if there was any bullying I trust that it would be called out and dealt with.
     

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