The ObWi authors have had a conference of sorts to discuss our current approach to banning commenters from the site and try to develop a better, more fair, more productive process. Unlike many other blogs, the success of Obsidian Wings depends upon a balance of authors and a balance of commenters. When the site begins to falter, it's almost always due to an unbalance one way or the other. The following process is designed to address that need for balance, as well as to be fair to everyone concerned.
The following policy was approved by us all and goes into effect immediately:
- Any ObWi author can recommend that a commenter be banned and should do so via email to the all other authors.
- One writer (but only one) from the other side of the fence must agree to the ban for it to move forward (Von can vote as either side of the fence as he wishes). For the record, currently Charles Bird, Andrew, and Sebastian Holsclaw are on the right; Von is in the center; and Hilzoy is on the left.;-) Yes, that's unbalanced...we're working on it.*
- To avoid the delay our busy lives can cause in moving quickly when a commenter is disrupting an ongoing thread, any writer can implement an immediate temporary ban (and declare it as such) until a banning request is resolved behind the scenes. Should the ban not be agreed to by someone on the other side of the fence, the temporary ban will be lifted. (The temporary ban will hopefully be a useful way to let folks calm down when a thread gets too heated. At the very least it will allow a derailed thread to get back on track.)
- If one author from the other side of the fence agrees to a recommendation, the banning goes into effect immediately and is permanent unless overturned on appeal initiated by the commenter.
- Any appeal by a commenter to a banning should be done via email. Commenters should not move to another computer to make their case on the blog. All appeals will be considered after tempers have cooled. Appeals will be decided via a vote of all writers, majority deciding. Commenters banned under the old policy can also appeal their banning now. We will not make public any appeal or its results unless the authors vote to reverse a standing ban.
Although pointing out when a commenter is violating the posting rules in an ongoing thread is every participant's best tool to help bring civility back to a discussion, if commenters wish to recommend a banning, per se, we ask that they do so via email. That helps take it offline and makes the roles of the authors in the banning process clearer to everyone.
We now we return to our regularly scheduled squabbling.
UPDATE: An appeal to a banning should cover 1) why the banning was uncalled for and 2) what the commenter will do to help prevent a similar situation from arising moving forward.
*And by "working on it," of course I mean dragging Charles, Slarti and Sebastian over into the light of liberalism. ;p Just kidding...a balanced board is important...stay tuned.