Quantcast
Saturday, October 1, 2016

Atwater tries to keep it civil

Most of the members of the online Atwater Village Forum are a polite group, exchanging news about store openings and alerting each other about neighborhood burglaries. But there are also times when the members and their discussions get out of hand. That has prompted the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council, which hosts the forum, to consider changing the forum rules to promote more civility.  The issue of how to deal or restrict anonymous users, however, raised enough questions that the neighborhood council’s outreach committee will hold a Wednesday night meeting to discuss the matter, said committee chair Cindy Marie Jenkins.  She explains via email:

“I proposed that users can remain anonymous so long as the forum moderators (myself and co-chair Robert “Fixer” Smith) meet the person in question or can at least put a face to an anonymous name. We seek to increase the community’s use of the forum and currently many seem to avoid it because of past experiences with those posting anonymously who speak disrespectfully and appear to not have civil discourse or problem-solving in mind.”

Click on the link below for more background from Jenkins on the proposed forum rules.

After researching various moderation guidelines across the web and speaking with knowledgeable people, we proposed guidelines at the last Board of Governors Meeting in August. Essentially the proposal said that the Code of Civility, which the Board follows would be extended to the forum. After the August Outreach meeting that Boardmembers and 5 stakeholders attended, I proposed that users can remain anonymous so long as the forum moderators (myself and co-chair Robert “Fixer” Smith) meet the person in question or can at least put a face to an anonymous name. Robert cited some examples of times when someone’s comments were getting out of hand and simply reaching out to the posters solved the issue. We seek to increase the community’s use of the forum and currently many seem to avoid it because of past experiences with those posting anonymously who speak disrespectfully and appear to not have civil discourse or problem-solving in mind.

At the August Board of Governors meeting, the point of anonymity raised enough questions that we decided to table the discussion until we could hear from more stakeholders who use the forum, resulting in this additional outreach meeting on Wednesday. Some on the board and stakeholders in the audience expressed concern that if being anonymous was not an option, then safety issues in the community may not be addressed and one of the main reasons for the forum’s existence would be removed from those who always treated every discussion with concern and civility. For other, it was not the idea of taking away the anonymous option, but they were unclear on how we could monitor. So we are now taking more time to work out these questions with all of the community input we can gather so that the forum returns to being a useful asset within our community.

Currently the Co-Chairs moderate the comments and I as Outreach Chair am also responsible. These past couple of months have been more involved with launching the new website and our numerous activities, and as the entire Board are volunteers from the community, we cannot monitor every single post at all times. We do all we can to alleviate tensions and encourage the conversations and disagreements so that the forum serves as a powerful tool within the community and the Board.

We welcome all to attend our Outreach meeting on Wednesday at 7pm, taking place at Kaldi Coffee & Tea. Look for a sign or ask the Barista where we are meeting, as it may be on the patio. If stakeholders cannot attend, they can email [email protected] and state their thoughts via email or request a phone call. I will return their call as soon as possible before or after the meeting so that we can take all considerations into account.



Eastsider Advertising

7 comments

  1. I suppose if such a policy were expanded to the greater Internet, I couldn’t blog as the “Newbie” without getting vetted first by neighborhood government officials…

  2. Better to let people “vent” online and anonymously than having them slug in out in the streets, perhaps?

  3. I’m split on the issue. The anonymity of the internet seems to bring out the worst in people. Some people feel they can act like total douches without the social (or physical) repercussions they’d have to deal with in real life. On blogs that force users to login with with Facebook and hence use their real names, people do seem to be a lot nicer.

    On the other hand, the internet thrives on anonymity. Look at /b/ on 4chan. Most of the memes circulating around the web come from that single messageboard. Everyone there is anonymous, and they come up with some incredibly creative funny stuff collectively. They wouldn’t feel free to say all the stuff they do if they had to register and use their real names.

  4. The question is does the AVNC want information or not? If they want information then they must sift thru the crazies so the stakeholders can post anonymously.

    Without anonymity, many stakeholders will not speak freely because they are afraid of having protesters throwing eggs (figuratively or literally) at their houses (or businesses) – just because they reported information or vouched an opinion on an issue.

    Throw in the rivalries and cliques that unfortunately battle for control of neighborhood councils and many stakeholders do not wish to be sucked into that ongoing strife.

  5. get rid of the message board or proudly put your name on your posts

  6. That sage advice coming from someone who puts only the name “sage” on their posts. Hypocritical much?

  7. I love the AVF. People get so wound up, its’s Peyton Place. I prefer
    Eastsider, Newbie and Corralitas. Keep it anonymous.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *

*