On the fringes of violation

Friends, forum owners, moderators and posters…

How can we as a team better flag and respond to posts that are not cool. Hurtful. Ist but not trying to be ist.

As an example, I recently complained about my male partner in a way that easily led into midandrist tropes. In this case, I was the journal owner and not emotionally in danger and felt confident speaking up. But if it had been me stating the tropes, on a forum where the loudest voices don’t seem to be het cis men, then maybe no one would have felt brave enough to call me on it. Or if I was angsting over commiting to someone who could turn out to be the very tropeiest of tropes… With maybe a not all men. Or, if I was worried that I’ll turn into a (soccer or wine mom only meaner versions of the tropes). Would the other married mom’s feel hurt and need a voice? But I didn’t vio.

Now imagine if a neurotyoical person was fearful of having a neurodiverse child. And catastrophizing about that.

It’s ableist shit. It hurts people. It’s not a vio. How would we shut it down? And whose job is it to help?


This is a really cool question. I have felt parts of it and committed acts that fall into it and it’s a good opportunity to reflect.

Context probably matters. If it’s in someone’s journal, I would engage with them and offer them different perspectives and the space to grow. We are all some form of ist and only become different via engagement.

If it’s in the wilds, I’m honestly not sure. Groups that I’m part of moderate pretty severely, and I find that it makes it feel collectively unsafer. For example, someone used the word “crazy” as a descriptor but not of a person and the mods shut it down as ablelist language. As a person who has a mental disorder that definitely causes extremely eccentric behavior, I found that correction overreaching and speech chilling. Whenever I’m in the midst of an episode I’m never DELIGHTED by feeling crazy. It’s a bad thing. Some things are so disorienting that it’s ok to describe them as crazy in bad way. It’s not cool to refer to a person with a mental disorder as crazy because they are different. Context matters.


I feel like this forum is good with gender and income stuff in a way that most of the rest of the internet isn’t, but there are some major blind spots. Your worst case scenario is being me or being partnered with someone like me or having kids like mine? Cool! No comment along these lines has been directed at me, but I read these things and know where I stand in this person’s mind, and minds like theirs.

And then I can’t speak up because rage and hurt make me incoherent.

I have no solutions to offer.


I’ve seen it mentioned from @anomalily before that we’re a self-moderated forum. If shit I don’t like is going down in my journal, I will address it. In someone else’s journal? I may address it less aggressively than my own, and if asked to drop it by the owner of the journal I will drop it. General threads? I will address it, and have.

ETA: There are things that don’t immediately jump out at me as being problematic, as I’m sure everyone has their blind spots. I appreciate when other folks bring up issues as problematic.


I just looked at the FAQ, and it feels like these examples aren’t really covered in there (or so vaguely as to not be meaningful).

Would it help to add a small section to the FAQ addressing this? (If anyone even reads the FAQs anymore…)


Are we self-moderated? I dunno.

This is an interesting discussion to have, @Elle.

A few times people have asked me if something is appropriate to post and i’ve asked the writer to consider if they feel it’s in the spirit of the forums - do THEY feel comfortable with their name being attached to that statement? Do they feel like they can defend it?

There’s been a few times where there’s been particularly ableist or classist unkind statements that folks have flagged, and I have removed them and then let the writer know why this has been removed in DM.

Obviously, with 250,000 page views a month, I can’t read everything and moderate. So…how do we create an effective system to have these convos without putting undue burden on the folks that are the ones affected by those statements?


Yeah…this is the thing, I don’t want us to be over moderated, especially when I think it’s a blind spot issue and maybe the person needs education not censorship. BUT how do we as a group make sure that it’s

The most natural way to me, is asking a friend to have the polite and friendly talk. But what about if you’re new and don’t have friends, or feel like you’re in the minority here and others would disagree (like if someone crossed the line from complaining about their experience of religion to degrading something another holds sacred…or from complaining about systemic police brutality to wishing humanity stripped from those in uniform).

Why is life tricksy my friends.


I appreciate this topic, because it does not come naturally to me to address topics that are problematic, and if I see one I often don’t even know it’s problematic until someone else addresses it. If something is posted that bothers me, I tend to ignore that it bothers me, but maybe should err on the side of assuming it may affect someone else negatively as well and address it.

I’ve learned more about the world from this forum than I ever did growing up in my family, or even in my early adulthood due to being in relatively “sheltered” social circles. I agree that the “learning” or “education” should not be the burden of the ones who are affected by the statements…that doesn’t seem fair. That said, I always appreciate when I read posts where others share why certain posts are problematic, because it often addresses my own personal blind spots that I didn’t even know existed.


I don’t know what the answers are, but I am thinking about this topic. Thank you for bringing it up.


Just a note that some members are finding fatphobia slipping through. If you notice it in the wild, please do call it out, or thank the person calling it out. If you don’t feel good about calling it out, a number of people in this thread would do so if you drop them a note.


Part of why I tried starting the fatphobia thread, only to have it (partially) turn into some people arguing about how beneficial weight loss can be…sigh.


Thank you for doing what you can.


I have a forum behavior grievance that I don’t necessarily want to place in other threads. I’ve noticed over the last month or so that there’s been an uptick in aggressive responses to forumer’s posts.

I do think that it’s good to address problematic language and behavior. I don’t think it’s good to react as if that language or behavior is a personal attack and respond with aggression.

There’s a significant difference between saying
“Hey, I don’t know if you know this, but this seems pretty racist/sexist/fatphobic/transphobic/xenophobic to me,”
“We don’t say that here, there’s a rule, you should know this.”

When someone genuinely doesn’t see a problem with what they’ve said or posted in the first place, that second response hurts feelings, polices language, and causes the person on the receiving end to withdraw and stop engaging. That is not a favorable outcome to anyone involved.

My final thought:

There is no rule that you have to hide talk about bodies, weight, diets. I personally prefer it if it’s hidden. There are others who prefer it if it’s hidden. By all means, require it in your own threads and address using the second response as outlined above.

But I do ask that if you find this kind of talk unhidden in other people’s threads, do not respond with your gut feeling to shut it down. Take a breath, flag it, address it gently with that person if you can. Otherwise you’re coming across as a jerk, which is hurtful and not at all productive.


Someone teach me how to be a better moderator without making everyone feel crappy, please :joy:


Do you have other trusted forumers who can respond to flags?

If diet/weight/related content needs to be hidden, then we need to add it to the rules. It’s not even suggested as being a rule, but being enforced as one by other forumers.

You also do have a lot on your plate and with a community this size, I wouldn’t moderate that or respond to flags solo.

We all could also use a large refresher on rules, flags, etc.


I’d have to ask some of other forumers if they would be comfortable with that, but as you said, I think we need a very clear policy before I ask other people to take that on. Setting that policy though, is hard.

We may have gotten too big now to just rely on “be nice” and hope it works out.


This happens as every forum grows. You aren’t “bad” at moderating. You just have a bunch of other jobs, and this one is expanding.

I helped moderate a BBS as a teen (30 years ago!). I was a moderator on IRC in my 20s (20 years ago!). Because of that, I mostly noped out of moderating social media groups in my 30s (10 years ago!).

Clearer rules help when people come from different places of understanding. Growing and valuing diversity of experience and viewpoint means more need for clearer rules. That also allows for better delegation to moderators that you trust and that have clear guidelines to follow.

(I personally would be happy with the drafting of such policies and rules - and I have a bunch of experience with doing so.)


I agree. Rules and boundaries aren’t a bad thing.

ETA: We have officially gone from “Oh these are regular forumers” to some forumers being considered “elite.” This isn’t a difference between amount of posts and relationships, but a difference of attitude when responding to posts. If the perception is there, there’s a reason.


Thank you for this. I saw that interaction and it left a bad taste in my mouth.


I really would like help, I only have experience with this in in-person communities and those tools/rules don’t work in online spaces, and this is firmly outside my wheelhouse. I don’t want this space to feel over-moderated but I also want people to not leave feeling like they’ve been piled on OR attacked for sharing their own experiences.