Facilitating Free Discussion – The Balancing Act

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Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
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The goal at Windows8Forums.com is facilitate an open, unbiased community of technology enthusiasts. That is a careful balancing act, and a nice term for saying that even if you disagree with something related to Microsoft Windows, we are not going to kick you to the curb. We have discussed this recently, and it has created some rifts here and there. The points referenced are about what appropriate discussion is and what is not. As part of the forum team of moderators and administrators, we are the gatekeepers of content, but we are not the harbingers of it. Nowhere in our moderator documentation does it say that we will ban someone for disagreeing with an operating system or its features. In fact, there are provisions in our semi-private moderator documentation that make it very clear that we protect this type of speech.

As we look at some of the more controversial postings, we are hearing the drum beat from a certain number of members because they disagree with something that someone says. Well, unfortunately, that is too bad. If you disagree with something someone says, in many cases, you probably should not be using Internet forums. Most productive and non-productive debates and discussions start from an essential disagreement. In one of the more prominent discussions that continues to repeat itself on the forums this month, members are debating whether or not Windows 8 is even a viable alternative to Windows 7.

It is not our job as the administrators, moderators, and team members of this forum to make that decision. We can certainly give our two cents about it, and comment on it, but our work, primarily, involves keeping the website online, facilitating and welcoming new members and features, and providing the platform for such discussions. The goal is to keep options open. When we claim to offer unbiased discussion on technology, we really mean it. Unbiased means that the forum administration and its moderators will not interject to prevent someone from giving their own opinion on a system or resource.

With Windows 8 in its virtual infancy, there is hardly much serious support discussion, and instead much more philosophical discussion on the viability of features and designs. Because of that, there is going to be controversy. What we will not tolerate, however, are attacks on other members. These include logical fallacies, circular logic, and ad hominem attacks. For example, users can be put down in their arguments by someone stating that “[he/she] has helped no one since they came here” or “[he/she] knows nothing about Windows, so no wonder they don’t like this feature”. Well, this neither detracts from the original poster’s remarks nor does it say anything about their character. Directly attacking the person is known as an ad hominem. The forums are here for people who want to discuss technology, help others, or get help from others. These are not mutually exclusive or mutually inclusive. Another issue would be that the poster of controversial materials often becomes their biggest detractor. By repeating the same talking points ad-nauseum (to the point of being obnoxious) this does violate the forum Terms of Service through trolling and repetition.

With any luck in place, the final version of Windows 8 will bring some comfort to its detractors through feedback. However, until that time comes, there is little moderators can do but patrol the forums and offer up their ideas. The balancing act on this end continues. Promoters and detractors of Windows 8 will exist long after the operating system hits store shelves. We are not here to give them a slap on the wrist, but to provide both subjective and objective commentary – interjecting when necessary – and providing helpful feedback where it is due.

Can we provide a service that everyone enjoys? Yes, we can try. Will we censor objectionable material? In so far that it violates our Terms of Service policy. Will we cater to your every objection? No. Can we provide an atmosphere that brings individuals together to discuss technology? Yes, and that is why we are around.

I hope this clarifies some of the challenges that both our administrators and moderators face during this tumultuous time.

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