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Thread: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

  1. #1
    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Consider this an open letter to whom ever else is in charge of the USMS website and forums.

    This is something that has been bothering me for a while, and if I end up going to the convention I will bring it up in appropriate places as well. It has to do with the USMS Code of Conduct, and how it may or may not extend to it's forum communications.

    While I'm not really young, I belong to the 'younger' generation, who is very internet friendly. I barely watch TV and read printed news, I get most of my information and communication online. This is getting more and more prevalent, and the internet is maturing.

    This also means that internet presence is more and more important PR resource for USMS.

    USMS website is very nice, decently organized, and somewhat formal. Having been involved in USMS Administration, locally and nationally I know USMS business is done in a rather formal manner as well.

    Then we have USMS forums. Forums can be a very valuable interactive communication tool, and great for building a sense of community. However, when it comes to the USMS Forums, code of conduct and just plain common decency disappears. As if they are some magical territory where none of this applies.

    I've spoken to many swimmers and coaches and productive people who could be a valuable assets, and they have a strong aversion to the USMS Forums, they consider it a cesspool full of combative weirdoes and irrelevant losers who have nothing better to do then to fight and argue.

    Not only is this sad and detrimental to the overall USMS image, but it also ends up being a very wasted resource.

    In the past, circa ‘05 or 06, I spent a little bit of time being a forum monitor here (very little, because due to time constraints at the time, I had to bow out of the job), however over the years, I’ve owned or moderated and participated in dozens and dozens of forums and interactive communities, moderated and not. My own personal business is online community and forum based. Internet is mainstream media now. It’s less and less place for cooks, geeks and weirdo’s.

    The fact is that you can’t confront and cuss someone out on a pool deck, but you can log on to the USMS forum and do it with impunity. If you do it on the pool deck, a person can file a grievance against you, and worst case you can be expelled from USMS. In a forum, you can do a lot, with impunity. This is just wrong. Very very wrong. Yes, I’ve succumbed to the temptation of doing it myself many times, but just because I’ve done it, it doesn’t mean that I did the right thing. There are times I, and just about everyone else, gets upset, and doesn’t do the right thing, but do it anyway, because they feel secure that they will get away with it.

    I’ve heard many arguments for relaxed moderation, or almost no moderation at all… things like, ability to opine and have an open discussion etc. Guess what, people share opinions and have open discussions across the world every day without engaging in bad behavior. Without antagonizing, attacking, cussing, excessively negatively judging, shaming and many similar things that people don’t dare to do face to face, are can get in trouble if they engage in them.

    I’ve also heard arguments about “I’ve seen a lot worse places”, “this is not nearly as bad as it can get”, and worst of all, those are presented as if they are some sort of badge of honor. It’s a lot like, well, be happy we only cut your arm for this one, there are places where you could have been killed. Decent people tend not to go places where they think they may get killed or their arm cut off.

    I don’t believe that forums should be an exception, and we in the USMS need to get out heads out of sand about this. Participating in forums should not be a license for almost anything goes kind of bad behavior. This is still a public place, and one that contributes, and will continue to contribute more and more to the USMS image.

    Like I said, I participate in many online communities, and the most thriving ones have really good moderation. I’m not talking about super stuffy formal places either, but forums and communities that have to do with cats, scrapbooking, graphic arts, video games and several other informal activities. Places that have free-for-all attitude out of fear that they may stifle open discussion. Good people not wanting to come to the forums because they consider it a waste of time, frequented by a few irrelevant oddballs and a cesspool is what stifles good productive discussion. Being able to tell each other off, and yell louder then the other person is NOT good for open minded discussions. All it is, is brawling, that wouldn’t be allowed anywhere else.

    It doesn’t have to be this way. The fact that it is, I believe points to the failure in oversight. I think USMS needs to take a closer look at why this is the case, whether it’s short-handedness, or peoples beliefs, or something else, and try to improve the situation.

    Part of why I’m writing this is because of recent team and LMSC bashing in the forums. Several ‘offline’ people’s reaction was, bah, just ignore it, these are irrelevant goofs and oddballs who don’t matter that are engaging in this. This is very untrue. I’ve been able to track down some of the ‘brawlers’. They include coaches, USMS delegates, current or former USMS or LMSC officers, swimmers featured and highlighted in the Swimmer magazine, people who many of us already have or will be meeting face to face.

    Compared to several years ago when I was a lot more active, it appears that things have gone significantly downhill. This is sad to see, especially considering that a significant segment if ‘internet’ is realizing that free-for-all is not a good way to go. Just look at what is happening with unmoderated free for all places, like usenet newsgroups, Craigs list, mySpace and similar places supposedly not stifled by moderation. I doubt that his is the kind of reputation USMS forums want.

    There is no plausible reason why USMS forums should be exception to USMS code of conduct, or at the minimum, to common decency.
    Last edited by Conniekat8; July 31st, 2010 at 11:12 AM.
    -Connie
    I'd rather be swimming http://www.mastersmvnswim.org/

  2. #2
    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Jim does a good job of monitoring the forum. He doesn't "call-out" people publicly for comments they make that might be offensive to someone.

    Instead, he will PM them. He will either asking us to modify the post or to inform us that he has deleted the post.

    If he feels the thread is too harsh, he will delete it entirely. If the thread is questionable, he will lock it, but allow it to read(like some of the tech suit threads)

    If the thread contains smart alec comments, strongly questions/debates comments that are posted, criticizes usms/local governing bodies for decisions that are made, forumites jokingly insulting each other, he has allowed them to continue because they why the forum is here.

    To say the forum isn't monitored is an insult to Jim M. Just because you didn't get the thread closed because you don't like beign challenged by others here doesn't mean the forum isn't monitored.


    I think Jim does a great job with the forum and how he deals privately with individuals when there is a quesitonable action.

    Just

  3. #3
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    To call the forums unmoderated, and a free-for-all, is incorrect. I think Jim does an excellent job of enforcing the forum rules (a link to which is on the top of any page in the forums), and they are consistent with the code of conduct. And the forums ARE very useful to many, and they have said as much.

    A large majority of threads are non-controversial or fairly mild in nature (eg, "help fix my freestyle" or "the value of weight training"). On those threads where there are disagreements and passions run high, not everyone will agree precisely on what constitutes "civil" versus "frank and spirited" discourse and so he must exercise his judgment.

    I think he does a good job of finding the appropriate balance between not being overly intrusive while still not letting things devolve.

  4. #4
    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by thewookiee View Post
    To say the forum isn't monitored is an insult to Jim M. Just because you didn't get the thread closed because you don't like beign challenged by others here doesn't mean the forum isn't monitored.
    I never asked for the recent thread to which you must be refering, to be closed. You are welcome to ask the moderators to confirm this.
    -Connie
    I'd rather be swimming http://www.mastersmvnswim.org/

  5. #5
    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    From the previous thread

    "Personally, I am very saddened that the moderators of the forum allowed the unfounded bashing of your team... Heck, even facebook has better moderation then this place, which is pretty sad...

    ...These kinds of trainwerck threads can't be good publicity for USMS."


    You wanted this thread to be closed. Heck, when Fort made the same comment in that thread, you didn't disagree with her then.

    Of course, you will say that didn't want thread closed and that I misread your actual intent when you posted the comments in the other thread.
    Last edited by thewookiee; July 31st, 2010 at 02:26 PM.

  6. #6
    Very Active Member swimshark's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    To call the forums unmoderated, and a free-for-all, is incorrect. I think Jim does an excellent job of enforcing the forum rules (a link to which is on the top of any page in the forums), and they are consistent with the code of conduct. And the forums ARE very useful to many, and they have said as much.

    A large majority of threads are non-controversial or fairly mild in nature (eg, "help fix my freestyle" or "the value of weight training"). On those threads where there are disagreements and passions run high, not everyone will agree precisely on what constitutes "civil" versus "frank and spirited" discourse and so he must exercise his judgment.

    I think he does a good job of finding the appropriate balance between not being overly intrusive while still not letting things devolve.
    I agree. Jim M spends a lot of his time monitoring the forums and he does a great job. It is not a free-for-all by any means!

  7. #7
    Administrator matysekj's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by swimshark View Post
    I agree. Jim M spends a lot of his time monitoring the forums
    More time than I would like to spend - yes. A lot of time - no. And there are a number of others who have moderation capability these days also.
    Last edited by matysekj; July 31st, 2010 at 03:26 PM.
    I can't remember a life before Google.
    Fortunately, I can Google it.

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    Very Active Member Conniekat8's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by thewookiee View Post
    From the previous thread

    "Personally, I am very saddened that the moderators of the forum allowed the unfounded bashing of your team... Heck, even facebook has better moderation then this place, which is pretty sad...

    ...These kinds of trainwerck threads can't be good publicity for USMS."


    You wanted this thread to be closed. Heck, when Fort made the same comment in that thread, you didn't disagree with her then.

    Of course, you will say that didn't want thread closed and that I misread your actual intent when you posted the comments in the other thread.
    Are you a moderator on duty here?
    -Connie
    I'd rather be swimming http://www.mastersmvnswim.org/

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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Conniekat8 View Post
    Are you a moderator on duty here?
    No, but I am. May I be service?

  10. #10
    Active Member swimnjim's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Copeland View Post
    No, but I am. May I be service?
    That is a totally loaded question Mr. Past President...

  11. #11
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Some of the best friends I've made in swimming have come from this forum.

  12. #12
    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by swimnjim View Post
    That is a totally loaded question Mr. Past President...
    Professor Wheeler, it's good to see you are still around.

  13. #13
    Active Member swimnjim's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Copeland View Post
    Professor Wheeler, it's good to see you are still around.
    I am around, will see you at convention. I am however still trying to get my arms around the new and improved USMS so I can give it a big hug!

  14. #14
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by aquageek View Post
    Some of the best friends I've made in swimming have come from this forum.
    You mean the irrelevant kooks, weirdos, geeks, bashers, and oddballs that bad kitty so kindly refers to?

    I never knew we could "cuss" on this forum ... I can't believe all the missed opportunities ...

  15. #15
    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Conniekat8 View Post
    Are you a moderator on duty here?
    Nope. If I was, I would have banned Geek a long time ago for his comments on my beautiful locks of fur

    I will be glad to serve as one, if they need another one. I can be fair and balanced on issues of behavior.
    Last edited by thewookiee; July 31st, 2010 at 06:09 PM. Reason: Had to make geek choke on my fur while swimming

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    Very Active Member thewookiee's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    You mean the irrelevant kooks, weirdos, geeks, bashers, and oddballs that bad kitty so kindly refers to?

    I never knew we could "cuss" on this forum ... I can't believe all the missed opportunities ...
    I take exception to being labeled "oddball" Furball is more accurate. As the legendary Jeff Foxworthy once said "if ya don't cuss, it don't count"

  17. #17
    Very Active Member Chris Stevenson's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    I never knew we could "cuss" on this forum ... I can't believe all the missed opportunities ...
    You are not supposed to:

    Do not use profanity, racial, ethnic, religious, or other slurs, or post sexually-oriented material, or any other offensive material. ... Do not circumvent the obscenity filter by using characters such as ! or $. (Examples are sh!t, , Fvck ). Use ######## or ****** if you really think it's necessary to swear. ...

    Determination of what constitutes an offensive post is solely at the discretion of U.S. Masters Swimming and the forum administrators, and posted content may be altered or removed by administrators.

  18. #18
    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fortress View Post
    You mean the irrelevant kooks, weirdos, geeks, bashers, and oddballs that bad kitty so kindly refers to?

    I never knew we could "cuss" on this forum ... I can't believe all the missed opportunities ...
    I was just surprised to see there are forums for cat lovers and scrapbookers. Talk about kooks and weirdos.

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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    I am pretty new to forums, and weigh in usually with something funny, or at least I think it is funny. But I must say that lately, a few threads have been a little nasty, with many "insider references" These threads have certainly left a bad feeling for a newcomer to all of this. So I ask all of you this question? When you post, are you presenting USMS in a way that would encourage vistors to the threads to want to become a member? Are we showing a maturity level and a conduct that is becoming to a USMS memeber. Are we being encouageing in our talks even if they get heated.to show compassion for differing opinions? We hopefully are all adults, and I would hope that we all by this time have learned to filter our comments, so that someone does not have to do it for us. What does MASTER mean? The definition is pretty interesting!

  20. #20
    sprint diva The Fortress's Avatar
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    Re: USMS Code of conduct VS. USMS Free For All Forum

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Stevenson View Post
    You are not supposed to:
    I was being sarcastic.

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