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What to do about a member who is upsetting the community?

Article by Scott_J
Published to Family Tree Circles Blog

As communities grow there will be people who disagree, and people who upset the community with their behavior, whether it is intended or not. It is inevitable.

It seems we have ourselves in this situation. I won't name names, but you probably know what I'm talking about. I had hoped this situation would have resolved itself, but it came to a bit of a head over the past several days.

While quietly addressing the situation yesterday, I disabled this member's ability to post comments. I didn't feel it was necessary to publicize that action, but maybe it would have prevented some more misunderstandings.

I learned that later last night this particular member was subsequently deactivated by one of our admins. This is a decision that I understand and respect, but the technical ramifications of that were such that I decided to reverse that -- especially since I had already prevented him from posting comments and been in discussions with him to resolve the problems. More on that in a bit.

Apparently some people noticed both the deactivation and the reversal and are troubled by the apparent lack of action, or worse, the appearance that I'm sticking up for this member.

I want to explain that.

Account deactivation is something that is for the purpose of quickly removing a spammer from FamilyTreeCircles. This action removes all posts and all comments for a particular user. Deactivating a member like this who has posted a large number of posts and comments makes a big mess and fills the site with thousands of "account deactivated" messages. Worse, it potentially took away good information from the comments in some members' journals. I feel that we can address this in other ways. It is also a last resort that I hope to avoid.

I do recognize that there is an issue to be dealt with and I'm committed to getting it resolved.

Here's what I am doing:

  • I've indefinitely disabled this member's access to make comments, as it seems this is the primary source of the behavior that is offending others. The only way I will reinstate that access is if I'm convinced that the member will participate in a way that does not offend other members.

  • I have not disabled his access to posting journals. I don't see the harm in him doing that unless he uses that as a vehicle to address others or this issue, in which case I'll take further action. I don't anticipate that will be necessary.

  • I have been in communication with this member to start a conversation about what has happened and what changes we can make if he wants to continue to participate in this community.

  • I will be investigating ways to improve FamilyTreeCircles to allow the community to better self-manage and deal with these issues better before they get out of hand. For example, voting on comments up or down, so that offending comments can be flagged and hidden. This is something that I'll work on in the coming weeks so the next time this happens, well, hopefully we'll prevent it. (I've already done this on journals with "Thank" and "flag". More on that in another post.)

I care deeply about FamilyTreeCircles. It is something that I've been working on as a passion project for several years and it is distressing to me when there are issues. I hope that I can have your support in getting through this bump in the road.

Pulling your posts and going away is your prerogative, but I hope you will not do that. Instead, if you ever have any comments or feedback about this or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me at scott@familytreecircles.com. Heck, call me: +1 617-910-0055. That's how much I care about this.

Thanks for your help, support, and understanding.

Scott Jangro
FamilyTreeCircles.

Viewed: 3623 times
by Scott_J Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2011-03-22 09:16:58

Scott Jangro is the owner of FamilyTreeCircles.com and has documented roots back to Mayflower passengers Stephen Hopkins and William Brewster. If you're wondering what he's doing when he's mysteriously absent, here's some links to other stuff he's responsible for: about.me/jangro.

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Comments

by ngairedith on 2011-03-22 09:41:01

Your actions in resolving this situation are much appreciated Scott

It's a shame you had to step in at all

Thank you

by Scott_J on 2011-03-23 07:11:58

Thank you ngairedith.

by Chloe123 on 2011-03-28 02:51:57
user deactivated
by jamesjohnson on 2011-03-28 18:17:39

Hi Scott. my name is james johnson. I am not easily offended and would like to see the message of Chloe123 left for me. Pity people can be vindictive. james

by Scott_J on 2011-03-29 00:19:22

Hi James, it was nothing offensive james, just a random person posting links to their website about jobs or drugs or whatever it happened to be.

by SierraLee on 2011-06-23 17:11:42

Hi Scott,
I just hopped on ,been very busy-with funeral of my brother.Im STILL doing my research on my folks.However I have no iDEA of what has taken place,BUT I feel YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT YOU FEEL IS RIGHT -so no matter We should back YOU.If it wasnt for you caring enough to put this up for others to use than wed be going in anoth direction & mabe NOT geting anywhere.I THANK you for CARING that much for MANY others.Also I feel that NO one should have A RIGHT to go against any RULES that you have put up.We are adults & should use/act accordingly-we all have feelings.We all should be CURTIOUS towards others.Thanks again Janet

by SierraLee on 2011-06-23 17:17:54

Im still on my Cobb,Proctor,Knight search.I found many gramps/grams.However the info I got some was right but the connection was wrong.I was told Ira Russel Proctor -mar-Harriet Elizabeth Butler-yes,they had son-he had no children.Yet,they were to be my grams parents-Harriet Elizabeth Proctor.?She was born Northumberland,Ontario,Canada,where they came from.I searched it many times & came out same.So Im unable to connect gram with her parents.?
1848.Id like to find out if there is connection with/thru Proctor of England.?If anyone could help-Id be much appreciated.Im lost.Thanks Janet

by tonkin on 2011-07-17 19:22:42

by babymercy on 2011-08-01 12:28:35
user deactivated
by spd1275 on 2011-08-09 06:00:06

Hello,

I am new to this site, having just signed up this evening. As I was exploring the very first thing I read is about the 'controversy'. Of course I have nothing to add, since I know nothing of the difficulty. But I am happy to see folks who are willing to set some standards and who refuse to be bullied by one or two who would attempt to ruin the pleasant experiences of others.

I hope I find information I am able to use, and perhaps contribute some of the things I have learned during my 40 year genealogical journey.

Keep the standards high and you will ALWAYS do well.

spd1275

by allycat on 2011-08-09 07:14:54

Welcome spd1275.

by poorone on 2011-08-10 00:59:48

I have been on this site for 5 months now, and I enjoy seeing help given to those that are seeking answers on their family names.
I also like to offer help if I can give it.
I have noticed some postings that do not belong on this site, and I have noticed that this problem is becoming more frequent. If they are not stopped the problem will get worse. They should be forced to go somewhere else, or they will ruin this great site.

by 1bobbylee on 2011-08-10 03:57:35

You are right Poorone. I have just recently removed two of my journals because they really did not relate to History or Genealogy. I meant no harm to the site at all. I have noticed some members that are humorous,and it is delightful to see their responses and journals sprinkled with humor, but also very informative in History and Genealogy. This site must stay strong in History and Genealogy. Each member must have a voice. I have one,and you, and you, and we all have one. Isn't that the way it should be? A democratic voice...

by janilye on 2011-08-10 04:59:03

This part's a classic!

"I hope that I can have your support in getting through this bump in the road."

by Scott_J on 2011-08-10 16:45:54

Why is it classic? because it's been more of a chasm than a bump?

My next course of action is, I think, to implement and test a user-blocking feature. So if you no longer want to see someone's posts, you can block them and they'll be gone from the places where posts are listed (homepage, journals lists, etc.)

This is the best next course that I can think of because I don't want to get into the business of judging people's content and intentions.

If you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

by ngairedith on 2011-08-10 17:48:15

Hi Scott,
is abolishing the points system an option?

by Scott_J on 2011-08-10 17:56:41

Yes, I'll be removing the points system. Is that what this is about? points?

I thought they have been broken for a long time.

by Boru on 2011-08-10 17:57:12

As Long as a certain person is allowed to FLOOD the board with useless GARBAGE nothing will change ... No point in posting a new journal baecuse nobody will even get to see it ... At any given time the guy has at least 12 journals posted on the first page, all of them copy and paste trash , pushing back legitamte journals to the back pages ... A large volume of journals isn't always good for a board ... His behaviour is pushing people away ... My suggestion ... BAN HIM ...

by Scott_J on 2011-08-10 18:45:40

To me, this isn't about banning a single person. That becomes a cat and mouse game as well as a slippery slope. I ban one person for behavior, then I have to ban others that exhibit similar behavior. And banned people can come back under different names.

I'd rather find a way to make it so a person cannot cause such disruption in the first place. That someone can take over the new journals list is the problem. If I can solve it for this case, it'll be solved once and for all.

I've been away for a few months, which seems to be what allows things to go awry. I'm back and I'll be addressing this (again).

by Scott_J on 2011-08-10 20:29:10
by janilye on 2011-08-10 23:22:54

If a member posts a legitimate query on this site he expects it to be treated seriously and is hopeful of receiving a positive answer.

This, I believe is first and foremost the aim of this site.

The situation to date has made it very difficult for people to have their queries seen and for members with the answers/hints/clues to find the original query because even though, just an hour may have elapsed since you went hunting for the answer, it is no longer on the active page.

Also when a member, who often takes days to research and write a particular journal and present it in the best possible light to Family Tree Circles, has said journal swamped by up to 10 copy and pastes, (which often just give a name and an ABT date) thereby pushing your hard work out into the backyard. It does make you wonder why you bothered.
This is not a personal website for the self absorbed. It is a community website and gee, we all just want a fair go.

by Boru on 2011-08-11 00:00:11

look at the first page of journals ... One memeber has TWENTY FOUR JOURNALS POSTED ... This has to stop .. Limit the amount of Journals People can post to 5 per day ...

by Boru on 2011-08-11 00:04:14

This site has the best format of any genealogy board... There are a number of people who do excellent work and are very helpful , bur their work is pushed so far back nobody see's it ...

by 1bobbylee on 2011-08-11 02:57:00

Boru is right. Real good genealogy board. My first. I have been helped tremendously by a very knowledgeable and experienced historian and genealogist. I was hitting a brick wall. She confirmed some names and dates for me. I am appreciative that this board exists.

One of the main problems is the flooding of really, I think, unnecessary journals. So many that qualified members after researching a members query, may find that member on page 3 or 4. They have had to search longer than need be in order to give that member possibly the desired information they seek. This is unacceptable. Just because someone has taken it upon themself to flood the journal page. I counted them. This one person had put 30 journals on one page! 27 on the 2nd page! Our members are being pushed aside and behind.

Again, thank you Scott for providing a possible rememedy to this problem. Without scratching your back, I will say, you did well.

Janilye has opened up a personal journal for one to express their thoughts, other than ancestry. Like she said, "Be Civilized." When writing. I must be aware that not everyone will agree. Hey, That's okay. I can be mature, respectful and kind. I will not be argumentative. I can express my thoughts in a respectful, gentlementaly/Lady way. I believe there can be no other way. Members "Can agree to disagree."

by Scott_J on 2011-09-04 00:14:52

I'm still committed to addressing this issue, and while I still believe that the "flooding" issue can be addressed by improving the user interface, and primarily the "Active journals" page, this is a project that will not be completed overnight.

Until I can fix that, I've resorted to manual review for individuals who I identify as egregious producers of quantity over quality.

Still nobody has been banned outright, though severely muted.

Besides the added work that has fallen on me to review posts, the nagging feeling that I have is that I've been forced to silence people who genuinely try be helpful, but overdo it. That members now may miss out on some assistance bothers me. I can only trust that the rest of the community steps up to fill in.

by janilye on 2011-09-04 23:06:05

Dear Scott,
I'd like to thank you very much for the changes you've made to this website.
I realise it has been a lot of very hard work for you and your team. (I would have been happy with just the "Block this user" feature).
The extra features you have incorporated are a very pleasant bonus and features, that I would now, not want to be without.
This site Scott, is now, not only the best of it's kind in the world but also an absolute pleasure to visit.
I doubt I'm alone in telling you we really do appreciate all you have done for the circle.
janilye

by 1bobbylee on 2011-09-05 03:16:11

I appreciate you Scott. I appreciate your team. I appreciate all the hard work you all have put in.. Thank you.

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