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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:35 am 
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Rules, rules and more rules

You may know that as a hobby, I design knitting patterns that I sell on the internet. To make this possible, I use an online testing forum that pairs up amateur designers with pattern testers. I guess you can say they're like beta testers. They are willing to do this for free.

Now, to stop either the designers or the pattern testers from flaking out, the forum is very heavily moderated with a lot of rules - there are deadlines, a limited number of commitments a person can make at any one time, mediation procedures, etc. And there are volunteer moderators who willingly put a lot of their free time and energy into keeping things running smoothly.

My problem is that the head moderator is such an stickler for seemingly arbitrary rules that I keep running afoul of them without even trying to. Yesterday my thread got locked for a minor formatting error - because I accidentally copied and pasted the title of the thread into the top of the post. Just like I did here (on purpose). I can't go ahead with my test until I correct my mistake and have it approved by a secondary moderator. I'm like, seriously?

Over the last couple of years, the rules have also gotten increasingly byzantine because people keep getting things wrong, which leads to the head mod getting frustrated with people getting things wrong, which leads her to institute even more rules and procedures in an effort to stop them getting things wrong, which probably leads to them getting more things wrong, etc.

Would it be out of line for me to PM one of the secondary mods to say that I really appreciate all the work they do, but the rules have gotten out of control? There just doesn't seem to be any point in shutting people down over minor formatting errors, because it doesn't further the main goal of making sure testers and designers honour their promises. Or is it just a case of their forum, their rules, if I don't like it, I can take my ball and go home?

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:41 am 
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I would PM them. If they are going to lose a member, I'm sure they'd like to know why.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:45 am 
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You should definitely be careful if you try it. If the head moderator is really as insane as you describe, you might be inviting some unwarranted retribution just by calling them out on it. But that's just me being incredibly paranoid.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:27 am 
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Steave wrote:
I would PM them. If they are going to lose a member, I'm sure they'd like to know why.

Problem is there isn't an alternative, so they won't lose me. There is another forum that is completely unmoderated. I've used them before and the quality of the feedback I've gotten was significantly worse. "Nice pattern, k thx bai!" So I feel I have to suck it up and deal with the Rule Dictators.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:29 am 
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I'd say to go with the PM, being of course very polite, and describing exactly why you think the oversupply of nitpicky formatting rules is a problem. Maybe (hopefully) the problem gets addressed in some way; that would be good. Maybe (unfortunately) the head moderator throws a fit at the idea; that would be bad. Maybe it'll turn out that there's actually a good reason for some of these rules (e.g. perhaps Head Moderator is blind and these picky rules put the post in the best format for his screen reader for some reason) - finding out what the reason is would be good, because it would help you to remember the rules better.

But if you don't send a PM, then the trend is almost certain to continue as it is; that would, as has previously been mentioned, be bad.

So it seems that a positive outcome is more likely from the PM than from not-PMing.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:51 pm 
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Not knowing the persons involved, i can't say if that would be better or worse, but you could frame your wishes/demands as questions.

I apprecieate that this forum is modereated and rules like bla really make it a good place. But i fail to understand how blo contributes to anything, especially given how strictily it is enforced. Can you please enlighten me.

That way you are not directly telling them, that they are wrong, and as added bonus put the burden of proof in their yard.

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 Post Posted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:06 pm 
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Over in a neighbouring forum on the same website, I discovered a lot of other people who are unhappy with the draconian policies of the design testing group. They've split off and started a new group, which I will try out next time. So I am glad I have other options now. I will vote with my feet, and I will tell them why I'm leaving on my way out.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:09 am 
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I would explain before going. Once you're gone you have essentially no leverage.

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 Post Posted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 1:23 pm 
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I don't think I have leverage anyway since there appear to be about 15,000 other registered members.

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 Post Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:46 pm 
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I was going to quit anyway after my final test, but it's moot now because they have banned me. I made 2 more mistakes. The first mistake was forgetting to extend my deadline or close my thread after one of my testers failed to complete her work on time. So I still had an active test going on even though my deadline had passed. Does not compute. Bad Kea. How dare she fail to log on to change her deadline? It's not like cooking large meals on Christmas friggin Eve could be more important or anything.

My second mistake was when I did go to change my deadline, I did it wrong. For unknown reasons, you are required to post the new deadline's day, month and year in two places - in a post alerting your testers, and in the opening post of the thread. I only did the latter. Downthread, I simply told my tester that she could have until New Year's Eve. That was NOT CLEAR ENOUGH. Naughty, naughty parrot! How is anyone to know whether she meant New Year's Eve according to the Gregorian or Lunar calendar? Or whether it was New Year's Eve 2013, 2015, or 2032? It is not as though they could go and check the opening post - oh wait they can, but it's so unreasonable to expect them to have to do that.

BAN!

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 Post Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:37 am 
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Wow. Yeah, a forum about knitting has no business whatsoever being that strict. I mean, yeah. Knitting is probably serious business for a fair number of people, but that's taking it too far.

Have you joined the neighboring forum, yet? If you have, how's it working out for you?

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 Post Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:12 am 
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I don't think a forum about anything has any business being that strict. The only place where you'd need be that strict is if you are a contract lawyer. They are crazy-pants.

I joined the neighbouring group but I haven't done any tests in it yet. My next design is still in the pipeline.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:04 am 
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Kea wrote:
The only place where you'd need be that strict is if you are a contract lawyer.

Are you guys knitting plutonium cardigans? Are your patterns smuggled in from North Korea? Ooh, ooh, has the group learned the secrets of bending space and time with their fourth-dimensional knitting needles, and is only a few hundred stitches away from becoming the Guild of Weavers, like in Loom? Because then I could understand the draconian measures. "Finish on time or you'll have to scram your knitting basket / be murdered by a North Korean spy / rend the Pattern, unleash Chaos on the world and turn us all into swans."

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 Post Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:01 am 
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Or I might code the wrong assassination targets into my sweaters.

Hmm... Now there's a thought.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:55 pm 
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And they have thousands upon thousands of members? How do they keep them? It seems like it's a little rougher than being on Vader's command staff.

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