Hello everyone!

There is suddenly a lot going on all at once and I am going to attempt to sort it out for you here so that everyone knows what's what.

About a year ago I was appointed Head Moderator of the site and the moderation team, myself and Richard began drafting rules and guidelines for the site as well as moderation guidelines and systems to help us better serve the members. This was not the first experience I have had with moderation. I was a "God" on everything2.com for quite a while and I have had occasion to moderate a number of other online mediums including forums, IRC servers, a MUD (believe it or not,) and a large custom chat site that was hosted where I worked as a network administrator.

Shortly after I took on the job of Head Moderator here, my life regrettably became a bit too busy for me to in good faith continue on pretending that I could juggle everything at once, so I stepped down in the hopes that someone else would be able to pick up where I left off.

Richard has since then been a man of many hats. A hat-rack, really. He is trying his damnedest to grow the site in both users and functionality. He does a podcast, tours the country giving speeches and works tirelessly to advocate for the model of community that we have created here. He's also a father, and a husband and spends a lot of time with his daughters and his wife--as he should.

Besides all that: he has been moderating. He is by no means the only moderator, but in the end, when things get serious, he has been the final word in disputes. With nearly 20,000 users, it has gotten to be too much for him to deal with if he is going to continue to do all of the other things he should be doing to make the site better.

Consequently, he asked me today if I would take over as Community Manager.

I accepted.

What does that mean, exactly?
Well, Richard will be removing himself from the day-to-day moderation of the site completely and focusing on what he should be focusing on: keeping the site alive and, if possible, making it even better. When he does show up here, he'll just be here to hang out with you guys and say hello or to make announcements.

I will be taking over as the oppressive, iron fist of fascism that you rail against.

I kid, I kid.

I'll be handling policy and moderation for the site in the same capacity that Richard used to. I'll also be looking to expand the moderation team to accommodate the size of the user-base a bit better.

My first task will be to re-visit the site rules. The first time around, we tried to keep them as cut-and-dry as possible. Simple. Easy to understand. Or so we hoped. I fear that we may have been vague as there still seems to be disagreement as to what they mean. There also seems to be some philosophical conflicts that have come to a head regarding the direction of the site which we may also be able to rectify along the way.

I have not yet decided quite how I am going to go about it, but I would like to have a transparent discussion regarding the rules of Atheist Nexus and the spirit in which they were written. I will invite commentary and suggestions from the users of this site and, in turn, give commentary of my own.

I don't anticipate this exchange will result in a complete re-writing of the rules, but it is likely some change will be affected from it. We're all on this boat together, we should all pitch in to make it a better place.

But before we get to all that, there is one thing that everyone should know:

If you are having a problem with someone, and you need a moderator, Click the "Report an Issue" link. It is located at the bottom of every page. Please include the nature of your problem as well as links to relevant posts and the names of those involved. If you are determined to lodge a complaint against someone, please refrain from deleting the material you find objectionable. It's your evidence. You may even want to take a screen capture of it and save it just in case.

This is the only appropriate way to deal with the problem because it's really the only fair way to deal with it. Once a discussion has rocketed past the point of no return and reconciliation becomes impossible on your own, simply report it and find something else to do for a while. Trying to sort out a grave disagreement by yourself is often like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. You're likely to get yourself in trouble. Let us help! Hopefully, issues can be resolved without causing further conflict.

That's enough out of me.


(I kid, I kid!)

--Joe Prova

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John, it wasn't Spongebob and Patrick I was worried about. It was if the Irony Police would show up instead because rules were broken in a thread about the important rules we need to rewrite.

Also, just plead your superiors let you do it with immunity and even proposed using it as an avatar.
Actually, they could then use a fair use defense since it was directly related to the story they were covering. There is no fair use defense for avatars. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use Also note that many countries do not accept a fair use defense.

The real question is whether they will use their resources to sue considering that they are not really facing any financial loss from its use.

Copyright law is more complicated than people think.
I suspect you're safe too, but not for the reasons you give. The picture is obviously not fair use. To be fair use, you would have to be able to justify its exclusive use to make some point of value. Simply using it as an illustration is not fair use.

You're safe because the Cartoon Network would not go after a site like this because it is too small and insignificant in the larger scheme of the Internet. Also, they would be required to first send a DMCA Notice, which gives the site the opportunity to remove the image.
So, to get back to Ning, was the first ToS they list actually violated?
John D - I don't know of anyone getting in trouble for using a cartoon image as an avatar. I don't think this is even illegal.

Having had just a little experience with this kind of thing, including helping to run an unofficial fan site for a TV show, this more often falls under the category of "Technically illegal, but it's way unlikely they'd call you on it."

For the most part, letting the image roam around out there on blogs and the like can give free publicity to the show. Plus, it's a stretch to say the image being here is making money for someone, which is a very, very big legal dividing line.
I'll throw out a suggestion. It might be useful.
At a venue I was part of years ago, a tool that encouraged "good behavior" was the knowledge that any and all obnoxious, destructive or dumb comments would be retained for all to view, forever. Some words or names might have to be deleted but the essentials would remain. Can something like this work on A/N?
May the swartz of the atheist's revenge be with you and all other atheist activists and good vibe secular life on Earth...

funny, I'd really like to know the percentage per month on negative bits taking up space on the ningserver...
I, personally, don't care what anybody does here, as long as they're not attacking, insulting or stalking other members. In other words, I can't stomach a bully. I can handle a grouch or curmudgeon or shock jock or idiot or dick . . . but crossing the line into personal attacks is too much for me.

I like it when people convey lots of personality: even if it's not my cup of tea. That personality doesn't need to be friendly or polite. A curmudgeonly persona with wit and humor (even if it gets grotesque at times) can nonetheless be very interesting.

What ruffles my feathers is members being aggressively hurtful to other members: especially if moderators allow it to continue indefinitely. Those who demonstrate a pattern of instigating such violations, should be warned accordingly. If a member becomes legendary for bullying, the moderators aren't doing their jobs.

It's the moderator's job to moderate. If they don't, members have little choice but to (1) tolerate abuses, (2) speak up or (3) leave.

If left little choice, I'm likely to stand up to a bully. I've always been physically taller and larger than others my age, so I was raised to be conscious of my size and not take undue advantage of it. Taking that rationale to heart, I have always sided with the meek and weak, against the bullies. My experience tells me that this is a good thing. I've even become good friends with a few of the bullies I've stood up to.

In social networks, such as A|N, we all have access to everything others say and do. Nobody should be a stickler for rules; everybody should exercise at least a modicum of tolerance. But I hope that everybody clicks on the "Report an Issue" link when personal attacks are involved (whether or not that attack is directed at you personally). Let the moderators decide who the instigator is. Fortunately, there's not many such bullies here. I'm sure, in the future, if violators are clearly guilty, it won't be too difficult to rein them in.




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