The Reflector Acceptable Use Policy seems to be getting bent if not actually broken at times, I hope it is due to ignorance rather than an intention to push the boundaries. As a reminder, here is the Acceptable Use Policy as applied to the Reflector:
The Reflector is provided as an extension of the SOTAwatch facility free of charge to the SOTA community by the SOTA Management Team (MT) for the discussion of SOTA related topics.
Posts should be appropriate, constructive, friendly and suitable for all ages.
It is a publicly visible facility and the tone and content of posts should positively represent the SOTA community to the wider world.
Moderation of Reflector Posts & Spots
In order to maintain the facility for the above stated purpose and to prevent it being degraded for the vast majority of users, some moderation of posts is occasionally necessary. A post is likely to be removed if it is:
Discourteous Offensive Over argumentative Inappropriate to the purpose of SOTAwatch Infringing copyright Libellous
Likewise, a thread may sometime be ‘closed’ where a debate is either getting out of control or where the comments are no longer adding value to the discussion.
If you feel a post has been removed unnecessarily, then please send a message directly to the MT with whom the matter can be discussed. Moderation decisions are often difficult calls - apologies are given in advance where we may get this wrong. However, the MT’s decision on such matters is final and no public debate will be entered into. Anyone seeking to use the SOTAwatch reflector to publicly contest the removal of posts or the suspension of a user will have their account immediately suspended. The reason for this is that the resulting debate/complaining by those who have necessarily had their posts moderated often ends up degrading the facility worse that the original offence! Please instead direct your concerns directly to the MT who will be happy to discuss the issue with you.
Please note, it is rare the MT has any desire or reason to seek to exclude anyone from the SOTAwatch facility. A suspended account will normally be restored upon a simple commitment to abide by these conditions of use. However, if it becomes necessary to repeatedly moderate the posts of a particular user then exclusion from the facility is likely.
It is worth mentioning that over many years the MT has found it necessary to moderate only an extremely small number of users - as indeed one might expect from a community of radio amateurs.
Now a few comments about the process of moderation:
If a post is suspected of infringing the AUP, it will be removed and the person who posted it will have his access to the Reflector temporarily blocked whilst the Moderator and the MT consider the matter. When the infringement is confirmed the MT have a three stage procedure to protect the Reflector. For a first offence the poster will get a warning and his access restored. If he offends again then his access will only be restored if he gives an undertaking that he will respect the AUP. If this undertaking is then broken the poster will have his access to the reflector permanently removed, with no appeal.
The first two headings, Discourteous and Offensive, are the ones most easily fallen foul of by accident. The Moderator will exercise a certain amount of latitude where he judges that the words were intended in a jocular manner, but note that strong profanities and obscene language will not be tolerated. In other words, no effing and blinding is permitted. There are some words that are so commonly used as intensifiers that in everyday speech they are hardly noticed. These should be either avoided or if used for comic effect then partly blocked out since they do cause offence to a small minority of people.
While the MT, all of whom have moderating powers, try and keep an eye on the reflector, it is liable to be posted on at any time of the day or night now that SOTA is global. It could be up to several hours before an infringement of the AUP is spotted, and in my experience a thread can flare up out of control in quite a short time. However, if a thread is getting heated we will sometimes suspend a thread for a day or so to allow people who feel strongly a chance to cool off before they say something they may regret later. The temporary blocking of access mentioned above is also a cooling off opportunity.
Compared with some of the on-line forums for amateur radio, the SOTA Reflector is a model of courtesy and restraint. It is my intention to keep it that way.