Just a reminder of a few issues which accumulate over time. People may be surprised to know how smoothly the forum runs, thankfully without much need for the moderators to step in. However there are a few things which have cropped up recently, and would benefit from a pinned post.
Why do we have rules which stop you from venting your anger at a person/product/developer, or even the NZFF administrators?
Well, we don't really, but we do have rules to control how you do this. A well-thought out post detailing your opinion, whether positive or negative, on a particular topic is acceptable, provided it complies with the rules. There are a lot of reasons for these controls -- mainly they are there to prevent a discussion getting out of hand, but there are also legal issues -- NZFF may be called upon to justify any post, we can't just deny responsibility for breaches of the law by any member, so we need to prevent them from putting us in this position.
Conflict between members
Please note that the rules and regulations which govern the forum apply to the Personal Message system as well, and also apply to other means of communication between members, such as email, Teamspeak or Skype. By that I don't mean that it has anything to do with us if a forum member gets involved in any arguements well-outside the forum, but it does concern us if members contact other members of NZFF with the intention of bullying, abusing, attacking or otherwise behaving maliciously.
If you believe that anyone here is behaving in this way, you should really contact an administrator or moderator and let them know of the problem. You shouldn't allow this to escalate.
There is system in place to deal with conflicts between members, but generally the members affected are not taking advantage of this. I believe that in some cases people enjoy this bickering, and in this case I'm happy to let them 'have at it', but there's a fine line between a forceful discussion with a peer, and bullying.
This conflict resolution system also apples to issue with administrators and moderators. However since the admin team has the final word on any issue, some people may prefer to bypass this system if they have a problem with the admin team. Giving a warning or taking other action against a long-standing and respected member of NZFF is not something we do lightly, but it is not something which we step away from, either.
Dealing with a post which you think might be in breach of the rules
One under-utilised tool is the 'report' button which appears beside all posts once you are logged in. if you see a post which you believe breaches any rule, then this should be the first response, rather than joining the thread.
A moderator should then remove or 'hide' the offending post until it can be considered fully. As I said, we don't want members getting to the stage where they need to close their membership 'account' because of bad behaviour.
The legal basis for some of the Rules and Guidelines
NZFF is a 'family-friendly' forum, in that we don't have an age restriction, but we do aim to comply with COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which we use in place of a specific NZ act. This explains some of the rules, and why we moderate some behaviour that would otherwise be acceptable in an adult forum. For instance, we don't want the parent of a 10 year old seeing a mouthful of abuse and profanity on screen, even if it was intended only in good humour.
We support and promote other online forums and communities
Another issue which concerns mainly younger members -- NZFF is an online community, it isn't a 'gang'! We don't have any restrictions on discussing other forums, and we will not allow any other legitimate online forum to be portrayed negatively. Some younger members may only have had experience of forums where inter-community support is not acceptable, and bickering is encouraged, but this isn't allowed within NZFF.
However this works both ways -- we won't support a NZFF member simply because they are a member, if they breach any laws, conditions or etiquette which applies to this or any other online community.
NZFF has survived an flourished by adhering to a balance between moderation and freedom of expression. Some members will see things as a little too lenient or a little too strict, but that is a normal spread of opinions which makes for a healthy community.