jdc1244a - 1/8/2006 11:41 AM
Some have suggested restrictions on new accounts. New members would be required to wait a given time period before posting or having restrictions as to image posting with a new account.
Obviously this is something no one wants to do as we do not want to discourage new members from participating but it may be the only way to prevent this from happening again.
Restricting new accounts would just discourage people from posting, as you said, and in my opinion, is not the best way to go about it.
I've moderated forums on a very large tech site in the past, and I'm still a mod for another site. Stuff like this happens to all forums that are of a reasonable size. What sets this particular instance apart is the number of posts the person managed to make before being brought under control.
Now, the obvious question is how to prevent something similar from happening in the future. In short, without going to an invitation only system of some kind where the only people allowed to register are those that have been invited, you can't.
However, there are steps that can be taken to greatly reduce the number of instances of this kind of thing without inconveniencing legitimate members at all. And that is the key, because as soon as you start doing things like restricting new accounts to one post per hour or whatever people will go elsewhere.
So then, what to do? What to do indeed. For starters, the vast majority of forums have reasonable limits on the number of posts in a given time period, generally one post every 15-30 seconds. This should not inconvenience contributing members in any way, but it's enough to make flooding a forum difficult, time consuming, and just generally irritating to do.
Secondly, this board is hysterically
under-moderated (please understand that I'm not saying the moderators are not doing their jobs; they have lives as well and expecting them to spend all their time on this board is unrealistic. I just don't think there are enough
of them for a forum of this size). Given the number of admins (two, as far as I can see) and moderators and the size of the forum I'm honestly surprised that something like this hasn't happened before now. As I'm typing this there are 4 moderators/admins on the board, or one for every 11,971 members. There should probably be a few more moderators, and there definately should be more super moderators/admins... a board this size should have at least 10 supermods (or admins if this particular forum software doesn't allow supermods) based on my experience.
Another issue is the time it took for someone who had the power to ban the user to get online, and there are two components to this. The first is the issue I just pointed out- there are simply not enough admins/supermods on this board. Period. If there were, this wouldn't have gotten as far out of hand as it did. The second component may or not be at work here; as I'm not a staff member I have no idea what the forum staff does or doesn't do. However, I would suggest that if there is not currently a list posted in the staff forum (preferably with a downloadable version in case the forum goes offline) with the names of all staff members along with an e-mail address, any instant messenger screen names, and a phone number they can be reached at, there should be. There has been such a list on all the forums I've moderated, and it has been extremely useful on more than one occasion.
The final problem that I see at the moment is the apparent lack of a post alert or report button (that is to say, if one exists, I can't find it). I don't know how this software package handles post alerts, or if it does at all (though it should), but on the vBulletin forums I moderate, at the bottom of each post somewhere around the quote and reply buttons there is a button to flag or 'report' a post. When the button is clicked the user is taken to a page where they are presented with a text box to type their reason for alerting a post, along with a note stating something to the effect that this function is only to be used to report posts that are in violation of the forum rules. When the user submits the report, a post is made in a special forum visible to staff only that contains nothing but post alerts... it contains the alert, the link to the thread and the alerted post, the screen name of the reporter and the reportee and the reporter's reason (if any is provided) for reporting the post. An e-mail is also sent to all the moderators/supermods/admins that have mod powers in that particular forum notifiying them of an alerted post. This allows the users to report problems without having to wait for a moderator to catch them or to check his or her private messages.
One other suggestion that might be worthy of consideration is requiring new registrants to be approved by a staff member before they are able to post. Ideally this would be accompanied by a question asking the person registering to type out why they'd like to join the forum; a statement as simple as say, 'I'm interested in Mercedes and I'd like to be a part of a community of people that share my interests" would be a valid reason. The point of this is again, to make it more inconvenient for trolls to register and post without driving away contributing members. Yes, someone wanting to spam the forum with offensive images could lie and get past this, but they're less likely to bother as it's another inconvenience for them to deal with. Obviously though this suggestion could only be implemented effectively if there were enough active moderators to approve people; if you make people wait more than a few hours or a day at most, they're going to get frustrated and/or lose interest and take their business elsewhere, but having to wait for moderator approval to post is enough to discourage all but the most determined of trolls.
Those are the issues that are immediately obvious from my own experience with moderating discussion boards, but I'll post again if anything else occurs to me. [:)]