LL Mod Response to Feedback Thread

This is our response to the feedback thread a week or so back. Though both Jeff and I attempted to address the issues in the thread as they were raised, we wanted to have a separate post detailing our feedback to the community's feedback and suggestions. We went through the entire thread for a fresh look and made an attempt to cull and categorize the ideas. The suggestions for new SBN features and the comments about the game threads are not included as both will get their own posts. Below the jump is what we felt to be the major themes.

The idea for more people with moderator privileges has come up internally off and on and while there is certainly merit to the suggestion, neither of us feels it a necessary step at this time. The community at large does a terrific job of policing itself. Frankly, the constant hand-wringing about people ganging up on trolls and the like is a little overwrought. It could be better but it feels like we're trying to improve on a very small margin and we don't think the solution is more sheriffs in town. Rather, more application of common sense and civil courtesy can triumph all on its own.

Another hot-button issue stemmed from concerns about the consistency of rule enforcement. While we are sensitive to the perception that this happens, we do not think it is anywhere near as prevalent as is assumed. Despite calls for specific examples, I have personally seen few and cannot recall any on my own. Please keep in mind that LL's policies and enforcement have changed over the years. What might have been true a year or two ago might no longer be accurate.

Now that doesn't mean Jeff or I are perfectly consistent or omnipresent in all the threads at all time. Nobody is. Things slip through, which is why we make a big push for users to alert us via flags and/or e-mail when situations arise. It also doesn't mean that all enforcement is carried out in the same manner. We respond sometimes publicly in the comments and sometimes privately via warnings/e-mails based on which we feel is the best way to handle the matter. That is not going to change. If you have a concern, our e-mails are always open.

That being said, established posters get the benefit of the doubt because we, and the community, are familiar with their sense of humor and posting style. This is a text-only medium and if you are a new or infrequent commenter, then there is little context for your comment and it will get treated in a more literal sense. That's unavoidable and not something we are interested in remedying by treating everyone like they are unknown. The easy remedy for potential misunderstandings over humor or points is to reply and ask what was meant. Don't jump to an assumption of tone or intent.

Swinging too far to the other side of the familiarity side can be a problem too. Please do not insert yourself into every conversation and subthread. Anyone who makes their presence known so heavily breeds annoyance. And this applies to jumping in joking threads as well. Really consider whether you are adding something new. Quality is much more preferred to quantity. Don't be the equivalent of the super loud person. Be memorable for being funny or insightful, not for the sheer number of comments you post.

A good way to stand out in a bad way is to fill up the screen with images. Hotlinking an image is acceptable, but we require that you put effort into restraining their size. Large pictures hog bandwidth and screen space. They can kill the conversation flow when they take up the whole screen. A reasonable size varies depending on the details of the image, but consider that if the image needs more than, say, 200 pixels of height that you can always post a shrunk-down version with a link to the full size one.* Here is an example of how to shrink down a picture.

*How to do this: use the img tag to generate the HTML for the hotlink, set the height to something like 150 and then highlight the whole tag and use the link button.

We have a hard rule that the maximum is 300 pixels of height. Please do not just make that your default size. You might be amazed how small a picture can be and still get the point across. A line of text is roughly 15 pixels tall and contains roughly 25 words. Using the entire 300 pixel maximum for an image is the same amount of vertical space as roughly 500 words of text. Keep that in mind.

We have a preview button and there's no actual excuse for not using it. It's all about common courtesy. Using the link button (and checking the open in a new window box) when posting links helps everyone else by cleaning up often ugly and sometimes broken URLs and preventing navigating a viewer's browser window away from the thread where they risk losing track of which comments they have or have not already read.

Speaking of taking up space, there was a suggestion for a rule banning long signatures. We don't feel like issuing a hard rule on that yet, but we both disapprove of signatures and believe that you should keep in mind that others are unable to hide any signature you attach to comments. Going back to the courtesy point, we highly suggest that you do away with a signature or if you absolutely must have one, that you limit it to one line.

At the end of the day, people need to be less sensitive to criticism but also more aware of what they are writing. Don't assume tone. Attention to high-level detail is valued here. High level means we are more forgiving of typos and improper grammar than a base joke or bad logic. There's no accounting for taste but the final say rests with the moderators.
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