Wiki Squatting

If you came to this page because someone left the WikiSquatting tag on a page of yours, there's something you should understand. This wiki doesn't provide a technology: it's a community using a technology. If you're not here to participate in the community - and since this community discusses programming and related topics, it seems that you're not - please obtain your own wiki and start your own community. There are many freely-available wikis that you can use, and there are even community Web sites that provide free wikis. If you have questions, see the RunningYourOwnWikiFaq. Thank you!

Consider a bulletin board set up in the computer science lab on a university. This isn't the type with a pane of glass and a lock, or even the type that requires that everything be stamped first. Anybody can post something up. Anybody can write in a correction, or a thought, or a disagreement with something that was posted. And anybody can rip down anything that was posted. Over time, the board accumulated many papers, essays, discussions on software, and everything relating to it.

You're from the music department. One day, you come across this board. You're not really into computer science or anything, but you find the idea of this board quite intriguing; you want to bring this concept to your friends and peers; you believe that this is just what the music department needs. What's your best bet going to be?

On the one hand, if you just set up a new billboard, there's no guarantee that it will take on the same form, the same magic, as the first one you saw. This would be bad. On the other hand, even though there may be some useful interaction, all those comp-sci geeks aren't likely to be thrilled about an influx of musical discussion, and everything relating to it. You make your decision.

And somebody comes along, and puts little post-it notes all over your new comp-sci-cum-music pages, all saying the same things; something about WikiSquatting.

Don't take this as an offense. Take this as an opportunity. We can help get you set up with a board all your own. We can give you advice on how to encourage activity, how to develop your board. We can even help you carry your pages to the new site. You, and anyone from your board, will always be welcome to share an insight with us; who knows, somebody might share some on your board as well. Leave a page letting us know how things are going. May they go well.

WikiSquatting is when someone develops one's own separate community in the WikiWikiWeb. Usually people doing this are not interested in other parts of Wiki. While unintentional, it is considered impolite. If "WikiSquatting" was added to one of your pages, you might consider setting up your own wiki. See RunningYourOwnWikiFaq.

Solutions: CategoryPersonalWiki WikiFarms RunningYourOwnWikiFaq SoYaWannaWikiWiki SandboxWiki



See OnTopic, OffTopic, WikiIsNotYourBlog, WalledGarden, WikiSquattingResolved

Labels are powerful things - they constrain our thinking in ways that strongly affect our behaviour. As a thought experiment, consider how your reaction to the pages in the first list, above, might differ if this page was titled WikiSeeding, WikiLegUp or some such.

GreenHat: Is it really a problem?

GreenHat: I don't follow. I see no harm being done. YellowHat: But this might make it easier for new people to get the WikiSpirit?. New Wikis will emerge. RedHat: I think that you don't see this wiki in particular as being a FreeForAll?; this makes me sad. GreenHat: But censorship/brutal deletion is not the way to achieve it. It just makes people more stifled and fearful in expressing. A better idea is to hint clearly in the welcome pages, what is expected and what is not. In a free form media like wiki WalledGarden is expected.

(A comment left on a wikisquatting page)

This Wiki doesn't provide a technology: it's a community using a technology. If you're not here to participate in the community - and since this community discusses programming and related topics, it seems that you're not - please obtain your own Wiki technology and start your own community. There are many freely-available Wikis that you can use, and I think there are even community web sites that provide free Wikis. Thank you! -- JimLittle

JimLittle's distinction between wiki (a technology) and WardsWiki (a community) is important. Would there be less WikiSquatting if this distinction was obvious to those discovering wiki? If so, how can we make it obvious?

I quote from WikiIsNotaDictionary:

Ask yourself: if the page you cite were to be created, would it serve wiki well as a point of entry in this web of knowledge? -- WardCunningham

No matter what you call them, WikiSeeding, WikiLegUp, WikiLeeching or WikiSquatting, I observe that most, if not all, of the above pages provide a quite poor point of entry.

Agreed, although not all of the "legitimate" Wiki passes this test. Thanks nevertheless for a constructive starting point. If we are going to form a critique of WikiSeeding in such terms, then I for one feel more hopeful of getting somewhere. Starting from there, can a plan of action be formulated? Other than complain, what do we propose to do?

When people squat, politely point them to this page and ask them to find another place for their pages. Point them to the public WikiFarms (the carrot). Warn them that their pages may be edited by absolutely anyone, or even deleted (the stick). Give them a couple of days, and then delete if they don't pay attention.

Has this worked so far?

Yes - see WikiSquattingResolved. It's also worth noting that the first delete - without the second confirming delete - is probably enough at first. Then they can still retain their original content from the EditCopy, and move it somewhere else. It's just enough to convince the person that you are serious, that people do want the page moved, and there's no better time than the present.

Has this worked so far?

Reading the MalakiesKaiAlla? pages suggests to me that it isn't, in fact, working - if by "working" we want to mean that a purported instance of WikiSquatting eventually turns out to enrich the Wiki as a whole. I believe I see three points where the process suggested above breaks down:

If somebody wants to come with a less antagonistic title for the concept than WikiSquatting, that would probably be helpful.

As far as whether people are aware of other options: There's a very insightful discussion over on WasValerieSchedule? addressing whether or not newbies here understand that WardsWiki has a specific topic focus, or whether or not it's a free-for-all. A number of comments by newcomers made it seem as if they were unclear on this point.

I think the way to detect WikiSquatting is this: if you feel like the page is not 'yours' then the page is a Wiki squatter. A Wiki squatter puts something on Wiki and calls it 'his'. For example, you feel very strange editing the diary page because it seems very personal. It's rude to put a page up on Wiki that is only for the use of an individual or a 'community'. Every page on Wiki is for everybody!

I like this characterization. There are many reasons for not editing a page, but if one of them is a feeling that edits by anyone other than a fixed set of people would be unwelcome, I reckon that's a WikiSmell

It's all back to the question of OnTopic versus OffTopic, and I suspect all that will happen is a lot of people who prefer order to anarchy will silently leave, removing valuable contributions because of valueless "contributions." I think that's a BadThing, especially when there are alternatives.

This opinion has been offered many, many times before, usually under the rubric of WhyWikiWorksNot, and yet, it doesn't seem to be happening.

True, however this seems to come up fairly often. Either the community is pretty much of one mind about these things or there are a few key people who keep piping up every six months. I don't think the latter is the case. Each time OnTopic or OffTopic is brought up somebody says there is too much stuff OffTopic, somebody else points to WhyWikiWorks and says "you can't decide what's best for the community". Meanwhile the community trundles along with the same WikiGnomes cleaning the same stuff they were cleaning last year around this time. Sure the names have changed but taking out the trash is taking out the trash. One person's collector is another's packrat and yet the Wiki is not crumbling around our ears. Take charge yourself: generate signal. Delete noise. Clean up where you can. Stop piping up every six months... somebody has to clean all this up later you know...

The complaint appears to be, however, that there is no longer a single WikiCommunity. Large sections of it are becoming uncomfortably and lamentably like UseNet.

The best way to stop the noise is not to ban it but to produce so much signal that it is drowned out. What is noise? Your definition may be different from mine. Let us instead agree on what is signal and transmit only that.

(Restarting this threadlet - I don't want to DisagreeByDeleting but merely to take into account my contradictor's salient points and fold them into my argument.)

On the contrary, I know at least three people whose opinions and thoughts I valued who have given up on this wiki.

You know, I think it's possible that a number of people who "leave" the Wiki are in fact giving it their greatest gift - room to grow into something different once more. Sometimes less is more.

What I meant to imply, however, is that there is no such thing as WikiSquatting. Or rather, we are all squatters here, by Ward's abiding courtesy.

The Wiki is a self-selected community. This is part of what makes it valuable. This is also a tautological definition: the Wiki community is composed of whoever is creating Wiki pages, whatever their motivations.

'' Where does the WikiLurker fit into that?

The Wiki is an evolving community. This is part of what makes it valuable. There is just as much value in the outflux as in the influx. People who come in bring with them their own identity, and the Wiki benefits thereby. People who leave take away a small part of this community's identity, leaving behind part of theirs as well. This is how Wiki benefits, grows, and evolves.

The Wiki is susceptible to fragmentation. So is every personality. We all know people who are quite reasonable except for a minor quirk, such as a passion for radishes or a systematic habit of slicing cucumber lengthwise.

My argument here is not for a kind of bleating Panglossianism - "whatever the Wiki is, is the best Wiki that could be". Rather, I am articulating what I take to be the founding spirit of this online community, and suggesting that our attempts at "controlling" its contents are bound to fail unless we take this spirit into account.

But see WikiDesignPrinciples (author a certain WC :-): Open -- Should a page be found to be incomplete or poorly organized, any reader can edit as they see fit.. I claim that although technically this is possible, WikiSquatting pages in practice are not open to anyone editing - they only make sense to a closed community, and there's no way of an arbitrary reader becoming part of that community. See the perceptive comment at the top of the page:

"a Wiki squatter puts something on Wiki and calls it 'his'"

I shall, then, proudly proclaim myself a WikiSquatter?. All of us with a WikiHomePage are squatters under your criterion, for if nothing else we put something there which we claims is ours - our name. Also our mark, our personality, our effort.

But I have no problem adding a comment to your home page, if it seems relevant to do so. My point is that on a true WikiSquatting page, there's basically no comment that's relevant that I can make.

Of course there is. "Hi, this looks interesting. Can you please tell us what this is about?"

Clearly, the Wiki include zones with different degrees of publicity/intimacy. There shouldn't exist rules about it. For example I like to live with the idea that my, err... the page with my name at the top could be spoiled one day by some kind of very gross joke like: "I'm just a big mouth with much complexes plus I'm an ugly Pig! Prfrfrfrffrft!" (now the first who tries...:) Added to the interesting fact that 4 years old people can also access to the Wiki, I like this probability because it seems just like that too in my physical social life: after all I always run the risk of being insulted in any place (by a total moron:). And in my opinion, that's all the beauty of the wiki concept: because of that risk of any content being erased, superseded, at any time by any vandal or (worse) by someone who disagrees, the global behavior around here is respect and tolerance. Although there's no "squatting", no content deletion or appropriation in newsgroups, there's much more noise than here as far as I can sense. (Indeed, some newsgroups contributions just goes like "you are on my own personal newsgroup thread, where are allowed only contributor who like bleh and dislike blah. Please smart contributors, get lost") (WhyWikiWorks)

I once edited a page you could somewhat qualify as WikiSquatting, in order to add supplementary explanation about what Wiki objectively is because the page was explaining "you are on the [myownlocalissue] Web Site" and I though that was not very pleasant to truth. As a result the page was discarded (I think). But now I regret it. Maybe it's my fault. I think I should have been less direct.

Also I admit I resisted adding more crap (the claimed goal of this page is a crap contest, or I didn't understand at all) to MalakiesKaiAlla?. And I'm glad I resisted. WikiSquatting is just noise. This noise happens only in the RecentChanges list, after all?

And please everyone, don't tear up EliseParadisScrapBook?. This is not noise to my ears, but music :)

And isn't WikiSquatting what makes Wiki fun? The fact that you can be following one topic and suddenly dart off down a different path is the very thing that makes me want to read and contribute to Wiki. The more the variety the richer Wiki becomes!

Yes, following links through the Wiki is great because that's a part of the community. What I find disappointing is people having pages that are isolated from the rest of the Wiki, don't form a good entry point to the Wiki, and are of interest to a small number of people with no reference to anything else. Have a look at some of the above mentioned pages and see how many links they have in and out. These pages don't seem to be helping to make Wiki better, they are squatting , living on someone else's property without giving anything to the community in return. Most of the rest of us at least try to contribute to the community.

When I first noticed these page, my first impulse was to add a note explaining the purpose of the Wiki, add a link to the intro stuff, and let them know to save the work elsewhere since it was going to be removed. My second was that I did not have time at the moment, but I was sure someone else would. Turns out they are still here. The impulse is back. This page seem like a good place to discuss that impulse before acting on it. Those pages seem to clearly not fit, and in the past such pages have been removed with polite explanations. Any reason why these should not be? I sense a TragedyOfTheCommons brewing if people can use this hardware and bandwidth for anything they want, even when clearly private and not of interest to the community. WikiSquatting is a good term.

I've been pondering a page called "PleaseGetYourOwnWiki?" for some time now (written and used in the spirit of DeleteTestAndWelcome) that would "kindly move your WalledGarden to your own wiki". The reason I haven't written this page is I don't like the little person inside of me that is thinking those thoughts. Wiki squatters are today's unwelcome visitors; who is tomorrow's unwelcome visitors? PythonPeople? SmugLispWeenies? StarTrek fans?

On one hand, I am annoyed when a bunch of useless, irrelevant clutter gets in my way. On the other hand, it would be incredibly rude of me to tell someone "Shut up and go away". I want to learn how to encourage people to be creative and communicate in good ways.

Rather than saying "That's off-topic." on a UseNet group, I learned to say "I think the ___ Usenet group has some people interested in that subject.".

Rather than just add a pointer to WikiFarms [is that right?], I think it would be friendlier to add the URI of a more appropriate wiki.

Perhaps even move the text of a "squatting" page to a more appropriate wiki, leaving only the URI to that other page - or would that be considered rude?

No, that can be incredibly helpful - see for an example.

How do you find a more appropriate wiki?

See WikiIndex and WikiFarms.

Wiki squatters seem to be easy to spot from stated goals and/or content not related to the goals of this wiki. And if there is debate, the normal practice so far is to warn and start a discussion rather than just delete. If QuickChangesJunkies and RecentChangesJunkies do not intervene within a day or so after a warning, then the warned page can go. I think PleaseGetYourOwnWiki? is a good idea.

Python and Lisp are both programming languages and thus clearly okay. StarTrek is not okay in theory but clearly is in practice, and I suspect that people would come out to defend it if someone proposed its removal. Something like the Smith Family chat area is not likely to get any defense from anyone other than the Smith family.

I'm an independent guest of Wiki, and the last 10 days, I'm watching the discussion about MalakiesKaiAlla?. All I have to notice is that, I didn't really understood the reasons for deleting MalakiesKaiAlla?. I happen to know few Greeks and as far as I can understand there was nothing that indicates the use of only some people was made on purpose. The people are Greeks and they write in Greek (or greeklish)!! So what? This means that you must delete their page? And please, if you like can you explain further the reasons (and I don't mean the argument that only few people can read this page!) for deleting the particular page? Really, are there any? Thanks.

Any page here can be deleted if people think it's not relevant to this community. Deleting a page is as legitimate and useful as adding a page.

The main objection to MalakiesKaiAlla? was that it seemed to be a community of users sectioned off from the rest of WardsWiki. Contrast WardsWiki to, say, GeoCities. In GeoCities, anyone can start an account and add their own content; there's no community expectation that the new content has anything to do with the old content. But here, we want every page here to be part of a large, well-integrated body of knowledge. A page like MalakiesKaiAlla? would seem to work against that.

Although - as one of the participants in MalakiesKaiAlla? said - these arguments apply also in the page StarTrek and was not deleted! The only difference seems to be the language! Is this makes the page not relevant to this community? For your point of view, I think yes. But in this case why this, wasn't given as the real reason for deleting MalakiesKaiAlla?? Thank you very much for your reply.

<Sigh> First, let me say that I didn't delete it. If I had I would have taken a copy first so I could give it to them. Secondly, this entire page is about the reasons. It wasn't because it was in Greeklish. The page itself said that it wouldn't be there long, that it was an experiment, that it was people talking crap, and it was pretty clear that no attempt was being made to join the wider Wiki community. Like it or not, some people have more radical views than yours and mine and think that these reasons are enough. It's not the only page to be deleted, and to the best of my knowledge, all have had plenty of warning, and all knew that anyone could delete the page at any time. Pages that have been deleted have invariably been isolated and not obviously relevant to programming. Pages like StarTrek are in common with a large proportion of the community and are tolerated. The StarTrek page, for example, is referenced from nearly 90 other pages.

Your page was deleted because it was in Greek and could not be evaluated for relevance by the majority of the Wiki users. Indicating that it was about crap just furthered the deletion motivation. I wonder what would have happened if you had said you were discussing XP, just in Greek. I think that would have been frowned upon, but tolerated. StarTrek in Greek gets deleted. -- AndyPierce

Although I can understand Andy's point of view, I think it's misleading to say it was deleted because it was in Greek. As he says, if it had been about XP it would probably have been tolerated, so the self-proclaimed subject matter was certainly a major part of it.

StarTrek, for better or for worse, has a lot to do with this Wiki because this Wiki is mostly for programmers and a lot of programmers watch StarTrek. What's so mysterious about that?

I think Andy's response make things easier. The only misleading to say is that the page was deleted for other reasons except the language. You must be careful because some of the visitors or the participants of MalakiesKaiAlla? might be programmers too. Watching or even maintain a page like MalakiesKaiAlla? was probably for the same reasons that StarTrek exists. What's so mysterious about that? After all only MalakiesKaiAlla? was deleted for the 'mysterious' and not relevant content to the community.

StarTrek is linked to by programming pages. If MalakiesKaiAlla? had existed in an analogous role, just in Greek, then it would, presumably, be linked to by programming pages edited by Greek authors, or written in Greek. However, it wasn't linked to from anywhere, thus failing to suggest that it was relevant to any Greek-speaking programmers who are present here.

Actually being one of the participants in the discussion that was taking place in MalakiesKaiAlla? I can say that there were several programmers, some into PC repair, a PC vendor and I myself am an Information Technology lawyer specializing in Computer Crime. -- Ilisos Morris

Perhaps that's true, but given that the page itself said that it was crap and that it wouldn't be around for very long, and given that the page had no links in and no links out, is it really all that surprising that people believed it wasn't relevant to the Wiki? I regret that someone deleted it, and I recovered the page as it was on July 6th and forwarded that to Charilaos, but I'm not surprised that it happened.

Thanks for your efforts It is really appreciated. -- Ilisos Morris

"C(h)AR(i)L(a)OS the worm" wrote:

WikiSquatting is a new page that does not follow the DeletionConventions and drives the things towards a much stricter approach on what should be in the Wiki and what not. I would also like to note that it appeared just before our troubles started so the thought did came up that some person does not like something specific ... and he or she decided suddenly to turn the DeletionConventions to a more strict policy ... at the same time with criteria of the style "if a page does not seem to be you" type of attitude!!

[The following was written as a response to DavidMartland's creation of a separate sub-Wiki to test out the Wiki concept, which was removed, but not without considerable discussion.]

I still have issues with this wiki, but I think I at least partially understand why the community reacts as it does. I will most likely delete the pages which seem to have caused offence over the weekend - today I spent preparing and delivering a talk about wikis, and I presented things as I see them - both good and bad. If nothing else, it was useful to experiment, even just for 15 minutes with trying to set up the Wiki pages.

Seek to completely understand before you judge, although understanding does not of course require agreement. WalledGarden pages are regarded on a continuum anywhere from being mere harmless extranea to being a parasitic attack. Since anyone can modify pages, those with the most visceral reactions are likely to prevail.

I suspect that given a little time, I will soon be able to set up our own wiki, though it may take a little persuading to get it maintained, and then you may be welcome to visit it - though that of course depends on what rules we decide to adopt and impose.

I would be interested to know of any potential known security issues in running wikis - our sysadmin people are likely to take a dim view if there are many known problems - which would force us to either abandon the idea, or install onto a completely separate, isolated, server.

Best wishes -- DavidMartland

My experience is that whenever you have an online community of minds, activity never dries up so quickly as when a the OnTopic people (usually they are all very good contributors) begin to complain about any OffTopic activity. Just look at's FWAKE-L mailing list over FinnegansWake?: when I joined in Fall 2002, there were an average of 20 mails a day or more in my mailbox. Near Christmas several users started complaining, saying "this stuff is already in the archives: no one is benefitting from it being talked about." It caused a big stir and several regulars quit altogether. Participation slowly declined, and now, the list gets maybe 4 posts a month. It happens all the time.

My point is that often the impulse to communicate is just that - an impulse. Relevancy comes later. If this wiki had been supposed to have A Fixed Set of Topics when it was put up, it wouldn't exist, because new topics would have never come about, because people don't want to be told what to contribute. That makes wiki'ing rather like some sort of job you've been assigned... So I say, if you put restrictions on talk, it will dry up altogether - and I speak for myself here, because some of the opinions presented on this page would incline me to stop reading altogether, if they became most prevalent.

I am sure I am not alone either. How are newcomers supposed to feel welcome when a ZenSlap is all they get? The openness of wiki is what makes it so special: it's what attracts users in the first place! -- Tanya Harvey

My experience is that when there is no attempt to retain some sort of focus, and when people contribute volumes before understanding any of the existing ways of working or social norms, the entire system degenerates into a worthless ball of bubble-gum, spit, baling wire and dross.

Due to a recent influx of pages in languages other than English, many of which appear to be WikiSquatting, I was wondering if it would be possible for the more multi-lingual users among us to provide translations of something similar to the following (most of which is yanked from the now-deleted ElVarapalo):

You have probably been sent to this page because a reader has performed a rough translation of your page and believes that your content is not appropriate for this wiki. We respectfully suggest that you consider setting up your own wiki on computers that you control. It's not hard. Download EddiesWiki, for example, unzip it and run it on a Windows machine and there you are, a wiki of your own. There are other possibilities mentioned in RunningYourOwnWikiFaq.

Please be advised that the more active members of this existing community may simply choose to delete anything you put here that they deem to be OffTopic. They may feel that you are WikiSquatting, and haven't read and understood WelcomeVisitors. We most strongly recommend that you consider the openness of this forum as an invitation to join the community and contribute, rather than as somewhere you can create and maintain an isolated project. Wikis don't work like that, and some see that as their real strength.

If you feel that your contribution is valuable to this wiki as a whole, but are not confident in the use of the English language, please feel welcome to contribute as best you can. Many wiki citizens will happily reword any contributions that fall victim to the language barrier.

When I created this page I chose this name to show the similarity between squatting houses and new communities here (WalledGardens). PleasePleaseTryToAvoidLabeling

On the other hand, if AntiWikiSquatting people had pushed out the ExtremeProgramming community just when it was starting here...

The way I see it, give people a chance to be respectful and respectable Wikizens, and fix it if it's just not working. -- ShaeErisson

Can someone please explain this text: "If you're not here to participate in the community - and since this community discusses programming and related topics, it seems that you're not." Why is it presumed that anyone encountering the page doesn't know anything about programming and isn't interested in participating in the community? Good point, and fixed (I hope) DeleteWhenCooked

There is nothing wrong with enforcing a discipline on even the most raw noobs. For instance, on of my favorite sites uses a very strict editing policy and is one of the most respected technical automotive sites on the Net. If you post a question and state in the question "This is my first post", you are wasting bandwidth, and your message will be deleted and you will be banned by IP address. Rules are made to be followed. Here's an example of their Wiki ... CliffHemstock

And an even more gregarious example ... I'm all for maintaining appropriate rules, but this can and should be done with tact, politeness and honour, without sounding like a gang of fourteen year old boys, and without making every careless but well-meaning noob feel like two bags of shit for the offense of not having been sufficiently aware. Everything in the above URLs is about a bunch of pin-dicked boys having a strut, and nothing about maintaining reasonable rules in order to ensure pleasant discourse. If you don't believe me, try implementing your childish policies in the real world - say, at your place of work, with your customers - and see how far they get you. I can certainly respect the fact that you're tired of dealing with juvenile "wanna be's" in your motorsport community, but that doesn't mean - and especially shouldn't mean - that you have to descend, in your own oh-so-clever way, to their level.

Oooh, that felt good. I'm going to delete it soon, but for now, let me enjoy it. I've been waiting to take a holier-than-thou community to task for a looong time. -- DaveVoorhis

EDIT: Clarified the type of "respected site" ...

Dave, I was referring to using the site. I know there are a ton of reasons to take issue with the rules, but the fact remains, if you want racing tech you go to CC. A great percentage of the posters there are professional race car drivers, and they really don't have time for trivialities. I agree on the "Try this with your customers" statement. I know that doesn't work. But you only get one chance over at CC ... There are people that SEARCH and LURK there for years before posting anything. Just an example ... Not meant to stir the fires of classdom. And I have nothing to do with the site other than being an avid reader and occasional poster.

So how DO you enforce the rules? -- CliffHemstock

Using the example of a motorcycle touring forum I run, the Web pages for subscribing contain a set of politely-worded guidelines. Occasionally, these are missed or ignored. As long as the noob is polite and mature (which most are), the responses are polite and welcoming, and any behavioural correction is suggested in a matter-of-fact manner without condescension. There are fairly frequent "this is my first post"-type postings, and these are always given a warm welcome. Anyone who doesn't have time to welcome a noob to the forum - or at least let others do the welcoming - probably doesn't belong there, and will usually soon leave under their own volition.

On a few occasions, a newcomer has deliberately stirred up trouble. This occurs sufficiently rarely to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. In over ten years, that has resulted in a small handful of strongly-worded personal messages and forum postings from me, and exactly one outright expulsion and banning from the site and forum. In the vast majority of cases, noobs do want to belong and conform to the rules, and are more likely to do so if they're treated like adults than if they're forced to become defensive - and encouraged to behave in a juvenile fashion - by being made an object of abuse.

Earlier this year, political jokes became a major source of arguments. I issued one edict that there were to be no further political postings of any kind, and that was the end of the matter. Because the rules are simple, fair, equitably enforced, and yet not overly emphasized, and because a certain amount of leniency is given to newcomers, the overall tone is fun, welcoming, and yet mature. This results in a positive environment that I believe tends not to attract negative elements in the first place. -- DaveVoorhis


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