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  1. Thanks for all the feedback that has been sent in, it's time you lot got a response to it, don't you think? Before I go on, I need to briefly warn you that this post is going to be long. Long, but worth it. First, here's a summary of the points that have been raised by you: Bad Staff swear/curse too much. Staff could be nicer to members, especially newbies. Staff could interact more on a casual basis, posting in a variety of forums. Staff need to be more professional. Staff are occasionally playing favourites with members. Staff appear to be an elitist social clique at times. Good Staff get the job done swiftly and effectively. Staff show personality so they don't act like robots. Staff are friendly and helpful. Staff use harsh language effectively. Majority of feedback stated that there were no complaints. An important thing to point out at this stage is that of over 4000 members on SSMB less than 100 actually gave their feedback. It would be entirely speculative to think of why each member chose not to give feedback (or if they even saw the topic) but what it does indicate is that the vast majority of members are just getting on with enjoying the forums. This is how it should be. Given this point, what is the significance of this feedback session? Firstly, if improvements can be made it certainly can't hurt to identify and address them. Secondly, it gives the staff an opportunity to respond to common complaints and explain why these things happen. That is what I will do now, point by point. Professionalism One could make the point that a professional is typically defined as a person gaining employment from their area of expertise, since that is the dictionary definition. However, when referring to the staff, the word 'professional' refers to something entirely different. It is taken for granted that the staff aren't on any kind of payroll; forum moderators seldom are. Professionalism in this sense of the word is to do with staff conduct and attitude. There are a few problems with demanding this type of professionalism from forum staffers. Firstly, the staff aren't professional, nor are we advertised as such; our role is to enforce forum rules and make sure the place doesn't go to hell in a handbasket; to make the forum function. Secondly, what one views as professional conduct is a personal thing, with different people having different expectations from members of staff. With some common expectations in mind, it would not be unfair to summarize professionalism as to behave in a mild, objective and calm manner, to remain collected and focused and to stick strictly to the rules one enforces on others. Seem reasonable? Unfortunately, this isn't possible. As much as you may imagine you know perfect people, they do not exist in any capacity, regardless of whether or not you label them as a professional. Forum staff, in their own free time, scour the forums, wading through pools of frivolous arguments and bad tempers, with the job of doing what they can to sort it out. Staff are going to get frustrated, they're going to get angry and they're going to snap, from time to time. It happens! Not very often, when compared with how much staff do, but it still happens. Once again, I return to an earlier point, the staff here at SSMB are not advertised as professionals, so it is unfair and incorrect to expect lofty definitions of professional conduct from them. Staff do their best and that's all is asked of them. If you find yourself regularly angry with the staff at SSMB, perhaps you need to look at yourself more; a few people running a Sonic fansite are not the Third Reich, so I'd be suspicious about your motives for constant displeasure. Methinks you're unhappy in general and that's not our responsibility. If you make the assertion that a staffer unable to fit your expectations ought to be relieved of their position, you are being very unreasonable and irrational. In summary: The staff are not professionals, nor do we claim to be; to expect otherwise is unreasonable. Swearing/Cursing It comes as little surprise that many people have an issue with harsh language, given that the majority of us are raised to believe swearing is a horrible thing to do. This is not a school or home environment, however, it is an online environment of free speech. All words derive their tone and meaning in communication via the context in which they are used. Words of any kind are not inherently 'bad' or 'good', their moral alignment is derived from how, when and by whom they are used. It is also commonplace for people to curse in general conversation. Swear words are not a forbidden fruit of sin and a demand that they never be used is an infringement of personal freedom of speech, so we do not disallow those words here. The staff are also people, so they too can swear if they wish to. The bottom line in this issue is of a personal dislike for when people swear or curse, a personal preference. Hearing, seeing or reading things you don't like is part of living in a society, so we each need to learn to deal with these issues ourselves. You're all aware of censorship and the damage it can incur, so chill out. If someone feels like a "fuck" here or there is how they want to communicate, then they will do so, it is how they want to communicate. To act as though an opinion is invalid or a person is bad because of the language they choose to use is ignorant and prejudiced. The Staff Team is an Elitist Clique This one comes down to a misinterpretation. The SSMB staff are a team and need to function as a team. If we were all mavericks it wouldn't work at all. As such, staff need to be cohesive, we need to stick together and behave as a united front. This does not mean we always agree with each other; we discuss things in private, amongst ourselves, and reach a consensus. Staff that disagree with an idea will still go along with it if the majority is in favour. That is what it means to be a responsible member of a team. We can appear elitist because we have to enforce the rules, but staff are no less sensitive to criticism or bias than the average person. You don't get a new genetic code when you end up on a forums' staff list, you're the same flawed person you always were, just with extra responsibilities. So, basically, the staff are a clique in a necessary capacity, you can't have a team at all otherwise. Be Nice! The staff here are receptive and friendly to members who ask them for help, some of the feedback left can attest to that. However, like all people, emotions fluctuate and different situations, different circumstances, lead to different responses. A moderator who is passionate about the forum they run are easier to upset and anger than a moderator who doesn't care about what they do. Take Sonic discussions here on SSMB as an example. There are often heated debates over topics that an outsider would conclude to be petty or pathetic, like Sonic's eye colour or game voice actors. It's not that these arguments are petty or the people having them are pathetic, but rather that those involved are passionate, they care about what is being discussed. Similarly, a staff member who cares about their role and the forum they work at will be prone to anger when members push buttons and break rules. Frustrations happen. This is not to say that staff can never be nice to people, or that we cannot improve how we currently behave; we can improve and will be making an effort to be more polite, especially to new members. This does lead to another important point though! Sometimes being nice just doesn't cut it. Every staff member here will be able to tell you instances when being nice/polite didn't achieve anything other than getting laughed at or ignored. Sometimes you just have to be harsh to get things done. Staff whom personally find it very hard to be harsh and are nice nearly all the time, like Flyboy and Diz, find themselves having to turn to other staff from time to time to deal with members who just aren't receptive to gentle treatment (and as a consequence, the staff who do have to be harsh will look like horrible people, when they aren't, so their reputation will be damaged just for doing their duty). It's a fact of life, not everybody feels like listening to reason, especially when they are so annoyed that logical thought is temporarily beyond them. You've likely all been in an argument with someone before who just wouldn't listen, so you know how hard it is to deal with it. A staff member HAS to deal with it, so they do so in a way that is tried and tested to work: they kick some backsides. Then there are times when someone says something so messed up it annoys you; you know full well what that is like and staff respond like normal human beings when something angers them: they get angry. Not very difficult to understand, to be honest XP. Talk more! This is a strange one for us, but the point has been made so I will address it. An obligation to reply to topics that don't interest you is not in the moderators' job description. No member, staff or otherwise, is expected to post when they don't feel like it. Sonic discussions in particular can be difficult to get involved in, even if you are interested. The Sonic fandom is very sensitive and takes its passion very seriously; to make a point is to have it nitpicked and criticized by other fans. A lot of members feel this and that includes staff. If a staff member doesn't want to post somewhere beyond their moderating responsibilities then they aren't required to, nor should they be expected to. They enforce the rules, they're not entertainers. Please be mindful of this basic fact, that they just don't feel like posting, and you wont end up making pessimistic assumptions about staff attitudes. Playing Favourites In all societies and in all settings where people gather, there are social hierarchies. Some people are more popular than others and you will like some people more than you like other people. This is a simple point to make and it's not intended to be patronizing, but do keep that in mind when you are scrutinizing staff behaviour. It may not seem fair that some are more respected than others but you won't find this absent in any social setting. That being said, the staff do not conduct themselves in such a way as to treat popular members better than members who don't have the same social status on the forums. The staff forum is private, so you obviously can't see what is being said there, but breaking rules is breaking rules and the staff do not like it no matter who is doing it. Nobody is immune from being striked or told off (except staff, who can't actually be striked, the site prevents it). It's true that staff will like some members more than others, but that isn't a result of us being bad people, it's a result of us being people in general. Everybody dislikes other people, the staff do too, but nobody is striked just because a staffer doesn't like them. Take vocal members whom have disagreed with the staff regularly, they aren't banned or striked for it, they're just disliked. Being abusive towards staff is another matter though, that shouldn't be tolerated (though it often is), as it says in the rules. It is also important to point out that members have favourite staffers and staff that they don't like. Moderators are often singled out by members and praised or bashed accordingly in status updates and so forth. But hey, we put up with that, so give credit where it's due. In Closing I hope this topic has better informed you of how the staff work and how we see things. None of this is an attack on you, the SSMB members, it is an attempt to inform you of our perspective, so you can see things from our point of view. It can be a stressful thing to deal with you Sonic fans, but we love it or we wouldn't be doing it. We're proud of you and we're proud of the SSMB. This forum has greatly improved over the years and members today are far more mature than has been the case in the past. A few years ago, we would be striking several members a day, these days we only have to strike one or two people every few weeks. It's a stunning improvement and a testament to how well the forum runs. Thank you for sticking with me and reading through this topic, I hope it allows you to appreciate the staff more in the future (I'm not speaking for myself here, I don't have that kind of ego =O). We will be working to be less scary towards members, especially newbies, but always keep in mind the points I have made.
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