Thank you for being a member here at GateWorld Forum -- whether you have been around these parts for years, or you are brand new to our community. A new decade means that it is time for a fresh start, and time to make some changes that will streamline the forum and make GateWorld welcoming to a new generation of Stargate fans.
Here the mods would like to let you know what is changing, and invite you to be a part of relaunching the community.
First up: You'll see that we have shortened the stack of topic folders on the forum's home page and shifted sections and threads around. This will make it easier for new members and regulars alike. Forums that don't get much traffic these days have been moved inside a larger folder (or sunsetted altogether). (If you have favorite active threads in an archived folder, ping the mods and we'll move it back out.)
Next: We'd like to get back to the feeling that everyone and anyone is welcome to come here to discuss Stargate, and other science fiction and fantasy and other current TV shows, in an environment that is friendly and welcoming.
Our community is, incredibly, nearly 20 years old now. GateWorld Forum has been around longer than social media, and even longer than blogging. And through all those years -- arguably for too long -- we have depended in part upon the community to self-police. The mods have erred on the side of free speech, relying on peer pressure and exchanges between members to keep discussions more or less on the rails. When folks didn't get along we allowed the right of reply and encouraged use of the "Ignore User" feature, rather than stepping in to take sides or suppress discussion of hot-button issues.
We listened to everyone who claimed they wanted less mod intervention. And we did that because Darren and the other staff firmly believed that free speech and a self-moderating community could work well. For a while it certainly did. Now all these years later, however, it is time to make a change. Some topics of conversation and expressions of political views just belong elsewhere, so that the emphasis at GateWorld goes back to Stargate and Stargate fandom, and sci-fi and fantasy entertainment.
In the rest of this (long) post we're going to lay out the changes we are implementing effective today. And we'll cast our vision for the future of the forum, and invite you to help build it.
Ground Rules: When each member signs up they agree to play nice, according to what we think are some sensible and straight-forward rules meant to govern the conduct of our shared space. Today's changes will affect every part of GateWorld Forum, including the closure of some threads. The forum rules have been revised, with two especially notable changes:
(1) Topics that, at their core, fall under politics or religion are banished. There are plenty of places to take these conversations online, but after years of tolerance we've found that they too often sour this community and spill over into other threads.
This does not, of course, impact discussions of religion and politics as they appear in our favorite genre shows. Religion and politics are a part of life, and are ripe for the social commentary of science fiction. But let's keep those sticky and contested real-world issues off the forum from now on.
(2) We've always had a rule about treating others with respect. Unfortunately some have taken advantage of our longstanding free speech values to casually disparage whole groups of people. In some cases members received a talking-to behind the scenes, or were moderated in other ways completely unseen by the public. In other cases the mods let it slide, since technically the rules only forbid targeting specific members of this forum.
That's our second change. The "respect" rule has been broadened to apply not just to specific members, but anyone who ain't you. Nothing that looks to us like cyberbullying will be allowed to take root here in any form. No more mockery or objectification of groups, minorities, nor disrespect and slurs will be permitted. Just because it doesn't offend you does not mean it doesn't offend someone else (sometimes in deeply personal ways).
If another's opinions or identity offends you in any way, then on this forum it is up to you to find a civil response or simply exercise tolerance. That seems reasonable.
A Community Vision: These changes are wholly in line with GateWorld's 2009 Community Vision Statement. And that brings us full-circle: Reorganizing the topical folders and updating the rules are both aimed at creating a friendly and welcoming environment for a new generation of fans.
We'll let you in on a secret, behind the curtain: The second highest number of complaints the mods receive these days is from brand new members who feel less than welcomed here. Maybe they just discovered Stargate on Hulu or Amazon. They join our forum, start a thread or try to join in on page 2,113 of an existing discussion ... and then they are either ignored, told "this has already been discussed," or their topics derail into in-jokes or a revival of old complaints about the past. Our new friends are left feeling like they ought not to have bothered joining.
Long-established fandoms are hard to break in to. Gaters can do better. Stargate fans are amazing people. Try to see things from the newbie's point of view: What kind of welcome might they hope for from fans who have been enjoying Stargate for years? Do they want to hit a wall of negativity, or meet someone who wants to get to know them and share in their newfound love of Stargate?
We all know how many unmoderated social media and instant posting sites are out there.
We know how toxic certain corners of the Interwebs can be.
Nobody can turn back time to make fan forums like ours attractive, unless we all pull together. We hope you'll have a sense of pride in this fandom, and be the one to make it a great place to play.
In Moderation ... From the mods' point of view, we know we have to be quicker in dealing with issues, as that policy of laissez faire hasn't worked. We're committing to you today to step up our game.
We will also be creating some new threads for Probies to use until they gain confidence. New members and others need support from the community. Please join us in those threads and be supportive! Answer questions, help folks figure out the forum software, and offer tips for getting the most out of GateWorld and out of their Stargate viewing experience.
Finally, we'd like to take this opportunity to clarify a few other things:
- It's been said for years now that GateWorld refuses to allow same-sex pairing fanfics to be posted here on the forum. This hasn't been true for some time, and we'd like to openly invite slash fans to post and discuss their favorite works of creative writing in the Stargate FanFic section. All fic (rated PG-13 and below) is welcome, as long as the basic forum rules are followed.
- The Forum FAQ has been revised, but after 20 years it's grown a bit long and convoluted. We'd like to invite you to suggest any changes or new additions here, which you think will be helpful to newcomers.
- Old and obsolete threads will be closed. (In some cases those topics might be relaunched elsewhere, as needed.) Many stickied threads you're used to cluttering up your favorite folders will be un-stickied.
- A few of our software technical problems are still works-in-progress. One of these is the "Report Post" feature, which seems to reach the mods only most of the time. We know we don't get every report, but Sgt. Siler and his team ARE trying to repair that permanently. If an issue you reported persists, please send a follow-up PM to Skydiver and Bagpuss.
- If you spot a broken page template, or something else that doesn't seem to be working right, please let Darren know by e-mail ([email protected]).
Now, we want to hear from you!
This has been a long message for you to read (or, let's face it ... maybe skim). And 2020 signals some substantial changes to our community, which has made us countless friendships over two decades. Feedback is a good thing. Please give us your opinions and ideas.
In fairness, please do not publicly post usernames or otherwise finger-point at specific members, or threads, or repeats of previous complaints about old issues that were already dealt with. This isn't the space to ask about private moderation issues, or pick at old scars. We do want to address issues that are still outstanding; but some past grievances need to stay water under the bridge.
What's past needs to be forgiven and, where possible, repaired. If any of you want to vent in detail, simply use PM or e-mail to contact Darren, Skydiver, and Bagpuss.
Thank you for making GateWorld a real home! We're excited about what the next generation of this fandom is going to bring.