Based on the great feedback and discussions we've heard, we wanted to share with you some of the changes we will be making going forward with our community guidelines. At the end of the day, we all have a shared goal to make Askville a friendlier place where people can have meaningful relationships in a safe environment based on intelligent interchange of ideas. After looking at the discussion it’s clear that we need clearer guidelines, better enforcement, more involvement from the staff and more accountability for people’s actions.
The following is a summary of A) Concrete actions we will be taking and B) Concerns that were voiced by the community that we are still investigating.
CONCRETE ACTIONS WE ARE TAKING:
It’s clear that everyone is concerned about issues with harassment and that there have been many forms of harassment taking place using everything from questions to discussion boards to personal messages.
Based on people’s feedback, especially the concern that harassment is continuing in an endless cycle, we are instituting a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of behavior that demonstrates intent to harass an individual. This policy will be strictly enforced. The consequences will be a temporary suspension of a user's account, which will also count against the 4-strike and your out policy, where after the 4th strike, the account will be permanently banned.
Many of you have stated that we should not ignore infractions that have happened in the past. As a result we are suspending the accounts of 17 individuals based on a review of their past behavior (this list may increase as we continue our investigation). It is clear that these individuals all engaged in activities with intent to harass an individual or individual(s) in the past. These members will have their accounts suspended for 7 days effective by end of day today and they will be assessed 3 strikes against their accounts (i.e., after the temporary suspension, if the user continues to harass others, their account will be permanently banned).
Increased Transparency and Accountability
In addition, to support the transparency that people have asked for, by the end of today, if any account has been suspended or banned, their avatars will change to signal that they are currently being suspended or have been banned.
Fairer Voting and Reduce Gaming
Later this week, we will be rolling out a feature where the answerer's identity will be hidden/anonymous during both the voting period and appeal process. We believe this should help reduce voting abuse, collusion, and favoritism that is going on in Askville. As stated in our previous blog entry, we have already cracked down on voting abuse/collusion and will continue to do so.
We already have safeguards in place to prevent users from easily creating multiple accounts. We have investigated several allegations already and in a vast majority of cases we have discovered that users do not have multiple accounts, but rather they are just friends. That said, our safeguards are not full proof. We will be adding additional measures that will help us further detect users who have created multiple accounts. Once we identify users with multiple accounts, we will ban both accounts, per our community guidelines.
It was very clear from the feedback that we, the Askville staff, need to do a much better job at consistent enforcement. We’ve begun focusing more effort on monitoring abuse reports and are working to improve our internal systems for tracking abuse feedback so that we can respond to issues in a more timely fashion. Having a dedicated Community Manager will have a major impact on this front. Moreover, we will also be working to make the abuse-reporting system more user-friendly. We’re especially concerned about areas where abuse is happening, for example in the personal messaging area.
UPCOMING FEATURES RELATED TO COMMUNITY GUIDELINES:
In the forum there was a clear desire for more transparency of people’s behavior as this creates the foundation of trust and accountability on the site. The fact that there’s already a good amount of transparency on the site has proven to be an asset to the community. As a start, we will start working on improving transparency by making suppressed content more transparent by displaying who the person was that created the inappropriate content.
Ignore A User
To support better self-defense and self-policing we will start investigating ways to build a robust “ignore feature” that will help people better protect themselves from other members when necessary. This will likely take a considerable amount of work and so in the meantime we would ask that people still rely on the report-abuse system.
OTHER CONCERNS STILL BEING DISCUSSED
People have also voiced some very valid concerns that we share and will be investigating further actions we can take. Those include:
1) More involvement between the Askville Staff and the community.
2) More consistent enforcement of Terms of Service.
3) More timely dealing with troll behavior and abusive content
4) Make newbies feel more welcomed to Askville
5) A long list of feature improvements.
We will continue to discuss publicly and privately how we can further improve the aforementioned concerns. Every community will have its growing pains, and we realize we are currently going through one right now. We hope that these actions will improve Askville and make it a safer and friendlier place to visit every day for both old veterans as well as newbies. To be clear, we haven't made any changes to our terms of service, we are just enforcing them more sternly and reducing the amount of "gray" area with the hopes that it will result in a friendlier Askville. For everyone's benefit, below are links to our Terms of Service as well as blog entries related to our community guidelines:
For those interested in our blog entry about Bonus Questions that was posted earlier today, please click on link below:
One final note: Although we love Askville dearly and would do it voluntarily as all of you do every day, we also need to generate profits for Amazon. Askville's business model is tied to generating revenues based on the content that is created on this site. Content includes questions, answers, discussion posts, and even bonus questions. We will try our best to keep a balance between maintaining a healthy community while also generating profits for Amazon.