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Attitudes and Intimidation in Elsmar Cove forum Posts


Hunkered Down for the Duration with a Mask on...
Staff member
If the post being reported is about a specific person, that person will be contacted about the reported post unless the moderators deem the report as invalid.

When a post is reported with the Report button, a discussion thread is started in the Moderator's forum. No one except the moderators knows the post has been reported. Depending up the specifics, the person reporting the post may or may not be contacted. Unless it is something very unusual, a public response is typically not made. In some cases the post (or posts) may be edited to remove offending content. In other cases the post(s) may be archived from viewing (called 'soft' deleting the post or thread) so the post or thread stays in the database but no one can see it is there.

Selectively editing thread content is not typical, but we reserve the right to that option and from time to time we do edit a post in a thread. Unfortunately, this version of vBulletin does not track every change so we hesitate to edit posts. However, the upcoming version (it is in beta 3 now with 'Gold' release expected around March - April 2008) has incorporated tracking of all changes to posts (each post will have a detailed edit history no matter who edits the post).

If a reported post is something like reporting forum spam, it may not be reported back to the person reporting that we deleted the post/thread and banned the spammer because there's really not much to report. But, even in these cases some of the moderators do PM or email the person who reported the post.

In cases where a significant 'transgression' (for lack of a better word) is reported, it is pretty standard to report to the person who reported it what the disposition is. But, again, it depends upon the specifics.

In general, the rule of thumb is to PM or email a reply to the person who reports the post.

If an issue with a moderator is reported to me personally through a PM or email, I will definitely contact the person reporting the 'transgression' to let them know I have received the complaint, and will follow up with them. As the moderators will tell you, if a moderator is involved I do take action.

In some situations I will confer with the forum 'Board of Directors'. As you can guess, this is situation specific.
Elsmar Forum Sponsor


When i first began posting in the Forum... i was posting for the sake of brainstorming on some ideas ... but to my recollection i was attacked on several occassions ... for no apparent reason by other members whom i need not mention and for reasons beyond my grasp, i have my suspicions as to why there were any attacks on me in the first place ...but they haven't gone beyond that.

I'm not mentioning this to attempt undermine the tremendous efforts exerted in the forum-which i couldn't even if i tried-, let alone the benefit reeped by many, including myself, but i had come to a decision once that i shall not post in the forum ever again...and only resorted to reading other posts consequently.

To be frank i still have no idea why such hostility was exhibited when i first started posting, and so whatever assumptions i have shall only be fragile and unsupported.

I do remember that i did approach Marc and notified him and he has been more than helpful to try to moderate the situation, but again, we're not kids in school, so i'd go to complain about some guy hazing me or so.

The reason i mentioned this whole deal is because i would like to approach all forum members, to be objective enough to focus on the questions/discussions no matter how simple they may seem, or no matter what grammitical mistakes they may have, or no matter which country or religion or sex or age the poster maybe.

I would like to note that many of the forum members are from non english speaking countries, but have developed the language skills needed to use the internet and find the cove and further more to implement different international standards in a language other than native tongue, and they require encouragement and understanding and respect and not ridicule.

Lastly, i'd like to re-convey my thanks to Marc and all forum veterans and moderators and all those who share in this amazing effort.

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Perception, not intention is the root of harassment

No community, virtual or otherwise, exists and prospers without different personalities. People who “inhabit” a virtual community, such as The Cove, learn over time, to identify the different members and their traits. Some are incredibly helpful, some are incredibly knowledgeable, some like the soap box, some like to argue minutia, some pontificate, etc…but, since Marc made clear that he wants a harassment-free Cove, cyber bullying is not tolerated. I think it is critical for all members to understand that intimidation, just like harassment is a perception issue; NOT an intention by the alleged “offender”. I might not intend to post an attack, but IF the receiver and other readers perceive it as such, a problem exists. And, because of that, we have to be extra careful, tactful, diplomatic and respectful, when posting our replies. Political correctness is important. I will admit that, many times, it is frustrating to see the same basic questions and misinformation repeated ad nauseum. In the past, I might have showed some impatience when replying to the same repeated question. Now, I understand that it is better for me to refrain from joining the discussion.

On the other hand and, unfortunately some people with high degree of insecurities might take any opposing view as a personal attack. For them, not only The Cove, but any social event will be an uncomfortable proposition.

What and how we post reflect, in part, on who we are, as professionals and human beings. And, intentionally or not, I believe it also indirectly reflects on our respective employers.

Me too congratulate Marc for having a harassment-free policy for The Cove. And I join the hordes of members that thank the moderators for keeping the discussions on track and enforce an environment where people and ideas are protected from intimidation.


Hunkered Down for the Duration with a Mask on...
Staff member
Re: Perception, not intention is the root of harassment

I think it is critical for all members to understand that intimidation, just like harassment is a perception issue; NOT an intention by the alleged “offender”. I might not intend to post an attack, but IF the receiver and other readers perceive it as such, a problem exists.
This is an important point. Thanks for pointing it out. It is one of the hardest parts about dealing with some Reports.


Re: Perception, not intention is the root of harassment

I join the hordes of members that thank the moderators for keeping the discussions on track and enforce an environment where people and ideas are protected from intimidation.
Yes, I thank Marc and the moderators also, for the marvellous job they do in all areas, at times under trying circumstances. Nice example of leadership in action: ie, set policy, and then insist it be followed, both in word and deed.

I agree with what you say Sidney, not least that about perception, and about the variety of people that make up communities. Given courtesy, goodwill and good manners from all, communities work. If these are unfortunately lacking at times, there's a need for some reminders and if necessary, some actions or sanctions. As Marc says, words written in a forum stay 'out there' - unlike a temporary blow-up in person, where only those present heard what was said...

As in any online forum, however, I think it applies in both directions, ie, those who decide to post questions or raise topics as well as those who choose to respond.

It's definitely much easier and more rewarding to respond usefully to questions, but this is really only possible where the question or request for feedback also provides information, like some kind of background context for the question and/or an indication of what kind of information or response is sought. (And if that's just a 'Hey, I'm musing out loud here', that's fine also.)

I do enjoy responding where I have time & can help, and taking part in interesting discussions - and there are many of those in here, for which I am truly grateful. I stay away from point-scoring ones, or questions where the poster hasn't made even a token effort to frame a reasonable query, do a basic search and/or is relying on others to just magically read their mind.

But as Sidney says, much better to stay silent in such circumstances than give a less than helpful or polite reply. There's rudeness and intimidation enough in the world already; no need to add more.

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
I'd like to reinforce the point that EVERY reported post is given consideration either by Moderators or Administrators or both.

In my experience, only blatant commercial spam (cellphones, dubious drugs, get rich quick schemes, etc.) is a target for immediate deletion and banning of the culprit posting the spam. Almost every other reported post gets some discussion until moderators reach a consensus. Some of those discussions take longer than others, but almost always, one of the moderators or administrators will pm the original reporter about the resolution of the reported post.

I am heartened by Sidney's understanding that the bulk of "harassment & intimidation" and other "personal attack" reports are, indeed, more a matter of perception and misunderstanding than of intention. Thus it serves no one's best interest to drag such a dispute into the public where one or both parties may be subjected to further comments which may inflict emotional scars.

Copyright posting
From time to time, folks with good intentions may post copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder. Please do not publicly "scold" such posters, merely report the post and let Moderators deal with the situation. The legal fact is that only the legal copyright holder or his (its) authorized agent may DEMAND removal of such material and, in some cases, the poster may actually have legal permission to post. In many cases, we have experience with such material and have data determining whether it may be posted. If not allowable, we merely remove it and notify the poster directly about the reason. In all cases, the most probable remedy (if copyright is really violated and the copyright holder makes an issue of it) is to remove the material as soon as possible AFTER request by the copyright holder. If after reporting the post the reporter is not satisfied with the resolution, his only legal recourse is to contact the actual copyright holder to see if that person or entity wants to make an issue of it. In the one instance in my memory where an issue has progressed this far, the copyright holder has declined action. Every reported instance so far has been amicably resolved involving no rancor from a copyright holder, so it would seem the administrators and moderators are on the right track.

Requests for copyrighted material for free
Alternately, others, who are looking to save money, put forth a plea for someone to violate copyright law and GIVE them a copy of a Standard or other copyrighted material which is available for sale "somewhere." Consider these folks merely "uninformed." They do not deserve a public scolding. The best thing is to provide a link where the requested material may be purchased legally. Note, in the case of Standards, there are some countries where the official sale price is less than others. In this day and age of global economy, it is certainly a "good deed" to point someone to such a link. If you don't have ANY link, you probably don't have a reason for posting a response, but merely ought to choose to click the "report" button for a moderator to deal with the issue.

Posting Links to free or reduced copies of copyrighted material
A third category is comprised of folks who post links where such copyrighted material may be downloaded for free or a greatly discounted price. Sometimes this is a gratuitous posting and others it is in response to a request. There is no reason to report a post with such a link, unless you are the copyright holder or his authorized agent. Plainly, we at the Cove are not in a position to take the time and effort to discover whether the site linked has permission to post or whether the url should have been restricted to those with a password. That does not prevent you from notifying the copyright holder directly for him to make a decision whether to make an issue with the site where the material is available for download. This "linking" issue has been raised several times here in the Cove and in the ASQ Forums. In every case, the situation was found to be perfectly legitimate after weeks of discussion and investigation. It may not be statistically accurate to say the probabilities are high that similar situations may be ultimately determined to be legitimate, but my own opinion is that trying to be a "good net citizen" usually results in more frustration than gratification if one leaps to a conclusion about the legitimacy of another web site without thorough investigation BEFORE making a claim.

"Fair use" copying of copyrighted material
Often, especially in the case of a Standard, someone will post a pertinent clause or phrase from a copyrighted book or document to support or illustrate a point. "Fair use" is the grayest area of copyright law. Suffice to say, each and every case is different, with no hard and fast rules that hold in every case. In my opinion (only mine) folks should consider whether the amount of material is a small or large percentage of the original. In addition, the copied material should be accompanied by personal comment (review, criticism, interpretation, etc.) to justify "fair use" for review or educational purpose. Absent the personal comment, it's just blatant copying.

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
I ran into an interesting quote in one of my model railroad magazines that may be applicable here on the cove. The magazine is "Model Railroad Planning 2008", and is an advertisement for one of the National Model Railroad Association's Special Interest Group's publications - the "Layout Design Journal". By the way, the LDJ does have a yahoo discussion group, and there are sometimes personality disconnects there also.

But here is the quote:

It is not the answer that enlightens - it is the question.

You won't find the best solutions if you don't ask the right questions.

The ad points out that the LDJ has been asking questions for years, and has helped many formulate their questions.

By the way, their website is I don't belong to them, since my model railroad is "completed", but I do belong to a sister organization, the Operations Special Interest Group.


Let's agree first off there are several sides to every story, and definitely one's perception does come into play, which is the same perception with which evidence is judeged in audits, and court orders are passed in justice systems, however, by defining "abuse" as that which is perceived by the "offended" weighs the scales towards the whole story not being real, this is why when evidence exists the matter of perception is only left to those overlooking the evidence, not those telling the story.

It is a very awkward position to try to pin-point someone as an offender, just the same as it is difficult to pin point a worker as being "non-conforming" and this is why the "actions" should be the object of judgement.

Simply defining abuse as that which is perceived by the offended, sounds like offended people are creatures living in lala land dreaming things up and accusing others of it in order to fill up their past-time, while i totally understand that such a statement is meant to encourage people to view their output from the eyes of the receiver and not their own, and i totally agree with that as some sort of motivational statement or personal rule, but i disagree with it if applied when a group of people judge or attempt to judge a situation.

There are also situations when common perception will concurr on an action being in the form of abuse, and that's when policies are made to deterr such actions.


Hunkered Down for the Duration with a Mask on...
Staff member
The problems come into play where a person is more 'sensitive' to some verbiage than another person is, or when a 'sensitive' person reads something into a reply that isn't a significant issue (or isn't there). That is where the Moderators and I will discuss the situation and make that decision.

I will not begin to say we will make everyone happy with our decisions. Even among the Moderators, when I make a decision pertaining to one or more of them, some Moderators are happy with the decision and some are not happy with the decision. Making everyone happy is rarely possible. Nor are 'factual based' decisions always possible.

While this thread is in part about Reporting 'offenders', other uninvolved persons can also Report what they see.

I resurrected this thread to remind people to be 'civil' to one another and to remember it is an open forum discussion where one must be considerate to others.

We can continue to discuss this, but more important is the over all reminder.


Just to chime in, I have to say the site does a fine job of maintaining a professional atmosphere while still allowing it's member base to have personalities. It's a great site for information sharing in a lighthearted atmosphere, to expect absolute professionalism at all times however, would be unrealistic in my opinion. It's an online forum with a multitude of users with differing opinions/perspectives and when you have limited anonymity people are less hesitant to behave poorly. That said, it is plainly evident that the moderators and Marc do a fine job of disarming these issues or steering them back into the realm of useful discussion.

I can't say I see much "intimidating" going on aside from perhaps the feeling a new poster may get of being an outsider, i.e. "my post doesn't matter because I'm not one of the good ole boys". I've never found reason myself to report a thread, however, and I don't think I ever will. I think perhaps it should be said that aside from moderating your own posts, asking the moderators for help, or reporting a thread/poster, it is also wise to take things lightly on here and remember if you feel someone is personally attacking you, you can PM them to resolve the issue, most likely their post was not meant to be a personal attack at all.
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