10 months ago I found FIBS and it was a dream answer to a perinneal challenge.... living in a rural area where backgammon is known only as those stupid markings on the back of a checker board (most don't even know what it is called) and endulging a passion for backgammon was a hit and miss proposition.
Logging in the first time, I was instantly amused, having read the log on admonition:
"This server is on the net to meet people from all countries. All sorts of racists and fascists are not allowed to login here! Rude language will not be tolerated on this server. Be nice."
Almost immediately I noticed profane, racist, sexist, whatever-ist shouts in the chat room area of my FIBS interface, an amusing counterpoint to the admonition and a telling one. Obviously the rules on behavior were not taken too seriously or enforced ("...will not be tolerated..." apparently had no teeth).
But, being fairly thick skinned, I ignored shouts and instead enjoyed the experience of playing backgammon with excellent players on a good interface with what feels like a good dice roller (I had unsubscribed at Netgammon after repeated incidents of players hacking the dice roller and some obvious cheats by the Netgammon bot program (entire player rolls ignored in favor of the bot)) and you just can't beat the price for all of this fun and connection to like minded backgammon enthusiasts world wide.
My first impression of the shouts was a reminiscence of the 70's CB radio craze, where the air waves were dominated by immature blatherings, flirtations and obscenities, all made possible by the relative anonimity of the media and lack of teeth in the regulations that were supposed to be in force. In general, the FIBSters who spewed such pathetically immature rhetoric were acting like the kids of the 70's, giggling while they imposed their obscene little passions or hates upon an audience that lacked any means of control. Well meaning individuals who tried to moderate the blatherings in the shouts simply found themselves the next targets of childish, low class rants and insults. At least with CB's, well meaning individuals with amped up radios could squelch poor beahvior into oblivion. Too bad it doesn't work that way in a chat room or in shouts.
In reading the above posts there is an essential common theme: we really don't like or appreciate the nature of communications of some individuals, they step over the bounds of normal social propriety and courtesy, but what are we to do but throw up our hands in despair, gag-and-blind ourselves or send futile complaints to Patti. But this is a problem that has been addressed in other internet chat vehicles where concern for the general enjoyment of the users is a paramount priority of the service. That fix is moderators or monitors, select individuals, recognized by the service for their integrity and fairness, empowered to warn and subsenquently suspend from the service those individuals who just don't get it... that the general usership doesn't appreciate the profane, obscene, racist, xenophobic drivel that spews out of their mush for brains. Yeah, others of the kindergarten mindset might cackle in appreciation, but the majority just find it boring, repetitive and distracting to the overall experience in inverse proportion to their ability to ignore it. So... empowered monitors is one possible solution (since Patti chooses for her own reasons not to play this role except in the most egregious of cases).
Another possibility, this one inspired by RepBot, would be to have some minor parsing of reputation into not only the overall rep currently available, but one with more than one category. Such categories which might include sportsmanship and FIBS courtesy. Of course such a categorization of rep would be of limited utility as evidenced by the way that chronic droppers seem to be unaffected by repeated shouts regarding their irritating predisposition towards loss avoidance. But it would provide an outlet for those frustrated by the few (found in every population) that just can't seem to control their baser impulses to spew their prejudices or profanities. At least then we could be amused by the quantitative measurement of their shameful behavior.
Another possibility, this one inspired by a remark by Diane above, would be a degradation of rating for numerous and repetitive complaints of inappropriate behavior. Just like in some online backgammon venues where ratings decay for lack of play, offended users could contribute to a decay in the rating of an offensive user through modulated repetitve complaints. The more offensive the user, the more people offended generating more complaints at an increasing frequency resulting in a increasing rate of decay of the rating of the offending player. Perhaps this could be tied to a courtesy rating in reputation, but that is the pervue of those with the admirable skill and ability to create programs that enable functions for the rest of us.
These are just thoughts. Overall.... If we were all in the same room, those that in the FIBS environment who feel free to flount their profanities and prejudices with impunity, would find themselves the object of extreme and eventually physical counter prejudices. I agree with the individuals above... shout behavior should take into consideration the children and youth that also are users or observers. The kindergarten gang would think twice, in person, acting the way that they do in front of children knowing that they might be facing an irrate parent and other onlookers. I know for myself, if my children were forced to suffer the repeated blathering of such individuals in a real-time situation, which continued despite warning the offender, said offender might soon be nursing black eyes and other such symptoms of parental displeasure.
To the offenders, who when told to improve their behavior complain that they are having their rights for freedom of expression trampled on, I would hope that your level of intelligence and imagination would enable you to find ways to express yourself fully and completely without having to resort to the profane and obscene. You might then find yourself taken a bit more seriously. The rules of polite company, in real-time situations, should apply to this most excellent FIBS community, improving the experience for all and enabling greater discourse.
Okay... my soap box is put away. I won't say (for their sake... my comments and errors are my own) which respected member of the FIBS community enjoined me to contribute to this discussion, but I fully support those that have come together in the effort to make this a better place for all. And I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to those with the skill and dedication who have created FIBS, its various bots, attributes and interfaces. Thank you for your altruistic efforts and the countless hours you have applied toward making FIBS a truly great place to endulge a passion for backgammon! Without you, we wouldn't be having so much fun! And also, thank you to those individuals who contribute as tourney directors, sacrificing your game playing time to put together fun events for the rest of us.