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What are pitfalls for controversial forums?

How to handle trolls & other troublemakers in forum that focuses on controv



6:00 am on May 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've just started a website & forum that deals with a controversial political topic. I already operate a weblog that also deals with this subject (& others as well). At the weblog, I've gotten a good number of nasty visitors (& many sympathetic, positive folks as well) who leave really choice comments some borderline obscene. I'm expecting that things like this will happen at the new site & forum.

While I know I shoudn't expect the worst...what should I watch out for and how should I deal with nastiness should it occur? I'm also concered about technical issues like security since a really enterprising baddie could really make life miserable for my site.

This site is based on Mambo & the forum is phpbb.


6:35 pm on May 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Richards1052, you have a challenge ahead of you... many forums specifically place controversial topics off-limits to avoid conflict between members and other nasty behavior.

Nevertheless, having a place to discuss prickly topics is a good thing. I'd start by reading encyclo's thread on securing phpBB [webmasterworld.com]. Be sure you are up on Mambo security, too.

To keep your members in line, I'd suggest starting by clearly stating what kind of behavior is expected and what is off-limits. Be sure this is prominent enough for new members to see. Then, moderate frequently, perhaps leaving polite public notes as to the reason for an edit. This will communicate to all what isn't allowed. Give repeat or blatant offenders a time out. When a member refuses to behave, then use your forum's banning tools to ban them, remove their posts, or render their posts invisible.

Good luck!


9:04 pm on May 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

By "controversial" I don't mean something that the majority of the public would find repulsive. I mean a subject like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for which the vast majority would find advocacy of creating a Palestinian state a reasonable idea. But there's that 10% who find the idea deeply offensive & threatening. And if even 1 or 2 individuals within that 10% are exercised enough & have lots of time & some hacking skills...well then, who knows what kind of trouble they could cause.

Also, if you even mildly challenge some of these people they come at you hammer & tongs. So that's why I'm gonna study those 2 links you provided. I might need them...


1:24 pm on May 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Controversial topics (like the one you mention) pose difficult problems for forum admins/mods. People get VERY passionate about some topics, and often have such deep-seated beliefs that they simply can't see any merit in or basis for other points of view. Even normally polite members can get carried away, and intelligent discussion can quickly degenerate into simplistic sloganeering and ad hominem attacks. (That's why experienced forum owners try and place these topics off-limits if they aren't related to the core purpose of the forum.)

Unfortunately, you and your mods will have plenty to do!


6:54 pm on May 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

All I can say is UGH!

THe site is me alone. So it's all up to me. Hope I don't become one of those raving lunatics myself!


1:19 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Don't worry - while the site is you alone, your moderation needs will probably be minimal. Put yourself on email alert for new posts. By the time you find that overwhelming, you'll probably have one or two good mod candidates to help you out.

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