The “Prime Directive” of the Post-Geek Singularity

Things to keep we mind when it comes to moderating and managing discussions and interactions on this website and our social media channels.

Posted by Mike Bawden

One of the perils of moderating a growing community like the Post-Geek Singularity is how we balance “fun” with “fairness” and encourage a climate of decency and civility.

I’ve had to deal with rude fans in the sports world before – literally throwing people out of playoff games for rude, drunken behavior and having my personal safety threatened as a result. I’ve been booed off stages for taking “unpopular” political stands that ran contrary to my party’s positions. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits, calls to clients and worse by people who didn’t approve of my actions on particular issues involving sci-fi fandom.

So, I’ve seen worse.

But I think it’s important to publicly acknowledge that I’m the one who encourages our moderators to “swing the ban-hammer” when people start stepping out of line. And I’m more than happy to see someone get tossed if they’re violating a few, very simple rules of conduct:

1. You can have a strong opinion, just don’t be a dick about it. Make your case and then move on. People who bang on non-stop about the same thing and never let up are dull and boring. We have a sports radio talk show host in the US named Jim Rome and his rule is clear and simple: “have a take and don’t suck.” That’s a good rule to follow, too.

Look, if you want to make an intellectual argument for your point of view, fine, just make sure it’s accurate and correct yourself if it’s not. And, for heaven’s sake, if you’re going to use history to justify your position, double-check your facts before you make your claim. You can ask Rob, I’m NOT a sci-fi junkie or comic book nerd, I’m a history and politics wonk – and I won’t sit back and watch people twist a historical narrative to support their pseudo-intellectual position. Do that and I’m likely to call you out, publicly and then throw you out when you start arguing with me. I don’t have time for that nonsense.

2. Don’t get personal with Rob, the moderators or the other Imagination Connoisseurs. I don’t care what your opinion is and how righteous it might be, start using racial or sexual invectives with people and I’ll personally throw your ass out of the chat. Permanently.

3. Use language you’d use around your mother. Fortunately, my mom was a sailor – no, I’m just kidding about that, she was a pirate. No, I’m kidding about that, too. She’s a nice, 84 year-old, little old lady with white hair who lives in Iowa – so I actually DO watch what I say. I expect everyone chatting to mind their language and not get too filthy or profane. But while language alone won’t get you booted, but it can earn you a public slap and put you on the “naughty list” for the rest of the chat to make sure you behave.

4. Realize that everyone – even the moderators – make mistakes sometimes. This can result in things being said or written in a way that is misinterpreted – and that can hurt feelings. Realizing that, there’s a very simple solution: apologize if you made the mistake and forgive if you were offended.

5. If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly in a chat or by another PGS-member, I want to know. There’s a form on the website under the “Engage with Us” menu item. Click on that in the main menu, then click on “Contact Us” and then go to “Complaint/Appeal Form” to let me know. That email comes directly to me, I review it and discuss it with Rob and then I’ll contact you to continue the discussion.

6. Finally, know that I view our live chats, social media and website as if it’s a big party. Rob and I are the hosts. And thanks to Terry, Greg and Jim, we’re able to keep the conversation among attendees light, polite and interesting. But every now and then a guest gets drunk and needs to go home to sleep it off. Less frequently, someone lets the neighbor’s dog into the pool and I’ve got to go in there, personally, and remove it. And once in a blue moon, someone’s ex-boyfriend shows up with his motorcycle buddies and we have to take them outside and make sure they don’t get back in. Ever.

So be a good party-goer and treat everyone with respect and kindness. Treat them as you would like to be treated – regardless of their nation (or planet) of origin, ability to communicate in your native tongue or perceptions/political beliefs. It’s okay to disagree with people, just don’t be disagreeable.

And remember this. I’ll be watching.

Mike Bawden