I grew up in a news publishing family. This means that for me freedom of speech and, the right to freely discuss topics is a given.
But, at the same time as it is a given and necessary right, it comes with responsibilities. In the end the rights and responsibilities go hand in hand with democratic ideals.
A scary amount of years ago Volcanocafé was founded by a few dear old Ladies who pulled me and Lurking in the ear and told us that we should set up our own shop to talk about science in general, and volcanoes in particular.
This rapidly evolved into Volcanocafé. From the beginning it was intended as a living room, a café environment, or perhaps even more as a front porch where we could write articles and go off on tangents.
Over the years we have gotten up to the sum total of having 3 rules for the site. And mostly they have worked quite well. Probably because they are simple. And in 8 years we have had to ban only 5 individuals.
Compared to most sites, moderation has been featherlight, mostly because the denisens of Volcanocafé are extremely well behaved. Something to cherish on an internet that has grown uglier over time.
One thing that has been there from the beginning is our disinterest in policing things that are off topic. The main reason for this is that both me and Geolurking are masters of running of tangentially on things, and banning ourselves would kind of be counter-productive.
Also, the off topic parts often contain a lot of interesting stuff about volcanoes, or other scientific parts. It is also there that we get to know each other, and where the feeling of Volcanocafé is expressed.
So, do not expect off topic to go away. That being said, we needed a new rule.
Waffling is when you wilfully try to push others out of the discussion with the intent of taking over a public space. This is normally done by writing incessantly about a subject trying to make it the main topic, and it is also a way to win discussions by grand standing.
In other words, waffling is an attempt to suck up all the oxygen in the room. Or, a way of trolling a place.
And to our horror we found that our basic rules did not really cover waffling. “Be nice”, “Do not spam”, and “All comments about moderation shall be taken privately and via email” did not really cut it.
Yes, waffling can be seen as not nice, and as a form of spamming. But we needed to clarify things. We needed a rule stating “do not suck up all the oxygen” in a distinct manner.
That being said, this rule will be used exceedingly sparingly, and it has taken us 8 years to come to the point where we felt that we needed such a rule, and 8 years to come close to using it for a permanent ban. We did though not issue that ban since the rule is new.
This is the first time we felt a need for such a rule, and I dearly hope that we will never again have to use it.
Now, over to the carrot after having explained the stick.
The Volcanocafé Cafébar
Doing major changes to a complex WordPress site like Volcanocafé is akin to doing open cardiac surgery. Thankfully we have very cunning administrators working on the technical side of things.
We have said that we would open a chat-environment for all things tangential that will not break the comment flow. This obviously is taking quite a bit of time since this is not what WordPress is suited for.
But, our technically minded administrators (mainly Beardy Gaz) has done the deed and we are therefore opening the Cafébar today. It still needs a bit of wrinkling out and paint in the corners, but we felt that we really needed it.
We will still be liberal with the off-topic part on the main part, but with the express touch that if you go to far you will be asked to move arse over to the Cafébar. In other words, a few comments is okay, a herculean diatribe is not okay.
So, without further adue I declare the Cafébar open for business. The digital champagne is on the house today.