Over the past few months I've been wondering if something has been put into the water. Things have been pretty contentious lately, certainly more so than we've seen in the past couple of years. While we do have occasional flare-ups of uncivil behavior by this or that individual, it usually only lasts for a thread or two and then fades away for a while.
But the past few months have been different. There has been a palpable shift in the behavior of a number of people on the board - and it hasn't been all for the better. Maybe it's because of everybody being cooped-up inside due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Maybe it's the protests and rioting being reported in the news. Maybe it's the upcoming 2020 elections.
Regardless of the reason, none of it excuses the behavior and lack of emotional control we've seen on the board recently. It needs to stop. This forum is not a place where you can use as anger management for whatever else is going on in your life. Taking up a musical instrument; studying philosophy; taking a Krav Maga, boxing, or BJJ class; writing it out in a private journal; or simply going for a walk are all much better at letting you blow off some steam than flailing away at a keyboard. I'm asking that all of us get a better hold on ourselves. And this is what we've come up with.
MJ and I met over the weekend in person (he lives a few hours from me) to discuss how the board will be managed. Here's how things are going to be: He owns the ballpark and I'm the umpire. I make the calls and he keeps the place functioning. He's allowed me wide latitude to clarify the forum posting rules and my moderating response to them. If he feels he needs to step in due to disagreement with a call I've made he will do so (or if I'll be away from the boards for a while for some reason), but otherwise he's going to leave the majority of the moderating up to me.
The below clarifications will back up what TSPKing originally posted in this thread (and which everybody should already be familiar with): viewtopic.php?f=10&t=4
With that in mind, here's what's going to happen:
1 - This forum is - first and foremost - a place to talk about TSP and retirement planning. As such, I'm asking that you leave all political discussions for the Anything Goes forum. MJ will work on making that part of the forum invisible to the "Latest Posts" so that those who wish to avoid the non-TSP and non-retirement planning discussions can do so more easily. This makes sense as this is presumably the largest portion of the membership here, as there are relatively few members who engage in the political talk. Keep in mind that a growing number of our members might very well be young military members who are simply looking for information on investing, which in my experience really isn't provided by the Services.
2 - If a thread outside of the Anything Goes forum turns political, I ask that the participants be mature enough to take it there themselves by creating a new thread or to PM. Do readers a favor by leaving a note in the original thread that the discussion has moved to Anything Goes so interested parties can follow along with their popcorn to watch the fireworks. I have no problem with you fighting it out by the flagpole after school - that's where many a problem between individuals was "discussed" in the past, and I see no reason why it can't happen here.
3 - If participants can't move the discussion to the Anything Goes forum within four or five posts, the thread will be locked (assuming I see the thread by the time it gets to that point - sometimes a dozen posts happen before I've logged on and seen what's going on). It's too much work for me to move all your posts just so you can have it out with each other. Short version: abuse a thread outside the Anything Goes area and it gets locked.
4 - Even if you're discussing / debating the topic in Anything Goes, I'll be watching. I expect the disagreement to be civil and professional. Bash politicians / political parties / media outlets / ideologies all you want (using facts is preferred over slander and helps your argument, but hey - you do you). However, do not bash each other. By that I mean name calling, personal insults, attacking another's character, insulting one's intelligence, suggesting things about one's spouse, etc. All of these are juvenile acts that have no place here. You'll get one warning from me or MJ, then you'll be banned for a duration that seems to be appropriate. It might be a month, it might be longer. It might be permanent. You never know, so think carefully before hitting that "Submit" button. Do you really need to say what you're thinking about saying?
5 - #4 applies to PMs as well. If you PM something along these lines to your opponent and I'm notified of it, same rules apply. "PM" doesn't necessarily mean "Private from Aitrus". I was disgusted by a report I recently received of one member PMing something inappropriate and personal about another member's wife. That's way, way out of bounds.
6 - I consider agitators and smart-asses to be deserving of what they get, so don't come crying to me if you got worse than what you gave. Poking the bear and giggling at the reaction is just as juvenile as the things I laid out in #4. I'm not talking about a well-reasoned and worded disagreement here; I'm talking about an insult / meme / posting designed to provoke a reaction. Do yourself a favor: don't be a part of the problem. It just makes you look bad. Yes, I'll talk to the person who punched back (they are responsible for their actions, after all), but you need to know that you're not the "victim" if you started it by being a jackass. And there's a good chance I'll call you out on your part in the affair. I'm an equal opportunity chastiser.
6 - By now most of you know my political leaning. However, as I've demonstrated in the past, I don't allow my personal biases to interfere with my assessment of somebody's actions. I've chastised conservatives and liberals alike. I will continue to do so, and I will hold myself to all of the same standards above just as I will hold everybody else to.
TLDR: This site is about TSP and retirement planning, so take anything else to the "Anything Goes" section or the thread gets locked. Behave yourself or be banned for a length of time of my choosing. I'll be fair and as consistent as I know how to be.
If you have any questions on these policies, please feel free to ask - but I hope I've made my position clear enough that such questions will be few.
Note: While MJ and I get things sorted out with my posting permissions, I'm going to post this in the "Introductions" section of the forum until MJ can post / sticky them in the "Law and Order" section for me.
Recommended Reading: http://tspcenter.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=13474
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters" Epictetus