For the most part, I believe the RateItAll community to be pretty fair and decent in its treatment of issues and each other.
But recently, I've been noticing a disturbing trend of a handful of regulars picking on new users.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell you that an online community that scares away new members is an online community that will struggle to grow.
As such, this is a very, very big deal to me and the rest of the RIA team, and we are moving the issue up the priority list.
To date, we've asked folks to police themselves in this area. Sure, I've sent the occasional private message or made the occasional blog post. But to date, we haven't made any institutional changes.
But as the community grows, this doesn't seem to be enough.
Effective immediately, we are going to treat the issue with a combination of "legislation" - aka, site rules, and tools.
On the tools side, we are exploring a number of member and admin controlled tools including the ability to block another member from commenting on your stuff or messaging you, and the ability to lock a thread.
On the rules side, effective immediately, anyone who is seen as harassing, flaming, or otherwise making things unpleasant for a new member will be suspended for one week. Subsequent transgressions will be treated more harshly.
Just to make it easy, this includes harassing new members who deserve to be harassed - like the folks who join just to post some wingnut political conspiracy.
New members are to be treated with kid gloves, period, no matter how wacky, tasteless, or disturbed they appear to be.
Those of you who have known me for a while know that I really hate this. I really hate to try and legislate away social issues. But I've asked, and I've reasoned, and I've warned, but folks don't seem to be getting the message. And if folks won't willingly be a part of a culture that welcomes new members, we will lay the hammer down. Nobody is bigger than the site.