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The Atmosphere of Northwest Firearms - Changes

Discussion in 'Questions, Problems, & Feedback' started by Joe Link, Feb 22, 2016.

  1. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Most of you have seen and read The Atmosphere of Northwest Firearms. My inbox currently holds 376 conversations pertaining to this; an incredible amount of feedback. I've read all of them, and starting today I'm going to do my best to reply to each of them. I appreciate all of you who took the time to write. While reading these conversations over the past few days I've been compiling my thoughts for the purpose of posting them here for public commentary. There has been no 'behind the scenes' discussion among the staff. Though I will be making the final decisions, this involves everyone. Hopefully we can come up with solutions to our issues together.

    One of our biggest challenges is making people understand that unlike most internet forums, our goals (which I mention below) are much more important to us than traffic numbers, advertising, etc. Regardless of money I couldn't live with myself if I were running a community that I knew hurt our cause, and right now I believe that's exactly what I'm doing. Getting people to understand that this is a single issue community built for all current and potential gun owners regardless of political party is something I must do. Fact is there are pro-gun Democrats such as Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-OR) and anti-gun Republicans such as Michael Bloomberg (who has been more effective than anyone when it comes to infringing on the 2A). No question, the simplified generalizations so pervasive here and everywhere else are short-sighted, foolish, and irresponsible, doing great damage to our cause in the solidly blue Pacific Northwest.

    Our previous attempts at trying to please everyone has resulted in failure (big surprise), so the new plan is to focus on catering to those who share our goals. I would rather have a smaller group working toward these goals than a larger group whose actions reflect that they don't particularly care. I fully expect to lose some people with the changes we're going to make. I fully expect people to whine about heavy handed moderation, though they violated clearly-written rules with which they didn't agree. I fully expect people to complain about NWFA infringing on their 1st amendment right, and I suggest they re-read the constitution. I fully expect people to complain about moderators unfairly targeting conservatives, though they cannot see who was warned or banned and why. I'm fully aware that, for better or worse, I'll have to live with the results of the decisions we make in the coming week. I'm perfectly fine with that, now more than ever.

    REITERATION OF OUR GOALS
    1. Promote a positive image of gun owners and gun ownership.
    2. Increase the overall number of gun owners in the Pacific Northwest.
    3. Educate gun owners to increase knowledge and safety. Educate non-gun owners to increase knowledge and dispel common myths.
    4. Provide resources useful to Northwest gun owners, both online and offline.
    5. Provide a medium for members to organize pro-2A activist efforts on the grassroots level.
    While we do work with 2A political organizations on occasion, our purpose has never included direct political involvement ourselves. Two reasons for this:
    1. There are numerous organizations one can join and work within which are focused solely on the political side of the 2A. The line between activism and politics is very thin, with the difference being that activism represents action.
    2. No way around it, the practice of politics breeds division. Go read the latest email from any of our 2A organizations and see for yourself. I'm not saying it's right or it's wrong. However, considering our aim of bringing people together and growing our numbers, these are mutually exclusive.
    Us trying to serve as yet another 2A political organization does nothing to help our cause, it further divides our resources and organization. Everyone trying to do everything is extremely inefficient and counterproductive. Our strategy, a better strategy, is to focus on specialized goals. One of (if not the) the most important is working to attract new gun owners. Once they've overcome the initial, inherent intimidation of gun ownership and hooked on shooting then they can decide whether they want to get politically involved. Our choice to focus on one aspect, the very first steps in gun ownership, absolutely requires that we maintain a solid, positive image and a welcoming, friendly environment.

    I'm not sure who came up with the flawed theory that gun ownership and gun politics cannot be separated - they absolutely can. The use and enjoyment of a right does not automatically involve one in the political fight to protect that right. Right or wrong, participation in that fight is an individual choice. When a group of people all fighting for the same cause attempt to identify which of them are 'more' for their cause it is known as eating their own (#3 below). Unfortunately human nature guarantees that this entirely voluntary habit remains prevalent across the the entire political spectrum.

    ISSUES WE NEED TO ADDRESS
    1. COMMUNITY TONE/FEEL/FIRST IMPRESSION - I'll go back to the analogy I used in the other thread. If military recruitment began with a war zone tour, how many people would join? How many people aren't joining NWFA in the first place because of what they see? One of the reasons this site has been very successful in the past is due to us being local and welcoming to new people, and us doing our best to provide a helpful, unbiased firearm community. Many have made what will likely be lifelong friends here, despite eventually finding out they had political differences. If those differences were highlighted rather than their shared interest in guns, those friendships likely wouldn't exist. We need to make every effort to focus on the one topic that unites all of us: firearms.

    2. OUR IMAGE - Gun forums in general are a great argument against gun owners and the 2A. Empirical data shows that gun owners are generally law abiding, responsible, quality people. Unfortunately those positive character traits seem to disappear for many once they're in front of a screen. Others are simply so far out of touch that their constant preaching makes us all look like Jerry Fletcher. Even with irrefutable evidence, nobody would believe them because of their reputation. Image is every bit as important as the message one is trying to convey.

    3. CANNIBALISTIC BEHAVIOR - Snubbing and ostracizing others because they're not 'pro-gun enough' is a great way to kill our cause. It's so effective that opposition groups actually use it against us, and we fall for it every time. Who wants to keep company with people who behave like that? In the same way you have to crawl before you can run, it is extremely unlikely for someone to become 100% as-it-was-written pro-gun without being educated in a positive, respectful manner in a non-hostile environment. You will never convince anyone by talking down to them or telling them they're wrong.

    CHANGES BEING MADE

    1. Rule Updates - Particularly #1
    2. Disabled Deleted Post/Thread Placeholder - These serve no good purpose other than to anger people knowing that something was removed. A failed experiment, this is why most other forums don't have them enabled. We will be looking into how we can update our warning system to send a copy of content for which a user was warned.
    3. The report button will be moved out of the post control menu to a more convenient location (to be determined).
    4. Enforcement of non-2A/RKBA content rule in the Preparedness & Survival section.

    POSSIBLE/LIKELY CHANGES

    1. Crowd Moderation - We're currently testing a system which will automatically hide a post once it has been reported by members a set number of times. The existing system will still function as normal so moderators can review reports and take further action (or restore the post). The goal with this is to get members more involved in the policing of the site.
    2. Legal & Political will be split into two new categories; Laws & Legal for the discussion of current laws and legal issues and Legislation & Activism for the discussion of 2A legislation and activism efforts.
    3. Non-firearm political content will be changed to non-2A/RKBA content.
    4. Prohibition of news links and chain emails. These carry with them inherent bias and emotion, causing the same in most discussions that takes place.
    5. Renaming warnings to reminders. We shouldn't be considering this as we're all adults here, but people act like they're being penalized when they receive a warning. A warning is simply a reminder. The penalty for too many warnings is a vacation, which is actually very rare.

    QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
    • How do we create a positive, welcoming environment here?
    • What do we want peoples' initial impressions of our community to be?
    • What words do we want people to use to describe our community?
    • What words do we not want people to use to describe our community?

    BEFORE REPLYING HERE

    This thread is for feedback on the possible changes or questions. We are not looking for arguments, opinion, or discussion regarding our strategy. Though these are technically opinions, Northwest Firearms will be operating as though they are facts. You don't have to leave if you don't agree, but you do have to respect our rules.

    What we are looking for is ideas on how we can solve these issues as a community. Please take the above into consideration. Thank you for your time.

    Joe Link
    Northwest Firearms
     
  2. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I think using the "Report" button as a "dislike" button is a great idea. To frame a response to new members who come in beating their chest and being very opinionated about some topics in their first 20 posts is very hard to do without coming across as condescending.
     
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  3. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I agree with joe13, maybe dislike can subtract from like score. (Joe has more likes than me, not fair:(!) Maybe link dislike votes to "Mod attn"?
     
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  4. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Thanks for the replies guys. I want to keep the purpose of the report button to report rule violations (and likely for crowd moderation).

    I don't like the idea of a dislike button, as I think it's inherently negative. I'd rather someone reply to a discussion and say why they dislike something. However, I will keep it on the list of considerations.
     
  5. albin25

    albin25 Lewiston Idaho Well-Known Member

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    A "dislike" button is like "troll attractant", it's annonymous, easy, and discourages varied opinions that are submitted even if the comments are within the rules and on topic and respectful. Seldom do dislike buttons get used to correct "how" an opinion is presented. Rather, the dislike button is used to show dis-approval of the opinion.

    (sorry, the following added as an edit after I had to catch the mail truck)
    I know it might be too labor intensive for moderators, but the following would perhaps take the sting out when a comment/message is deemed as "delete-able";
    -moderator copies and pastes the offending message to a PM asking the member to edit.
    -Mod. the deletes it from the forum
    -Member replies to Mods. PM with a cleaned up version.
    -Mod then replaces it or dumps it (only 1 chance)
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
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  6. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    Tear gas release button:D
     
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  7. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    It doesn't change the fact that he had an R after his name and he was anti-gun then, too. RINO's are still members of the Republican party, which is exactly why labels are deceiving and pointless.

    Regardless, the purpose of this thread the discussion of potential changes. We won't be discussing our opinions.

    We're considering prohibiting links to news articles as they almost always turn political. I don't especially like this idea, but it nonetheless has merit. I think better moderation could fix this.
     
  8. 66PonyCar

    66PonyCar Tigard, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    So would prohibition of news articles also affect say a link to a gun magazine? Say I wanted to link to a review of a new firearm or firearm accessory would that be prohibited?
     
  9. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    To be honest it was a suggestion in one of the conversations I received, we didn't actually talk about it. I don't think a blanket ban it's a good idea, but we could definitely do without many of the CNN/Fox links.
     
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  10. Koda

    Koda Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I have a suggestion about news links...

    When starting a new thread if your going to post a link you should be required to write something about it in your own words... and more than one sentence if your the one creating the thread.

    Ive seen many threads started where they only post the link, then maybe copy/paste the article below..... but with no real personal commentary.

    I dont think links should be prohibited but if people are too lazy to say something about it then why bother? lock those threads out.... the lack of commentary and dialogue is what makes them go downhill fast...
     
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  11. 66PonyCar

    66PonyCar Tigard, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I think it would be unwieldy to administer. You can block the obvious links like CNN and Fox but there are probably thousands of news sources on the web not to mention blogs and YouTube channels.
     
  12. edslhead

    edslhead Vanc Gold Supporter Gold Supporter Silver Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    "The penalty for too many warnings is a vacation, which is actually very rare"

    Will this be a paid vacation and where will you send me?:p
     
  13. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I'm going to reiterate this.

     
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  14. Theresa Greene

    Theresa Greene Aloha, OR Member

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    I greatly appreciate all of your hard work. This YOUR forum, your rules. Do what YOU think is best. You can't please everyone, nor should you try.
     
  15. DuneHopper

    DuneHopper Douglas County. Well-Known Member

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    I think when I wrote you I mentioned similar, my own concern is I agree first of all a gun site for gun owners would be perfect as we have enough groups etc. That said the question comes up as I can not think of one political resource, commentary, TV, Radio, Lobbies, newspapers that would not re-spark the issue that you have addressed. I was trying to think of an analogy.
    Say you wanted a site for people who love dolphins, and wanted a site dedicated to dolphins. What you would have is things associated with " Dolphins ". But Dolphins have enemies that are sharks, should we then allow sharks? People hunt sharks and sport fish too. Why were on the subject of sport the plays offs...... well you get my point. I agree the site and focus you have good ones. I actually would like to be part of a gun owners group, not a gun owners, slash what ever which seems to cause the issues. So Joe would not just eliminating all news period be a the better way? If we keep it out of site, keep away special interested and just focus on gun ownership . I tell you the truth I sometimes can't come on here cause the heavy heavy feel of lobbys, Hilary, Obama gees ..its then I go look up the humor section and post there.
    It too heavy for me because I get it all day long on TV, and emails from lobby's, FB notes from friends sure would be nice to a swimming hole to hang out have a beer and talk about guns without politics?
    I read what you say and it seems what you want is exactly that? Then why not just go with what you want ? Or did I read that all wrong ?
    Hope this is the type of information you are looking for ?
    Joe thank you for your efforts to make things better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2016
  16. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    If we can't quote published content from elsewhere, and we're prohibited from supplying a link that pretty much kills a lot of input to the forum.
     
  17. Don H

    Don H Oregon Well-Known Member

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    If you want to force people to play nice then require people to use their real names. Some people will stop posting but they're going to anyway if you have to check a rule list to determine if what you want to say is okay.
     
  18. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I agree, people should write about why they're posting links rather than posting the links alone.

    Yeah if we tried to do it via software it'd be a challenge, definitely not something I'd attempt. It'd be a report/delete type thing, whether via moderator or community moderation.

    You're spot on with this and the way you describe what we need to get back to as far as the atmosphere of the site. I'm disappointed we didn't do it sooner (my fault).

    I don't want to go overboard with what it'll take to get back there. I'm not sure a ban on all news is necessary, but otherwise it's going to be up to moderators to decide what stays and what goes. Definitely putting a pin in this one to see what others say.
     
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  19. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Yep, and that's why I'm not necessarily in favor of prohibiting everything.

    We considered this years ago and ultimately decided against it. I don't think the rules are difficult to follow, it's mostly people who don't agree with them choosing not to follow them.
     
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  20. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Fan-frigging-tastic. Too many Alpha personalities and not enough cooperation. Bust out the paddle stick and let's get along. All find and dandy until a personal attack gets in there; that's crossing the line.

    Perfect. No reason to have them hanging over on the board. If stuff disappears it disappears, not saying that it's gone and not visible to admins as a reminder that it was removed, but John Q Public and/or site robots don't need to see them.

    Perfect. (and I'll mention the switch from WARNING to reminder should lessen the amount of butt hurt reports that are filed). Yes I'm guilty of a couple myself when I got a little hot headed.


    I wish the rabble rousers would realize they are polarizing us from everyone and this site is important to a lot of us in the PNW (and @tac in the yUK) to get information out there. Joe I believe you have good ideas and there may be a few ruffled feathers at the start but you sir, are open to suggestions and ideas just as much today as from when I first got on here. Simple things from making a post a stickie to adding a [] Recent posts search check box.

    You are doing just fine. 30,000+ members and it's still here.