Community guidelines contradict both themselves and standard practice

I’m putting this in the general category becasue the community guidelines affect everyone. I’m not posting in the curator section because this post is less about me as a curator asking how to do curation tasks and more about clarifying things for users in general. I’m not posting in feature requests becasue I don’t have a specific change I want made yet, I’m mainly trying to create a discussion about the vagaries of the current guidelines and what the community thinks about clarification, which would ultimately be up to staff (and could be made as a feature request)

The first issue is that insults, joke IDs, and incorrect DQA votes are listed as grounds for suspension without warning, yet these issues are in practice most commonly dealt with by warning the user first, unless especially severe.

Secondly, not using someone’s pronouns is listed twice, first under hate speech (an immediately suspendable offense) and then again the in tone and attitude section, which is not labeled with the (!) symbol that marks all immediately suspendable offenses

Lastly, the subsection of “tone and attitude” that deals with discriminatory attitude is marked with the (!) symbol , but contains language saying it is not necessarily grounds for immediate suspension

In practice I warn whenever I can, and would suspend without warning only for hate, threats, sexual content, sockpuppetry, harassment, insults so severe or repeated that a warning is unlikely to be effective, or other severe violations. This is consistent with what I’ve seen from other curators, but I think it would benefit both curators and the entire iNat community to have more informative guidelines about what is suspendable


I agree this sounds rough around the edges – I also think it’s hard to make a hard-and-fast ruling. The (!) potential for warningless-suspension seems warrented, because sometimes bad actors will make accounts specifically to harass folks. But I completely agree that, whenever we can give people the benefit of the doubt and issue a warning & explanation, we should.


I agree that curators need flexibility to respond to the specific situation, but I think the guidelines could make it clearer that (!) means potential for suspension, rather than mandatory suspension. Right now it kind of looks like curators are supposed to suspend in every single incident involving an insult, which is obviously not true or desirable

And the stuff that is simultaneously listed as suspendable and not suspendable could be clarified

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I think it’s really important to give people warnings and not jump to suspending them. We have people writing in different languages, often in one that is not their first language and nuance is difficult across such differences. (I think of a recent controversy in the Forum because for many people lying can merely mean making a mistake, saying something untrue by accident, while for those in the U.S. and England, lying means deliberately saying what isn’t true in order deceive.) We come from from different cultures, even within one country. A particular phrase or statement may mean something seriously different to different individuals. Also, we sometimes write carelessly or when we’re tired, not meaning to be offensive but being so anyway. Also, sometimes we lash out because we’re hurt and I think we should have some tolerance for that. (I think of a guy who was angry that I marked his observation for copyright violation. He explained why and I could sympathize – he’d seen the species but couldn’t photograph it himself – but I insisted that this was a violation. He ended up by calling me a “Karen” and telling me to mind my own business. I was about to retort [after looking into it and finding out that “Karen” was an insult in this case, not an error of naming – which brings us to a whole other level of potential insult since there are a lot of nice people named Karen!]). Then I realized he was hurt much more than I was so letting him have the last word was the least I could do, especially because I wasn’t going to relent on the copyright violation.)

Like @schizoform, I think that having the potential to suspend people instantly is important but the boundaries are difficult to define. I don’t envy those who try to define them or those who must apply the boundaries.


Any of these behaviors are grounds for immediate suspension without warning.

Seems pretty clear to me. The user can be suspended for that violation without warning. So if they make one of those violations, they shouldn’t be surprised.

What I’m working on, are a) a clear set of interventions that can be applied as consistently as possible (eg 3 day suspension for first offense, etc) and b) functionality to support timed suspensions. Right now suspension is just an amorphous indefinite thing. There’s no nuance available when applying it, and no clear recourse for the suspended user to take.

IMO that’s consistent - all (!) are grounds for suspension but not necessarily immediate suspension.

Please email if you think someone has a sockpuppet. We can check things like IP addresses and such that curators can’t.

The first is about intentionality - intentionally misgendering is a suspendable offense.


Is there anyplace where lying does not mean intentionally false?

I’m aware that that is the intent, I just think something like “Any of these behaviors can be grounds for immediate suspension without warning” might be clearer, that way warnings don’t come off to new users as curators deviating from guidelines, when I was a new user 5 years ago I was confused by these rules

I hope my comment didn’t imply that I don’t know to do this, the point I was trying to make is that there are some things that don’t need a warning, like warning a sockpuppet account wouldn’t make sense, as the account itself is a violation, I would absolutely email about this

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I think it’s a problem of translation. I remember discussions with students in the Kingdom of Tonga who would say another student was “lying” when that other student was doing his best and was simply mistaken. The students would argue that “lying” is saying what is untrue and the other student had done that, so he was “lying.” The disagreement on this Forum seemed to involve translating from Russian. A matter of using one literal definition without understanding nuance that can be really important.


In colloquial speech. When someone realized that they just misspoke, they might say, “No, I lied” as a shorthand for saying that what they just said was wrong.


OK, I’ll think about better wording.

It didn’t, I just wanted to make that general knowledge in case it wasn’t.

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