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Discussion Starter #1
Why is this even a rule? I saw a post about a person that had a thirty four day old puppy and it had some health issues, no surprise there. So a couple of people try to warn the owner about all the other problems that having a puppy that young could have. Immediately there's this warning about off topic and start a new thread. In a tiny font that's almost impossible to read of course too.
It's all about the same puppy, the original poster was interested to learn, people are trying to help.
Why be so controlling to the point of being extreme? Realistically new threads don't get started or don't get as many responses. So people trying to help get shut down, the owner loses out on valuable information that they would have benefitted from and the poor puppy suffers.
Why advertise this site as friendly and welcoming when the rules are more controlling and restrictive than any other forums I've ever seen?
I've been on cat and horse forums for literally decades and none of them have rules about off topic or even forbidding talking about any methods of training. The only rules on these multiple sites is no politics or religion topics, no advertising your businesses and no bashing other people.
Freedom of speech and all that as long as overall respectful.
Those are much more user friendly sites in my opinion.

It's a shame because many of the people on here seem very nice except for one judgmental know it all.

But the restrictive constant policing about trivial things like off topic really takes away from the enjoyment and helpfulness of the site.

I can understand rules that other sites have like no free advertising and no bashing others or talking about politics or religion.
But people trying to help other dog owners and give helpful advice about a new dog or puppy shouldn't be policed and have to start a new thread for every single little issue. It's all one dog and guess what dogs and people are complex and all their issues combine to make one whole picture.
All their medical and behavior history affects them to create who they become. That puppy's eye infections and pain and itching and youth and new home and lack of mother is all going to affect its development and dog it grows to be.
Each topic affects another.
No offense but to me this is a somewhat small minded rule. I'm a big picture person in my thinking and have been trained through my work and graduate degrees to look at things in the big picture perspective and I diagnose problems and situations for a living so see different issues as symptoms of a whole.
Tough for me to think in terms of off topic as they're all contributing factors to a greater macro problem.
The obnoxious chronic know it all poster on here always gives long-winded personal stories that would seem to be off topic yet never gets reminded of this rule.
No disrespect to anyone intended, it just gets frustrating seeing positive help shut down over a rule. Then owners lose valuable information they need. Like that young puppy owner. People don't always do research on their own and raising a young puppy with health issues, I bet this owner doesn't have time to do hours of independent research it start another thread. And being able to read a few helpful posts on her existing thread would have been awesome.

When I've started my own threads I never got many responses. Probably cause I'm too wordy lol. Or by the time I typed it out I'd figured it out on my own anyway.
But this site is anything but user friendly or welcoming in terms of all the restrictive rules compared to other animal sites, even other dog sites.
 

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Sometimes going off-topic often falls under the category of advice unasked for -- which is rarely welcomed.

I once posted a picture a pic of my dog and received a lecture of what should or should not be on his name tag--it was completely irrelevant to my situation, it was not helpful, it was rude, it was memorable, and it pulled the post off topic. I ignored the comment, it wasn't really a big deal, and yet, here I am, revisiting the moment.

That's one example. I actually like a little chit chat & meandering in threads, especially if it's a relevant aside to the original topic, or if the original topic has been answered.

I think discussing netiquette is not a bad thing. My take on it is start a separate discussion on things that you feel important. Yes, people will see it.

From a moderated facebook group I got this list of questions:

Before you post:
Is it helpful?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?


3 easy questions that will work for any venue.
 

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Ii noticed this too. And did not agree with mods as bigger picture required. I have also had threads deleted for linking world renowned trainer videos. As its advertising. Yet little victoria stockwell threads links - all allowed. I guess there's a subjective human behind it. And accept they are doing the best they can with what they have to give the role of mod. Human cognitive bias.
 

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From a Mod perspective, I can tell you that going off-topic can cause a range of issues.

First, it can be frustrating to the person who has asked the original question. There is nothing worse than waiting for a response, and when it comes it doesn't really even address your problem.

Secondly, once the thread begins to shift it can continue to shift slightly by each person that continues to take the thread off-topic. Then everyone is discussing things that have zero to do with the original question, and the OP needs to sieve through the posts to find relevant information.

The Mods are not paid to moderate, and we have full-time jobs and our own dogs. We check into the site when we have time, and try to read as many posts as we can. So if we miss things, it isn't intentional, and we highly recommend people use the report button, or start a thread in Talk to the Team. Also, just because you don't always see us reminding people in a thread does not mean we aren't talking to them privately. If the person you are thinking of is the same one I am, they were recently banned for continuing to take threads off-topic, and giving advice that wasn't warranted.

Lastly, if you don't enjoy the rules of the site, or the way the Mods see fit to moderate, you are more than welcome to find other sites that have a more relaxed style. As you've said there are lots out there, and this is how we have managed to keep the DF relatively friendly and troll free.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to make a post in the Talk to the Team thread.
 

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Only wanted to add to Shandula's awesome explanation, ime as a mod here that:

off-topic posts often actually lead to arguing between members, additional rule violations, and a lot of work for the mod team (infractions, warnings, having to edit/remove posts, etc)...

Also, from the op's perspective a lot of off-topic posts in their thread can often be frustrating and perceived as rude/inconsiderate. If the op happens to also be new, it's not very weloming to have asked a question and get pages of unrelated posts instead.
Posted via Mobile Device
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I honestly mean no disrespect to anyone and completely understand there's different perspectives for everything.

I still think in the thread about the month old puppy, when the owner and original poster actually asked what were the other issues and was interested to learn more about how to raise her puppy, it was ridiculous to be so rigid about off topic in her own thread since she was asking for more information and it's still one dog.

How does the op hijack their own thread? Of course a puppy raised from a month old is going to have many risks and challenges and anyone trying to help shouldn't be rigidly policed when the op wants more information.
So that thread was ridiculous in my opinion.
Yes posting what to put on a name plate in response to a posted picture is over the top.
I guess rather than being rigid about a rule for the sake of a rule, it would be less off-putting and perceived as more welcoming and friendly if the context was taken into account, like if the op wants the information or if it's a more critical situation like a very young puppy.
It doesn't feel welcoming or friendly to have constant policing posts on every post or thread about staying on topic either. Not as a new poster or a not so new poster, especially when people have been on other animal websites for years and never encountered such a rule anywhere else online.
It just seems ironic to have the site advertised as a friendly welcoming site and then have it be the strictest site found so far, with lots of warnings and talk of people bring banned for non harmful reasons.
People argue online all the time. It's the nature of a forum where people who are strangers communicate without voice tone or facial expression to moderate what is said and there's lots of room for misunderstanding and miscommunication. Staying on topic or off doesn't really change that.

And many people other than me are trained diagnosticians and think of situations in terms of the big picture.

I don't think of my dog's current thyroid issue as separate from every other issue. Indeed, several vets and other experts have told me that his thyroid issues could be connected to his occasional aggression, IBD and food allergies, separation anxiety, genetics, past treatment and socialization and how he was raised. I think of the while picture when I think of him. Then I think of my background in human psychology, behavior theory, training past dogs, cats and horses and use all of that plus behaviorist suggestions and all the medicines he's on. It's all the big picture of his past and present and my past and present interacting. It's not just one little thing with any dog or owner. As any trainer, behaviorist, vet or human provider will attest to. I get a complete history of every human client I work with as well, it's never just one thing so nothing is really off topic to me. An eye infection can be a poor immune system from bring separated from the mom too early or an ulcer from bothering the family cat and not being socialized appropriately. It's all relevant to thoroughly help someone.
 

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The original post in question only asked for advice about the puppy's eye. It was in the Health subforum. If you wanted to discuss behavior issues, start a new thread in another subforum.

The rule was created long before I came around. It's not going to change.

It's far too subjective to pick and choose which OT threads to address so we address all that we see. We make no decisions in a silo. We are constantly discussing members and posts and making decisions together. We put up with a lot before we decide to ban someone. It's often not visible to the public but we give multiple warnings.

You say that you mean no disrespect but you have consistently insulted us (the mods) on this thread. Again, we don't get paid. We do this plus work full time plus go to school plus work our dogs... we do the best that we can.

If you feel that the rules here are too strict then maybe this isn't the forum for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
There were no insults to any individual person or mods. Saying how I feel about a general decision or rule is not the same as individually insulting a specific person. And no I didn't insult any one person except when I mentioned one regular poster was a bit difficult sometimes but that wasn't any of the mods.

That's like someone saying they don't like pitbulls or lab mixes or cats or horses or people who support my religion or politics. It's not a personal insult to me unless they actually attack me and say I'm whatever the specific insult is because I had a pitbull mix or cats or horses or believe in whatever religion or politics I do.
I still try to respect the rules even if I don't necessarily like or agree with them. I thought going to the off topic discussion section would be an appropriate place to vent about it and question it since I think differently as do others from discussions I've had privately about it with other posters.
No website is perfect and some things about this one aren't for me but many people on here seem generally nice and there's a lot of helpful knowledge and information to be had too.
 

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Coming at this from the perspective of moderating on another bulletin board that also has the keep threads on topic rule, moderators cannot pick and choose when rules are enforced. Let it go in one thread then you may very well have 5 more threads that people have taken off topic, you'll also have members upset when they're reminded to follow the rules but Joe was allowed to not follow them. Moderators do the best that they can, and it's not an easy job.

As to keeping threads on topic, I think the threads getting derailed was becoming out of control, and I applaud the moderators for cracking down on it, it also speaks volumes for what I meant when I said let it go in one thread and it just keeps on happening.

How about PMing the 34 week old puppy owner and asking him or her to start a thread asking for help or advice if they need any? Maybe write something like. Hi, just wanted to see how your puppy was doing and let you know the you can start a thread requesting help or advice if you need any.
 

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As a mod who has been extremely busy and hasn't been able to be on the forum much (like Shandula said, we aren't paid, have jobs, families, attend school, and all have dogs of our own) I find this thread horribly frustrating. Not but a few months ago many of the people who are being critical of the off topic rule were reporting another poster who is now gone for the same exact thing. I would think since you witnessed that, you would be aware of how a simple off topic comment can completely derail a thread.

For example, since real life examples seem to help me a lot, imagine you are having a conversation with 3 people. You're all really talking and the conversation is going well. Then a new person walks up and starts talking about the weather with one of the members. Next thing you know the conversation that may have been constructive for the group as a whole is now not only broken up, but it's distracting and things will get missed by at least 1 member if not all.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of these threads can turn up in a person's google search or in the search of the forum down the road. If someone is wondering about what behavioral issues they might run into when acquiring a puppy at a month old, they aren't going to look at a thread about eye gunk. Having those threads broken out into their own threads not only helps the current conversation, but it also may help someone in the future who is searching for answers that that thread my provide.

Also, as Aspen said, the rules were here before us. They will probably be here after us. A great example of issues that can come from having lenient rules is the scrutiny that Reddit is currently going through regarding free speech and one of their subreddits. We want this to be a friendly place, and we have accomplished that for a long time. I hope that you can see that while it may appear strict, it's what keep this place an enjoyable place to conversant. (And trust me, we all don't agree with each other 100% of the time).
 

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It doesn't feel welcoming or friendly to have constant policing posts on every post or thread about staying on topic either. Not as a new poster or a not so new poster, especially when people have been on other animal websites for years and never encountered such a rule anywhere else online.
It just seems ironic to have the site advertised as a friendly welcoming site and then have it be the strictest site found so far, with lots of warnings and talk of people bring banned for non harmful reasons.
I think you are over exaggerating!
The majority of threads on this forum do not have rule reminders in them!;)

Also I belong to numerous online groups (a few forums and a lot of fb groups) and most have a similar rule about staying ontopic. Many are actually far more restrictive then we are here...
Spammers and trolls are banned as soon as we are aware. Otherwise, it takes quite a bit to be banned here...

People argue online all the time. It's the nature of a forum where people who are strangers communicate without voice tone or facial expression to moderate what is said and there's lots of room for misunderstanding and miscommunication. Staying on topic or off doesn't really change that.
They do. And it's our job to moderate.

We are well aware misunderstanding and miscommunication occurs (we often have to remind members of this. see our ''new to the forum'' sticky thread for info and what we expect/recommend on that.)

Staying on topic can indeed help prevent arguments here in many cases.

A super common example...
Someone creates a thread asking a question or for advice but the op contains a question about an aversive method or admittance of use of an aversive method. It's common for someone to respond to such a post with an ot comment about a certain celebrity trainer. Then boom. People are arguing about him and his methods when the thread really had nothing to do with him. The op doesn't recieve the help or info they were seeking. And we (mods) have to edit/remove posts, address multiple rule violations (and not just ot posts), probably give warnings/infractions... And it all started with a single ot post.

And many people other than me are trained diagnosticians and think of situations in terms of the big picture.
There is a ton going on behind the scenes that you are unable to see. We literally have a completely separate ''back office'' forum for mods and admin only where we discuss and keep everything! Messages from members, messages to members, infractions/warnings, edited/removed posts and threads, reports from members, etc. Many issues including derailed threads, are often cleaned up and the problematic posts no longer visible to regular members. We will often leave the rule reminder in such cases as without, people just repost or pick right up where they left off. If there is a rule reminder in a thread, there is a reason for it. Even if you don't see it.

Imho, without access to this information members aren't going to be able to see the whole picture of what goes on here and their view on the ''big picture'' is going to be incomplete.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Ok as I said I really don't mean to be disrespectful and I can see all of these points. I do try to respect the rules of wherever I am; it's just not a rule I'm as familiar with from other forums so I guess takes some adjusting to.

I hadn't heard about the Reddit thing, I'm going to have to look it up since now I'm curious. I know some YouTube guy keeps getting in trouble for posting graphic death videos and making light of disturbing topics so they're not letting him profit from the ads anymore, but I think that's a different story.
My own issue with the person in question was more that they came across as condescending and judgmental than their going off topic, but that's obviously just me.
I can't fairly complain or get mad at someone else for going off topic when it's a major struggle for me to reel in my brain and not do it myself lol! I do try not to be a hypocrite and to admit my faults.
 

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I hadn't heard about the Reddit thing, I'm going to have to look it up since now I'm curious. I know some YouTube guy keeps getting in trouble for posting graphic death videos and making light of disturbing topics so they're not letting him profit from the ads anymore, but I think that's a different story.
My own issue with the person in question was more that they came across as condescending and judgmental than their going off topic, but that's obviously just me.
I can't fairly complain or get mad at someone else for going off topic when it's a major struggle for me to reel in my brain and not do it myself lol! I do try not to be a hypocrite and to admit my faults.
This is the most recent Reddit vs Freedom of Speech debacle. They frequently have problems within the website of what is too far and what is acceptable. When I first started going to Reddit I was told about the darker side of Reddit and subreddits to avoid that had hold cow graphic content but was safe and allowed because, well, freedom of speech. That is what can happen when rules are not aligned and abided to. Not saying this place is anything like Reddit, but we should take note from their problems.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/reddit-rises-up-against-ceo-for-hiding-russian-trolls
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Wow I never heard of those subsites nor do I really go on Reddit unless it's linked to some major news story. I've obviously heard of all the election mudslinging from each party and wild conspiracy theories but never avidly followed any of that.

I understand your points about rules and consistency but as a clinical social worker who's made a living helping people and animals, and using horses and dogs in therapy and rescue, and cats, for decades, I'm about as far from a malicious troll on any internet site as it gets.
The vast majority of my posts on this or any forum are to either learn more information or to try to offer supportive helpful tips or advice from what I've learned or my experience.
My being clinically trained through several advanced degrees to think outside the box and diagnostically and from a holistic perspective doesn't put me in the troll or malicious category, nor in the subreddit Russian spy league lol.
I've said several times now that I meant no personal offense or disrespect to anyone and that I can agree to disagree. Questioning or disagreeing with a rule doesn't mean that I don't try to follow it since it's not my perspective website.
I do see the points made above and that there are various different perspectives that I didn't see before.
In my work and life I'm used to thinking of things in a big picture and holistic way. Different perspectives, simple as that. I don't read about or deal with spies or much other than my career of helping very ill people that much of society couldn't stand to be around for long or working with cats, dogs and horses. I only go online to stay in touch with social contacts and learn about animals, not visit dark websites.
But interesting story. I'm pretty sure though that confirmed criminals with enough motivation, especially in organized crime rings, will find a way to get around any rules no matter how strictly enforced they are. Just as true criminals have done for centuries. We've never been able to completely eliminate crime from the world no matter how strictly or technologically advanced we get. The most tyrannical societies tend to have the most corruption and crime historically. Hitler and the Nazis had the most strict regimes and concentration camps and that didn't turn out so well.

Not saying this site is that extreme either, by the way.
To whoever said I exaggerated, I've mainly been on cat and horse forums which don't have off topic rules, at least not the ones I've been on. Maybe it's a dog site thing. And the Facebook groups I'm in are dance and music groups and a couple of horse groups, again no dog ones.

Maybe it's just dog people?

But anyway at this point I'm just continuing what has turned into an interesting discussion. I understand that the rules here are not up for debate nor will they change based on feedback or suggestions from current posters. I understood it before, as I already said I had thought this section was an ok place to discuss/vent when that rule didn't really make sense for one thread I read.

Lol it is a shame we can't vent about being off topic in the off topic section though. But oh well, life goes on.

Have a good night, everyone.
 

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Nope, not just dog people. I've frequented a few horse forums and the ones that didn't have strict rules I didn't stay at. The ones that did I was a long time member. Also am an avid redditor and see from subreddit to subreddit how ones that aren't closely moderated can turn into total cluster f-s. I also don't frequent many facebook groups as they tend to be full of people that find confidence behind a keyboard and become just plain bullies. I've also learned that, for the most part, the most logical and well thought out argument will not change the mind of a person who's mind doesn't want to be changed. I constantly go round and around with the same family members (my brother) about conflicting political opinions. It's the same topics. Neither of us ever change our minds. But we waste time doing it.

Off topic discussion is totally cool. I mean heck we have a thread with hundreds of pages of nonsense off topic talk. There is also tons of threads about other things. I think where this thread went wrong is that is came off accusatory or somewhat as an attack on the mods. And while that might not have been your intention, this is the internet and tones get misunderstood. Discussion is always great and sometimes helpful in allowing different sides to understand each other.

Now I'm off to work. Wednesdays are my busy days. Hope y'all have a great day.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Like I said the only Facebook groups I'm on are a couple of horse ones and a few dance and music groups, but those are mainly to stay in touch with old friends and acquaintances and go to new music nights of old bands if they happen locally.

The main horse forum I'm on feels like an old family by now since I've been on it for so many years. They finally banned one bully who liked to bash everyone and cause trouble and people just ramble away on a lot of threads. It's really helpful for health issues for both horses and dogs since they have a dog section too. They have strict rules about no advertising and no bashing or talking about religion or politics, they just don't have an off topic rule. They remove advertising posts and warn people about bashing and politics as much as they need to. I know they've banned a few people who aren't there anymore.

The people there were really supportive and kind when my ancient mare got suddenly very sick and almost died at an awful place I boarded her at last summer and helped me when I was struggling with my decision of whether to euthanize her or move her. I rambled off topic nonstop in my grief and devastation and got a lot of support and knowledge. Luckily I had an amazing vet and moved the horse who bounced back and looks five years younger today.
So that website has its rules but the lack of an off topic rule was a literal lifesaver then and other times.
The cat site I've been on is the same. I stumbled on it looking for health tips when I was taming my older feral cat and he had tons of health problems and I was trying to think of easier ways to get meds into him.

Never had an issue with any mods or admins on any other sites since the internet came out. That's why in my limited experience it's only been this dog site, but I don't go on a lot of different websites.
And until here had never heard of the off topic rule so was a bit slow to understand the value of it since the other sites I've been on for years all functioned fine without it. But like I said I get all the points made even if I personally agree or not.
 
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