Re: What happened to Eadon??
It's a fine line, and I have to be honest when I say that I'm not entirely comfortable myself with the idea of outright bans for anyone. (Well, maybe jake or Bryant...)
The reality of it is that Eadon was an outlier that caused some problems, stepped over the line and has caused a rethink of commenter and forum policy within El Reg. Drew and I had a frank and open discussion about all of this and I am under the impression that dialogue internally at El Reg has been proceeding apace on the topic as well.
My position on this is thus: I agree with the decision to banhammer Eadon, despite the misgivings that it causes with my inner internet troll. The situation was unique. I similarly believe that we should unban Eadon and invite him back with the understanding that he refrain from ad homs against the authors or other El Reg staffs. Call it "time served."
He may or may not accept - $deity knows I'd be pissed if I got banhammered from somewhere - but I think that "undeading" him is ultimately the right path forward. There is, however, a catch.
I believe - and others have agreed - that the forum policies need an update for clarity and that the issue should probably be discussed in the open. We're a technology website, after all, and this is an issue that affects online communities the world over.
A large part of the reason why this hasn't happened is because I agreed to create the draft and I simply haven't held up my end. I'm a little on the OCD side about trying to find the right balance and so I'm neck-deep in research about how other online communities have solved the same problems, as well as researching how the active members of our community are responding to the fallout of the incident. I've started soliciting input from members of the community as well about how The Register should deal with moderation.
Part of the issue is that full bore moderation - as it occurred under the moderatrix - is time intensive and expensive. The bigger issue, however, is that it is soul crushingly disheartening. What a lot of readers don't appreciate is exactly how utterly vile some of the comments that get posted here are. This is part of the reason why there are post counts before a commenter is allowed the right to post without moderation.
I don't exactly moderate this stuff myself, but I do talk to the folks that do...and frankly they find some of what people post quite upsetting, sometimes even legally questionable. So any policy needs to not only take into account issues like "continued and ever-ratcheting ad homs against writers and staff" but outright "not okay" posts from new users and even a sustainable methodology for tagging, reporting and acting upon offensive posts from established community members.
As a nerd I'd love to find a nice clean set of rules that are absolute. Ultimately, I don't believe that's going to be possible. Make absolute rules and a true troll will simply find a loophole. Clearly, however, we should try to do better then we have.
Some people are going to be very upset that we don't allow everyone to say anything they want. They demand nothing less than a moot-free 4Chan and they'll get all huffy and "leave" unless they get it. Others will leave if we let the community degenerate into trollmageddon.
I am a troll at heart; hell, I write for the register and am essentially a professional shit disturber. I prefer a community that falls between the two extremes of "4Chan" and "fully moderated by 'think of the children' NIMBYs." I suspect that the majority of El Reg staffers and community members feel the same.
If you agree, or if you disagree, I think the next month or so is your chance to speak up. I don't have the final say on community anything, but I have been given the opportunity to put forth a few proposals. The people trying refine the community rules are decent people. I can say with absolute confidence that all ideas will be considered.
So speak up! The Register isn't a faceless megacorp bent on pushing its view of the universe upon you. (In fact, given the eclectic nature of the people who work and write for El Reg I'd go so far as to say "The Register" doesn't have a collective 'view' on most topics.) You have a voice in the discussion regarding the evolution of the forums and it will be heard. Even if we all ultimately disagree vehemently, your views will be weighed and considered.