When I read this I like to believe "some users" are well identified by the mods. Why not give them a warning rather than threaten to punish the whole community ?
I'm going to break your post down here a little bit, because there's a lot to address. First, we use those blanket warnings to remind everyone in the thread of the rules. We typically do it after making a number of deletions. We've found over the years that it is often reasonably effective at calming discussions, because it gives us a visible presence. It's sort of like speeding past a parked police officer — odds are you'll let off the accelerator a little. We aren't using that as a tool to punish anyone, but if the behavior continues, we can issue a specific warning or ban to the user, and cite the warning posted in the thread.
I feel warning and bans are not used enough, there is a number of topic usually interesting but often hijacked by an handful of users ! I can't believe mods don't see it...
I'm just curious — how do you know how often warnings and bans are used? We don't publish them, and we don't discuss them in an open forum. For all you know, we could issue one warning per day, or we could issue one thousand. I won't get into numbers, frankly because I don't keep track of the metrics, but I can assure you that we deal with warnings and bans more often than any of us would prefer.
We issue them appropriately as needed. Records of warnings and bans are permanently attached to a user's history, as are any notes we add to their account. Often times, we don't feel that behavior rises to the level of a permanent note being attached to their account, which is why we opt for public warnings. We've had over 20 years to work out a disciplinary system that we feel is appropriate, fair, and effective, which is why we do the things we do.
We realize that some users occasionally hijack threads, which is why the Report Post function exists. We are all volunteers. We all have real jobs, families, and numerous obligations outside of the time we volunteer for this site. I'm an air traffic controller at a busy facility in the northeast US, so moderating here is more of a hobby than anything else. We rely on the community to bring issues to our attention. We are simply users with added responsibilities. It is your responsibility just as much as mine to help keep the forums in check. Users frequently pin the blame on us for failing to take action, but every single user has the ability to take action to bring issues to our attention.
That's maybe convenient to show good activity/posting stats to the owners ? But the quality of discussion is declining alarmingly. Topic like this one about COVID may be on non-av but its a topic affecting everyone worldwide like never before! It should be a place where all users can share or bring something to the table, but there is no place to discuss in there, every post get buried too quickly by an high volume of very low quality posts....
In civ-av you can take the MAX grounding thread, NMA or next Airbus clean sheet it's the same to a lesser degree...
The owners don't play a role in how the forum is moderated, and I quite frankly couldn't care less what the owners think about my moderation. I try to conduct myself in a manner that users appreciate and reflects well upon the moderating team. That is the extent of my concern.
Your comments over the quality of discussion are not new. We've actually been getting those complaints for many, many years, in particular after the site migration and the end of paid memberships. For the record, we are pretty much all strongly against free membership, but we have no control over that. The quality of discussion is also something that is largely outside of our control. We are here to foster a good environment and promote good discussions; while we delete posts or threads that are clearly low quality, we have to balance that with users of various levels of knowledge and language skills posting to the best of their abilities.
As for the large threads — again, not a new issue. We try our best to manage the discussions, because some users feel all similar topics should be grouped in megathreads, while others think that separate threads should exist for every nuanced detail. The current arrangement is the arrangement we are best able to handle. We allowed for significant thread splintering in the Civil Aviation Forum given the range of discussion, but there will only be one Non Aviation discussion. We don't have the resources to allow more splintering than we already have, because we don't have enough moderators.
We are a lot to be victim of a few, I feel the volume of their posts just kills any discussion, that's a shame for such a forum.
Maybe, as users, we don't report enough? Should we do more? Hard to complain as useless mass posting is not specificly against forum rules, sometimes I wouldn't mind having a button "not against forum rule but it is going round and round" to alert the mods.
Yes. As I said above, it is the responsibility of every user to report posts they believe violate the forum rules. We would rather you not report discussions simply going around and around, because again, we don't have the resources to make sure every single discussion stays on the straight and narrow. If there are a number of posts requiring our review (a series of personal attacks or very off topic comments), just report the first post, and write in the comments that we should review the subsequent XX number of posts, or the remainder of the thread. I guarantee you that we will review it 100% of the time. We may not always take action, because we may not always agree that a rule has been broken, but when you create a report, you will always receive a notification that the report has been reviewed and closed.
With all of that said, none of what I've said above is in any way an attempt to dismiss your concerns. We realize that there are a number of ongoing issues, and quite frankly, they'll likely continue to be issues in the future. We address issues that are within our capabilities, but some problems are unfortunately a lost cause. The forum has changed dramatically over the years, as has the base of users that frequent the site. We're always looking for new or better ways to do things, but for the moment, we're generally working with what we've got. But, I can't stress the Report Post function enough. If even 10% of users regularly reported posts, our ability to manage the forum would be drastically increased. Right now, I'd venture a guess that less than 1% of users report posts on even a semi-regular basis, and that really hurts our ability to stay on top of issues.