The USCF Forum
The forum is a powerful tool for the membership to interact with those they have placed in a position of authority. It can provide the membership a capacity to influence those in positions of authority to publicly account for their actions, decisions, and the use of membership provided corporate resources.
Board Member Intermediation
There seems to be a considerable amount of posting as well as correspondence from our leadership and technical support staff expressing their various opinions on what is appropriate or not appropriate regarding the forum. The impact of this intermediation with the membership is noticeable.
I did want to express concern about board members expressing displeasure with various posts or moderator actions and suggesting also that comments referring to themselves or their colleagues be removed. This has been exacerbated by requests to ban others from the forums. This action combined with various comments from our leadership about shutting down the forums lends a chilling effect to the process and contributes to dysfunctional forum moderation.
Even if our leaders are hyper-sensitive to criticism they need to be models of decorum for all of us and be prepared to productively answer critics and not suppress them. Improving organizational behavior must start at the top. The USCF must have those who represent it to lead by example. Note personal attacks should not be allowed but the idea is not to stifle criticism, debate, or even disagreement as one can have polite discourse and still challenge others' points of view, their record, their statements, their actions, their behavior, and their opinions.
The Forum Oversight Committee
I understand all this intermediation by our leaders should not influence FOC actions but it does as such behavior encourages individual and arbitrary interpretation of the AUG that the forum members all have agreed to follow. In my opinion this arbitrariness, interestingly enough, also empowers what the leadership labels disrespectfully as malcontents as well as provides a rationale for those in authority not to maintain their public accountability.
The inaugural FOC members were thrown into a poorly conceived structure and told to come up with policies, procedures and amendments to the AUG, but it continues to be impossible to improve if our leadership and technical support staff keeps intermediating on forum issues or has less stringent rules for themselves then for the membership.
When you have Executive Board members all interpret the AUG independently, it empowers others to do the same. Following that lead it appears that the FOC is also practicing AUG nullification. Perhaps the exercise of building a new AUG will put everyone in the FOC on the same page and mitigate some of our star chamber like behavior where the application of the rules are not well established or understood, things are decided by a group who have the power to judge, the proceedings are conducted confidentially, and a reason or explanation behind a decision is not immediately or generally apparent. We should be able to do better.
Towards New Acceptable Use Guidelines
The building of a new AUG would need to be a group effort of the FOC. It is clear that the FOC can make recommendations to the ED and EB for formal policy and procedures which could include the AUG. The EB approves guidelines, policies and procedures. If the FOC cannot embrace change then the ED must intervene to reinvent forum oversight.
I would like to see a simpler AUG but with considerable background explanation (in a separate document) that would go to the moderators so they could operate more independently and consistently. I would desire such material prior to submittal to the ED be available to the forum membership for review and comment. I would suggest an associated simpler disciplinary process like three strikes you’re out. Also if we have the proper process to explain and document new decisions setting precedent, even if we view each case as unique, the majority of unacceptable acts would be much better defined over time. The ultimate goal could be to empower the moderators to the point where any need for an FOC would be minimized or even eliminated.
Until this is achieved I would hope the call for “strict moderation” is not just a euphemistic way to stifle criticism or debate about our leader’s actions or lack thereof on the member’s behalf.