How do we address this issue in a way that keeps as many people as happy as possible?
I don't really see this about making sure as many possible people are happy.
It's about this negativity apparently being so pervasive that the entire chat had to be frozen, 3 or 4 meta topics have been created, 3 members suspended, and Shog9 voicing that he has considered permanently freezing the room (although it's currently only temporary).
So, it's less about making people happy, and more about participants not being hostile, antagonistic, rude, etc. Part of the problem, as I see it, is the blatant disrespect also given to blue names when these issues come up. Users can't complain moderators are taking comments out of context, when their direct rudeness to moderators is exemplary of the problem.
I've seen the chat get overly negative, or offensive comments get posted, and this is how I've personally tried to resolve it:
- Tell the user what they said was too much. I've done this a couple times, and the user edited or deleted their message. I personally wasn't much bothered by what they said, but I recognized that it would be over the line for some users. I want to emphasize here that the other users acknowledged the comment and modified it, after only a simply prodding. It didn't resort to arguing or a big discussion.
- I edit my own messages, sometimes before I say them. Mentally, I try to keep my comments PG-13, which I think is a suitable guideline for public chatrooms that store content indefinitely. There are times where I've wanted to say something like "What the f***?", but censored myself to "What the hell?" (<--- Like when I logged in to find chat frozen, I did that exact thing)
- I'll try to change the subject. This one is sometimes a bit harder. Recently, there was a heated discussion and I made the mistake of restarting it. I stepped back, and with several other users worked to move on to another topic.
- I don't star inciting comments. Too often our star-board contains negativity, which makes it difficult to move past. I try to star light-hearted, funny, or truly interesting comments. For me, it's pretty demoralizing to come into the room 2-3 hours after a "heated discussion" and get the full, negative synopsis just by reading the starboard. I come to chat to escape stress, not be bombarded with it.
I've only been an active chatter for a few weeks, because of a confluence of work and life events has allowed it to be so, but I've definitely seen some ugliness in the chatroom in such a short time. It's generally an enjoyable experience, and I like being able to discuss SF&F stuff with people who know what we're talking about (except for certain somebodies who haven't watched Star Wars) as well as talking about adult subjects.
In fact, if the chatroom was only about SF&F, I'd likely not enjoy it as much. Chat is a way for me to have conversations that I otherwise don't have the opportunity to have.
How do we deal with this?
If people can't be respectful, and follow some internal guidelines or those laid out by Shog9, then they need to be kickbanned and/or suspended.
I see absolutely no reason why this should have ever come to the point that the entire room needed to be frozen. That shouldn't ever have to happen again. Instead, the offending individuals should be removed. If they're abusing their privilege, and risking my privilege, then I don't see any reason to allow the behavior to perpetuate without reprimand.
And then, when such disciplinary action takes place, we need to realize it's for the health of the community. Suspensions are temporary. People come back. And when they do, hopefully they've cooled their jets and learned where the line is.