I have a question for everyone: What is the ideal response to "rudeness" on this forum?
Background info: Rudeness has to be the most common reason for complaint (i.e. people clicking the "Report to moderator" link) on the forum, but it is at times the easiest to spot and at other times the hardest to quantify.
We have two core principles to our forum:
1. We are an Orthodox Forum, and our definition of Orthodox is just short of "broad" - we are including Eastern and Oriental Orthodox of both New and Old Calendar mainstream jurisdictions (i.e. no vagantes, self-proclaimed Orthodox, etc.).
2. We are a discussion forum. This means that we have to foster an environment of "free speech."
Now, of course, these two principles collide in many instances, and we favor the first over the second: we don't allow for the trashing of saints or groups (i.e. our "Academic Discourse" request); we don't allow for gross vulgarity/pornography in language or images; we restrict polemical discussions to a few areas, and have several boards designated "no debate, just discussion."
But rudeness is one of the murky areas where definition isn't clear. First: frankly, not everyone perceives the same material as being "rude." Some of this is personal, some regional (New York vs. rural Kansas vs. Australia vs. Italy). Some of it is linguistic - many instances of reported rude behavior come from our being an English-language forum with users who don't always speak English as a first language. Some cultural - in many places, directness is prized above empty formality, which is perceived by others to be rudeness but has no such intention.
And let's face it, there is a history of rudeness within the Church. Arians vs. Niceans. Chalcedonians vs. Non-Chalcedonians. Iconoclasts vs. Non-Iconoclasts. We have documented instances of Saints trading barbs at one another, insulting Emperors, heretics, etc.
So what is to be our reaction? I at times find the rudeness on the forum nearly unbearable; at other times I feel that folks need a blunt "reality check" because they simply don't understand what's going on. Sometimes I see rudeness as necessary, to wake us from complacency - at other times, I see it as background noise. I really do believe that some use it completely unwisely, while at other times I see it as a "woe to you scribes and pharisees" moment.
Personally, I'd rather see rudeness self-policed. We don't want to be heavy-handed (I'm not sure that we can be anymore, at least not across the whole forum - we've got roughly the same # of mods today when we're getting 15K-18K posts per month as we did when we were getting 3K posts per month), and we don't want to be all-permissive; we don't need gangs of vigilante-moderators harassing (ironically) people via PM to be nicer, but we also don't want folks feeling emboldened to be nasty to each other (publicly and privately) either.
I'd like to hear what y'all have to say. Should we be moderating against rudeness? Where should we draw the line? How will allowing or disallowing rudeness help the forum? Should rudeness be banned only from certain sections? (I'm sure you can think of other good questions to add.)