Missing clear rules

I was recently seeing a job offer posted on this forum where people wondered if such a post is to be considered spam. I commented the post, expressing that I see a problem that there are no clear rules what is considered to be spam and what is not. (My opinion was that a job offer for Rust programmers on a Rust forum isn't per-se spam, but other people may have a different opinion. And maybe I would change my opinion after the hundredths post like that in short time.)

Today I find the thread to be silently deleted. No problem with that, as “moderators reserve the right to remove any content and any user account for any reason at any time.” That's fine, and if I was running a forum, I'd reserve that very right for myself as well.

I do, however, miss proper guidelines. In the context of the Rust project, I repeatedly felt like there might be too little effort to properly explain certain rules. I believe that the Rust project is big enough that it should put more effort into that.

Here are some examples:

  • The Code of Conduct states that “sensitive issues” are best to be avoided. What does that mean? Is any meta discussion a sensitive issue? Is asking if Rust is the best programming language ever a sensitive issue? Honestly, I would feel slightly uncomfortable with the feeling that I must only post on topics where everyone agrees on, and such rule makes me feel a bit unwelcome whenever I state a thesis that many people might strongly disagree with. It doesn't make the atmosphere better but worse for me (I think). Moreover, I have made posts in the pasts where I wasn't sure whether they will be welcome or not. Discouraging “sensitive issues” made it more difficult for me.
  • Depublication of crates: The question whther a package can be removed from crates.io is answered as follows: “The short version is that packages are first-come, first-served, and we won’t attempt to get into policing what exactly makes a legitimate package. We will do what the law requires us to do, and address flagrant violations of the Rust Code of Conduct.” So this is the “short version”. But does that mean there is a long version? Is that long version a secret or communicated to the public? From responses in forums, I have a slight idea under which circumstances packages are removed, but it's all very vague. Does it need to be that way? No. Compare NPM, which has detailed rules and explanations on what to do to take a package down and under which circumstances it's possible.
  • Posting in this forum: I'm not really sure which content is welcome here and not (as explained in the opening of my post).

I think it would be wise to put a bit more effort into working out these rules to avoid unnecessary speculation or blaming that content is inappropriate. Note that I do not want to criticize that moderators retain the right to do as they see fit; I merely would like to better understand what I can usually expect, and I would feel better if there was less speculation going on amongst the users whether some content violates or doesn't violate the rules.

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I'd like to ping the moderators (@khionu, @notriddle, @technetos) to make sure this issue is not going unnoticed. While I don't see any urgent need for action, I would appreciate if my concerns are being noticed at least (and possibly taken into consideration in the future).

Mirroring what I said before, for job postings I think it would make sense to do two things:

  • use the rules from the r/Rust subreddit
  • have a dedicated thread where postings can be made

Doing these two things would ensure a baseline of expectations for postings and ensure that people aren't overloaded by threads about them. People can mute/hide the post if they don't want to see it, and that would cover all postings.

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Quoting:

This forum is not a good place to post job offers. If you want to hire Rust programmers, please submit your offer as a pull request on This Week in Rust instead.

=====

In my opinion, at core, the two sides of the argument breaks down to:

  1. That job post violated forum rules.

  2. Because $REASON it is okay to break the forum rule.

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I'd like to point out that as a logged in user, I don't see that thread linked anywhere. Maybe it should go to the FAQ or be linked somewhere on an "About" page or similar.

P.S.: "Not a good place" is somewhat fuzzy. Maybe it should be written more explicitly that such content may (or will) be removed (or that it is not "wanted" or will be frowned upon). It would be more fair, I think.

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It's pinned and you probably read it when you first signed up, and don't have the option that keeps read pinned topics at the top. [1] But it's probably not a bad idea to have (all) pinned topics linked from those always-displayed sections like About; those are also where I looked when the original thread was open.

(You can search for "in:pinned welcome" to find it, as an example of tracking down pinned posts you've read.)


  1. I think there is such an option anyway. ↩︎

It's pinned and you probably read it when you first signed up

Unfortunately, that's probably not quite true. The specific line you're mentioned was added fairly recently. You can see the edit by clicking the pencil icon at the upper-right corner of the message.

Where we failed here was in not announcing it loudly enough for everyone to notice it.

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I think rules should be clearly marked as those. A forum post (pinned or not) is appearing less authoritative in either case. At least that's my perception. But my problem was I simply didn't see the post anymore, and it was more than a year ago that I read it.


Edit:

Oh the rule is new, I didn't know that. Thanks for clarifying.

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I also agree that the rules post should be more findable. I was recently looking for them and if I remember correctly, I checked:

  • pins (not realizing that I had previously “unpinned for me” the rules post linked from this thread),
  • the hamburger menu's “About”, which contains only summary and stats info, but may have an editable section?
  • the hamburger menu's “FAQ” (which contains only generic Discourse advice — maybe this can be edited?)

If these places linked from the actual site UI elements could be edited to at least point to where the rules are written, I think that would be really helpful.

I just found the TOS, which still(?) refer to Mozilla.


User contributions made on or after 2020-07-17 are dual-licensed under the MIT and Apache 2.0 licenses unless otherwise stated.

Not that I have a problem with it (I think), but it's somewhat surprising too.

We will need to do a revision in the near future, of both the TOS and rules. They've been around a while, and, as noted, we really shouldn't have references to Mozilla around. I can't speak to a timeline, sadly; I've let a couple things slip in the last month, including progress on some Moderation Team meta issues. I'll be tucking a link to this thread in my notes, feel free to continue to share views!

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I find that with this particular edit to that pinned post we’re putting outselves into an unfortunate situation that reminds me of situations described in this article; i.e.: if there’s a “weak” rule that “this forum is not a good place to post job offers”, then we will only get job offers from bad actors who don’t care too much about following rules; at least unless it’s a proper rule, “this forum does no longer allow posting of job offers”. If it’s a proper rule, it would however need to be stated in a proper place, and be properly enforced.

I wouldn’t like if the status quo is that job offers are still tolerated, whilst we’re discouraging many “good actors” [1] from posting them here, in turn drastically worsening the quality of the average job offer posted in this forum.


  1. (or in the wording of the linked article, everyone that’s not an “asshole”) ↩︎

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This forum is not a good place to post job offers. If you want to hire Rust programmers, please submit your offer as a pull request on This Week in Rust instead.

I don't see this as a 'weak rule' -- merely politeness. It's pretty clear what the intention / spirit is, and anyone ignoring it is, in my opinion, either (1) unaware of the rule or (2) acting in bad faith / looking for a loophole.

Fair interpretation of the status quo; as indicated above, I wasn’t sure myself either in the first place whether it’s only a “weak” rule. Searching through recent threads I could not find any place yet where a strict “no job offers” policy wouldn’t be enforced, so I suppose it probably really is a proper rule then, and properly enforced. I guess then all that’s left of my previous post is that I agree with others in that: such a rule should better also be stated in other places, and the phrasing should be improved to be less ambiguous as to whether it’s a rule, or merely a hint teaching you how to make “better” job offers.

Yes, it's a proper rule. Don't post job offers here. @khionu and I talked about it before, and we both agreed that this forum is not equipped to handle them right now.

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I will do:

:100:

While the rule may have been properly enforced, I would say that it's not properly phrased. But since I'm not a native English speaker, I may be wrong.

Whether this is a rule or a suggestion/advice isn't clear. It depends on context. To give an example: If a police officer in uniform :policeman: tells me "this venue is not a good place to eat something", then I might interpret this as "I must put my food away or I'll be fined or get into trouble". But this actually depends on the country / jurisdiction. And perhaps it's no hard rule but just a suggestion. Maybe the officer just wants to warn me of birds (or trolls!? :scream:), who would attack me if I openly show my food. The police officer would act better if they told me: "Eating is not allowed here, but you may go over there, it's a nicer place to eat". Same polite, but clear regarding interpretation.

Now the problem with the pinned post is: there is no police badge err… moderator badge :sweat_smile: and the wording is open to interpretation, especially for non-English speakers, and may strongly depend on cultural background of the recipient. In some cultures, an "advice" can be interpreted as strict order, while in other cultures people take things more literally or say things more directly. (The latter can appear quite impolite to people who expect the former. I'm living in Berlin :laughing:.)

I'll admit, this second part of the paragraph reads more like a rule (but still misses the police badge, figuratively speaking). Also, as the second sentence in the paragraph, it is in context of the "weak" phrasing that preceeds it.

Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to be nitpicking saying that this is not a rule. Especially after @notriddle's clarification below, it is clear that this is meant to be a hard or "proper" rule. I merely want to say that such phrasing leaves unnecessarily room for interpretation (apart from the place where it's posted which could/should be improved).

I think it's possible to be precise and polite. I would suggest trying to be both.

In my opinion, speculation of users whether some content of other users violates the rules will create a less polite atmosphere for everyone in the end. But other people may have different views.

Of course, we can't know what you talk about in private :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. But thanks for commuicating it now.

I would like to add a comment regarding this:

This really surprised me. It might be wise to add a note just below the submit button akin to what Wikipedia does:

(from Wikipedia)

By publishing changes, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL. You agree that a hyperlink or URL is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license.

(This cited text is not a contribution under the MIT or Apache 2.0 license. Do I have to write this now every time I cite something!? I'm not a lawyer :unamused:.)

Anyway, my point is: If posting in this forum means you automatically publish something under an MIT and Apache 2.0 license, this should be made clearly visible. Currently this important detail is "hidden" under hamburger menu ➞ About or FAQ ➞ Terms of Service ➞ Section 3 (User Content License).

As there may be legal consequences arising from carelessly citing or otherwise posting content, I think this "legal detail" deserves a more prominent place.

(I know that dealing with legal issues is always a hassle and it makes coding much less fun than it could be.)

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In my opinion, the higher order bit is always "Is this person spamming?" and never "How will the spammer feel if called out?".

Spam is evil because it breaks the social contract and {steals, wastes} {attention, time} from people who never consented to it.

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I didn't talk about feelings of "spammers". I talked about general communication atmosphere when it's not clear what is legitimate and what is bad to post, or will be frowned upon or cause people being called "spammers" when they are not (or don't know they are because they don't see the rules or the rules are not clear, see discussion above).

A job offer isn't per-se spam. If it was, then "This Week In Rust" would contain spam.

P.S.: Not every commercial content is spam. If we're talking about "commercial" vs "non-commercial", we should use these words, and not the word "spam". If it is really intended to limit this forum strictly to non-commercial content, then this should be communicated.

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You seem to be assuming that is_spam has signature content -> bool; in my opinion, it has signature (content, context) -> bool.

It is spam in one case because it is explicitly forbidden. (Rust forums).
It is not spam in the other case because it is explicitly allowed. (TWIR).

What is this about "clear rules"?

It would be impossible to make a set of rules to cover every possible thing anyone could ever say here.

Surely people have some idea that what they want to say is in bad taste or abusive of somebody or generally not inline with the purpose of the forum.

Of course when I say "bad taste or abusive of somebody or generally not inline with the purpose of the forum." all those things are very vague, everyone has different interpretations and sensitivities.

As I found, just say what you have to say, perhaps it gets hidden, blocked or deleted. Perhaps you get a warning from "the system". I have to say "the system" because I never got to know who was calling for my cancelation at the time.

In general, be nice and we will all get along.

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