Changes to USMB Rules and Layout Discussion boards are the oldest form of Social Media. In order for us to stay relevant and adhere to the principles of free discussion --- we have to PROMOTE good discussion. There’s no sense having a design that sounds like Twitter. And we definitely don’t want to pretend to be fair about boinking topics and opinions and content like the FaceBook current strategy. So we’re making a few minor tweaks to USMB content organization and moderation to encourage folks to more fully engage in discussion. We’re going to be enforcing more demanding “specific topical content” in posts. For too long now, the standard has been getting more and more lax. Thread topics have to be respected. They are much more important than the personal squabbles and member flaming. So “specific topical content” will show up in the revised rules as MORE than a token or repeated reference to some key word related to the topic. You have to be CONTRIBUTING to the topical discussion in every post in Zone2 before you get to flame or snark. We can’t have threads that all sound the same. No one learns anything. No one wants to read them. It becomes the same useless skirmish in every thread. Secondly – if you do flame or snark without sufficient topical content AND you escalate that to excessive levels by calling out members as Marxists or Nazis or racists or other improvable attributions – expect to get ejected from those threads. Lastly, we are going to simplify the rules and moderation by collapsing from four moderation Zones to three. This will greatly simplify the map that folks have to keep in their heads , simplify moderation, and make the Zone method less intimidating to new members. Zone1 will stay essentially the same. So forums under the highest “civil conversation” moderation will not be affected. Zone3 will be wholly incorporated into Zone2 and the more stringent “sufficient and specific topic content” rule will apply to the vast majority of USMB forums. The World Famous USMB Taunting forums will stay the same rule wise, but they will move one floor up to Zone3. (Zone 4 will now be flame sanitized and renovated for Mod room expansion and recreation ). Some of the forums in the current Zone3 are not as problematic for topic control as others. For instance, Gardening or Writing or Music or Canada will always have some leniency for being “on topic”. But Current Events, or Health/LifeStyle or Immigration, for instance demand more on-topic compliance. It’s common sense and courtesy that should prevail in the less contentious forums. You should not need moderation to figure it out for you. The Zone “collapse” will require a clean-up of all those “sticky threads” at the top of each forum that refer to the Zones. Those stickies haven’t been culled or edited in a long time. So we’ll be working on that for perhaps 2 weeks. In the meantime – POST in the old Zone3 forums as though the tougher standards apply today.