CMA Chat Forum Moderation

At the CMA Conference in September I gave a short presentation about the development of this forum, and how discussion and engagement is managed through this forum.

Does anyone have experience moderating other forms who can share their experience of successfully running forums in a way that is inclusive, accountable and encourages a wider range of views and ideas?

What is the best way to manage and support interaction using this forum that is inclusive, respectful, considered and personable?

What are the safeguards, moderation approaches and polices that we can look at in order to encourage conversation and discussion that can empower people to share their experiences of promoting community media?

A quick Google search flags-up some basic standards and policies, would these be suitable for our needs, or do we need something more specific to our needs?

Can moderation processes be counter-productive? Would it be better to leave moderation issues more open, or should we be prescriptive about the type of content that gets shared on this forum?

Do we need a ‘members only’ section that is separate from the publicly available sections?

Here’s a couple of links, if anyone has got anymore, it would be good to chat about how these work and how they might be adapted to our own discussion.

This is a good article about how the Linux community use their forums to avoid infighting and ensure that discussion is respectful and inclusive:


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The only thing I have to suggest is that many years ago I was on a forum that only allowed one post every x posts (3 I think). It meant 3 more posts had to be made on a topic before you could repost.

The effect worked very well and stopped any arguments. Also there was a rule about no personal comments addressed to any other member of the forum. You could reply and quote someone else’s post, but your reply must to be the forum in general. They suggested you use PM for that.

Lastly they had a like type button. Next to each person’s post it showed the number of posts from that person, total likes then scored them based on percent likes to posts.

This all worked to focus certain individuals on making quality posts that furthered the conversation at hand.

I believe it was a 16mm film forum using custom software. Clearly some technical knowledge would be required to implement all these features if people even wanted them.

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I’ve had experience of forums that has been both positive and negative. I personally don’t use Facebook because I’ve had very negative experiences with groups on Facebook, in which I’ve been bullied. Something about the way that Facebook groups works seems to bring out a very negtive appraoch in some people, and I have to protect my own mental health, and not absorb other people’s anxiety or negativity.

In that case there was no clear guidance on behaviour and the responability of members of the Facebook group in what and how they could post. I had assumed that people were responsible adults, but this was not the case. Was I being too sensitive, and am I still being too sensitive, perhaps? But if forum interactions arent mindful that people have different experiences and expctations, and that including people and making them feel confident to interact means toning-down some of our individual personal reactions or indignation, then a strong moderation policy might not be needed. Though I might be too idealistic to think this can be achieved?

The bullying had an increadibly negative effect on me that lasted for some time and affected all parts of my professinal and personal life. It sucked the confidence out of me and left me feeling isolated. I’ve never really spoken publicly about my experience. It was a few years ago now, but it’s an experience that I want to avoide as we build the forum here, so we can engage in constructive and inclusive discussions.


I’ve put together a draft CMA Chat Forum Moderation policy. Comments are welcome via the Google Document I’ve posted online, or discussion as a reply to this post. It’s the first draft, and may need to include other issues and better ways of expressing the issues outlined:



One of the things I’ve proposed in the forum moderation guide is that there is a members-only category, so that paid-up CMA members can discuss issues without them being publicly available (though we should always assume that they are public discussions).

I’ve set up a group, if you are a paid-up member and wish to be added the this group, please let me know @Rob-Watson and I’ll add you in.

Rob :slight_smile:

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Here is the final version of the CMA Chat Forum moderation policy, as noted at the December council meeting.

CMA-Forum-Moderation-Policy-002-2018-11-20.pdf (161.8 KB)

Community Media Association Chat Forum Community Guidelines & Moderation Policy

20th November 2018


This Moderation Policy covers online discussions and posting of content using the Community Media Association (CMA) Chat Forum []. This forum is used to undertake discussion and interaction between members, council members, supporters and collaborators associated with the CMA.

The forum uses the Discourse Platform, which is an open source, trust-based online forum system, which is hosted by the CMA on its own dedicated server. The Discourse platform is accessible as a website or as an Android or Apple application for use on mobile devices, and can be integrated with other online platforms, ICT management and communications systems.

The CMA Chat Forum allows contributors to collaborate and share ideas and concerns, undertake planning and to work from dispersed locations and time-zones to facilitate project management.

Contributors do this by posting content, links, documents, comments and views related to the various resources, support documents, news feeds, online presentations, examples of good and innovative practice, academic-led discussions, social media feeds, news reports, and policy issues that are related to community media.

The aim of this collaborative and shared approach is to facilitate a wider range of contributors to take part in the CMA’s project and policy development discussions, and to share and promote events, activities, information and media that might be useful and informative for community media practitioners, activists, trainers, researchers and policy developers. The CMA’s mission is to support the wider understanding of the work and contribution of community media as a social movement in the UK and internationally.

All users and visitors to the CMA Chat Forum are expected to be mindful of the CMA Charter, its principles and its implied emphasis on trust and respect for all contributions to the discussions that are encouraged.

This moderation policy is adopted with specific reference to the aims and objectives of the CMA Charter and will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Moderation Aims

This CMA Chat Forum includes many differing opinions and experiences. Users may find opinions that they disagree with. The aim of the forum, at all times, is to provide a place where the maximum discussion can take place while respecting and valuing the contribution made by all users and visitors.

The moderators of the forum will try to be as fair as they can when moderating, but in a large community of users, with many different viewpoints, there will always be some people that will not be happy with how this moderation is undertaken and the policies on which it is based. While this is regrettable when this happens, no single policy can suit all of the people all of the time, so it is necessary to make decisions based on what is best for the forum overall.

The views expressed on this forum do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community Media Association, its partners or associates in anyway unless specified.

Users Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of all users, members and visitors of the CMA Chat Forum to maintain the forum environment and culture. Good practice means:

Reading and following these guidelines

Informing others about them and

Reporting those who do not follow them.

How to Report Abuse

Report abuse by informing the site Moderator by ‘flagging’ any posts of concern. The ‘flag’ button is located in the toolbar at the bottom of each post and might need to be accessed by pressing the ‘…’ symbol. Please note that abuse reports are confidential and are not seen by the alleged abuser.

If the reported issue continues, or you wish to have a confidential offline discussion with a moderator, then either message the designated moderators directly from the forum control panel, or alternatively email

Libellous Content

At all times the CMA seeks to work within the law and is respectful of nationally agreed editorial codes of conduct, such as the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, or the BBC Producer Guidelines. If you feel you have been defamed or libelled in the forum, your first step should be to contact the moderator to have the offending post removed. The moderator’s email address is

The Role of the Moderator

The role of the moderator is to:

Tidy posts and topic threads.

Move comments to more appropriate threads.

Share information on best practice.

Set reminders for deadlines for contributions.

Link users and contributors.

Close topics and threads when a subject’s relevance has past or is finished.

Review content and advise users of legal worries associated with posts.

Review content and advice users of etiquette and inclusive discussion guidance associated with posts.

Respond to specific complaints and seek consensual resolution of conflicts or disagreements.

Remove content that is in clear violation of consensual and inclusive discussion standards.

Remove content that is intended purely for commercial purposes.

Remove content that is intended for purely party-political purposes.

Remove content that is clearly slanderous or libellous, or which directs users to external content that might be construed as such.

Why Was My Abuse Report Not Accepted?

The Moderator may or may not accept that the issue you highlight is actually abusive under our rules. The moderator may also wish to reconcile differences in a more consensual way outside of the forum.

What moderators are mindful of, moreover, is that strong voices that dominate discussion, and which may be seen as repeatedly berating or belittling the contribution of equally strong-minded people, i.e. exchanging in banter or baiting, is not acceptable.

The aim of the forum is to create a supportive space for people to come forward with ideas and points of view that might not fit with the dominant and received opinions of others. People use discussion forums to find out and discover what an issue or topic involves, and to learn about other people’s views and perspectives, not to listen to rants or indignant point-scoring.

Seeking consensus and understanding requires a high-level of trust and openness, so all contributors are asked to be mindful that every post also carries a perceived emotional response which might be antagonistic to others, thereby effectively marginalizing them. Just because we can express our opinions forthrightly, doesn’t mean that we should.

What to do if Your Post is Moderated

Users of the CMA Chat Forum have the opportunity to post comments in the topic threads, but they cannot post comments using an alternative alias to hide their identity. If contributors provide a comment/message and it is deemed inappropriate, the forum moderators may edit or delete a whole post or specific comments. The contributor will either be sent a private message or a note from the moderator will be added to the message. If contributors still don’t understand why a post was moderated, then email the moderators at

Contributors Should Not:

Post the same message again. Taunt the Moderator

Taunt other members of the forum for reporting you

If contributors don’t agree with these policies, then please do not post materials on the CMA Chat Forum.

Leaving the Forums

If users decide to leave the forums, old posts will not be deleted, as it makes the discussions difficult to follow for the remaining readers.


It cannot be guaranteed that posts will be moderate in a timely manner.


It cannot be guaranteed that posts or topics will be completely moderated.

Ownership and Liability of Posts

Messages posted at this site are the sole opinion and responsibility of the poster. Moderators have the right to edit, delete, transfer and keep posts at our sole discretion. Third party access to content and information on this forum is in line with the CMA’s GDPR policy which respects the rights of users to protect their privacy and determine what subsequent use information and posted content might be used for in the future.

The Rules Extend Basic Courtesy to All Users

Always be respectful of other users, the system, and the Moderator.

Commercial Posts

The forums are not a venue for unsolicited advertisements of any kind. It will be the sole discretion of the Moderator as to what constitutes an advertisement and will remove these as necessary.

Personal Insults

Do not directly insult other users on the forums. Personal insults do not contribute to the discussion. If someone insults a user, do not insult them back or a warning will be issued. Please report the abuse instead to the moderator.

Off-Topic Posts/Thread-jacking

Please stay within the topic area of the section that a message is being posted in, and within any topic that another poster may have started. A certain amount of straying from the topic can be expected, but a warning might be issues, and posts deleted, that try to hijack a discussion about one topic into another.

Inciting Illegal Behaviour

Posts inciting illegal behaviour are not acceptable. This includes, but is not limited to, posts discussing places to steal items, to copy or hack software, to circumvent the Ofcom Broadcast Code, etc.

Venting About Previous Employers

Claims of action, flames, and calls to action against any company or person will be removed. As will any direct attacks on corporations and individuals in those corporations, unless they are the topic of the news item.

Graphics & Images

Images that are disturbing to users, such as images of violence or death, inappropriate or non-consensual nudity, or images that display people or animals in anguish will be removed from the site. Oversized pictures will be removed. Please keep pictures less than 800 pixels wide.

Do Not Post in All Capitals

They are difficult to read, and many people think they are the equivalent of shouting.

Illegal Materials

Moderators will check for materials that may be defamatory, infringe copyright or other Intellectual Property Rights, or are illegal for any other reason, including, but not limited to, Contempt of Court, pornography, or promoting terrorism. The CMA reserves the right to delete or amend any materials that in the moderator’s reasonable opinion are likely to fall foul of the law.

The Final Word

The moderator’s decision is always final.

Categories of Posts:

For simplicity, there are three categories of posts, each with a different level of accessibility and privacy. The Discourse platform allows for groups to be formed, and these can be open or closed. Generally, the best advice is to assume that any post that you make would be public, even when it is expressed in a closed or private group. All users are expected to respect the privacy requirements of the level of access that they have.

Open Posts

These are posts that are publicly available and can be shared using social media links. Contributors might be supporters but not members of the CMA. It is possible to sign-up as a contributor to the forum, but these users will not be included in non-public discussions that relate to the development and planning of CMA activities or projects. Information will be shared on a notice-board principle, with the opportunity to discuss and comment, but not make decisions or set aims and objectives. Appreciation of the contribution of supporters is essential to the work of community media more generally, and as confidence and trust is built, these contributors may wish to apply for membership of the CMA.

Members Only Posts

These are posts that are available to view only to members, council members and staff. Contributors will be paid-up members of the CMA. It is possible for contributors to have their status changed so they can post in members-only threads, once their membership status has been checked. Members will be able to take part in non-public discussions that relate to the development and planning of CMA activities or projects. Information will be shared on a request for comments (RFC) principle, with the opportunity to discuss and comment, and to advise where appropriate on the decisions, aims and objectives that a project or policy approach might require. Appreciation of the contribution of members is essential to the work of community media more generally, and as confidence and trust is built, these contributors may become moderators and facilitators of projects and discussions in their own right.

Council Members & Staff

These are posts that are available to view only to council members and staff. Contributors will be paid-up and elected members of the CMA Council and its employees and professional associates. It is possible for contributors to have their status changed so they can post in council-only threads, once their directorship status has been checked. Council members will be able to originate and organise non-public discussions that relate to the development and planning of CMA activities or projects. Information will be shared on a request for comments (RFC) principle, with the opportunity to discuss and comment, and to record decisions and delegate actions where appropriate, and in accordance with the aims and objectives that a project or policy approach might require. Appreciation of the contribution of council members is essential to the work of community media more generally, council members are therefore expected to play an active role in building confidence and trust. All council members will be expected to contribute to the wider discussions and debates that take place on the forum. They will be expected to make themselves available online for engagement with members and supporters, and they will be expected to take a lead in advocating for, sharing insights about, and promoting the social gain values of the CMA.


From time-to-time, researchers seek to interact with public forums to undertake online field work as part of their studies. The CMA Chat Forum must be regarded as a useful place to make contacts and take-part in discussions that relate to social policy development and understanding associated with community media. Researchers must, however, seek individual consent for the use and incorporation of any published material, private or open, from the people involved in those posts. Researchers must clearly identify their role and their intentions and must respect the wishes of anyone not wanting any material they have contributed to, in all parts of the forum, not to be included in any form of study. All researchers must also be able to produce, on-demand, a clear ethical review statement that conforms to mainstream academic or social research standards.


The copyright to the content of this forum remains with the CMA and its verified members, staff, contributors and supporters. Content is shared on this forum using the This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike 4.0 International License.