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Puck

Appeal Tips and Tricks

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Puck

This is my own guideline that I made myself, no other admods have weighted in at this point in time though I encourage them to do so in the thread below and maybe I can update this once they do. I just wanted to do this and maybe will help some people. Honestly, it kind of already exists here but this thread might still be helpful for some individuals so I'm making it.

 

SO, you got a warn/ban, eh?

 

That kinda stinks, don't it?

 

But don't worry, there is something that can be done! AN APPEAL! Yes, this action can be taken away and completely stricken from the record if you can successfully show that you did not in fact breach ToS.

 

But wait! You might want to take a moment to think before you start your appeal because it can be trickier than you think. Here are a few things to consider....

 

 

The Challengers

The hardest part of appeals is the fact that you have to prove to admods who spend hours a week discussing if posts did or did not breach ToS that you did not. This means admods simply know ToS better as well as know precedent much better.

 

This is like going to court to represent yourself against a practicing lawyer. The lawyer probably knows the law better than you, so you are in a bit of hot water!

 

But fear not! This does not mean you will automatically lose, it just means you will have to be smarter with your approach!

 

 

Get by with a little help from your friends

On the flip side, always feel free to reach out to a current (or former, if they are willing) admod for help when drafting your appeal. Especially if you have a good relationship with them, they will be happy to share their ToS knowledge and give suggestions on how admods will perceive your appeal. It's no guarantee that you will win, but it's a really good way to up your chances.

 

Why fight the lawyers alone when you can get one to help?

 

 

Never justify a ToS breach; you will lose

To justify an action is to admit you did it, after all. If you insulted someone but you say you did it because they insulted you first, you are admitting guilt. There is no justification that can get you out of a warning/ban. Period.

 

Instead, focus on why your post was not actually a breach of ToS.

 

 

Never say you didn't know

Sorry, when you signed up for AVEN you clicked a little box claiming you read and agreed with the Terms of Service. If you didn't actually read it/remember it, that's on you.

 

 

Never speak about your appeal in public until it is over

It automatically disqualifies any appeal, as stated in ToS.

 

 

Be annoyingly specific with termenology

Use the ToS clause you were provided word for word. After all, admods cannot hold users to anything but what ToS says.

 

For example, the Troll cause:

 

Quote

i. Trolling and flaming behaviour
As a general rule, trolling, flaming, spamming or insulting of any kind is off-limits. Acting as a troll is grounds for an immediate ban. A troll is defined, not exclusively, as someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the intent of provoking other users into an emotional response.

 

Was your intent not to "provoke other users into and emotional response?" Say so. Intent is hard to prove and often not a great way to get an appeal accepted, but for this specific clause, if you can explain how the specific wording of your post was trying to make a point rather than provoke other users, you might well win your case.

 

Really read the section of ToS that you received from admods to explain your warn/ban. If none was provided (which sometimes happens for troll-bans), then email admods and ask them to clarify. They will provide you with a clause, which posts specifically were a problem, and their explanation of why your post was decided to have breached that clause.

 

 

Use past cases

You do not at all have to do this, but if you want to take the time it could help you

 

Admods often decide if something breached ToS based on precedent. This is similar to the way the US government does things as past court cases are often used to show why this current case should or should not get the same treatment.

 

You can find the public old reports here.

 

When you do this, keep in mind to check that ToS didn't change since the old report was made.

 

 

Show remorse

Especially when the post is something that falls under a clause that seems meant to protect other users "feelings."

 

When showing remorse, you DO NOT have to admit guilt or say you'll never do it again. It can be a "non-apology" (though, for some cases, a real apology can go much farther).

 

For example, you can say something along the lines of:

 

Quote

When I said 'Turkey's are so dumb that they stare up into the air when it rains until their lungs fill with water and they drown' I was not trying to insult anyone who cared for or appreciates turkeys. I'm very sorry if my post was perceived as insulting by such individuals, I really do have respect for them. However, it was not my intend and, as you can see in my wording, I don't mention turkey care-takers/appreciators at all and, thus, could not have insulted such people. Moving forward, I will do my best to make it clearer that I mean no insult to turkey care-takers/appreciators, but ultimately I think it's clear this post was not an insult at all.

 

As you can hopefully see, this shows remorse for how the post was perceived, but does not apologize for making the post.

 

 

Be respectful; remember you are appealing to people, not a faceless machine

To some people, it feels like just some nameless, faceless, organization of doom and getting a warning/ban feels intimidating; I get it. 

 

But most admods truly just want AVEN to be as enjoyable a place to as many members as humanly possible and giving out these warnings/bans is a necessary evil for behavior correction. But you can absolutely speak to those who have given you a warning or any other admod for clarification or support on any issue.

 

Also remember that admods are people with feelings and appeals that are meant to show that ToS was not breached will be more successful if you shows these people respect. This is not to say that you have to fall to your knees and beg the mighty overlords for forgiveness, but if your appeal mentions that you feel the leadership of the site is corrupt and unfair, you're going to have a harder time getting them to see your side of things. You don't have to like the leadership, but respect is important to show all individuals.

 

Showing them respect simply means treating them like people and maybe even giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to do what is best for AVEN. You can disagree with what is best for AVEN, but keeping in mind that that is their goal might help you see that they aren't trying to go after you, just keep AVEN a grand place for members to visit.

 

 

Good luck!

I hope this little guide sheds some light into the process, at very least.

 

I am sure other admods will happily weigh in on their own thoughts and you should feel free to ask any questions!

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Ciri

Do you plan on informing members that they have the option to appeal? 

 

How about actually giving the reasons for the decision in the first place so the member even has a tiny bit of chance of being successful?

 

Better yet, when you're being questioned a decision, how about making sure everybody gets their story straight so you're not all giving conflicting responses in the same conversation?

 

 

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Puck
20 minutes ago, Ciri said:

Do you plan on informing members that they have the option to appeal? 

The vast majority of messages inform members they can appeal. Any that don't was indeed a mistake. However, it says in ToS that one can appeal and when people sign up for AVEN, they click a box to say they have read ToS and so are expected to know they can. Members can also alway ask admods if they are allowed to appeal.

 

22 minutes ago, Ciri said:

How about actually giving the reasons for the decision in the first place so the member even has a tiny bit of chance of being successful?

The reasons are indeed given.

 

22 minutes ago, Ciri said:

Better yet, when you're being questioned a decision, how about making sure everybody gets their story straight so you're not all giving conflicting responses in the same conversation?

Only messages with the official admod signature are messages from all admods. Past that, admods cannot speak for other admods and members must keep in mind that they are getting one admod's view/opinion.

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Snao Cone
1 hour ago, Puck said:

Never speak about your appeal in public until it is over

It automatically disqualifies any appeal, as stated in ToS.

I think this needs to be put in bigger text. It's probably a very overlooked factor for people who aren't pleased with a warn.

 

Also, while nudges don't count towards disciplinary history, per se, and as such can't be appealed, I think it is important for admods to acknowledge when nudges were maybe given too quickly or when not necessarily called for. Looking at past nudges can factor into how a potential warn is evaluated, so how can a member go about ensuring that their warn wasn't influenced by a nudge they don't think was called for?

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CaptainYesterday
3 hours ago, Puck said:

Show remorse

Especially when the post is something that falls under a clause that seems meant to protect other users "feelings."

 

When showing remorse, you DO NOT have to admit guilt or say you'll never do it again. It can be a "non-apology" (though, for some cases, a real apology can go much farther).

No one should be punished for not showing remorse when they are defending their innocence.  You cannot be remorseful for something you did not do.  You even say that a "non-apology" is fine, but what exactly does pageantry gain anyone at that point?

 

This should not even enter the minds of someone determining the guilt of others.  It is antithetical to proper justice.

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Puck
4 hours ago, Snao Cone said:

Also, while nudges don't count towards disciplinary history, per se, and as such can't be appealed, I think it is important for admods to acknowledge when nudges were maybe given too quickly or when not necessarily called for. Looking at past nudges can factor into how a potential warn is evaluated, so how can a member go about ensuring that their warn wasn't influenced by a nudge they don't think was called for?

A warn cannot be given based only on past nudges. This means that whatever warning a person gets must stand on it's own regardless of if a nudge was given or not. There is no part of ToS that says "people must do whatever admods say" or the like, so a warning can't come from just "we told you you couldn't do that." It has to hold it's own grounds.

 

The reason nudges can lead to warnings is because nudges are sometimes given in lieu of a warning if it is believed by an admod/admods that the individual made an honest mistake or was new to the forum.

 

If a member is confused by a nudge and truly thinks it is uncalled for, they cannot officially appeal but they can speak with the admod who sent it. Nudges are the decision of the admod who sent it alone, though they might have had help drafting or encouragement from other mods, so the best course of action is to speak with them for clarification.

 

2 hours ago, CaptainYesterday said:

No one should be punished for not showing remorse when they are defending their innocence.  You cannot be remorseful for something you did not do.  You even say that a "non-apology" is fine, but what exactly does pageantry gain anyone at that point?

 

This should not even enter the minds of someone determining the guilt of others.  It is antithetical to proper justice.

No one is punished just for not showing remorse (after all, not granting an appeal is not punishment in and of itself), but showing some can simply assist in an appeal. After all, each member gets only one appeal so why not use all resources available to them?

 

One reason this can help is because it is incredibly hard to figure out intent. If admods were near evenly split on something that seemed iffy in terms of what the post was meant to say, it might sway the vote in the members favor in the appeal to show that the member truly didn't mean for the post to be taken in the worst possible light. But it's true this won't work in every case as it's not about showing remorse nor proving intent but showing that ToS wasn't breached. But it's a tool a member could choose to utilize.

 

A big situation where it would help, however, is in the case of a troll-ban. 9 out of 10 troll-bans aren't appealed because the person was truly a troll and didn't really care about the site. However, if someone honestly made some poor choices and understands why AVEN leadership wouldn't want those choices to be made again, admods might consider remorse to prove that the individual is not a troll (so, not someone just posting things to get emotional responses from others) but a person who perhaps got too emotional or wasn't thinking. That doesn't make their actions ok or not in breach of ToS, but it might make a complete ban seem an unjust action to take against the member. Thus the ban might be lifted as it showed that the member was not a troll.

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CaptainYesterday
12 minutes ago, Puck said:

No one is punished just for not showing remorse (after all, not granting an appeal is not punishment in and of itself), but showing some can simply assist in an appeal.

That is a punishment in and of itself.

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Puck
1 minute ago, CaptainYesterday said:

That is a punishment in and of itself.

I am unclear what you mean by that. Mind expanding?

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♣Ryan♣
1 minute ago, CaptainYesterday said:

That is a punishment in and of itself.

What Puck is saying is if you say "Hey I did do this I didn't mean it that way, but I'm sorry people took it that way" Is probably going get better results then "Hey I didn't mean it like that, I meant it like this, you are being ridiculous for warning me"

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CaptainYesterday
1 minute ago, Puck said:

I am unclear what you mean by that. Mind expanding?

If you must do certain things to acquire something that should be given without conditions (e.g., unbiased adjudication), then you are punishing the people who refuse to do those things.

 

To use a crude example, let's say that it was written in the law that if you perform a sex act for the judge, that you would receive a lighter sentence.  Would you not say the people who refused to do that are "punished" for not doing it?

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♣Ryan♣
1 minute ago, CaptainYesterday said:

To use a crude example, let's say that it was written in the law that if you perform a sex act for the judge, that you would receive a lighter sentence.  Would you not say the people who refused to do that are "punished" for not doing it?

Showing remorse is not the same as giving an admod sexual favors :blink: And actually judges do sentence you lighter if you show remorse in court, than those that don't show remorse. 

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CaptainYesterday
1 minute ago, ♣Ryan♣ said:

Showing remorse is not the same as giving an admod sexual favors :blink: And actually judges do sentence you lighter if you show remorse in court, than those that don't show remorse. 

After the conviction, not while they are still protesting their innocence.

 

This isn't a "I broke the rules, but I'm really sorry, please don't perma ban me."

 

This is a "I didn't break the rules, so I have nothing to be remorseful for."

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♣Ryan♣
11 minutes ago, CaptainYesterday said:

After the conviction, not while they are still protesting their innocence.

Appeals in courts happen after convictions. You can send them a claim of innocence, however I can't remember a time that a warn was sent that some ToS wasn't broken. That really doesn't happen since I remember having to write what part of the ToS was broken and the quote the member said that broke that ToS.  Again you can do this, I just wouldn't advise that approach. 

 

 

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Ciri
14 hours ago, Puck said:

The vast majority of messages inform members they can appeal. Any that don't was indeed a mistake. However, it says in ToS that one can appeal and when people sign up for AVEN, they click a box to say they have read ToS and so are expected to know they can. Members can also alway ask admods if they are allowed to appeal.

 

The reasons are indeed given.

 

Only messages with the official admod signature are messages from all admods. Past that, admods cannot speak for other admods and members must keep in mind that they are getting one admod's view/opinion.

Im sorry but Admins telling me something has had nothing to do with that decision and then the BoD telling me it had everything to do with it. You’re BSing. 

 

This wasn’t outlined in the ToS, only warns and nudges are. Try again. 

 

 

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timewarp

To be honest, I don't think an appeal system can work if the appeal is handled by the same people. Same for making rules and applying them. It would really be a vast improvement if there was a separation of roles: some admods should only work on policy, others on enforcing it, and still others on handling appeals and staff reviews.

 

I was "lucky" enough to observe the same kind of thing many times in the context of technical standards. If you make an amendment, the same people who wrote the draft come together and decide if it's reasonable - now guess what your chances are. How can you expect that procedure to be objective? Not even, and I'm tempted to say especially not, if there are good people in the body that handles it.

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Puck
5 hours ago, Ciri said:

Im sorry but Admins telling me something has had nothing to do with that decision and then the BoD telling me it had everything to do with it. You’re BSing. 

Your appeal only needed to address what was sent by admods in the official communication. BoD may have had separate reasons for their recommendation.

 

5 hours ago, timewarp said:

To be honest, I don't think an appeal system can work if the appeal is handled by the same people. Same for making rules and applying them. It would really be a vast improvement if there was a separation of roles: some admods should only work on policy, others on enforcing it, and still others on handling appeals and staff reviews.

 

I was "lucky" enough to observe the same kind of thing many times in the context of technical standards. If you make an amendment, the same people who wrote the draft come together and decide if it's reasonable - now guess what your chances are. How can you expect that procedure to be objective? Not even, and I'm tempted to say especially not, if there are good people in the body that handles it.

I actually think that would make a lot of sense. Like how in the US, if you appeal something it goes to a different court and policy is made by a completely different arm of the government (sorry, I know you aren't US based, but I'm less clear on how the UK law system works :P).

 

I don't know if that is doable for such a small site though. We are already spread thin for staff, I don't think there is enough interest to add more.

 

Though, just spit-balling, I suppose it we completely changed how admods dealt with the forums it could be. Our system as it is feels to me like a kind of a bastard child of the way the forum was run in the past and a slow attempt to catch up with how the forums should be run now. I honestly think it would benefit from more solo-modding (which is where individual mods decide if a warn should be given in their forum instead of all admods voting on it) as it would reduce burn-out and get responses to members faster. This could help your idea in that if the member was then to appeal, then it would all be fresh eyes looking at the warning as drafted.

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TheAP
5 hours ago, timewarp said:

To be honest, I don't think an appeal system can work if the appeal is handled by the same people. Same for making rules and applying them. It would really be a vast improvement if there was a separation of roles: some admods should only work on policy, others on enforcing it, and still others on handling appeals and staff reviews.

 

I was "lucky" enough to observe the same kind of thing many times in the context of technical standards. If you make an amendment, the same people who wrote the draft come together and decide if it's reasonable - now guess what your chances are. How can you expect that procedure to be objective? Not even, and I'm tempted to say especially not, if there are good people in the body that handles it.

How would it be decided who has what roles, though? What would make the report-handling admods more qualified to decide what someone's "fate" would be?

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Philip027

That's a lot of words to write to basically say "don't even bother"

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Puck
1 hour ago, Philip027 said:

That's a lot of words to write to basically say "don't even bother"

Appeals have worked, for the record. Yes, only very strong ones are typically granted, but it's possible. But if it's not worth it for you, that is fair :P 

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Ciri
8 hours ago, Puck said:

Your appeal only needed to address what was sent by admods in the official communication. BoD may have had separate reasons for their recommendation.

You mean the appeal I wasn’t informed I could write? Until well after it was too late. I’m going to make this clearer since apparently you don’t get it. I have Admins in one ear telling me that nothing off site had anything at all to do with that decision. In the other ear, the BoD are telling me it was everything to do with it. Who would you believe if you were me?

 

Not only do you think it perfectly acceptable for a staff member to go and find out personal information about me from another website, you also think it’s fine for you to sabotage my appeal and then refuse to discuss it with me. Then I find out that a public statement is being planned about me. 

 

Not to mention retroactively applying a rule that hadn’t even been discussed yet and forcing me out of AVENues. 

 

BUT THEN GET THIS, I’m asked to volunteer for other Vis/Ed roles within AVEN. That’s the part that takes the biscuit. The blatant hypocrisy there is astounding. How the hell can people ask me to help in certain roles when you’ve conspired to kick me off another? You do not get to tell me where I can and can’t volunteer, you don’t get to decide what I’m good enough for. And you especially don’t get to invite me to one thing just after booting me out. Are you shitting me?

 

AVEN lost all credibility as an organization when it sent somebody to another forum to gather personal details about me and then justified it by saying ‘you’re staff, we can follow you wherever we want’. 

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Yato

I got one of my bans overturned, because I knew a verse in the ToS that the mods forgot about. :P So yes, it is possible.

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CaptainYesterday
6 minutes ago, Yato said:

I got one of my bans overturned, because I knew a verse in the ToS that the mods forgot about. :P So yes, it is possible.

I can only assume you had to go through a library montage, with books stacking up higher each frame, before this occurred.

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Puck

Remember that this thread is meant to speak about appeals, not other issues you have. I will speak to your points but I will not continue this conversation further as it will be off topic.

 

15 minutes ago, Ciri said:

You mean the appeal I wasn’t informed I could write? Until well after it was too late

Yes, admods should have included in the message that you could appeal. I'm sorry it was missed. However, it wasn't too late. You appealed in enough time.

 

16 minutes ago, Ciri said:

I have Admins in one ear telling me that nothing off site had anything at all to do with that decision. In the other ear, the BoD are telling me it was everything to do with it. Who would you believe if you were me?

I think there was a misunderstanding. I can't remember all that has been said, but I feel as through the point was no evidence collected off-site was used. As you could see in the evidence provided to you, it was all collected on AVEN or in AVEN staff-related spaces where staff are expected to be kept to higher standards. What you did off-site had everything to do with the decision, as you could see when you read your initial message. However, no evidence was used from off-site sources, all evidence was from AVEN.

 

Basically, evidence on AVEN was used to show that your behavior off-site was not meeting higher standards.

 

20 minutes ago, Ciri said:

Not only do you think it perfectly acceptable for a staff member to go and find out personal information about me from another website, you also think it’s fine for you to sabotage my appeal and then refuse to discuss it with me. Then I find out that a public statement is being planned about me. 

No staff member went to another site just to learn personal information about you. No one sabotaged your appeal (after all, it happened). You have had this discussed with you more than any other member in my time as admod. There is no public statement being planned about you.

 

21 minutes ago, Ciri said:

Not to mention retroactively applying a rule that hadn’t even been discussed yet and forcing me out of AVENues. 

You were not removed from the AVENues group on AVEN until you requested to leave it. I know nothing more about how AVENues is run so if you have further questions, please refer to AVENues leadership or PT, but not in this thread as it is about appeals, not AVENues/other outreach projects.

 

 

Moving forward, please focus on questions about the appeal process, please and thank you :)

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Yato
11 minutes ago, CaptainYesterday said:

I can only assume you had to go through a library montage, with books stacking up higher each frame, before this occurred.

Actually, I just mentioned the clause and the mods be like "oh shit, we dun fucked up", because chat room ToS is slightly different in some instances.

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Puck
1 hour ago, Yato said:

the mods be like "oh shit, we dun fucked up"

Word for word quote there

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FaerieFate

@Puck, I tried to read through this, but you wrote "loose" instead of "lose" EVERY TIME! I can't concentrate! 

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Puck
44 minutes ago, FaerieFate said:

@Puck, I tried to read through this, but you wrote "loose" instead of "lose" EVERY TIME! I can't concentrate! 

Erm... I was just trying to make sure you were paying attention :P

 

Fixed, you can read now :D

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FaerieFate

Okay, so what if you validly argue your point, and they get you for things not explicitly stated or well explained to you? 

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Ciri

I think you will find that yes, amember of staff did go to another website to gather personal info about me and yes I can prove it. And I do love the constant back tracking ‘nothing was offsite, yes it was, wait no it wasn’t, yes it was.’ And yes, that does sabotage ones appeal. I’m not interested in talking to Avenues or the Project Team about anything, I want to know why Admods allowed a rule to be applied retroactively. 

 

Ive had it discussed with me more than any other member because it was such a farce and once again, you’re trying to bully me into silence. 

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Skycaptain

Everybody, can we keep this on topic please. If people want to raise a specific case in the past could you start another thread.

Skycaptain moderator site comments 

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