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Since You Asked

When a person signs up for the Mail Tribune forums, whether it be the new ones or the classics, we have rules to agree to, and the majority abide by those rules. Well, the problem lies with one member. She has constantly broken the rules. This situation has been going on for months now and this member just keeps getting away with it. I want some answers of why the Mail Tribune even has rules if they are not going to enforce them, we are losing good members over her and she needs to stop.

— Katie M., Medford

Take it from us, Katie: Mediating forum discussions can be quite a job. As you've noted, mailtribune.com operates two: a "new" system that has offered readers the opportunity to comment on stories (it's been around almost two years), and the "classic" forums that pre-dated the "new" system. The same rules apply to both. Your question relates to the classic forums, which use volunteer moderators as discussion traffic cops.

Online Editor Julie Wurth says she's familiar with the name you've mentioned (we've omitted it here), and that moderators have removed a number of posts by that member, something that may not be obvious to others. She also says they attempt to apply rules with an even hand, although that's not always as simple as it sounds.

We ask forum members, for example, to avoid attacking other forum members in their comments. Often one will post a slightly provocative comment, which is followed by something more direct and then something that really stings. Is the stinging comment the attack, or is the original provocation really to blame? Moderators weigh the forum's goal of providing a free arena for discussion and keeping it reasonably civil.

Forum rules are available via the opening pages of both systems, and the Mail Tribune encourages members who see rule violations to report the lapses so moderators can deal with issues. If moderators don't seem to be addressing problems, Wurth says it's fine to send her an e-mail about it directly at jwurth@mailtribune.com, but she asks that members work with moderators first.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.