Dealing with international tragedies


(Sarah Hawk) #1

We’ve been discussing ways to deal with international tragedies (like Nice, Orlando, Paris) in another group that I’m part of.

For those working with international communities, how do you support your members / sensitively acknowledge tragedies?


(ForumSentinel) #2

The best thing we’ve found is just to let them talk and be a place where they can discuss. The community is large and varied enough that each viewpoint can be covered by the user base without us needing to make any stances. Sometimes we’ll merge threads into one discussion if a particularly hot event results in many similar threads, this also helps us moderate. With recent events especially, strongly heated racial opinions come out so the mods are on guard to keep them relatively civil (within the bounds of our normal discussion etiquette which is vastly different from many other online communities).


(Margaret Bost) #3

We provide relevant info for our members living in that area - for both Brussels and Nice we provided info on closures; when and where the minute of silence ceremony was taking place; how to get help if you had a loved one in the area and you’re looking for them. Obviously we made a sympathy statement about the attacks as well. Those can be hard to word well but I think one just has to write from the heart but try to be a source of support, keeping in mind the hurting and confused loved ones who may be reading.


(Gear Buzz) #4

A total ban.

It’s not ideal

But then neither is the right wing “hater” venting we get from pretty much all political discussions.

In our long experience it’s not possible to have a “reasonable” discussion about serious social issues.

Race hate and religious hate soon follows and then it turns into an ugly to look at, hate filled, toilet bowl that needs flushing.

With natural disasters we set up “are you safe / OK?” Threads.


(purldator) #5

This is the conclusion I also came to years ago when a friend (and my host at the time) mentioned the same regarding political, civil and social topics outside natural disasters.

My solution (as was my friend’s for their community) was to ban all topics related to the aforementioned hot buttons. I opened my previous forum with that rule in place. No one missed those kinds of topics and their discussions.

Here is the rule, pasted from my forum’s backup.

<community> is NOT a political forum. Politics tends to be an extremely divisive issue that results in hurt feelings. We are here to celebrate the things we have in common, not to get into a fight over whose political views are superior.

That leaves all tragedy-themed news stories strictly opinion-free on any issues underlying the situation.


(Janet Swisher) #6

The community I manage isn’t one where people affected by tragedies are likely to turn for direct support. In fact, they may be more likely to turn to it for a sense of normality, that life goes on. Expressions acknowledging tragedies tend to come from higher up the management chain than my level.

In a local community I’m a member of, members recognized that political issues can be rancorous and divisive, but didn’t want to ban political posts completely. The compromise rule is that political posts must be tagged “[POL]”, contain no more than a brief description and a link for more info or taking action; public replies to POL posts are not allowed. This allows getting the word out about something without opening the door to debate inside the community.


(Sarah Hawk) #7

Interesting! How was the compromise arrived at? Was it a community decision or one made by staff?


(Janet Swisher) #8

It was a community decision. It’s a non-commercial community, so there is no staff. It was in the aftermath of the Bush/Gore presidential election (ah, the good old days :wink: ) which resulted in some members leaving the group because of the unpleasantness of some discussions. As I recall we discussed banning political posts, but there were some strongly in favor of keeping them. Probably some blessedly brilliant but now forgotten member came up with this idea, which we adopted.