It's something I've noticed more and more as I've been a mod, and something that's been bothering me. It all starts when someone makes a soon to be moderated post, in particular one that's a bit extreme in content. Perhaps this person suddenly started flaming for no apparent reason, or made a racist thread, or suggested something obviously illegal, or... etc, etc. That's not the issue, though. That's not what's irking me. Such posts are simply a fact of life on any board as big as Gamespot, and while annoying, are always going to exist to some extent. Quick reporting can help get rid of those fairly quickly. No, the issue I have is the response to these posts.
People flame back. They call the poster stupid, or all kinds of other things, depending on the content of the original post. Posters who normally know better, who'd usually never go and call someone a moron or a **** or the like, suddenly forget themselves. They post something telling the guy they've reported him, or say something like "enjoy your ban." They mock the poster in some offhand way. They...etc, etc.
Oftentimes, I understand why people are posting these things. Sometimes the original poster said something really bad, something sure to get people heated. I understand why they are angry at the person who made the first post, or why they'd think the person foolish. But the thing is, even when invited or provoked, such flames and trolling aren't allowed here at GS. And I find that with it being my responsibility to uphold the TOU, among other things, I can't really purposely ignore a TOU violation when I see it. I can't just say to myself "Well, that guy's flaming, but the person before him was being a complete... something not good... so I guess I'll overlook it in this case."
So here is my plee to all who post here at Gamespot: don't fall into this trap. Don't respond to a violation with another violation. No matter how extreme the content of the person's post is, that doesn't excuse you responding with flames or the like.
And I know that a lot of users aren't happy with these rules, as they are different then on some other boards, but I think it's actually a good thing. This is just my own personal opinion, but consider this: right now, the rules on flaming and trolling are fairly clear, basically, "Don't flame, don't troll. See the TOU for definitions of these and other rules, and understand that there is some discretion involved in the enforcement of these rules." Fairly clear. Of course, it's impossible to give an exact definition for everything that constitutes a flame or troll, but it's usually pretty clear what is or isn't flaming or trolling, and it's fairly easy to avoid doing so as a result.
But imagine if we took a different stance regarding responses to posts that were huge TOU violations. Then it would be: "Don't flame, don't troll. Except in cases where someone makes a massive flame themselves, or posts something racist, or otherwise makes an outrageous post. In such cases, some minor flaming is allowed. Go too far and you can still get in trouble though. And don't flame in response to posts that aren't very outrageous. The level of flaming allowed in return varies according to just how extreme the original post was..."
Imagine trying to figure out what you can or can't post under such a system. Can you call this guy an idiot? Maybe you can go as far as pathetic idiot? Oops, his post wasn't quite bad enough to warrant that, you just got modded, if only you had kept it at just idiot, or if the guy had used a couple more censor bypasses in his first flame of you.
This is just my thoughts on the matter, but I think that both from the perspective of a mod who has to enforce the rules, and a poster who has been tempted to respond in interesting ways to some posts, allowing fflaming and trolling in such cases would simply be more trouble than it's worth.
So again, please don't fall into this trap, please don't respond to the posters who incite these things. You're just giving them what they want.