This entire fiasco regarding the closing of RavTux's account and the inconsistencies of the forum staff handling the users' questions regarding his closure got me thinking that possibly the Community Cafe and Backyard should be closed on the Forums.
I am sympathetic to the Ubuntu developers in that the Ubuntu forums are really the face behind their product. I believe the forums act to separate their product from other linux distributions. Being a little bit older than probably the majority of users, I understand when marketing a product for mass consumption, its fundamental to present the product in the most positive manner possible. Ubuntu is unique in that they really rely on the end-users for their promotion, support, and presentation of their product. The users are in reality the face of Ubuntu. This is definitely an interesting approach for marketing a product, however does introduce some conflicts In particular when your user base becomes hostile towards others and begins presenting a negative impression towards personal intimately associated with the product but also dragging other non-related issues into the discussion.
Specifically regarding RavTux, if he was warned numerous times behind the scenes that his style of posting was improper but continued to post in such a conflicting manner, his account should have been closed. I am aware that forum decisions based on a democratic decision of the community at large, but rather on the opinion and judgement of those associated with the forum leadership.
My problem however rests with the handling of subsequent threads discussing RavTux's departure. The Ubuntu forums offers places in their forums for discussing issues -- specifically the Community Cafe and Backyard -- that seems appropriate for discussing such issues such as these. The topics that can be reasonable discussed in these venues must adhere and be in compliance to the often quoted but vaguely defined Ubuntu Code of Conduct or CoC as it is often reffered to by Ubuntu staff members. When employing the Ubuntu forums and its user base as a principle marketing tool, I believe that a CoC is imperative.
My issue specifically however rests that many of the threads discussing the closure of RavTux's account were closed, however were in no violation of the loosely defined CoC. Again what is most troubling is that these threads were closed, however were clearly in no violation of the CoC. In fact I believe in at least more than one occasion, moderators warned users to move on and away from the issue, although the discussion of such an issue was clearly not in any violation of the CoC.
I understand the Ubuntu forums in no way represents a democracy. It clearly functions as both a User Support site and marketing method. Clearly it is the intention of the forum staff that most issues remain positive and focused toward either problem solving issues or opinions that could be construed as positive marketing. I agree with the overall principle behind these goals.
What is unique however is that the Ubuntu staff does allow for a wide discussion of peripheral issues in the confines of the Backyard and Community Cafe. Many of the issues here voice an opinion here unrelated to Ubuntu. Many topics discussed in these forums range from religion, politics, current events, race and other magnanimous topics. Many of the opinions discussed in individual threads are quite diverse. Users are quite poignant about their individual positions on such issues, and oftentimes go to extreme lengths to persuade others that their position is the correct position. The tolerance displayed by the Ubuntu forum for such varying positions and often hostile opinion is quite remarkable. In the context of these other discussions, threads discussing RavTux's departure seem both appropriate but also menial in comparison. The tolerance provided for such threads about politics, religion, etc but not provided in the case of RavTux seems conflicting. To allow discussion regarding religion and race in which many opinions voiced clearly violate the CoC, but silence opinions regarding the banning of one user in which no violation of the CoC occurred, seems highly inconsistent.
In order to avoid such inconsistencies, but also in the context of the promotion of Ubuntu in general, it would seem prudent that threads such as the Community Cafe and specifically the Backyard should be permanently closed. It would seem to allow users to discuss non-related Ubuntu issues in an oftentimes disparaging manner, is counterproductive to the overall promotion of Ubuntu in general. Lacking a consistent and predictable method of how individual threads are censored within the Cafe and Backyard, it would seem best these sections of forums be permanently closed.