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Bullying is when a person or group Bullying is when a person or group repeatedly tries to harm someone who is weaker. Sometimes it involves direct attacks such as hitting, name calling, teasing or taunting. Sometimes it is indirect, such as spreading rumors or trying to make others reject someone. Forum bullying or cyber bullying has become a widespread issue throughout the Internet. As a former moderator I've encountered it it's various guises many times. As one of the powers that be, it was difficult enough dealing with the usual spammers and trolls, but that was nothing compared to having to deal with already established members with high post counts and years of knowing each other in that forum.
The term 'regulars' has gained notoriety over the years on all kinds of forums. That's where the bullies are easier to spot. To an outsider or a lurker, it can be a bit intimidating submitting a post as a newbie. Not knowing all the ins and outs and who knows who, it can be a bit daunting. The TOS (terms of service) or forum rules usually only serve to favour the regulars and bullies if there is some flaming going on in a particular thread.
To give an example, I posted a complaint on the my3cents consumer site last April regarding issues that I had with my bank, Chase. After lurking on some of the forums on this site I knew which regulars gave out sound advice and which ones were there just to flame new posters. So in response to my post I got four comments, three of these were sanctimonious and opinionated. I posted back somewhat sarcastically with "Thanks for the pontificating, dogmatic, sage, etc. advice!" which resulted in 'full mod status' being put on my user account. This basically meant from then on my posts had to be reviewed by a panel of administrators before being published.
Anyway, being crippled by the powers that be, I could no longer fight back and watched as regulars were only civil to each and downright nasty to newbies. The unwritten rules were that the newcomers had to endure these nasty comments without reprisal. The bullies knew how to get around the censorship and avoided talking with you, or PMing you if you hadn't been 'broken in yet'. I also became aware a certain amount of favouritism displayed by administrators from the start. In any particular heated debate with a regular and a newbie, they would side with the regular and I noticed that they even let these people use various nicknames that surely must breach the guidelines. I can't publish these here for obvious reasons.
Well, I can deal with bullies on forums, trolls and the like a lot easier if I didn't have to worry about the forum administrators protecting them! That's the real issue here. I get tired of myself and others being dismissed as oversensitive or censored when we fight back against these bullies. So much for free speech!