Rules for a better forum experience

There have been a few things that happened recently which suggest to me that we need some specific rules on the forum.

First, I was doing a live course to new cosmetic chemists and I suggested to them they should use this forum. A few of the students said they heard about it and even used the forum a few times. But they were turned off because they said they were insulted when asking questions that some of the users thought were too simplistic.  That was a bit disheartening.

Second, there was a recent discussion thread which got particularly heated and insults & disparaging comments were exchanged which were not becoming of scientists or just people being civil.  I realize that text can be an inefficient way of communicating but it's pretty obvious when people post direct insults.

So, for that reason I'm working on new rules for the forum. I welcome your input into....

1.  Suggestions for rules
2.  Suggestions for consequences to breaking rules.

I've got some ideas of my own but wanted to get your input too as it will affect everyone here.

It's a bit disappointing that we even need to do this but I want to change the atmosphere on this forum to be less hostile, more friendly, and more useful.

Perry, 44 

tldr:  To improve the community we're going to be instituting some new rules forum. This is the time for you to post your suggestions about what those should be. 


  • Other than the thread you mention here @Perry, insult and hostile words are very subjective. Let the person who feels so quote you the thread and if you feel that so is the case you either delete the comment or warn the member/s involved. Though you laid the rules for asking questions too yet there are queries which can be solved either by googling or searching this forum. Often times the members are put off by the lethargy of the person who cannot run simple search or there is a direct demand for a free commercial/professional opinion. Agreed that the replies should be more rounded but sometimes it just flies off the handle. Also I wouldn't mind if someone points out a flaw in my post with a more friendly and explanatory clarification. If there is heat I would simply direct it to you to let you know such occurrence which pollutes the friendly fabric of this forum. At the end of the day if I do my maths, this forum provides more benefits and hardly a reason to bicker. I would also try to take it in my stride if there is hostility/negativity by either modifying my query/post or simply ignoring the sharp comments. If we are confident enough then no insult/degradation can bring us down and dampen the spirit of the member and this forum both.
    You have done an immense effort by bringing together this ever increasing family, let's all work together to protect the integrity and sanctity of this family which has members from every part of the world.
     I am pretty sure more experienced members can chip in with better suggestions compared to my naive analysis above.

  • I will have to say that perhaps I may have been one guilty of poo-pooing a beginning question. I was unaware of the students in the Forum. I think my reaction was that I had seen their same question posed greater than 10 times in some Facebook groups. Also, not knowing that they were students, I also thought we may have had a case of a person who chooses not to search the Forum. Infrequently we have seen some people use the Forum to essentially ask "can I please get a full Formulation for free." I apologize if this is not the case.

    My frustration was assuaged by the moderator pointing out that we had an "Advanced Questions" section, which I will utilize in the future.

    As for the bickering, I think this is more a matter that is ubiquitous over the whole internet, not just this Forum. My only suggestion is to not be afraid to shut it down earlier. The particular post in question ceased to be of any benefit to the advancement of knowledge several responses before you rightfully shut it down. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications.
  • I know I have been brusque in the past, especially when someone doesn't explain why they're asking basic questions, or who they are. This is mostly a reaction to people who seem to assume that they can insist on/demand answers to questions that  would take some effort in answering - and are rarely polite about it. I know I'd certainly be far more willing to answer questions from students than I am willing to answer questions/demands like "Give me formula and procedure to manufacture laundry soap."

    As far as preventing this, if your students (or anyone's students, for that matter) were to start their questions by saying "I'm a student and I need help with..." that would go a long way towards getting me to help a whole lot more than I would for a random person asking a too-basic question that could be answered with a 5-second search of Google and/or Wikipedia.

    Mostly, I really enjoy teaching and explaining things - but that can easily be wiped out. The discussion on how to ask a question explains why fairly well, I think.

    I am also not always as nice as I could/should be. Sometimes, I'm just having a bad day, and my sarcasm escapes its chains. A gentle reminder that my attitude isn't helpful will almost always correct that.

    And again, I have a lot more patience with students asking legitimate questions than I do with chemists/formulators asking a question because they just can't be bothered looking up the answer themselves.

    The recent bickering over Vitamin C was, sadly, an inevitable disagreement between established science and (to put it nicely) homeopathic/naturopathic pseudo-scientific beliefs. But a little more civility would have been useful.

    It might be helpful at this point to establish a few people as moderators, who could step in before something like that gets too nasty.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • Perhaps we could have a category for "Formulation - Beginners and Students" so that the more basic student and beginner questions could be put in here. This would allow others to have an idea of what resources/materials/equipment are suitable when answering questions.

    As for rules the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" is probably a good place to start, followed by please search the forum (and google) before asking a question.  
  • Perry et al,

    I can understand that this is a difficult subject to discuss in this forum but it does need to be brought up and dealt with because of the way things have become in all online forums.  Bickering and outright bashing are commonplace in forums nowadays and I always enjoyed coming here because that is something that rarely happens on cosmetic chemistry boards especially this one.  The post you are referring to is one that made me feel uncomfortable and I was thinking about bringing up that issue myself.  It may just be a matter of more careful moderation and more stringent rules and an occasional reminder on this topic and if need be some new rules posted.  I have confidence that it will be dealt with and we will move on.

    Keeping all of the posts in one area is important for us all to feel that same and not point out our differences.  If you wish to put up a new category for those of us who ask "basic cosmetic chemistry question" or "cosmetic chemistry student question" or even "home crafter question" that might help.  Bob mentioned his "approach" but I don't have a problem with him or his or other peoples way of dealing with questions.  I know I am quite "wordy" at times and something that may annoy someone but that is how I think through things and the answers I get here are usually very helpful in putting me back on track!  The important thing is to keep us all together!  If someone doesn't like certain people or certain types of questions, they don't have to read them!  If they prefer more complex questions maybe a "advanced cosmetic chemistry question" or "advance formulation question" be put up as an option to steer them toward questions they prefer.

    Perry, I am grateful to have this place to come to when I need help and to those who have helped me!  I know we will get through this and will be able to hold out heads up high and know that we are doing our best to get along and help each other out!
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