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I have an international community, based in Australia, with members from over 25 countries. One of the sections is the 'News and World Affairs' - where one of the rules is:

Keep to the topic, and respond with facts and articles - attack only the articles, never the people.

2 of our members (both generally very good contributors) are frequently launching into nationalistic rants and in the process, they constantly tout how their country is better than specific other countries. Initially, there were 3 who did that, the moderator of that section, with best intentions, edited out the rant part - the member used the 'censorship' and 'free speech' cards and left.

How can this distracting behaviour be sensitively discouraged. i.e. with minimal fuss and to not detract from the great discussions already in those threads?

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Actually, you don't have to be sensitive.

Keep to the topic, and respond with facts and articles - attack only the articles, never the people.

This rule says you have to be neutral if you enter this (sub-)forum. So, if your members aren't neutral and don't behave like people judging a topic objectively, you can show them their mistakes by answering to it. But never remove content, this will always result in hate. Also, user might begin to think you are not capable of managing a forum if you are starting to remove content.

As the user said something about "censorship" and "free speech", they forgot something essential. They are allowed to write what they want to and must not be censored in their writing if they are following the rules. They did obviously not, it's okay that they got punished (even in the wrong way, they left anyway).

I would write:

Hello (name of user),
I just read your post according to this topic. Please consider editing it because it doesn't meet the rules we set up for this forum.
Keep in mind to stay neutral while you are writing/editing.
Regards

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I don't think is wrong to remove inflammatory text from a forum. The issue comes from editing the text out, because then you are in the grey area of what parts of the speech are inflamatory and what parts are not.

Update the policy to say that any inflammatory or provocative post that don't follow the previously stated rules (the ones you posted) will be deleted/removed from the forum, and the poster will be invited to post again abiding the rules.

I asume you value those contributors, and the issue is only that they get heated up when is about politics.

Have a private talk with them, explain them that their behavior only makes them look bad. And it also affects the forum and their country image.

When I was little, I was told that I was my country's ambassador. My behavior reflects on what other people think of my country. Someone that attacks others the way you describe they are, only accomplish to damage their own country image.

Comparing countries is like comparing apples and oranges, there is always going to be someone that like one better over the other, so it is pointless. You can argument that a specific policy is better in one country than the other, but that's about it.

Finally if they can not behave properly in a politcal forum, ban them temporarily. Make it part of the general community rules. They can not complain about censorship since they are being disrespectful and are not following the interaction rules the site has. Also this is pretty standard for communities.

If they continue with the bad behavior after several bans, ban them permanetly or for a significantly longer time, or if they leave the community altogheter, it is better for the community, people that can not follow basic rules of courtesy are more damageful than good.

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This is a tough one because you are basically providing the community a platform to toot their own horn on certain topics in regards to their nationality.

I think the only option would to enforce a guideline that emphasizes constructive discussion without gloating of your own nation on topics regarding other nations as the act may instigate deconstructive discussion and nation wars.

Another option is just emphasizing that gloating in general is rude and that you discourage gloating of any sort as it's bad form like it would be in real life discussions. Don't kick a man when they are down and try not to parade the streets in front of others.

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