We recently shared a User Interaction Survey with an emphasis on user engagement and interaction, alongside a forum discussion. The questions primarily concerned forum, logbook and photo gallery habits.
The primary aim of the survey was to figure out how we can make the forums more accessible and welcoming to all. We are well aware that occasionally threads can be derailed by personal insults and abusive comments and this is something that we try to nip in the bud to the best of our abilities. Unfortunately, we are not privy to an 'idiot filter' - as suggested by one survey respondent, so it's up to the UKC forum community and ourselves to report, moderate and - above all - not tolerate abuse in the forums. Check out the Forum Guidelines.
A sticking point that has cropped up on numerous occasions in threads and in the survey itself was defining abuse, and sexism in particular. Ultimately, we can spend hours poring over dictionary definitions to classify comments, but matters of offence are rarely black and white. The lived experience of an individual will determine what they perceive to be offensive - as our survey results show. We do not intend to turn the forums into a 'nanny state', as some users have questioned in the survey. Our forums are well respected for the freedom of expression and opinion that we have encouraged over the years, but unfortunately it only takes one or two users to exploit this freedom to spoil the fun for everyone.
With this in mind, we asked for your experiences in the forums and suggestions on improving the discussion environment. We split the results into responses from males and females - for the quantitative data as well as the additional written responses.
A similar and significant percentage of both men and women gave their main reason for not posting or registering to post in the forums as being simply that they don't have a desire or feel the need to reply to threads or start discussions. Many users prefer to discuss climbing related issues and other topics either in person or on social media. However, a higher percentage of women reported cases of sexist replies, deliberately choosing a gender-ambiguous username and called for stricter moderation.
With a gender split of 13% female - 87% male users - based on our last extensive Readership Survey - there is clearly room for improvement in increasing our female readership. This is confirmed by the results of this survey which clearly indicate that the forum environment is currently not as attractive to women as it is for men - some reasons are shared below.
In response to some comments regarding gender equality and our representation of women, we have made a concerted effort to include more articles on female climbers, and female-specific topics and gear. We would also like to emphasise the fact that we welcome article contributions and receive far fewer submissions from women than we do from male readers, so please help us to make the website as representative as it can be!
We had a total of 898 responses with a split of Male - 791 : Female - 104 : Other - 3 (88.2%/ 11.2%/ 0.2%). Interestingly, the majority of male users were aged 20-29 (31.4%), whereas the majority of females were aged 30-39 (41.3%).
Some big differences in posting habits of men and women.
A higher percentage of women are 'lurking' - reading the forums but not posting - than men
More men are signing up to register on UKC.
Some striking differences here. Some of the most frequently stated and pertinent 'Other' reasons are explained in the quoted in the lists below.
With fewer women posting, the 'yes' response is potentially skewed. The following graph on sexist comments also explains why fewer women might have selected 'yes' to receiving abuse.
Women are unsurprisingly at the receiving end of perceived sexist comments. Some instances are described in more detail below.
Double the percentage of women have created gender unspecific usernames than men.
Female respondents were particularly keen on discussing climbing on social media.
Once again, social media is a popular discussion medium for female respondents.
Implying I had a fat arse when I was making a point about weight issues in climbing
Not abusively sexist but I think opinions and responses are not taken as seriously if they are clearly from a woman
A poster feeling like he had to explain my female behaviour to me. On a thread about sexism.
Slightly questionable whether it's specifically sexist but have been told I'm mindlessly regurgitating standard identity politics from textbooks, when I once said what I thought on a gender issue
I am relatively new to climbing, and don't feel I can contribute much to many of the climbing specific threads. I find that there are often very long posts, that are more about culture/politics/other stuff that are too long, often creep off topic, dominated by the same people and can be unnecessarily aggressive in nature
It's not so much that I find online discussion per se intimidating, or that I'm intimidated here. However, I do find that if it's a very active or political thread I'd want to think through what I wrote really carefully, because people do react badly, or misinterpret... And then I find I don't really have the time/inclination to put that much effort in and so don't bother.
I like to read others' opinions but have no desire to post my opinions
Forums are notoriously cliquey and I definitely can't be arsed putting time in to get a name...Use anonymous forums loads, gets round this issue
I don't find users abusive/threatening (or if it is, it's dealt with quickly) however I often find threads become deliberately argumentative, aggressive and pedantic and I don't enjoy that style of debate
Not sure I climb well enough to post as low grade climbers tend to get dismissed by the in crowd in the forums
I find threads go 'off topic' far too quickly through posters who know each other having their own discussion
Honest posts can be reduced to ridicule, or taken over by argument beyond the topic
Someone questioning my climbing ability as a qualification for posting. Didn't find it intimidating as old enough to be ignore it. Need to stand back and think before posting
Loads. and Loads. Whether it be a recent individual calling me a tw*t for absolutely no reason, or people becoming abusive because either they didn't like my opinion or they didn't like my response to their opinion.
A couple of ad hominem attacks, instead of debating the substance of the argument
'playing the man, not the ball' kind of replies, replies bickering on about linguistic issues
Only mildly and not necessarily undeserved. I personally like the robust nature of UKC. It is good that people can speak their mind AND be challenged on it without too much 'pc' restraint. If someone goes off on one, other users tend to restore the balance and moderation feels to be light, which is good. When I started on UKC the forums were far 'stronger' and we have lost many characters over the years who, yes, sometimes went too far, but on the whole they contributed more than was lost
I've been posting on and off for about a decade I think and the one thing you can be pretty sure of when you post is that you'll get flamed by someone for just about anything you say! I don't think this should necessitate more moderation though, I think the community self polices pretty well
Lots of laddish banter and hostility towards my support of feminism (in the basic sense of equality)
Men discounting womens' experiences
Can't think of examples offhand and I'm not referring to sexist posts directed towards me (my profile pic makes it obvious I'm male) - but sexist 'banter' type replies are common, especially in off belay and pub threads discussing politics and such. ('Politics of gender', for want of a better term, especially.)
By proxy, I'm male so less of a target, but I've seen those who've shown distaste at appalling comments get ripped to shreds
There are a number of posters with ill-informed attitudes, some malicious but most just ignorant, who post things that indicate they hold what I would call sexist views. As a better informed man, I'm not personally insulted by them but believe many women would be
Just don't want to get involved in an online debate. Will post on matters such as crag conditions or lost and found items
Fairly private about my opinions & thoughts on political subjects
Not interested in posting, a generation thing?
I'm not bothered about talking about climbing or hiking online, for the sake of it. I can talk to friends in real life but I'm more interested in doing stuff rather than talking about doing stuff. Forums are useful when I have a question and occasionally it's nice to help others
Sometimes I start to write and then realise I don't care enough and delete before posting...
Some interesting discussions often descend into the same boring arguments between the same posters
I often find someone has already something similar to my own position. No point in reiterating another's thought
I talk about politics & culture on Reddit & prefer to talk about climbing on UKC
I worry about what other people will think, which I suppose is covered by I find online discussion intimidating
Sometimes feels cliquey and non inclusive. And sometimes people are abusive. I would add, though, that I contribute to no forums anywhere else on the internet for this reason too
I only post where I feel very strongly about something, or feel I have knowledge that others may not
There is often a strong left-wing political bias with the centre ground or centre right underrepresented that I find quite frustrating and is why I am becoming less inclined to interact or contribute to the forums in general.
Many of the posts are location specific, i.e not about the Highlands of Scotland. Tends to be about GRIT
If you're not incredibly careful when writing people jump down your throat, making chat a time consuming effort. Certainly wouldn't post where I'm lacking knowledge but interested, get something wrong and you'll get attacked. Much easier to lurk
I find myself limited as I have a professional standing - so comments on UKC might reflect on my institution inadvertently
I often read for entertainment. Interaction beyond the anonymous like/dislike system is a different experience, one I'm not always interested in
I don't want to encourage more sexist or offensive behaviour but would like less moderation. Perhaps this could be achieved by not allowing people to hide behind their anonymity.
I think the moderation carried out on UKC is exemplary
I would post much more readily if people were more thoughtful when they answered posts, by which i mean coming up with a sensible well thought out argument if they wish to disagree rather than being abusive without actually presenting any sensible opposition
If certain pairs of individuals wouldn't repeatedly take over threads for private and often irrelevant arguments
Stricter moderation on staying relevant to the question/topic
I'd rather we moderated ourselves in the first instance (a bit like kids in the playground, before teacher has to step in!)
More respect by posters for each other and refraining from what I see as gratuitous insults whilst (somehow) the robust replies and wit that makes UKC enjoyable.
There's a fine line to be drawn between the current 'light touch' moderation, which most of the time works very well, and encouraging users to highlight to the moderators behaviour they think crosses the line to a greater degree than they currently do. You need to set out a policy statement on this with examples of what is ok and what crosses the line
Easier to follow threads. Long threads are hard to track
Discussion to stay on topic, particularly those that follow news items - the standard 'what have they done on grit!?' I find the lack of respect for people's achievements appalling
Change the leaderboard to most liked posters. This way the active people will try to post in a positive manner
Kinder and gentler responses!
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