Closure of the TSR Model House of Commons

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BlinkyBill
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I am creating this thread to share with you some important information about some changes to the Model House of Commons.

We have come to the difficult decision that this part of the TSR community needs to be closed down. This closure is taking place today, Thursday 10th December, 2020.

Model House of Commons has been around on TSR for a long time, and I’ve heard it credited as one of the first of its kind. I know some of you are quite new to the MHOC community, and some of you have been around for years. I wanted to take the time to explain why the decision has had to be made.

Alongside its good periods, MHOC is a community which has gone through regular periods of upset, and has been plagued by toxicity and negativity. As a result, over the years we have questioned whether it’s time for us to review MHOC’s feasibility to remain open, but continually given it the benefit of the doubt in the hopes that the culture would improve. The negative atmosphere in MHOC has been discussed openly for years and something that needed to be changed in order to ensure the healthy engagement and growth of this community. Despite many efforts over the years by various people, it’s unfortunate that there are a significant number of community members who continue to pervade this negative atmosphere.

So it was finally decided to conduct a review of MHOC recently. I’m unable to share the full details of this, but I want to share a few key challenges which were raised in the review:
  • There is a toxicity in MHOC which has been permissible in the past under the guise of being 'political debate'. For example, these have at times come in the guise of ‘joke bills’ or genuine bills, which can be discriminatory or derogatory in their framing and in the ‘debates’ they encourage.
  • MHOC elects its own leadership structure, who have additional authority in the game (eg. party leaders, speakers, etc), and as such can be seen to have authority on the site. This sense of 'authority' from a safeguarding perspective is of concern in a community of young people, and also can require those in leadership to have technical permissions (eg opening/closing polls) which others don't (without being vetted by the Community Staff).
  • MHOC operates party sub-forums which create a closed environment for party discussions. There is a perception that the community guidelines don’t apply in these forums, and user reports are lower than average. This closed and exclusionary environment where users aren’t reporting (assumedly due to party ties) creates a moderation and safeguarding risk to those users who are part of these subforums.
  • Members of MHOC have created a Discord channel based on this game, which causes risks to the onsite community by: diluting the conversation and reducing engagement on TSR; allowing members banned from TSR to continue participating in the game and influencing those who play; presenting risks around young/vulnerable members being unfairly drawn into conversations off TSR where TSR guidelines/moderation can't support them, creating an environment where activities like doxing, bullying and harassment occur, which introduce a high level of complication to the TSR moderation process
  • Where MHOC has functioned at its best is when there is a TSR Volunteer in place (in a non-political role) to manage logistics and comms between MHOC and CS. This responsibility being placed on a volunteer isn't appropriate or fair.
  • MHOC requires a very large amount of resource and time to run. This resource comes in the form of Technical support, Data Team support (for validating of elections, dupe checks, etc), Moderation Team support (specifically in time-consuming reports in AtCS and troll management), and Community Team support (usergroup perms, Speaker/Deputy Speaker support, escalated moderation reports, general admin). The time spent on all these aspects is significantly more than what’s required elsewhere on TSR
  • MHOC operates its own rule-set, which can be unwieldy in addition to the wider site guidelines and is controlled by the MHOC community, not Community Staff. Despite not being part of the Community Guidelines, moderation resources are often needed in enforcing MHOC rules, in addition to our Moderation Team’s sitewide responsibilities.
  • MHOC requires its own bespoke forum infrastructure, which requires technical and Community Team support to create and maintain from a technical point of view


The above points have played a significant role in the eventual decision to close the forums. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to identify significant enough reasons to continue maintaining or working on improving the MHOC forums despite the challenges identified above. It’s a great shame that we’ve had to make this decision, and disappointing that the behaviour of some individuals who claim to love MHOC, have now contributed to its closure.

I want to be clear - though the review has occurred now, this is a discussion which has been taking place at Community Staff level for much longer. This is not as a result of recent events, but of a community which, as a whole, has become untenable.

If you have questions or feedback, please share these respectfully in the Ask the Community Staff forum, not the public forums.

I understand that this decision may be disappointing to some of you. I want to thank all those individuals, past and present members of MHOC who’ve played a positive role in the community.

BlinkyBill

Mod note: TSR’s Model House of Commons has now been closed. To support the community, prevent misinformation and help manage feedback efficiently, we’re limiting the conversation about the closure onsite. We’re requesting that all in-depth questions and feedback is posted directly in the Ask the Community Staff forum. Please ensure all posts within this thread follow Community Guidelines.
Last edited by BlinkyBill; 2 months ago
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BlinkyBill
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In anticipation of questions you might have, we've shared some answers below. All in-depth questions and feedback should be directed to the Ask the Community Staff forum.

Why did MHOC have to be closed?
MHOC has had it’s good periods, but it’s been a community that has struggled with a negative culture for a long time. We did a review of everything to do with MHOC and found that its toxic culture and high resource demands mean that it’s just not possible for us to continue maintaining this community in a way that fits with our ethos as a community more broadly. TSR needs to be a place where students feel more welcome, safe and supported.

Why didn’t you try to fix it rather than just closing it?
There have been many attempts over the years to work on MHOC’s culture and the resource it takes to run it. While there have been improvements in some ways over that time, there’s also been a persistence in issues that really are too serious to ignore.

Will you ever bring MHOC back?
We can’t predict what might happen in the future (2020 has certainly taught us that!), but we anticipate there won’t be something like MHOC for a considerable period of time, if at all. It’s important we and the community have some time to refocus and grow in different ways. If there ever were to be something down the track which focused on fostering positive and healthy debate, we’d hypothesise it would need to be significantly different in order for it to be possible.

Why am I receiving an error message when I try to access the MHOC forums?
The MHOC forums have now been closed. This error message is because the forums are no longer accessible. You can explore other Debate and Current Affairs forums here.

Why did the closure take place so suddenly?
We have struggled over the years with significant rule-breaking behaviour from a number of members of the MHOC community - part of the reason for its closure. As an unfortunate result of this, in organising the closure process, we had to consider the best way to minimise the risks and keep the community safe. If we felt there were other feasible options we could have taken, we would have preferred to give more notice. We know that for some of you though, this means the news has come as a shock, and we're sorry for the disappointment in not to be able to properly farewell MHOC.
Last edited by BlinkyBill; 2 months ago
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Life_peer
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RIP MHoC.
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Darya.
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:rip:
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Cabin19
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RIP MHoC you will be missed.
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Theloniouss
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:rip:
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JMR2021_
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Is there any way to challenge this decision? I implore and hope the CT will reconsider after seeing the responses in the thread which is in UK politics.
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DiddyDec
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Unfortunate but necessary in the challenging financial conditions many companies are finding themselves in. I know TSR would rather not discuss financials but at the end of the day this is what it came down to.

But as has been happening far too often recently the communication from TSR has been incredibly poor.
Last edited by DiddyDec; 2 months ago
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Mr T 999
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:rip: Mhoc
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BlinkyBill
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(Original post by JMR2020.)
Is there any way to challenge this decision? I implore and hope the CT will reconsider after seeing the responses in the thread which is in UK politics.
Heya - unfortunately there's not, no. In making this decision, we took an awful lot into account, and we know how disappointing it is for those people in the community who love it and did the right thing. Unfortunately though, there are just too many reasons it's not possible for MHOC to remain.

(Original post by DiddyDec)
Unfortunate but necessary in the challenging financial conditions many companies are finding themselves in. I know TSR would rather not discuss financials but at the end of the day this is what it came down to.

But as has been happening far too often recently the communication from TSR has been incredibly poor.
Interesting interpretation of the dot points explaining the reasons for the closure. :holmes: In terms of communication, I'm not going to pretend we're perfect; however, this approach has been out of necessity given the challenges within MHOC which has contributed to its closure. If you've got any further feedback, please pop into AtCS (as the mod not requests).
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TCFactor
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I've been gone for a long time but this place... It had some good times. I'll miss it. 😔
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summerberry19
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:rip:
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by BlinkyBill)
Interesting interpretation of the dot points explaining the reasons for the closure. :holmes: In terms of communication, I'm not going to pretend we're perfect; however, this approach has been out of necessity given the challenges within MHOC which has contributed to its closure. If you've got any further feedback, please pop into AtCS (as the mod not requests).
You run a business and at the end of the day money is the reason you exist. Safeguarding issues ultimately fall to liability, insurance and of course money. That is not to say you don't care about the users' safety because I know you do.
TSRG financials are public to a point, just like most companies reserves are straining and overall revenue is falling, cutting resource intensive and not all that monetarily worthwhile content makes sense.

My thoughts on communication have been voiced many times over the past year, some of which you have replied to so you will likely already be aware. Nothing I say however will change how TSR operates, if you think there isn't much of a problem then you aren't going to change based on my feedback.
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El Salvador
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Well, I guess there's not much reason for me to stay on TSR then.
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Mainline421
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So sad you feel you had to do this so suddenly, couldn't you at least have made it private to MPs and let us finish the current items?
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username402722
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(Original post by TCFactor)
I've been gone for a long time but this place... It had some good times. I'll miss it. 😔
I have fond memories too. Voters and participants have become fewer, so perhaps not a bad time to end.
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SuperiorPotato
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Nooooooo
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Unown Uzer
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It's odd that the MHoC was shut down so rapidly with such short notice. Only a few days ago, there was a survey regarding the guidelines for the MHoC and how the MHoC should be administered, not to mention the introduction of a volunteer for the MHoC.
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Darya.
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(Original post by barnetlad)
I have fond memories too. Voters and participants have become fewer, so perhaps not a bad time to end.
Some notice would have been good. Maybe not weeks but at least enough for the last few items to go to Division, have a proper ending etc, and to actually spread the word around. Given that this announcement came out this morning and the forums were closed errr... this morning... there wasn't exactly enough time for most people to see the announcement and say their goodbyes. If someone slept in or was just MIA as I know many people have been, they would've rocked up later (whether it's this evening or next week) and when they realise forum 102 has disappeared off the face of the earth they're going to be very confused. It would've been better to have maybe a few days notice so at least we can get everyone involved to actually be able to say goodbye.
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BlinkyBill
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(Original post by Unown Uzer)
It's odd that the MHoC was shut down so rapidly with such short notice. Only a few days ago, there was a survey regarding the guidelines for the MHoC and how the MHoC should be administered, not to mention the introduction of a volunteer for the MHoC.
(Original post by Darya.)
Some notice would have been good. Maybe not weeks but at least enough for the last few items to go to Division, have a proper ending etc, and to actually spread the word around. Given that this announcement came out this morning and the forums were closed errr... this morning... there wasn't exactly enough time for most people to see the announcement and say their goodbyes. If someone slept in or was just MIA as I know many people have been, they would've rocked up later (whether it's this evening or next week) and when they realise forum 102 has disappeared off the face of the earth they're going to be very confused. It would've been better to have maybe a few days notice so at least we can get everyone involved to actually be able to say goodbye.
Heya - just to say, I completely hear where you both are coming from. Just wanted to make sure you've seen this from above? Just to explain a bit about why the haste.

Why did the closure take place so suddenly?
We have struggled over the years with significant rule-breaking behaviour from a number of members of the MHOC community - part of the reason for its closure. As an unfortunate result of this, in organising the closure process, we had to consider the best way to minimise the risks and keep the community safe. If we felt there were other feasible options we could have taken, we would have preferred to give more notice. We know that for some of you though, this means the news has come as a shock, and we're sorry for the disappointment in not to be able to properly farewell MHOC.
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