I spend a great deal of time in "real life" as a negotiator. It is my job actually and I love it. Whenever two parties sit down in a room together face to face the results are usually positive. If they share at least some common goals and interests much can be accomplished. It is not uncommon to see integrity and decency replace contempt and discourtesy in the proper setting.
Having said that, I use to be a miserable failure settling disputes on my forum. The online world seems to push even decent folks into becoming very discourteous in a matter of seconds. We hide behind our key boards and feel a certain disconnect when it comes to others. I don't think it is intentional, but just the nature of online communications. At least that is what I experienced with my community forum.
I was able to make a change on my site which seemed to help. I actually picked up the telephone, got on Skype, used video chat, and when geography permitted, met some of my members in person. What a world of difference it made for our community. Did it solve all the problems? No. But for those that I knew had some desire to "compromise" it did make a huge difference.
I love this site. I love how complete strangers are willing to help you just because they want to. SMF is a community like no other. Of course there will be ups and downs, but as long as the core people (The SMF Team and Friends) want the community to succeed it will. I just hope that all (or most) of the people involved never lose track of what an awesome place you have created.
Thanks for all your years of great service and commitment to making SMF the best community on the Internet. I pray that both sides can find a way to work together for all of us!