Important Survey Results

Nov 11, 2010
SOF Mentor
Here is the majority of feedback received from the previous survey. The below mostly includes items where multiple members commented on the same issue. We didn't include some of the individual criticisms, but we have noted them for future discussion.

Many of the below issues/suggestions were implemented or are in the process of being implemented. We also updated the help page on items that some of you were confused about: Help.

If you have any issues navigating the forum and don't see the answer in that help section, simply click the Help Desk link in the navigation bar. This is also the link for vetting and everything else done behind the scenes.

Here were the questions/concerns/criticisms and our responses below them:

Most found the site features easy enough to use with some practice. The reaction score option was a bit confusing.

For those who don't know, this is your reaction score:


And this is how they are calculated:


We are open to adjusting these moving forward.

The search function is lacking in ability to search short words. Others requested a more detailed search function with the ability to search specific subforums/threads.

Understandable. There are some changes we can make to enhance the search down the road; however, it doesn't make sense at the moment due to the cost vs. current thread/post count. We are slowly converting the subforums to forums make everything easier to search. As for the second issue, we already have that feature built in. Simply click on the respective forum/thread you want to search in, click on the search bar, and then change search "everywhere" to "this forum" or "this thread."

The numerous introduction threads are a distraction while using the "latest posts" feature. Several users recommended keeping the introductions to a single thread to reduce noise, and post count padding.

We recently removed the mandatory intros, but still encourage them. There are several good points recommended that we will consider going forward to clean up the latest posts/what's new section and the next major software update.

The North American SOF section is confusing, since we have a US SOF section. Members also expressed frustration on where they should post.

Agreed. We broke out the SOF units last week for search purposes, but also renamed several forums to make it more clear. We will continue to adjust as needed.

While many want to see more SOF-related threads, the majority of survey participants think there is good mix of mil vs non-mil topics. An overwhelming number of our members believe the political threads are creating divisiveness and should go away.

I've threatened to shut down political threads (and the gen discussion forum) in the past, but I'm still optimistic professionalism and free speech can prevail. People tend to use the general discussion section to vent and 99.9% of the time your political post isn't going to change anyone's political leanings. Several members pointed out that they use the forum as an escape from all the craziness in the world, and I admit to being part of that demographic. As much as I would love to kill these threads, they're going to stay for now. Remember, you have the ability to not view/participate/create those threads. Some of the suggestions on how to deal with the issue included removing post counts from all non-mil forums, boot the unprofessional participants from the threads/posts, and just delete all the non-mil topics. We can implement each of these suggestions, but are going to start with option two and go from there.

There is interest in a classifieds section for buy/sell/trading.

We will look into options after our next software update, but for now you can use the kit/gear section for non-commercial purposes. Obviously, we won't allow you to sell your car or tv on here, but we're cool with you getting rid of some gear (providing it complies with federal/state law).

Many members want better smilies.

We haven't done much work with adding smilies recently, since we enable the ability to use emojis on the forum. Since most modern phones have emojis, we're assuming you want them for desktop use? If so we can populate the smiley section with emojis at a minimum.

More military/SOF-related topics where members or staff pick a topic and verified members share their opinions. Threads posted by unverified members tend to be shut down quickly or unintelligible.

Great idea, but we can't exactly enforce this. I would encourage our staff and members to consider this. The second part of this section is addressed below to provide more leniency in the thread shut downs.

The mentor section needs work and we should stress its importance more on the forum. Members feel it's more like it's more of a SITREP than actual mentorship.

Agreed, the current system sucks. A permanent solution will eventually be implemented, but it's just a matter of time and money. We're going to have a better layout that facilitates an easier back and forth, and individual knowledge repositories. For now, members should post their questions to generate that discussion. Vetted members are encouraged to create their own mentor groups. We also encourage multiple groups on the same subject (we're fine with there being five 75th Ranger groups). Everyone has different visions and mentoring styles, so do what you have to do.

The majority of members do not want ads on ShadowSpear and do not want to pay to use the site.

Say no more.

Most indicated they'd be interested in purchasing shirts, followed by shot glasses, and then coins. Some asked if we have any of these already. There were also a few outside-the-box ideas that we will look into.

Yes, we have some shirts and plenty of coins in stock. Coins require a vetted or member status for purchase, or can be purchased for the vetted/member. We will eventually replenish the stock, but the priority is keeping the site up and running. At any rate, feel free to send your ideas or color requests on the current designs to me via PM so I can compile/consider them for the next order.

Forum moderation received a broad range of ratings from fair to excellent. Members still prefer annual moderator elections instead of appointed staff members. Complaints included overmodding, dogpiling (where mods would take turns commenting on what was an already addresses, often in a closed thread), and occasionally targeting members based on their opinions. Threads tend to be closed way too quick and should remain open unless there is a major issue (leaving additional input or questions down the road). New members might get jumped on for a small mistake and mods should be steering them in the right direction instead of punishing them. Mods should allow for professional confrontation and stick to the forum rules instead of making up their own. Mods tend to jump on non-green tagged members for sharing their experiences on a subject even if they were not SOF. Punishments (I'm assuming points, thread bans, perma-bans?) tend to be all over the place and not streamlined. It's annoying that moderators would be participate in a forum as a member and then start moderating (using the mod hat on/off comment). There are only two staff members with SOF experience.

I addressed these comments with the staff. They've been operating on guidance from 2014, and that guidance has been updated. Some of these issues were a quick fix, while others will take some adjustments. The forum rules were adjusted for clarity.

Dogpiling is unacceptable by both members and staff. Going forward, once a staff member addresses an issue, move on. If you see the below banner over a post, a Staff member has already warned that poster, so let it go. I'm going to assume you'll see them in the political threads more than anywhere else.

Staff members will be more lenient in allowing non-green tagged member comments. At the same time I understand where the staff is coming from by wanting the forum information to be as accurate as possible, but we will allow you to offer your two cents without being moderated (since we are a discussion forum).

We will continue the annual moderator elections, where you can vote for your candidates of choice (and throw your own hat into the ring).

We updated the member discipline/point/ban system, since I agree, it seems to have varied per instance and deviated from the original (and more lenient) 2014 guidance. While the forum is miltary-related, I don't want it to be run in that manner; at the same time, there isn't going to be anarchy.

Here are the changes:

Each forum rule is assigned a number of points based on the severity. If you violate any of these rules, a staff member can award you a warning, which automatically assigns you points. Each of these points is recorded by the system and calculated in the background. They also have an expiration date based on the severity. So those points go away after a period of time (or the number increases if there are subsequent violations prior to the expiration). If you accrue a certain number of points (which is a pretty generous number) you will get an automatic week-long ban. If you return from your vacation and decide to continue to break the rules, additional points will send you on a month-long vacation, followed by a permanent one. Not all warnings will have points assigned to them; that it up to the staff to determine if necessary. If you don't agree with the staff member who warned you, you can appeal to an admin, or the site owner through the contact us link.

A less severe option is the thread ban option. If a member can't be respectful to others in a particular thread or forum, they will receive a "no point" warning. If they continue their attacks they will receive a temporary ban from that thread/forum. If the offender returns to that thread after the ban is lifted and continues to be unprofessional, the ban will be extended. This could eventually prevent you from posting in those threads or forums forever.

To address the comments regarding SOF experience by the staff, off the top of my head we have a former Special Forces medic, a 75th Ranger, a PJ, PSYOP, 160th, enabler...I'd say we have a pretty solid representation.

....And that's pretty much it for now. As always, thank you for your feedback (well, the serious comments). Feel free to discuss below!


Sep 12, 2012
Mods tend to jump on non-green tagged members for sharing their experiences on a subject even if they were not SOF.
I'm glad we are relaxing this. It would be helpful if members (regardless of tag) would add something to their post that explains why or how the poster knows or can explain the information. ie: "I can tell your this about SEAL training.....blah...blah...blah...I experienced it personally before I got DQ'd during hell week with a back injury."

Just say "something" that offers credibility to your statement, do we ‘know’ that 'you' know?


Verified Military
Jul 22, 2009
Central OH
I think this site does way better at moderating than any other site I've spent time on and I really appreciate the level of professionalism when a poster and a moderator clearly don't agree. This is 100x better vs. booting as many posters as possible for differences of opinions and mistakes.

My 2 cents.