Running my first ever forum and recently hit first 500 users, I am in trouble with moderation and need your advice.
Some people are quite emotional: despite being very knowledgeable in many topics, they start to touch personalities time to time and to speak about persons rather than topics.
I simply do not know how to best deal with it. The situation is getting even worse because of the numerous issues:
Russian and Ukrainian speaking people are not taught to be polite in the Internet. This is not our tradition. The way people speak e.g. in this forum and in my forum is very different. So my attempts to explain in PMs that we should discuss topics and opinions rather than people simply did not work. I suppose please are more aggressive in our countries
I cannot ban people because they are extremely knowledgeable in the topics and they are the key people to develop the forum and fill it with useful information.
If I do nothing, other forum users get upset and stop writing / reading / visiting the forum, so I still need to do something about it.
If I just edit their messages and remove all unrelated emotions and keep useful information, the authors get very angry.
I cannot rely on forum users clicking on flags either as very few of them feel comfortable to do so. In our mentality, flagging means being an informer, which nobody likes to do: a loose lip gets the first whip.
We already lost 2 knowledgeable users who used to write to the forum regularly and their materials were quite useful for the whole community.
So, I literally tried all I could come up with. Need more advice! What else should I try?