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 Moderation Discussion

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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:47 pm

cactus flower wrote:
We put a lot of work into the Site Charter and Rules and I think they are good enough to catch in their net any trolls too big to get through tiny holes.

What I need personally if I'm to mod is a set of firm rules for mods and also the basic technical competence (for example, if threads are to be temporily hidden by mods, how to do that).
A lot of members here have been posting for a long time and/or are experienced mods. Others, including myself, are not. We need an agreed procedure and etiquette for mods so that modding is consistent, fair and reasonable. At this stage I think that we need to agree an modding modus operandi.

Should mods always first pm the poster and ask them to self mod ?

Yes. We are all human, we all make mistakes. I'm in favour of a two warnings system. The first warning comes in the thread where the Mod communicates to the poster to stop what they're doing. If they ignore this, a PM with the same warning, in perhaps stronger terms, should be sent. Ignoring this should result in first deletion of the offending posts escalating to outright banning depending on the scale of the issue.

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Should mods act unilaterally on deleting posts or hide them and consult Ed Team?

Depending on the circumstances, depending on whether any of the Ed team is actually online and depending on how quickly the Mod needs to act.

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Should mods always give a reason for their modding ?

It is something I would recommend since it promotes transparency in the Modding process which is good for Mods(it makes them that bit circumspect) and good for users(they can see and trust in the Modding process)

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Should mods always sign/initial any modding they do ?

I would also recommend this for the reasons I gave above.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:21 pm

The second biggest problem, after trolls, is moderators who are poor at differentiating between somebody who disagrees with them and a troll. It is a bad idea to assume that all moderators are always going to be good at it. A mechanism for challenging and possibly overturning moderation decisions and a mechanism for removing moderator rights are, I think, important.

The boards.ie approach to moderation is a good lesson in what can go wrong. It basically works by delegating moderation rights to different users for different forums and giving them dictatorial rights within those areas. Some areas of the boards are well run, but others are appallingly badly moderated (e.g. politics). When moderation decisions are challenged they are met with bannings or torrents of abuse.

The difficult thing is that the second problem (unaccountable moderators) is often implemented as a direct response to the first problem (trolls). Coming up with a workable system which solves both problems is a really hard problem. The history of slashdot is worth looking into to see just how much of a battle it can be.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:35 pm

Quote :
Should mods always first pm the poster and ask them to self mod ?
Ideally but that's easier done if you're in the flow of a discussion than if you come upon a thread at a later date and the poster isn't around.

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Should mods act unilaterally on deleting posts or hide them and consult Ed Team?

Hmmm. Do we delete posts or move them to the Holding Pen (where hidden threads go to lick their wounds)? I was of the opinion that we do the latter which is fair to do unilaterally if really necessary. Deleting is out unless it's a double post or it has been discussed with the poster - in which case they should do it themselves.

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Should mods always give a reason for their modding ?
Without question.


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Should mods always sign/initial any modding they do

Yes. The poster always has the right of reply.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:54 pm

Any more suggestions for "rules for modding" ?
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:23 pm

I've a couple of ideas:

Trolls
Trolls are the bane of existence and shouldn't only be banned, they should be executed. Cool

There are two main types, with a third who mixes up the qualities of the other two. The first is the troll who'll have a set of issues that he or she will be inclined towards messing up, should they appear in any particular thread. This type is easy to spot but may involve a bit of digging through older threads. The second type will target specific individuals or indeed a whole site for destruction. The second type and the third can be the hardest to spot and can be very subtle. They survive by attempting to fly under the radar of mods. Good posters can be sidelined and eventually so beset that they'll leave the forum in disgust.

The first suggestion I have is that a file be kept on each and every poster with regard to moderation that has been taken against them (not for spelling mistakes, bad links type of mods, etc.). This way the prior history of an alleged troll can be examined fully by any mod or admin. This history is sometimes lost due to hidden posts etc. and sometimes fights can be caused between mods because a particular act of moderation can seem very harsh without a history to root the moderating action.

This site has already taken a major step in prevention, in that membership is required in order to post.

When a troll is spotted, rather than an imediate ban, I'd suggest that discussions with the alleged troll be commenced on an invisible thread and that as many moderators take place in this discussion as possible. There's nothing worse for a troll to have all his or her hard work take place in an area that nobody has access to. If a troll has to work hard with no results, he or she will probably leave of his or her own accord and the site will not have to suffer the troll's return under various proxies.

General Moderation
I'd suggest that a policy be drawn up with regard to mods choosing to moderate discussions that they are involved in. Serious abuses of the charter or the law should be removed by a mod whether or not he or she has had input into any particular thread. If the issue is not life threatening, I think a mod should still be allowed to moderate any particular thread he or she is involved in. In this case, I reckon a policy of locking the whole thread should take place, the offending comment should be hidden and the thread itself should not be unlocked until a group of mods decide on the validity of the post in question. The trick to learn here, I think, is that mods need to distance themselves from personalising the operation of moderation and that they be able to look at any particular post or thread in a clinical fashion and act accordingly - and indeed that when it comes to moderator discussions and voting on the validity of something, that they speak their minds fully and accept the group decision without personalisation.

There's loads of breathing space at the moment as we have less than a hundred posters. This figure can grow exponentially and very suddenly, and to not have a firm moderation policy in place could prove to mean a lot of needless work. With such a policy in place, and some degree of flexibility incorporated into it, and given time for the mods to bond to its ideals, there will be no problem that can arise that can't be dealt with effectively and with fairness.

Clinical moderation means that mods shouldn't be afraid to step on the toes of those they generally like. Nobody likes to offer offence to a friend. Reverse this inclination and see the need to moderate a particular post or thread as the need to purge an offence to the site and by association, to everyone who makes it what it is.

It's not my intention to come off sounding like the prophet of doom. Overall, I think this forum is becoming a model that others'll emulate and that you're all doing a great job. MN is a great place to be and discussions that would be impossible elsewhere are happening with not a single black eye administered. Keep keeping the eye on the ball and we'll be fine when the expansion happens.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Sat Jun 07, 2008 12:14 am

Thanks for that substantial post Hermes - you've some great ideas. The idea before of detecting a looping thread was handy too although I may have overused it there once.

This phase we're in of dragging out the policies and Charter and the whole lot is important isn't it because the more people who are involved in writing the guidelines the more ubiquitous and solid the ethic should in theory be.

On trolls who focus on issues - these are the ones that baffle me. Fair enough you've trollish anti-FF/FG/other party people who are simply repetitious and won't be entertained and are just hacks in fact but there are posters who focus on one or two issues only and appear trollish... or they are maybe xyz-wing and deeply (?) supportive of a particular ideology and keep hammering at that and won't be woken up to consider the idea that there are other ideologies... Then there are people who are planted - or is that paranoia?

When to know how vaccinated you are against the different troll strains.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Mon Jun 09, 2008 10:19 pm

Hermes wrote:
I've a couple of ideas:

Trolls
Trolls are the bane of existence and shouldn't only be banned, they should be executed. Cool

Exactly, no mercy.

Quote :
There are two main types, with a third who mixes up the qualities of the other two. The first is the troll who'll have a set of issues that he or she will be inclined towards messing up, should they appear in any particular thread. This type is easy to spot but may involve a bit of digging through older threads. The second type will target specific individuals or indeed a whole site for destruction. The second type and the third can be the hardest to spot and can be very subtle. They survive by attempting to fly under the radar of mods. Good posters can be sidelined and eventually so beset that they'll leave the forum in disgust.

I think those posters in the second and third category have increased exponentially on P.ie and it has caused an exodus of good posters. An example of Gresham's law in motion.

Quote :
The first suggestion I have is that a file be kept on each and every poster with regard to moderation that has been taken against them (not for spelling mistakes, bad links type of mods, etc.). This way the prior history of an alleged troll can be examined fully by any mod or admin. This history is sometimes lost due to hidden posts etc. and sometimes fights can be caused between mods because a particular act of moderation can seem very harsh without a history to root the moderating action.

Interesting, where do you propose this file be kept? It would have to be on some sort of profile archive or somesuch.

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This site has already taken a major step in prevention, in that membership is required in order to post.

Well that's it. Some sites allow anonymity of posters. Anyone, anywhere can post. Here you must be one of our 100-strong citizenry and that is much better.

Quote :
When a troll is spotted, rather than an imediate ban, I'd suggest that discussions with the alleged troll be commenced on an invisible thread and that as many moderators take place in this discussion as possible. There's nothing worse for a troll to have all his or her hard work take place in an area that nobody has access to. If a troll has to work hard with no results, he or she will probably leave of his or her own accord and the site will not have to suffer the troll's return under various proxies.

So, you think that a war of attrition with the offending troll is more effective than a sudden sharp drop from the site? This is at odds with your calls for the execution of trolls.

Quote :
General Moderation
I'd suggest that a policy be drawn up with regard to mods choosing to moderate discussions that they are involved in. Serious abuses of the charter or the law should be removed by a mod whether or not he or she has had input into any particular thread. If the issue is not life threatening, I think a mod should still be allowed to moderate any particular thread he or she is involved in. In this case, I reckon a policy of locking the whole thread should take place, the offending comment should be hidden and the thread itself should not be unlocked until a group of mods decide on the validity of the post in question. The trick to learn here, I think, is that mods need to distance themselves from personalising the operation of moderation and that they be able to look at any particular post or thread in a clinical fashion and act accordingly - and indeed that when it comes to moderator discussions and voting on the validity of something, that they speak their minds fully and accept the group decision without personalisation.

There's loads of breathing space at the moment as we have less than a hundred posters. This figure can grow exponentially and very suddenly, and to not have a firm moderation policy in place could prove to mean a lot of needless work. With such a policy in place, and some degree of flexibility incorporated into it, and given time for the mods to bond to its ideals, there will be no problem that can arise that can't be dealt with effectively and with fairness.

Well, there is a firm moderation policy in the sense that there is a Charter which Mods can refer back to.

Quote :
Clinical moderation means that mods shouldn't be afraid to step on the toes of those they generally like. Nobody likes to offer offence to a friend. Reverse this inclination and see the need to moderate a particular post or thread as the need to purge an offence to the site and by association, to everyone who makes it what it is.

It's not my intention to come off sounding like the prophet of doom. Overall, I think this forum is becoming a model that others'll emulate and that you're all doing a great job. MN is a great place to be and discussions that would be impossible elsewhere are happening with not a single black eye administered. Keep keeping the eye on the ball and we'll be fine when the expansion happens.

Thank you for your warm comments, Hermes. You are a worthwhile and valued citizen of the Machine Nation.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:15 pm

Trolls are very rare in these parts this long time. Fingers crossed that one comes along.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:20 pm

I can act very troll-ey at times Zhou. I was born as a P.ie Troll, trolling dub666, joel and their friends. It was the best fun. Sometimes I feel the little hairs on the back of my hands start to quiver and my teeth lengthen and .... alien
And have you noticed that Auditor #9 occaionally mrphs into something quite strange...
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Tue Jun 10, 2008 2:53 pm

Holy smokes - you're like those helpful country folk in Dog Soldiers.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:14 pm

chekov wrote:
The second biggest problem, after trolls, is moderators who are poor at differentiating between somebody who disagrees with them and a troll. It is a bad idea to assume that all moderators are always going to be good at it. A mechanism for challenging and possibly overturning moderation decisions and a mechanism for removing moderator rights are, I think, important.
You need also to be very sure that such a mechanism doesn't allow too much scope for witch-hunting.
Quote :
The boards.ie approach to moderation is a good lesson in what can go wrong. It basically works by delegating moderation rights to different users for different forums and giving them dictatorial rights within those areas. Some areas of the boards are well run, but others are appallingly badly moderated (e.g. politics). When moderation decisions are challenged they are met with bannings or torrents of abuse.
I'm going to disagree here - but then, I would.

There's a phenomenon known on boards.ie as "fighting da powah", which manifests as a perceived gods-given right to post anything at all anywhere at all, with no regard to rules, procedures, laws or even basic manners.

Over and over again I (and the other boards.ie Politics moderators) have been accused of abusing our "power" to silence people we disagree with. Considering that the current crop of moderators cross the political spectrum (even including, saints preserve us, a member of Fianna Fáil), it's an utterly silly position, and simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

If you start from the premise that another site's moderation policy is flawed - without seeking to understand why such a policy is in place - you lose a valuable opportunity to learn from it.
Quote :
The difficult thing is that the second problem (unaccountable moderators) is often implemented as a direct response to the first problem (trolls). Coming up with a workable system which solves both problems is a really hard problem. The history of slashdot is worth looking into to see just how much of a battle it can be.
I humbly submit that the boards.ie moderation policy is far from the worst model that could be learned from, if you avoid the pitfall of jumping to the easy conclusions about why it is the way it is.
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PostSubject: Re: Moderation Discussion   Tue Jun 10, 2008 4:37 pm

oscarBravo wrote:
chekov wrote:
The second biggest problem, after trolls, is moderators who are poor at differentiating between somebody who disagrees with them and a troll. It is a bad idea to assume that all moderators are always going to be good at it. A mechanism for challenging and possibly overturning moderation decisions and a mechanism for removing moderator rights are, I think, important.
You need also to be very sure that such a mechanism doesn't allow too much scope for witch-hunting.
Quote :
The boards.ie approach to moderation is a good lesson in what can go wrong. It basically works by delegating moderation rights to different users for different forums and giving them dictatorial rights within those areas. Some areas of the boards are well run, but others are appallingly badly moderated (e.g. politics). When moderation decisions are challenged they are met with bannings or torrents of abuse.
I'm going to disagree here - but then, I would.

There's a phenomenon known on boards.ie as "fighting da powah", which manifests as a perceived gods-given right to post anything at all anywhere at all, with no regard to rules, procedures, laws or even basic manners.

Over and over again I (and the other boards.ie Politics moderators) have been accused of abusing our "power" to silence people we disagree with. Considering that the current crop of moderators cross the political spectrum (even including, saints preserve us, a member of Fianna Fáil), it's an utterly silly position, and simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

If you start from the premise that another site's moderation policy is flawed - without seeking to understand why such a policy is in place - you lose a valuable opportunity to learn from it.
Quote :
The difficult thing is that the second problem (unaccountable moderators) is often implemented as a direct response to the first problem (trolls). Coming up with a workable system which solves both problems is a really hard problem. The history of slashdot is worth looking into to see just how much of a battle it can be.
I humbly submit that the boards.ie moderation policy is far from the worst model that could be learned from, if you avoid the pitfall of jumping to the easy conclusions about why it is the way it is.

Hi oscarBravo - I left your lunch for you in the Signing In thread.

As we are a new site you can be sure that a lot of time has been spent looking at and learning from other sites. If you dig around in our "Towards a Charter" thread and others you will see that the advantages as well as disadvantages of different modding approaches, including Boards.ie have been mulled over.

It would be my assumption that most site rules and customs are in place to fix, or prevent a problem. Some boards have sets of off-the-peg rules and other boards have changed and added to their rules as stuff comes up. We are trying in this thread to discuss the does and don'ts of modding, rather than content. We already have a Charter and Site Rules that are being translated into Irish. Any suggestions or advice for modding would be appreciated.

Very Happy
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