Forum Moderator Issues

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Nalates
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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Nalates » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:12 am

Mac_Fife wrote:The mods need to be allowed the time to do their jobs properly.

Time… is fixed… patience runs out… which is why I would like to see more members take responsibility in a forum. Hopefully they would reduce the work load for moderators.

I think forums with the search first rule and poor treatment of those asking questions show the rule could be written better. We know this sort of thing happens. So, we adjust the rule. After all, it is not a license to be rude to those that break it. I hope pointing that out makes a difference.
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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Mac_Fife » Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:11 am

Nalates wrote:
Mac_Fife wrote:The mods need to be allowed the time to do their jobs properly.

Time… is fixed… patience runs out… which is why I would like to see more members take responsibility in a forum. Hopefully they would reduce the work load for moderators.
I certainly don't disagree on that. The point I was trying to make was that in some forums, where the moderation has been criticised, those making the criticisms probably have little or no awareness of some of the more banal tasks that the mods are obliged to perform, and that eat into that fixed time that the moderator can provide.

We're lucky here, in that 1) We've had little or no need to delete spam posts or registrations on the forums for several months (the odd bogus registration still creeps into the wiki), and 2) The discussions here have been pretty orderly, so moderator intervention has only really amounted to an occasional bit of thread splitting/moving.

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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Nalates » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:21 am

Mac_Fife wrote:I certainly don't disagree on that. The point I was trying to make was that in some forums, where the moderation has been criticised, those making the criticisms probably have little or no awareness of some of the more banal tasks that the mods are obliged to perform, and that eat into that fixed time that the moderator can provide.
Your point is well taken. For instance; several of us were in a spat on another forum about a post being deleted. Several taking the side it wasn't and others that it was. Technically it was down for a short period while moderators were reviewing. But many never saw it being down. Only a few did and they used it unfairly for ammunition to support their criticisms. They were surprised and I suspect did not believe the mod when they posted what had happened and the amount of down time, not much... unless you were holding your breath.

While I think it is unfortunate people behave in such ways, they do. My belief is it will take more than requesting patience. Patience is not the problem. The problems are much deeper and more complex. Understanding transference is part of the foundation of knowing how to handle some of these problems. Then there is agenda and propaganda...

While I think it is good for a moderator to tell someone when their post is being or going to be edited or deleted, there is a problem of what to do while a thread is suspended for review.

Is it possible to notify everyone in the thread?
Is notification even desirable when the decision may be no change?
Do we want to put that much work on moderators?

If a thread or post needs to be suspended for review, some time is already being spent. Is it worth the additional time to post a note saying something about the down time and why it was considered for delete or edit?

Or is the whole thing handled another way?

Some forums allow suspension of a thread and others only a single post. If a post is suspended and members can't see it then it could through the thread's flow of context off. On a commercial/business forum I would probably consider suspending posts/threads a necessary part of the operation. On OU I see it as only necessary if one is breaking the rule, and that is unlikely going to be suspended.
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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by JWPlatt » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:33 am

I'd rather see it temporarily locked for review and that would serve to inform everyone while avoiding reactionary accusations of censorship or revisionism even when the thread is meant to return shortly (but the users are not informed). The last post would be the moderator's concerning the action and that it is probably temporary. Then the mod post would be deleted when the problem is corrected and the thread unlocked, unless the post is needed for elaboration when the thread continues. The exception to this, and a reason for suspend (make not visible), is for inappropriate material not in character with the audience (e.g. obscenity on a family forum, confidential or private information on a public forum, etc).
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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:13 am

JWPlatt wrote:I'd rather see it temporarily locked for review ...
Yes, hiding a thread while it is reviewed may just cause more problems (such as someone starting a new thread on the subject), as Nalates suggests.

We also need to be careful not to propose rules, guidelines or procedures that require features that are not present in a "vanilla" installation of the forum software. Most of my contributions here talk around phpBB and YABB because those are the tools I'm familiar with, so I can't comment on the features of other types of forum software. Like JWPlatt, I've never had cause to turn on the post moderation queue, so I don't know fully what happens in that case, but I don't believe that phpBB has an in-built feature to suspend or hide a thread within the Moderator Control Panel: It may be something that can be added by modification (I need to be more careful about using the term "mod", as it could refer to either a software modification or a forum moderator ;) ) or it may be a feature present in other software. In any case, it would seem better to opt for locking as that is something that is universally available.

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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by JWPlatt » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:38 am

If there is no hide function or moderator thread queue, the alternative is to move a thread into a forum visible only to mods and admins. Any forum should have move and permission functions. A complication to this is the kind of enviroment we have here on OpenURU.org with disparate project groups and their own moderator groups plus perhaps confidential development forums under NDA. You can't have a general thread review pool in this situation, so each project would need its own.
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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:16 pm

JWPlatt wrote:If there is no hide function or moderator thread queue, the alternative is to move a thread into a forum visible only to mods and admins. Any forum should have move and permission functions. A complication to this is the kind of enviroment we have here on OpenURU.org with disparate project groups and their own moderator groups plus perhaps confidential development forums under NDA. You can't have a general thread review pool in this situation, so each project would need its own.
I considered this option too. Moving threads between public and private forums and back again seems to be additional "work" to me, and you still have the issue of the "vanishing thread".

Either moving or locking, we still have to deal with potential need to revise one or more posts, and in either case only moderators will be able to do that. This then presents some challenges regarding how you involve the original posters in the revisions. Maybe we should set up a throw-away experimental forum here with a moderation queue enabled to see exactly what options that brings?

I could be wrong, but I suspect we may be unique among URU community websites in having project/forum specific moderators, rather than global moderators. The MO:UL forums used to have designated moderators for each section, but I think that was abandoned at the end of the GameTap era.

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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Dot » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:23 pm

In the past on the GoMa forum the leadership team (which had been elected by the group members) doubled as forum moderators.

When a thread was requiring serious action -- e.g. making a serious allegation about an individual -- the thread was moved into a private forum for the team to look at and discuss what action to take. It would then be moved back as soon as possible, if I remember aright.

We didn't always get it right -- and once posts were incorrectly deleted by accident through unfamiliarity with the forum software. But we were genuinely trying to do our best, trying to contact the individuals concerned, trying to act fairly and courteously.

And then the moderators in another forum feel free to insult, criticise and belittle those they are moderating. How is one meant to deal with that sort of behaviour? What recourse do ordinary forum members have?

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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Mac_Fife » Wed Jan 06, 2010 3:56 pm

Dot wrote:And then the moderators in another forum feel free to insult, criticise and belittle those they are moderating. How is one meant to deal with that sort of behaviour? What recourse do ordinary forum members have?
That is a really difficult one. The principle of escalation, reporting the matter to the admins, may well have no effect, since I can imagine that the moderators and the admins may share views, if they are not in fact the same people :? .

Ultimately, the forum admins are the people who determine who is or is not a moderator and are a kind of oligarchy. On some forums, the moderators may ostensibly be "elected" by the general user base, but the administrator always has the power to de-select a moderator: If there is sufficient evidence to show that moderator is not acting in a fair and reasonable manner, I'd expect a responsible admin to take charge of the matter. The admins (or the site owners) are the final arbiters.

I guess an admin can also abuse their position, and could delete a user and all of their posts in a Stalinesque purge if they so desired.

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Re: Forum Moderator Issues

Post by Dot » Wed Jan 06, 2010 4:08 pm

Yes, as far as I can tell from various posts, admins and moderators are the same in this instance.

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