Ending the Nonsense

Open: A proposal for community standards of forum behavior

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Mac_Fife
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by Mac_Fife » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:13 am

The point of these forums is to investigate and develop "best practice" not to conduct vendettas, irrespective of whether there is apparently justification for grievance.
Nalates wrote:Removing a moderator may be necessary from time to time. I consider such an action on its own a bit simplistic because when we get another problem moderator we have to go through another long painful process to remove them. There has to be a better more comprehensive way.
This gets to what is in many ways the crux of a problem like this. Will removing (or attempting to remove) a moderator change things substantially? It might, it might not. I don't see the removal of a moderator as a "solution"; it can only ever be part of a bigger picture. There are a couple of things to consider here:
  • On a small(ish) fan site forum the moderators and the Admins will likely be very "close" if not in fact the same people. Try to mobilize against a moderator there and you're probably more likely to earn yourself a long term holiday from the site. Fact of life.
  • People who get their posts moderated will tend to "have a problem" with the moderation - it's comparatively rare for someone to be happy with being told that they've stepped out of line, accidental transgressions aside. Some people enjoy walking a fine line along the edge of the rules and will get moderated more than most. I'm not suggesting that they get "blacklisted" or anything like that (although that no doubt happens on some forums and phpBB3 has a User Notes log that mods can use), but those people do draw the attention of moderators. That's why I often say that the first responsibility for moderation lies with the poster.
  • What is the guarantee that the next moderator won't act in the same way? This can break down into at least two things that I can see: a) It's actually the posters/complainants who are at fault and simply don't recognise that their own behaviour is at fault or b) The root cause of the maladministration hasn't been identified or tackled. The latter point is the one that I don't see anyone attempting to answer here and is probably the best learning opportunity for us all - Not so much what was erroneous about the moderation, but rather how could it have been handled better
Having rules is one thing, but you also need guidelines that helps you interpret those rules when you get into an area that isn't expressly covered. As Nalates posted elsewhere, it's the basis by which much of law is conducted: Interpretation is applied and becomes precedent, precedent becomes the template for future decisions in similar cases.

What I'd really like to see is some (synthesised) case studies as "worked examples" of how best to moderate particular situations, but that probably needs to be somewhere other than in this thread. You cannot use "real" examples because you get into privacy issues and there is likely to be exchanges conducted by PM that no one person will have full visibility of. I'm not quite sure how best we could present something like that - I don't know if the forum really works for this.

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Dot
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by Dot » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:39 am

An exchange between Nalates and MacFife in the 'Important threads/info...' discussion brings out one practical idea that might help in this sort of situation:
Nalates wrote:... being able to get a response from another mod could help. Even if it is just a quick, "we reviewed it as a group and it stands." If one is having a problem, trust can be in question. So, another's response could relieve that. Also, as it becomes more known that review and action is a team effort, many of us will feel better. And our purpose here is not just in regard to to MOUL. Not a complete cure all, but I think it could help.

I think if I expected a problem or felt I might be biased I would CC other mods and ask opinions. Including that info while dealing with the problem member might also reduce problems. (Source)

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semplerfi
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by semplerfi » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:46 am

The point of these forums is to investigate and develop "best practice" snip…
We've repeatedly asked how you would solve it, snip…, in terms of general policy, snip…
In reading all the posts here several times (lots of good discussion & information from my point of view), the one thing I see missing in the discussion and example given is some form of monitoring moderator’s and administrator’s actions for quality control. In a company of paid professional less oversight and quality assurance monitoring is to be expected. With the example given here the work is being preformed by non-professional unpaid volunteer fan base, which are selected by the company, which in turn represent the company and its products. I would think that some form of oversight and quality assurance monitoring by the company would be in best practice which in the example given has not been happening. The lack of oversight is the reason grievances are manifesting and mounting in the example given.

Best Practice:

A little QC (quality control) and QA (quality assurance) monitoring will go a long way in preventing issues from manifesting.

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Whilyam
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by Whilyam » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:06 pm

I have seen some general guidelines, but none of them seem to address the problem. The discussions here are too vague to be of any real use in most situations (and also no one cares what a handful of fans on a game forum think should be the "proper" guidelines for moderation, but that's moving off topic).

Also, please point out the hyperbole/"colorful" adjectives in my previous post. This is reality and I will gladly back up my blunt assessment. If you are serious about tackling this, it must be direct.

Finally, your turnabout does not solve the issues. From a user's perspective, your take breeds complacency and stagnation. Two traits which are only recently beginning to blessedly falter on the MOUL forums. From an Admin's perspective, your take ignores the different role the Cyan admins have to your position. Cyan needs to maintain better communication with their moderators (and the fans in general), end of story. None of this "it better be something only I can handle." That is the kind of (frankly egotistical) attitude that dissuades people from coming to you with issues. The bar is raised ever higher in a "don't disturb the king!" mentality. You also do not get the experience of seeing the potential problems with guidelines/rules if you never get "down in the mud" so to speak and are engaged in moderation yourself.

Mac's points are pretty accurate, though don't apply to the MOUL forum.
It's not a small(ish) site and the moderators and Admins are not as close as Mac is talking about.
People who have never had their posts moderated and were content with veralun's previous moderation have been appalled by his recent actions (along with the people most concerned about this hardly being the fine-line-walking-hooligans Mac seems to portray them as).
The idea that the next moderator might be just as bad or worse is, while an accurate scenario, a silly idea to use for maintaining the status quo. It is in fact that idea that has allowed this damaging situation to persist.

How I would solve it in terms of general policy:
Moderators will moderate only the forums in a language they have proficiency in. (This point was glossed over when JWPlatt first tried to threaten me and has been ignored by the topic since then.)
Moderators who consistently get complaints from a wide range of people within the community ("established" as well as "newbies," "pro" and "anti" whatever) will be removed and replaced after a review of the complaints to assess their validity.
Moderators will communicate issues to the Admins freely and openly. Users will be encouraged to send suggestions to the admins or moderators to pass onto the admins.
Basic discussion will be allowed on guidelines and rules.

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mszv
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by mszv » Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:43 pm

I'm not sure the problem is completely a "not my native language" issue, given what I saw here from the Dutch forum members, but, yes, language might be an issue. I'm not "behind the scenes" anymore, so I don't know everything that went on.

IMO the Mystonline forums are not as active as many forums, but they are active enough that you have to pay attention to them. They are also small enough that sometimes things get deeply personal, This can make it tricky to mod. You have long time valued community members who can't stand each other. I think it's like that on all forums, but because the forums are small, it has more impact.

One of the things that might help is if there were more moderators on the English language forums , mods active during the peak times, calm reasonable types, taking a leadership role. Mac, I'm glad you joined the moderation team -- if you have the time, this can be you! I'm not sure how many mods are still active, from the old group. RV (Reverend Vader) is a great mod, but he's not on a lot. There are great people out there, but lots of people have time committments, particularly during peak times.

I don't know how involved the Cyan people are, as mod managers. Going way back to the Ubisoft days, it was great with Ron Meiners and Katie Postma, but after that, Cyan hasn't been able to devote the time to forum management. Chogon was great when we could get him. RAWA seems good, from what I've seen, but, given what Tweek said, he's crazy busy now.

Guess this isn't much of an answer, huh? I'd probably say more in a private conversation -- let me think if there is something else I can come up with, to post.

If you think this post belongs in the more general thread, feel free to move it.

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Whilyam
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by Whilyam » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:46 pm

The wrong way to tackle this issue: Tweek and Ddefreyne demoted for their criticism of veralun's moderation.

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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by JWPlatt » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:55 pm

This thread is suspended for one day.

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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by admin » Sat Mar 27, 2010 11:52 pm

This thread is unlocked. If there was enough foresight to have considered the coming weekend, the promise would have been to open it sometime Monday or Tuesday instead.

The rule of this domain is "Do no damage," including to projects, the domain or the community. Using this site as a platform to launch a political action damages the purpose of this project, the site and helps to poison and divide the community. This is not open for debate. It is information you need to understand what it means to be part of OpenURU.org.

This thread belongs in this project. It therefore continues under the graces of the project leaders. If the rhetoric continues, the thread will permanently be locked and held up as an example of how not to behave on OpenURU.org. This project is about no individual, group or company in particular. This thread will remain unlocked until the next unacceptable post as the project leaders or moderators define it. It will be locked the instant it smells of further targeting of any individual, group or company even - because of repeated exercises in tolerance here - if it is not overt.

How you handle things outside OpenURU.org is your own business. But any action Cyan Worlds takes as a consequence of these matters on their own may be honored here if anyone persists in trying to turn the debate back to specific cases and instances and offering only destructive criticisms. Do yourselves and your causes a favor by keeping discussions positive, constructive and respectful.

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semplerfi
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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by semplerfi » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:13 am

So would a little QC (quality control) and QA (quality assurance) monitoring go a long way in preventing issues from manifesting be considered a “Best Practice” in general for most applications?

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Re: Ending the Nonsense

Post by mszv » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:27 pm

One of the things I can say, given the length of "that thread" is that there are some issues, some concerns. There can be some disagreement on what the issues are, and how to manage them, the underlying causes, all that, but you don't have a thread that goes on for 10 pages, unless something needs to be addressed. I'm not going to list the issues, nor my opinion, here -- but there is something going on that needs to be addressed.

I see these things as golden opportunities for the company in question. Ideally, community management is such that it doesn't get to this, but heck, things happen, even on forums where there are lots of paid employees and unpaid volunteers "minding the store". When something like this happens, what a great opportunity to get in front of your fans, to diffuse the situation, to recognize concerns, to do something. I'm not saying "don't support your moderators", not saying that. I'm not saying that everyone is going to be happy with any decision Cyan makes. But - what a golden opportunity -- to turn a bad into a good, to make things things better. I'm not saying what Cyan should do, but this is a good opportunity to communicate, to do something.

Heck - I may post something like this, on that thread. And you can apply what I'm saying to forum management in general. If people are concerned, they are concerned. You may say they shouldn't be concerned, or they are proposing the the wrong solution (again, i'm not saying what the solution on "that thread" should be) but concern is concern. It does sound cliche ridden, but, after you resolve the situation, it does help to figure out what you can do to keep something like that from happening in the future.

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