QUOTE(nighttimer @ Jun 23 2008, 11:37 PM)
My point was it is difficult to be both a referee and a player at the same time and be expected to handle both tasks fairly and well.
If you're inviting suggestions Jaime here is one; Any Moderator who makes posts clearly indicating their personal political slant, should refrain from moderating similar posts.
Given that most moderators participate from time to time in most topics and that the political leanings of most moderators are pretty clear to anyone who's been around here for a few months (never mind several years), I think this would be difficult to enforce - especially as everyone's definition of "similar" is bound to differ. However, it may allay some concerns to know that every effort is - and has always been - made to ensure that the moderation of the site is as neutral as possible.
As has been mentioned, moderators are not
supposed to moderate any thread in which they've participated (never mind threads which they've started). There have been rare exceptions, but only when there was a clear violation of the rules or when a thread has very
clearly departed from the topic at hand - and never, to my knowledge, when the moderator in question started
the thread in question.
Further, Mod Notes and edits are only done in response to posts that have been reported
. Reported posts are almost always discussed among staff members (administrators, moderators, and/or committee members) before action is taken and, in contentious, partisan threads, a diversity of opinion is solicited and (usually) a general consensus reached before any action is taken. I say "almost
always" because, again, there are some instances in which there is a very
clear breach of the rules (unequivocal name-calling or attacks, inflammatory slurs based on race, gender, etc., profanity filter violations, and so on) in which edits are made as quickly as possible.
When there is any doubt, though, reported posts are discussed in a multi-partisan fashion before being acted upon. This is one of the reasons that there is often an apparent delay in reported posts resulting in a response from the staff, one of the reasons that some reported posts are not acted upon at all (or, at least, not acted upon publicly), and one of the reasons that threads are sometimes closed altogether for "Staff Review" (some of which are re-opened, occasionally with edits, and some of which are permanently closed - after
due deliberation among staffers of differing political positions).
Finally, while any member of the staff, like any other participant, can report posts for violations of the rules or when a thread is straying from the topic, moderators will seldom take any action on a post that they themselves have reported - except, again, where the violation is unequivocal. The moderator or administrator who ends up making an edit, issuing a Mod Note, or closing a thread is fairly random: it's often whoever happens to be around once a decision has been made on a reported post or thread. We take great pains to avoid even the semblance
of partisanship in the moderation of the site, but sometimes the appearance of staff bias may be unavoidable - especially if the alternative would be to allow a flame war to escalate.
Trust me, if I ever
thought a member of the staff was exercising partisanship in the moderation of any thread, you would all
hear about it - right before I resigned from the committee and quit the site. And I think every member of the staff feels exactly the same. That may not be good enough for some participants, but it is the very best that we are able to do.
of you ever feel that partisanship has been involved in a Mod Note, post edit, or thread closure, feel free to report it or get in touch with Jaime
, or the staff member you most trust (if any). But we do
strive to be as neutral as is humanly possible, given the constraints of time, ability, and availability of the staff.
Oh - and read my current signature. It is as applicable to this site as it was to the Constitutional Convention.