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Maybe Maybe Not
QUOTE(quarkhead @ Jul 7 2009, 07:42 PM) *
When topics like this come up, I sorta wish you all could see the entire process of moderation laid out. When a post or a thread is reported, it lands in a forum the moderation team can see. It is built like every other forum on the site. We can post to it. Each report opens a new thread. Before action is taken by a moderator, the report is there for our comments and discussions. You might think a moderator has it in for you, but in reality, the action they take has been discussed amongst all of the staff, from all sides of the political spectrum.

If you "wish" everyone could see the entire process of moderation, why not "let" everyone see what the moderation team can see?

You wouldn't have to allow everyone to post there, but what prevents everyone from reading what goes into the decisions?
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quarkhead
Well obviously that would be up to Mike and Jaime. One technical hurdle I can see would be figuring out a way for the reports to be anonymous. As it is, when a post is reported, the reporter and his or her comments detailing the report are visible. Those would still have to remain invisible to everyone, but accessible to the moderators, for obvious reasons.

Of course I can't answer for the admins, but I'd say that the technical changes required simply aren't worth it. The number of people who complain about moderation decisions represent an incredibly small percentage of the members. Overall, moderation happens without complaint. When a complaint is made it is usually in private, and dealt with that way. Public critiques of moderation are made rarely; I just can't imagine it would be worth the labor for Mike to program it. I think it suffices to say, the moderation here is strict. It is unbiased politically, if you spend ten minutes looking around and getting outside of feeling persecuted or victimized. Do we need to bring moderation more into the mix? Because with that transparency would undoubtedly come greater debate about debating, when it's better to have more debating about real issues. Not to mention that many regular posters here have writing styles - or spelling habits - that others can recognize. Even anonymous but visible reports would be recognizable to many.
Ultimatejoe
As a moderator it is important for us to be able to lay out our opinions on any given issue without worrying that we will offend people; how we collectively see a post and how the author may see it is not going to be the same, and if we start hedging our opinions to avoid conflict then we will be unable to come to a suitable course of action.
Maybe Maybe Not
QUOTE(Ultimatejoe @ Jul 7 2009, 09:17 PM) *
As a moderator it is important for us to be able to lay out our opinions on any given issue without worrying that we will offend people;...
But those opinions (the ones that may offend people) DO exist, and they ARE discussed; and they ARE an important part of the moderation process. Members just can't see them or know who expresses them?

I think I like DTOM's rationale a little better:
"Because with that transparency would undoubtedly come greater debate about debating, when it's better to have more debating about real issues."
(Just what I needed - a legitimate rationale for feeling guilty about opening this thread!)


Ultimatejoe
QUOTE
But those opinions (the ones that may offend people) DO exist, and they ARE discussed; and they ARE an important part of the moderation process. Members just can't see them or know who expresses them?

Lets consider what this would look like for a second. Lets say someone files a report on one of your posts and as the first moderator who sees it, I respond. I find something you wrote wholly against the rules and say so... Now, you wrote the post and you think the post is fine; how would you respond to my discussion of the report? How would you then consider our future interactions?
quarkhead
UJ is right. Remember that the moderators are members who debate here. Let's say that you report some post. I post to the thread, that the reported post is definitely in need of moderating. Everyone else disagrees, and no action is taken. The next time I debate the person who's post was reported, will they debate me differently knowing that I was the only moderator who thought their post was against the rules? Moderators would feel hobbled in giving their honest opinions, knowing that everything they posted about a report was public.

That isn't to say that there's a bunch of "juicy" stuff we're hiding from anyone. Most report threads are pretty boring. But we need to be able to hash it out without wondering how our words are going to be taken by everyone on the site. And again, I'd say that it would be next to impossible to make the reporters anonymous. Writing styles are not hard to identify. Some people make reports more often than others - how long would it take an astute reader to figure out who a particular reporter is? I think it works well enough as it is. When these sort of threads come up, every now and then, a reminder of how we do our jobs should suffice to allay the fears of all but the most paranoid of members.

By the way that was me earlier, not DTOM. wink2.gif
Maybe Maybe Not
QUOTE(Ultimatejoe @ Jul 7 2009, 10:36 PM) *
Lets consider what this would look like for a second. Lets say someone files a report on one of your posts and as the first moderator who sees it, I respond. I find something you wrote wholly against the rules and say so... Now, you wrote the post and you think the post is fine; how would you respond to my discussion of the report? How would you then consider our future interactions?
QUOTE(quarkhead @ Jul 7 2009, 10:54 PM) *
UJ is right. Remember that the moderators are members who debate here. Let's say that you report some post. I post to the thread, that the reported post is definitely in need of moderating. Everyone else disagrees, and no action is taken. The next time I debate the person who's post was reported, will they debate me differently knowing that I was the only moderator who thought their post was against the rules? Moderators would feel hobbled in giving their honest opinions, knowing that everything they posted about a report was public.

Another good point: The effect of "fully transparent" moderation on the moderators as debaters.

Never having administered or moderated a discussion board, I haven't considered any of these issues in any depth. I appreciate the responses.

QUOTE(quarkhead @ Jul 7 2009, 10:54 PM) *
By the way that was me earlier, not DTOM. wink2.gif
Ooops. I'm sorry.



Raptavio
From experience:

Unless the moderators are of a class of NON-participants in the debate, that kind of transparency is a BAD THING.

As long as the PROCESS is fair and moderators can check and balance each other's actions, doing it behind closed doors is better.

Trouble
QUOTE(Raptavio @ Jul 8 2009, 08:20 AM) *
From experience:

Unless the moderators are of a class of NON-participants in the debate, that kind of transparency is a BAD THING.

As long as the PROCESS is fair and moderators can check and balance each other's actions, doing it behind closed doors is better.


With the ability to follow a dialog understanding is enhanced as to why certain actions are taken while others are not. In real life we attribute such freedom of action only to certain positions. As an advocate of greater transparency I cannot deny the problems inherent with implementation and the potential for grudges on a web board.

As much as I hate siding with 'the man' I can't see any practical implementation unless the moderating staff recuses themselves from board opinion which is a tall order. However I don't think this request is unrealistic as the proprietors of this board almost follow this guideline anyway. Just be aware that by allowing a moderator to fulfill both roles, the propensity for suspicion among the public will always persist. By itself this would not sound like much of a caveat until you add a well-defined rule policy.

I think the challenge inherent with running a web site with flexible moderating positions poses certain risks. I am not asking for a change so much as stating that such flexibility at the top will promote a perceived bias whether one is present or not. If moderation is aggressive than a certain image will be conveyed. The decision of whether to temper or not is entirely up to the owners. Just be reminded of the difficulties of employing a web based state secrets privilege, include whole conversations instead of selected pieces, and combine an executive with a judicial-like role wrapped up into one entity which can play all sides of the arguement which we call the staff.

It is a difficult position to consider. In my opinion the owners have handled it as fairly and sincerely as can be expected. We did sign 'yes' when we signed onto the board after all. However nothing is perfect and neither are the staff. Just like an ill planned war the potential for soprano-like abuse will continue to be present. Yes examples do exist. If the owners find this an acceptable concession it is their right. Just be aware of the danger and remind everyone that fairness is a collective effort.
Hobbes
QUOTE(Maybe Maybe Not @ Jul 7 2009, 10:31 PM) *
(Just what I needed - a legitimate rationale for feeling guilty about opening this thread!)


You shouldn't feel that way. Having the question discussed out in the open should help clear up any issues/misconceptions about our moderating process. Also, if something does come up that we feel would be a worthwhile change in our process, we're very glad to take it up. I think if more people started threads like this, there would be less discontent about the moderating process. It usually comes out in such threads that there's good reasons why it is done the way it is.
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Raptavio
QUOTE(Hobbes @ Jul 8 2009, 02:41 PM) *
QUOTE(Maybe Maybe Not @ Jul 7 2009, 10:31 PM) *
(Just what I needed - a legitimate rationale for feeling guilty about opening this thread!)


You shouldn't feel that way. Having the question discussed out in the open should help clear up any issues/misconceptions about our moderating process. Also, if something does come up that we feel would be a worthwhile change in our process, we're very glad to take it up. I think if more people started threads like this, there would be less discontent about the moderating process. It usually comes out in such threads that there's good reasons why it is done the way it is.


Dude, well said.

Srsly.

I think that what helps us (and this again is from experience running a very popular board back in the day) is knowing there is a process, knowing how it works, and knowing that the staff doesn't violate that process.
overlandsailor
QUOTE(Trouble @ Jul 8 2009, 12:43 PM) *
Just be aware that by allowing a moderator to fulfill both roles, the propensity for suspicion among the public will always persist. By itself this would not sound like much of a caveat until you add a well-defined rule policy.


The opposite can happen as well. In the case of a board where moderators do not participate in any posting, suspicion as to who those mysterious, busy-body, so-and-so's are and the associated bad feelings can (and, in my experience, does) happen as well.

On a site where the moderators are regular participants other users get to know them, and it's harder to assign roles in a grand conspiracy to those you know. rolleyes.gif Though politics often throws a monkey wrench into such things. Having created/run a few discussion boards for various recreational pursuits (and moderated on some others) I always insisted on "no politics and no religion" rule (Ironic isn't it). Both subjects are a fast lane to bad feelings among users. It can't really be avoided on a site such as this though I am constantly amazed at how well ad.gif handles it.

I can't think of anything positive that could come out of a publicly open moderation process. I can however think of many negatives (all discussed already in earlier posts for the most part). Ultimately it comes down to the old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" While people will of course differ as to what is or is not broke, ad.gif is the most pleasant, non-partisan political debate site I've ever seen or even heard of. As such, I'd like to suggest we avoid tinkering (though Mike will never fully agree to that rolleyes.gif ).
Maybe Maybe Not
QUOTE(overlandsailor @ Aug 3 2009, 06:28 PM) *
On a site where the moderators are regular participants other users get to know them, and it's harder to assign roles in a grand conspiracy to those you know.
This is an excellent point. (A description I regularly assign to things I never thought of.)
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