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Moderation: An overview

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Diver0001, May 4, 2010.

  1. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    Moderation is done like this:


    1) reactive

    Nearly all moderation actions are taken as a result of responding to things that get reported. When you click on the report button, the post that gets reported is copied to a back-room forum where the moderators have access.

    The reason we ask people to use the report button instead of responding to rudeness etc. in the threads is because moderators don't/can't read everything written on the forum. It's quite possible that some really stinky things can be said and moderators do nothing. Often times this happens because we simply didn't see it. Hence, our advice to REPORT things you don't like.

    2) group process

    Once a report is made then a group process starts in the back room. Moderators are people too and as such we have differing opinions about what should be done. TOS rules are referenced and we end up as a group making a judgement call about it.

    Contrary to what some may believe, few reports are cut and dry and many require judgement calls. Sometimes those calls are right on the money, sometimes they're not. It is, and remains people work.

    3) exclusions

    Moderators who are actively participating in a thread exclude themselves from taking moderating action in that thread unless it's specifically something we decide upon in the report. Also, some issues are red-alert issues for some of the moderators and they occasionally exclude themselves because they don't feel they can be objective.

    Ordinarily, one moderator is selected (or volunteers) to do the actual modification in a thread and inform users about what has happened. You may get the impression that *this* moderator is the one that jumped on it, but in fact, they are often only the point-man/woman. The nature of the intervention depends on several factors, which I'll get back to in a second.

    4) Better too little than too much

    The moderators on this board try very hard to find a balance between too little moderation, which can affect the "tone" of discussions by giving too much leeway to the negative voices, and too much moderation, which stifles free speech and takes the fun away.

    We all believe that disagreements are normal and that it's perfectly ok to have strong disagreements and firm debates. It is not our goal to make everyone be calm cool and an collected and to make every discussion become some kind of group hugging session. However, we all put a great deal of value on "respect", which means playing the ball and not playing the man/woman. This is one of the main themes in our moderating style.

    5) Different zones

    We have different zones that are subject to more or to less intervention depending on the zone. The Pub, for those who dare to venture in, is usually more like a pub-brawl and gets very little moderation despite the enormous edginess. The Newbies forum and the basic area get a lot more attention because we feel that these areas should be friendly and flame free areas where questions are addressed without being told on every thread that they suck, their instructor sucked, their agency sucks, they need a BP/wing and if they don't take DIR fundamentals they are going to die, to pick a few examples.

    Clearly, making everything friendly and flame free without destroying the discussions is a mission impossible so there is a lot of maneuvering that happens in the grey area in those forums.

    In addition, there are areas that are not moderated by the regular Scubaboard staff. The DIR forum is moderated by one of their own and the manufacturers and agencies have moderation rights in their own Q&A areas, for example.

    6) Not all users are treated equally

    It shouldn't come to anyone as a surprise that some users are more disruptive than others in terms of trolling, being mean, rude, etc. posting edgy posts in the newbies forum and the basic forum, for example.

    Some users really require us to "sit on their necks" in order to not give them so much rein that the disrupt every discussion they're in. The vast majority require no attention at all and in fact, the members on this board by and large get along very well as a group.

    The point here being that the more your posts get reported, the more likely it is that you're going to get the reins pulled in.

    7) Interventions

    We usually tailor our interventions to the specific circumstances so it's possible that similar things happen on different threads that caused us to respond differently.

    We do this for a couple of reasons, one of which is that we don't have a database of everything we ever did when XYZ happened so some moderation is inconsistent because we forget what happened the last time.

    However, on the whole, our interventions are specifically designed to keep that thread from degenerating into a fight, or whatever. Sometimes the OP has an opinion about what they would like to happen to "their" thread and we try to accommodate that. Often, the specific mix of personalities and issues under discussion will cause us to choose a specific approach.

    Possible types of interventions are:

    - do nothing: we actually do nothing quite a lot.
    - edit a post
    - delete a post
    - delete several posts
    - roll back a thread to a point before the flaming started by deleting the last X number of posts
    - deleting an entire thread (happens very rarely)
    - moving a thread to a forum where the type of discussion undertaken is more appropriate. For example, moving a discussion out of the newbie forum and into the advanced forum (or whine and cheese... LOL)
    - PM-ing users to tell them to calm down
    - leaving a modpost in the thread to try steering a thread without deleting anything
    - banning a user from the thread,
    - in some cases banning a user (temporarily) from the board, although it would be highly unlikely that this would happen unless you had already been told over and over to cool it.
    - etc. In some cases the actions taken are unique or rare.

    8) Moderators are also normal users

    Some people believe that moderators are always in function. This is not true. many times, moderators are just posting as normal users. Not surprisingly, we also get embroiled in heated discussions from time to time and get reported.

    When this happens, we are moderated to the same bar as everyone else. In fact one of the people from staff who has been "moderated" most often is Netdoc. I don't think we'd ban him but we have deleted his posts, and even told him to stay out of certain discussions.

    One thing we are expressly asked NOT to do as moderators is to delete posts where users offer criticism of Netdoc (particularly in the feedback areas). This is done deliberately in order to maintain as much transparency as we can.

    Another important point is that if a moderator is posting in a thread and it's just a normal post, then you can assume they are addressing you as a normal user. If they post

    A ScubaBoard Staff Message...

    like this
    Then it's a moderator post and they have a different "hat" on.

    It's not always easy to keep those roles separated and some users hold moderators to a higher standard than other users, which I guess is just part of the game, but in principle, we do try to keep our different "hats" clear. Clearly where people are at work, mistakes will be made and this is no different and something that I hope everyone can accept.

    9)What we don't do

    Moderation has several goals but one of them is far more important than all others, which is to try to make this board accessible to all users who wish to participate and to hopefully keep people from feeling afraid to post for fear of being flamed.

    However there are some things that moderators do not do.

    - We do not usually get involved in checking and/or correcting the factual content of posts. This is handled more quickly and better by the members than it could ever be done by the moderators. In rare cases we have left modposts saying that we had doubts about what a user was saying (I remember one case) and in highly exceptional cases, we may be forced to delete a post or a thread if someone is saying something that is *so* dangerous that it becomes a potential liability problem if we leave it up.

    - We do not mediate in personal conflicts. We get asked to do this quite a lot and we try our level best to never get maneuvered into the role of mediator. Users who have issues with other users are expected to deal with that themselves. One exception to this is that if a user reports a PM which contains a "threat" of, for example, physical violence then the person making the threat will be banned. We do feel a need to "protect" users from cyberbullying and/or cyberstalking etc.

    I hope this clarifies.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2013

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