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19th Dec 2016, 4:30 AM #21
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And this is why I'm so hopeful we can work out a proactive moderation policy! A thread can go south in the course of only a couple of posts, and it's just not possible to respond effectively once that starts - or even to consistently notice it. If we had the resources to step in before things started getting heated, and policies to make that work effectively, then we could nip these problems in the bud before they take over whole threads.


There's still the problem of a thread getting closed before an issue happens failing to set a precedent, and thus making it unclear what exactly went wrong. Nipping a problem in the bud is all well and good, but it keeps the other buds from learning from any example when they bloom.
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19th Dec 2016, 4:40 AM #22
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I really like stackexchange's Q&A system, and how users can sub-comment on and upvote/downvote on every post. That really helps participants understand what they did right or wrong. Users get incentivised to post good stuff with their point system, so it's kind of gamified. Downvoted stuff fades out in barely readable text after so many votes. Maybe unpleasant posts in this forum can be downvoted to get an automated "spoiler"-like tag wrapped around them, so the noone has to read anything unclean. Just a little crowd-sourced moderation at your service.
19th Dec 2016, 5:10 AM #23
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I haven't read all the threads recently. Would someone be able to summarise what's actually happened recently? Were there flame wars? Were people just stressed by the discussions? Was there resentment between people? How many people who were involved were actually upset?

I never go through with my threats to stay out.

e: I know Xenocartographer gave a summary but maybe we need to look at the specific problem in a little more detail we're talking about hypotheticals a lot.
19th Dec 2016, 9:27 AM #24
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Okay if people don't mind, I'd like to actually try and discuss this and isolate the problem:

Thread 1:
I thought the discussion went fine for the most part. I think there was a user who could have been a bit more respectful and it created a bit of a snowball effect but by the end of the thread it wasn't such a big deal.

I still think perhaps it could have been handled early on. Something like "Hey, friend we just want to have a nice chat here." if they don't want to play along, report it. Everything else just heads towards derailment.


Thread 2:
Med avenue thread. I didn't see any massive issue: it got a bit derailed and pointless, but it was shut down by a mod. Tensions did get a bit high, but you need to give people some breathing room to discuss things and disagree. Certainly empathy can always help but I can't think of anything specific to address here.


Thread 3: Gender discussion.
Okay here we go. This thread was actually going pretty well initially. I found it very interesting actually and people were commenting on how happy they were with the thread early on.

There were a couple of posts in the first couple of pages where the poster stated their position in a way that was a bit disparaging, but they weren't massively disrespectful. People discussed those posts and I don't think they were the ones that ignited the trouble.

By page 3 I think there were definitely red flags that needed to be dealt with. It's easy to see this in retrospect, but I think at the time people just want things to go smoothly and not create a fuss etc. but I really think this is were things started, and they need to be addressed sooner rather than later. I think there was some significant lack of respect and somewhere along the line, attack on the person rather the argument.

By page 4 shit had completely hit the fan and got progressively worse.

I don't think clearly defined rules are as big a deal as people think: I think it's part of it, but don't I think it's the whole solution. I think mods and other users need to read between the lines and notice when feelings are hurt and tensions are starting to get high and people start ranting in a really angry way, even if specific rules aren't being broken. Doesn't mean the ban hammer needs to be brought out: Hopefully things can be resolved before it gets to that point.


Thread 4: Other' appreciation thread.
I think you were totally within reason to start the thread SekaNeko543. I think other people made the decision to derail it but that was completely on them. It doesn't matter what was going on in other threads that doesn't give any none mod the right to be the self appointed judge on who gets to start what thread.


Once tensions are high lots of different people, wittingly and unwittingly will throw a spanner in the works in lots of different ways. Trouble seems to attract jesters funnily enough idk what's going on there.

Moderation doesn't have to be handing out bans and laying down the law. I don't believe in the draconian police state argument: Ask someone respectfully to be civil, if they don't want to, they don't belong in a discussion thread. Trouble really does seem to stem from a single point: I don't think people are going to be pestered left right and centre, although I do think it needs to be done a little bit more and sooner.

I strongly suspect this discussion isn't going to lead to anything. I'm not going to go into solutions unless it looks otherwise. Basically we need to decide that either we want more moderation, or we decide to just deal with it and move on.
19th Dec 2016, 3:29 PM #25
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19th Dec 2016, 5:06 PM #26
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doublepost


But how?





Bolderousness:I also agree with moderation being more than just rule handling, but I understand that Nama is one person so he's probably stuck in that corner out of sheer stress and time management.


The way I see it (and Nama, please feel free to comment on this), when some drama thread or another flares up, there's usually just so much going on all at once that it's hard to make sense of. This is why I think a more proactive policy makes sense. At the same time, Nama on his own can't be all that proactive since he can't be everywhere at once, or always on CF.

Does that make sense to anyone else?
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19th Dec 2016, 6:23 PM #27
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That makes sense, but nobody else can be here 100% either. I guess that means assigning hourly shifts where mods constantly refresh their browser to see what's happening. That would require 12 to 24 dedicated mods to cover every hour of the day.

PS>> crowd-sourcing the moderation shouldn't be that hard, like connecting the "dislike" to a counter and wrapping entire posts in "Spoiler" tags after X dislikes.
19th Dec 2016, 10:19 PM #28
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Robotwin.com:That makes sense, but nobody else can be here 100% either. I guess that means assigning hourly shifts where mods constantly refresh their browser to see what's happening. That would require 12 to 24 dedicated mods to cover every hour of the day.


Not... really? This isn't a very large forum, and drama tends to happen as a here-and-there thing. You can especially help the moderation keep track if you file reports (or just plain PM them; that might work better given that reports are still only accessible by a single moderator) about things going sour somewhere.

Merged Doublepost:

Okay, so, I have a suggestion. How about a Reports forum for moderators? The "Report a Post" button will trigger a thread creation or post creation for this forum, which will not be readable by anyone other than the Mods. (You can post in it, but you can't read it, basically.)

It would solve the problem of reports only being able to be with one moderator at a time without requiring the development of an entirely new system, and given that reports use the PMs now, I don't think it would be too far a stretch, especially because things like the Noticeboard have shown to effectively reuse the Forum code in new ways.

Hell, on that note, it could even work like the Noticeboard, just with only the mods being able to read past posts. Maybe saving a few more of them in case of a high report volume?

Maybe it could even make it so that it creates different topics for different threads. This doesn't seem like a far stretch either, given that the PM-based report system has already shown that it can list the name of and a link to the thread that is being reported.
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19th Dec 2016, 11:31 PM #29
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My opinion doesn't really hold any sway, I know, but I don't see this problem going away on its own because people are just not likely to drop it and let it go when a sensitive topic comes up and somebody says something they don't like. They seem to want to be able to make a point. People have the option to show their displeasure using the dislike button, though. But the threads don't show likes and dislikes to anybody but the person who wrote the reply, so I have no way of knowing if the feature gets much use. Still, I think it's worth looking into a related feature, burying.

I've seen other forums and comments sections use a bury function on comments that get too many downvotes in order to help minimize trolling and flame wars. Obviously, I don't know anything about coding or if it's realistically practical to implement such a system here. But, if it were theoretically possible, maybe that could be a potential tool to shut down some of the people who are just being jerks. It wouldn't fix everything, but it might be helpful.

The worst-case scenario is it gets abused to the point that entire threads get buried because people keep downvoting everything, but that's only likely in the hot-button threads and the effect of that wouldn't be much different than mods having to lock those threads down constantly, which is the current situation. The best-case scenario would be that obvious trolls get shown the door and perhaps hot-button threads can simply smolder out quietly as people lose interest. For my part, I would guess the most likely outcome is some threads would use it better than others and there will always be people who just can't resist picking a fight. Either way, if a bury feature is possible to implement here without too much hassle, would it be feasible to take it for a spin and see if it helps?
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19th Dec 2016, 11:39 PM #30
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Lots of ideas have been posted and I have a few of my own. It's just like I said I'm sceptical that anything's going to come of this. These threads come up all the time.

Should we summarise the ideas posted here and actually come up with a yes/no answer: Whether the community thinks they're a good idea and whether the mods think it is, and then we actually implement it, even if it's just a decision to accept things the way they are. Actually following through on something is a whole different story to throwing ideas around.

Keeping in mind if it's a technical solution it's really going to be up to Kyo if he's willing and able to implement it.
19th Dec 2016, 11:41 PM #31
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I may be wrong, but from what I've seen, most of the rationale behind whether Kyo implements something is whether he has the time and willingness. This is largely why I'm offering solutions involve reusing parts of the forum code and things like that — existing technical architecture can be reused rather than having to code a new thing entirely from scratch.
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19th Dec 2016, 11:56 PM #32
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Sheik:Should we summarise the ideas posted here and actually come up with a yes/no answer: Whether the community thinks they're a good idea and whether the mods think it is, and then we actually implement it, even if it's just a decision to accept things the way they are. Actually following through on something is a whole different story to throwing ideas around.


Hey, well-said. Yes, a summary of potentially actionable items would be a good thing. I'll get on that. (Could someone buffer me if no one's responded in ~an hour?)





Seeen:I may be wrong, but from what I've seen, most of the rationale behind whether Kyo implements something is whether he has the time and willingness. This is largely why I'm offering solutions involve reusing parts of the forum code and things like that — existing technical architecture can be reused rather than having to code a new thing entirely from scratch.


This is true. It's certainly a legitimate consideration when evaluating proposals. On the other hand, allowing other people to contribute code (either trusted individuals or via an open-source repo) would ease the technical burden on Kyo and help with general debugging anyway, so maybe that's worth considering, too.
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20th Dec 2016, 12:30 AM #33
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I've got quite a bit to say if it's okay to add to that list once it's up.
20th Dec 2016, 1:24 AM #34
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This is a summary of the potentially actionable items discussed in this thread, as understood by me. If I have missed or misattributed any, by all means offer a correction. (And Sheik, go for it!)



1) The number and organization of moderators

1.1) Increase the number of moderators. (Many people)

This was one of the first things brought up. It was spoken favorably of by many (but not all) people who commented on it, and it's effectively a prerequisite for most things that have been suggested here.

1.2) Have board-specific moderators. (keltyzoid!, JuicyGrey, Shrek, others)

As an extension of the above, tracking which moderators are active in which areas will facilitate resource management and performance tracking. On the flip side, it does require a certain minimum number of moderators to justify, and has some implementation details to worry about.



2) Thread locks and alternatives thereto

2.1) Treat thread locks as a more extreme measure than they are at present. (Seeen, Bold, Xeno)

The idea that a single argumentative user can get a thread locked is problematic, and furthermore gives de facto lock power to anyone willing to use it. Many other policies proposed here seek to replace the overuse of thread locks, and it is worth citing this as an objective of its own with that in mind.

2.2) Request that moderators keep people on topic. (Sheik)

While topic drift itself is fine, people can get caught up arguing about details - especially online, where words are so easy to misinterpret. Moderators cutting off these sub-arguments before they become heated would prevent some of the argumentation we're looking into - especially in the case of two people disagreeing, as they can easily take it to PMs. This would, of course, require moderators to more actively monitor threads; fortunately, it's usually pretty easy to guess which threads are going to become hot just from the titles.

2.3) Develop policies for moderators to mediate arguments, instead of just ending them. (Bold)

On the other hand, even with the most proactive moderation policy, arguments are going to happen. Once one does start, a moderator could intervene to deescalate and debrief, seeking a more favorable resolution than just locking the thread or otherwise ending the discussion. Allowing some sort of resolution might help with the general tension some have noticed on the forums, and would hopefully lead to fewer thread locks as constructive resolutions lead to decreased argumentativeness.

2.4) New moderation tools:

2.4.1) Short-term thread locks. (Bold, nearmintmill)
2.4.2) Thread-specific bans. (Xeno)
2.4.3) Thread-specific "slow mode". (Xeno)

All of these aim to give moderators tools between a simple intervention post and a full-on thread lock, allowing the mod to back up their words with formal support if necessary without going "all the way".



3) Rules and precedent

3.1) Clarify forum rules, and request moderators mention specific rules to create clear precedent. (Seeen)

There is something compelling about having a specific rule quoted or linked instead of a vague sentiment that something wasn't acceptable. Codifying Hanlon's razor as a rule, for example, would allow moderators to cite it while intervening. Likewise, argumentative users may remember a specific rule citation more than a general incident with a moderator, even if they weren't personally involved.

3.2) Have clear per-board rules. (nearmintmill)

A natural extension of the above, which generalizes it somewhat from just arguments to other sorts of rules disputes.



4) Crowd-sourced moderation

4.1) Implement a system by which sufficient dislikes cause a post to become flagged as poor quality and spoilered. (Robotwin, melaredblu)

Many websites, such as Stack Exchange and Imgur, already use systems like this. While it does require a certain degree of "good faith" on the users' parts, a mechanism for the community as a whole to indicate something is unacceptable without requiring the cognitive load of responding to it has obvious appeal. Abuse would have to be monitored for, of course, and thresholds set carefully.





5) Technical considerations

5.1) OpenSourceFury. (Robotwin)

Open-sourcing ComicFury may be effective at getting these and other features implemented without increasing Kyo's already considerable workload.

5.2) Give trusted users code access. (Xeno)

Likewise, certain technically skilled users may be able to act as autonomous assistant developers, with the same end goal.

5.3) Replace report PMs with a report forum. (Seeen)

One difficulty with appointing new moderators is the report system. Seeen has suggested a variation which may be easier to implement than overhauling the system as it currently exists.
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20th Dec 2016, 1:26 AM #35
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Think you could update the OP with those?

Merged Doublepost:

3.1) Clarify forum rules, and request moderators mention specific rules to create clear precedent. (Seeen)


Also, in addition to this, I also meant that this clear precedent could be created for more general behavioral guidelines. Due to the lax rules of the site, not all behavioral issues are quite literally represented in the rules, and so precedents created linking them would help with general understanding.

Precedent also helps with consistency, which is something some users don't feel the moderation really has much of.
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20th Dec 2016, 1:32 AM #36
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20th Dec 2016, 2:07 AM #37
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Xenocartographer:1) The number and organization of moderators

1.1) Increase the number of moderators. (Many people)

This was one of the first things brought up. It was spoken favorably of by many (but not all) people who commented on it, and it's effectively a prerequisite for most things that have been suggested here.

1.2) Have board-specific moderators. (keltyzoid!, JuicyGrey, Shrek, others)

As an extension of the above, tracking which moderators are active in which areas will facilitate resource management and performance tracking. On the flip side, it does require a certain minimum number of moderators to justify, and has some implementation details to worry about.


i subscribe to the "less is more" theory. meaning i fundamentally disagree that more mods will solve the issues of the forum.

there are a few issues that have been rehashed here and in other threads (i think it's a good idea to look at the stuff that's already been discussed, simply because i think it's really good and insightful, not because i think this or any other threads on the topic are bad or even redundant - i think this is an evolving conversation, and it's worth knowing where we've already been on the topic) that i think are worth repeating:

1. personal responsibility and accountability. what are the responsibilities of individual users? there's this idea that the problem is moderation or lack there of. i think there's a lack of clear expectations being laid out for the user base, and that is what leads to problems. there's this perpetual idea that users are inherently going to behave badly without supervision. i think we can and should aspire to be better than that and expect more from ourselves and others. moderators should not have to police every single thread. while that idea comes up a lot, i don't think anyone here would enjoy that in practice.

tl;dr: i can't be held accountable for my actions when there's a mod around who i can scapegoat for all of my shitty behavior.

2. consistency and clarity in moderation. unless and until the mod team is on the same page, united as a team, and can consistently and reliably tell you how common mod issues should be dealt with (e.g. Nama will give you pretty much the same exact answer as Kyo, and Matt and Fishy), i don't see any of these endemic problems being resolved. right now, rules and the enforcement of those rules are up to individual interpretation, both from the mod side and the user side. add fire and baby, you got an inferno goin'

3. the board is designed to support and encourage indirect / passive aggressive communication. it's been said before, but i'll say it again. dislikes are passive aggressive AF. when mods inconsistently (and often unfairly) admonish users for directly confronting other users / issues, things get really fucking confusing, and no one feels like they're ALLOWED to communicate directly. rinse. repeat.
20th Dec 2016, 2:14 AM #38
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i subscribe to the "less is more" theory. meaning i fundamentally disagree that more mods will solve the issues of the forum.


Okay, but, the fact of the matter is that we do need more mods, because "less is more" as a straight philosophy implies that the two mods we have is "enough". I'd argue that a number more like four at most would be good, but no higher, but hey, maybe that's what you meant.

1. personal responsibility and accountability. what are the responsibilities of individual users? there's this idea that the problem is moderation or lack there of. i think there's a lack of clear expectations being laid out for the user base, and that is what leads to problems. there's this perpetual idea that users are inherently going to behave badly without supervision. i think we can and should aspire to be better than that and expect more from ourselves and others. moderators should not have to police every single thread. while that idea comes up a lot, i don't think anyone here would enjoy that in practice.


This has been addressed. It has been stated, at least by myself, and I'm sure in other ways by a few others, that moderators should allow problems to play out a bit so that, in moderator action, they can have a precedent set. This precedent can be used to clear out the rules among the general user body and enforce personal responsibility, as people can then learn and pass on to other community members what is and isn't considered appropriate forum behavior.

2. consistency and clarity in moderation. unless and until the mod team is on the same page, united as a team, and can consistently and reliably tell you how common mod issues should be dealt with (e.g. Nama will give you pretty much the same exact answer as Kyo, and Matt and Fishy). right now, rules and the enforcement of those rules are up to individual interpretation, both from the mod side and the user side. add fire and baby, you got an inferno goin'


Once again, precedent, I think, is key to something like this. As I also addressed earlier. (Wondering a bit if you've actually read the thread, CT. Usually if these things have been mentioned in some way you quote and build upon them.)

3. the board is designed to support and encourage indirect / passive aggressive communication. it's been said before, but i'll say it again. dislikes are passive aggressive AF. when mods inconsistently (and often unfairly) admonish users for directly confronting other users / issues, things get really fucking confusing, and no one feels like they're ALLOWED to communicate directly. rinse. repeat.


This is also why I feel moderators should allow threads to go south a bit, because when they lock a thread because tensions are starting to rise, it creates a precedent (There's that word again!) that any active confrontation is bad and you shouldn't do it. Moderation should regard how these issues are sorted out, not whether they happen. This also feels like it gives more strength to the idea of making thread locks a more extreme measure, as a thread lock tends to create a precedent of, "The thing that happened here has made this thread beyond saving. It is gone now." If a thread is locked over a problem happening at all, a very strong case for, "All conflict is always bad forever," is made.

Merged Doublepost:

(Wondering a bit if you've actually read the thread, CT. Usually if these things have been mentioned in some way you quote and build upon them.)


I've been informed that this statement could come off as passive-aggressive. I would like to assure that my intent is not to be actively nor passively aggressive and am mostly curious on what it is CT does and doesn't know going in here, as I am guilty of replying to threads and then reading them, and there is a distinct possibility others do this as well.
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20th Dec 2016, 2:34 AM #39
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Seeen:Think you could update the OP with those?

Sure, not a bad idea.



Seeen:Also, in addition to this, I also meant that this clear precedent could be created for more general behavioral guidelines. Due to the lax rules of the site, not all behavioral issues are quite literally represented in the rules, and so precedents created linking them would help with general understanding.

Precedent also helps with consistency, which is something some users don't feel the moderation really has much of.

Sure, that's fair. Any thoughts on how you'd like the item reworded?



cutething:i subscribe to the "less is more" theory. meaning i fundamentally disagree that more mods will solve the issues of the forum.

I don't think anyone is trying to advocate anything as a silver bullet that'll solve anything on its own. Increasing the number of mods would be only one step in, hopefully, a comprehensive plan including overhauls of mod policy, discussions about personal responsibility, and possibly technical reworking of site features, to support the moderation's ability to actually implement those same policies. (Oh gosh, I sound like a politician.)




1. personal responsibility and accountability. what are the responsibilities of individual users? there's this idea that the problem is moderation or lack there of. i think there's a lack of clear expectations being laid out for the user base, and that is what leads to problems. there's this perpetual idea that users are inherently going to behave badly without supervision. i think we can and should aspire to be better than that and expect more from ourselves and others. moderators should not have to police every single thread. while that idea comes up a lot, i don't think anyone here would enjoy that in practice.

tl;dr: i can't be held accountable for my actions when there's a mod around who i can scapegoat for all of my shitty behavior.


This is a good angle that hasn't been discussed much yet (here, at least). Would you like it as an actionable item? Anyone else, thoughts, comments?




cutething:3. the board is designed to support and encourage indirect / passive aggressive communication. it's been said before, but i'll say it again. dislikes are passive aggressive AF. when mods inconsistently (and often unfairly) admonish users for directly confronting other users / issues, things get really fucking confusing, and no one feels like they're ALLOWED to communicate directly. rinse. repeat.


Agreed. "Remove the dislike button" might honestly be a worthwhile item itself.





cutething:2. consistency and clarity in moderation. unless and until the mod team is on the same page, united as a team, and can consistently and reliably tell you how common mod issues should be dealt with (e.g. Nama will give you pretty much the same exact answer as Kyo, and Matt and Fishy), i don't see any of these endemic problems being resolved. right now, rules and the enforcement of those rules are up to individual interpretation, both from the mod side and the user side. add fire and baby, you got an inferno goin'


I think it's interesting how often this has been brought up, especially now that an ex-mod is doing so. Did you have any particular examples in mind?
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20th Dec 2016, 2:34 AM #40
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Seeen:Okay, but, the fact of the matter is that we do need more mods, because "less is more" as a straight philosophy implies that the two mods we have is "enough".


i've said previously that a dedicated single mod could handle this forum competently. i think it's absurd to name an arbitrary number of moderators and say, "there, four moderators. problem solved." it doesn't work that way.

the issue that i see is moderator agency and consistency. the way this forum is set up, there's this abstraction of what a moderator should be able to handle on their own, versus the reality. in other words, "oh, you handled that in a way you felt was appropriate based on historic moderator action and what you've come to understand of the rules of this forum? let me explain all the ways you fucked up so that i can effectively undermine your moderation and make you second guess every single decision you make, while simultaneously lamenting your inability to make decisions and always coming to me to help you solve problems."

^ this is the fucking problem with moderation. it's not an issue of any individual moderator. it's not an issue of how many or how few moderators we have. it's an issue of the fact that CF hamstrings its mod team time and again and nothing is ever accomplished. every time you think you have a handle on what the rules are, someone (and it's not specifically Kyo, there's a fucking culture of this) undermines it.

in my book, whether you agree or disagree with an individual decision, at the end of the day, you need to stand behind your team members and support them or you need to fire that mod. the buck stops there.

This has been addressed. It has been stated, at least by myself, and I'm sure in other ways by a few others, that moderators should allow problems to play out a bit so that, in moderator action, they can have a precedent set. This precedent can be used to clear out the rules among the general user body and enforce personal responsibility, as people can then learn and pass on to other community members what is and isn't considered appropriate forum behavior.

i don't disagree, but i also think that "giving them enough rope," while a generally good strategy can also, in the context of mods second guessing themselves, directly harm the community. how many second, third, fourth, fifth chances do people need to get, or how much rope do we need to give them before we're agreed that they've finally crossed a line?

to get more specific, how many times should a user be banned before that ban is permanent? what are the parameters for a permanent versus a temporary ban? what are the levels of severity, and how should they be gauged? these are areas of ambiguity that i think the user base would appreciate clarification on, but would also make moderation a HELL of a lot simpler.

(Wondering a bit if you've actually read the thread, CT. Usually if these things have been mentioned in some way you quote and build upon them.)


wondering a bit if you read my post, or perhaps missed this part:

cutething:there are a few issues that have been rehashed here and in other threads (i think it's a good idea to look at the stuff that's already been discussed, simply because i think it's really good and insightful, not because i think this or any other threads on the topic are bad or even redundant - i think this is an evolving conversation, and it's worth knowing where we've already been on the topic) that i think are worth repeating:


Merged Doublepost:

cross-posted, xeno - but i think i addressed and expanded on those points. let me know if i missed anything, or if you'd like me to go into greater detail.

as for actionable items, sure go ahead. and perhaps take a look at the previous similar thread (see my comment above about this being an evolving conversation) - might be worth pulling stuff from the old list as well / combining where appropriate. i have a hunch that a good number of the folks who participated in the original threads (there were many before mine, so that link is definitely not comprehensive) probably aren't going to have the energy to repost in this thread.
Forum > ComicFury Problems, critique and suggestions > The tricky problem of forum drama - a legalist approach
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