Backgrounds in moderation

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by GeoffP, Aug 19, 2011.

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  1. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    I was reviewing the list of Moderators based on an unrelated issue and noticed that...frankly, some of the backgrounds and experience of moderators doesn't match well with the subfora they're moderating. Without intending offense, science in particular seems to have very few scientists. Why? In all reasonability, shouldn't the (yes, volunteer) staff have at least a (non-farcical) statement of some kind of experience in the area they're monitoring on SF? I'm not suggesting that mods need to be replaced, but a certain reshuffling certainly seems to be in order.
     
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  3. Mr MacGillivray Banned Banned

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    scientists are busy curing cancer.
     
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  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    On the one hand, yeah.

    On the other hand, it can be good when moderators aren't too invested in the specific subject they're moderating. This avoids the use of subfora as blogs for mods' pet ideas, or skewing their moderation along those lines, etc.

    An ideal moderator should have adequate background to clearly understand the material he's moderating - and no more.
     
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  7. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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    Or trying to trick someone into funding them.
     
  8. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Naturally I agree with not being invested too strongly in one position, even if in extremis we're just trying to keep atheists from running Comparative Religion (although I can think of more than a few with sufficient perspective to make such a moderation fair and unbiased) or classical theists from taking over Biology and Genetics.

    But surely if you're running a forum you should have some kind of experience in the subject? There must be a practical connection. Related to this: is it a fair demand that a moderator contribute to the discussion of such a subforum? That argument's been made before in discussions (admittedly sometimes fanned with e-pitchforks and e-torches) of a moderator's suitability.
     
  9. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    Capitalist economy. Play or go home.
     
  10. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    The important thing is that they have the ability to assess whether claims are being made in good faith, or not. Exactly what level of experience that entails probably varies considerably - certain of the fora here never really get beyond the level you can reach with a few minutes on Wikipedia, so it's not like we need actual professionals. Other fora are more challenging. Also kind of depends on how sophisticated and experienced whatever trolls targetting the forum in question might be.

    I'm not sure I have a general prescription on this. In some cases it would be better - help build respect for their expertise and knowledge, keep the focus of the forum where it needs to be, etc. In others, it might only make moderation more difficult, by creating the impression that the mod is a partisan in issues at stake. So, it kind of depends on how politicized the forum in question is - in highly politicized forums, it's crucial for mods to remain "above the fray."
     
  11. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    You are mistaken. The mods for the Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology and Physics subforums are all experienced PhD scientists who are active in either the academic or government sectors. Ben the Man has crossed over to the commercial sector but has a PhD in the physics field. DH (Astronomy) is literally a rocket scientist. Geez, what more do you want? :shrug:
     
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    More politicians?

    Maybe he would like some politicians to run WE&P.

    However, if we were to reshuffle assignments in order to better align our studies and specialties to our subfora, I would probably split S&S with a scientist, EM&J with Bells, and join the A&C, WE&P, Religion, and Comparative Religion teams. After all, I'm an artist who also studies philosophy, law, theology, and politics.

    I only have S&S in my portfolio right now, for instance, because we needed someone to fill the gap, I had room on my docket, and it's a bit like EM&J in its outlook.

    I have no objection to shuffling assignments. If our colleagues are up for it, we might as well give it a try.

    But there is also a possibility that members who support such a move would be upset by the outcome. As our staff colleagues are aware, there is quite a bit I would do differently, compared to what people have become accustomed to, if WE&P, Religion, and Comparative Religion were directly of my jurisdiction.
     
  13. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator

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    Fair enough. I guess I was specifically concentrating on this bit....

     
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Well pointed

    Tru'nuff. Fair'nuff.
     
  15. leopold Valued Senior Member

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    do you need to be a doctor to convict a doctor of murder?
    extreme case yes.
    it's really hard to come up with a list for mod qualities.
    which would come first on the list?
    the ability to understand the subject matter.
    the ability to make fair judgment calls
    very thick skin would be another quality i would look for.
    a person that loves what they are doing
    a person that doesn't have vendettas or is not biased towards other posters.
    i have made no attempt to order the above list.
    it seems it would be imperative they do.
    how else can you gauge whether a particular person is "cut out" for modship?
     
  16. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    While I completely understand the thinking behind the OP and every single response up till now, I believe everyone is applying the wrong criteria.

    The REAL job of a mod is exactly what the name indicates - one who works to maintain moderation, which is to say, if you will, Law and Order. Nothing more. It should not be the responsibility of Moderator to decide who is right or wrong or to be the final judge of the accuracy or fallacy of the posts.

    I've been a mod for nearly 15 years on a different forum. And even though I feel free to make posts in threads when I have direct knowledge and experience in the subject matter, I still do not try to be KING of any section. I work to prevent and calm flaming, infighting, and to maintain peace among the troops. It has worked very well for me this entire time - *regardless* of the subjects under discussion.
     
  17. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

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    That raises another point. We don't seem very specialist, in truth. (Not like those other forums. You know who you are.) Are we vetted then for the general public, generally? Is this our target audience, Herr Doktor Frankenstein? Nothing wrong with that - I'm a pluralist when not plotting the destruction of the proletariat - but have we accepted, generally, that this is our fan base? And, if so, what is our strategy to keep it?

    No disagreement there.

    Pfft. Physics and chemistry? O, very well then. Bastard that I am, I suppose I think of them not at all.
     
  18. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    You forgot Earth Science. Geology is NOT AN ART (dammit!)
     
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Kif Boxes and Mystical Geologists

    I remember meeting a geologist once, at an OTO-sponsored pagan festival in the middle of nowhere. He wanted to sell me power crystals.

    Kept his card for years; it was a durable thing that worked well on my kif box.

    But to recount the potential experts on the staff, we have a medical professional, a lawyer, an economist, an educator of some sort (I'm not sure what specialty), a linguist, and more advanced degrees than I can recall offhand. Indeed, I'm actually among the least-educated of the staff. Possibly the least; I'm a college dropout.

    For the record, yes, it is fair to doubt the scientific qualifications of a geologist whose business card includes some form of the word "mystic", but, yeah, the guy actually did have a doctorate in some aspect of geology; I cannot, of course, mark at what point in his twenty-five year professional career where he hopped off the rails and became a mystical mineralogist.

    But, yeah ... I scraped a load of kif with that card.
     
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I'm not exactly a linguist the way our colleagues are physicists and biologists. I have no degree in the discipline although I have studied it (mostly outside of academia) for 55 years. But I teach English to both native speakers and foreigners, I tutor some languages and can babble in a few more, and I currently make a living as a writer and editor.

    I may actually have slightly better credentials on the hard science boards, where I often put in my two cents. Someone suggested that my three years at Caltech half a century ago is nothing to sneeze at.

    And I actually have a B.S. in business, which I occasionally trundle over to the B&E board and then clear up some basic economic theory.
    We still have the old witch doctors among us. They know exactly what's real and what isn't. But they're also familiar with the placebo effect, have a basic knack for psychotherapy, and understand the power of suggestion--especially suggestion from a PhD. They help people in a manner that the people will accept. Is this deceitful, or is it merely two people going wink-wink at each other, one of them perhaps unconsciously?

    I'm quite certain that this is the way some religious services operate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  21. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    GeoffP:

    Which subfora in particular do you think need more moderator expertise/experience in order to moderate them effectively?
     
  22. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

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    Given that many topics are far from resolvable at this point in time, I find the following post to best define the role of a moderator.

    The middle path, until the evidence is all in, one theory being that the evidence may never be all in.....


     
  23. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

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    However, there are some paths that can be ruled out, the Phlogiston theory of fire, the flat earth, and homeopathy being three examples that spring to mind.
     
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