Should Moderators Just Shut the Hell Up? A member has inquired about whether or not moderators at Sciforums should post their opinions or perspectives outside the course of moderating. Setting aside the member's obvious vested interest, perhaps it is a question worth considering. The inquiry suggests a dramatic policy change; moderators have never been obliged to shut the hell up about anything not pertaining to site moderation. Additionally, several members have recently nominated themselves for appointment to the volunteer staff. We should probably check with them, as well: Would they be willing to do the job if that meant they could no longer post in general discussions? The fact that our current staff posts in general discussions cannot be taken as conclusive. Thus, the question to them: Would you be willing to continue on staff if that meant you could no longer post in general discussions? And, of course, the question is clear for the general membership: Should moderators simply shut the hell up unless they're moderating? To the other, one potential advantage of such an outcome is that, instead of arguing with members about matters of opinion, moderators would have more time to shape and influence discussions through policy. To wit, if a member is behaving with an appearance of intellectual dishonesty, instead of addressing the member directly in the course of the general discussion, the moderator could simply lay down the law, enumerate the necessary requirements of a legitimate argument as a matter of policy, and issue sanctions against the member for failure to fulfill those requirements. In the end, of course, this pretty much amounts to business as usual, except, of course, that we would be arguing with the full weight of our authority. Perhaps the most obvious benefit one might project is that moderators would no longer exchange jabs, jibes, insults, and even the occasional flames with members so inclined; rather, we would just issue warnings, suspensions, and permanent bans. That could have some positive effect on the community as those members who are unable to fulfill expectations of discourse would be slowly purged from the site. Indeed, if the software allows it, we would probably elevate all moderators to supermod status in order to reduce the number of jurisdictional gaps that might occur if only one or two moderators are around, and problems arise outside their specific subfora. So, yes. Imagine that. There are fourteen current staff members limited to specific subfora. We intend to increase that number. Add in the two current supermoderators and our attending administrator, and you have seventeen. The number rises to twenty if we count the parent company's administrators. Now here's the thing: Do you really want a staff with full access to all subfora and nothing more to do than throw flags and hand out vacations? I'm certain there is some aspect of this I've forgotten to include, of course. Obviously, your input is much appreciated.