Inquiry: Should Moderators Just Shut the Hell Up?

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Tiassa, Oct 6, 2011.

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

    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.
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  3. Socratic Spelunker Registered Senior Member

    Is there any reason why a mod can't "lay down the law" and join in the general discussions?

    Mod or not, is there any one on the forum who should exchange jabs, insults, etc? Shouldn't this apply to everyone, regardless of status?
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  5. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    No. And who the hell is wlminex?
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  7. Bells Staff Member

    The insanity of the proposal is that it would mean staff could be moderating based on their own bias without anyone knowing, since they are not allowed to post their opinion.

    And how would anyone be able to recruit 'staff'? Imagine the recruitment thread..

    "Who wants to be a moderator and never be allowed to post again? Please nominate yourself!"..

    We are all members, whether some are moderators, admin or members. We come here because we want to post and discuss and yes, at times, fight. If you take that element away if you become a moderator, then this place would have no moderators. No one would want to do the job. Might as well have software automatically moderating via key words or something instead.

    The member who made such a suggestion sounds more like the type who dislikes anyone disagreeing with him or having an opposing view or has a bit of a grudge. Or he's a bit of a tosspot. Either way, the answer to him should be no. If he does not like the fact that moderators here do post, he can always go elsewhere.

    Personally, I'd be more interested in doing a sock check..
  8. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    I already did. Nothing turns up.
  9. phlogistician Banned Banned

    Many mods have valuable input to give, and their expertise is why they are qualified to moderate. I'd miss the input from many if they could not post.

    Perhaps mods should seek advice before moderating threads they have participated in, for impartiality. Although there's a slippery slope there as this might be seen to tie the mods hands before taking action against obvious infractions of the rules.

    Maybe members should just suck it up the way it is.
  10. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Because they don't do that.

    Moderators practically have immunity.

    Merely disagreeing with a mod on a thread topic or asking for clarification can get one in trouble.

    Myself, I generally avoid discussing with moderators in threads, or I am at least wary if I am replying to an otherwise regular post by a moderator.
  11. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    As if the moderators wouldn't do that anyway.
  12. Bells Staff Member

    On the upside, it would be the perfect way to get the most annoying members to stop posting. Make them mods!

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    I wonder..

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  13. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    Let us say a mod "laid down the law" about a racist remark by someone then in a few weeks later they make a similar remark in their post. Wouldn't they be looked at as hypocrites and lose their status among those members here? :shrug:
  14. GeoffP Caput gerat lupinum Valued Senior Member

    Of course moderators should be allowed to post their opinions. They are members here as much as any other. What they should not be allowed to do is avoid penalties for their breach of SF rules, which is a serious problem here. They're here to clean up threads, moderate conflicts and deal with other assorted issues of management as appropriate. Their egos are not meant to be protected items.
  15. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

    Yes there is *a* reason - The law cannot be applied to mods, they cannot be banned or receive infractions. And obviously they aren't going to moderate themselves anyway, so in some ways it is a tempting solution - Though it would be a shame as some make good contributions and are supposed to be in place to keep discussion flowing. :shrug:

    Nope, and yes it should apply to all but it doesn't, hence why there are so many threads and this issue is constantly talked about but nothing ever moves forward. See above.

    The way forward?
  16. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    But sometimes they create more problems when they voice their opinions about things. Banning a member for reacting to what a mod had said isn't a very good thing to be doing and that has happened.
  17. leopold Valued Senior Member

    i've said it before and before and before, mods need a sockpuppet.
    the sock puppet does the posting as members of the herd.
    the moderator does the moderating.

    i remember an incident where bells was pigeon holed over something she said, over the "ron harvey incident" i believe.
    the poster that was questioning bells snatch up what she said and turned into some kind of moderator opinion, which of course it wasn't.
    this was the original reason i came up with the "moderator sock puppet" idea.
    it will allow mods to post as members without the members taking it and saying "well, a mod said so".
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  18. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    You aren't wary when discussing things with me.. I hope.
  19. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Who moderates the mods here?

    Some of the mods are professional and objective in their criticisms and posts. Others are less so.

    My suggestion is that you need the content of the mods to keep this place interesting.

    You also need a super-moderator or a few to keep some of those puppies on a leash. :bugeye:

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  20. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    That would only work if no one knew that the two were actually the same person.
  21. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Agreed that people would likely soon connect which sock was which mod as there are several habits of language which would eventually give them away.

    Still, any post made by a moderator should be equally subject to scrutiny as that of any other poster, whether modding or posting.

    Moderators should be reportable for objectionable style and content like anyone else, IMO.
  22. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    And then the shit really hits the fan.

    Agreed. That is, in fact, how it is today.
  23. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    No, that's silly unless you want to pay people to do it, because otherwise if you can't participate why would you keep up with the forum posts?

    Indeed you choose moderators who are interested in the subjects they moderate because you know they willl keep up with the multiple threads.


    When it comes to disciplining someone in a thread that they are having an active argument with, then they should seek a second opinion, and the person who gives the second opinion should be chosen by an impartial moderator or Admin.

    Similarly, if they have had a history of arguing with someone (Like Gustav and James) then an independent moderator should be used before issueing any bans.

    In other words, moderators should both post and moderate, but if a moderator is getting down and dirty with someone, or has a history of same, then they shouldn't unilaterally punish them.

    I don't think this happens that often that it would be a big problem.


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