On the Inevitable Imperfection of Moderators

Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by exchemist, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    Seeing as mods on these forums often come in for a fair amount of grief, I thought it timely to call to readers' minds the thanklessness of the task and the shortage of people willing and able to do it. Without moderation, most forums become unreadable, being filled with junk from mad or terminally inarticulate people, or taken over by tedious personal vendettas. (We see some of that here, in fact, due to the light-touch moderation policy. I'm sure it would become far worse if there were none at all.)

    While mods have a duty to separate their moderation decisions from their personal prejudices, some may not manage to do so all the time. It's human nature. While we should of course point this out when we think it occurs, I think we should do so with a degree of sensitivity, as we do actually need them more than they need us.
     
  2. Guest Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,882
    Quite right, given that most us probably wouldn't want the job. Some complaints about mods might carry a degree of facetiousness that's perhaps a little too covert. Others may be purgative, a round-a-bout way to vent. To balance matters, it's good to have an occasional thread like this.
     
  4. Guest Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    53,149
    I agree. I had the job and hated it. You only have so much bandwidth to monitor things, so accusations of unfairness are inevitable. It's bad when you take the rules too literally, and it's bad when you are too loose with the rules.
     
    Ultron and exchemist like this.
  6. Guest Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    21,703
    Well said! And that's coming from someone who has felt the admonishment and infractions from at least three mods over my time here: Oh, and all undeserved.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    11,625
    I'm not about to have a touchy feely kumbaya moment about the moderators when I've been obsessively tormented, maligned, and lied about by Bells for going on 4 days now. Excusing that bullshit is against everything I believe. And it needs to be called out. For the sake of the honor and integrity of this forum if for nothing else.
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    9,202
    That has always been entirely in your control.
     
    paddoboy likes this.
  10. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,527
    Nice! The nutbag's post to this thread is gone!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  11. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    I hadn't seen that, as I now put these people on ignore when I lose patience with them. But I admit I was prompted to start this thread due to some of the remarks that have been flying around of late, from certain nutbags.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  12. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,885
    The old timers among us probably watched largely unmoderated usenet (the old alt. and sci. groups of the 1980's and 90's) gradually devolve from engineers and scientists sharing shoptalk and preprints, to being filled with spam, porn and psychiatric cases. (Do those old boards still exist? Last I looked, several years ago, alt.atheism seemed to be the only surviving active one.)

    So most of us can probably agree that moderators are necessary, and generally speaking a good thing.

    But here on Sciforums, a lot of the grief that the moderators encounter is of their own making.

    It's difficult for moderators to simultaneously be participants in arguments, especially if they take aggressive, heated and bombastic positions on issues, while simultaneously pretending to be the grownup in the room and talking down to people from a position of assumed authority. That simply doesn't work. If participants lose respect for moderators as participants, they lose respect for them as moderators too, and indirectly they lose respect for the board that they represent.

    So my recommendation (1.) is that if moderators want to participate in board discussion, then use a separate posting persona to do it. That way, the participant-you can be as opinionated as anyone else, without the moderator-you (the representative of the board) being pulled down to the same level.

    One of Sciforums' most glaring defects is that moderators seem to receive no discipline and there is no behavior standard that they must adhere to. So a few behave very self-indulgently. (2.)There needs to be a moderator discipline process, just as there is for rank-and-file members. If moderators are behaving badly, and if they don't respond to a gentle talking to, make moderators subject to temp-bans and require moderators to be disciplined by JamesR himself (nobody should moderate themselves).

    It's doubly bad when the moderator seemingly knows little or nothing about what he or she is going on about. So (3.) try to find people who are qualified to moderate the various subjects. That means people able and willing to teach basic principles to laypeople. I realize that it's a thankless job for no money, but given all the people boasting on this board about having degrees from the world's most prestigious universities, there must be somebody.
     
    Ultron, krash661 and Magical Realist like this.
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    I agree the mixing of personal views with moderation is a bad thing - and said as much. It would be lovely to have moderators who are - as rpenner is regarding the physical sciences - an authority on the subjects they moderate. But unfortunately there are not enough qualified volunteers to enable that in all areas. You say "there must be somebody", but I'm afraid I don't think that is a rational conclusion to draw from the mere premiss that there are suitably qualified contributors. For instance I have been canvassed by a forum in the past, but I declined, as I recognise I don't have the dedication and I'm too rusty on many of the details of my subject. That is one reason why I have chosen to put a word in for the imperfect moderators we have.
     
  14. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    6,848
    Good ponts... an as far as lax or strict moderation... i can be hapy wit either as long as thers an effort to make it consistent.!!!
    An if very heated discusions are permited... its fine wit me if mods are in the thick of it as long as they can keep it seperate from ther moderation duties an moderate in a proper/respectful manor.!!!

    You'r ideas are grate... an the real kicker is... ever time you post you demonstrate that you have the temperament/knowledge to be a grate mod... an even tho you have the wrong politics for this forum (it shoudnt make a diference)... you are surely on James R's list to become a part of Sciforums administration... but what confuses me about is... whats takin him so long.???
     
    Magical Realist likes this.
  15. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,885
    The problem with RPenner is that I'm not sure if he's capable of communicating with mortals. His posts remind me of the singing of the angels: It sounds great, but nobody knows what it means. I was thinking of him when I said that people who know that they are talking about need to be able and willing to teach basic principles to laypeople.

    http://www.sciforums.com/threads/what-are-the-backwards-6s-in-the-schrödinger-equation.136750/
     
    Ultron likes this.
  16. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    Yes it's true that some of his responses are, as someone said, "a wall of Greek" to outsiders.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
    Ultron likes this.
  17. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    5,051
    While I can empathize somewhat because I am a moderator on another forum myself, the problem they face here are largely of their own making. The hands off moderating philosophy creates and nurtures more problems than it solves. For example the thread that was just closed had several hundred more posts than it needed to which created a lot more work for the moderators to watch it and created the opportunity for moderators participating in it instead of just taking action and being done with it.
     
  18. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,527
    I can't claim fluency in math by any means, but his posts are elegant. I learn more every time. Sometimes I wish he'd use /displaystyle instead of /parstyle, but who am I?
     
  19. spidergoat Venued Serial Membership Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    53,149
    I post on another board where there is no moderation at all, and it's actually not so bad. I'd rather come here though, but it's not as lively.
     
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    I agree. But then I'm sort of an insider, so I can just about follow.
     
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    That's interesting. I wonder sometimes if there were no moderation how we would deal with nitwits, obsessives and trolls. I suspect we'd have to exercise a lot more discipline in not reacting to such people. Perhaps it can work.
     
  22. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    21,703
    You mean like the basic principles of the scientific method and peer review?
    And how any claim, should be able to stand up to the rigors of such review.
    Certainly not the rantings of anti science cranks, driven by agendas and preconceived beliefs in that which the scientific method and peer review rightly reject according to the scientific method.
    Although obviously that same rejection of said nonsense, then brings out the false indignation and questionable claims re there own supposed investigations etc, when in actual fact, all they have are the same chanells as the rest of us.
    Which then gets down to what on the big wide wonderful world of the Internet is reputable, and what is codswallop, uploaded by cranks, religious nuts and others pushing pseudoscience.

    Of course there is another aspect: Some here that see the questionable claims by these same cranks being put through the wringer and subsequently discredited by the majority of sensible members, as a form of bullying and this has them sympathizing then with our poor cranks who have long lost any credibility that they did have.
    Despite the ranges of topics discussed here, it is and will remain, first and foremost a science forum.
    Me? I feel no sympathy towards any anti science crank, no matter how much they have been denuded of whatever credibility that they may have had.
     
  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,336
    No I think he means teaching people science. Many people just get the wrong end of the stick in some respect and can be sorted out with a clear explanation.
     

Share This Page