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Old 09-29-2016, 12:05 PM   #1
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Changes to Moderation of FYM

After some discussion, the moderating team has decided to change the approach to moderation in FYM. Moderation has typically been fairly light-handed in general - really the only time any moderator action is taken is when forum policies are clearly violated (personal insults, trolling, etc), and even then, usually the first step is a warning. Posts are rarely deleted. This has, in general, worked out okay over FYM's history, as most people who take part in discussions do so in good faith, and with a desire for conversations to remain civil and fair.

There has always been some mean-spirited snark/mocking/ridicule in FYM, and there has been a history of people coming in with sincerely held beliefs that others find offensive, and it would be unrealistic to think we could get rid of those aspects entirely, but at the same time, the way those aspects of FYM can bring productive conversation to a dead stop and derail entire threads into personal bickering has been and continues to be problematic.

So regarding the changes in moderation: the primary change is that, instead of simply asking people to stay on topic or refrain from insults/trolling and leaving those comments up for all to see (and react to, and formulate responses to), moderators will now simply delete those comments, and leave a reminder message in their place.

For example, if someone comes in trolling with a comment like "All conservatives are racists!" rather than letting that comment stand, a moderator will delete it and any replies to it, and leave a comment like:

Quote:
(A few posts deleted. Please refrain from trolling/personal attacks.)
The goal here is to remove the power those bad comments have to derail a thread and lead to frustration between posters. This also gives those posters who had their posts deleted the opportunity to find a more constructive way to argue their point, without losing face due to a public warning from the mods. We hope this will lead to more civil conversations where opposing viewpoints can be argued without having to worry about petty jabs, trolling, or general hostility becoming too much of an obstacle to the discussion at hand.

The moderating team realizes that we are not always around 24/7 to monitor conversation, but generally speaking, we do our best to keep current on active conversations on the forum. But we do have a couple requests of those participating in FYM, though: please don't hesitate to make use of the report feature when you see posts you believe are problematic. It doesn't have to be an egregious overstepping of bounds to warrant a report (and reporting a post doesn't necessarily mean it will be deleted), it could be as simple as reporting a post to serve as a "heads up, this thread might be taking a turn for the worse" to the mod team.

The other request we have is a simple one: ask yourself a few basic questions before posting a comment or reply: 1)Is my comment going to contribute to or detract from the civility of the discussion? 2)Is what I'm replying to something that might be better to ignore for the sake of the discussion (or flagged for moderators)? 3)Is my comment engaging with the rest of the discussion in a good faith way, or am I hoping to get a rise out of someone?

If you have any questions and/or concerns, you can reach me or any of the moderators through private message.

--Diemen
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Old 10-19-2016, 09:35 AM   #2
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Okay. It's clear that there are some mixed opinions about this moderation change, so I'd like to open this thread up to discussion about the changes.

I'll start with this premise: the tone in FYM threads can deteriorate quickly when people start turning their attention to personal issues instead of the topic at hand, and these tangents have the tendency to take over threads and snowball so more people get involved. (I would hope that most people would agree that this exists and has been a long-standing problem in FYM)

In the past, moderator requests that people stop attacking each other and stick to the topic have not always been heeded. This new moderation change seemed like a good way of stopping that snowball from accumulating and focusing the attention on the topic, without leaving the problematic posts there so everyone could continue to get worked up/formulate responses to them.

But it's clear that content deletion is problematic for some posters. So, working off the premise above, I'd definitely be interested in hearing opinions of others as to ways to address the problem with personal attacks/trolling behavior that limit the possibility of those kinds of posts derailing threads to the extent they have in the past.
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Old 10-19-2016, 09:39 AM   #3
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I'd also like to apologize for the way the change was rolled out. Looking back, it should have first been a community discussion about ways to address the problem, and not a declaration and immediate change. I can totally understand how that would rub people the wrong way, so again, my apologies there.
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Old 10-19-2016, 09:49 AM   #4
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Personally I think anitram's idea of a "cool down" period in which problematic threads are locked temporarily is a good one.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:11 AM   #5
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personal insults and veering wildly off-topic are what i do best, and if i can't contribute in a way that a select few find offensive i'm not sure i really have a place here.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:13 AM   #6
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That might be true.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:14 AM   #7
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We could always have a personal insults thread.

But in all seriousness, I don't know what capabilities you have from a moderator perspective rather than an administrator. But a formal warn system with points that expire, or what have you, which accrue into member thread suspensions and member board suspensions. I know IP boards typically have this capability.

And if it's just tension, a healthy way to settle it is to attempt one on one conversation. Just my opinion.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:23 AM   #8
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Yeah I think in most cases let things go, and issue a warning if need be. If in some case a person clearly crosses a line and posts something ridiculously inflammatory or insulting, (using some very offensive slur towards another member for example) then that post certainly should be deleted, possibly with an explanation saying "post deleted for breaking rules by calling Hewson stupid" or some similar wording so folks have a general idea what went on.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iron yuppie View Post
Personally I think anitram's idea of a "cool down" period in which problematic threads are locked temporarily is a good one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyNumber7 View Post
We could always have a personal insults thread.

But in all seriousness, I don't know what capabilities you have from a moderator perspective rather than an administrator. But a formal warn system with points that expire, or what have you, which accrue into member thread suspensions and member board suspensions. I know IP boards typically have this capability.

And if it's just tension, a healthy way to settle it is to attempt one on one conversation. Just my opinion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hewson View Post
Yeah I think in most cases let things go, and issue a warning if need be. If in some case a person clearly crosses a line and posts something ridiculously inflammatory or insulting, (using some very offensive slur towards another member for example) then that post certainly should be deleted, possibly with an explanation saying "post deleted for breaking rules by calling Hewson stupid" or some similar wording so folks have a general idea what went on.
I like all of these.

I do also think in general that the suspension should be brought back into play. They used to get handed out semi-regularly in FYM to deal with these issues and sometimes seemed to work to get people to come back reformed.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:30 AM   #10
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And thank you, Diemen for opening up the conversation
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:20 PM   #11
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I guess my main problem with temporarily locking the thread is that it penalizes everyone who was participating, not just the people who were causing problems.

I'm okay with handing out time-outs to individual people, though.

In the past I have tried having one on one PMs to discuss problematic posts before taking action in the thread, or as an accompaniment to it, but to be honest it wasn't all that effective.
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:42 PM   #12
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Changes to Moderation of FYM

For me, the only posts I consider worthy of deletion are, as Hewson described, those that are flagrantly offensive. An instance when a new poster might scroll past it and be put off by the board as a whole. Now, granted, this varies depending on the image the board is seeking to maintain, but I think we've got a pretty good handle on what that means after 15-20 years of existence.

That said, verbal attacks are generally not worthy of deletion unless they endanger the individual with the sharing of private information (hilarious though it may be, no one should be calling up people's churches). Assholes on an internet message board are a given and no one is surprised to see the occasional mean-spirited post. In my mind, a good moderator will do his part not to censor but mediate between two or more upset parties to diffuse an argument.

When moderators begin deleting posts, it necessarily suggests that certain things aren't allowed on the board and that's fair enough in concept. Again, there are instances when something pornographic or violent could reflect very poorly on the board. The problem is, if these deletions are within a conversation and done before anyone can weigh in on the posts, it takes censure to a somewhat patronizing level, as if readers can't handle what's contained within. And most probably, we can.

My general suggestion is to get involved, but not necessarily on a post-to-post level. Think a little more broadly. More specifically, ban and suspend people that frequently lessen the quality of discourse on the board. Temporarily lock threads that are getting out of hand. You won't need to pick through threads with a fine-toothed comb because we'll have a group that can police itself for the most part.

Thanks for starting this thread, Diemen, and opening up yourself to critique. Not all mods are willing to do that.
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Old 10-19-2016, 12:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
More specifically, ban and suspend people that frequently lessen the quality of discourse on the board.
I think the issue with something like this is the subjectivity is so immense as to to make Diemen's job almost impossible. Each of us will have a different perspective on what quality discourse looks like.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by iron yuppie View Post
I think the issue with something like this is the subjectivity is so immense as to to make Diemen's job almost impossible. Each of us will have a different perspective on what quality discourse looks like.
Perhaps my definition was a bit unclear. I think we all have an idea of what a poster worthy of suspension looks like: consistent pain in the ass, seeks to stir up tension and derail threads, personally attacks other posters despite mod intervention, that sort of thing. Better to put them in time out (and, with continued warnings, out on their ass altogether) than resort to deleting posts before other members can weigh in on them, because the latter impacts the atmosphere of this board more negatively in the long term.
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Old 10-19-2016, 01:11 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
That said, verbal attacks are generally not worthy of deletion unless they endanger the individual with the sharing of private information (hilarious though it may be, no one should be calling up people's churches). Assholes on an internet message board are a given and no one is surprised to see the occasional mean-spirited post. In my mind, a good moderator will do his part not to censor but mediate between two or more upset parties to diffuse an argument.
The problem I see with leaving verbal attacks up for all to see is that it serves as kindling for ongoing feuds. Plus people could see it and hit reply before seeing the moderator's intervention (which happens quite a lot in those cases).

Ideally, yes, it would be better for a moderator to mediate privately between both parties. That requires that the mod (and let's face it, it's pretty much me in here) be present during the conflict. But in the cases where I'm away for the weekend and I come back to a shit show, leaving that available for all to gawk at and file away for future reference/side taking with the participants is problematic.

I suppose a solution to that scenario could be to close the offending thread and start a new one with a request to refrain from starting up the argument again? Or give the offending party(/parties) a time out and talk to them one on one (which could be a pretty decent time commitment, speaking from experience...)?

Quote:
The problem is, if these deletions are within a conversation and done before anyone can weigh in on the posts, it takes censure to a somewhat patronizing level, as if readers can't handle what's contained within. And most probably, we can.
I think my main concern is not that what was said is too outrageous for anyone's ears, but that it is either intentionally trolling or will lead to derails into personal beefs that would best be sorted privately, and not in the middle of a thread that is about topic X, not persons A & B. I don't know that people should be able to weigh in on that kind of thing, because the weighing in contributes to the derail.

Quote:
My general suggestion is to get involved, but not necessarily on a post-to-post level. Think a little more broadly. More specifically, ban and suspend people that frequently lessen the quality of discourse on the board. Temporarily lock threads that are getting out of hand. You won't need to pick through threads with a fine-toothed comb because we'll have a group that can police itself for the most part.
I have to be honest - I thought people would be more upset by an uptick in suspension & thread closures than deleting problematic content. This discussion has opened my eyes on that.

I appreciate you (and everyone here) taking the time to provide honest and thoughtful feedback.
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