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Question 3: Review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation.

Question 3: Review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation.

 
Old Nov 6, 06, 6:22 pm
  #1  
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Question 3: Review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation.

Submitted by RichardInSF:
To avoid endless bitter debate, there should never be a discussion of any individual moderation decision, but it should be both possible and productive for the TalkBoard to rationally review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation. Do you agree? If so, what do you think the key changes should be, if any? If not, why not?
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Old Nov 6, 06, 6:56 pm
  #2  
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It is my opinion that moderators do a great job on FT. They volunteer their time and I appreciate their input. I have been corrected several times in my 5 years on FT and it has always been done respectfully and with the best interest of the group as the primary goal. I support that premise. This is a group of frequent travelers with a tremendous amount of knowledge and diverse personalities that sometimes clash. A little good natured chiding of fellow members is expected, but abusive behavior or greed should not be tolerated. We all need to get along for the benefit of the group.

Thanks Mods for the great job you have done.
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Old Nov 6, 06, 9:09 pm
  #3  
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I believe that TalkBoard should set the rules for how moderation is handled and what is/is not allowable under the TOS. In short, it should act as FlyerTalk's legislative branch.

Moderators are the police of FlyerTalk. As such, they fall under the authority of Randy, who is the executive department. He should be the one to make certain that they are enforcing the rules which TalkBoard established and doing so in a just and equal manner.

I do believe it would be wise to have a judiciary. In theory, Randy handles that today -- a moderator's decision can be appealed to him. I say "in theory" because Randy has an extremely heavy workload and often can not get to matters in a timely fashion. I know of at least two instances where he eventually overturned a moderator's decision but did so only after a very long period during which the member was suspended.

To that end, and to make certain that moderation is applied evenly throughout FlyerTalk, I would like to have one person (preferably somebody from the House of Miles) serve as the judiciary.

Randy has repeatedly said that most suspensions are handed out for spamming. This is invariably from newbies, generally with only one or two posts.

This means that the remaining suspensions would not take up very much time for the one man judiciary.

Therefore, let's work it this way:

1. If a poster has been on FlyerTalk for less than 6 months and has less than 100 posts, any moderator can suspend him.

2. In all other cases, the moderator would remove the offending post but not suspend the member. Instead, he would send a complaint to the "judiciary". The judiciary would look at it, and if he saw any merit in it at all, contact the offending member and ask for his defense. The offending member would have 3 days to present his side of the argument. The judiciary, having seen both the complaint and the defense, would then make a decision.

There is nothing very radical in what I am suggesting. It is basically a streamlined equivalent of what happens when any person in Western nation is charged with a violation ranging from illegal parking to murder. The police make the charge, he is given the chance to defend himself, and the judiciary comes to a decision.

This would guarantee two things:

1. That moderation is applied equally throughout FlyerTalk.
2. That a suspension would not need Randy's approval to be lifted but rather the judiciary's approval to be put into effect.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 12:20 am
  #4  
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The moderators are here to help direct traffic (otherwise, it has been shown, 94.3% of all posts would be in MilesBuzz) and to avoid chaos. I think the moderators do a fine job. Considering that they work for free, I would upgrade (mmm, upgrades...) that to outstanding.

Years ago, I didn't think we needed moderators. FT has grown so much, that they are certainly needed now. In other words, I was against moderators before I was for them. In the pre-911 world (when we only had 910 members) and everything was sunshine and light, there was no need. Now, we have hundreds of thousands of members, and some of them have terrorized the boards with massively destructive posts. The fighting men and women of the moderator force are our only defense. I support the moderators, and will so, until that totally undefined time when total victory is ours.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 3:37 am
  #5  
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I also believe the moderators are doing a fine job. They kept the forums organized, allowing questions to be answered. They deleted posts which violated the TOS, and also any which were offensive. They kept the board clean and friendly. It’s very hard to do that, with over 119,000 members and over 6.5 million posts. FlyerTalk is a bigger community than many towns, and friendlier and cleaner than many. I thank the moderators for doing such a great job.

Last edited by jason8612; Nov 7, 06 at 3:47 am Reason: wrong word
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Old Nov 7, 06, 6:41 am
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Red face

Moderation is a tough job. But with clearly defined principles it can be accomplished without hurting the community. A community encourages participation and moderation should not be a tool to discourage it. Moderation is important in making sure that the health of the community is excellent. This means, members are able to post, discuss, seek advice and learn from others. If one person decides to post something inappropriate (as set by clearly defined guidelines) then moderators need to act on behalf of the community.

I agree:
An act of moderation of a discussion should never be based on the individual. This a COMMUNITY forum and should be based on the principles as defined in the Terms of Service.

I believe:
Always admit a mistake. I’m just a member of another forum (not travel related) and when the administrators and moderators decided to make a big format change AND close all discussions related to why people didn’t like the change (thousands of members protested the new style) - they left. But within a week the moderators admit they didn’t consider how it would change the user’s ability to access the forum.

I believe:
Saying “no” sucks. Instead of saying “this cannot be discussed” or “not here”. I always believe in providing a solution instead of “no.” Fortunately – moderators here direct people to the right forum or where a thread should belong. They are doing a great job here.

I believe:
We should have a set of terms or rules to govern the forums by. I propose that administrators, moderators and members (but just a sample – too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to no solutions) get together to draft them.

I believe:
A poster should be given the benefit of the doubt. But if they take advantage of the situation and make a mistake then there should be rules set on how to suspend, temporarily or permanent, or remove them from the FT community. But again, there have to be guidelines. We do this for the community.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 7:45 am
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No, I do not think it should be both possible and productive for the TalkBoard to rationally review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation.

The owner of this bulletin board has made it very clear that he alone wishes to be the one responsible for the moderators and moderation philosophy. TalkBoard is an advisory board. I respect that decision and think that the TalkBoard should continue to stay out of moderation.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 7:54 am
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How utterly flippin sweet, RichardInSF, another opportunituy to alienate an entire class of flyertalkers!

Moderation sucks. It disrupts the natural evolution of conversation and the community that our conversations create. I believe in open and free markets of ideas and Flyertalk ought to strive for that ideal.

Naturally however, time, place and manner restrictions become necessary when flagrant abuses and/or manipulation of the marketplace take place.

It is my view that moderators moderate best when they moderate least. Let people's words define who they are and what they are about.

The vast majority of moderators do a great job of this.

I utterly disagree with Dovster and Opus on the role of moderators, though. Moderators should be neither cops nor soldiers. They should be janitors...garbagemen. Their job should not be to run investigations, interrogations or invasions. Their job is to collect the fetid garbage left on the curb by posters from time to time and to also collect the recyclables and put them in the proper forum.

In this role, I believe that moderators should give WIDE latitude to the posters.

Otherwise the forum becomes all about the moderators. It takes on the tenor of their vision and theirs alone of what the forum should be rather than letting it be a vibrant, evolving community. And we do have some mods here who seem to relish keeping 'their' forum so neat and tidy that it stifles discussion and, more seriously, stifles the potential for community growth and fun.

Another thing that annoys the crud out of me is when mods close discussion with flip remarks like 'That's enough of that.' or 'This is done.' You know what, you're not our parents. Have some respect. If there is a TOS violation or the thread needs to be closed or moved per the Moderator Guidelines (and if such guidelines exist and if they do they SHOULD BE PUBLISHED FOR ALL TO SEE so we posters can know when a mod is being abusive of same), simply say so and if you want to be REALLY helpful, point out which TOS and/or Guideline has been abused.

I think most of the mods we have here, 95% of them, do exactly this and understand the reality that the less they interfere with the communities of Flyertalk the better they are doing their job. Most of the mods here do a great job of dealing with the garbage and recyclables we posters sometimes leave on the curb.

Should the Talkboard have a say in this? If Randy wills it, sure. But I would point out that the moderation style that Randy himself employs in the OMNI forum is the ideal to which all moderators should strive to achieve!

So thank you, and macaca to all you moderators out there!
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Old Nov 7, 06, 8:26 am
  #9  
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The problem I have with TB reviewing moderation philosophies is that I remain to be convinced that a one-sized fits all moderation policy would work that well in practice. In theory I’m sure it would be equal and fair – in practice, we have a number of well established boards, with on-going traditions which are at variance from the currently established rules, but which their moderators permit some freedom on, at their discretion – examples would be the DL Lounge thread, the UK train discussions on BD, the understanding that on non-US boards, there can be some laxity about what constitutes Off Topic. These things vary considerably board to board, and have generally taken quite a lot of time to evolve, in co-operation and discussion between the board and their moderators. And additionally – moderators are human, are volunteers, and have a limited amount of time. Anything which increases their workload (such as sending in reports about people they want to ban, having to deal with time differences – as a practical issue, Dovster’s suggestion would be a nightmare for non-US based mods, working to a different set of time zones than HOM) is probably not a good thing – we already lose good mods because they don’t have the time to do their job and live. We need to continue to attract good mods, and increasing the workload and the bureaucracy involved in being a moderator is likely to make that more difficult.

So for me, TB reviewing moderation policies, is just an opportunity to introduce a de-stabilising element into the relationship between boards and mods, increase bureaucracy, reduce flexibility, all for very little return. With the best will in the world, there is no way that TB will be able to get as good an understanding of the dynamic of the boards as the mods do, as they have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. The mods have a better understanding of what works and doesn’t work when managing a board – TB (unless they are also mods) has no experience of this. Having to run policies past TB actually reduces the flexibility of the board to deal with unexpected events – for example, Community Buzz was recently upped to 15 mods, to deal with one thread in particular, which attracted a lot of attention, was active and contentious. Not having to consult TB meant that the situation could be handled in a flexible manner, quickly and proactively, which meant that the thread could be left open, albeit with a lot of management, and not have to be moved into OMNI.

FT is not a government. TB is not a legislative branch. The mods are not police, they are volunteers, trying to ensure that those of us who use the boards are able to do so in an enjoyable manner, and very often using their discretion in doing so. And, in my experience, it generally works well. Sure there are glitches – but we deal with humans, it’s not going to be perfect. But until there is evidence of systematic failings in the system, I think TB’s input is not required, and could actually make the situation worse - a mod working to policies and rules developed by someone else and enforced by someone else would have no discretion to manage situations on their board to the best of their experience.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:20 am
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Hi,

Well this question regarding moderation is always around at election time. It’s a very hard one as I would say that it’s the one that gets people most riled up (and this is apparent already from some of the postings that have been made).

I think personally that moderation is a good thing as long as it’s being seen to be done in a fair and understanding manner. Moderators should be held accountable for any decision they do but I would suspect that if they have had to moderate a thread then they would have had a very good reason for doing it IAW with the TOS in FlyerTalk.

Now as for discussing why a moderator has done something, well this is another bone of contention (is that just a UK saying or do others understand it ) anyway, I think that the moderator should at least inform the person of why the action was taken, I would suspect that in a fast majority of cases folk would accept it, if not then they should be able to put forward their grievances to TalkBoard.

I think that Moderation of the forums is something that we all don’t want to happen and I would love to see NO moderators on any of the forums but since we live in a world of spammers, fraudsters as well as the occasional hot head, we do need moderators, some may say they are a necessary evil to keep FlyerTalk running smoothly.

Moderators give a lot of their own personal time up and this is something that we should not forget. I thank them for that time .

Well that’s my views on it, but as a parting line I would say that we will all just have to agree to disagree on what we think the role of moderators are within Flyertalk because I believe that there is no simple answer to the issue, there never has and there will never be.

Regards
John
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:21 am
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As others have mentioned in this thread, a "one-size-fits-all" policy of moderation does not seem to fit FlyerTalk. The reason for this is simple: although FlyerTalk is one big community, it is also subdivided into a number of smaller communities, such as the Delta community, the BA community, etc. All of these little subdivisions have, sometimes unconsciously, set a standard of behavior tolerated within that subset. These standards seem to vary greatly across community lines. As such, the moderators flexibility to be able to work within the mores of the communities they are responsible for.

My stand on moderators is similar to the current special education regulations in the United States: Least Restrictive Environment, When a student is identified as a special needs student, the laws require that the student be given accommdations, but also that these accommodations be the least restrictive on the student. (In other words, you don't put a kid with mild ADD in isolation.) By the same token, moderators need to maintain a least restrictive environment, given the standards of the community they moderate and the personalities of the membership they moderate. Naturally, the minimum restrictive environment is the FlyerTalk TOS, and this should serve as the baseline for standards of conduct and moderation.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:24 am
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Originally Posted by Dovster
Therefore, let's work it this way:

1. If a poster has been on FlyerTalk for less than 6 months and has less than 100 posts, any moderator can suspend him.

2. In all other cases, the moderator would remove the offending post but not suspend the member. Instead, he would send a complaint to the "judiciary". The judiciary would look at it, and if he saw any merit in it at all, contact the offending member and ask for his defense. The offending member would have 3 days to present his side of the argument. The judiciary, having seen both the complaint and the defense, would then make a decision.
How do these regulations address a member who does not meet category 1, and yet for whatever reason becomes disruptive? By not suspending such an individual immediately, does this policy not give such an individual ample time to continue on the path of destruction until the "judiciary" makes their decision?
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Old Nov 7, 06, 9:34 am
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Originally Posted by empedocles
How do these regulations address a member who does not meet category 1, and yet for whatever reason becomes disruptive? By not suspending such an individual immediately, does this policy not give such an individual ample time to continue on the path of destruction until the "judiciary" makes their decision?
Fair enough question -- and let's look at the answer.

In the event that a veteran poster suddenly decides to become disruptive, his post would be removed immediately.

The moderator would send him a notice saying that he has filed a complaint with the "judiciary". The poster would realize that further disruptions would only hurt his case and could, indeed, result in a much longer suspension.

The fact that his suspension would begin in three days, instead of immediately, would have little impact.

(Hey! We generally have at least a month before having to pay a speeding ticket, but that doesn't encourage us to go flying through known radar traps.)
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Old Nov 7, 06, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by Randy Petersen
Submitted by RichardInSF:
To avoid endless bitter debate, there should never be a discussion of any individual moderation decision, but it should be both possible and productive for the TalkBoard to rationally review the underlying principles and philosophy of FlyerTalk moderation. Do you agree? If so, what do you think the key changes should be, if any? If not, why not?
It's possible, sure, but first Randy would have to cede some authority in the area of moderation and he hasn't done so. I'm good with that, because, as kokonutz has said earlier in this thread, he is the ideal moderator as seen everyday in OMNI.

The one area I would like to see cleaned up are suspensions. I've never been suspended, personally, but I think moderators ought to only have the ability to suspend a poster until there is a review, ideally within 24 hours. TalkBoard would be perfect for this role, provided there isn't too much of a conflict of interest.

I've seen some posters suspended for little reason and some posters flagrantly violate the TOS and not get suspended, so some consistency in the application of suspensions would be nice and TalkBoard could help Randy in an advisory fashion there, too, if he so desired.

I think the Moderators do a good job, for the most part. It's only when they get too agressive are they noticed in a negative way.
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Old Nov 7, 06, 10:03 am
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Originally Posted by empedocles
How do these regulations address a member who does not meet category 1, and yet for whatever reason becomes disruptive? By not suspending such an individual immediately, does this policy not give such an individual ample time to continue on the path of destruction until the "judiciary" makes their decision?
I think it should be the other way. Allow the mod to suspend immediately, but require a review within 24-48 hours. If the review doesn't happen, the suspension ends.

For longtime members, a 24-48 hour cooling off period should be enough to calm the member down and make the issue go away. If not, then another suspension and a referral to Randy wouldn't be that hard to make.
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