Question 2: Palatable Moderation

 
Old Nov 2, 07, 4:43 pm
  #1  
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Question 2: Palatable Moderation

This question submitted by member Punki:
There is much public and private grumbling about heavey-handed moderation, and the taboo against discussing modators policies on FlyerTalk.

What would you suggest would make moderation more palatable to the general membership?
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Old Nov 2, 07, 4:56 pm
  #2  
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TalkBoard Candidates: When answering this question, please keep in mind that there are nearly 9 million posts on FlyerTalk, there are nearly 100,000 moderator actions (mostly involving spam), that there are no documented facts by this member to support what "much" is relative to the activity on FlyerTalk (30-50,000 visitors daily) and that factually, we have the same policy for our members regarding public comment on specific moderator action as every single other respectable travel bulletin board. The reason why these other bulletin boards have these polices and why we do as well is that any post of a specific moderator action does not contain the "other side of the story," often leading to a single unbalanced view of an action. That I think almost anyone would agree is unfair.

A good example is here:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=746711

In this thread, one might be lead to believe the Moderator did something wrong and was unfairly targeting the member's signature. In fact, with the facts that were left out by the member, it seems that indeed the Moderator did the right thing, did notify the member and it was about a factual violation of the TOS (font size of the Signature) not an unfair action by a Moderator. These types of unbalanced posts by the actual facts of a situation is why these policies exist. And it seems to make sense.

Last edited by Randy Petersen; Nov 2, 07 at 5:37 pm
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Old Nov 2, 07, 7:52 pm
  #3  
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There is much public and private grumbling about heavey-handed [sic] moderation, and the taboo against discussing modators [sic] policies on FlyerTalk.

What would you suggest would make moderation more palatable to the general membership?
I think it is misleading to suggest that there is much grumbling about moderation when there is no evidence to support such a claim. Randy's given solid numbers to back up his point.

Moderation policy has simply never been in the purview of TalkBoard. What purpose does discussing it in the context of a TB campaign have?
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Old Nov 2, 07, 9:39 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by FewMiles View Post
What purpose does discussing it in the context of a TB campaign have?
My platform includes modifying the Terms of Service to allow suspension of membership for a consistent pattern of value-subtracting behavior. Developing a reasonably objective methodology to measure value-subtracting behavior will be a challenge, but once in place this methodology should reduce the level of disputes about moderation. I'm thinking of a point by point list of "plays well with others" criteria to recognize value added and value subtracted.

Note that moderators themselves will have to measure up to whatever standards we develop! The behavior criteria will be a road map for members who have trouble complying with the current Terms of Service, and will reduce the ambiguity of what it means to be a good member of FT.
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Old Nov 2, 07, 9:48 pm
  #5  
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First off let me say that overall the moderators here do an incredible job and aren't thanked enough for what they do. I participate on a few internet boards, and none have mods consistently as professional and helpful as here. There are a few cases where I disagreed with the way a situation was handled, but ultimately I almost always agree with the decisions.

That being said, I don't quite understand your question. I certainly haven't noticed "much grumbling" about moderation, other than a small group of posters who continuously like to complain about a non-existent issue, IMO. I would be open to new ideas, but I just haven't seen anything yet that both needs to be and can be improved.
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Old Nov 2, 07, 11:33 pm
  #6  
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IMO, most folks come to FT to share and gain information on maximizing their miles and points balances.

I honestly don’t think that the average FT’er thinks about moderation or is even aware that moderators exist. As I’ve always said, the best moderator is the one who you notice the least.

Now I realize that some FT members feel that moderation is an issue and I count many of these members among my FT friends.

But from my personal experience and I’m speaking as a FT member here, I just can’t buy into the fact that this is a TB issue or even a FT issue that needs extensive debate or correction.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 3:42 pm
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I don't hear a lot of grumbling about moderation. However, I do think, as a moderator, we should do as much as possible to make our actions transparent. Moderation should be in support of useful information flow for the community.
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Old Nov 4, 07, 10:18 am
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As Randy Petersen has made clear in the past, the Talkboard's purview does not include moderation. While he (or Internet Brands) may change that stance in the future, it's reasonable to believe that they won't.

The question itself is also suspect: member Punki is, despite Randy having made it clear that the Talkboard has no purview over moderation, running for Talkboard on that basis anyway. It's akin to running for dog-catcher on a platform of income tax reform.

With that said, the sentiment expressed above is accurate: if the moderation practices on Flyertalk were egregious as the question would lead one to believe, FT would surely not be growing. It is, because %99.9 of the FT membership does not notice or think about moderation practices. Of the remaining %0.0.1, it seems that only those that continually run afoul of those practices (up to and including discussing it with Randy and not liking his answers) seem to have a problem. Part of my campaign platform is not to mess with what works, and that's certainly applicable here.
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Old Nov 4, 07, 10:36 pm
  #9  
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Palatable moderation

As I was trying to forumulate my answer to this question, my mind kept returning again and again to the most enlightened post I have ever read by a moderator on the subject of moderation. It was posted by AA moderator JDiver early in October and clearly states, IMHO, the very best plan for making moderation palatable for all, and to go even further and actually use moderation as a tool to enrich and grow the spirit of community.

Here is an excerpt from his most impressive post:

Speaking for myself, I hope any member who feels offended by my language or responses will contact me; I really invite that person to PM me so we can dialog and formulate an action we both own and can change as needed. If I am in error, my way of looking at this is to view communication like this as a gift - it allows me to apologize and make amends. If I do not feel I am, we can communicate and still apply some healing to the issue. My strong opinion is conflict can best be resolved at the lowest level of conflict resolution, and better by "conflict partners" than by others who are neither stakeholders nor very aware of what the conflict partners would prefer as an outcome. (When we kick our conflicts up to others in any hierarchy, we lose our power to resolve, and may not like a resolution imposed on by others.)
The entire post can be found here.

KUDOS, to JDiver and every other moderator who approaches their job as a moderator with such wisdom, insight, and sensitivity. This type of attitude is a true gift to FlyerTalk.
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Old Nov 5, 07, 12:33 am
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Excellent moderation overall!

Hi all,

My turn to step in here ... overall, I think that the moderators on FT are doing an excellent job. Sometimes, it can be hard to enforce rules, and you will always hear some grumbling.

For example, who do you hear complaining most about the installation of automatic radars in France to catch speeders .... those who got a ticket for speeding, not those who abide by the maximum speed (I'm not one of them, but if I get a ticket, I accept the consequences of my acts).

In the particular case of moderation cited in the question, there were a number of angles that each side of the argument could highlight. I believe the case was handled properly.

I can't speak for the moderators, but I'm sure that if in doubt, they consult each other (if they don't, this could be a suggestion for improvement) with regards to the best course of action.

However, overall, I say job well done in a difficult context! Once a debate gets heated, the attacks get pointy and any acts of moderation can be seen as picking on one side of the debate in support of the other.

Cheers,

GenevaFlyer
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Old Nov 5, 07, 5:32 am
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Originally Posted by Punki View Post
As I was trying to forumulate my answer to this question,
Punki, not to state the obvious, but presumably you already knew the answer--you posed the question, and it started with a statement that's not actually factual "There is much public and private grumbling about heavey-handed moderation, and the taboo against discussing modators policies on FlyerTalk."

Does it not seem more appropriate to say "while I was posing the question?" It's like "outcomes based campaigning" to ask a question that's posed to all candidates and then start a response with "As I was trying to forumulate (sic) my answer....."

KUDOS, to JDiver and every other moderator who approaches their job as a moderator with such wisdom, insight, and sensitivity. This type of attitude is a true gift to FlyerTalk.
What Jdiver wrote is, not coincidentally, exactly how moderation is handled by FT moderators. Exactly. Yet, your signature reads "If you would like to see more fair and even-handed moderation, please vote for me, and tell your friends!"

If you believe what JDiver writes to be true, then why would you want to change it? It's how things work today. It's only when members do not do what he suggests, or continue to violate the TOS despite moderator's attempts at low-level resolution that any further actions are taken. If you agree with JDiver, what's the problem?

I really invite you to take a plank from my platform of not messing with what works. Especially because, in this case, you can't change moderation by getting elected to the Talkboard. Why waste a campaign running on a promise you cannot implement?

Last edited by ClueByFour; Nov 5, 07 at 5:40 am
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Old Nov 5, 07, 5:58 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by GenevaFlyer View Post
For example, who do you hear complaining most about the installation of automatic radars in France to catch speeders .... those who got a ticket for speeding, not those who abide by the maximum speed
Correct, the people at the receiving end of enforcement will always grumble. However, the AMOUNT of grumbling can be diminished by making the rules being enforced as specific as possible.

If your local police had nothing more to enforce than "Every driver shall drive in a safe and prudent manner", can you imagine the number of arguments they would get from motorists they ticket? No matter how well the police applied the rule, they could never escape complaints. Inevitably they would hear "In that other town 10 miles away, that maneuver is allowed", or "You just have a grudge against me because you stopped me twice before".

Let me be perfectly clear: on FT the grumbling is the problem, not the moderation. The moderators are doing a great job, if I say so myself. Moderation, like TalkBoard, is a volunteer duty and a labor of love. But the fact remains that different people will often interpret the same words differently. The less ambiguity in the Terms and Conditions and the more specific examples we can provide, the better off EVERYONE will be, including and especially the moderators. It's a win-win.

The list of examples can grow as moderators encounter new situations. Ideally, every new type of seriously value-subtracting behavior should occur only once before the TalkBoard adds it to the Terms of Service to put everyone on notice not to repeat it. This activity will be a collaborative effort of the TalkBoard and the moderators, in which the moderators and others propose and the TalkBoard makes the decision.

Win or lose in the TalkBoard election, I intend to promote more specific Terms of Service with specific examples.
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Old Nov 5, 07, 7:33 am
  #13  
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My understanding is that the Talkboard does not have control over moderation (heavy handed or not).

One area that the Talkboard should be able to influence would be the creation and stewardship of a tool (or perhaps a forum) for moderator feedback.

With the number of moderators rising, I think it it would be helpful to Randy (and IB management) to have a vehicle to see which moderators are generating the most complaints, fewest complaints, or which moderators are failing to do their jobs (not showing up or doing anything at all).
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Old Nov 5, 07, 9:13 am
  #14  
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I am pretty sure I am the only TB candidate who is currently banned from seeing/participating in some of the forums on FT, currently both S.P.A.M. and OMNI. I'm not exactly proud of that distinction but neither am I at all embarrassed about it. I have the courage of my convictions and wield the righteous sword of truth and so it is what it is.

Inconsistent moderation has driven some great contributors away from FT. To the extent it exists it is a serious problem. I am told that the moderator corps is aware of this problem and talk about it every time they get together at the Moderator-only Do's, but only the moderators themselves know for sure.

It's like being a smart child who has to deal with secretive but caring parents. You trust that they have your best interests at heart but you are never going to know for sure exactly what they are up to or how they are going to do it. But you trust them best that you can, know that they are going to make some mistakes along the way and simply hope for the best.

That said, overall, the mods do a good and fair job. There are a few who abuse their position. Randy and I disagree over this point and at the end of the day it's his playground so he makes the rules.
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Old Nov 5, 07, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by flyertalk View Post
This question submitted by member Punki:
There is much public and private grumbling about heavey-handed moderation, and the taboo against discussing modators policies on FlyerTalk.

What would you suggest would make moderation more palatable to the general membership?
On the contrary; I think most of the FT userbase is barely aware of moderators beyond the bold names and 'licence plates' announcing the forums they volunteer for.

That's as it should be, as the vast majority of FTers never need interact with moderators in any capacity beyond their primary role as ordinary FlyerTalkers.

As for public and private grumbling; it seems that a select few members choose to focus on moderation in principle and have focused almost exclusively on that topic since moderation was introduced at FlyerTalk. Perception does not equal reality. Those members would encounter a much harsher reality at boards of similar size. I participate on one board in particular where moderation is A.) much harsher, B.) not able to be appealed and C.) far more uneven.

Then there's the issue of discussion of moderation. Here, at least, we can discuss concepts and abstracts regarding moderation. The only prohibition regards discussion of specific moderator action at Flyertalk. The other site I mention? Any mention of moderation at all results in a swift rebuke. A second incident results in a very permanent ban.

I would consider the mod involvement on FT very very light with respect to the traffic generated here. Things were different at the beginning; yet FT was much smaller then.

It's similar to how a small village grows and becomes a town, then a city. At first, you know everyone on sight and there's no need to lock your doors. As the village grows into a town, it's impossible to know everyone. People move into town who don't have the best intentions. A few robberies occur. At this point, one must secure themselves... lock their doors, etc.

As the town becomes a city, one knows fewer and fewer people intimately as they did when the area was a small village. Murders occur, etc. It becomes necessary to have a group dedicated to protecting the inhabitants. This group also happens to hand out tickets for littering and speeding from time to time in their efforts to keep the city a pleasant place for the growing numbers who live there. The original residents of the village may not like the changes and may hate having an outsider and a newer resident imposing rules on them they didn't have to follow before. Yet while those rules may not have been necessary when the place was small, they've become an unavoidable necessity as it has grown and continues to grow.

Last edited by kanebear; Nov 5, 07 at 10:12 am
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