Question 4: Purview Over Policies of Moderation

 
Old Nov 3, 07, 7:19 pm
  #1  
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Question 4: Purview Over Policies of Moderation

This question submitted by member ElmhurstNick:
Randy has stated on multiple occasions over time that the TB does not and will not have purview over policies of moderation. Yet each year, candidates insist on building campaign themes around changing moderation or suspension policies! Why do you think candidates take this approach?
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Old Nov 3, 07, 7:33 pm
  #2  
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This is an excellent question, and I am happy that you asked since it can hopefully dispel the promises that some people are making. I really have absolutely no clue why some are doing this. I could wager to guess that maybe certain candidates want to make (unrealistic) campaign promises in order to get elected on something that is a complete non-issue, IMO. As I stated in a previous thread, I think the mods here do an excellent job, and if/when they make mistakes, they don't need TalkBoard telling them what to do or stepping on their toes.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 7:34 pm
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TalkBoard is responsible for the Terms of Service that moderators enforce. More specific terms of service will reduce disagreements and help everyone operate from a common understanding. The less interpretation that the Terms of Service require, the better it is for everyone.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 11:42 pm
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There has always been a clear line of separation between TalkBoard and the Moderator corps.

In a meeting I attended today, someone made a comparison that I think explained it in terms that are easy to understand.

In this example, FT was compared to the various branches of the US Federal Government.

Randy and the HOM’s would be the Executive Branch.

The Moderators would be the Judicial Branch.

And Talkboard would be the Legislative Branch.

Perhaps a bit simplistic but it’s as straightforward an explanation as I’ve yet seen.
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Old Nov 4, 07, 12:00 am
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Echoing Cholula, there's a definite separation between TalkBoard and the Mods. I do not expect to have specific impact on moderation practices as a member of TalkBoard. I would expect to participate in well-structured discussions with members of the community about where we should be heading, and then do my part to facilitate the needs of the members-at-large.
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Old Nov 4, 07, 12:08 am
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Randy has stated on multiple occasions over time that the TB does not and will not have purview over policies of moderation. Yet each year, candidates insist on building campaign themes around changing moderation or suspension policies! Why do you think candidates take this approach?
I am not certain why some candidates might take such an approach. It is definitely misleading in my opinion. Perhaps these candidates are simply unaware of exactly what role the TB serves -- it is not a Moderator Oversight Committee no matter how much of an emotional outcry they might make. I would hope that no one would be deliberately misrepresenting what they can do if elected ... merely so that they can be elected!

Basing one's campaign on spreading fear of the black helicopters is irrational and casts one's intentions into question. People would question if it is something personal like an emotional reaction to being on the receiving end of moderator actions like having a post deleted or being suspended. Just because I've had one of my posts deleted does not mean there's a moderator conspiracy; perhaps I should look in the mirror and consider why my post got deleted. The sky is not falling after all.
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Old Nov 4, 07, 10:30 am
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I'm not going to pile on--what's said has been said, and I agree in one form or another with most of what's been written.

I think one of the shortcomings of the current talkboard makeup and with some of this year's candidates is the tendency to treat one's membership on the Talkboard as an excuse to promote one's personal agenda about what Flyertalk should be. In this case, trying to make the Talkboard have moderator oversight is just another shining example.

I don't believe Randy intends for Flyertalk to be ruled by the tyranny of the majority (while I don't believe that the small percentage of members run on the "expand the talkboard to include moderation purview" represent a majority, it could hypothetically happen). He and the Internet Brands folks are not going to alter the Terms of Service to allow swearing, regular insults against other members, and off-topic posts even if the member-elected Talkboard were to vote to allow such. As an ancillary thing, I'd personally love to see Randy and the Internet Brands folks detailing exactly what they believe the Talkboard should be (a refresher of sorts) so that the membership might keep that in mind while reading candidates platforms and what is written in this forum. It would be, I believe, enlightening, especially in threads like this one.

I also believe that Randy was quite deliberate in making the Talkboard member-elected and the Moderators "management chosen." That system has worked well for many years and allowed FT to grow into the premier bulletin board for points and miles. As I mention in my platform--why mess with what works?

Last edited by ClueByFour; Nov 6, 07 at 2:58 pm
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Old Nov 4, 07, 9:40 pm
  #8  
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The view from my window.

I sometimes think of FlyerTalk as a wonderful Theme Resort (of course, air travel is the theme), run by a most generous and benevolent dictator. We all love to go visit the resort, hang out, share, and learn ways to make our travel more fun, comfortable and rewarding. Some of us have been coming to the resort regularly since it opened, and some have just discovered it. Over 150,000 people have visited the resort over the years, but there is a much smaller core group who keep coming back time and time again, and it is our small core group which created the distinctive style that makes this resort so desirable and unique.

Many in our smaller core group have gotten to know one another quite well. We even leave the resort and travel together, learning about one another's lives and visiting one another's homes. We have become real friends--sharing the joys of marriage, child birth, and new jobs, along with the sorrow of divorce, loss of employment, illness, and even death. We are a real community in every sense of the word.

As much as we know and like one another, however, we are all different people coming from different places all around the world, and even staying in different rooms while we are at the resort, looking out of different windows, and participating in different activities. As a result each of us understands only part of the whole resort, and that part only from his or her own point of view.

Now, our resort is facing something of a crisis. Our benevolet dictator has sold the resort and, in a few years down the road, he will no longer be around to benevolently dictate. We have no idea how the new owners intend to run the resort and we must prepare ourselves, and our resort, to protect its exceptional ambiance for the future.

The question is, how do we go about doing that?

The view from my window:

I think that we should all work together to the very best of our ability to make certain that the resort runs so smoothly by itself that the new owners will be delighted to just let it continue to run itself. In order to make that happen we all have to set aside our own personal desires and prejudices and learn how to listen to, and learn from, one another to help us all understand as many aspects of the resort management as we possibly can. We need to analyze where we are, determine where we need to be, and figure out a way to get there.

Cholua reports that at the recent moderator's meeting, a moderator made the the following analogy of the current management of FlyerTalk:

"In this example, FT was compared to the various branches of the US Federal Government.

Randy and the HOMís would be the Executive Branch.

The Moderators would be the Judicial Branch.

And Talkboard would be the Legislative Branch."

I think we can all agree that in any form of democratic government, there needs a clear division of who makes the rules, who enforces the rules, and who reviews the enforcement. We all know Lord Action's famous axiom--"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

At present (while we are still a benevolent dictatorship) in truth and in fact, our power structure breaks out like this:

A. For the most part, Randy and the moderators make the rules. It was edfying to see that the TalkBoard did make a couple of operational rules in the past year.
B. Randy and the moderators enforce the rules.
C. Randy alone reviews enforcement when it involves suspension or bans.

It is clear that we are going to have some big holes in the operation when Randy's 3.5 years are up.

I see us less like the Federal government and more like a small independent city, maybe Fairbanks, that needs to learn to govern itself peacfully and cooperatively.

Here is my first draft of a plan:

A. Talkboard makes the rules--town council.
B. Moderators enforce the rules--police.
C. Review Board reviews all suspensions and bans--judge and jury.

Naturally each of these branches will need to be totally separate from one another--supporting and enriching one another, but separate entities with no crossover membership.

Some might think that 3.5 is a long way a way and that we can wait to think about this later, but stop and consider now. How long will it take all TalkBoard members and Randy to come together with a plan? A year at best? Then after we have a plan that makes us all happy, how long will it take to make it operational? Another year at best? Then, IMO, we will need another whole year of practice under whatever structure we build while Randy is still at the helm, in order to make the transition so smooth that IB gives us a congratulatory thumbs-up and tells us to continue on. That takes up right up to the big party we throw for Randy when he finally passes on the baton.

So that's my plan. Many of you may not agree and I hope that those of you who don't will put forth your own plans so that I can learn more from them. When we put all of our good ideas into the pot, we will come up with the most perfect soup.

Tell us about the view from your window.

Last edited by Punki; Nov 6, 07 at 11:22 pm Reason: To more accurately reflect Cholula's statement
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Old Nov 5, 07, 1:14 am
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Just to throw my 2 cents through the window ....

Moderators need to remain independent from TalkBoard. However, whenever a rule in the TOS is highlighted as open to interpretation, TB should review the rule with the aim to clarify. As has been said by nsx, the less room for interpretation, the less moderator's actions will be called into question.

Cheers,

GenevaFlyer
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Old Nov 5, 07, 5:20 am
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Unless and until Randy and/or the IB folks change their stance--that being the Talkboard has no purview over moderation, it's pointless to talk about what the Talkboard may or may not do in that regard. Again--it's akin to having candidates for city counsel discussing how to implement the job of the elected Sheriff--a rather meaningless exercise, no?

(the following keeps in mind that I have specifically said that I will not mess with what works in my campaign platform)

Neither Randy nor Internet Brands has indicated that they have asked for the aforementioned policy to change. I therefore am personally not arrogant enough to believe that my personal input is needed in a preemptive fashion, much less under the backdrop of running for Talkboard to do it--when, as has been said before, it's specifically not the Talkboard's purview.

Moreover, even when Randy's term is up, I don't personally see Internet Brands turning the "keys to the moderation kingdom" over to the Talkboard I await any rational explanation to the contrary. As a moderator, I've heard nothing that indicates that it will ever happen. As an additional (and more personal) aside, I'm not willing to sit across from Randy the next time I happen to lift a glass of Tequila with him and, in effect, tell him that I'm already planning to run/climb/walk over his dead carcass as it relates to managing FT. It strikes me as poor form, and I won't do it (unless he asks--see below).

If asked to consider such a situation while on the Talkboard, I'd immediately turn to the membership for input. I'm not going to assume that in a situation I've been specifically told the position won't deal with (talkboard discussing moderation) that I'd have the least little bit of idea of what the membership actually wants--and neither should anyone else.
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Old Nov 5, 07, 7:39 am
  #11  
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Two thoughts:

First, the non cynical answer: These topics are very near and dear to candidates hearts and they want to facilitate change in these areas.

Second, the cynical answer: I think moderation and suspensions are ways to get the members riled up. Like negative campaigning in real life, its a way a way to get generate controversy and get votes.

My stance is that I don't think the Talkboard should have oversight of moderation or suspensions. I do think the Talkboard should have oversight of improvement of member communication of the Board overall (including which moderators are (or aren't) doing a good job).
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Old Nov 5, 07, 9:43 am
  #12  
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While I agree that Randy has made it as clear as ozone that the TB does not have purview over moderation or moderation policies, I am disappointed that there is not better communication and a more formalized relationship between the TB and the moderators. Perhaps this is because so many of the current TB members ARE moderators.

To my mind, there ought to be FAR better communication and a more formal relationship in place. I think the TB ought not wait around to be asked to attend the moderator-only do's. I think they ought to ask to be invited and participate. After all, how can the TB know what is working and not working in terms of their responsibilities if they are not interacting with the folks who are making daily judgment calls in the various forums.

I think the S.P.A.M. dust-up this year is a perfect example of what happens when this issue is left to fester. A forum, ANY forum can become NOT what the TB intended, but whatever a moderator will allow. That being the case, the TB could create a forum meant to talk about travel with furniture but if the appointed moderator allows free talk about travel with ottomans but strictly enforces the TOS with regard to travel with sofas, well, you've got the will of the TB subverted by the mod. A more common occurrence, though, is that a lenient moderator allows a forum to go and stay off topic and become something it is not meant (by the TB) to be. This was the case with S.P.A.M. It was created to talk about alternate points and mile currencies. But lax moderation allowed it to become about free samples of laundry detergent without the TB ever actually taking this decision.

So while there is no direct purview, clearly the duties of TB and the duties of moderators are RELATED.

I believe that to perform their duties with due diligence, TB members should be granted access to the moderator forums and discussions and should ask to be invited to the moderator-only Dos where moderator guidelines, best practices and training are developed. This way TB members can track for themselves the implementation of the decisions that they are making by the moderators and adjust forums and forum definitions as necessary.

And to close the loop, TB members should be reporting back to the average poster about this process.

If I am elected to the TB, I guaranfreakingtee you that I'd endeavor to do this.

Last edited by kokonutz; Nov 5, 07 at 9:54 am
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Old Nov 5, 07, 11:03 am
  #13  
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I don't see any justification for the adversarial attitude some of the candidates have toward FT's moderators. Moderators are people, and different people do the same job differently. You can't please all the people all the time. These are facts of life, on FT as well as in real life.

Making the Terms of Service more specific will reduce the incidence of arguments about moderation, but someone who is looking hard enough for an excuse to complain will still be able to find it.
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Old Nov 5, 07, 11:41 am
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I believe some candidates truly have the best interests of FlyerTalk and FTers in mind and want to change FT to make it the best it can be. They may see moderation to need fine-tuning. TalkBoard shapes the policies that moderators must enforce. So while TB does not influence how moderation is enforced they do influence WHAT is enforced by moderators.

Sadly, a few select candidates have made moderation and moderators a prime target. They've fought against moderation and sought to undermine moderation and moderators since FT broadened mod efforts.

More than any specific moderator or moderation action, they are offended by the overall concept of moderators and are hyperfocused on that issue at the expense of all other concerns. I would implore voters to look at all candidates' responses and deeply consider how well such myopy on one issue will impact those candidates' ability to represent them and their wants and needs at large.

Last edited by kanebear; Nov 5, 07 at 11:46 am
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Old Nov 5, 07, 1:39 pm
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I think it is really interesting to compare the responses to this question from candidates who are moderators against the responses from candidates are not moderators.

If, like me, you see a little bit of a disconnect then do you, like me, wonder whether there really are two FTs...the FT world of posters who happen to be moderators and the FT world of posters who are just posters?

I mean, if I were a moderator maybe I'd feel like there were no problems with moderation whatsoever either...know what I mean? One thing I would commit to do as a TB member is to examining the potential disconnect between moderator-posters and non-moderator posters and to the extent it exists breaking it down.

As noted above, I'd do this by inserting myself into the moderator process and reporting back to posters at large.
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