Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

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Caligari87
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Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Caligari87 »

Hey all. As I mentioned in the previous announcement thread, I want to strike while the iron is hot on making some changes.

Moderation
All forums needs moderators, that's a given. But what does good moderation look like to you?

After about a decade of moderating various internet communities (both on discord and reddit with varying degrees of success, as well as here), I tend to feel like moderators should feel less like cops and more like guides. Which is interesting, because we already have a community guide program which seems to be quite successful. Our moderation process could look more like that both in terms of responsibility and nomination/selection process, so anyone on the blue list is probably a good candidate for moving to the green list.

Additionally, I don't really want to be a sole dictator making 90% of the decisions around here, which is kinda what seems to happen for some reason. It's my considered opinion that the longer a small team is in place without some kind of shakeup, the more entrenched and stagnated things become. At the same time there's often a kind of stigma against moderators stepping down, like it indicates failure or something. I'd like to avoid that here by making team rotations a regular thing, so more of our user base can get a sense of ownership and responsibility.

But, my opinion isn't the only one. I want to have a discussion about it and hear from all of you. The purpose of this thread is to have an open discussion about such things. Specific policies and rules and such will be the topic of a different thread, so lets table that for now. This is an opportunity to get some community sentiment about how the community should be moderated, hear from current moderators and guides whether they want to stay on or take a break, and maybe promote some new mods.

Global Moderators
Spoiler:
Community Guides
Spoiler:
I'll leave this thread pinned to this forum for 30 days.

Disclaimers: I'm not sure how well this idea will work. This isn't a voting thread, but it could be a good time to talk about who you trust or not. Also please stay on topic and don't get into debates. I know emotions are high right now over some recent decisions, but I really want this thread to stay focused and productive.

8-)
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Enjay
 
 
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Enjay »

I'm happy to stay on in my current capacity (assuming no objections). I haven't been around too much in recent months due to real-life priorities but I hope that things will normalise before too much longer and I can get back to haunting this place as frequently as I used to.
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Hellser »

Enjay wrote: Mon Apr 24, 2023 10:30 am I'm happy to stay on in my current capacity (assuming no objections). I haven't been around too much in recent months due to real-life priorities but I hope that things will normalise before too much longer and I can get back to haunting this place as frequently as I used to.
I feel the same. Though to add to it, it felt as if I couldn't be a moderator when the previous administration team was around. Was becoming harder and harder to be fair and balanced when an admin steps in makes the ultimate final decision, knee-jerk reaction or not. Green shouldn't override Red's decision and all. I preferred when we all sat down and discussed about a problematic user and took the appropriate action rather than one person being the judge, jury and executioner.
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by yum13241 »

All forums needs moderators, that's a given. But what does good moderation look like to you?
Ideally, things would be dealt with on a case by case basis. No one should be banned instantly for "vaguely offensive language".

Obviously you can't just put every ban up for voting, but at the same time having one guy be judge, jury, and executioner is not good either.
For banning an obvious spambot for example, I think it'd only make sense for an admin, or even a mod to ban on their own.
For, say, banning someone because their language was worded poorly (no, I'm not referring to PB), I think the community should decide. You can't wait for everyone to vote, so I say enforce a time limit.
Was becoming harder and harder to be fair and balanced when an admin steps in makes the ultimate final decision, knee-jerk reaction or not.
To solve this, I'd say that admins would have to consult other admins.
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Caligari87
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Caligari87 »

It's one of those situations where too much of a good thing starts to become counterproductive. Curation is a good thing, and excising bad actors quickly is important to maintain the health of a community! However applied too strongly, it becomes authoritarian and fosters an echo chamber where either you agree with the boss or stay quiet. There needs to be a balance.

I do want to get away from insta-bans and "I don't like your tone" bans. I'd also like if we start using warnings and temp-bans more, rather than jumping straight to perma-bans all the time.

Discussing every action before it happens isn't always realistic because there's not always multiple people on call, so moderators should be willing and able to act on their own if needed. On the flipside of such a decision, I'd like to see moderator discussions especially if there's a disagreement over proper action. For myself going forward, I'm going to commit to never unilaterally reversing a moderator decision without talking it over with that person first (at least, where possible). I want the team to know I trust and respect their judgement.

8-)
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by SanyaWaffles »

I do think that's a step in the right direction - changing the moderation culture. That's very much the general consensus I see.

It's not an overnight process though, and I hope people understand these things take time and effort and isn't a matter of 'deleting everything'.

As for people I'd want to vouch for as possible moderator material, some of the Community Guides are very cool people - I've talked with a few in the past and they've all been level headed, and still are, but I'll be kind - many of them haven't posted in a while - at least the one's I've spoken to.
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by yum13241 »

It's one of those situations where too much of a good thing starts to become counterproductive.
All of life is like that, actually.
I do want to get away from insta-bans and "I don't like your tone" bans. I'd also like if we start using warnings and temp-bans more, rather than jumping straight to perma-bans all the time.
Especially for newcomers. I would hate to see a place I've called my internet home become a ghost town because of people turning others away.
Discussing every action before it happens isn't always realistic because there's not always multiple people on call,
I agree. That's not an excuse to not do that at all though. What can admins do that mods can't, besides the fact that admins can literally ban anyone. And even if admins could ban each other (lmao), you have Founder access which means roles don't matter for you.
For myself going forward, I'm going to commit to never unilaterally reversing a moderator decision without talking it over with that person first (at least, where possible). I want the team to know I trust and respect their judgement.
I think enforcing leaving VALID reasons for actions is a good idea. We don't want Rachael's "Please have yourself a good life. No hard feelings." ban reason happening again. Or a ban reason that's literally "a".

8-)
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Caligari87
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Caligari87 »

Generally speaking moderators can ban/warn, manage reports, view logs, and manage posts/threads (move, delete, etc). Pretty much everything you think when you think "moderate", within the main forum interface. Admins can do all that plus deeper stuff outside the main forum interface like change user/group permissions, rearrange the forums themselves, toggle extensions/features, etc.

The more I think about it, the more I feel like admin is (or should be) more of a "keep things running" role, separate from just being a "super-moderator", if that makes sense.

8-)
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Redneckerz »

I'd say we cut on a few moderators here. Aside from Enjay, i barely have seen Yuki, for instance.

As for community guides, either grand them more powers (like deleting posts or advising on different subjects) or craft an Advisors kind of tab, people who can bring in a balanced take when tensions run high.

Cutting of guides should also be an idea. I prefer active users.

Additionally, would it be wise if staff have double roles - Being both Community Guide and Moderator?
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by stainedofmind »

Caligari87 wrote: Mon Apr 24, 2023 12:46 pm I do want to get away from insta-bans and "I don't like your tone" bans. I'd also like if we start using warnings and temp-bans more, rather than jumping straight to perma-bans all the time.
Don't say much around here myself, but seems to me like a good idea would be to mimic what businesses do. As an example, I used to work for a rather large hardware corporation (not going to say which!), and the general system for "bad" behavior would roughly be: Discussion, Verbal Warning, Written Warning, Final Written Warning, Termination. Of course, that doesn't translate one-to-one to forum moderation, but it's a decent guideline. This if for your "average" moderation needs. There are situations that warrant jumping right to "Termination", which in my previous job normally relating to gross safety infractions, and these should of course have clear-cut reasons behind them.

Just my thoughts!
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Scripten »

Without getting into the specific rules involved, whenever I've been involved in any form of community or organization management, we tended to have a few different tiers of moderation: cleanup, mediation, and enforcement. Cleanup being moving conversations (wrong subforum, bumps, spam, etc.), mediation being de-escalation in heated convos without clear rulebreaking, and enforcement being whatever sort of official rules decisions need doing.

With that delineation in mind, we have mediators in our Community Guides (though IIRC that's more of a technical guide role) and, in general, there's not a lot of disagreement regarding cleanup: spam, bumps, and such are all easy to identify. Perhaps a limited moderation role on a rotation among active community members, which deals with cleanup exclusively, could help get folks who are new to forum moderation onboarded a little easier. I have no issues with the Global Moderators who are in the greens as-is, but it wouldn't be bad to have a larger pool of candidates and a rotation going on there as well.

Last of all, regarding enforcement and arbitration: obviously someone has to be able to make and enforce the rules, especially when tough topics come up. The global moderators should be trusted with that, but perhaps a subforum for trusted general users may be a good move for discussing locks and bans. This with the expectation that bans are enacted immediately (especially in cases of community safety such as with Marisa), but discussion can be had so that community members are neither in the dark about the available info nor unable to have their voices heard. I don't know if a voting process for contentious bans is the right move, but at least leaving a space for open discussion seems like a start.
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by SanyaWaffles »

Scripten wrote: Mon Apr 24, 2023 2:06 pm Last of all, regarding enforcement and arbitration: obviously someone has to be able to make and enforce the rules, especially when tough topics come up.
This is something I notice as a balancing act. You want the rules to be clear and concise (for both admins/moderators and standard users). But you don't want them to be too vague for huge amounts of rule lawyering.

Waffle Iron's public discord server, the rules are simple and to the point. I wrote them with the intent of being clear and concise to the userbase. And we've had to enforce them - incidentally dealing with several sex pests. We banned them pretty quickly. (And one of them was especially on the warpath with us).

However, in the administration backroom, we have standard procedure. An audit log is built into discord, but we log every timeout/kick/ban we have to give. We also sometimes review whether a ban should be revoked (for more mild offenses, not for proven sex pests). We also have decided to start using Timeouts before kicks.

We don't like the act of banning people right away except for the most egregious of cases, especially forever. I do believe people can grow and change. (Now if only I could be more of an outgoing person, the server would be active again)

In short: clear, concise, yet direct rules for both staff and end users will go a long way. Rules don't even mean "do this and you're out", but just basic procedure on how to do things.

There's always gonna be exceptions to said rules, and in times like those, transparency is paramount.

I hope that makes sense to people.
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Blue Shadow »

I, myself, don't want to be involved in this in any capacity. Sorry.

In fact, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask that I be removed from the Community Guide group.
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Caligari87
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Caligari87 »

Understood, thank you for your service.

8-)
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Re: Spring Cleaning 2023: Moderation

Post by Major Cooke »

I am not leaving the community, nor will I stop contributing to it. I like to think my work for ZDoom and my mod making are bereft of any one special person in mind, and are at large for the greater population to make use of and exploit as they wish.

My work will continue, unhindered. Everything else is irrelevant to me.

Because I don't have a horse in the race of what just transpired. I want to help it get better. If you need help, let me know. I can try to do stuff on a temporary basis until you stabilize, in which I'll step down after since there are far better people who are much more capable of maintaining the balance of things.

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