I hate to go point by point, but Phytotron raises a lot of good questions and that's the best way I know of to answer them.
Phytotron wrote:#6 definitely needs clarification. What exactly is "fire" and "flame?" Surely healthy debate and even argument should be allowed, so long as it's substantive.
"Flame" on the web has a specific meaning. It might be worthwhile to link to either urban dictionary or the jargon file with that specific word when the post is actually put up.
"Fire" would be anything that may provoke a reasonable, rational person into more exchanges of insults, imo. Note that I said "reasonable, rational person". I don't want anybody here walking on eggshells around people who are emotionally unbalanced.
Phytotron wrote:Additionally, to my points in this and the other thread, are we/you going to be relativist (and, I would argue, ineffectual) by equating the scolding, reprimanding, and/or censuring of bad behaviour with the bad behaviour itself? Please, no.
Imo, it depends on the tone of the scolding. If the tone is something like "You're acting childish" or any of a dozen different lectures you and I have both given
, I think I'd say something to the poster about it. (And yes, if Tank had said something to me about it when I was doing it, it would have been well-deserved on my part). I would consider that "fire". More on this below...
Phytotron wrote:And, by all means, youse can, perhaps should, at times scold etc. people yourselves.
After more reasonable attempts have been made, depending on the situation. Remember that a flamewar can develop while all the mods are sleeping and we could wake up to a full-blown flamewar where the opportunity to stop it with a scolding has long since passed.
Phytotron wrote:Tank used to, and also generally offered the opportunity for one to explain, atone, etc. I think that's a proper approach.
Again, for, hmmm, lack of a better word, for light flamewars, sure. And also to your point that I deleted about giving people a chance for parting shots before locking the thread.
Phytotron wrote:Like I said in another thread, if people want to behave like children, then treat them like children. That doesn't mean you immediately slap them across the face, tell them to shut up and sit them in the corner. Sometimes it means a lecture and exchange about correcting behaviour and getting an attitude adjustment.
I do not agree that treating people like children encourages adult behavior. I think that treating people like reasonable, rational adults encourages such behavior. Showing them when they are out of line is perfectly fine and within the realm of treating people like reasonable, rational adults.
That, at least in theory (and there are exceptions, like when someone just goes off on a foul-mouthed rant), is more constructive and effective, especially if the purpose is to improve the overall culture, not just constantly play whack-a-deviant-mole. Show and explain to people the error of their ways, your position for reprimand and possible sanction, give them a chance to make their case (if there's one to be made), and straighten up. Then, if they continue to act up, send them to their room without dessert.
I don't think I'd mind at all editing out foul-mouthed rants. There's another thread where I seriously considered doing it, but decided to hold off while this topic was still active.
#3 What qualifies as "worthwhile" or not? For example, can something that may not necessarily be constructive, but is humorous be worthwhile? I mean, like you said, one or two (and sometimes more) off-topic posts won't usually hurt a thread.
This is always going to be a subjective call on the part of the moderator. We could write a big long list of dos, only to find that it doesn't cover enough. In fact, I think keeping it a subjective call on the part of the moderators lets us avoid all the rule-lawyering that we're going to get as soon as we post any sort of guidelines. More on rule-lawyering below....
Phytotron wrote:#8 Yeah, go ahead and add the personal feuds bit, although, at what point does something actually become a feud? And what about cases where two people just happen to find themselves disagreeing on various things on a regular basis?
People can disagree frequently and get along fine.
Personal feuds are when people who disagree also flame each other every time they disagree.
But again, an assumed premise I'm working under here is that an actual change in culture is the object, not simply a crude act of the the oligarchy cracking down on the entirety of the rabble.
This moderator thing probably can't be called successful if it only turns into a crackdown of some sort.
Phytotron wrote:I noticed one example of epsy having edited a topic title to, I assume, better match the content (I didn't see the original title—I'm assuming it was one of those "help me" titles). I don't have a problem with that. Frankly, there are a lot of old topics that could stand having that done, especially those that actually have worthwhile/useful content, especially those in the support sections.
I'm not only in favor of this (which you can see by my editing of another post just a few minutes ago), I'm also in favor of warning people that "HELP HELP HELP" topics are unacceptable. I'm also in favor of correcting such things in the archives when a moderator should happen to stumble across them. (There's a certain amount of retroactive moderation that I agree with for anybody who either wants to spend the time with it, or happens to stumble across such things and wants to go ahead and make the edits) And I'm in favor of censuring repeat offenders. But I'd rather not have to use moderator powers to deal with it, other than editing the post, and then posting to provide a link to the appropriate post telling people not to do that in the first place.
Phytotron wrote:Likewise for double- or more posts. Nothing wrong with that. Embedded pictures, yes please. What do you refer to by fixed formatting?
Formatting that's intended to break the html layout, or widen the screen. Typical troll behavior.
No it's not. I do not think making preemptive strikes is either respective of the poster or the community nor is it effective and in this case it made a would-be content forum contributor into an angry one. People ought to be allowed to insult each other and to have arguments, I would only intervene when either a participant or a bystander feels abused rather than just insulted.
I'm going to disagree with pretty much everything here. There are users here for whom I would think any moderator is completely justified in making preemptive strikes. Also, if a moderator is already aware of an existing fight that appears on the forums, then his actions to stop it may *look* like a preemptive strike, but aren't.
Finally, no, people shouldn't be allowed to insult each other. There's a difference between a friendly jibe and a blatant insult. In fact, there was a recent ridiculous exchange that I personally thought was either users testing the moderators, or intentionally exaggerated insults just for fun, and therefore deserving of no attention on my part. Had I thought it was an actual fight, I would have posted and said something, and if the behavior continued, locked the thread and edited out the insults. Because that's how I personally think a fight or feud should be handled. Is there a reason not to handle it that way?
Finally, on the subject of rule-lawyering, that's another way moderation systems get abused. A person will decide to interpret the rules and show how the moderator misused his super powers and proceed to make a big series of fusses over the moderator. That is *exactly* what we have going on right now and is why I started *this* thread, even though we don't have any posted rules of behavior.
I see no reason to tolerate rule-lawyering of any sort. When we post moderator guidelines, I strongly believe those are just that: guidelines. They can't possibly cover all situations, and moderators are expected to interpret posts and exercise their best judgment
. If we later determine that a particular moderator doesn't actually have very good judgment (a determination based on their behavior and how they moderate), then we can deal with it (yes, even if it's me that has bad judgment). Users are often too close to a situation to see how the moderator is using good judgment. Also, particularly in breaking up a fight, you all need to understand that the moderator may have stepped in to stop the fight with no regard to what's fair. My own take is that if people are fighting, they've forfeited their right to fair treatment. If you want to be treated fairly, don't start fights, don't get involved with fights, don't lose your cool, and don't behave badly.
So, absolutely no rule-lawyering, because we don't want to have rules anyway.
That doesn't mean you can't interpret the guidelines differently than the moderators. Feel free to do so. Also feel free to question moderator decisions. Do not feel free to take issue with a particular moderator and post at every available opportunity how bad you think that moderator is. That will get other moderators down on you, too. In the end, whether you agree with the moderator or not, you have to face the fact that the moderator has the responsibility, and you don't. If you feel like you need to expose a moderator as being a bad moderator, don't do it in a bad way. Make damn sure you're behaving reasonably and rationally yourself. Question the moderator, starting a new thread if need be. Engage in discussion without flames, insults, or any of that non-respectful stuff. You don't have to kiss anybody's ass, just don't act like an asshat yourself when you challenge a moderator's decision. Wait for other moderators to chime in. You may find that even after the moderator has explained his decision, you disagree, but several of the other moderators agree.
To show that a moderator is bad, you have to show a pattern of bad behavior. I haven't seen one single action on epsy's part that I'd consider bad. He's done things I wouldn't have done, but that's his call to make, that's why we have more than one moderator, right? Doesn't mean I disagree with him, just means that I would have passed those posts up.
That's what I think, anyway. Now you guys tear it apart.
(I don't know that any guidelines are set in stone yet, and keep in mind that even though I'm expressing my own opinions, this thread exists for us all to see what others opinions are so we can mind them when we're moderating and when we're not)