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Moderator Policy 
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Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:52 pm
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 Moderator Policy
This is a tough one. I would like low levels of moderation, however, an example of someone I felt should have been banned much earlier on theRPGSite was CavScout. To be upfront, he really did not bother me as much as some posters but he had all the earmarks of a troll. He seldom added anything and seemed purposefully to post to disrupt.

However, that is REALLY subjective.

I am honestly stuck on this point. On one side I am "Man up! Ban those that need it and you know who they are!" but then I have to admit that is a road to a ban heavy site, possible abuses by the mods and all form of nasty.

So, any thoughts on mod policy?

My thoughts, in no particular org are,
1. "Freedom of Speech" does not mean Freedom to stand up in a lecture hall while the prof is lecturing and start calling him names. It does not mean the right to stand in the middle of a family gathering and have a "Fuck you" match with Uncle Harry. It does not mean the right to cry fire in the crowded theater (covered by our no breaking the law rule).

It does mean you have the right to address anyone about anything. You have the right to disagree, even for no reason, and tell that person you disagree. You have the right to discuss topics in the manner comfortable to you as long as you consider the "don'ts".

2. No statement about banning frequency should be made. I would like it to be a small number, but I cannot promise that. When (not if) we get the neo-nazi, the "I want to argue and nothing else" or the general "I really could care less about your weird hobby but I want to post on the RPGHaven anyway posters, I imagine we will be banning folks. The touchy part is when you have someone who may be a neo-nazi but he can keep it in his pants...for now. So, again, I am not sure about how we should handle it.

3. Moderators/admins will be held to the same rules as the rest of the community. You do not like a mod call, argue your point. Mod calls you a knob, return the favor. If a mod and you are in a 500 post marathon "No You Suxxors!" then hopefully another mod will come along and break it up.

4. Generally, I am hoping not to have mods involved in policing arguments. So, no rules on personal attacks, group attacks, who is special enough for protection and who is not. I envision any complaints on this front being handled by a "Cool it." that hopefully will be backed by the community.

Well, those are my thoughts on moderation here. I think this is one of the biggest thorniest challenges we will face.

Thoughts?

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:16 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
Call this utopia but I believe if it is a small community and if it has a constructive vibe, it shouldn't be too hard. I kinda think if a place is not built on controversy or massive recruitment, these things aren't usually a problem. I don't know how many mods you plan to have but if they can represent the diversity of the roleplaying community, they will set the tone.

Keep in mind, moderation is rarely an issue in the early growing stage. I think it's very much to your credit that you are thinking about the rules but my humble piece of advice: bank on a clear, solid Mission Statement.

The mission statement, the "raison d'être" of the forum is why you need rules. Over time, (for all sorts of reasons ranging from growth, technology, changing conditions, whatever) things change and new rules may be needed to prevent drifting away from the "raison d'être" of the forum.

Few will complain if rules are added, substracted or modified, as long as common sense dictates that's what is needed in that community. One of the mistakes we could make here is to try and "fullproof" everything, forever. Things change over time. It's not going to be perfect right from the start.

Does that make sense or am I rambling?

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:41 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
Consonant Dude wrote:
Call this utopia but I believe if it is a small community and if it has a constructive vibe, it shouldn't be too hard. I kinda think if a place is not built on controversy or massive recruitment, these things aren't usually a problem. I don't know how many mods you plan to have but if they can represent the diversity of the roleplaying community, they will set the tone.

Keep in mind, moderation is rarely an issue in the early growing stage. I think it's very much to your credit that you are thinking about the rules but my humble piece of advice: bank on a clear, solid Mission Statement.

The mission statement, the "raison d'être" of the forum is why you need rules. Over time, (for all sorts of reasons ranging from growth, technology, changing conditions, whatever) things change and new rules may be needed to prevent drifting away from the "raison d'être" of the forum.

Few will complain if rules are added, substracted or modified, as long as common sense dictates that's what is needed in that community. One of the mistakes we could make here is to try and "fullproof" everything, forever. Things change over time. It's not going to be perfect right from the start.

Does that make sense or am I rambling?

No, this is precisely what we need to discuss.

I agree, it must be an evolving mod policy and even an evolving rules set to an extent.

As to the number of mods, I don't imagine needing more than Jim and i initially. In fits of insanity I sometimes think of giving everyone mod powers and watching the user count go to 0 as everyone bans everyone else. ;) But I am the mad one and Jim is the cute one right?

You made me think of another point, recruitment. Should we continue with sending personalized invites or step up to general announcements?

Thanks.

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:15 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
I agree with CD re smaller communities == easier to govern.

Also, I read your Mission Statement, but you also have to think about what you want in the long term out of this site. Think about things like:
* Should this place get bigger? When is Too Big? Is growth a goal?
* What happens when a troll appears? Someone who doesn't really talk about games, but makes peoples' lives unpleasant?

Also, Subjectivity is only problematic when your forum is Huge and Out Of Control (see: Non-RPG sections of RPGNet, which garner the most frivolous use of bandwidth, moderator time, etc). If you are a stable person (and we know you to be such), then don't make rules the last line of defense for your forums.

I don't want to drag S-G into it, because it's a very different forum with a very different focus: But I find it extremely "successful" for my goals. I do like very little moderation (maybe one warning a month, if that), there's been very few bannings (but many have been spectacular flame-fests), etc: I've walked away on vacation etc for weeks, to come back and see everything is still in order, not falling apart without me being there, etc.

Part of that was that while I set up a code of conduct, I didn't create a really tangled mess of legal-looking rules with which to hang my "moderator-ship". At the end of the day, it was my server, my money, my bandwidth, My House. And if you come into My House and act like a shitbag, I can kick you out without having to tie it back into the Rules Of My House or something.

That's what kills RPGNet: They set up this really complicated, carefully worded back-end of "laws", rather than "people/person" (at this point, I think they're too big to do otherwise). There are going to be holes in laws, there always will. So when some dipshit gets banned for being a dipshit, they can't just say "Look, you were being a dipshit": Instead, they have to tie it into some numeric law on the server, which of course is imperfect. Then they have to sit through three huge threads of people pointing out that the law is imperfect (User A got banned for X, while user B did that, too, and didn't get banned! Hypocrisy!!!"), the behaviors didn't match the law, the law doesn't fit, and Damn The Lot Because The Laws are Followed Imperfectly as Well, etc.

It's also hard to use laws to back up complicated decisions that you have to make from time to time, using a deeper level of empathy and rationality than "They broke the Law". Consider the following:

Case A * A dipshit showed up on S-G. Made about 2 ok contributions, then basically went into a totally psychotic rant-breakdown, listening to no one, attacking everyone. Had to be put down like an Internet Dog. From what I gather, he showed up at (and got banned from) every RPG forum out there, at some points threatening to find people in real life and throw buckets of shit on them. I can point to a rule that says "don't do X, Y and Z" and ban him with a clear conscience.

Case B * Another user of S-G was a really prolific poster, making great contributions at first. Over the space of 2-3 years, the poster became more snappy, argumentative, bitter, and would basically start sabotaging threads (even his own) if people posted stuff he didn't like. In the end, the bad was far outweighing the good. However, this person was given one chance after another, due to their previous posting history. They were given chances that Case A never was, solely because they had once been a great poster in the past. If *forum rules* were the last line of rational defense, then giving Case B a chance (or multiple chances) where Case A wasn't given is pure rules-breaking bleeding hypocrisy. But in the end, it was the more rational, empathic method (Heh, in the end Case B had to be banned too, it was a spectacular flame-out).

A Rule could not have salvaged the situation, and would have equalized both cases when in reality they were very unequal.

In the end, it's your money, your community, and while I feel you should expand the guidelines and general rules as much as you want, at the end of the day you should basically have an open clause like: "Look, at the end of the day, it's My Word As Law. If you think you can have faith in that and trust in one person's judgment, then stick around. If you can't trust a system that isn't supported completely by a network of pre-determined pervasive rules, then please find another forum."

-Andy

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:18 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
First, Andy, PLEASE feel free to bring up S-G. One of the reasons we wanted you here was for the incite a successful site would bring. I know it is sacrilege but I am actually thinking of inviting Cessna to get his input.

Now, what you say makes sense but take a moment and look at it through the lens of the Pundit. Hopefully you will see that much of what you say could be applied directly to the RPGSite. The important part is when you say "you have to trust the person in charge". This is key and I do agree. However, I am not looking to make a massive list of behavioral rules. In fact, I would like to avoid them. Mostly, I have right now is stuff like content and legal rules (no porn and no discussion of illegal activities). This seems fair and straightforward to conduct.

The part that I am stuck on is the Admin as final arbiter. I know, intellectually, that that really is the way to go (you do this, pundit whether he admits it does this, and RPGNet suffers because they are a mix of doing this and not). So, a list of lengthy behavioral rules will not clear this up but just make a mess of it. Opposed to this is my common sense Engineer training that says "Rules are rules dammit! Be clear, concise and tell them what you want." This led me to have the guidelines. The guidelines are just "Hey, this is what the site is about".

So, I am beginnign to lean towards having a small list of content and legality rules and then just some guidelines. Maybe even dropping the guidelines? Much as CD mentioned, we could probably do it all with a well crafted Mission Statement...

Thanks Guys!

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:39 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
Andy K wrote:
Case A * A dipshit showed up on S-G. Made about 2 ok contributions, then basically went into a totally psychotic rant-breakdown, listening to no one, attacking everyone. Had to be put down like an Internet Dog. From what I gather, he showed up at (and got banned from) every RPG forum out there, at some points threatening to find people in real life and throw buckets of shit on them.

Did this sound oddly familiar to anyone else? :lol:

Andy K wrote:
In the end, it's your money, your community, and while I feel you should expand the guidelines and general rules as much as you want, at the end of the day you should basically have an open clause like: "Look, at the end of the day, it's My Word As Law. If you think you can have faith in that and trust in one person's judgment, then stick around. If you can't trust a system that isn't supported completely by a network of pre-determined pervasive rules, then please find another forum."

There's another interesting dynamic here - there are actually two admins. Now it's true that Bill owns the servers on which this site will function (which reminds me...); but I own the domain. It's almost like a check/balance system!

Now, the reason I think this will work is that Bill and I know each other well enough, and I think have enough mutual respect for our varied strengths that we can cover our equally varied weaknesses. So whereas in some cases it might lead to a flame-out of cohorts, I think this will work. For example, if anyone cares, find the old threads about smoking where Bill and I go at it. But in the end, we still respect each other - certainly enough to agree to disagree.

Oddly, that is, for me, the model I want to promote. Want to hash it out - even passionately (what some might call vehemently)? Fine, but do so in a way that will not hinder this site or the common respect we should have for one another. My god, I'm sounding like a bleeding heart liberal which, for those that know me, is that last thing people call me :lol:

So...OK...back on point - we have a bit of a different situation as it's not my house, or Bill's house...it's Our House.

Having said all of that, I do think a set of basic rules (like no porn or illegal stuff), augmented by...I don't know...an Etiquette Guidelines, like you see in Yahoo Groups?

[Note: And as for case A and B - just my two cents is that I'd give both a chance to reassess. The only difference might be the basing of the number of chances on tenure...or something. It's still a consistent application, IMHO.]

Thengel wrote:
One of the reasons we wanted you here was for the incite a successful site would bring.

Ya know - for a guy that wants a place without quite as much flame, you sure want to incite a lot of people... :lol:

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:31 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
SG has a nice line about not harshing the vibe.

That has actually affected my posting there, I'm not a big SG poster but I have more than once thought "would this harsh the vibe?" and decided not to post something.

And that's kind of the system working, because ultimately I don't want to harsh the vibe, I want to make productive posts, being politely asked not to be a dick is sometimes all it takes.

So, count me in for some legality rules, and then some general guidelines. At the end of the day, objectivity is impossible, you can just try to be fair, but rules breed rules-lawyers and that's just no fun.

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:39 am
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
Actually, I think the "Be excellent to one another" quote (thank you, Wyld Stallions), sets a nice tone, similar to the "harshing the vibe" suggestion.

(Hey guys!)

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:23 pm
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
zacharythefirst wrote:
Actually, I think the "Be excellent to one another" quote (thank you, Wyld Stallions), sets a nice tone,


Definitely!


zacharythefirst wrote:
(Hey guys!)


Really glad to see you here! :)

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Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:41 pm
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Post Re: Moderator Policy
Be Excellent to one another!...and...
Party on Dudes!

Is really all we need. Though shouldn't that be "Be excellent to each other" rather than one another?

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Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:14 am
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