Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by aimeeandbeatles, Mar 4, 2012.
You are one of if not the most active moderator, you should have plenty of time to read this thread.
I don't know how you can reference specific trends in moderation which are qualitative (as in, trends which show that certain demographics are being allowed a lot of leeway or that certain "types" of posts are getting infracted more often) without getting specific...
I suppose you (you being someone with access to this information) could do a survey where you categorized people by infraction rate per report, then saw if there were some significant outliers. This would simply appear as a bar graph, showing the distribution and showing if there's systematic biases against certain users. One would expect them to cluster a little... though maybe in two groups, as disliked people (presumably some political alignment or religious alignment) who were reported often but had done little actually wrong had a very low rate and "comedians" who are well-liked but technically break the rules frequently have a very high rate.
Let's see, useful stats that could in theory remain anonymous but would illustrate trends we've been discussing in this thread:
1) Biases for or against specific users:
Infraction (specific offense like trolling, spam)s/post*
2) Different standards by different moderators:
Infractions/report dealt with (moderator specific stats)*
Infractions (specific offense)/report dealt with*
3) Biases by specific mods against specific users:
Moderators giving infractions/infractions for individual users (i.e. would display if User A's infractions came from one mod in particular or a dozen different mods)**
*These can't really be collected by users, unfortunately.
**The last one could actually be collectable by non-mods, though extremely tedious and difficult to get a random sample.
Also I'm sure there's automated scripts one could write in order to analyze this stuff, but I'm very much not a computer whiz and can't help you there.
EDIT (CLARIFICATION): You'd of course anonymize the data collected above. Basically treat each user/mod as a data point. Though you'd want to keep the names on-file somewhere in case one of the higher ups wondered why there was just one mod who infracted a certain user 86 times or something.
It's not even two hundred posts. At a reasonable rate it should take you something like half an hour? Also, since I've had trouble getting replies to my thoughtful posts, I'm severely disincentivized from making a mostly time-wasting, summary post.
This specific data would not really say anything particularly meaningful, for a few reasons:
A lot of reports come from the same users, some of whom evidently have grudges against certain posters, resulting in a high number of that poster's posts being reported, even when they're not rule-breaking. Or some people report others because they disagree with them.
A report can talk about more than one post, but any data collection would only look at the poster of the specific post that is reported.
It's not a popularity contest (as you allude to). We are well aware that infracting some people is unpopular with a lot of people, and so those people may not be reported as often. But that doesn't make those posts that we infract any less rule-breaking, and it doesn't mean that anyone is being targeted.
People selectively report all the time (a disturbingly high amount of the time; it is rare for someone to report someone on the same side of an argument as them). People will report a post that replies to trolling, without reporting the original troll.
Such data wouldn't take into account context or infraction history. We do treat some posters differently, in that they've used up all their rope, as opposed to someone with a fairly clean record. Data would show that we treat them differently (infracting one, warning the other), and indeed we do, but that wouldn't tell us anything about bias.
As for the rest, you might be interested in this thread that was posted. Our interpretation was that the data pretty well showed that there is no bias against any particular posters.
On the point of getting replies to your thoughtful posts, I know I haven't replied to some of them because I don't particularly have anything to say about them. My reply would be 'okay, thank you for your opinion', but I don't tend to provide a receipt for every post I read. I don't agree with a lot of it, but my objection to what your saying either isn't so great that I feel the need to rebut it, or wouldn't necessarily be helpful to post.
With regards to having the time to go back through the thread and isolate the salient points, I indeed might have time in a while. But first I had to just read the new replies to this thread and take them into account, then go and catch up on and contribute to multiple threads in staff (including two centred around this discussion here; one with regards to PDMA and the other with regards to OT issues as a whole), then look at reported posts (luckily just having to post a few replies, rather than having to actually deal with any), then come back to this thread, then I should go and have a look at the G&K and GD forums (seeing as that's my priority, which this has been making me ignore the last few days (because I'm interested in being involved in this discussion, both here and in staff, when I could quite easily have ignored it, seeing as I'm not officially 'active' in OT)), then at some potentially problematic threads in OT, at which point I may not have much time left (even though it's a Friday afternoon, so I have more time than usual).
So I might get to it later today, but I wasn't online between soon after when I posted the request and when I posted back in this thread, and I just thought that the people complaining would be keen to make their case in a concise manner that would make it easier for those specific complaints to be directly taken into account in the staff discussion we're having.
It would probably also be more helpful for you if you were to put it directly into your own words, rather than me interpreting a point across multiple posts from my own perspective.
An interesting idea, but unfortunately the underlying numbers are skewed by moderator availability to the point of being statistically invalid. Posts are largely handled by the first mod who sees them, unless discussion is required. The only thing that would pop out are the extreme outliers. This might also mean that the trend you think you're seeing (if you're even seeing one, not trying to put words into your mouth) isn't a trend at all, it's a function of who is here and when.
I thought what you were suggesting was more along the lines of show us 10 things you think are trolling but not infracted, 10 that are trolling and are infracted, 10 that are not trolling and infracted. Don't bother with the not/not control group. All anonymous, though that's problematic given search capabilities. Preferably all on the same general subject. We discuss why the various posts are treated like they were. Maybe you find we're not off our rockers after all, maybe we find out we're missing a whole lot of points. Maybe together we find out there is something that the mods understand as a rule but isn't actually stated clearly enough.
First off, I don't really care, since I don't post in OT, the reasons being that I can't find a single bit of redeeming value in any of the threads. That's not a dig at the mods, it's a dig at the OT community.
Duh. I acknowledged this in my post. In fact, I acknowledged it in the section of my post that you are quoting here.
That's the purpose of collecting multiple data-sets (as mentioned in the post): so that you can account for certain trends like over-reporting. You can compare infractions per report and reports per post. If someone's getting reported every time they post, clearly you will be able to see that an account for that particular outlier.
Yep. This is problematic. Which is why I didn't originally suggest it as a statistics gathering method, but rather as a qualitative report.
...I don't "allude to" it being a popularity contest. I don't think it IS a popularity contest. Whatever that means. I don't object to infracting popular posters. I don't get how you could infer that from my post. More to the point, I think you infract people universally according to the rules, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised if most of the people complaining here agreed with that as well. The issue is not application of the rules but uneven application of the rules.
This is pretty obvious. I even directly stated this in my post.
Why are you reiterating my points in reply to those same points? It's quite confusing.
So you take all that into account. Collection of statistics, as anyone should know, is not an end in and of itself but a means to an end. And it would be extremely useful. Moreover, it would mean we'd not have to take your word for it that some people have just "used up their rope". You can examine people's infraction history, and consider if some people have had scaling infractions whereas others have been given more leniency.
Your reply seems to focus on the stream-of-consciousness suggestion rather than the actual suggestions immediately below, which are bolded for a reason.
Of course I've seen it. It doesn't display anything useful for this thread. All it shows is that most infractions are handed out by about four people, and that the distribution of infractions is pretty even with an "upper tier". If you can find a way that this data somehow shows "no bias against any particular posters" then be my guest, because breaking down how and where infractions happened, who handed them out and who they were against, without any other clarifying statistics, is utterly meaningless.
No, I did not expect your quote tags around my humble post. But a complete lack of response by the entire moderator community, combined with the fact that those mods were literally discussing the issue I addressed on the same page and saying "hey, we don't understand why people can't just accept PDMA" when they had clearly just read a post outlining the reasons that people think PDMA infractions are ridiculous... that's pretty disheartening.
I appreciate the summary of your evening, but we're all busy people. I mean, except for some of the younger posters, but you get my point. I understand that you are too busy perhaps to catch up with the thread, but I have a great deal of non-forum related work and probably shouldn't be contributing here in the first place. It is extremely presumptuous of you to assume that other people's time is better spent summarizing their salient points for you than would be your time spent digesting their salient points.
And yes, I'm sure we should be doing it if we really care so much about the issue. But the fact is that my preexisting contributions to the thread should be proof enough of my caring or lack thereof. Asking people to contribute further to a thread to which they have already contributed in order to make it slightly more convenient for you, and then, upon a lack of response, saying, "oh well! looks like no one cares enough!" is rather silly.
Oh, no, that's totally what I was getting at initially. But like you said, the search function makes it impossible to keep that anonymous. I was simply straining to find some way to satisfy the criterion of eliminating PDMA while still collecting data that might prove useful for this discussion.
And no, I don't personally see a trend because, as noted, I don't frequent OT. I just don't think the PDMA rule is compatible with the hope for a cogent analysis of why many OT users seem to feel there is a systemic bias for or against certain posters.
As long as it is in place, you're going to have threads with ten pages of relatively useless nonspecific complaints, and no real solutions.
That's pretty much why I made the post in the first place.
North King, I don't think you're being particularly fair in your response.
I'm not sure how you could infer that I infer that from your post from my post. I wasn't posting something that was meant to be diametrically opposed to what you posted. If some of what I posted was in agreement with some of what you posted, that should be a good thing, not draw comments of:
I'm reiterating the points to affirm that in the end, any such data collection is not going to be all that meaningless. Please allow me to affirm such a point. That extends to the thread I linked, too, and the conclusions we draw from it, I guess. As for:
Well they were kinda meant to reply to them too (and it wasn't an exhaustive list), but I didn't want to quote the whole lot. Those more specific suggestions have pretty much the same problems. The data you suggest would still be fairly meaningless (as DaveShack mentions).
That wasn't a summary of my evening, it was a summary of what I have to do as a moderator before I can look back through the thread at the specific problems raised.
Good thing I wasn't assuming that, then. I asked simply because I didn't have time, not because I assumed everyone else would. I think it would be better for others to summarise their own points rather than me summarise them for them, because that would likely be far more accurate.
Well, it makes it more than slightly more convenient for me, in that it's the difference between me taking those specific points to the staff discussion we're having, and me not doing so. I will try to get to summarising them later, but it's quite likely that I won't have time. I'm sorry if that's the case, because it does neither of us any good. I won't be able to comprehend the points that are being made as well as I otherwise would be (I hope no-one's under the impression that it would advantage us to ignore points made; complaints take up a helluva lot of our time, so being able to comprehend them and respond to them is obviously we aim for), and you won't be able to have your points registered in staff as well as they otherwise would be if they more concisely presented, or delivered through private communication (which is a more concise format). I don't believe I said "looks like no one cares", I was just a little bemused that people didn't attempt to summarise their points so I could take them to the staff discussion we are currently undertaking.
I think I'll leave it at that for now, because to be honest, I don't really understand what you're getting at in your last reply to me (that you agree with me about the data suggestion but you don't like that I kindly requested that other people summarise the points they want to put forth?), and it doesn't appear to be one of the salient points that I should concentrate on, in any case.
A large proportion of the community has issues with the moderation, but is unable to discuss and reach a consensus of what the issues are in no small part due to the hyper-strict PDMA rule. As a result, we are unable to make any inroads against the groupthink of the moderation team.
I don't know how many active moderators there are, but for the illustration purposes I'll say 10. That private staff discussion results in 10 people having a united front, making it almost impossible for the rest of the community to have any sort of impact, since it ends up being 10 v 1 on every point, AND the 10 more information because no one else is actually allowed to discuss these issues.
I went through the thread and came up with seven different things of varying importance to talk about, whether they be suggestions or complaints. They are, in summary:
Perceived misdirection of infractions.
Favouritism or systematic bias against certain posters or groups of posters.
The usefulness of discussing things with moderators in private/transparency of the staff decision making process.
General angst at the PDMA rules.
An argument for limited PDMA.
The attitude of staff towards OT in particular.
That seems to me a fairly exhaustive list of the general complaints made in the thread, and I'll go into each of them in more detail. My response to the complaints should not be taken as the final word on the matter, because, as I said, the main reason I was doing this was to bring points to the staff discussion(s) we are currently undertaking. Just because I disagree with points doesn't mean we won't discuss them in staff (and likewise, just because we discuss points in staff doesn't mean we'll agree with them).
Perceived misdirection of infractions. Specifically, there were complaints comparing the treatment of spam to the treatment of trolling, and complaints comparing the treatment of relatively innocuous trolling to the treatment of obnoxious thread-wrecking trolling.
With regards to the first point of the treatment of spam as compared to trolling, the general argument made was that spam seems to be treated more harshly than trolling in a lot of cases (though some may be making a veiled complaint about poster-specific rules). I suppose this is a reasonable complaint in that trolling is more damaging than spam, but then look at the following graphic:
That would be 944 trolling or (minor) trolling infractions as compared to 268 spam or (minor) spam infractions. It does not fit with my experience that spam is targeted more than trolling. A specific complaint was that sometimes spam is seen to be infracted, when a trollish post is let go, but this is assuming that no action on the trollish post indicates a conscious decision to not take any action, and also assumes that the we should not infract rule-breaking spam, simply because there are other rule-breaking posts out there that are worse. If the intention was to make a more coherent argument than this, it was not successfully achieved.
With regards to the difference between relatively innocuous trolling and the more obnoxious trolling that ruins threads, that's not necessarily an area of disagreement with moderators. One of the problems is something that taillesskangaru alluded to; that we can't crack down on this more obnoxious type of trolling without being at risk of opening ourselves up to accusations of bias (which is an accusation that is apparently levelled anyway). We have made a massive step to try and eliminate this to the extent we can, through the implementation of Red Diamond threads. However, no-one seems to use them. We've given you the tools to help solve this problem, but those tools aren't used. There isn't much we can do about that.
Moderator inconsistency. There were a few general complaints about moderator inconsistency, but it's worth noting that these feel into two distinct categories. One argument is that moderators are inconsistent in their interpretation of the rules. The other argument is that moderators do not apply whatever their interpretation is in a consistent manner. The former would be inconsistency with one moderator reading the rules as meaning X, and another as reading the rules as meaning Y. The latter would be inconsistency with both moderators reading the rules as meaning X, but one applying them to give 1 point, whilst the other gives 2, or alternatively, one rule-breaking post being infracted whilst another has no action taken on it. Again, worth noting that these are actually separate objections.
With regards to the first objection, it is felt within staff that this is the more serious type of inconsistency. If moderators are applying completely different sets of rules, that's a bigger problem than if one is harsher than the other in their application of those rules. However, it is also felt that this type of inconsistency is not a serious problem at the moment, and indeed, most complaints were talking about the other type of inconsistency. Why this is not a serious problem is largely to do with how staff comes to their decisions. We work on consensus. KD has stated that there are often different opinions on posts, but that what we then do is actually discuss the issue or post and reach some sort of compromise. So even if one moderator were to have a different opinion on an issue to another, staff discussion of these issues means that we don't end up applying outlying interpretations.
There is also a system of peer review, in two senses. The first sense is that any moderator is free to tell another moderator that they think they were wrong with a particular issue or infraction. If I think another moderator has doing something incorrectly, there is no reason why I wouldn't, behind closed doors in the staff forum, raise that with them. It does not reflect well on the moderating team if appear to be inconsistent, so there is a clear incentive there for us to actively review what others are doing. Secondly, there is the official review process. This is not often used, which is very surprising (and will tie into the fourth point of this post, I guess). I don't think people realise that this is quite a fair system! If someone wants to challenge an infraction of mine, it is no longer a decision in my hands. I can argue my position to the supermod review panel, just as the infracted person can, but they are just as restricted from the supermod forum where these reviews take place as I am. I do not see reviews of my moderator actions. I just get a decision in the end. People should exercise their reviewing rights more often.
Now, the key point raised with the second type of inconsistency was that sometimes that of two posts that equally break the rules, only one is acted upon. The tried and tested lines in response to this are that if we don't see it, we can't act upon it. Reporting a post drastically increases the chances that we will see it (though, because of OT moderator inactivity lately, we haven't been getting to all reports, so sorry about that). We try to be consistent in this regard, but staff doesn't view it as being a travesty if some posts get missed. Moderation is not all about 'punishment' (and I'll expand upon what this actually means in the next paragraph). It's also about deterrence. If a couple of posts are not infracted where they perhaps should've been, most people are still going to know what is and what isn't acceptable. If we let it go too often, then the standard will get confused, certainly, but it's not really a big deal to miss one here or there. That doesn't mean we miss them on purpose, or that we don't want to not miss them. But we don't consider the issue paramount.
One supplementary issue raised was that people are often 'punished' for small infringements (and perhaps this fits best under the first point of this post, but meh). But are infractions and warnings really punishment at all? We do often refer to them as punishments, but this is probably a misuse of the word, in such a way that the complaint doesn't really make as much sense. An infraction does not in any way impede your use of the forum. It does not change your accesses, permissions or privileges. To analogise (and I use the a parent-child example simply because it's good for illustrating punishment), if a mum said to her child, "don't do that again or I'll send you to your room," we would not consider that punishment. It would only become punishment if the child were actually sent to their room. But that's effectively what an infraction is (although in a lot of cases, it's, "don't do that again 7 more times within the next 10 days or I'll ban you for 7 days"). If you are banned, then that is a punishment (although only one that is preventing you from posting on an internet forum for a shortish period of time), but before that it's not actually impeding you in your use of the forum at all.
Favouritism or systematic bias against certain posters or groups of posters. There was no real agreement in the posts on this issue. The only common thread between them was, "there is a bias against me" (with perhaps one exception). Apparently we are systematically biased against those on the right, those on the left, longstanding members, and anyone other than longstanding members. To be honest, this is not an issue that is going to be entertained much, because we have satisfied ourselves that there is no systematic bias, and think the accusation is rather absurd. If people want to engage in conspiracy theory, that's up to them. That is not to say that all complaints are entirely unreasonable; some would say that there is an unintentional bias. But given the diversity of moderators and their opinions, we find this extremely unlikely. The report and infraction statistics posted for 2011 (as linked to in a previous post) do not statistically prove that there is no systematic bias by particular moderators against particular posters, but they do strongly indicate that. They don't show whether we've unfairly targeted a particular poster, but seeing as we have no reason to, and seeing as infractions are given out by multiple moderators to those people who may feel they are being targeted, there aren't really strong enough grounds to waste our time looking into it in more depth, when there are more pressing issues on the table.
The usefulness of discussing things with moderators in private/transparency of the staff decision making process. The first point here regards privately communicating with moderators. Moderators are required to reply with 24 hours, and if yo are unhappy with the response, you can take it to a super moderator. But we do actually try to reply and be helpful, believe or not. People should try it before they knock it.
Some people may be jaded by their experiences coming out of exchanges following infractions. This may be because when you ask about an infraction, we give you the reason for that infraction. This often means simply pointing you to the rules. We don't go into a deep and meaningful about the reason for the rules, because we don't think it's necessary to reduce those sorts of conversations to first principles. The assumption is in you posting at this site that you will abide by the rules whether you like them or not. By giving you an infraction, we are telling you that you are not abiding by the rules in some manner. Asking why the rules exist is a different question to asking why you received an infraction. You should only really contest an infraction if you disagree that what you posted was not against the rules. If your issue is with the rule itself, that's irrelevant to the discussion of the infraction. So if you are approaching us about an infraction, we're not as inclined to discuss why the rules are as they are. People may find it better to approach a moderator when they are not directly complaining about a moderator action, if they wish to extend the discussion to why a rule exists.
The other point was transparency of the staff decision making process. This doesn't purport to being transparent. If you aren't convinced that your points are being taken into account in staff discussion, there's not much we can do about that. We can't prevent you from having wrong ideas about staff. We have made attempts to make the process more transparent over the last year (such as by announcing the permanent point scheme and discussing the Red Diamond scheme, which are two rather unprecedented moves), but that doesn't mean it's likely that we're going to completely open it up. Staff discussions are obviously going to remain in staff.
General angst at the PDMA rules. Not much to say about this, other than there is zero possibility that we are going to completely get rid of all PDMA rules.
An argument for limited PDMA. This is where the argument against PDMA gets more reasonable, because it acknowledges that we can't just get rid of all PDMA rules. Should note that only one person is actually arguing this point (and one other is kinda supporting it). Let's not labour under the assumption that this has been a widespread sentiment expressed in the thread. There is a suggestion to allow some limited PDMA, and a list of advantages to go with that suggestion. However, the disadvantages are drastically understated, and those advantages overstated (although not all completely wrong; some would certainly be advantages).
Let's start with some of the stated advantages. It was said that posting 10 separate examples allows for an underlying trend to be identified. It doesn't. It allows 10 separate examples to be identified. Underlying trends are bigger than 10 separate examples. It was stated that that was an arbitrary number, but I'm not saying there's anything significant about the number '10' itself that makes it bad for identifying underlying trends. It would take far more for any reasonably cogent argument to be made, with posters only having the outward signs of infractions to rely on (it's not like private infractions or infractions on deleted posts could even be used but by the poster who received them, and then there is no public record for others to look at some of the context themselves).
It was said that public discussion would allow for others to add additional suggestions or 'nuance ones already stated'. It was also said that public discussion occurs anyway, just offsite. If that's the case, what's to prevent people from building their argument through offsite discussion before submitting it privately to the moderators? There is no specific advantage in allowing this process to occur onsite.
It was said that limited PDMA would allow the mods to actually take the pulse of the community, rather than work based off of scattered PMs. This only holds if you assume that a limited number of limited PDMA complaints amount to the pulse of the community. In this thread, we can see, what, max. 10 people complaining? How is that representative of the OT community anymore than our daily interaction via PMs with posters is?
It was said that limited PDMA would give the forum the impression that we actually care. I'm not sure how that argument follows at all. Us disagreeing with people is often taken as us not actually caring, so I don't see why it'd be different in this case.
It was said that limited PDMA would allow frustrated posters the knowledge that their problems are, in fact, being addressed. Yet it remains that limited PDMA would not provide them with this, as issues would not be able to be fully explored, and conclusions would never be satisfactory. If people wish to labour under the false impression that the review system doesn't work, that's not our problem.
It was said that limited PDMA would give people a precedent for the future, but this is not really the case with the suggestion, which is meant to be dealing with underlying trends, and not specific cases. There is also far too much variation in contexts for precedents to be anything other than misleading (well, I guess they could be helpful in some limited circumstances). Staff has rejected previously the idea of publishing examples as precedent.
It was said that limited PDMA would foster a friendlier community atmosphere between moderators and forum-goers. This is an absurd proposition. The opposite is the logical conclusion. Allowing limited PDMA is establishing an official system of public us vs. them. Forum-goers complain, and moderators have to respond to the complaints. Unless the moderators decide to agree (in which case they shouldn't have issued infractions in the first place), or the forum-goers conceded their point, the thread would foster a friendlier atmosphere no more than this thread does. This is a particularly odd point to make when we are talking about OT, a place where the vast vast majority of antipathy comes from people arguing against each other.
It is highly likely that, given enough combined effort, users would be able to identify errors of the moderating staff. What does this tell us though? That the moderating staff is fallible? That they are not professionally trained? That there is not 100% consistency? The only actual findings that could be made that would make any sort of difference to anything would be if you were able to expose completely outrageous moderator behaviour, which simply doesn't exist. Otherwise it's just fairly nitpicky quibbling. But nitpicky quibbling that is a waste of time and drastically decreases the effectiveness of the volunteer moderating staff.
Any sort of PDMA means that moderators must do more work to defend their decisions. These decisions are usually quite trivial, and one of the biggest problems staff is facing at the moment is that of moderator workload, so allowing limited PDMA would certainly not help in this regard!
Any sort of PDMA would politicise the role of moderators, but making them reluctant to make unpopular decisions, even if they are correct decisions.
No moderator is going to want to moderate if they have to face a public inquisition about their actions.
Public discussion of moderator actions, as opposed to the current method, restricts the freedom of moderators to have their own opinions. If I am discussing an infraction in staff, I can strongly disagree with another moderator. If I am discussing it out in the open, I cannot do that, nor would I want to.
Understanding a moderator action often involves knowing context and history that only moderators and the poster involved can understand. Bringing a discussion of this to a public forum means that that context and history must be fully explained to provide an adequate explanation. That is not feasible, and would rely on private information that an observer would not be able to verify one way or the other anyway. Say you wanted to point out what you thought was bias against poster X, because you could see a pattern of their posts getting more points that similar posts by other users. Explaining this would involve explaining the entire history. If infraction histories and all staff discussions were public, then an observer might be able to verify this to a greater extent, but that is not the case, nor is it going to be. Also, in this discussion of poster X would inevitably be questions of why specific posts were infracted, which may involve looking at the specific context of the post in relation to the user's history. This would also require in depth explanation, and would no longer be limited PDMA. This follows into the next point...
I can't think of a way to allow limited PDMA without opening the floodgates for more-than-very-limited PDMA. This would carry all the disadvantages that just getting rid of the PDMA rules as a whole would.
There are probably other disadvantages, but that's what I've got off the top of my head.
Perhaps one of the biggest points of all, no argument has been entered as to why perceived OT issues should be the basis for a CFC rule change, or how this change would be beneficial to CFC as a whole. Any major rule change such as this should be driven by the necessities of CFC, not OT. In what way do the arguments apply to the rest of CFC?
So all of these disadvantages, and yet the option of using specific examples remains. Just through private communication.
The attitude of staff towards OT in particular. It may seem at times that moderators are rather curt in dealing with OT problems. This may be, a lot of the time, because OT is on the periphery of where staff's attention should be, but always in the centre of where staff's attention actually is. OT issues necessarily detract from the focus we give to other issues, and so OT complaints necessarily impact on our work at CFC as a whole. Just as a example of that, I've spent about three hours reading this thread and writing a response. That three hours (minus server interruptions) could've been spent doing a lot of other things for the Civ5 section of the site. This applies to a lot of the non-OT mods who are dragged into this sort of thing. OT is important to CFC from a business perspective, but from the perspective of what us as staff are meant to be doing, OT is near the bottom of the list. So we may get a little indignant when yet more OT issues pop up. We have to consider how those issues impact on the rest of the site.
That took a while to write, so my focus may have been a little all over the place, and I might have missed some points. Sorry if any of it is unclear.
The fact that few people responded to the second poll is possibly an indication that people have lost exceptions of it being of any use....
Here is a distribution of the infractions per moderator per user.
It shows that the majority of people do not get an excessive amount of infractions by a single mod, and taken together with the data from the first page it also shows that the people with the most infractions could not have got them by a single mod (most infractions: 20+, most infractions for a user by a single mod: 16).
We also know the names in the staff forum (and don't show them here, because we don't want to expose any user, nor do we want some e-penis measurement for the biggest bad boys), and I can tell you these people who got more infractions from a single mod are also the people who in general received more infractions.
That's sure true for some things, but not for all. Especially some of the lighter rules are on some points again and again under discussion, because the opinions are not the same under all the mods.
Render unto Caesar what is his (and not a pun about slaying Caesar, which these days have to do with )
In other words, Thunderfall has the final word, and personally i think this site is less of a troll-hole than it used to be years ago...
I'm going to preface my comments by reminding people (and letting non-OT regulars know) that I've been on both sides of these arguments. I've argued both sides of these arguments to some extent, and right now I am extremely frustrated because I could explain some of these things but am not allowed to, for confidentiality reasons. I gotta wonder - is it PDMA if I'm talking about MY OWN actions and have given myself consent to do so (without naming the name) of the poster involved?
Yes, the forum is invisible. But would you believe me if I assured you that moderators do indeed do stuff and discuss things - and sometimes put considerable time and effort into doing so? That's not to suggest that everybody comes out of the endeavor in 100% agreement with one another, but they do put in the effort.
It would be an awesome opportunity if the moderator(s) in question would reply to their messages in a straightforward manner, not being condescending or parroting the rules, but explaining their positions in a way that the individual poster can understand. Some posters are fine with being pointed toward a specific rule they may have overlooked. Some may need more explanations, sometimes with a helpful analogy or two. Some moderators simply don't have the patience for this, which is what contributes to the perception that they don't listen, don't care, and it's all a "numbers game" with no regard for an individual poster's situation.
There's "talking AT" and "talking WITH." It's been my experience as a poster and a moderator that "talking WITH" works a great deal better than "talking AT" - because you (mods in general) avoid the sense of a parent talking down to a child and saying, "Because I SAID SO!"
You may have plenty of inbox space. Not everyone does. Are there any categories of posters who are not allowed to send PMs until they get a certain number of posts/time spent as a member? Or have I misremembered the rules?
Maybe if the last survey had been up for more time than it was... I barely noticed it and made plans to respond to it, when it was gone again. Since I never knew what questions were asked, I could hardly PM anybody my answers could I?
TrekBBS has a section in their Site Feedback area for precisely what people are asking for: publicly discussing moderator actions. As I understand it, the rule is that a genuine effort must be made via PM between the poster and mod to get everything explained, appealed, discussed, etc. and only then (after a certain time has passed; don't recall if it's so many hours or days), the poster can bring the matter up in public if he feels the situation has not been resolved fairly. I've never been on staff there or infracted there, so I have no idea how well I would say the system works... but I'm just mentioning that as an example of a very large forum where opinions can get expressed rather forcefully at times.
Obviously there are some individuals who don't agree. It's not enough to deal out justice; justice must be seen being dealt out. A lot of this is handled so privately that people think nothing is happening (or that something is happening that should not be).
Would you please repeat the bolded text in a font that people can actually read? I believe I've asked this before, pointing out that some of us have less than great eyesight and shouldn't have to adjust our computers/browsers just for reading teeny-tiny font sized that way for no apparent reason.
Is the supermoderator obliged to reply within 24 hours? Is the obligation for a set number of replies, or until both sides have had a reasonable chance to present their cases (in my experience it can take several exchanges, as the first time or two may require diffusing angry feelings so both sides are calm enough to hold a rational discussion). It doesn't help if a moderator uses the obligatory reply to simply parrot the forum rules and declare the matter closed. That's incredibly disrespectful to the poster, and contributes a lot of the ill-will that's been expressed in this thread by various people.
You should ask for an explanation if you honestly do not understand the rule or the nature of the rule violation. I've had instances of someone complaining that they don't understand the reason for the infraction. Instead of repeating the rule-book, I explained the issue in a way the poster found easier to understand. Most times, the result was, "Oh. Now I get it. Thanks."
A lot of times it depends on HOW you disagree. If you disagree respectfully and courteously, that can be taken as an indication of caring.
Do you mean to say that it's not your problem, or not your fault? Obviously it's somebody's problem, or dissatisfaction wouldn't be going on here.
Since moderators are not voted in or out by the non-moderators, how can you say the moderators' role would be "politicised"?
To give a brief reply:
Well, it's still there in OT. It was unstuck after a little over a week.
Same thing about people labouring under false impressions. A lot of extra effort for marginal gain isn't our idea of effectively pursuing CFC's aims.
When you quote it, it comes up as normal size wrapped in tags.
Most infractions are for people who either understand the rules or should understand the rules. We're not going to waste our time with 10 PMs back and forth between posters who are contesting their 40th trolling infraction. If you're a longstanding member and get infracted for PDMA, we aren't going to spend hours trying to convince you why we have the PDMA rules.
The main point was, though, that those that approach it as a question about the rules are more likely to get an explanation about the rules. Those that approach it as a complaint about their infraction and more likely to just get told why they were infracted.
Not all political figures are voted in. There are ways to face pressure beyond being voted on. No moderator wants to be hated, and if they make lots of decisions viewed as being unpopular, they are more likely to become so, whether those decisions were right or not.
If you sincerely want replies, why not leave it stickied so people can not only find it, they can know it exists in the first place?
I shouldn't have to go to the effort of quoting something just to see what it says. I asked before that you not use this tiny font when wearing your moderator hat. It's only common courtesy to remember that some of us have vision difficulties. And no, I am NOT going to adjust my computer/browser controls just for this one site, on the off-chance I might need to read a specific moderator's comments.
I'm not talking about the chronic offenders who have years' worth of infractions. I'm talking about somebody who is receiving that particular infraction for the first time. Or perhaps it's someone whose first language is not English. There is nothing wrong with that person saying, "I don't understand." And there is nothing wrong with the moderator doing the considerate thing and explaining it so the poster does understand. That is more likely to result in amicable feelings on both sides, and a greater likelihood that the violation won't be repeated.
I'm getting the impression - and correct me if I'm wrong - but you seem to be implying that the staff is doing the posters a favor by communicating with them. That's not a favor that you can give or refuse - it's part of your JOB. It's an obligation that staff members accept when they become staff. At least I always considered it so, whether here or any other forum I've moderated or owned.
This is already true, so how much worse could it get? Nobody's going to literally bring out the tar and feathers, after all.
...um...and we don't do that?
I've seen the tar and the feathers in another forum...so yes, that can get much worse.
I was speaking of literal tar-and-featherings. Since the vast majority of people here don't reveal their RL address, I daresay you're safe from such things.
Are moderators no longer advised to "grow a thicker skin"? (that's what I was advised to do, by a lot of people, staff and non-staff alike, here and on other forums) For what it's worth, friendship with staff members is a difficult thing. It's hard to have to infract a friend, at least I always found it so, no matter which forum I was (and am) moderating. So I counted any friendships kept or developed as a blessing and simply hoped for respect and common courtesy with other folks.
Patience with people who may be slower to understand (and are not simply arguing to see themselves type) goes a long way to fostering respect.
And so we are patient with such people. That's not the type of interaction I was referring to, though.
There's a long way between the current situation and tar and feathers...obviously. So 'how it could get worse' (to paraphrase you) falls into that territory. Making unpopular decisions and then accentuating the unpopularity by arguing about them in public would be worse than the current situation, when not all infractions are even publicly viewable. But I was pretty clearly not saying that 'worse' meant 'people tracking us down in real life'.
I read the thread only cursosrily, but here's some comments on the issues Camikaze gathered up:
 Moderators are inconsistent as a total, but there's very little that can be done to that. The other option would be that the moderators wouldn't exercise consideration at all, and I think that would be much worst.
Perhaps people aren't treated equally under this system and can get unfair infractions, but if you haven't earned it, you'll probably never get banned.
I think that's enough, since we aren't practicing justice here, but just trying to make the forums work. As an analogy, an unjust court ruling in real life isn't comparable to an unjust infraction here, but to an unfair ban.
It sure would be nice to have a totally unbiased and fair system, but under these criterions it isn't possible:
-sanctions for some of the trolling
-moderators may use consideration
-moderators do not receive salary.
(I don't think the second consition is even necessary, as detecting trolling is always question of consideration).
 If you're going to take up something with the moderator, try to phrase yourself clearly and with no extra emotion. Exchanges with posters aren't always very plesant, and if you're disguising your argument behind sarcastic remarks, it's very tempting for a mod not to put effort in dechipering them. Also, if you expect the mod to be able to change his opinion, be ready to do that yourself too.
 As a mod you get very distorted view of the OT, as you always have to read the worst of it, the threads that are reported.
No, you weren't "pretty clearly" saying that. Some posters do hate some staff; that's true on about 99.99999999% of forums (my Doctor Who forum seems to be the exception; everyone there is extremely well-behaved). And that's partially because staff won't take the time to explain their thinking so the poster can understand and really "get it."
Making the forum work, how? Do you mean technically? That's not actually a moderator's job, since moderators normally don't have access to the admin panel or other "guts" of the forum. Of course I'm not referring to things like moving, merging, closing threads, etc.
Making the forum work socially? Moderators should be a welcoming presence that gives people the impression that the forum owner/staff is glad they chose to visit. Any disputes that crop up should be handled with tact and diplomacy where necessary. After all, it's like having guests over, and while most people behave themselves when they're guests, some don't. The misbehavior shouldn't be exacerbated by the hosts or host's helpers. And justice is important.
What I get from the above is that you don't think consideration is necessary on the moderators' part, and that the system would be totally unbiased and fair if Thunderfall paid moderators a (presumably) real salary. Please explain further if I am not understanding you correctly, because that's a slap in the face of volunteers everywhere. I help run my local Freecycle group and I don't get paid anything at all. Do I decide that since I don't get paid, I don't need to bother being fair and unbiased when problems or disputes come up?
This. And the point I was trying to make was that infractions per se shouldn't be counted as injust. The infractions are there just so that the bans wouldn't be injust. You can get by accident one or two points, or for something someone else wouldn't have received them. But to earn a whole ban (8 points), then you probably need to look in the mirror.
Even courts of law aren't equal in their sentencing, so how could we? And that's what I meant with moderators getting paid too. At least I'm not going to quit my day job to become a CFC moderator.
Also I meant that it shouldn't be what we are striving for, since consideration and humaneness is more important. So, when you took it that I don't value consideration, that was a misunderstanding too. I didn't mean the list to be a set of hindrances dor even handednes, I meant that it's the list of the reasons why being totally equal is not and will not be our number one priority.
Separate names with a comma.