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Old Dec 17, 2012, 01:55 AM   #26
annk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balamw View Post
MOD NOTE: The pace and intensity of some discussions in PRSI makes it practically impossible for us to keep up with them.

Not every mod participates in moderating PRSI and when those of us who do participate in a discussion it takes us out of the loop as we strive to not moderate threads we are active in.

Closing threads is usually something we do to temporarily slow things down a bit so we can catch up and figure out what's going on.

B
This is spot on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacNut View Post
But does it take 10 hours to clean up a thread?
It can and often does when the problem is in a PRSI thread. In other types of threads, problems are usually much more isolated. We may have to clean up a quote or two, or delete more than one post (and document what we've done and issue reminders etc), but that's it - once we've gotten to a post report, it doesn't take much time.

In PRSI threads there is so little self-policing going on that the problems involve extensive editing over several pages of posts. In addition, these type of offenses are often borderline (one member's trolling is another member's opinion), so discussion across continents and time zones is part of the process.

Edit: About shutting down threads:

Please keep in mind that this is sometimes done temporarily simply to keep things from getting out of hand while we decide what to do. If a thread spirals out of control, and if it happens while there are few mods and/or admins available or in a situation where a thread is moving very fast with multiple problems, sometimes the best thing to do is to close or remove a thread until we can take action. That doesn't mean a thread will necessarily come back to life, but we do strive to let a wide variety of discussions exist for as long as possible (= until the tone gets so ugly or until so many rules are broken that we see no other way to deal with the situation).

Please remember that we are all volunteers, and things can take time. I want to emphasise that we are NOT interested in deciding what can and can't be discussed.

Last edited by annk; Dec 17, 2012 at 02:41 AM.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:30 AM   #27
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Having moderated here before, at times paying close attention to PRSI, I’ll throw some thoughts into this discussion.

But before I start, temporary closure of heated threads is a good and necessary thing. At times, it has to be done… and let me assure those who have no experience of moderating here, is that moderating PRSI can be an extremely difficult and tiring chore, full of judgement calls, so in this area, it’s probably best to cut the moderators as a whole some slack. This doesn’t mean that individual moderators aren’t at fault. Also, moderating PRSI is often done invisibly by people who aren’t even participating in the thread.

Just because I used to be a moderator, doesn’t mean that I automatically side with them as a group, as some people well know. However, having seen different sides of what goes around here, beind the scenes and how it appears to others, my three cents:

MacRumors needs PRSI
Why? Because almost everything in life is touched by politics, religion and social issues, at one level or another. Sometimes, these discussions are about far more important things than sports, entertainment, gadgets and so on. There is no reason to draw an arbitary and fuzzy line on why these important matters should be off-limits.

Some examples of blurred lines:
• Sports and doping
• Safety and fuel standards in cars
• Current events that have a political or religious dimension
• Any time a political figure/organisation has anything to do with Apple e.g. Greenpeace and Apple

If MacRumors didn’t have PRSI, human nature being what it is, political points and posts would then crop up everywhere, from news threads, community discussion and so on, sometimes derailing a discussion. If there was a ’no-politics’ rule on MacRumors, moderator workload would probably double or triple overnight, with threads subject to massive editing.

Calls for PRSI to be shut down
From long experience here, these calls usually come from people who ventured in there and found themselves consistently on the losing side of an argument and were sometimes made to look fools in the process. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Calls to ban talk about politics is an inherently political and reactionary stance in itself.

Why PRSI is moderated
As well as the over-riding forum rules about civility and so on that apply to all threads on MacRumors, an obvious point that many participants who call for an unmoderated political forum seem to overlook, is that MacRumors is a business with a brand — a reputation, so to speak. And that brand is relatively safe for work and family-friendly.

A completely unmoderated political forum would mean, for instance, the freedom to post hate speech, such as neo-Nazi material or from people condoning child pornography. After all, an unmoderated forum would mean that anything goes. I’m quite sure that Arn wouldn’t want this sort of material and anything else in this league to be associated with MacRumors.

What’s more, as contentious as these threads often become, wading through pages of insults and flamewars is a pain in the arse, for readers and many participants alike. All those who regularly participate in PRSI and those mods who take an interest in keeping it useful, interesting and informative should take some credit that its threads rarely descend into the territory that many other places on the web seem to.

Complaints
Those who complain the most about moderating in PRSI are possibly spending a little too much time in there that is personally healthy, especially as most know that there are very few minds to change. I speak from experience here.

So, in summary:

• Moderating PRSI can be tricky. Although individual moderators can and should be called to account when they push their luck, it’s probably best to give the entire team the benefit of the doubt.
• You can’t take politics or religion out of life. It is fundamental to the human experience and shapes the fabric of the societies we live in.
• MR needs a politics space to comtain and siphon off this stuff, lest it derail or ruin other threads.
• PRSI needs to be moderated. Opinions vary to what degree.
• If PRSI is your first port of call every day, and you’re enmeshed in its in and outs, consistently putting your own membership at risk by getting embroiled in running feuds or other dramas, then perhaps you’re overdoing it just a little.

Merry Xmas.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 11:45 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post
Having moderated here before, at times paying close attention to PRSI, I’ll throw some thoughts into this discussion.

But before I start, temporary closure of heated threads is a good and necessary thing. At times, it has to be done… and let me assure those who have no experience of moderating here, is that moderating PRSI can be an extremely difficult and tiring chore, full of judgement calls, so in this area, it’s probably best to cut the moderators as a whole some slack. This doesn’t mean that individual moderators aren’t at fault. Also, moderating PRSI is often done invisibly by people who aren’t even participating in the thread.

Just because I used to be a moderator, doesn’t mean that I automatically side with them as a group, as some people well know. However, having seen different sides of what goes around here, beind the scenes and how it appears to others, my three cents:

MacRumors needs PRSI
Why? Because almost everything in life is touched by politics, religion and social issues, at one level or another. Sometimes, these discussions are about far more important things than sports, entertainment, gadgets and so on. There is no reason to draw an arbitary and fuzzy line on why these important matters should be off-limits.

Some examples of blurred lines:
• Sports and doping
• Safety and fuel standards in cars
• Current events that have a political or religious dimension
• Any time a political figure/organisation has anything to do with Apple e.g. Greenpeace and Apple

If MacRumors didn’t have PRSI, human nature being what it is, political points and posts would then crop up everywhere, from news threads, community discussion and so on, sometimes derailing a discussion. If there was a ’no-politics’ rule on MacRumors, moderator workload would probably double or triple overnight, with threads subject to massive editing.

Calls for PRSI to be shut down
From long experience here, these calls usually come from people who ventured in there and found themselves consistently on the losing side of an argument and were sometimes made to look fools in the process. If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Calls to ban talk about politics is an inherently political and reactionary stance in itself.

Why PRSI is moderated
As well as the over-riding forum rules about civility and so on that apply to all threads on MacRumors, an obvious point that many participants who call for an unmoderated political forum seem to overlook, is that MacRumors is a business with a brand — a reputation, so to speak. And that brand is relatively safe for work and family-friendly.

A completely unmoderated political forum would mean, for instance, the freedom to post hate speech, such as neo-Nazi material or from people condoning child pornography. After all, an unmoderated forum would mean that anything goes. I’m quite sure that Arn wouldn’t want this sort of material and anything else in this league to be associated with MacRumors.

What’s more, as contentious as these threads often become, wading through pages of insults and flamewars is a pain in the arse, for readers and many participants alike. All those who regularly participate in PRSI and those mods who take an interest in keeping it useful, interesting and informative should take some credit that its threads rarely descend into the territory that many other places on the web seem to.

Complaints
Those who complain the most about moderating in PRSI are possibly spending a little too much time in there that is personally healthy, especially as most know that there are very few minds to change. I speak from experience here.

So, in summary:

• Moderating PRSI can be tricky. Although individual moderators can and should be called to account when they push their luck, it’s probably best to give the entire team the benefit of the doubt.
• You can’t take politics or religion out of life. It is fundamental to the human experience and shapes the fabric of the societies we live in.
• MR needs a politics space to comtain and siphon off this stuff, lest it derail or ruin other threads.
• PRSI needs to be moderated. Opinions vary to what degree.
• If PRSI is your first port of call every day, and you’re enmeshed in its in and outs, consistently putting your own membership at risk by getting embroiled in running feuds or other dramas, then perhaps you’re overdoing it just a little.

Merry Xmas.
I actually think that this is an excellent and thoughtful and well argued post. As such, I up-voted it.

To the ucfgrad93 (and, to a lesser extent, to the OP): Politics leaches and leaks into every other area of life, whether or not one wishes it to - such as, movies, music, simple current affairs.... So, it makes perfect sense to have somewhere to actually discuss these issues or every slight reference - intentional or not - to a political stance, or viewpoint, or event, in any other thread will have to be met with an application of duct tape, which means a lot of extra work for the mods, and probably, much frustration for users.

Re the curbed thread which is under discussion, I've been away for a few days, and haven't read it and so can't comment on content; the length of the thread alone is forbidding.

However, I will say that the cloak of anonymity afforded by the internet allows for a degree of offensiveness in discussion which would not be countenanced in face-to-face meetings (even in the pub, where I have many political discussions), or in emails with known interlocutors.

Personally, I'd prefer to see more reasoned argument and less personal abuse on the forum; however, having said that, I welcome the opportunity provided by this forum to debate - and discuss - some of these public issues with the sort of multinational membership that my domestic environment does not provide. For it enables me to see new ways of looking at things, and reasons for these opinions, even if I often find myself in disagreement with them. And it opens my eyes to matters considered of compelling importance elsewhere in the world.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 02:59 PM   #29
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The need of a Political forum is to address all those subjects to that specific place, otherwise it would filter to Community forums or some other more visible forums.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 03:32 PM   #30
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I'd rather have a PRSI forum that I know I can stay away from, or participate in, depending on the mood. I wouldn't want to get caught in the crossfire (pun totally intended (sorry)) innocently trying to read a community discussion thread.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:02 PM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post
Why PRSI is moderated
As well as the over-riding forum rules about civility and so on that apply to all threads on MacRumors, an obvious point that many participants who call for an unmoderated political forum seem to overlook, is that MacRumors is a business with a brand — a reputation, so to speak. And that brand is relatively safe for work and family-friendly.

A completely unmoderated political forum would mean, for instance, the freedom to post hate speech, such as neo-Nazi material or from people condoning child pornography. After all, an unmoderated forum would mean that anything goes. I’m quite sure that Arn wouldn’t want this sort of material and anything else in this league to be associated with MacRumors.

What’s more, as contentious as these threads often become, wading through pages of insults and flamewars is a pain in the arse, for readers and many participants alike. All those who regularly participate in PRSI and those mods who take an interest in keeping it useful, interesting and informative should take some credit that its threads rarely descend into the territory that many other places on the web seem to.
A lot of your points make sense, especially about being a family friendly site and arn not wanting his site to be associated with certan topics. However, the PRSI is a seperate part of the site, requiring a post count prerequisite for entry. Topics being discussed in there are dicey already and many even undesirable for a site such as this. But the space exists, the threads exist and there's no shortage of members who wish to participate.

Let the talk flow freely. Moderating a discussion based on opinions can only be done subjectively. Nobody wants to feel censored. It doesn't make sense to close a thread because its becoming a heated discussion. That's where the true colors come thru, where all's put out there for everyone to see. And it's not always a bad thing. It's where breakthru's happen. Where common ground is found.

If the site is going to encourage discussions about PRSI, it needs to allow the conversation to run its course. Flipping it on and off like a light switch doesn't do anybody any good.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:10 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balamw View Post
MOD NOTE:
hey, you forgot to bold this one. make sure we dont miss any of them. thanks.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 09:36 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d4rkc4sm View Post
hey, you forgot to bold this one. make sure we dont miss any of them. thanks.
They're like Pokemon. gotta catch 'em all.

My take as a user of why PRSI should be moderated:

Even with the post count limits, it's very easy for PRSI threads to descend into useless and quite often mean spirited ad hominem attacks. It's supposed to be a discussion forum, and a series of "You're a dick!" "no you are" "no really, your whole family are" "..." just doesn't do anything for me, and sometimes they go so far that our just can't go back to having a civil discussion.

These fights spill over into other parts of the forum and get dragged from thread to thread within PRSI to the extent that they drown out conversation like the Monty Python spam skit.



B
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 10:00 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scepticalscribe View Post
I actually think that this is an excellent and thoughtful and well argued post.
Heh, not sure why, as misspelt and grammatically shoddy as it is. Reading it back, I also realise that it’s written primarily for forum members who have advanced some forms of the same argument I’ve seen for a while. I may not log in and post here very often anymore, but I read the front page and a couple of other forums a few times per week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
It doesn't make sense to close a thread because its becoming a heated discussion.
Sometimes, I agree. I’ll come onto that.


Because I wrote my previous post from an ex-moderator point of view, trying to put some things over to forum members in a way that moderators aren’t so free to express themselves and also addressing forum members who might not have been here that long or may not know me too well, I’ve also realised that I have some things to say about the moderating of PRSI and in general, so I’ll direct my comments by and large to those moderators who care to read them.

However, just as I know they won’t publicly engage in specifics, especially with a nuisance such as myself, I’ll add that I won’t respond to any replies to this post or post anymore in this thread.

Before I tackle some things and make some suggestions, I want to stress that although there is a sizable group of forum members that communicate with each other off-board and have known each other for years, for various personal reasons, I’m not really in that loop, hardly ever post on Twitter and only engage on social networks with those I’ve met in person, so what I’m going to say is a distillation of my own thoughts and no-one else’s. I’m not taking up anyone else’s battles as my own.

For those who think otherwise, I’ve covered why PRSI has to be moderated. For business reasons and the kind of joint that Arn wants to run, MacRumors has standards. Where there are standards, there are rules. Where there are rules, someone has to enforce them… and thinking it over, I don’t think those who have been calling for a completely unmoderated forum seriously mean this, but have concerns about appearance, process, tone and style. For those forum members, it’s important to bear in mind what Ann said upthread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by annk View Post
In PRSI threads there is so little self-policing going on...

In other words, for various reasons, because PRSI participants rarely report stuff, there is a far more pro-active stance towards PRSI, especially during times of nationally or globally important or contentious issues and stories. So, to put it bluntly, the mods are looking for trouble.

Sometimes, they seem to me — and I’m speaking from my own personal experience here because I’ve done it myself — to be so eager to keep things on a leash, for the best of intentions, that they might be making more work for themselves in unexpected ways. How they occasionally handle it is fair game for discussion, so I’ll try to pitch in with some constructive observations:


Generally...
Although mods have been poring over PRSI, I’ve noticed that the news threads — the most important threads on MR — seem to be occasionally littered with one-word posts, insults and the like. Rhetorically, is the balance of moderator attention where it should be at the moment?


Moderating the Newtown school shooting threads
I have no axe to grind here as I didn’t post in them. However, I would question some decisions:

1. Splitting off a ‘gun-related’ thread from the main thread, thereby making a political judgement on what was relevant to the topic. Those who put forward the argument that people shouldn’t politicise the issue have a vested interest in restricting the terms of the discussion, because in the face of such an atrocity, they want to talk about everything and anything except guns. This artificial distinction is utterly absurd, as it’s integral to the entire story and what’s more, has been treated as such by any media outlet of national or global consequence.

2. Ask yourself whether it was completely necessary to monitor this thread or others like them in PRSI so closely and in real time, leading to thread closure and clean-ups while people were still champing at the bit. Not only does it make modding more obvious and intrusive and the experience of moderating a bit more stressful, nothing seriously is going get broken on the forum if things are dealt with when threads take a natural lull or burn out of their own accord. Clean-ups can sometimes be less obtrusive and more straightforward when there’s a clear chain of responses to mark up and work through when they’re played out, even if people then bitch about things not being dealt with immediately.

Although PRSI regulars may not be so keen to report every small or borderline infringements, you know as well as I do, that if someone egregiously crosses the line with something offensive and out of generally-accepted bounds, it will usually be reported.

People get antsy when you mess with threads too much when they’re deep in the hustle-bustle and then, when they inevitably complain about it later, more time and energy is spent dealing with addressing or discussing their complaints, either in public or in private. And to be honest, sometimes certain people shouldn’t be protected from themselves: if a thread is going off the rails, sometimes it’s better to give regular troublemakers some rope, let the cards fall where they may and dish out the mod actions as you see fit later at a more considered pace.


From the school of hard knocks
• Your title and status affect how people see you and respond to your posts. As difficult as it can be, try to cultivate an air of objectivity, or at least detachment, and if you take a stance, it’s better to expand and reinforce on others you agree with than getting into running skirmishes, because as sure as night follows day, you will stoke resentment which can have unintended consequences.

• Your reputation is the most important thing here. Choose your public battles carefully.

• Ignore those who will never ever change their minds.

• For some reason, people seem to accept duplicate or similar thread merges with redirects more readily than thread closures.

• Bear in mind that conservatives — including moderators — in PRSI will always be outnumbered, due to forum members who participate not only being from strongly blue states, but also being drawn by and large from Anglo-Saxon countries like Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand as well as European countries, where the political centre is well to the left of the USA. This also includes American expats who have been changed by their travels. What’s more, sometimes they’re fully up to speed with what’s happening in the US as American news is often on the front pages across the world. It’s not a liberal conspiracy, it’s just the demographics.

• Take your time. Try not to use Forum Spy for PRSI, as like Twitter, it can lead to rash and ill-advised posts, drawing you into a morass of claim and counter-claim. Better to draft something of substance, preview it and add it to the thread when it matters.

• If you have to close a thread for a temporary period, be inclusive and try to give some casual indication of when you think it might reopen, even if it’s as vague as ‘in a few hours’ or ‘tomorrow at some point’.


OK, enough. See you in the soup, if the Mayans don’t get us first.


Edit: Also, I don’t think it’s helpful for site editors to venture into site and forum feedback threads about moderation. Rightly or wrongly, people will think that you’re not minding your own business.

Last edited by Blue Velvet; Dec 17, 2012 at 10:08 PM.
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Old Dec 17, 2012, 11:30 PM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by balamw View Post
Not every mod participates in moderating PRSI and when those of us who do participate in a discussion it takes us out of the loop as we strive to not moderate threads we are active in.
Just a side note: this is a most excellent rule for any moderated forum to have. I had never known if MR had this rule, but I'm hardly surprised.

I've participated in heated discussions on another site where one of the participants was a "moderator" and she proceeded to "moderate" the same discussion. It's a terrible way to manage a discussion; the credibility of that website forum was destroyed. An individual moderating in a discussion where they are also participating will have, at best, the appearance of impropriety.

Well done, MR.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 06:45 AM   #36
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Excellent post, BV.

I'm just going to pick out 2 points to comment on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post

Although PRSI regulars may not be so keen to report every small or borderline infringements, you know as well as I do, that if someone egregiously crosses the line with something offensive and out of generally-accepted bounds, it will usually be reported.
To be honest, I stopped reporting posts 2 or more years ago. If PRSI contributors aren't reporting things, doesn't that tell the site admins that they are, in essence, on the side of less moderation? Give your customers what they want.


Quote:
Edit: Also, I don’t think it’s helpful for site editors to venture into site and forum feedback threads about moderation. Rightly or wrongly, people will think that you’re not minding your own business.

Spot on. I will give him a pass though as his first few articles here had him taking a beating from forum members and he likely harbors a bit of resentment. Who wouldn't?
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 07:08 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
...It doesn't make sense to close a thread because its becoming a heated discussion...
Just to clarify: threads are never closed because they become heated. We only close threads when the number of rules violations is so great that the discussion has been destroyed or we need to put an at least temporary halt to posting in order to catch up with all the violations and clean up.

Heated discussions can be conducted within the rules, and in those cases threads can live forever as long as we're concerned.

If members would challenge the content of a post rather than attack the post author, stay away from sarcastic one-liners and other comments that only serve to irritate, and challenge each other to provide sources for claims, I believe there would be very few problems in PRSI. It should be that simple.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 08:30 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by annk View Post
Just to clarify: threads are never closed because they become heated. We only close threads when the number of rules violations is so great that the discussion has been destroyed or we need to put an at least temporary halt to posting in order to catch up with all the violations and clean up.

Heated discussions can be conducted within the rules, and in those cases threads can live forever as long as we're concerned.
So some in a discussion break the rules and the entire thread gets shut down? That doesn't make sense, either. You have the power to put the rule breakers in a TO. Instead, moderators choose to close the conversation completely and shut out the very people you speak about below. Why not stop the offenders instead of the discussion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by annk View Post
If members would challenge the content of a post rather than attack the post author, stay away from sarcastic one-liners and other comments that only serve to irritate, and challenge each other to provide sources for claims, I believe there would be very few problems in PRSI. It should be that simple.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 08:58 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
So some in a discussion break the rules and the entire thread gets shut down? That doesn't make sense, either. You have the power to put the rule breakers in a TO. Instead, moderators choose to close the conversation completely and shut out the very people you speak about below. Why not stop the offenders instead of the discussion?
It takes time to take a measured response when we are moderating. If we just plough in and put everyone who's bickering into time-out without proper consideration, we'll soon be accused of going over the top and will probably end up unfairly moderating some members while other members will escape the moderation they deserve.

Temporary closing the thread can help calm down a heated situation and gives us the chance to moderate properly. We don't just do it in PRSI, we often have to shut news discussion threads for the same reason. And before suspending a thread we almost always post a Moderator Note asking for members to calm down and keep on-topic so we can't be accused of not giving fair warning.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 09:03 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post
.....





Generally...
Although mods have been poring over PRSI, I’ve noticed that the news threads — the most important threads on MR — seem to be occasionally littered with one-word posts, insults and the like. Rhetorically, is the balance of moderator attention where it should be at the moment?


Moderating the Newtown school shooting threads
I have no axe to grind here as I didn’t post in them. However, I would question some decisions:

1. Splitting off a ‘gun-related’ thread from the main thread, thereby making a political judgement on what was relevant to the topic. Those who put forward the argument that people shouldn’t politicise the issue have a vested interest in restricting the terms of the discussion, because in the face of such an atrocity, they want to talk about everything and anything except guns. This artificial distinction is utterly absurd, as it’s integral to the entire story and what’s more, has been treated as such by any media outlet of national or global consequence.

2. Ask yourself whether it was completely necessary to monitor this thread or others like them in PRSI so closely and in real time, leading to thread closure and clean-ups while people were still champing at the bit. Not only does it make modding more obvious and intrusive and the experience of moderating a bit more stressful, nothing seriously is going get broken on the forum if things are dealt with when threads take a natural lull or burn out of their own accord. Clean-ups can sometimes be less obtrusive and more straightforward when there’s a clear chain of responses to mark up and work through when they’re played out, even if people then bitch about things not being dealt with immediately.

Although PRSI regulars may not be so keen to report every small or borderline infringements, you know as well as I do, that if someone egregiously crosses the line with something offensive and out of generally-accepted bounds, it will usually be reported.

People get antsy when you mess with threads too much when they’re deep in the hustle-bustle and then, when they inevitably complain about it later, more time and energy is spent dealing with addressing or discussing their complaints, either in public or in private. And to be honest, sometimes certain people shouldn’t be protected from themselves: if a thread is going off the rails, sometimes it’s better to give regular troublemakers some rope, let the cards fall where they may and dish out the mod actions as you see fit later at a more considered pace.


From the school of hard knocks
• Your title and status affect how people see you and respond to your posts. As difficult as it can be, try to cultivate an air of objectivity, or at least detachment, and if you take a stance, it’s better to expand and reinforce on others you agree with than getting into running skirmishes, because as sure as night follows day, you will stoke resentment which can have unintended consequences.

• Your reputation is the most important thing here. Choose your public battles carefully.

• Ignore those who will never ever change their minds.

• For some reason, people seem to accept duplicate or similar thread merges with redirects more readily than thread closures.

• Bear in mind that conservatives — including moderators — in PRSI will always be outnumbered, due to forum members who participate not only being from strongly blue states, but also being drawn by and large from Anglo-Saxon countries like Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand as well as European countries, where the political centre is well to the left of the USA. This also includes American expats who have been changed by their travels. What’s more, sometimes they’re fully up to speed with what’s happening in the US as American news is often on the front pages across the world. It’s not a liberal conspiracy, it’s just the demographics.

• Take your time. Try not to use Forum Spy for PRSI, as like Twitter, it can lead to rash and ill-advised posts, drawing you into a morass of claim and counter-claim. Better to draft something of substance, preview it and add it to the thread when it matters.

• If you have to close a thread for a temporary period, be inclusive and try to give some casual indication of when you think it might reopen, even if it’s as vague as ‘in a few hours’ or ‘tomorrow at some point’.


OK, enough. See you in the soup, if the Mayans don’t get us first.


Edit: Also, I don’t think it’s helpful for site editors to venture into site and forum feedback threads about moderation. Rightly or wrongly, people will think that you’re not minding your own business.
Again, another excellent post, and some very constructive & well made points. And much excellent advice, well worth heeding. I didn't quote it all - although it is worth reading and thinking about in its entirety - but a very well argued piece.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
So some in a discussion break the rules and the entire thread gets shut down? That doesn't make sense, either. You have the power to put the rule breakers in a TO. Instead, moderators choose to close the conversation completely and shut out the very people you speak about below. Why not stop the offenders instead of the discussion?
There are a number of threads running more or less simultaneously in this section about moderation policy (something of a first in my four and a half years membership of the forum), - which overlap considerably in what they discuss - and this seems to me to be a part of that.

Re stopping the offenders, I think that this boils down individual perspective sometimes, and reporting of the offences, which is undertaken with reluctance (in the interest of promoting free and open discussion) in PRSI.

In any case, some people are more sensitive than others, and some, by contrast, are considerably more boorish. Personally, I find that as the environment of the web allows for anonymity, a great deal more by way of casual gratuitous insult can be offered than if one was communicating face to face, or under one's own name. And MR is a long way from some of the more awful sites, where vicious free-for-alls replace debate.

Having said that, I agree that the nature of PRSI means that discussions can become more heated very quickly, that there can be a reluctance to report transgressions, and that what may have started as reasoned debate can descend all too rapidly into a robust trading of personal insults.

However, I think that the line can be drawn at personal insults, and that posters ought to be advised to address the argument rather than the individual who posted it.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 09:06 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
So some in a discussion break the rules and the entire thread gets shut down? That doesn't make sense, either. You have the power to put the rule breakers in a TO. Instead, moderators choose to close the conversation completely and shut out the very people you speak about below. Why not stop the offenders instead of the discussion?
Oftentimes we are still discussing the rule violations. As it has been said a few times already, moderating PRSI is extremely hard because there are lots of borderline posts. Hence opinions from several mods are required before we proceed with any actions, otherwise our moderation might be more inconsistent (individual calls from mods, no work as a team). As we have mods from several time zones and we all have real lives as well, it can take hours, possible even a day or two, before we reach a conclusion on what to do.

We only close threads to prevent more work from piling up on us. If the thread already has plenty of posts that need moderation, it's easier for us to close it than let more violations pile up.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 09:24 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by OllyW View Post
It takes time to take a measured response when we are moderating. If we just plough in and put everyone who's bickering into time-out without proper consideration, we'll soon be accused of going over the top and will probably end up unfairly moderating some members while other members will escape the moderation they deserve.

Temporary closing the thread can help calm down a heated situation and gives us the chance to moderate properly. We don't just do it in PRSI, we often have to shut news discussion threads for the same reason. And before suspending a thread we almost always post a Moderator Note asking for members to calm down and keep on-topic so we can't be accused of not giving fair warning.
The mods are being accused of a lot of things right now and enforcing the rules isn't one of them. Admittedly, mods are monitoring a thread so they are aware of the posters running up against the rules, so much so that a warning may be given. Yet instead of these posters being dealt with individually, we all have our posting opportunity stripped. I understand the mods are shorthanded, but if they can make the call to cut off everyone, they should be able to make the call to TO individuals. The individual can be shown which rule they've broken. When you shut the whole thing down, we are all left to wonder why, and have no idea as to when the discussion will resume. That's not right. It's not fair. And it's a poor way to govern a site.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scepticalscribe View Post


There are a number of threads running more or less simultaneously in this section about moderation policy (something of a first in my four and a half years membership of the forum), - which overlap considerably in what they discuss - and this seems to me to be a part of that.

Re stopping the offenders, I think that this boils down individual perspective sometimes, and reporting of the offences, which is undertaken with reluctance (in the interest of promoting free and open discussion) in PRSI.

In any case, some people are more sensitive than others, and some, by contrast, are considerably more boorish. Personally, I find that as the environment of the web allows for anonymity, a great deal more by way of casual gratuitous insult can be offered than if one was communicating face to face, or under one's own name. And MR is a long way from some of the more awful sites, where vicious free-for-alls replace debate.

Having said that, I agree that the nature of PRSI means that discussions can become more heated very quickly, that there can be a reluctance to report transgressions, and that what may have started as reasoned debate can descend all too rapidly into a robust trading of personal insults.

However, I think that the line can be drawn at personal insults, and that posters ought to be advised to address the argument rather than the individual who posted it.
I agree with your post. I just wish the mods would punish the offenders, not the forum at large. If I can follow the discussion enough to participate in it, surely they can monitor it closely enough to see who's breaking the rules.

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellhammer View Post
Oftentimes we are still discussing the rule violations. As it has been said a few times already, moderating PRSI is extremely hard because there are lots of borderline posts. Hence opinions from several mods are required before we proceed with any actions, otherwise our moderation might be more inconsistent (individual calls from mods, no work as a team). As we have mods from several time zones and we all have real lives as well, it can take hours, possible even a day or two, before we reach a conclusion on what to do.

We only close threads to prevent more work from piling up on us. If the thread already has plenty of posts that need moderation, it's easier for us to close it than let more violations pile up.
I understand it's hard, and I understand you want some corroboration for decisions, but the mods need to have the power and the fortitude to make the calls then and there. I'm not suggesting banning members on the spot. Hand out the punishment as fits the crime at a later time. I'm suggesting that if they are going to moderate a thread, when they see a rule broken to take action. They know the rules well enough and they should decide to enforce them or not. Pulling the plug on the whole thing is a bad idea.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 09:37 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by OllyW View Post
It takes time to take a measured response when we are moderating. If we just plough in and put everyone who's bickering into time-out without proper consideration, we'll soon be accused of going over the top and will probably end up unfairly moderating some members while other members will escape the moderation they deserve.
What OllyW said, plus ...

Putting people in TO is not something we do lightly. This is something else that doesn't seem clear to many, particularly in PRSI. Unless a transgression is completely over the top or the user has a history we will generally opt for a more measured response, be it a reminder or warning. These moderator actions aren't visible to anyone but the person who received them, and then when a user doesn't get a TO we get accused of not acting or acting unfairly when we have in fact acted completely by the book. Our process takes time, but IMO it's worth it.

We can, and sometimes do, certainly do as BV suggests and wait for a lull in the action to act. However, I don't think it is fair to let the thread take its course if the end result is that half of the thread's participants will end up with (in some cases) long TOs arising from their actions.

This advice:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Velvet View Post
Take your time. Try not to use Forum Spy for PRSI, as like Twitter, it can lead to rash and ill-advised posts, drawing you into a morass of claim and counter-claim. Better to draft something of substance, preview it and add it to the thread when it matters.
goes for everyone, particularly in PRSI. Sometimes we just have to help that along.

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Old Dec 18, 2012, 10:36 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
So some in a discussion break the rules and the entire thread gets shut down? That doesn't make sense, either. You have the power to put the rule breakers in a TO. Instead, moderators choose to close the conversation completely and shut out the very people you speak about below. Why not stop the offenders instead of the discussion?
No, "some people" breaking the rules isn't enough for us to close down a thread. As I said, we only close threads when the number of rules violations is so great that the discussion has been destroyed or we need to put an at least temporary halt to posting in order to catch up with all the violations and clean up. Closing a thread down is a last resort.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpots View Post
Admittedly, mods are monitoring a thread so they are aware of the posters running up against the rules, so much so that a warning may be given.
I think this may be a misunderstanding, which would clear up quite a bit. We very seldom have the time to monitor PRSI threads. When you see evidence of moderation in a thread, it's likely because a member helped us out by reporting a problem. That doesn't mean we'll see a problem two pages later.

Quote:
I understand the mods are shorthanded, but if they can make the call to cut off everyone, they should be able to make the call to TO individuals. The individual can be shown which rule they've broken.
And we do, if the post is brought to our attention. I agree that the best way to handle problems is to deal with the members causing them, so if you see something that should be dealt with, just report it.

Quote:
When you shut the whole thing down, we are all left to wonder why, and have no idea as to when the discussion will resume.
If a thread is shut down, there's usually only one reason: there were so many rules violations that it got to the point where it was no longer possible to deal fairly with all the problems. Sometimes we post a mod or admin note when we close a thread (that's something I'm sure we can be more consistent about).

Quote:
If I can follow the discussion enough to participate in it, surely they can monitor it closely enough to see who's breaking the rules.
If we were full-time employees and not volunteers with day jobs, I'd agree with you completely.

Quote:
They know the rules well enough and they should decide to enforce them or not.
You'd be surprised - it's not that simple. Especially in PRSI, where members are the least willing or able to follow the Rules for Appropriate Debate, there are many, many borderline instances. We want to be fair, so we spend time discussing.

I'm not saying nothing should change; I'm just trying to give you a picture of our reality.
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Old Dec 18, 2012, 11:52 AM   #45
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To be honest, I stopped reporting posts 2 or more years ago. If PRSI contributors aren't reporting things, doesn't that tell the site admins that they are, in essence, on the side of less moderation?
PRSI regulars may not be reporting minor violations, but I can assure you there are still plenty of post reports coming out of the PRSI forums.
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Old Dec 23, 2012, 04:50 AM   #46
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Moderator Note:

Please remember we are discussing the state of the PRSI forum.

This thread is not the place for political debate.
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Old Dec 24, 2012, 08:58 AM   #47
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I appreciate to have a community like MR where we have a common baseline/interests, can help and support each other in the technical forums and during this to get to know each other a bit and reduce the anonymity at the same time.

I also believe PRSI is an important part of a site like MR. Closing PRSI would be like closing our eyes for real life topics when they occur (specially with a magnitude as in the past week or two). Just go ahead with the next funny rumor or bending iPhones would not make it a place to stay.

No question: PRSI is tough terrain. That must be clear to everyone entering this area; even more for those who decided to be an active part in a discussion. Required skills are the ability to stay line, take a fair punch and also to just ignore certain comments. It is not for those with thin skin.
But of course stay within the rules is a given. Huge violations to be reported instead of answered in thread will help us all to keep it working. That is what I would expect from the more senior members ... I was surprised to see some now in TO ...

Finally a big thank you for the efforts of all actual and former moderators and admins to keep PRSI open.
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