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Arguments for moderation policy reform

Who needs it, who got it, who hands it out and why.
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Saint Clair Island
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Arguments for moderation policy reform

Postby Saint Clair Island » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:26 am

This thread is for, er, discussing ideas for moderation policy reform in general, as the title might imply. Do feel free to contribute your own arguments (or counter-arguments), which I'll try to link in the OP when I'm on.

Neo Art's arguments: 1 2 3 4 5 as expanded upon by TNB: 1 further summarised: 1 2 as viewed by Belschaft: 1 Muravyets's related argument: 1 2 3 4 5 The Cat-Tribe's related argument: 1 Snafturi's related argument: 1
Neo Art rewrites the rules!: 1
The Blessed Chris's argument: 1 2 3 Katganistan's counterargument: 1 2 Parthenon's related argument: 1 Jenrak's counterargument: 1 Sarzonia's counterargument: 1
Lithatrius's argument: 1
Barringtonia's arguments: 1 2 (includes proposed rules rewrite)
Vonners's argument: 1
The Blaatschapen's argument: 1
Galloism's argument: 1 Melkor's counterargument: 1
Glen-Rhodes's argument: 1
Laerod's arguments: 1 2 Czardas's view: 1 Melkor's counterargument: 1
Anagonia's argument: 1
Praetonia's argument: 1
Travour's argument: 1
Northwest Slobovia's argument: 1
Abatoir's argument: 1 Geniasis's counterargument: 1

Questions for mods: TNB (first answer) Snafturi The Blaatschapen

Points addressed by mods: Appeals, Rewriting Rules, Official Voice (NERVUN); Appeals, TG Warnings (Melkor); Appeals (LG); Northwest Slobovia's idea (Czardas); Appeals and Access (Melkor);

I imagine summaries of what changes you feel ought to be made in bullet points would be appreciated.

Do also let me know if I missed anything of importance.

aaaaand go.
Last edited by Saint Clair Island on Thu Dec 16, 2010 7:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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The Bleeding Roses
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Postby The Bleeding Roses » Tue Dec 14, 2010 8:59 am

We should be allowed to shame people who start awful topics.

End thread.
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Ballotonia
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Postby Ballotonia » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:07 am

Can you please clarify what the difference is in purpose between this thread and the "Legitimate complaints about the General forum" thread located here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=82588
specifically since you're linking to a number of posts within that thread and request to continue discussing them here?

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Sdaeriji
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Postby Sdaeriji » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:11 am

Ballotonia wrote:Can you please clarify what the difference is in purpose between this thread and the "Legitimate complaints about the General forum" thread located here: viewtopic.php?f=16&t=82588
specifically since you're linking to a number of posts within that thread and request to continue discussing them here?

Ballotonia


viewtopic.php?p=4116540#p4116540
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Farnhamia wrote:four-letter word "Rules"

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The Archregimancy
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Postby The Archregimancy » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:28 am



Precisely - thank you.

While recognising that there's potential for some overlap between the two topics, it's been increasingly clear for a few pages now in the latter thread that the discussion on approaches to Moderation has diverged significantly from the discussion on potential structural improvements to General. This was making it logistically complicated to finalise decisions on the latter topic.

It would have been a fiendishly difficult topic to split to everyone's satisfaction, so I would like to thank Saint Clair Island for taking the initiative here in starting up a new thread that nonetheless links to some of the appropriate discussion in the first thread.

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Ballotonia
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Postby Ballotonia » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:33 am

Ah, it's for "general" without a capital G: moderation in general versus moderation in General.

Ballotonia
Last edited by Ballotonia on Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Neo Art
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Postby Neo Art » Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:53 am

Fine, I’ll bite. First, let me give you a bit of a background where I’m coming from here. My job, in a lose sense, is setting policies and procedures by which legally empowered fact-finders make decisions with the force of law. I also do some of my own individual dispensations. So when I talk about rules of decision making, and procedure, I don’t just follow them, I help create them:

1) the rules need a rework. Firstly, the wording can be tightened up a bit, and the actual terms defined, and its entire structure as a set of rules is a bit…sloppy, but again, I’m not going to hold my standard here (though frankly it’d do a lot of good). I’m referring to the fact that the consequences of violation are utterly arbitrary. I’m not talking about the fact that what one mod will see as violation another might not. That’s subjective, and always dependant on the particular fact-finder (though a greater sense of precedent would be good). I’m talking about how the rules do not delineate in any sense what’s an appropriate response to particular conduct. Yes some conduct will be extreme. Yes some conduct will be egregious and require immediate, complete removal of the poster. There are mechanisms to include that.

I’m talking about how the very system of violation and consequence is 100% arbitrary. Whatever loose framework that you guys use to determine proper consequence, if there even is one at all, is utterly opaque and completely unaccessable. How can I possibly even begin to appeal a decision, if I don’t know the rationale behind what makes some conduct a “light warning” and others a 3 day ban?

You have a warning system, use it. Set a system in place that creates a progressive moderation consequence. Yeah, you do that now, somewhat, but damned if I know exactly what the progression is. And I don’t think you do either. If you did, we wouldn’t have so many violation consequences marked down.

Let the moderator decide how “severe” a violation is, set the warning level accordingly, and follow your damned script on how to deal with that warning level.

2) How you make decisions is poor, and goes into rewriting the rules. When you make a decision, be able to point to the SPECIFIC RULE violated. Far too often it’s near impossible to tell exactly what a poster is actually getting warned for. We’ve, on more than one occasion, been told that the “red text” is the result, and what precedes it is just the explanation. It’s nonsensical. The explanation IS the answer. Be able to point to exactly what rule I’m violating, and be able to explain exactly how my conduct violates that rule, or don’t rule at all. You’ve gotten better at this, but it needs work.

3) Your appeals process is nonsensical. It basically breaks down to “post your appeal, we’ll discuss it in a group and get back to you”. Bad. Horrible. That’s not in the slightest way accessable. That’s not in the slightest way transparent. First off, you have mods who made the decision participating in the appeal process. No, don’t do that. The moderator’s decision should be based on the facts presented, the rules cited, and the conclusion drawn WHEN THE DECISION IS MADE. No further input from the moderator should be needed for an appeal. If the post in which the moderation action was posted is insufficiently grounded, then the decision shouldn’t have been made in the first place. If you can not justify your decision when you make it, you shouldn’t be making it. Affording the opportunity for a moderator to elaborate after the fact is bad practice. An appeal works on the record. Create a good record, or don’t make your decision.

As for appeals, get moderators who handle appeals. Their job is to review both aspects. Whether the moderator’s decision that the poster violated a rule was appropriate, and whether or not the violation consequence assessed for the violation was appropriate. They’d have the power to modify either, or both. Those moderators don’t take part in initial decision making. They’re appeals.

4) if a moderator is the subject of a complaint, for god’s sake, don’t let him or her participate in the decision making process. At all. No helping decide, no letting him have his word in your own sealed forum. No giving him any more access than any other poster. It is grossly improper. The fact that this has actually happened on more than one occasion boggles the mind. How you treat reporter and accused is uniform, across the board.

5) get rid of mod only/not mod only topics. If a report is made against an individual, it relates on to the reporter, the reported, and the fact-finder. Nothing else is relevant, and nothing should be added further. They should all be “mod only”

6) when an appeal decision is made, the decision should follow the same guidelines as a decision. Be ready to point to an actual rule violated, the actual facts of the circumstance, and why those facts violate that rule.

That is the basic tenant of decision making processes. What are the facts, what is the rule, and how do the facts fit, or not fit, the rule?

7) Learn to delineate moderator and poster. Red text is good, but it’s not enough. When you’re a moderator, your words are going to be taken as moderation, even when you aren’t intending to. Find a way to separate what is a decision, what is a ruling, and what isn’t. If conduct is not violating a rule you have 0 official capacity. Find a way to clearly delineate what is what.

Seriously, whatever rules you want to create are fine, but they're written in a sloppy way, your first step would be to actually rewrite them in a way that's cogent
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The Cat-Tribe
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An endorsement of NA's comments and some of my own

Postby The Cat-Tribe » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:46 am

I know this breaks my vacation (again). I was e-mailed about this this kerfluffel. I have a couple of comments to add to Neo Art's well articulated suggestions.

1) The Moderation team itself has acknowledged in other threads the rules regarding second opinions and appeals aren't actually followed by Moderators/Administrators -- despite the fact that (when convenient) players are chastised for not following them. See, e.g., link.

2) If "Mods are subject to the same rules as eveyone else", it makes little sense that RL events can completely excuse (or explain away) Moderator mistakes or misjudgments. No player would be allowed to retract a flame, trolling, or otherwise illegal post based on it being made in haste or anger influenced by RL. To the contrary, I can think of many examples of players (myself included) who have posted under RL time constraints and emotional distress (that was actually explained in the post) and got warned. (In my case, the warning was reversed on appeal for unrelated reasons.)

The tiff between Mura and NERVUN isn't a great example and I don't wish to dwell on it. I deeply respect both of them and would actually like to consider them friends. It has already been discussed ad nauseum why each could reasonably (if not ideally) reacted to each others's posts the way the did. What is exception and disappointing is to have [violet] step in and use Mura as an example of how one should not be rude to Mods. It is doubly bizarre as the particular post [violet] considered rude was not particularly rude and made a valid point: if a Moderator does not have time to fully consider before posting a ruling or a "Moderator-mode" statement, they shouldn't post it! In NERVUN's case this was pretty minor, but we've had much more significant instances of this in the past. (I don't want to re-hash the "tranny = trash" incident, but it comes immediately to mind.)

I'm sure I could ramble on, but NA has covered much of what I might say (as have posts in the prior thread).

Neither NA or I expect that Nationstates Moderation operate like a judicial system and I recognize some of our expectations of consistency, transparency, explained decisions, ect, come from our background in the law. But they are also principles of fairness and justice. Nationstates doesn't have to live up to these principles. In fact, I'm getting the increasing the increasing feeling that the idea they should is resented and rejected. That is fine. You are right. It's your sandbox. And we don't have to play in it.

But if you truly are seeking to improve it and you truly would rather not drive posters like myself (who despite my testiness and semi-annual conflicts with Moderation try to make NS a better place) away, why not try listening? Otherwise we will leave. I know the answer is that you will survive without us and won't miss us, but is that really the best policy towards those who've been here awhile -- to simply say "love it as is or leave it"?

(I will now once again try to extricate myself from this tar baby.)
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Belschaft
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Postby Belschaft » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:05 pm

Neo Art wrote:1) the rules need a rework. Firstly, the wording can be tightened up a bit, and the actual terms defined, and its entire structure as a set of rules is a bit…sloppy, but again, I’m not going to hold my standard here (though frankly it’d do a lot of good). I’m referring to the fact that the consequences of violation are utterly arbitrary. I’m not talking about the fact that what one mod will see as violation another might not. That’s subjective, and always dependant on the particular fact-finder (though a greater sense of precedent would be good). I’m talking about how the rules do not delineate in any sense what’s an appropriate response to particular conduct. Yes some conduct will be extreme. Yes some conduct will be egregious and require immediate, complete removal of the poster. There are mechanisms to include that.

I’m talking about how the very system of violation and consequence is 100% arbitrary. Whatever loose framework that you guys use to determine proper consequence, if there even is one at all, is utterly opaque and completely unaccessable. How can I possibly even begin to appeal a decision, if I don’t know the rationale behind what makes some conduct a “light warning” and others a 3 day ban?

You have a warning system, use it. Set a system in place that creates a progressive moderation consequence. Yeah, you do that now, somewhat, but damned if I know exactly what the progression is. And I don’t think you do either. If you did, we wouldn’t have so many violation consequences marked down.

Let the moderator decide how “severe” a violation is, set the warning level accordingly, and follow your damned script on how to deal with that warning level.

I'm with Neo, broadly on this one. The rules and warning system needs a general shakeup and clarification. This would also provide an opportunity to produce a new compact with players; allow the body politic a say in how to re-form the existing rule set, and hopefully they'll be more willing to follow them if they feel they helped draft them. People are generally more willing to do something if they were involved in deciding what it is. A bit more consistency would be nice as well on some issues; I, for example, have got away numerous times with borderline rule violations and other things some people have be warned for, partly through luck and partly through what I like to think is a good reputation. No one I know of for example has a problem with me, and thus no one reports me for minor stuff that gets more controversial figures a warning. Maybe I need a warning for some if it, maybe the warnings for others were too harsh; I don't know. But the impression, and I feel the reality, is that different players get different treatment.

Neo Art wrote:2) How you make decisions is poor, and goes into rewriting the rules. When you make a decision, be able to point to the SPECIFIC RULE violated. Far too often it’s near impossible to tell exactly what a poster is actually getting warned for. We’ve, on more than one occasion, been told that the “red text” is the result, and what precedes it is just the explanation. It’s nonsensical. The explanation IS the answer. Be able to point to exactly what rule I’m violating, and be able to explain exactly how my conduct violates that rule, or don’t rule at all. You’ve gotten better at this, but it needs work.

This. Fairly often we see cases were a player protests a warning because they don't know why they've be warned, which is a very bad thing and breeds discontent and a sense of arbitrariness in moderation decisions.

Neo Art wrote:3) Your appeals process is nonsensical. It basically breaks down to “post your appeal, we’ll discuss it in a group and get back to you”. Bad. Horrible. That’s not in the slightest way accessable. That’s not in the slightest way transparent. First off, you have mods who made the decision participating in the appeal process. No, don’t do that. The moderator’s decision should be based on the facts presented, the rules cited, and the conclusion drawn WHEN THE DECISION IS MADE. No further input from the moderator should be needed for an appeal. If the post in which the moderation action was posted is insufficiently grounded, then the decision shouldn’t have been made in the first place. If you can not justify your decision when you make it, you shouldn’t be making it. Affording the opportunity for a moderator to elaborate after the fact is bad practice. An appeal works on the record. Create a good record, or don’t make your decision.

As for appeals, get moderators who handle appeals. Their job is to review both aspects. Whether the moderator’s decision that the poster violated a rule was appropriate, and whether or not the violation consequence assessed for the violation was appropriate. They’d have the power to modify either, or both. Those moderators don’t take part in initial decision making. They’re appeals.

This seems like a fairly good idea, though may be complicated. There may be an easier way to solve the problem.

Neo Art wrote:4) if a moderator is the subject of a complaint, for god’s sake, don’t let him or her participate in the decision making process. At all. No helping decide, no letting him have his word in your own sealed forum. No giving him any more access than any other poster. It is grossly improper. The fact that this has actually happened on more than one occasion boggles the mind. How you treat reporter and accused is uniform, across the board.

This is very important. The complaints procedure cannot ever appear to favour the mod, or trust breaks down.

Neo Art wrote:5) get rid of mod only/not mod only topics. If a report is made against an individual, it relates on to the reporter, the reported, and the fact-finder. Nothing else is relevant, and nothing should be added further. They should all be “mod only”

I disagree here. A lot of queries in moderation can be answered by a player who can link to the relevant rule or an example of the mods decision, saving the mods work. Then all a mod has to do is come in, rubber stamp the linked rule as being correct. The problem is when people state opinion, something I sometimes do, but try not too. That should be discouraged. Players helping mods, when they know the answer - and I emphasis this clearly - should be encouraged.

Neo Art wrote:6) when an appeal decision is made, the decision should follow the same guidelines as a decision. Be ready to point to an actual rule violated, the actual facts of the circumstance, and why those facts violate that rule.

That is the basic tenant of decision making processes. What are the facts, what is the rule, and how do the facts fit, or not fit, the rule?

This, no comment or criticism from me.

Neo Art wrote:7) Learn to delineate moderator and poster. Red text is good, but it’s not enough. When you’re a moderator, your words are going to be taken as moderation, even when you aren’t intending to. Find a way to separate what is a decision, what is a ruling, and what isn’t. If conduct is not violating a rule you have 0 official capacity. Find a way to clearly delineate what is what.

I'm not sure we can really separate the two, short of mods all multi-accounting, and then with difficulty.
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Jenrak
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Postby Jenrak » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:29 pm

The Bleeding Roses wrote:We should be allowed to shame people who start awful topics.

End thread.


I don't think that's a smart idea. Stigmatization can become personal, and if it persists, you eventually become 'the guy who makes awful topics', and given the general anonymity of the internet, reputation thereby becomes a defining point for most people. The tarnishing of reputation through the shaming of people through subjective means (who defines awful?) can become a deterrent for people, who may for all intents and purposes, may be interested in finding opinions of others.

For example, let's use a real example. Bendira's argument on education in his thread on public education, for example, does wax part libertarian sycophancy and Misian fundamentalism, but it also does bring up fairly valid arguments on the validity of the issues in public education. While it has been answered multiple times within his thread that the public education system exists for multiple reasons, could we have viable alternatives? It's questions like these that arrive from originally 'awful' topics that we thereby can begin further discussion, and of course, there are going to be obvious outliers of an awful and non-awful topic, but they themselves carry an importance subjective to each player anyways.

To allow that sort of shaming not only stigmatizes people in their preference and creates social hostility to newcomers, but it also becomes a visible, blatant and obvious subjective endorsement of what the staff deems to be 'awful'.

Neo Art wrote:5) get rid of mod only/not mod only topics. If a report is made against an individual, it relates on to the reporter, the reported, and the fact-finder. Nothing else is relevant, and nothing should be added further. They should all be “mod only”


I would actually argue the opposite of this, really.

I believe that more people should be allowed to enter, insofar as they have pertinent information to include. The issue is that fact-finder regardless, there will be bias between all three parties: the reporter, the reported, and the fact-finder. For example, if there is an issue between Nation A for rule violation by Nation B, and the fact-finder gets the information, what if there is bias involved in all three members? I trust in people attempting to be as non-biased as possible, but ultimately whether people can register that bias is a different question altogether, and therefore I believe that people, even if not directly affected, should be allowed to chime in any pertinent information should it be relevant to the topic.

The issue, I would see with that is that it may open up flood gates to people who may be doing the 'notamod' suggestions that used to be fairly notorious earlier in the year (and from what I see, can still be a problem if left unchecked), but I would argue that if it remains contextually topical, then rulings would benefit in terms of their objectivity the more people provide pertinent information. Of course, implementation of this would require some time, I would gander, and it could lead to fairly difficult definition of what is, or isn't appropriate or inappropriate contextually topical information.

Of course, this is theoretical, and could play out in reality much worse, and I'm sure a few of my mod co-workers would not agree with the possible worst scenario that could come from it.

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Neo Art
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Postby Neo Art » Tue Dec 14, 2010 12:58 pm

Belschaft wrote:
Neo Art wrote:3) Your appeals process is nonsensical. It basically breaks down to “post your appeal, we’ll discuss it in a group and get back to you”. Bad. Horrible. That’s not in the slightest way accessable. That’s not in the slightest way transparent. First off, you have mods who made the decision participating in the appeal process. No, don’t do that. The moderator’s decision should be based on the facts presented, the rules cited, and the conclusion drawn WHEN THE DECISION IS MADE. No further input from the moderator should be needed for an appeal. If the post in which the moderation action was posted is insufficiently grounded, then the decision shouldn’t have been made in the first place. If you can not justify your decision when you make it, you shouldn’t be making it. Affording the opportunity for a moderator to elaborate after the fact is bad practice. An appeal works on the record. Create a good record, or don’t make your decision.

As for appeals, get moderators who handle appeals. Their job is to review both aspects. Whether the moderator’s decision that the poster violated a rule was appropriate, and whether or not the violation consequence assessed for the violation was appropriate. They’d have the power to modify either, or both. Those moderators don’t take part in initial decision making. They’re appeals.

This seems like a fairly good idea, though may be complicated. There may be an easier way to solve the problem.


It's not complicated at all, actually. Pick 3 people, either current mods or new ones. They're your appeals. They don't interact with moderators in any way in an official capacity. In fact, whatever IRC/forum that mods have, they should be deliberately NOT a part of it. Not allowed in.

Give them their own IRC, their own forum, that's for them, and them only. An appeal is filed, they review it on their own, between them, and ONLY them, no discussion with existing moderators what so ever. Their discussion is private, and separate from the rest. They make their decision.

The current system as we have it now is basically "we moderate by consensus, and we appeal by consensus." Wonderful. The same damned people having the same damned conversation as the last time. That's not an appeal.

I am subject to appeals. In my job. I know some of the people who hear appeals from my decision. Conversely, I also review decisions of those below. I know those people too.

We chat. We talk about the Patriots, we talk about the holidays, we talk about the weather, we talk about "Gee, long line in the mexican place today huh?"

We do NOT talk about work. There is a wall, and that wall does not get breeched. Ever. Appeals must be wholey separate from the "ground level" decision making.

Neo Art wrote:5) get rid of mod only/not mod only topics. If a report is made against an individual, it relates on to the reporter, the reported, and the fact-finder. Nothing else is relevant, and nothing should be added further. They should all be “mod only”

I disagree here. A lot of queries in moderation can be answered by a player who can link to the relevant rule or an example of the mods decision, saving the mods work. Then all a mod has to do is come in, rubber stamp the linked rule as being correct. The problem is when people state opinion, something I sometimes do, but try not too. That should be discouraged. Players helping mods, when they know the answer - and I emphasis this clearly - should be encouraged.


Suppose that's fair. If anything should be done, a tighter restriction on what is appropriate. That's being done so far, I think it can be done a bit better, but it's progress.

Neo Art wrote:7) Learn to delineate moderator and poster. Red text is good, but it’s not enough. When you’re a moderator, your words are going to be taken as moderation, even when you aren’t intending to. Find a way to separate what is a decision, what is a ruling, and what isn’t. If conduct is not violating a rule you have 0 official capacity. Find a way to clearly delineate what is what.

I'm not sure we can really separate the two, short of mods all multi-accounting, and then with difficulty.


Actually I disagree, this is the IDEAL medium for it. We're in an all text, all visual space, there's a multitude of ways to differentiate between what is said "as a moderator" and what is said "as a poster".

Find some way to clearly deliniate the two. Make what is sayd as a moderator visually distinctive (the whole thing, not just red letter). Make it 100% clear what is official, and what is unofficial. And let me, as a poster, decide whether or not I'll heed the unofficial.

And on that subject, get rid of "unofficial warnings". They're not only pointless, they're counter productive. If my conduct violates a forum rule, then give out the appropriate consequence as outlined in the rules. If my conduct DOESN'T break a rule, then don't give me a warning, since you have no official say in the event. Either my conduct violates a rule, and I should deal with appropriate consequences, or it does not, in which case giving an "unofficial warning" puts on a veneer of authority when none exists.

Either an "unofficial" warning is not counted against the poster, in which case it may as well not exist, or it IS considered in future moderation action against the poster, in which case there's nothing "unofficial" about it.

If you truly feel compelled, as a poster, to give me advice on my perfectly legal conduct, then so be it. But make sure it's abundantly clear which is which, so that I may decide, for my own self, to accept or reject advice from another poster (which, when a mod is not acting in an official capacity, is all he/she is)
Last edited by Neo Art on Tue Dec 14, 2010 1:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Maurepas
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Postby Maurepas » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:19 pm

On that latter point I think it's a simple fix, that is, just say only the stuff typed in the Red Moderator Text is in the official capacity, the mods already use this, it's already there, and it's big and red, and therefore easy to distinguish between official mod actions, and the player behind the red name, ;)

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Muravyets
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Postby Muravyets » Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:47 pm

Thank you, Saint Clair Island, for making this thread.

This is a very important topic, and it is also a complicated one. One of the recurring questions from mods is “how should we do this, what should we do to get to these goals?” I’d like to address some of Neo Art’s suggestions and offer suggestions of my own in furtherance of them. I may break this up into separate posts.

I. Delineating Mod-mode from Player-mode: NA’s suggestion about using some visual clue to set off “official” posts from “unofficial” or “off duty” ones.

I think that player-moderators is one of the better features of NS, however, NA is right in that it creates a “bleed through” between mod-mode and player-mode, where it can be hard to tell whether a red-named person is speaking officially or personally at any given time.

Suggestion 1: Expanding on what Maurepas said above, try using a red text title bar for all official moderation posts, regardless of whether they contain a warning or not. A moderation format title bar that is plonkingly obvious, recognizable and uniform - like OFFICIAL MODERATION STATEMENT - could help players know when the communication is official versus just a personal comment from a player who happens also to be a moderator. This would be in addition to the red highlight bars that are used to offset actual penalty announcements. It would be used even if the official post does not contain any warnings or rulings and is, say, merely a “cool it down” heads-up, for example. Any moderator making an official statement of any kind would have to use the title bar - like the official Moderation letterhead.

Any post that does not have that official title bar would be considered as coming from just another player, to be taken as seriously or not as one wishes.

Suggestion 2: When moderators are in player-mode and are really getting into a thread, whether RPing or debate/discussion, they should not moderate that thread. This would be especially important in debate threads, where things can get heated, and it can be very easy to create the appearance of mods using themselves as weapons (or to generate frivolous claims of same).

I’ve brought this up in the past, and the objection was that it might lead to delays in delivering rulings on complaints or violations, but I really don’t see that as a huge problem. Clearly, common sense has to be applied. If there’s only one mod on the board, and that mod is debating a topic in General, and someone starts spamming illegal content into the thread, for instance, of course that mod is going to take action right then and there. It’s an emergency situation. But beyond that, what’s the big deal if it takes a little time for a complaint to be posted in the mod forum and the complainant to wait for another mod to come online to address it?

Maybe that question - “what’s the big deal?” - could be put to the players, in a poll to find out if players would be okay with maybe having to wait a little to get an uninvolved mod to look at their non-emergency complaints? Just a thought.

Suggestion 3: If a mod is in player-mode, and another player loses their cool and starts flaming or baiting them, that mod should not moderate their own complaint. They should call in another mod to look at the situation and make a official, red title bar, ruling. The targeted mod, of course, could unofficially advise the attacker that they are violating a rule and should cut it out, but the mod being attacked should not be the one to issue an actual ruling on the attack.

Why? Because regardless of how obvious the violation might be, if someone yells at a mod, and the mod responds with an official warning, that looks like abuse of mod power, even if it isn’t. It looks bad. It looks like the mod is willing to use their power and position as a moderator for their own benefit against those who talk back to them. It doesn’t matter if that would only be inaccurate perception. It’s a perception that generates resentment and suspicion of the mods, and in this instance, perception is what matters.

Once again, apply common sense. If a mod is attacked with porn spam, then yeah, you get that attacker and their crap off the board, but then another mod should review the situation and issue a final decision on what would be considered the first mod’s provisional action.

Those are my suggestions for delineating the two modes, and I personally would go with all three, if I were moderating a forum. I believe would help towards clearing up the confusion of what is official and unofficial and resolving the common feeling among players of many different stripes that they cannot speak freely around people whose names are in red or blue text.
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Muravyets
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Postby Muravyets » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:13 pm

II. Official versus Unofficial Warnings.

I agree with NA that there should be no such thing as an "unofficial warning." How can players know where they stand with regard to such neither-nor critters? Is it a friendly heads-up or a warning? Are they in trouble or not? Does it count like points on their license or not?

Consistency is key. There should be only one thing that moderators call a "warning." It should come in a red highlight bar, it should be attached to a specific rule, it should be part of a defined and limited set of warnings that come in advance of a penalty, and it should always be official and always count. The end.

Now I don't believe that moderators should never speak except to warn. I like the idea that moderators have the freedom and discretion to give heads-up hints that a player is veering off in a dangerous direction so that the player can self-moderate and keep their record clean. I think that's both fair and friendly.

But such heads-up hints should not be official and should not count as marks against a player. If a player is not violating a rule yet, then they are not violating a rule, period. And no one should be punished or receive black marks for not breaking rules just because, noticing the heat of the moment, a moderator decided to take it on themselves to say unofficially, "yo, cool it before you break a rule." If the player takes the advice and cools it, then they did not break a rule; they did nothing wrong.

This also touches on the, to me, controversial subject of "patterns of behavior," which I'll probably touch on later, but for this point, I'd say that when it comes to warnings, the only pattern that matters should be actual rules violations. When an official rule is officially violated, that should garner an official warning. Period. There should be no warnings from moderation outside of that. And all warnings should count. There should be no real, official violations that don't get officially warned/punished. This is a case where discretion should give way to consistency.

Having a weird hybrid thing called an "unofficial warning" and not being clear on whether it counts and how much it counts, etc., creates uncertainty for players on where they stand, whether their place in the forum is safe, and it can lead to paranoia and, again, resentment and suspicion towards the mods.

I suggest abolish the "unofficial warning" altogether.
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Lithatrius
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Postby Lithatrius » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:41 pm

I think that things are overall extremely messy with moderation. My opinion goes thus:

Appeals:

So far as I'm concerned, there should be the 3 seperate appeals mods. They should not ever be able to access the mods forum. And it should be structured in such a way that it's clear. Mod presents the text of the rule in question being broken, presents the text that is breaking the rule and says "there you go, rule broken!". The person who is being accused of rule breaking should then be able to say "actually, I wasn't, because X, Y and Z". The appeals mods then say either the moderator is correct, and they re-affirm the punishment of the mods, or they say the player was incorrect and the punishment is struck from their record. It should be a lot simpler.

Rules:

They need clearing up. A lot of stuff does, with gravedigging being the one in particular. Maybe liaise with a hundred or so experienced players (2005ers onwards?) and what gravedigging in each forum is. I think almost a complete rewrite of the rules is necessary.

Moderator Conduct:

I definitely think that we need to remember moderators are players on here as well. Moderators need to ensure that at all times, they are following the rules that they enforce. For example I've had some snarky telegrams from Euroslavia in the past (which have now been lost from my inbox >:( ) that really angered me to the extent of almost leaving, and that's just not right.
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Belschaft
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Postby Belschaft » Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:55 pm

Lithatrius wrote:Maybe liaise with a hundred or so experienced players (2005ers onwards?) and what gravedigging in each forum is.


Age is a bad measure of experience/valuable input. A guy who played for a few weeks years ago could reactivate an account from 2005 that has never posted on a whim, and qualify. Meanwhile hundreds of heavily active and knowledgeable posters are excluded because they haven't been on here for at least five years.
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Katganistan
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Postby Katganistan » Tue Dec 14, 2010 4:25 pm

The Bleeding Roses wrote:We should be allowed to shame people who start awful topics.

End thread.

And it's still not going to happen, no matter how many times you repeat it: we are not going to allow posters to abuse other posters.

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NERVUN
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Postby NERVUN » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:02 pm

Ye flipping gods! Ok, there's some good points here that I would like to address in general before I start getting to specific posts. The specifics might take some time (But given a thread about Moderators in Moderation, we're probably going to be all over this like bees on honey) and I've got a full slate of classes today (Kinda have to dress up in a red suit, if you know what I mean). But in general:

1. Three Mods for appeals: I think that might be possible. There are some senior moderators who, due to various RL events and the like, are no longer active as they once were who might be willing to sit on such a board. However, what I would be conserned with is that it would mean appeals would take longer in order to get the three to post their views and the like. Already final appeals take some time in order to gather the avalable/not involved mods and have them chew the soup as it were to come to consensus about the appeal, but excepting needing a blue coat (senior) it's any Mods that are avalable. If we limited it to a certain three, that would mean the time would lengthen. Is that ok?

2. Re-writting the rules: A few players have brought this up and, after spending such an enjoyable time re-aranging them, yes, they are a little thick. Probably because they evolved with the site. However, what would be very helpful for us is to see examples of rules that YOU think are unclear and what you think would be better. In other words, it's one thing to tell us to please re-write the rules, but we're the ones who wrote them in the first place. So I hope you can see why we're a little unsure just what kind of clarification you'd like to see.

3. Offical Mod Communication: This sounds very do able. Maybe something Reppy could code in like our warning code.

And now I'll start going through things.

Along with everyone else I'm sure. :p
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Neo Art
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Postby Neo Art » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:15 pm

NERVUN wrote:1. Three Mods for appeals: I think that might be possible. There are some senior moderators who, due to various RL events and the like, are no longer active as they once were who might be willing to sit on such a board. However, what I would be conserned with is that it would mean appeals would take longer in order to get the three to post their views and the like. Already final appeals take some time in order to gather the avalable/not involved mods and have them chew the soup as it were to come to consensus about the appeal, but excepting needing a blue coat (senior) it's any Mods that are avalable. If we limited it to a certain three, that would mean the time would lengthen. Is that ok?


Appeals take time. It's the nature of the beast. That said, I think if you fix the rest, you'll have fewer.

2. Re-writting the rules: A few players have brought this up and, after spending such an enjoyable time re-aranging them, yes, they are a little thick. Probably because they evolved with the site. However, what would be very helpful for us is to see examples of rules that YOU think are unclear and what you think would be better. In other words, it's one thing to tell us to please re-write the rules, but we're the ones who wrote them in the first place. So I hope you can see why we're a little unsure just what kind of clarification you'd like to see.


The rules, as they are presented, is flawed. It's just just thick wording, its that they need a ground up revision in their presentation and structure.

Start with defining the warning levels, for example:

first warning
second warning
1 day ban
3 day ban
5 day ban
deletion

then, list the prohibited conduct, define it, and describe the value of a violation, from 1 to 6, such that four level 1 violations will merit you a 3 day ban, but a level 6 violation skips you right to an 8 day ban (given that it counts as all 5 levels) and a 6 level violation is straight out deletion.

There are simple, elegant ways to write rules. Make a thread. Put the intro in the first post, each subsequent "rule" in a subsequent post, link to the relevant post when issuing a determination to show the rule violated.

Done.

If you're really too "close" to the issue, get a neutral party to write them.
3. Offical Mod Communication: This sounds very do able. Maybe something Reppy could code in like our warning code.


Frankly, I have to say, after all the concern with mods acting halfway formally and half way not, that this hasn't been done already.
Last edited by Neo Art on Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Belschaft
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Postby Belschaft » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:21 pm

Neo Art wrote:
NERVUN wrote:1. Three Mods for appeals: I think that might be possible. There are some senior moderators who, due to various RL events and the like, are no longer active as they once were who might be willing to sit on such a board. However, what I would be conserned with is that it would mean appeals would take longer in order to get the three to post their views and the like. Already final appeals take some time in order to gather the avalable/not involved mods and have them chew the soup as it were to come to consensus about the appeal, but excepting needing a blue coat (senior) it's any Mods that are avalable. If we limited it to a certain three, that would mean the time would lengthen. Is that ok?


Appeals take time. It's the nature of the beast. That said, I think if you fix the rest, you'll have fewer.


Maybe have more than three appeal mods, but only three needed on each case? A potential nightmare may occur if a complaint is made against an appeal mod for non-mod issues, and that went to appeal, if we only had three. It would also cut down on the time a bit.
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Muravyets
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Postby Muravyets » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:32 pm

Neo, I think he meant that the coding would be similar to the warning system. The consistency of the use of the system is a separate question.
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Maurepas
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Postby Maurepas » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:42 pm

Belschaft wrote:
Neo Art wrote:
Appeals take time. It's the nature of the beast. That said, I think if you fix the rest, you'll have fewer.


Maybe have more than three appeal mods, but only three needed on each case? A potential nightmare may occur if a complaint is made against an appeal mod for non-mod issues, and that went to appeal, if we only had three. It would also cut down on the time a bit.

Well, if appeal mods don't have ordinary moderator powers, I think that wouldn't be a problem.

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Belschaft
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Postby Belschaft » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:48 pm

Maurepas wrote:
Belschaft wrote:
Maybe have more than three appeal mods, but only three needed on each case? A potential nightmare may occur if a complaint is made against an appeal mod for non-mod issues, and that went to appeal, if we only had three. It would also cut down on the time a bit.

Well, if appeal mods don't have ordinary moderator powers, I think that wouldn't be a problem.

Perhaps. I meant if someone got into a fight with them non red-text.
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Neo Art
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Postby Neo Art » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:53 pm

Belschaft wrote:
Maurepas wrote:Well, if appeal mods don't have ordinary moderator powers, I think that wouldn't be a problem.

Perhaps. I meant if someone got into a fight with them non red-text.


You mean, what do you do if an appeals mod gets warned and wants to appeal?

Deal with 2 I guess. Split vote goes in favor of the original decision.
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Sdaeriji
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Postby Sdaeriji » Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:56 pm

Neo Art wrote:
Belschaft wrote:Perhaps. I meant if someone got into a fight with them non red-text.


You mean, what do you do if an appeals mod gets warned and wants to appeal?

Deal with 2 I guess. Split vote goes in favor of the original decision.


More like, what do you do if you're appealing a warning for flaming, and the person you flamed is one of the appeal mods.
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