Scrutiny of Moderator actions

This morning, moderators were accused of being complicit in shaping narrative and suppressing counter commentary by pre-selecting posts and assigning them to private messages.

Firstly, I’m not sure how we would pre-select anything - but it is true that at times we do move posts to a separate private thread when the conversation moves off topic and requires intervention. We do this simply to try to keep the original topic on track - and since such interventions can at times get quite combative, it serves as a fire break between the mod action, and the rest of the general site.

This is done with the best of intentions for the forum and certainly without any hidden agenda. However, I recognise that simply saying the sky is blue does not make it so, so we have created a new opt-in category where we will posthumously make available any moderator interventions as a closed topic for review by the wider community.

Groups page -> Moderator Actions
https://se23.life/groups/moderator_actions

I should stress that since the interventions occur in a private thread (where sometimes people say things they wouldn’t normally), we would need the consent of all those involved before making it public. Given peoples desire for transparency, I hope this won’t prove to be a stumbling block and will help to alleviate any concerns anyone may have with the impartiality of the moderation team.

To this end, I have asked each of the people involved in the private thread that is alluded to in the above topic, if they would consent to me making the thread public within this new opt-in group.

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Does that include all the threads that were deleted in the past, or are they gone forever?

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That may be difficult because if a member has left the forum and asked for posts to be removed then we cannot revive them (the member and the posts!)
Note that if a member has a strong reason for wanting a topic removed then it will be and we cannot just restore that topic even if it were technically possible.
Also I think we are trying to strike a positive note with this process and be responsive to the forum contributors and I am not sure that reviving old deleted threads would help in that…

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Re. Scrutiny of moderators.

Just to make a comment on the subject.
No disrespect to any moderators, but the moderating on this site is quite amateur or immature and sometimes does not make sense. I had issues once or twice and had to ask Chris to intervene and Chris ruled out the situations quite nicely. It appears that other participants have problems too. I have also seen that one rule applied to one tread, participants (nit myself) and for some reasons the same rule did not apply to other threads, participants (not mysels). The moderation is a mess here. Maybe too many rules and moderators don’t always remember them.

Usually it is quite simple - no swearing, no trolling, no creating arguments to cause chaos. The rest - people free to express their views without fear to be cut off, moderated, complained, etc. It is just a communication forum for people to communicate basically, no national level discussions are made here affecting peoples life. Let people get their steam out, that is kind what it is all about.

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Nicely put as ever Kat. Just about sums up some peoples feelings. I know it is not the place to discuss such matters, but maybe there should be a discussion, possibly not visible to non members, for people to openly express their feelings.

Not personal attacks, but constructive conversation.
While I appreciate sometimes these things are said behind closed doors, the fact that some believe that there is an agenda off the forum, in little groups, speaks volumes that some discussion needs to take place, and everyone know how others feel.

I am sure there are swathes of support for the forum, and the mods, it is not an easy job at all, and wires do get crossed at times. I am very grateful for the time and effort put in by all to make this forum the success it is, but feel there are other discussions which should take place, openly, to ensure that things carry on as intended

Sorry if this is the wrong time or place to say this, but thought while the cards are on the table from the mods side, maybe it’s time for everyone to be able to do the same.

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Two things:

First: open discussion of moderation is and has always been encouraged and to suggest otherwise is wrong. If people were not aware that they can at any time have an open and frank conversation about moderation in the Site Feedback section, let it now be known.

Second: as a former moderator I had access to all areas of the forum, seen and unseen by regular members, bar private messages. The moderators often have discussions - and disagreements - about moderation. They take their roles in ensuring fair play very seriously. There is not and never has been any agenda promoted or plotted by nefarious GROUPS behind closed doors. There are people here who know me in real life and through other social media who I think would vouch for me having no reason to lie or dissemble on this point.

If INDIVIDUALS have agendas, that is beyond anyone’s control bar their own.

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Sorry for any confusion, the groups I speak if are not forum mods, quite the opposite.

With regards to forum moderation, I am referring more to conversations taken away from the forum to PM.

Not here to stir, just speak my mind.

I am very familiar with the mod side of things, both on this and other forums.

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As far as I am aware, this is a rare occurrence. I would not want regular forum members to think there are great swathes of discussion that are swiftly removed and quarantined away. I think that was one of @jgdoherty’s complaints, and the point of the OP here was to indicate that the PMs he was referring to could be made public, if all the participants agree, to demonstrate to the wider forum community exactly why that action was deemed necessary. It would trouble me if forum members came away from this discussion thinking the moderation here is agenda driven and draconian when the opposite is in fact the case.

I think the offer made in the OP to open up an entire disputed thread to public scrutiny to refute such allegations of censorship shows how serious the moderators are about reassuring users about their transparency.

As an aside to @kat.standlake.point - if you ever feel the rules are not being applied fairly, you should flag it to the mods. They are a team for the very reason that they will moderate each other’s decisions if need be.

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@kat.standlake.point Sorry to hear that you believe “moderating on this site is quite amateur or immature”. We are of course amateurs who are simply trying to do our best to keep the site friendly and on track. We are not professional mods and we have to fit this in around work, family and other commitments. We are also fallible and make mistakes (though hopefully not many) and consequentially we are trying to make any moderation more open and transparent and to an extent we are learning best practice as we go.

Mostly it is simple but not always - sometimes it is difficult and stressful. It is helpful if forum users make contributions as well. If you think the moderation here is a mess then it is helpful, as @RachaelDunlop has said to raise it with us at the time.

In regards to posts being moved to PMs. It doesn’t happen that much but I think the mods realise that posts disappearing from threads can be discombobulating for some and can appear rude to others…

Hence the new opt in Moderator Actions group!

We would rather never have to mod anything but in any open and frank discussion there are bound to be times when intervention is required. We will try to be consistent and open with moderation when those times occur.

With that I am off to enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday with a nice meal and a glass of something nice. I hope you all are as well.

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I would ask those member who are , or were, members of the other SE23 site to ask themselves which has a better moderation team. There are many moderators on here who act by general consensus, the other site has one who acts with impunity deleting threads and comments without comment or reason. And still some complain. I would suggest that some need to stand back and reflect on the huge latitude everyone is given on here.

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Nick, i know. There were times when i moderated forums in my spare times. I know how it works, I know how it is and I know how it could be.

You do what you have to do John. In my opinion the moderation can be much better here. Comparing with the worst examples - not sure if it is a right approach. Telling people to stand back and reflect about the latitude given everyone here - i think it is quite rude and quite low, in my opinion.

But hey, your forum, your rules.

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Comparisons to SE23.com are IMHO moot. You wouldn’t want to compare a good table wine to grape juice. Apples and oranges and all that.

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Kat, it’s not my forum or my rules but telling the mods they are amateurs is just bloody rude.

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That may be so but I sometimes feel that some members on here forget how much they can say, how much they can express their opinions and those opinions are posted and very very rarely moderated. I sometimes wonder if a day will come when Chris thinks “sod that, why bother” and closes the whole lot down.

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This is just turning into a mud slinging exercise, hardly productive.
There is no point with personal comments from anyone here, but would be constructive if comments from everyone were taken on board and the emotional part kept separate.

Yes things are better on here than the old forum, there is no question there. However it’s comparison is irrelevant for this discussion.

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But that how moderators actions look like and perceived. Whos fault is that? It is not rude, it is the truth. If you find it hard to take it, you should not be a moderator then. What you said about some people should reflect IS rude and disrespectful. Remember, you are not doing us any favour here by being nice. You upset people, they will go away to another forums, no strings attached. As much as moderators are to ensure that there is order on the forum, they also have to ensure how to retain people for the forum to succeed. As much as it hurts, some people should not moderate.

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I agree.

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I am sure that some of the issues here are not strictly forum and genuine moderation related, however they exist none the less, and either need addressing or putting to bed.

There are clearly some clashes of personality, beliefs and ideals which don’t make life easy. In these cases it is possibly prudent to maintain professionalism and hand the dealing of the post in question to another mod.

In my very humble and sometimes worthless opinion, I think sometimes topics die a premature death, as continuing with the discussion is discouraged for one reason or another.

I will leave this alone now.

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Hi Kat, thanks for the feedback. Do you have examples of bad modding that we could understand and learn from?

In our new #moderator-actions category we can share mod intervention PM threads (with the approval of participants), and discuss the approach taken.

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I need to look back Chris. When i have time, i will do that and will post here.

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