SE23.life team changes and moderator nominations

Morning all

We’d just like to confirm a couple of recent changes.

Chris @ChrisBeach has left the moderation team and will focus on running the tech side of the site which he does brilliantly and better than any of us could.

The moderation team is therefore now formed of myself @oakr , John @Londondrz , Dom @applespider and Nick @Foresthillnick .

As I’ve alluded to, I plan on taking a break from moderation in the near future, so with that in mind, we’d like to invite nominations for a new moderator.

Please make your suggestions below. We’ll collate these and then when the time comes review the nominations and see if nominated parties are interested in taking up the position.

update I’ve been emailed by a member to ask if they can make a nomination privately - that is possible if anyone prefers, please message @moderators if you wish to do so this way.

Thanks all

Al

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Afternoon.

As a long time forum member, I have some idea of what a moderator does and does not do. At least insofar the public face of moderation. However, with the resignation of the once omnipresent admin/moderator, it seems the role of moderator might have expanded recently. Is there any chance you could provide some sort of “job description” for the role? I’d consider it… and I know someone else who might given this possible new outlook on the site. In addition to general role and duties could you also address the following?

Time commitment. Surprisingly for the amount of time I appear on the Forum this is a worry now that there are only a few moderators. Will moderators need to be online at certain times, or expect to give a certain amount of time for the process?

Decision making. As there is no longer an admin in the traditional sense, Is there an established process for making some of the more complicated moderation decisions? By consensus, or majority, or is there even a chief moderator a la Len Goodman?

Forum direction. Nick noted behind the scenes discussion on things like promoted posts. Do moderators take a more active role is Forum policy now that the aforementioned admin/moderator is working on technical issues?

Liability. What happens online in a Forum can have implications IRL. Is there any form of liability insurance or similar to protect the Forum and it’s officials?

Thanks in advance. No rush on the response.

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I’m not sure we ever had a ‘job description’; it’s generally worked as a informal process where each of us have felt comfortable to trust each other’s actions with occasional discussions/votes over items that might be a bit more controversial. The vast majority of those were in relation to ‘General Politics’ which is one reason that as a group, we were happy to see it go. We’ve generally been able to come to a consensus that everyone is OK with.

I suspect we’ll want to let things settle down into the new normal before committing pen to paper (or bytes to the cloud these days) so I’m glad you said there was no rush to answer. But your questions will help form our framework for that chat.

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Ech! The New Normal is genius tv producer/writer Ryan Murhpy’s worst series ever.

But thanks for the response. It seems to me that the New Normal may include some fundamental changes in what moderators do, there are already hints of that. I’d consider that role but I’d just like to know, in advance, what I’d be letting myself in for. No doubt others might as well.

I can confirm that @ChrisBeach has returned to the moderation team - possibly not officially, but he is certainly moderating my posts.

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I can confirm that I am still involved in the site from a technical perspective and in cases where the mod team has stated that discussion on certain topics (eg interpersonal / police matters) is inappropriate for the forum, I will act to aid the moderators technically, and I will always respect their collective decision-making.

Likewise, others are able to assist the moderators using the flag feature. When posts are flagged by established members of the site, action may be automatically taken by the site software.

Can members please heed the moderators’ decisions, which are designed to keep our community friendly and locally focussed.

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Has there been any further discussion on these issues or other elements of the moderator’s role?

@moderators

I’m guessing an outline of a moderator’s role isn’t finished yet, particularly since my last request for an update remains unanswered. That may be simply as you haven’t had this discussion yet, or come to some decision on the matter.

But I see as of yesterday, that ForestHull has become a moderator (congratulations) and note that the tech admin is filling in the gaps with nudges and topic closures.

If you don’t require any more moderators, perhaps let the Forum know. And if that is the case, I’ll leave my interest until such a time you do require further help in this role.

Perhaps moving forward, you could turn to the membership to see what they expect, or understand a moderator should do as a basis for this exercise?

Probably oversimplifying, but I personally think the moderators are doing a sterling job. I am happy for them to continue as they are doing. I’m sure they will discuss their expectations of any prospective moderator with anyone considering putting themselves forward.

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Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough. I am putting myself forward for the role. There was an earlier commitment to provide an outline of scope and expectations.

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I should like to thank the moderators for the excellent job they are doing in making this community minded forum, as well as SE26.life, such a happy and useful resource

So much has been achieved since its inception, thanks to the founder with the help of the moderators, past and present.

Its success is largely due to the hands on approach of the moderators and their clamping down on any unpleasantness at the outset, as well as their insistence on no “ad hominem” attacks.

The spirit of this forum is reflected in the many well attended, convivial meet ups of forum members, whose membership is growing rapidly

Thank you, Chris and moderators.

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Very kind of you to say so, Ann.

The mod team deserve a lot of praise, because modding comes at a personal cost. Every mod intervention potentially sours a moderator’s relationship with a community member. But it’s absolutely vital to moderate a community in order to keep it positive and constructive.

Some ad-hominem threads of other local forums were/are breathtakingly destructive. Kangaroo courts, conspiracy theory and mob bullying of individuals, in some cases encouraged by the forum owners themselves.

That will never happen here because we focus on community affairs, we have solid guidelines and an accountable mod team looking after the health of this community.

As the founder, I have responsibility resting on my shoulders, but obviously I am just as fallible and human as anyone. I occasionally got frustrated at people and committed fingers to keyboard as a red mist descended. But the mod team apply the guidelines to me just as any other member and my posts/topics have sometimes been collapsed, and sometimes deleted.

Thank you @Londondrz, @Foresthillnick and @applespider for years of great modding, and thanks to @ForestHull for recently joining our team and already making a strong contribution.

We’ve also seen great past moderators come and go, helping to shape the site - particularly @dave, @armadillo and @oakr, who are always welcome to return to the team.

I look forward to our next #meetup and thanks again, Ann (@topofthehill) for your support, both here and in darker corners of the web.

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Great list of moderators current and past. And as a long term member myself, I’d like to add @RachaelDunlop who’s level head, sense of balance and above all humour successfully kept many of the biggest personalities in check for a fair amount of the site’s life.

There is much to emulate from current and past moderators, and I’ll look forward to discussing how I could add to these efforts when the moderators are ready.

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Hi @starman - agreed Rachael was indeed a great moderator on here. I always thought it a shame when she left.

I think the current team do a fantastic job (as well as previous moderators) and the site has run extremely smoothly since my departure which is of great credit to them, and also all the members using the site of course.

I don’t believe there is a guidebook per se on moderation, however if you wanted to meet up one day for a drink (as we never managed it whilst I was a moderator) I’d be happy to take you through what you can expect.

In an ideal world, everyone is nice to each other and moderation is only needed to remove people who join to spam everyone etc. And more often than not it really is like that, which is fantastic.

From time to time, people feel particularly strongly about certain subjects or posters, and moderators need to intervene to try and calm things down which can bring you into conflict with said posters. You can have members flagging posts as inappropriate, which are in grey areas, and you have to make a call one way or another which can be difficult.

I always took the view that not everyone will agree with what we (or I) did, but as long as we took the actions with the best interests of the forum in mind, and were clear about them, we were ok. This can lead to people ‘strongly’ disagreeing with you, questioning your reasons and integrity but you have to accept this is par for the course unfortunately.

Time wise it varies. Most the time the site can look after itself, other times you need more time to work on issues and or contribute on how to deal with issues arising. I once told someone at midnight who disagreed with my moderation of a topic that we’d just have to agree to disagree as I had to be at work at 8am the next morning, to which the response was I should not have got into the conversation if I could not finish it…It tends to ebb and flow dependant on the membership makeup and the topics discussed.

Hope that helps (and each moderator will have a slightly different view of course).

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Good summary @oakr. I too miss Rachael’s balanced and level-headed approach whilst she was here as a moderator.

Thanks Oakr. As I mentioned in my first post, I had a strong inkling of how it worked and your comments align pretty much with that. My main area of concern was how that role may have changed or is changing in light of the admin’s departure from the moderation team.

Until his departure it did seem that Chris was responsible for a disproportionate amount of the moderation though understandably as he is probably most often on the Forum. So I’d thought there may be a greater time requirement for remaining moderators. Something which I guess also guided a decision to recruit extra to pick up the slack.

I’m still interested to know whether the moderators are now taking a more active role in forum direction (it has been alluded to) and probably a better understanding of the dynamic between tech admin and the moderation team. And finally if there was a new Len Goodman.

Hopefully one of the current moderators can still address this. I thought these issues would be of interest to anyone considering a moderation role. And on a personal note, I find it best to go into a new situation with eyes wide open.

Are you going to the FHS AGM on Thursday? Perhaps a pre or post drink is possible.

Sorry @starman my wife is learning the guitar from now til the end of the year each Thursday night which means babysitting not drinks for me each Thursday!

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Moderators are volunteers who donate time to keep the forum tidy and maintained according to the guidelines, for the benefit of the community, which includes us too! There are no requirement for specific ‘hours of attendance’ or diligence in monitoring every post in the forum (see the TOS later) - instead we rely on flagging or messages from people to request attention where it may be needed. Of course, the moderators also read the forum too and so may notice things for themselves, but we are all very lucky that the forum’s community already sets a generally positive tone and moderator interaction is not generally a round-the-clock exercise. Out of courtesy, moderators may inform the team if they are taking a break for holiday or whatever from time to time.

In terms of decision making the team operate as you would hope any effective small team would. Uncontroversial and straight forward decisions (e.g. dealing with unsolicited advertising) can be made with a certain amount of individual autonomy to illicit faster responses and perhaps ‘nip things in the bud’ with canned responses when necessary, utilising trust within the team and prior experience. More complex decisions benefit from discussion and may take longer to be made and discussion may be concluded by a vote if necessary.

As for the direction of the forum, I’m not sure there is a mission statement, goal or any other specific target other than to help maintain a very useful resource for people, businesses and organisations within the postcode. Clearly some things can and have been improved, and as members of the community who read and interact with the forum quite a lot, moderators will tend to hold thoughts and feelings about aspects that are working well, or not. However, the #site-feedback category is open to everyone, in addition to flagging and PMs - if there’s a problem, please let us know!

Finally liability. Your question states “what happens online in a forum can have implications in real life”. This is generally a fact for anyone using any online forum or mailing list service, not just the moderators or users of this forum. The general guidance here is to be agreeable and civil, but the Terms of Service are also clear that contributors are responsible for their own content and posts, and that the se23.life does not review all, or endorse all, posted content.

So this is all somewhat general, and while there is a lot of guidance about moderation (e.g. pages from Discourse themselves) there are no hard or fast one-size-fits rules for dealing with disagreements or bad behaviours. And if indeed we could make an axiomatic definition of moderation, I’m sure the Internet giants would have already figured it out and the whole Internet would be a clean and safe place without problems. In reality, we instead we need humans to moderate humans, and having a small team of volunteers with shared values is how the .life forums, like many forums, manage that.

This is a kind offer, and noted for the future should the need ever arise.

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Worth pointing out the FAQ section of this site incorporates the boilerplate guidelines set out by the creators of Discourse (we use the same over on the Pi-hole forums, with a few tweaks.

Also a good general rule of thumb for how to behave on a forum can be found on Reddit, with their Reddiquette - though being a moderator over there can be a huge ballache, as not that many users follow it. But I think it has some good points! Some excerpts that I think apply to general forums:

Please do:

  • Remember the human. When you communicate online, all you see is a computer screen. When talking to someone you might want to ask yourself “Would I say it to the person’s face?” or “Would I get jumped if I said this to a buddy?”
  • Adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life.
  • Moderate based on quality, not opinion. Well written and interesting content can be worthwhile, even if you disagree with it.
  • Search for duplicates before posting. Redundant posts add nothing new to previous conversations. That said, sometimes bad timing, a bad title, or just plain bad luck can cause an interesting story to fail to get noticed. Feel free to post something again if you feel that the earlier posting didn’t get the attention it deserved and you think you can do better.
  • Report any spam you find.
  • Use an “Innocent until proven guilty” mentality. Unless there is obvious proof that a submission is fake, or is whoring karma, please don’t say it is. It ruins the experience for not only you, but the millions of people that browse reddit every day.
  • Read over your submission for mistakes before submitting , especially the title of the submission. Comments and the content of self posts can be edited after being submitted, however, the title of a post can’t be. Make sure the facts you provide are accurate to avoid any confusion down the line.

Please don’t:

  • Engage in illegal activity.
  • Post someone’s personal information, or post links to personal information. This includes links to public Facebook pages and screenshots of Facebook pages with the names still legible. We all get outraged by the ignorant things people say and do online, but witch hunts and vigilantism hurt innocent people too often
  • Be (intentionally) rude at all. By choosing not to be rude, you increase the overall civility of the community and make it better for all of us.
  • Follow those who are rabble rousing against another redditor without first investigating both sides of the issue that’s being presented. Those who are inciting this type of action often have malicious reasons behind their actions and are, more often than not, a troll. Remember, every time a redditor who’s contributed large amounts of effort into assisting the growth of community as a whole is driven away, projects that would benefit the whole easily flounder.
  • Conduct personal attacks on other commenters. Ad hominem and other distracting attacks do not add anything to the conversation.
  • Start a flame war. Just report and “walk away”. If you really feel you have to confront them, leave a polite message with a quote or link to the rules, and no more.
  • Insult others. Insults do not contribute to a rational discussion. Constructive Criticism, however, is appropriate and encouraged.
  • Troll. Trolling does not contribute to the conversation.
  • Moderate a story based on your opinion of its source. Quality of content is more important than who created it.
  • Report posts just because you do not like them. You should only be using the report button if the post breaks the subreddit rules.
  • Editorialize or sensationalize your submission title.
    Make comments that lack content. Phrases such as “this”, “lol”, and “I came here to say this” are not witty, original, or funny, and do not add anything to the discussion.
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