"Us" and "Them": Why is there Mod/User polarization? How to minimize/avoid it?

Discussion in 'Communications' started by Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon, Oct 22, 2008.

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  1. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    Can we chalk that down to a simple difference in modding style? I mod community boards and I've never ever "patrolled"--I just check out my threads, check out threads that look interesting, and then check out the just plain strange ones. I'd do that before I was promoted too, and it accomplishes the same thing as patrolling might... but it's just a form of interaction.

    On a more discussion-oriented board, that might not work out so well. A patrol model might work on that sort of board better, and it seems that certain boards do seem to get patrol mods. That doesn't mean that they're not modding properly, but that they're modding in the way that fits their board demographics. One size doesn't fit all in the JC, even as the traffic gets smaller--our boards still have their own individual cultures.
  2. Katana_Geldar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2003
    star 8
    We're needed patrol mods before, like in the 3SA days and the days of the Canon Wars when the mods didn't just need to keep the peace, they needed help like the EUDFers. things have changed though on the boards, and it's good to see the mods have changed with them.

    IMHO, mods seem to me these days little more than users with a nice shiny banstick and half an eye out for trouble. Like Zas, Prenn, Yevette, Lowie and Jello who sends is Praetorians out occassionally.

    And Jello, you are needed at the Senate in SWC as you haven't been there.
  3. HL&S Magistrate Emeritus/2014 Celebrity Deadpool Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Oct 30, 2001
    star 6
    This board is going to end up with roughly 1 million messages posted this year give or take. Now over the 10 years of history this place has, that would be on par if we averaged about 1 million posts every year. But that's not the case. We're past 26 million posts. So that leaves 25 million to be spread across 9 years. Now we all know that for the first year or two this place wasn't averaging more than a million posts, but if you divided it out evenly you'd get 3 and half million posts per year. So we're at least a 70% drop in activity since the peak of this forum. It also doesn't look like we're going to be leveling off anytime soon. The Clone Wars cartoons did nothing to change the course we're on and the only hope of stopping the decline seems to be the live action star wars show that the vast majority of us know nothing about.

    This place expanded when activity was up, but we really haven't retracted since activity shrank. Now I can understand that it was too soon to start pulling things back with the promise of more star wars shows in the future, but even with the new stuff, it doesn't seem to be stopping or slowing the decline in activity let alone reversing it.

    With the internet still so young in human history, nobody can predict how long forums last and what way is best to run them. Especially with how different each forum can be. It's an evolving beast. Though it's interesting to note that the site owners never visit anymore and the mods and admins who came up with the majority of policies and regulations are no longer in the MS or posting on these boards actively if ever. Not to mention that over the next year or so, the majority of the MS will be made up of people who registered after the films came out. Many of which will have no idea what the forum was like before they arrived.
  4. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Somebody unlock the last Senate Focus Group thread. The same issues were discussed and largely resolved there.
  5. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    If MS is too big for the size if the Boards, how about a mass demotion of everyone that started modding before May 20th 2005? ;)
  6. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    I do believe in cycling moderators, or "renewing" the mods, at some point. I agree with those that say as a mod you lose touch, even if it's just a bit, with the community after a long period of modding. It's a tough balance to maintain, though. If a mod is still giving their all to their forum and doing a good job, as an admin or part of MS, you hate to make them "redundant", so to speak. I mean, they HAVE given that time to the community and deserve a certain amount of respect.

    I will say, though, that before stepping down I thought I was still firmly in touch with the community and was nowhere near the tower over the user base (used as an analogy), but after stepping down...I realize I was. There's just no helping it. There IS a certain divide no matter how hard you try to overcome it and there always will be. Now, that doesn't mean you just go to your side and do your thing, you still need to be a poster first and foremost. If all you're doing is editing, warning and banning and the ratio of posting is below that...you're in trouble. It's probably a good indicator that it's time to go. And I don't think I could have lasted any longer and it not gotten worse. And I don't think it's something that affects only me. I see plenty of moderators that realize they've been around too long, and go, for the best of everyone. Kudos to them for being able to realize it and let go. This is just a volunteer position, and you can't make it your life, although it's easy to let it intrude on it to the point of it becoming your life.

    I think there will be the MS side of things and the community side of things, and you will be pulled by both sides, and when that happens...it's tough. And communities change and grow with the people involved in them, MS included. And neither side is maliciously trying to outdo or over throw the other, I just think a lot of it happens when one side or the other tries to remain steadfast to old ways or the community as a whole doesn't realize the change has already happened, they just need to catch up.
  7. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    I'm just asking, but how do you qualify a mod for a forced demotion? A certain number of years as a mod? I think that just backs us into a corner with an unnecessary protocol. What if a mod is the greatest thing for their forum and everyone loves them, do we still show them the door because their clock ran out? That just seems like a very unbalanced way of maintaining things.

    LostOnHoth, I'm going to look for that Senate focus group thread and make a point to read it sometime today.
  8. GIMER Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2000
    star 6
    We vote them off Survivor style.
  9. DarthIntegral Game Winner

    Game Winner
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2005
    star 7
    I think there's a lot to be gained from a former admin saying "I didn't think I had lost touch, but when I stepped down, I realized I had." (allow me to paraphrase)

    I ask myself every couple of weeks "Am I still doing things that drive my forum forward? Am I still doing the things that I did as a user before I got promoted to moderator? Am I doing things (other than editing and warning and the such) that I would stop doing if I were to step down? Am I not doing things that I would start doing if I were to step down?"

    And, if I arise at an answer that points to me losing my place as a part of the communities I'm charged with leading, I have two choices:

    1) I can change my behavior and mind set to make me more like a member of the community who happens to also have the ability and responsibility to do the editing and banning and warning.
    2) I can step down.

    Those, really, are the only two choices.

    Am I saying we have members of MS who don't do this. You betcha. Do I think that some mods might be afraid of what they'd discover about themselves if they did such a self evaluation? You betcha. Am I saying that this is the only metric that should be used? Not at all.

    But it works for me, and so perhaps we need the administration to ensure that every member of MS is using a viable metric to ensure that they're not losing touch. And, since every community is different, and every moderator even more different, the metrics need to be different. But we all need one.
  10. GIMER Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2000
    star 6
    I think we were all impressed with the work you put into the FF game, and how much it did strengthening the connections between many of the members.
    Even with the one or two members complaining about the banners, they were getting involved in something.
    It gave some life and action to the forums.
    Thank-you again.
  11. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    As an administration, we've talked about this before, Chris. And we agree then just like we agree now, it IS tough. And saying, "Your time is up because you've been here five years" may not be the way to go. But it could be worth looking at grandfathering in a term-limits type thing. I don't know.

    Inty's post is right on, though. As a mod, I started watching my posting towards the end. For every post I made in JCC, I was making four to five in a private forum. If you are a mod and are posting more in MS (or other private forum) than you are in your forum, IMO, you've lost touch, or at least you're beginning to. Especially if it's been longer than a few months. I'll be honest here, it's easy to stick to your own (and by "your own", I'm including myself because I was part of MS) when you're starting to get burnt out or you're beginning to lose interest in your own forum, and it's only normal to lose interest over time. I do believe as a mod, you should be spending at least a good 75% of your time in your forum -- NOT modding (exclusively), but posting. And that forum's interest should take precedence over the MS (as an entity), generally. And please, please believe me when I say I've been there and have hung on even when I should have been gone, too. It's a tough gig, and there are plenty of frustrations within MS and as a mod, but it's also a bit of a sheltered existence, too.
  12. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    It's certainly a fine principle that mods should step down when they lose touch, but there's no real way to quantify that. Any rule is going to be pretty much arbitrary, and won't be addressing the actual issue of losing touch -- there will be old mods pushed out unnecessarily and new mods staying in who are already disconnected. Because we haven't gotten the admin mind-reading function working yet, there's no way to tell decisively when someone is out of touch. Arbitrary rules aren't going to fix the problem; they're just an overreaction dealing with something entirely secondary to one's touch status. This isn't a problem that can be solved with bureaucracy; it has to be addressed by raising awareness among mods, demanding honest self-examination, and encouraging people to step aside when they know they've lost touch. It's a place for case-by-case examination, not blanket forced retirements.
  13. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I say the admin just sends PMs to all the mods on a particular board saying, "There are 5 of you. We only really need 3. Talk it over amongst yourselves and let me know who's stepping down."
  14. ApolloSmileGirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 8
    Wouldn't that basically be the equivalent of drawing straws though? Especially, if each mod in that forum is participating equally in their community, as well as in the MS. Is that really a fair thing to demand? I mean I could understand asking for volunteers, but not a "We only need 3, there are 5, who's leaving?".
  15. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    I know its painful to lose any member of MS. I know we've got a load of guys in MS that have been modding for years and years, have done an excellent job and have driven their forum with great distinction. It would seem somehow ungratful to then turn around and say; You've been modding three, four, five years, whatever, now on your bike!

    Yet, I'm also mindful of what Roo says. She says she didn't think she had lost touch until she stepped down and realised she had, at least started to lose touch.
    Now, I'm mindful that its possible for someone to have started modding in 2001 and still be as in touch with the community now as they were back then, just as I'm mindful that its possible to have started modding two months ago and to be completely put of touch with the community. However, my own experiance of being a mod is that the longer you mod, the more you start to lose that "feel" for the community. Its inevitable in a way, IMO. Everyone in MS likes to say they are just an ordinary user with colours and extra buttons, and thats certinly the right attitude to have, but I think over time you start to settle into almost a "moderator mindset" and its inevitable that this mind set will be differant than when you was just a regular user. The longer you stick around in MS, the more chance your going to lose touch with your members. Now, I know several long standing mods will deny that they have lost touch with the community, but what I would ask is; How do you KNOW? Your reality is your reality and if you've been modding since 2003, for instance, then how do you know what it is to be a regular user on the Boards today, October 2008, when your last experiance as a regular user was in 2003? As a regular user you may still be in a 2003 mind-set, when the Board experiance is now completely differant.

    So what to do? Despite my comment (which was tongue in cheek and meant to start a debate) I don't want to see mods that have been in MS without a break since before the last Star Wars movie came out being forced out. Thats not the way longstanding and distinguished members should be trated after so many years of service. That was my view when I left MS and I discussed this with collegues and its still me view now.

    However, we can encourage mods to take stock. Like I say, and Roo has confirmed, a mod may think they are in touch with the membership, when they simply don't realise they are becoming out of touch. So, I think there may be some merit in looking at a scheme, where for two weeks a mod is demoted back to being an ordinary user. You take away MS access. You take away their colours. You take away all the buttons. They don't even get VIP'ship. They are just regular so and so posting on the Boards as a regular user. After the two weeks are up, they can come back to MS. They then decide whether the experiance as regular so and so was what they thought it was going to be. Whether they are still in touch with the community or not. Some may decide the experiance was everything they thought it would be, in which case thats fine. Others may decide that off the back of their experiance that its time to step away - You never know, they may even enjoy the peace and quiet of not modding. ;) Either way, it could be a valuable experiance. Start this with the mod thats been around MS the longest and work through from the oldest to the newest. At the very least, I don't think this idea could hurt anything.
  16. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    As an administration, we've talked about this before, Chris. And we agree then just like we agree now, it IS tough. And saying, "Your time is up because you've been here five years" may not be the way to go. But it could be worth looking at grandfathering in a term-limits type thing. I don't know.


    I tried to get that discussion going in the summer of 2007, as you may recall.
  17. Darth Tunes SfC Part III Commissioner

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2000
    star 10
    Perhaps I'm missing where all this action is taking place, but I just don't see this polarization. Back when I first started, to about 2006, that's when it was really bad (it would drop from time to time, of course), but I see that's it's gotten better over the past 2 years. Obviously everything isn't perfect, and never will be, but it seems like too many people hold too much negativity when it comes to an issue like this.

    2007-2008 L.A. Lakers / 2008 L.A. Dodgers: At least they beat expectations!


  18. jp-30 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2000
    star 9
    With all due respect Tunick, you don't seem to post a whole lot outside of one forum.
  19. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Here's a link to the announcement thread, but the good stuff came out of the actual Focus Group form threads which I think was a private board. Shouldn't be a problem for you to open and take a peek I suspect.

    http://boards.theforce.net/Message.aspx?topic=22022612&brd=10320&start=22060081

  20. Grand_Admiral_Grant Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2004
    star 6
    I think an interesting question would be the ask every moderator what would be the signals they need to get before they would step down for being out of touch. Im quite sure there are a few mods who have been in MS for years and will say that, no matter what, they would never step down.
  21. Darth Tunes SfC Part III Commissioner

    Game Host
    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2000
    star 10


    Then perhaps the problem isn't so bad/non-existent in the JCC.

    2007-2008 L.A. Lakers / 2008 L.A. Dodgers: At least they beat expectations!

  22. Skiara ~• Manager WNU •~ ~• RSA FFC •~

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2002
    star 10
    It's interesting to read about the topic of "losing touch to one's board" and I have to say that I thought about that already, since I don't want that happen ever. But how does one define "losing touch"? Is it a simple "not posting" anymore? Or are there things that happen before that one? And what gives us the feeling that one lost the touch?

    I also like G-Fett's suggestion of having a break to check your feelings and views on your own. :)
  23. rhonderoo Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 7, 2002
    star 9
    To me it's when you're worrying more about stuff in MS, or what you'll have to post in Comms, or spending most of your time in your forum putting out fires, and not about what's going on in your forum.

    And when I say "what's going on in your forum", I don't mean who did what that got edited, or how much time you're going to suggest that problem user gets in MS, or how you and your mod peers in your forum are going to respond in Comms or MS about an issue, or you're going to respond to that other mod that irritated you in MS, any of that kind of thing... I mean what threads are your favorite to post in (discussion-wise), what you're looking forward to seeing in response to something you posted in a discussion, what new ideas like games, for instance, can you come up with...things of that nature. Having fun in your forum.

    And I realize that issues come and go in forums, and sometimes you have to spend more time putting out fires, or discussing the more negative things with your peers, but if can honestly look and see that this is what you've done for a large portion of the last few months, then it's time to take an honest look at continuing to mod. Also, I'd say an indicator is if you're posting in another forum rather than your own, it amounts to the same thing. That's why I left Fan Fic, I wasn't giving it the time it deserved because I had started posting more in other forums. I will say in 506's case, he's got the bad end of the stick, because most of his time on here can be doing that kind of stuff that tends to be more negative. That's why I held on to JCC for dear life as an admin, to have something to go to as a positive when modding was at it's worst.
  24. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    I've kept quiet on this issue thus far, mostly because other people have been saying what I wanted to say, but I'll give my two cents here.

    As a moderator of the JCC, my job is to be a productive, good member of the community, while enforcing the rules of the forum in cases that they are broken. As somewhat of an "outsider" when I was promoted, that's always been a little hard for me. I've sort of had to learn how to be a member of the community, while enforcing the rules, instead of being a member first, and then just getting some extra buttons. Thus far, while there's always the possibility that I'm just out of touch with everything, I think I've done an alright job of that. If you feel differently, it'd be great to hear from you via PM or IM or something. Any, my point is that it's a process. Myself and the other mods just can't click between our "mod hats" and our "user hats", and I don't think that's what you guys want. It's apparent that you guys want mods who you feel are members of the community, who contribute to normal discussion and are in the middle of the forums action, and in the midst of this use their extra powers when they need to. And while that's great, it's abstract and it's going to take a bit of time. It's hard to measure, and I think it's something that always warrants self-evaluation (and perhaps evaluation from the community), but really I don't think we can put a concrete policy in place to police such a thing, because every form and every moderator is different. That's where everybody else should come in. There are things that I won't see about my posting style and my posting habits, because I'm me. It's good for every mod to have a group of users they can ask about these things, who will give them legit feedback, and not just "you suck" type stuff. I have a couple users who I try to ask about my performance every month or so. It's not an official thing by any means, but it helps me keep in touch with what people are thinking, and that's what the key is, communication. So as mods, we need to communicate better with our team mates, the administration, and users to keep ourselves in check, and as users, we need to be patient with that, understanding that it's a process, and a somewhat abstract one at that.
  25. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    I guess its kinda refreshing for a mod to admit there is a 'them' and 'us' situation going on.

    Not an attack on you, but more of an attack on the MS/promotion system. Why on earth were you promoted to the JCC then?

    It really, really, really shouldn't. It should be perfectly natural, and it certainly isn't abstract. You just do everything you were doing before you were promoted, but when the time comes you push a few buttons to ensure that your fellow posters are getting the best experience possible. However, if you weren't part of the community prior to promotion I can see exactly where the issue is.

    When you admit it doesn't come naturally, and you don't see things as straight forward then I'm tempting to question your position in the MS. You shouldn't be seeing it as a 'job', but merely a responsibility you've earned from continued forum contributions - it should be a genuine honour to represent your fellow posters, and being given the opportunity to help shape the community you are part of.

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