"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. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    Keep in mind that I'm posting on my own behalf, and not discussing the situation of the rest of the MS at all. As far as the other JCC mods go, I'm pretty sure everybody else isn't facing the same problem that I was, since they were all pretty much entrenched in the community before we chose them, and that was in fact some of the rationale behind choosing them. So this was just an issue with me.

    I can't speak to what the MS spoke about or debated about when they promoted me, because mods aren't allowed to see the MS discussion about their own promotion. I can speak, however, to why I took the job, but I think that'd be better suited to PM, since it doesn't really fit the topic here. If you want to discuss my spot in MS and whether you (or the community as a whole) thinks that I should be gone, I'm more than willing to do that, but we should do so through discussions involving 506, you, and me, and probably not in this thread.

    I do want to address your points about me though, as they pertain to the subject. As I was saying before, a unique problem that I face is that I wasn't fully entrenched in the JCC community upon promotion. This isn't the case with many mods, but it's what happened to me. As such, I faced some challenges around getting involved on a community level, and getting involved on a mod level at the same time. I don't struggle with this as much any more, I'd say that I'm a member of the community now, but it's something that I had to deal with. Because of this, I agree with you, Malkie, 100%. Being a mod is a responsibility that one earns through continued forum contributions, and it should be an honor to represent fellow posters, and to help shape the community as a whole, and we should make sure to promote from within communities, to make that transition easier and far more natural. You're absolutely correct.

    My point about the abstractness of the whole deal was that it's not something we can simply make a blanket policy for, because every forum is different, and there's so many different measuring sticks. Being a member of the community in the JCC looks drastically different than being a member in the Senate, or any where else, and it looks different for each mod within each community. Every user fits into the community in a different way, and because of that, this seems to me to be something that has to be regulated through the individual mod, and watched by the admin team. Each mod should be re-evaluating themselves regularly, and the admin team should be making sure that is happening, and making sure (as best they can) to be in touch with what users are feeling concerning that, but beyond that I don't think we should make any additional rules, because it varies from mod to mod and forum to forum so much.
  2. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I don't know what happens in other forums but I don't think we have any "us versus them" issues in the Senate whatsoever, so please don't try and "fix" the Senate because it ain't broke. Thanks.
  3. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    oh no, I have absolutely no desire to do that - zero value in fingering-pointing a single mod over what is a general thread about the user / mod divide, so please don't take it that way.

    However, I feel my point is valid, because you stated that you weren't a member of the community you were asked to moderate - surely thats a serious blunder on the part of the MS, because they are setting you up for a unecessarily hard time which.

    Why not promote someone who is an intergral part of the community, and will be instantly accepted by the userbase for their recognised contributions to the forum?


    edit

    I totally agree, however the current mods, and the past mods were extremely active and well known posters in the senate prior to promotion. Furthermore, the senate is one of the few forums where the threads and discussions are very well laid out under sensible and easy to follow guidelines. I can't recall any senate promotions that took me by surprise, however I cannot say the same about the JCC./>
  4. Grand_Admiral_Grant Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2004
    star 6
    Malkie, Im sure you remember that a lot of dealings in MS are like RL politics, with many hidden agendas and bruised big egos getting into the way of what is best for everybody. So without going into specific details, many users which are considered an integral part of the community are usually blocked by non-forum mods, not in the last part due to old grudges or fear of allowing somebody who is incompatible with other mods into MS. Popular believe by some IIRC was that being able to fit into MS is just important as running your forum properly and fitting into your forum. I never quite understood how anything could be even remotely as important as being a good forum mod, but that could have been me.
  5. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Perhaps what is needed are some "sensible and easy to follow guidelines" for the JCC re Mod actions so that there is consistency (given there are so many mods in the JCC)?? For example, out of the last Senate Focus Group we came up with this concept of "moderator transparency" to combat complaints of Mod bias. Perhaps the JCC needs a new Focus Group so that the whiners, er, users, can have a chance to vent constructively?
  6. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    I'm 100% sure that happens :) During my stint in the JCC we really tried to prevent that happening, and we succeeded apart from a single user who honestly should have been a JCC Mod at some point. It caused trouble, but it was always the same small set of mods who used to cry, and I'm confident that they still do exactly the same thing.

    For example, bringing KW into the JCC mods was unpopular with a couple of MS mods, but it was the right thing to do at the time, and worked extremely well in the JCC.

    My memory sucks, were we in the MS at the same time ?

    In defense of the JCC mods this is actually extremely difficult to do. However, there has been a library of blunders in recent times of the JCC mods not following/enforcing the limited set of policies which do exist.

    I could rant on, but I don't think its on topic.
  7. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    I would agree with all of that. I would also add a mod is out of touch if they are not moving their forum forwards to suit the needs to their forum today. You know, all of us, when we've been around for a while get a bit stuck in our ways and sometimes whats needed is fresh voice and a new perspective. If you are modding in the way you've always modded, rather than changing, evolving and moving with the changes that are already happening on your forum, then you may unwittingly be holding your forum back.

    Indeed. It certainly didn't fall on deaf ears. :)

    Thanks. :) I'm not sure it is my idea, actually. I think someone may have posted something very similar in KW's summer 2007 thread, but I spent some time thinking about and thought it was a cracking idea. Of course anybody that wants to take a break from MS can already, but it usually involves them going green and slipping away from the forums for a while. The thing about this idea is that the twist is that you don't actually leave the forums, you just drop out of being a mod for a little while, but stay around as a regular member. I certainly don't think it could hurt anything and whilst I'd start it with all the more senior mods, there is no reason why any mod that felt they needed a fresh perspective couldn't try it out.
  8. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    It all sounds great, but in practical terms how do the mods "change, evolve and move" in terms of their modding? A forum is just a collection of threads started by a number of people. I'm not sure you can describe a 'forum' in such a singular organic sense. How can you really "hold a forum back"? Mods are there to ensure the users comply with the TOS yes? Really, what else do you expect them to do? Perhaps if they were paid a salary you could place upon them reasonable job descriptions but isn't this all getting a little hysterical? Mods are users who have volunteered to do some extra duties. Nothing more.
  9. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Here is my old thread, for those interested in it.
  10. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    There are many ways of modding. Sometimes a mod can moderate too much. If a mod is doing their job properly, with a much smaller community now, a mod should be giving warnings minimally if at all. Mods should be locking or editing minimally if at all. Mods should very rarely have to ban people. In place of these things mods should be posting in their forum as much as possible. Joining in discussions and debates. Allowing threads to be created where possible. And they should be getting involved in promoting their forum. Having games and competitons and things like that. Moderating isn't all about enforcing the TOS and infact, I would say for most forums that comes right down the list of moderator juties now.
  11. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    Should of course be duties. Silly me.[face_shame_on_you]
  12. LemmingLord Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2005
    star 4
    Each forum has its own user community with its own needs. Mods are users and they are only human. I have only so much time to spend on the internet each day. As a mod in the PT I am both blessed and cursed with my community having few posts, few new threads and few users. I am blessed in that there is less for me to sift through for TOS violations leaving more time to start my own threads or add my opinion to existing threads. I am cursed in that the PT has been over for three years so the amount to discuss is static (which is why there isn't too many new posts, threds or user base there).

    Mods in the more dynamic forums have a different set of blessings and curses - in the JCC, where several new threads and many many posts per hour, mods have many more ways to be involved, much more to talk about, much more community to commune with and yet much more of their time must be used at sifting through all the new threads and posts.

    Having a good balance between these two extremes might make for a better opportunity for Mods to get to spend more time being users and less time on the additional responsibilities of being a mod. One way to do this for the lower traffic "static" forums is for mods (such as myself) to try to "inject" or "encourage" more new non-redundant threads into the forum and take a better leadership role (in effect, encourage community building through more shared experiences).

    I do not know enough about the high volume forums to be sure what the mods can do differently. Speaking as a user as well as a mod, I know if those more mature veterans of those forums could take set a good example by following the TOS and encouraging TOS friendly threads it would allow Mods more time to be just one of the users.
  13. Dingo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2001
    star 5
    Warning: Long post by cratchety ex-admin. Those with short attention spans are suggested to skip.


    The issues in discussion in this thread are linked, but there's two things being discussed. One is 'when does a mod begin to lose touch?', and the other which is what seems to be the original question at hand of an "us versus them" feeling. They are linked, but still are separate issues.


    Call it "us versus them", call it "Ivory Tower Syndrome", call it any of the names that have been used over the years, but this isn't exactly a new thing. "We have seen this all before, and we will see it all again". Like a lot of issues over the years here, there's a cyclic nature to it with improvements being made and then a drift back to the problems of the past. During my time as a moderator it first came about after the release of threads from inside the Mod Squad when there was a view held that the administration was out of touch with the users and seen as an exclusive club where decisions were made without thought or consultation with the users handed down as 'edicts from on high'. Efforts were taken to reverse this perception, and this led to the inceptions of the Mod Squad Updates, and the resurrection of the Advisory Council to increase the participation of regular users in the decision making and consultation process. Back then the MSUs were a complete record of everything that was discussed in forums that was not open to the general userbase. That had its effect for a while, but then it was seen to be that there was now an exclusive club of users along with the moderators who were making all the decisions, which led to an effort to discuss things more in Comms.

    Events over time though have again produced a divide between the users and the moderators. Whether it is a true one or perceived it doesn't matter as here on the net, just as in politics, perception is just as important as reality. There is little doubt that the events of February 2004 had a large influence on relations between the administration and the users, with the actions of some people during that time leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of many people. The way in which certain administrators handled matters here in Comms during the past few years and the introduction or alteration of rules to curtail open discussion of issues and take it all behind closed doors further exacerbated tensions in moderator-user relations. And no one can deny the fall-out of the revelations of DarthSapient's actions haven't hurt things also.


    How to fix any of this, even if it is just a perception? One way is for the administration to be more open with the users. Currently the MSUs are frankly a joke. Given that it doesn't take much to work out the amount of posting that many moderators are making in private forums, it is hard to believe that it's all over just a couple of issues that we are told about in the MSUs. One of the big things is that there are now a plethora of private forums that deal individually with each of the major public forums. Unless something from there is brought directly into the MS forum, the general users never hear about what goes on in there and it leads to all sorts of possible speculation. If the Mod Squad itself can't talk about everything as a whole team without issues over boundary lines and letting the needs of the boards as a whole override any personal issues, how can they do so with the rest of the userbase?

    Being open and free with discussion in this forum across a range of issues, rather than a standard response of "have you discussed it in PMs first?" also helps. Having everything taken out of the public light and made private means that there is no way to gauge how wide-spread something might be. Need I bring up a certain former administrator again to prove a point? As long as everyone can manage to discuss things in a civil and rational manner, nothing should be hurt from openly talking with everyone (and those that can't manage to do so can be handled).

    Is this the be-all-and-end-all answer? No, but it's a start. The Co
  14. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I guess it depends on the number of trouble makers at any given time, which you would think might be reduced in circumstances where there is a smaller community, but most likely it just makes the trouble makers more visible. Mods are just regular users with some added responsibilities. You and I can get involved in promoting a forum, starting competitions and games, posting threads as much as any moderator can, in fact , regular users and mods can and should get invloved as much as time and enthusiasm allows. However, only moderators can enforce the TOS and resolve disputes concerning the TOS. This is why they have colours right? So that they can be quickly identified and contacted in the event of issues.

    In this respect moderators serve in a unique capacity which I imagine would change the dynamic when they post in a normal capacity somewhat. The forums are only as good as those who participate make them, user and mod alike. You shouldn't necessarily look to the moderators to be the all things to all people. If there are deadwood moderators then they should step aside or be demoted to let fresh blood in but I don't think you should raise exepectations as to the role of a moderator which are far beyond the realm of reasonable or realistic.
  15. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    One potential explanation is that they are posting significantly in the social threads in the MS. At least while I was there they had a 'post your pic' thread which was regularly updated, and the straight-forward 'chat with other mods' thread. I think the idea had merit in getting cross forum mods speaking to each other, but if thats where all of the MS posts currently are, then somethings wrong.

    A bigger issue is the current frequency with which the MS promise to hold a discussion on, then we (the userbase) hear nothing about it. Either they don't want to share the conclusions, or (worse still) they didn't actually hold the dicussion. Users have brought up the lack of communication, and received further hollow promises and worse still uncalled for, and unprofessional sarcasm.

    There is significant deadwood in the MS, but they refuse to acknowledge their own lack of activity and clutch onto their status. One of the purposes of the 'moderator review process' I originally suggested was supposed to tackle this issue (by getting moderators to learn new ways of getting involved again) but it isn't having that effect.

    edit

    Just reviewing one moderators posting habits I can see they've made 19 posts in their forum in the past month, and 2 in the MS. This mod has not been on leave. Would be interesting to see what the admin action log count is - I'm guessing less than 2.
  16. Grand_Admiral_Grant Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2004
    star 6
    Malkie, that is something that already starts at the selection procedure. I've seen moderators getting promoted with just a handful of posts in the forum they were promoted to mod. Possibly the same mod you're referring to now. :p

    Mentioning this fact during the promotion discussions usually only creates drama and bruised egos. The likability factor seemed to be of more importance than the actual forum.
  17. Everton Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 18, 2003
    star 10
    This is gonna end up in a focus group, right? :rolleyes:
  18. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    Hopefully not.

    In an effort to one-upmanship me, another former mod PM'd me with a Mod who has had 12 posts in their forum in the past month. Not to be outdone, I've just came across a mod who has had 7 posts in their forum in the past 2 months. It's not like I'm trawling through every mod I can think of, this is simply clicking on a few mods names.


    edit

    I'm going to have to conceed defeat - the other former mod I'm PMing with highlighted a mod who hasn't actually posted in their forum in the past 2 months.

    seriously guys, what gives?/>
  19. G-FETT Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 10, 2001
    star 7
    It is a bit depressing to see this much inactivity going on with certain mods. I think MS needs a change of direction, but I'm not sure what? I'm loathed to have a minimum posting requirement on all mods, but some of these numbers are bad. A handful of posts in a month simply isn't good enough. We can't keep going on like this.

    Oh and a mod that hasn't posted in their forum for two months is inactive and should be demoted for inactivity.
  20. ApolloSmileGirl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 18, 2004
    star 8
    Hasn't that always been the policy in the past?
  21. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    I think the policy was complete inactivity - ie no log-ins or responding to admin PMs to see if everything was ok.
    The mod who hasn't posted in their forum in two months has actually posted 10 times this months on the JC (including twice in the MS).
    There could easily be genuine reasons for this inactivity, however the mods in question aren't green, and "on reduced time" hasn't been indicated in any of the MSUs for the past two months. I can only comment on the stats infront of me.

    edit

    I mean, it could be a dead dog, poorly grandmother, excessive course work etc etc. It just seems that the dog has been eating the homework of an significant number of mods when you start to look at things.
  22. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    The policy of an instant demotion has always been around the neighborhood of two weeks. If mods are supposed to be around and it's been two weeks since they have posted, logged in, etc, then they are demoted. We typically try to contact them to make sure everything is okay, but if it's just inactivity for two weeks, then it's a demotion.

    I do want to warn about some term usage going around. There are a lot of generalities being used to group all mods together. There are some forums where there is no problem at all. Communication is great between mods and users in some forums and things are very smooth. Of course, you rarely hear anything when things are going so smoothly, so it's understandable at times to view one problem as being a problem in every forum. It's not. Each forum has it's own culture, it's own traffic and it's own communities. You can't underestimate those factors. Obviously the JCC community is the loudest, so we see that forum represented a lot in there, but every forum is different, so be careful on the generalities.

    Now, malkie, I know one of your intentions with the moderator review process was to help with this area. I was actually going to bring up discussion on that subject soon but since this thread has started, let's do it now. The process worked from a mod's perspective but failed from a user's perspective. If I had to sum it up, the problem was basically what I said at the beginning of the process: Users can't see actions that go on behind the scenes, so if they don't see something visible (like a moderator demoted) then they assume nothing really happened. That's the wrong way of thinking, but it's an understandable one given the perspective. You can ask any moderator who went through the process and it was anything but a pony show. We went through every single piece submitted on them and many things changed. However, if those changes aren't entirely visible, then it looks like just wasted time. So I want to talk about the process. Is there any way to improve it or is it just going to be viewed as mods playing theater for the users? I want to make something like this work because I think it helps that relationship between mods and users. It keeps us accountable, in tune with user opinion, etc. Again, I need to watch on the generalities myself. When I say that it keeps us accountable and in tune with users, I don't mean that every single mod needs that. Some mods do hold themselves accountable and do their best to be in sync with their user base.
  23. MsLanna Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2005
    star 6
    One thing might be to make some of the invisible results visible to the users. I am not saying to post a review of the Mod in question in the forum, or maybe nothing that gets too specific. Maybe if it was clear thyt you can get a kind of summary of what happened behind the scenes via pm or so, it would not seem as if nothing has happened.
    Not really sure how that would best be handled without giving space for public griping again, though.[face_thinking]
  24. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    I know there's been a longstanding attitude to protect other mods from anything that can be viewed as criticism from the administration, constructive or not, and I don't think that's productive. Some mods will recoil in horror at this, but perhaps the results of the reviews could be posted publicly.

    I'm not saying there should be any direct quotes or the like, just in the MSU or something give a brief rundown of what happened, or the basic conclusions of the review. So that we know things are actually being discussed and progress is actually being made. If it's something that several people have complained about, there should be no reason not to bring it out in the open. I'll use one of my criticisms from Prennifer's mod review as an example, I'm making this up - but these are things I could imagine being said about him. In the MSU, there could have been an update saying:

    "MasterPrenn was reviewed. He is seen as participating very well in the community and being approachable. He has agreed to lock parody threads more consistently and to stop adding content to posts when he edits them."

    There's no egg on anyone's face from that, and it gives users an idea of what's happened. If a mod's review process happens to be so negative that something like that couldn't be posted without embarrassing someone, then that should be a sign that demotion should occur.
  25. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    I wouldn't call it a wrong way of thinking... I'd call it insufficent communication from the administration to the users.
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