"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. Saintheart Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 16, 2000
    star 6
    Although I guess Hammer's largely made the points that I would have made regarding my/his post count in the RPF, I would also point out in my case that we also conduct activities to try and keep the need for edits down. We've done so by creating "basic use FAQs" in the RPF and NSWRPF which are designed to give new users a decent idea of how the forum operates and how to create games which won't need to be locked. By doing so I personally think we've eliminated the need for a decent percentage of edits because people have a FAQ to go to and are therefore less likely to engage in behaviour which will annoy enough users to require an edit.

    For my part, I actually take a proportionally low administrative action count in "my" forums as a point of pride. It means people are behaving themselves and that generally folks are having a good time.

    Two other points which skew the results a little:

    (1) I do a lot of my conversations via PM, especially with threads I'm called on to lock. Traditionally what will happen is this: I'll read a thread which doesn't meet RPG requirements, and which I then lock and provide a short note as to why it can't be opened. Usually the maker of the thread then contacts me by PM, we discuss the issue, a resolution is worked out, and I'll then unlock that thread. This conversation necessarily doesn't happen in the open because (a) I don't like to trash new users' RPGs for all the world to see; and (b) because I've locked the thread they can't add to it and have to correspond via PM.

    (2) The post count was, I understand, taken over the last month. I haven't done my own figures to date, but there has been a slowdown at RPF which is purely seasonal; people going back to school/college/university/what have you. That is affecting the count.

    To be fair, I personally am not participating in a lot of the games at present, mostly because of a combination of Darth RL, my duties in keeping an eye on the forums, and because I'm running a game of my own in one of the forums. Having said that, if I were active as a player in many of those games I really think my capacity to fulfil my duties would be seriously affected -- because I wouldn't have time to administer the forums. Rest assured I'm reading and watching those forums every workday, and some weekends. Losing the ability to participate in 20+ games is not a sacrifice I necessarily relish, but it's the sacrifice I volunteered for when I agreed to become a candidate for moderator.

    I'm still enjoying being on the RPF, polishing here, whittling there, and working with Hammer to maintain a good forum. We've even created a specific dialogue thread in the Role Playing Resource for people to tell us direct things that they like, things they don't like, and things that really tee them off. Hammer even more than myself loves feedback, negative or positive, and I try to keep uppermost in mind the advice W.S Gilbert gave on the witness stand in a court case: "I like criticism because whilst I know how good I am, I do not know how bad I am." :D
  2. DarthIntegral Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2005
    star 7
    I've never actually had cause to just go back and read MSUs from 2002. I'm honestly not trying to sound flippant here, but I've got much better things to do with my time.

    Perhaps I should convey my point better. Do you need to have the exact same info about me and R...J working on a new game 3-4 updates in a row?

    I do understand that putting that information out there once is a good idea, so that other people who might want to help see things along will see that something is being done (even though there is a standing understanding among most Arena regulars that we're constantly on the outlook for new ideas). And, perhaps, more of that could be done in MSUs. But I honestly see no need to include that information update after update.

    Also, Comms now features a moderator away thread. So, in general, they've removed "mod x will be away for y period of time". I'd ask the same question you asked me, but I don't want to be accused of being snippy. Even with that said, I don't think everyone needs updated that I'm only going to be logging on briefly over a two-day period. The other mods who cover my forum should know that, yes, but anyone else who needs to correspond with me over that period can without much being missed. Logging on once or twice a day allows me to check PMs, check with the threads I am actively needed in, and make sure that anything else that needs my immediate attention is taken care of. I'm honestly failing to see why the JC public at large would have needed to know I was going to be out of town this weekend.



    Also, as a general rule of thumb, I'm trying hard to not pose my questions in a manner that could make things any more "us vs. them". I'm trying to convey that things happen where I don't think constant update of them is at all necessary, but where posting about them to other moderators is important.
  3. Dingo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2001
    star 5
    Oh, I don't expect people to go back and read through to old MSUs. Most people have more of a life than I do and that's fine. ;)

    In regards to repeating the same thing again and again, would a case of mentioning it the first time, and then in subsequent updates just have a section that would read "Moderators from the PT, SWC and Arena forums are still working on game ideas" sound like a workable and non-onerous way? The benefit is that all it requires is just altering the names of the forums between updates.
  4. DarthIntegral Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2005
    star 7
    You know, if there's a desire to have that sort of information in an update, I have no problem with it being put in an update. I had been operating under the assumption (yes, I know what that does), that repetition of that sort would simply be unwanted.
  5. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    As Dingo said, it's pretty standard in MSU's to say "Game development is ongoing."

    No, they haven't: http://boards.theforce.net/communications/b10006/29341666/p1/?11

    I agree, but this discussion started over accounting for a large amount of posts in MS and not very much information about them. How many posts in MS did you make saying that you were going to be out of town for the weekend?
  6. Dingo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 23, 2001
    star 5
    Dani, cute as it is, snarky-ness (even if it unintentional) probably isn't the best at the moment.

    And one more from me before I stop posting at work otherwise I'll get caught for it, but in an ideal world the MSUs wouldn't be needed, and we wouldn't have to have threads like this every couple of years. When they were first introduced I had major issue with the need to write MSUs, but there is little that can be done to remove the need for them other than moving all policy discussion into Comms and having the MS and other private forums purely for the administrative needs for discussion of bans. What we should all aim for though is the most amount of transparency that we can get between the moderators and regular users.
  7. AaylaSecurOWNED Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2005
    star 6
    What about my last post was snarky??
  8. ObiWan506 Former Head Admin

    Member Since:
    Aug 5, 2003
    star 7
    A list that shows the post count of each mod is a little deceiving. It seems like it's showing a lot, but it really isn't. Posts numbers are different for each person. They are proportionate to the traffic from the forum that you obtained them from. When you post them side-by-side with each other, they are hardly telling since there isn't many consistent factors to compare them too. It's not discrediting, it's just that there is way more that goes into it than just post counts. Some of the other minor flaws have been pointed out as well. Either way, it's just not the best barometer to use as a comparison tool.

    To me, the concept is simple yet it can be the most difficult to do: Communication. The ability to be transparent in areas and have that feeling of openness. MSUs can be a place where we can work on that. We're currently talking about MSUs in MS now. We're talking more about merging them with the ATBs update, but we can discuss some ideas on how to make those better; how to make them more transparent. That's an area that we can explore and work on. I think that is more productive than listing post counts by moderators.
  9. harpua Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2005
    star 8
    I know jp, my post was pretty much tongue in cheek. :p
  10. GIMER Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 15, 2000
    star 6
    I noticed you didn't mention the P&W Forum, but I'd like to put my two cents in to say that
    Everton and I would be posting more in our forum if they hadn't locked it and demoted us.
    Before they locked it, we were very active in our forum.
    Thanks.
  11. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    I think the personal back-and-forths are distracting from the larger point being made by the stats malkie posted.

    This isn't an issue of "Look at user X's post count; they're not doing enough!" It's an issue of "Hey, users X, Y, and Z all have really low post counts, and they all mod the same board. Maybe we don't need this many mods."

    For example, the PT board has three mods who, as far as I know, ONLY mod the PT board. CT, on the other hand, has similar amounts of traffic but does fine with two mods who also mod other boards. PT simply doesn't need that many exclusive mods. Any one of the three could probably handle things on their own, and certainly two of them would be plenty. There's no good reason for all three of them to be mods, so it must be one or more of the following bad reasons:

    -One or more of the mods simply doesn't want to give up their banstick and/or membership in MS
    -Someone else in MS doesn't want them to leave MS
    -They just like splitting the work three ways, so that no one has to do much work to mod the place
    -One or two of them doesn't really do anything; they just leave the work to the other mod(s)

    Unless someone else can explain why PT has three exclusive mods, we've got a case of lazy mod(s) and/or mod(s) who care more about the MS clique than what the board needs. And no matter the source of the problem, there's a second problem in that the admins have demonstrated in allowing this situation to occur that they either don't know about or don't care about the problem.

    Situations like this are why some users start to perceive mod-user relations as an "Us vs. Them" battle.
  12. Aragorn327 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2001
    star 6
    As a heads up--I'm not particularly familiar with the movie forums, so I may be wrong in this particular instance.

    That said, I disagree with your implication. Are multiple mods who are doing the work one single person could do pushing the ivory tower syndrome and the "us v. them" battle? I certainly wouldn't think so.

    If a forum has one active mod who's responsible for everything, they're far more likely to fall into the patrolling mode.

    If you have 2 or 3 people there (assuming all the mods are moderately active,) each'll know the others'll be coming online and can catch things, which allows them to relax a bit and be a lot more of a community member.

    Obviously'll this'll vary based on individual forums and their sub-cultures, but on the whole, I assume that having a single mod would lead to more of an us v. them divide than it would alleviate such concerns.
  13. Grimby Technical Consultant

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Apr 22, 2000
    star 7
    I think Everton made some great points earlier in the thread about how both users and mods could stand to be a little less accusatory and a bit more constructive when addressing the other. I think this quote deserves reiterating:
    It's hard to get anything resolved when people get defensive.


    While there's definitely something to be said for any moderator that might be lacking involvement or might be "out of touch" with their forum, I think something similar could be said about regular users. Now, of course, a user's post count shouldn't determine whether they can be a part of a community. But if a user finds that they're logging in every day and doing little more than posting negatively about the boards or those who moderate them, perhaps that user should rethink why they continue to post.

    I'm not trying to single anyone out here, but I feel at times like some users find more enjoyment in posting about how much they hate this place than they do in contributing positively and helping to make it better. And as a relatively "new" mod on the most active forum on the JC, sometimes that can be very discouraging while trying to learn how to be a good moderator, being open to feedback, and trying to keep the forum a fun environment for everyone.
  14. MaidenLumpe VIP

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2000
    star 3
    In this particular forum, there were 10 threads that were posted in today, and from reading them, I could only tell 2 admin-type actions that happened in them. The first page goes back 3 weeks, and the top 100 threads go back 2 months. I don't think that, in this case, reducing the moderators down to 1 would add a large stress load to that manager's time and ability to still be a participating member, however I do know that there are often things that go on behind closed doors that we may not see that might account for a necessity of that many mods.
  15. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I guess it might be helpful if somebody sets out why it matters if there are surplus mods for any particular forum. Does the surplus in any way adversely affect the operation of the forum, the boards or the use and enjoyment of the users? If anything is it not better to have too many than too few? I'm not being contrary, just a sincere question as I'm really getting the problem.

    I understand the need to get rid of moderators who do nothing despite there being a need on a busy forum, but if there is no need what difference does it make if that user remains a moderator or not.
  16. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    One note I'd like to toss in is that I think its highly beneficial to have at least two moderators in a given forum, and after having a few weeks of no second moderator in the Senate, I can definitely say that that made some situations more complex. I'd further say that avoiding one mod benefits all users, since it gives someone else they can go to if they feel there's a problem with one moderator.
  17. MaidenLumpe VIP

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2000
    star 3
    Having mods just for the heck of it makes the moderating position seem more like a reward for good posting (or good modding) than an actual need or doing what's good for the boards. Also, I believe that when you have a larger number of people making policy decisions, etc, than you really need, you're increasing the "us" vs "them" mentality because you're making the "them" (or "us" if you're a mod) group bigger, and therefore giving the power to more people.

    While I can see where you're coming from about having more than one mod in order to mediate disputes, that's what the Mod Squad and admins are for. Generally concerns are going to be a general policy issue rather than something board-specific, so it can go to the MS as a whole for input, and if it IS board-specific, then the admins can step in to see if anything innapropriate is happening anyways.
  18. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I think this is a really good point and much more compelling than the other reasons cited. I can see where this could become an issue particularly in circumstances where mod consensus is required for decisions to be made. Why bother with the views of deadwood mods?
  19. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    Carmen, I totally see what you're saying. But wouldn't that problem be better solved by simply not promoting new mods when the time arises, than ousting old mods, who contribute to their forums?

    Also, I'm not trying to be contrary, but can you explain your logic on how having more mods leads to more of the "us/them" mentality", rather than less? I'm having a hard time following that. It would seem to me that having more decision makers would decrease that problem, not make it worse. If there's one mod in a forum, I would think that users could get the interpretation that it's their way or the highway (not that we should encourage that type of moderating at all, it would be exactly the opposite of what we want), whereas if there was two or three mods in a forum, users would feel that they have more options and avenues for getting their voices heard, etc. Can you explain where I'm wrong on that thinking? It would seem to me that making the group of decision makers and leaders bigger, that would contribute to the elimination of the elitism that you guys are fighting against here, not perpetuate it.

    Again, I'm not arguing, I'd just like some clarification so I can better see and understand where you guys are coming from. Obviously, we need to be making sure that mods are doing their job, and we don't want more mods than we need...but it seems to me that this problem would be better addressed by re-assessing each forum's need for x number of mods after a mod steps down, not demoting mods that aren't being harmful to the community in any way.
  20. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The tyranny of numbers PRENN. More decision makers means less efficiency. Particularly decision makers who no longer really consider themselves stakeholders. It's the basic principle that underpins modern government bureaucracy. That's my take anyway.
  21. MaidenLumpe VIP

    Member Since:
    Feb 13, 2000
    star 3
    As far as the question about outsing old mods, basically, that's what you'd have to do. But it happens in the real world, too, when a company has less business and has to become smaller so it lays some people off. But letting people stick around because you don't want to hurt their feelings isn't constructive. Mods should continue be mods because they're needed, not as a reward for doing a decent job.

    As far as the other question, by giving the power to more people, you're marginalizing more the people who don't have it. The more mods you have, the more decisions are made just among the mods, rather than asking the general populous. If you're making a decision by yourself, or only have one other person to make decisions with, you're able to see that your insight may be limited, and that there's benefit in asking others. But if you've already had a long drawn-out conversation with a number of other mods on it and have FINALLY reached a decision, then you're a lot more unwilling to bend if the regular users don't like it because you're tired of talking about it and feel like you've already addressed all angles.
  22. PRENNTACULAR VIP

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2005
    star 6
    Ah, I see what you're saying now. Thanks for clearing it up for me.
  23. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Is there any reason why the members of a particular forum can't have some input into who is selected as a moderator for their forum? I've always found it kind of insulting that a moderator is selected without any consultation whatsover with the regulars. What I'm envisaging is simply allowing some input into the nomination of some candidates with the final decision to be made by the MS in the nornal course. Perhaps those with an interest in the forum will care enough to put forward a name or two and some reasons behind the nomination.

    Take the Senate for example, the reality is that if I had been given the opportunity to have some input into the selection of the candidates, I would have nominated the user selected by the MS in any event but I would have a warm and fuzzy feeling because somebody I put forward got the nod. I'd feel as if I had some stake in it and would be less inclined to whine in Comms later on down the track!

    Of course I realise that there would be whiners complaining that their 'candidate' was not selected, but, I think it is worth giving some consideration. It might just serve to mitigate against this emerging 'polarisation' between the mods and the great unwashed.
  24. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    During my term in office, I actively encouraged users to PM me with mod candidate suggestions, providing they qualified their suggestion with a few points on why their candidate would make for a good mod. As you say, more often than not the userbase suggest good solid candidates who are already being considered by the MS, but on occasion they'd throw up a great candidate perhaps overlooked by the mods due to them being on different time zones (for example).

    My openness to suggestions was never adopted as a policy, and I certainly don't see the current MS inviting suggestions, however I'm confident they'd listen to any suggestion coming from their forum regulars.
  25. PrincessChattyCathy Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2005
    star 5
    I would encourage any active members of the JCC to send me a PM with users they feel would make good moderators especially the ones in a different timezone. I can't know everyone and I would like to know who stands out in other users minds. Currently we don't have any openings in the JCC mod team but as the JCCers know that can change quickly at times. If you have someone in mind then go ahead and send them along, that way I can get to know them too.
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