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Thread: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

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    'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Hello all, I'm posting this not to complain or give the mods grief, but hopefully to start a dialogue. As a person who was an early rebreather adopter, contributed thousands of posts here and a member for nearly 10 years, I am concerned about the direction this site goes in, now in it's 3rd (?) ownership. I, and many, many of you have invested a lot of time here contributing to the knowledge base of Rebreather diving.

    It's my belief that the quality of moderation has a very direct bering on the quality of the contributions and interactions between members. Too little moderation, and some members may be subject to excessive attacks from the more aggressive among us, too much moderation and you dampen personalities and dissuade members from expressing themselves naturally, and force members to spend more time worrying about whether they will 'offend' somebody, than about the content of their posts. Too much moderation will also discourage people from bringing up controversial subjects, which are the very things best hashed out in forums like this. Most importantly, IMHO, too much moderation eventually dissuades people from contributing altogether, if they feel they are often being treated poorly. Somebody recently posted a thread asking why this site was 'dying'. I don't know if that's true, but it's something that is more probable if the most experienced/longest standing members stop posting.

    Just recently, the second 'Deep Stops' thread was heavily moderated, then closed, signaling what may be an unfortunate new direction here on RBW. The first, big 'Deep Stops' thread started out with what appeared to be no moderation, and after months of aggressive, accusatory behavior by a particular member towards those he did not agree with, some of the members began their own form of moderation by giving him negative reputation points, as well as another person who also made aggressive, accusatory remarks towards those with whom they did not agree. It then escalated to bad behavior on most everybody's part, creating too high a signal to noise ratio. Everyone who read the threads will know the principals, but bringing up their names only distracts from the dialogue I think needs to happen.

    You will notice that my above characterization obviously includes a judgement about what constitutes 'aggressive' or 'accusatory' remarks. Which is a big part of the point: IMHO, there is no such thing as perfectly 'fair' moderation without giving the same 'fair' treatment to some who may show through their actions, that they do not deserve it. In fact, people who behave badly often take advantage of doctrinaire, cookie cutter types of 'fairness' to do further damage to their perceived enemies. Fairness can rarely, if ever, be absolute, certainly not in tasks like dividing up property or children. All attempts at real, practicable fairness involve judgement of some kind. By practicable fairness, I mean that which brings the greatest good to the greatest number. Policing language will only get you so far and will often attach too much significance to single words, or someone's 'tone', not the overall content of the speech. Content is often obscured by 'tone' and poorly used words, and is of course the thing that matters most. Judgement is unavoidable, and people who try to be ultimately 'impartial' or 'fair', in lieu of using their powers of judgement often do a disservice to all, by allowing someone who needs to learn boundaries, not to learn them, and adding insult to injury by treating the badly behaved 'equally' to those with better intentions.

    What I would like to see is a more transparent, editorial kind of moderation, one where mods post in the thread asking specific questions of posters like: 'You say this manufacturer stole this design from ____, could you please back that up with some sort of evidence?' Or, 'What do you mean by saying ____ is being 'deceptive'? Please explain what you think they are hiding and why'. That is the kind of moderation which keeps people in line and makes them accountable, before they can do real damage to decorum and people's reputations. A more editorial type of moderating allows us all to see who is a mere bomb thrower, and who is interested in a real discussion.

    Sorry for the long opener, just trying to get some kind of focus to start from. What do you all think about forum moderation, here on RBW and generally? Thanks, -Andy
    Last edited by silent running; 20th February 2014 at 02:00.

  2. #2
    RBW Member PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG is a glorious beacon of light PeterVICEG's Avatar
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Quote Originally Posted by silent running  View Original Post
    Hello all, I'm posting this not ."..............

    Sorry for the long opener, just trying to get some kind of focus to start from. What do you all think about forum moderation, here on RBW and generally? Thanks, -Andy
    There was no useful or engaged moderation on the two threads cited.

    Such a thing would be most welcome. But, as the results of the bun fests were most productive, It makes me come down again on the side of very light moderation.

    Still, I would wish that there were moderators engaged enough with any long running threads willing to step in when any of us get personal or in any way out of line.

    I don't think there is a history or culture of even handed moderation or debate on this site which is sad as there are many talented and generous contributors here.

    Passion seemed a principle driver for many recently. I would wish that could be retained, with out the gratuitous insults.

    For me there have been few, if any, threads that had me re read ing and rethinking things as these two did. These threads are the subject of much discussion amongst divers here.

    Was it good for you? It was good for me! . Healthy or unhealthy, there was debate. We were most fortunate to be so informed by many of the leading lights in the related fields of study. It feels that the science was advanced.

    Thank you Andy,

    Peter

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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterVICEG  View Original Post
    There was no useful or engaged moderation on the two threads cited.

    Such a thing would be most welcome. But, as the results of the bun fests were most productive, It makes me come down again on the side of very light moderation.

    Still, I would wish that there were moderators engaged enough with any long running threads willing to step in when any of us get personal or in any way out of line.

    I don't think there is a history or culture of even handed moderation or debate on this site which is sad as there are many talented and generous contributors here.

    Passion seemed a principle driver for many recently. I would wish that could be retained, with out the gratuitous insults.

    For me there have been few, if any, threads that had me re read ing and rethinking things as these two did. These threads are the subject of much discussion amongst divers here.

    Was it good for you? It was good for me! . Healthy or unhealthy, there was debate. We were most fortunate to be so informed by many of the leading lights in the related fields of study. It feels that the science was advanced.

    Thank you Andy,

    Peter
    Hi Peter, we both share similar views. Thanks for posting your thoughts, very well expressed. -Andy

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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    The problem is, as you say twofold. What is too much or to little?

    Well, lets take two examples that i have encountered. The first example is a forum that is specifically aimed at one brand and that is highly moderated. Since most users are in an agreement (since it is brand related) it is not very often that you see an aggravated conflict. But it is also not allowed to go off topic and that is moderated. So, the impact of hard moderation is that it is a cold and strict forum.

    Example 2 is a forum with a lot of different brands and different users (just like RBW). This is not moderated until it gets out of hand and gets down to personal criticism. That forum is much more alive, but that also gets cumbersome and a bit boring that many discussions ends up in total chaos.

    Problem with forums is that you take a bunch of people with different experience and opinions and you throw them all into a room. Then you let them discuss various topics So you have flamethrowers, fire extinguishers, experts, noobs, bomb makers, bomb disarmers and... normal people :)

    Somewhere down the line, when the normal people gets ticked off, they will choose another role or simply leave the room.

    Moderation is hard, because it is always wrong from someone's point of view. Maybe it would be wise to implement self moderation. I know that I would have needed that in some discussion, when I really just became a flamethrower instead of just leave :)

  5. #5
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    As one of the admins, I can tell you some of the thought process here.

    There are many online forums nowadays. Too many to count. Many of the forums I've seen have some heavy-handed moderation in one form or another. For some, this means the forum is 'squeaky-clean,' meaning no foul words will be tolerated, and anything even approaching an insult is deleted and moderated. Other forums may have a bias of some kind towards a particular product or service, and moderate the content to favor that product.

    My personal views are the forum should be less moderated. I might not agree with someone's views, but I believe they should have the ability to express themselves in a decent way. I enjoy a well-mannered debate. I also believe if a topic bothers or offends a member, then that member simply should move on to the next topic. No one is forcing anyone to read anything.

    Now of course on any forum, you have many that share that philosophy, and others who don't. Some take these topics far to seriously, and see any challenge to their point of view as a challenge to their own intellect, or even manhood, and react inappropriately.

    This loose moderation is a double-edged sword. It allows people to speak more freely, but also creates trouble. Where do you draw the line? There never is a right answer, and no matter what choice the mod staff makes, there will always be someone who disagrees with it.

    When I see meaningless, or silly comments that tend to de-rail a thread topic, I'll simply delete these, and I encourage the other mods to do the same - to keep the thread on topic. If I see a thread morph into multiple topics, I'll try to split the posts into a new thread, to keep confusion to a minimum. Beyond that, there is not much moderation we'd like to do, other than to delete threats.


    Quote Originally Posted by silent running  View Original Post
    What I would like to see is a more transparent, editorial kind of moderation, one where mods post in the thread asking specific questions of posters like: 'You say this manufacturer stole this design from ____, could you please back that up with some sort of evidence?' Or, 'What do you mean by saying ____ is being 'deceptive'? Please explain what you think they are hiding and why'. That is the kind of moderation which keeps people in line and makes them accountable, before they can do real damage to decorum and people's reputations. A more editorial type of moderating allows us all to see who is a mere bomb thrower, and who is interested in a real discussion.
    I'd agree with this, hover it takes many man-hours to do this. Years ago at my previous job, I had the man hours to devote, but today there just isn't enough time in the week.

    If anyone wants to volunteer their time, and thinks they can be impartial, have a thick skin, and don't mind working for free, let me know!

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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Quote Originally Posted by silent running  View Original Post
    Just recently, the second 'Deep Stops' thread was heavily moderated, then closed, signaling what may be an unfortunate new direction here on RBW. The first, big 'Deep Stops' thread started out with what appeared to be no moderation, and after months of aggressive, accusatory behavior by a particular member towards those he did not agree with, some of the members began their own form of moderation by giving him negative reputation points, as well as another person who also made aggressive, accusatory remarks towards those with whom they did not agree. It then escalated to bad behavior on most everybody's part, creating too high a signal to noise ratio. Everyone who read the threads will know the principals, but bringing up their names only distracts from the dialogue I think needs to happen.
    The closing of this thread was discussed at length for quite a while amongst the RBW staff. Some felt it should be kept open, as there was valuable discussion taking place. Others felt the thread had become too problematic, and needed to be shut down. At the end of it, there was much behind the scenes chaos going on between some of the members, and the consensus was the thread should be closed. It wasn't really a change in the boards philosophy.

    I'll be the first to admit, that had that thread needed a RBW staff member to 'steer' it - keeping tempers in check, and offering reminders to be more polite, deleting nonsense as needed. Again, it just came down to a time-management thing.

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    RBW Member dspe is an unknown quantity at this point dspe's Avatar
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    We are not kids i think if people have somthing to say they should be able to ,if they are a bit hard or hurt somones feelings so what if they put somone down then they should be told to calm down ,we have lost some very noligable people ,i would like to see Dave bake on the boards he has alot of experiance he was going to do an orara blue tear down just befor he got chucked i would have liked to read that one,europ is not yet like the us we dont go court every time some one tells us we are wrong or not to be silly becouse were going to kill are selves!!

  8. #8
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Thanks for your feedback silent running.
    I agree with most of your post above.
    When I make a decision to modify or delete a post I ask myself, does the post contribute to the thread in any productive way or is it just for the purpose of insulting or inflaming the debate. I also ask myself how would I feel if that comment was directed at me. Sometimes these debates become quite impassioned as we saw in the Deep Stop thread(s) but so much good information was coming out of it we had to be very careful what we moderated. That thread generated numerous PMs and reported posts. Some were acted upon others weren't and each one was a judgement call on behalf of the mods. When a tough decision is made we seek a consensus of the other staff members but often the offence is clearly against the board TOS and the decision is easy.
    The participants in our most recent challenging thread(s) were all seasoned RBW members with very strong opinions, and (mostly) knew quite well how to operate on the cusp of TOS violations which made moderating difficult.

    I thank you again for this thread and for myself I will be watching it for constructive criticism.

    Some of us remember the unmoderated mailing lists in the days of yore. They could get pretty ugly when passions were inflamed.
    An undermoderated forum will suffer just as badly as an overmoderated one. We are hoping to obtain balance.
    Last edited by wedivebc; 20th February 2014 at 14:59.
    Cheers,

    Dave....

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  9. #9
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    An irritating issue here was that the owners were asked to shut down the first thread when it became highly repetitive and they refused as they were loving the volume being driven to the site. Then they started treating some people as different because they were sponsors. The moderation ended up being too late, biased, and driven more by commercial interests than moral, ethical or intellectual ones.

    But it was only an irritant, fortunately. Wrongheadedness on one side led Simon and David to write long, incredibly informative posts. Kevin developed some awesome tools. I personally was forced for the first time ever to dig a little deeper into the mathematics of VPM, which was a great learning experience for me. And even in this poorly moderated chaos, some great stuff came out.

    It was also really fun finding out how flawed the reputation system was. I actually explained the flaws to one of the mods early on (I found it to be funny and he appeared similarly amused) and then was yelled at months later for abusing the system... A bit weird since I'd explained the nature of my abuse and the flaws well before, with no criticism at that time.

    Overall, I've lost some respect for the board owners and moderators. I love Peter's store and will continue to patronize it, but it's another thing that he at least should think about. We're both board members and customers, leading to yet another layer of conflicts of interest. Peter, you may want the little bit of money that sponsors pay you... But don't you also want me to buy stuff from your store? And what drives higher revenues, those sponsorship fees or the money we spend as customers? It bears thinking about the next time your team start slicing and dicing threads, allowing large scale defamation of some highly regarded scientists and massively repetitious, verifiably false statements simply because they're a sponsor. What's a sponsorship cost anyway? It can't be much. Is it enough to compromise sensibly controlled free speech?

    It's a pity. These are no longer the halcyon days of the last decade when, as heated as threads got, there was plenty to learn. We all used to talk over beers about the latest great flare-ups, the personalities of the participants, the new stuff we were learning. There would be 4 or 5 threads going on at the same time. Now this site is just craigslist for rebreather owners. Don't get me wrong, this is a generic problem. I haven't seen anything informative on thedecostop in years. Boards are pretty lame these days. So poor moderation of the first interesting thread in years really left a bad taste in my mouth.

    RBW, truth be told, you were privileged to be the location chosen for that discussion. I feel you could have handled that privilege better.
    Last edited by aainslie; 20th February 2014 at 15:17.
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    Re: 'Moderation', a member's perspective...

    Wow... Apparently w h o r e is a naughty word... Teo, if you're reading this, take note!
    Andrew Ainslie

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