Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Friday, January 28, 2005day link 

 Online Moderation
Via BoingBoing, Theresa Nielsen Hayden is an experienced moderator of online forums and has some excellent advice:
1. There can be no ongoing discourse without some degree of moderation, if only to kill off the hardcore trolls. It takes rather more moderation than that to create a complex, nuanced, civil discourse. If you want that to happen, you have to give of yourself. Providing the space but not tending the conversation is like expecting that your front yard will automatically turn itself into a garden.

2. Once you have a well-established online conversation space, with enough regulars to explain the local mores to newcomers, they’ll do a lot of the policing themselves.

3. You own the space. You host the conversation. You don’t own the community. Respect their needs. For instance, if you’re going away for a while, don’t shut down your comment area. Give them an open thread to play with, so they’ll still be there when you get back.

4. Message persistence rewards people who write good comments.

5. Over-specific rules are an invitation to people who get off on gaming the system.

6. Civil speech and impassioned speech are not opposed and mutually exclusive sets. Being interesting trumps any amount of conventional politeness.

7. Things to cherish: Your regulars. A sense of community. Real expertise. Genuine engagement with the subject under discussion. Outstanding performances. Helping others. Cooperation in maintenance of a good conversation. Taking the time to teach newbies the ropes.

8. Grant more lenience to participants who are only part-time jerks, as long as they’re valuable the rest of the time.

9. If you judge that a post is offensive, upsetting, or just plain unpleasant, it’s important to get rid of it, or at least make it hard to read. Do it as quickly as possible. There’s no more useless advice than to tell people to just ignore such things. We can’t. We automatically read what falls under our eyes.

10. Another important rule: You can let one jeering, unpleasant jerk hang around for a while, but the minute you get two or more of them egging each other on, they both have to go, and all their recent messages with them. There are others like them prowling the net, looking for just that kind of situation. More of them will turn up, and they’ll encourage each other to behave more and more outrageously. Kill them quickly and have no regrets.

11. You can’t automate intelligence. In theory, systems like Slashdot’s ought to work better than they do. Maintaining a conversation is a task for human beings.

12. Disemvowelling works. Consider it.

13. If someone you’ve disemvowelled comes back and behaves, forgive and forget their earlier gaffes. You’re acting in the service of civility, not abstract justice.

I often err on the side of trying to set up some kind of automatic system of making conversations useful. Which rarely works well. In my own experience, the best conversation spaces I've started have been the ones I moderated myself. And when I stopped moderating them, they tended to become less useful. But the problem is how to successfully configure a bigger space, where it isn't one discussion, but many. I'm talking about the New Civilization Network, where I frequently get accused of not moderating things enough. Well, again, the answer is not necessarily that I moderate everything, but rather that there's a way to make moderated spaces, where somebody who cares sufficiently about that particular section can step in to moderate. I still have some work to do in making that easier.
[ | 2005-01-28 12:17 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Ons is die Nuwe Beskawing
picture Renier Maritz translated my poetic manifesto "We are the New Civilization" into Afrikaans.
Ons is hier.
Ons ontwaak nou, uit die verlede, om 'n groter droom te droom.
Ons is vriende en gelykes, ons is divers en uniek en ons is verenig tot iets groter as ons verskille.
Ons glo in vryheid en samewerking, oorvloed en harmonie.
Ons is 'n verrysende kultuur, 'n renaissance van die kern van mensheid.
Ons vind ons eie weg en ons bepaal ons eie waarheid.
Ons gaan in vele rigtings en tog weier ons om uiteen te gaan.
Ons het baie name, ons praat baie tale.
Ons is hier, ons is oral oor.
Ons is in alle streke van die wêreld, ons is oral in die lug.
Ons is die heelal bewus van homself, ons is die vlaag van ewolusie.
Ons is in elke kind se oë, ons trotseer die onbekende met opwinding en verwondering.
Ons is boodskappers van die toekoms, wat teenswoordig lewe.
Ons kom uit die stilte en ons praat ons waarheid.
Ons kan nie stilgemaak word nie want ons stem is in elkeen.
Ons het geen vyande nie, geen grense kan ons binne hou.
Ons respekteer die kringlope en uitinge van die natuur want ons is die natuur.
Ons speel nie om te wen, ons speel om te lewe en te leer.
Ons handel uit inspirasie, liefde en integriteit.
Ons verken, ons ontdek, ons voel en ons lag.
Ons bou 'n wêreld wat vir almal werk.
Ons strewe om ons lewens te lewe tot hul volste potensiaal.
Ons is onafhanklik, selfvoorsienend en verantwoordelik.
Ons behandel mekaar in vrede, met medelye en respek, ons verenig in broederskap.
Ons vier die ongeskondenheid in en rondom ons almal.
Ons dans op die ritme van die skepping.
Ons weef die drade van die nuwe tye.
Ons is die nuwe beskawing.

Thank you Renier! That brings it to 15 languages: English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Hebrew, Danish, German, Russian, Croatian, Slovenian, Finnish, Afrikaans, Esperanto and Interlingua. Anybody else inspired? Arab, Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Greek?
[ | 2005-01-28 12:50 | 22 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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