Ming the Mechanic:
Online Moderation

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Online Moderation2005-01-28 12:17
by Flemming Funch

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.

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28 Jan 2005 @ 20:49 by Ge Zi @ : jerks
This brings up a question about this blog here - is there a way for the owner of the blog to remove comments?

oh, yeah - as I'm already asking questions: what is PermaLing and TrackBack?  

28 Jan 2005 @ 22:39 by ming : Blog Permissions
It depends on how you've set the permissions in the configuration. The default setting is that you can remove comments, or edit them, for that matter, as can the person who posted them, if they were logged in.

The PermaLink is the permanent URL to the article. I.e. one that you can give to somebody and they can go there, and it doesn't change. It is also a well-formatted URL, that doesn't have ? parameters and that kind of thing. The PermaLink would be what people with their own blogs out in the world would use to link to your article.

TrackBack is a "pinging" mechanism for letting another blog know that you've linked to it. What it does with the information varies, but typically blogs will have a listing of trackback entries, similar to the way they list comments. In this blogging software here, received trackback pings are shown as part of the comments, but marked as trackback. In terms of sending trackback pings, this blog program will try to auto-discover them. I.e. it will spider all URLs listed in an article, and look for certain indicators of a trackback URL. And then it will ping it. That auto-discovery doesn't always work. You can also, when you edit the article, enter a trackback URL manually, which you have found listed in somebody's blog, and it will be pinged. All of this only happens if trackback functionality is turned on in the configuration.  

29 Jan 2005 @ 10:53 by jazzolog : J'Accuse
"Get accused" is an interesting way to think of the criticism launched your way from time to time by members of this site. If some image of me flies into your head at the thought of your chief tormentor or prosecutor, so be it. My concern has been not so much "not moderating things enough," but not moderating at all. The rules and guidelines to your chatrooms continue ignored---and decorum, upon occasion, even flaunted. The last time this topic came up around here, you offered to allow some members authority to complain to you I guess...and once I think you went in and deleted some comments. I congratulate you on going that far at least to open NCN up to shared responsibilities and for posting Ms. Hayden's excellent advice. Finding "somebody who cares sufficiently" about the site might be easier if the membership saw the model in the Webmaster.  

29 Jan 2005 @ 13:19 by ming : Moderation
Well, a vague glimmer of you did flicker through my mind when I wrote that.

Now, there's a difference between the idea that forums work best if moderated, and the idea that the host, programmer or webmaster of some facility has to moderate everything if nobody else does.

The first one involve certain patterns, a number of which were excellently laid out above. They're tips for having a successful group conversation. Things one should keep in mind when one wants to create an activity with a certain focus.

But that's different from the activity of creating facilities where that kind of thing might happen. Like these weblogs, for example. I'm the moderator of this weblog, because it represents a certain something I'd like to pursue. And other people are the moderators of their own weblogs, and I don't have in mind moderating them for them.

And, yes, there are places in NCN that probably could use some moderation. Or there's a certain need for some new places that are moderated, so that constructive conversation can go on. But I see my role more in providing the necessary facilities for making that possible, rather than being everybody's moderator.  

14 Mar 2006 @ 17:35 by larry @ : car
need help car wont start replace the positive battery cable  

14 Mar 2006 @ 18:23 by ming : Mechanic?
OK, I know I might be one of the most famous "mechanics" in the world according to Google, but unfortunately I'm not a car mechanic. I'm more like a meta mechanic. A mechanic for systems. Or, more down to earth, I'm a software and communications guy, not a hardware guy.  

19 Dec 2014 @ 23:29 by Blaze @ : TCEsNFfsMeJF
Great hammer of Thor, that is polrlfuwey helpful!  

23 Dec 2014 @ 14:05 by Fylhtq @ : sgeGRcBiCyByBO
Имя * Email * Website XHTML: Вы можете использовать следующие теги:  

21 Apr 2016 @ 09:42 by Marden @ : UeQMOWhGSNgCR
Imirssepve brain power at work! Great answer!  

Other stories in
2010-07-10 13:01: Strong Elastic Links
2010-07-08 02:27: Truth: superconductivity for scalable networks
2010-06-27 02:28: Be afraid, be very afraid
2008-07-06 23:20: Laws of social networks
2008-06-20 15:40: Peer material production
2008-05-06 13:57: Why can't we stick to our goals?
2008-02-21 21:16: Open social networks
2007-11-08 01:49: The value of connections
2007-11-07 00:51: Diversity counterproductive to social capital?
2007-07-13 23:42: Plan vs Reality

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