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MarrikBroom

On the matter of Forum Moderation and 'apparent' Mod Culture

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DE community staff actually have a very active role in our day-to-day handling of forum moderation. We very frequently run certain actions and responses by said staff in the event that we're uncertain if our response(s) or actions may not be kosher, check with staff for background info (i.e. interactions with support) to investigate issues, etc. Our moderation is built upon the "asking for permission is better than asking for forgiveness" school of thought; better to check before doing something than to do something, mess up, and ask for forgiveness.

That isn't to say that we ask permission before doing any/every moderation action; when there are clear cut rule violations occurring, we hide posts and issue warnings without consulting DE staff (all of our actions are recorded and logged, however, so should a player contact support staff with a complaint of how they've been moderated the moderation or support team can track us down and inquire as to the circumstances of the moderation actions). In the event of very minor rule violations occurring (i.e. a thread being driven off-topic) we will usually hide a handful of posts to remove the off-topic conversation, and if the off-topic conversation continues after that point we'll usually chime in and tell people 'Hey, try to keep on topic' (which is what I'm doing now more or less).

Also, if anyone has any questions about forum moderation, even if it's as simple as your posts being removed and you're confused as to why (specifically, that you find your post wasn't off-topic, wasn't quoting or responding to another post that was violating the rules or wasn't removed), feel free to shoot me a PM.

That is from @Letter13. They made a fairly well worded point in that topic that Forum Moderation is distinct and different from in game Chat Moderation with differing persons, personalities, and an environment that at the very least gives the opportunity to take a few minutes to consider rather than 'I have to act now because that guy is being ultra spammy and or very obviously acting in ways we do not want here. Act Now.'

So with a proper topic for the matter I have... a few observations and opinions that are wholly my own.
 

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DE community staff actually have a very active role in our day-to-day handling of forum moderation.

This is not the matter in dispute. What, however, is would be the fact often this is often without notice or notification or discussion. I have a rather strong dislike of that sort of behavior as 'I don't have to actually tell these people what i'm doing and I can just say we're active and there is literally nothing that says we haven't been except our owrd.' Notice notification and the like would help to show where and how you have to step in as opposed to 'we're doing our jobs. Trust Us.'

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That isn't to say that we ask permission before doing any/every moderation action

I'm rather put out by this wording because it gives the impression of 'the community wants us to crawl to them on bent knee with cap in hand going 'Please Sir we would like to do our jobs Sir' otherwise a complete mob ensues. As far as I am aware, and i could very well be wrong, it isn't what you are doing that is the problem per-se (since in my opinion the pruning was largely warranted as it trimmed clutter and arguments.) The problem is the apparent lack in giving notice or discussion on the matter. which gives the appearance that staffers feel they don't have to give any sort of notice when and how they act which, again to me, is a sign of 'I don't have to consider what these people who are beneath me think.'

To me, and again I must stress that this is my personal opinion, that is a sign of the sort of community the bad apples that were removed from in game moderation grew from, as they didn't come about from a vacuum. These elements wouldn't have had years of time to develop their attitude that they are immune from pushback or complaint if there was not a wider environment that allowed them to continue, again I stress that they had been allowed to do these things for quite literally years of community complaint with nothing being done. 

So while there is a clear distinction from Forum and Chat, the fact that Chat was allowed to persist with the staff mentality being to circle the proverbial wagons and the wider meme of 'the official forums banhammers anyone with complaints or anything less than glowing praise' now that the Chat mod situation is being addressed (FINALLY) I feel it is time to start addressing the Forum situation.
 

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In the event of very minor rule violations occurring (i.e. a thread being driven off-topic) we will usually hide a handful of posts to remove the off-topic conversation, and if the off-topic conversation continues after that point we'll usually chime in and tell people 'Hey, try to keep on topic' (which is what I'm doing now more or less).

If this were true than it would be quite reasonable a stance to take. I have to note that Letter13 had popped in now and again to try reigning problems in, and in personal discussion seems like a fairly nice person. My problem is this is not the only mod on staff and there are several instances of posts simply vanishing and it taking an entire thread's worth of posters asking before a mod will bother responding. I do not know what the back-end looks like so best to not attribute malice to a situation, but it is worth pointing out one mod trying to be good and do what I feel is the right thing by communicating is often undone by one or more that are just 'nope don't feel like I have to talk about what I'm doing.' Given the current climate created over the chat moderation situation, that sort of behavior hurts all moderators on all platforms whether they're trying to do right by the community or aren't doing so stellar of a job.

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Also, if anyone has any questions about forum moderation, even if it's as simple as your posts being removed and you're confused as to why (specifically, that you find your post wasn't off-topic, wasn't quoting or responding to another post that was violating the rules or wasn't removed), feel free to shoot me a PM.

While this is a rather generous offer given Letter13 put a bullseye on his head with an invitation to flood his inbox and make more word for himself? That... shouldn't have to be done because it shifts the work from the player to the staffer who might not even have been involved in the mess. Plus with a clear and public record of who did what the prior claim of 'we do a lot around here' can be backed with publicly reviewable statistics rather than assertions that cant' be verified.

Apologies to those that volunteer here that have tried doing the right thing by communicating with players, explaining, and trying to be part of the community rather than above it. However now is, in my view, the time to start cleaning house so that 'moving forward' won't be done with this cloud of mistrust that currently exists.

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1 hour ago, MarrikBroom said:

Plus with a clear and public record of who did what the prior claim of 'we do a lot around here' can be backed with publicly reviewable statistics rather than assertions that cant' be verified.

If you feel that there is some shadow element to the forums and things being disappeared, this would not change that.

If you don't trust them telling you they see things, then how could a record that is easily manufactured change that?

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1 minute ago, peterc3 said:

If you feel that there is some shadow element to the forums and things being disappeared, this would not change that.

If you don't trust them telling you they see things, then how could a record that is easily manufactured change that?

The more done out i nthe open and the less done behind closed doors unless ABSOLUTELY NESSICARY the better.

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Just now, MarrikBroom said:

The more done out i nthe open and the less done behind closed doors unless ABSOLUTELY NESSICARY the better.

Better for whom? Nobody has a right to use the forums. DE doesn't have the obligation to host things they don't want to.

Would it be better if DE just rubber stamped every thread with "SEEN BY DE"?

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20 minutes ago, MarrikBroom said:

The more done out i nthe open and the less done behind closed doors unless ABSOLUTELY NESSICARY the better.

We definitely don't publicize when we hide posts or threads, and we don't plan on doing so as far as I'm aware. If there were a placeholder showing "this post has been removed by a moderator" next to a player's name where there post had been, this could negatively affect the player's reputation within the community. This is also why we do not publicize warning points either. 

Our stance has been (and most likely will continue to be) that moderation and punishments (including when a user's post is hidden) is a private matter between the user and the volunteer moderation/DE community staff/DE support staff teams. Mostly, we want to avoid creating social stigma on players; players may treat others differently if they were more aware of how others have been moderated... Things like 'oh this person has a lot of hidden posts they just be a bad apple' or 'oh this user was warned for abusive behavior' or 'oh this user is on mod queue, I can mock them for violating the rules' and so on are things we want to avoid at all costs; this also is why we enforce the no naming and shaming rule. 

When a user is punished or moderated, we do so privately in the event the user has a reputation; in the event that a user is banned we do not publicize their wrongdoings and give them the opportunity to leave the community with their reputation intact... Even when this means giving them and unopposed platform to campaign against DE or Warframe and make false claims about why they were "unjustly banned" (I can think of quite a few instances of this, but will respect the players' privacy and not name names).

 

So, long story short, one of the core-most reasons why we do so much behind closed doors is because we aim to respect users' privacy. The last thing we want to do is add insult to injury and assassinate a user's reputation after performing moderation actions against a user.

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1 hour ago, Letter13 said:

When a user is punished or moderated, we do so privately in the event the user has a reputation

This I agree is fair. After all, in the case of infamous chat mod leaving? What good would be served especially given the likely ensuing.... well... I have visionsof a horrifying fire combined with a riot and I'm pretty sure that would put that situation rather mildly.

1 hour ago, Letter13 said:

We definitely don't publicize when we hide posts or threads, and we don't plan on doing so as far as I'm aware. If there were a placeholder showing "this post has been removed by a moderator" next to a player's name where there post had been, this could negatively affect the player's reputation within the community. This is also why we do not publicize warning points either. 

I can see the point in that since that provides just enough information to leave a lot of assumptions. I was thinking less 'leave the post shell' and more a noete mid thread at trimming having occurred, like you had done in the chat moderation thread was more what i was visualizing since a mod making a statement post thread reorganizing with private messages as applicable (to people who actually broke rules rather than 'ok this is interesting but we're getting off topic' seems to me fair.

1 hour ago, peterc3 said:

Better for whom? Nobody has a right to use the forums. DE doesn't have the obligation to host things they don't want to.

Would it be better if DE just rubber stamped every thread with "SEEN BY DE"?

See to me you come off as overly combative, and that because i have complaints i Must be this paranoid unpleasable wonk whom you must tilt at until I admit you are right and I was stupid for ever daring to raise my voice in objection. What Letter13 has done is address my concerns in a well worded response. I don't nessicarily agree with all of it, but i can see the logic they are working under. Meanwhile you are simply screaming 'PARANOID UNPLEASABLE IDIOT!' One is helpful and the other is not.

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3 hours ago, MarrikBroom said:

I'm rather put out by this wording because it gives the impression of 'the community wants us to crawl to them on bent knee with cap in hand going 'Please Sir we would like to do our jobs Sir' otherwise a complete mob ensues. 

That's an impressive leap you made. As someone with decades of experience moderating chats similar to what we have in game and a forum not too different to this one... I can say that it is probably totally off base. 

 

I can honestly say that I don't have any difficulties accepting the policies that they use and can even take a guess as to why the guidelines have been kept as vague as possible. It makes their jobs easier. 

 

Being a Moderator sucks most of the time. Few people thank you for doing your job. And most of the time people hate you for being fair. 

 

I have seen stuff go missing, and a lot of the time I can take a strong guess as to what the objection was. Even if I don't agree with it, as long as it's fair, then I have no reason to complain about forum moderation. 

 

On the other hand, chat moderation is a totally different kettle of fish. I haven't been banned there as far as I am aware, but I've seen enough to be certain that certain practices are not truly fair, and that some chat mods don't seem to be truly interested in being fair to all. 

 

My problem is that the same vague rules, and practices that make it easier for the Forum mods to do a good job, can be used by the chat mods to do a bad job. The fix for this is proper oversight. And by that I mean that DE needs to look over their shoulder, and ensure that the mods are doing right by the whole community, following the spirit of rules and not just the letter, and letting people go if they are unable to do that. 

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