Thanks for the very constructive suggestions @whiteoutmashups
Software capabilities aside, I think @neo has covered those, the things that always concern me about a more open system is: what is the effect on moderation? Does it add to workload, and if so does it make moderation unsustainable?
I think your suggestions would be unsustainable because whenever you invite others to view all the details of a dispute, naturally lots of people want their say, and some poor person has to read and answer them all. This has already been tried to a limited extent, and is why we are where we are.
I tried a very “lite” version of that in my first year of moderation, and it didn’t work. Making everything transparent would be even harder to sustain IMO, and not something I would be willing to go forward with. Others might though so I don’t decide this issue - for example you could look for those who want this to step in as the new mod team (or at least to recruit a new team who are willing to give it a go), walk their talk, so to speak. But if anyone wants that they need to get support from the community because it is such a radical change. I don’t think it is needed, or worth this risk - my preference would be for others to build a better forum and let the community decide where they want to be. My guess is that if it was solved we’d end up with two great forums, and that’s good! Much more resilient
So I’m really sorry - I tried really hard to find a way of working that allowed moderation to be done mostly in the open (remember all those nudges and discussions on moderation in topic? We weren’t using staff colour then.) It didn’t work. Even with the much smaller community a year ago, it was far too much work and we’ve been struggling to find a way to address this for a long time now. First by increasing numbers of mods - this didn’t solve it, and frankly wouldn’t ever solve this issue IMO. Then we tried encouraging self moderation by users flagging things for our attention. Flagging by users happens, but is still rare, and frankly having mods around to spot dodgy posts and pre-empt this makes for a better forum IMO - I’ve personally removed some really awful stuff that I hope none of our users got to see - because I believe a lot of people would not want to return to a forum where they might experience such material again. (There are people around here who do not wish this project well). Now, in this latest attempt, we’re trying to address this issue by simplifying the guidelines and streamlining the process of moderation. I’m hopeful this can work while maintaining the quality and diversity of our community.
I hear your concerns about this @Tonda and it remains to be seen whether the effect is as you fear. I don’t see why these guidelines should lead you to leave - yes we’re asking you and others to keep language clean, and if you refuse to follow this and other guidelines things will get difficult for you because we will now delete things (and PM you with the reason). But each person has to decide whether they are willing to stay and be part of a community, or leave to do things that are more important to them.
I agree with you and @dirvine about wanting the square pegs here. My take is that I want both the square pegs and the round pegs so they can hang out together - so I aim for the everyone goal of SAFEnetwork in that. But if the forum is designed too much to suit the square pegs, we’ll risk losing too many of the round pegs! So we must try our best to accommodate both, and ask each peg, round square and all the other shapes, to be as accommodating of the others as they can. This is why we try to keep discussions “clean” as you put it, but not sterile I think. Just common ground where all all kinds of pegs, sorry people, can hang out and hear each other - earn each other’s respect and trust through their interactions. Often I see behaviour here that is not respectful (not just talking about towards mods) because the poster does not consider or care about the impact their words may have on others, and it makes me sad.
Guidelines and moderation can’t prevent that, but they can help keep it manageable enough for most people to handle themselves. That’s what they are designed for: to foster a community that can be diverse, have lots of disagreement, fruitful discussions, and be fun too - you’ve certainly increased the fun quotient @Tonda and gained a lot of likers for that. Me included - I welcome your request for me to lighten up (and I hope you’ve seen me trying to do just that). Sometimes you may go too far - but we all do when we take risks. I know I certainly do. IMO, at that point it is important to be able to hear how you affect others, or hear advice and criticism, and that’s the hard part in my experience. Because, human.
Nobody has been banned for getting something like that wrong. Bans have always been temporary - usually a week in the first instance (except for accounts created just to post spam which we delete right away).
The only time people are banned is when they repeatedly refuse to listen and modify behaviour that is clearly unacceptable under the guidelines.
Banning is a last resort, and I think it acts as a cooling off period, because so far they have always come back. Most people get banned for how they react to being asked to follow a guideline - for example by deliberately flouting it or becoming abusive and making personal attacks on the public forum - not because of what they did in the first place.
I understand the concern you have raised about any mod being able to ban someone. But we remain a team. We still report every action we take to the whole team on slack. So we hold each other to account, and I don’t see any way a mod can avoid this process without the whole team being complicit.
It would take just one mod who saw the team as having become corrupt and unaccountable to act as whistle-blower and reveal that to the community. And, remember, every one of us is drawn from a community that values integrity and accountability.
This community too would I think be capable of seeing when something extreme like this happens, and using it’s own power to deal with it. We have authority, but only as long as the community accepts that authority. The community, particularly one as articulate, intelligent and not least as tech savvy as this, would be a formidable adversary for any team corrupt or incapable mods! How could we possibly survive as unwanted dictators here? Do you really think so!?
I hope you and others will stay, and continue to take risks, and remain part of the diverse and rich diversity we’ve all created here. Just keep your hands of my ass OK… keep that for PMs and let’s keep our private conversations private too.
Come on… seek permission before you post our private intercourse man. That’s just simple courtesy and respect. What would you say if a mod posted a private conversation with a forum member without permission. It’s not like you revealed any big mod plot to destroy SAFEnetwork is it… Or did you? I didn’t re-read them myself.
I still don’t understand why you did that. Was it to try provoke us into acting hastily, banning you for example? I hope it was just a reaction, you not thinking. But I’d like to hear if you still regard that as OK on your part or not, because I am personally not ok with it - for anyone. Do you think that breach of privacy and trust was justified by the point revealed in those PMs, and what precisely was that?
So, to sum up, we’ve come reluctantly to the same kind if solution you’ll find on most forums where quality discussion takes place. If anyone knows where this is done in the ways some of you would like, and works, please let us know and we can learn from them. I don’t know any, but I don’t know that many forums myself.
I understand the concerns people have raised. I really do and I’ve thought a lot about ways to address them. I just have not seen a way to address them that is better than what we’re now doing.
I think a lot about governance, not just for the forum, and the debates we have here have been really stimulating in this respect. I’m glad everyone voices their concerns, I have no problem with that. I hope we answer them well enough to satisfy most people, and I think we do. I know that some will not be satisfied with our solution, and I can live with that, but it doesn’t mean I ignore you, or even that I don’t share your concerns.
I can live with it because I know the mod team are doing their best, doing a difficult job really well, some putting in long hours almost every day for no other reason than that they have found a way you support this project. And IMO (seeing what actually goes on) this team are doing a great job.
The community don’t see this, and I’ve explained why I don’t believe it’s feasible to allow that level of scrutiny. Everyone can see that the forum continues to flourish, and to be a place where this can be discussed openly.