Discussion about reforming/replacing the current modding system. Part 1 – Genesis

In the beginning………there was Happybeing, the Genesis Mod…. :smile:

I can’t fully recall how this all came about, but I believe it was in all likelihood legitimate and did not seem to raise any concerns or objections from the Community at the time. What I do recall is that the web hosting etc was also offered to be done by Happybeing as well as the mod role. Anyway, my understanding was that Happybeing was basically “employed” on a voluntary basis by the Community as a Mod, -basically, someone in a probationary period until such a time as the Community may say otherwise, or alternatively showed its continued support in some way, by some Democratic process or other. It appears I was wrong though, as none of this ever happened.
If we fast forward to today, it now appears that Community members are the ones in the tenuous position of only being allowed to stay on the forum until such a time as Happybeing may say otherwise. Ostensibly, this should only occur if members break the Guidelines, (written by Happybeing and crew), however the Guidelines also contain the self-given authority to remove members accounts/posts for any reason at all, at any time – without any guidelines even having been broken.
Without any apparent Community input, direction, authority or consensus given whatsoever, we now have a very centralised system installed, with a hand picked team of Mods, given the authority to basically decide who gets to speak and what size audience they get. They are allowed to banish Community members for weeks or permanently etc………And who has given these Mods the authority to do this? Well……not the Community and as far as I know, Maidsafe gave no direction. So, the Mods apparently gain their authority from Happybeing….who doesn’t appear to have ever had the authority in the first place to bestow the Community’s authority onto others. The limited “Mod” authority Happybeing legitimately held from the Community, did not allow him to do this – only the Community had this authority and this was usurped/bypassed/not sought.
We now have a highly centralised system with no legitimacy.
Having installed such a system, (which appears to be contrary in every possible way to common Safe Network Community/Maidsafe values of de-centralisation of power/authority/governance/transparency/accountability etc) and having done so without first consulting the Community, or Maidsafe, then I would suggest that Happybeing has failed in his probation as a mod and the system he put in place should be dis-mantled asap as it has major security flaws including lack of transparency, accountability etc and there are potential conflicts of interest.
I shall make a Proposal/suggestion of what a future new system may look like shortly in the “Community” section on the front page and would welcome other ideas in this area including addressing the obvious flaws and other major issues that I and others are now raising.
In the meantime, I shall start separate topics within Meta, looking at each specific area of modding, one by one and offering suggestions of how we may improve each area from the current way of doing things. These will be things like “Transparency”, “Recruitment”“De-centralisation”, “Accountability” etc. It will also give the Mods the opportunity to argue their case for the apparent absence of all these things and defend the current model.
I shall then link the main “Community” Proposal thread to the topics I created in the “Meta” section and begin my campaign proper. This will give Mods the opportunity to argue their case more publicly, once I “Go Public” on the main page.
My opinion, (yes, blatantly spamming it again……) is that I am now in a win- win situation and the Mods are in a Catch 22 situation…….funny that……lol……Are Mods going to argue the case for Centralisation, lack of transparency, no need for Community consensus etc when it applies to them……at the same time as voicing their support for exactly the opposite in most everything else - to this particular Community? ….lol
Mods reckon they’ve got somewhere in the region of 99% support…we’ll see……

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Yeah I never knew what was up with having mods and was always against it from a moral standpoint because it seems so contradictory to what we’re doing here but IDK.

It helped to read your history of how mods came to be on this forum. Scary the power they have! Especially if nobody (MaidSafe etc) ever actually gave it to them

Honestly I couldn’t read all of that but I liked what I did read

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I didn’t read it all either - just the intro about how mods came about and how I was the first mod etc Almost everything stated there is incorrect.

I don’t have time to keep correcting this stuff, so I’m just going to balance it from now on by saying that it isn’t the case, and anyone can go investigate it themselves, since it was all done in the open on this forum. I am a bit concerned about @Al_Kafir because he’s a long term member and an asset to this community, but is behaving in ways I don’t understand.

We mods only have the authority this community lets us have and we use this privilege we have very sparingly, always with careful consideration and mostly prior discussion, then explained, and often discussed with those affected. Those are facts.


This is not correct. @david (not Irvine) started this forum. It was just one person who thought it would be a great idea to start a forum. He had experience as a moderator on another forum. Already in April he asked the community who wanted to be an “Admin” because he was busy. As you can see, @ioptio offered her help at that time already (and she now is an Admin).

A number of people raised their hand and even some folks from Maidsafe offered to help out. There was another topic about which categories were needed on the forum. And David Irvine and others joined the discussion and reached consensus. This is how communities work, they swarm together and get things done.

When @David was too busy with other things (Oct '14) he asked for other people to take care of the forum. @frabrunelle offered to do this and invested a lot of time in this forum so we all have a place to talk SAFE. @happybeing also offered to be a “backup admin” as he was already a Mod next to @frabrunelle. It’s explained here in this topic. At that time, it was a personal owned forum created by one person. David Irvine offered to let Maidsafe pay for all the costs and he was very happy with how the forum was run at that time. So here you have it, the Safenetwork was the idea, some volunteers liked it so much that they’ve put a lot of time and energy in the Forum as Mods and Admin’s. There was full consensus from both the community and Maidsafe who started to pay for the forum.

After that period the Forum kept growing and growing. More mods were needed to keep the topics organized, remove spam, etc. Some active members on the forum were asked to become mods, others just offered their help. It’s really like your local voluntary organisation where people step up to help out. In the Forum Updates we always informed everybody about the new members to our team.

David Irvine (remember, Maidsafe still pays all the bills) jumped in a number of times to react on how the forum was doing.

From September 2014

From September 2014

From November 2015

So stop attacking 1 single volunteer by accusing him of having full rights to do whatever he want with the forum. You know that’s far from facts (as we’ve explained several times). This forum is run in full consensus with a number of volunteers, the community and Maidsafe.


I said he was the Genesis Mod, not that he started the forum or was the first admin. I also said I didn’t know how this came about and further qualified my statement by clearly stating I believed all events up to and including Happybeing’s appointment were legitimate. Because of all this, I am wondering why you are focussing on this aspect, it is immaterial to the argument and I already conceded I didn’t know how it came about.
Picking the bones out of what you are saying is that I incorrectly had Happybeing listed as the 1st mod - maybe, it’s still unclear…ioptio was an admin - again not that it matters though.[quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
A number of people raised their hand and even some folks from Maidsafe offered to help out. There was another topic about which categories were needed on the forum
OK…I get people offering to volunteer and Maidsafe offering to help…still not sure of any point as yet though.

Yeah…thanks for that…[quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
When @David was too busy with other things (Oct '14) he asked for other people to take care of the forum. @frabrunelle offered to do this and invested a lot of time in this forum so we all have a place to talk SAFE.
Right…still with you, but can we get to some kind of point?[quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
@happybeing also offered to be a “backup admin” as he was already a Mod next to @frabrunelle. It’s explained here in this topic. At that time, it was a personal owned forum created by one person. David Irvine offered to let Maidsafe pay for all the costs and he was very happy with how the forum was run at that time.
OK, still with you…are we nearly at the point yet?[quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
So here you have it
Have what?[quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
the Safenetwork was the idea, some volunteers liked it so much that they’ve put a lot of time and energy in the Forum as Mods and Admin’s.
Ho hum…same old, same old then “The mods work hard” “We should be grateful” etc. This thread is supposed to be about discussing replacing/reforming the current modding system. Can you please keep on-topic and stop spamming my thread with your irrelevant opinion please?

Yes, they were and it is with this process that the argument lies, nowhere else.
Your posts from DIrvine are arguments from authority, and relate to the mods behaviour from well over a year ago and thanking them more recently. I would also not change my position or my argument, whether DIrvine thought different or not- you obviously think it has some bearing or strengthens your argument somehow -how so?
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the arguments about the structure and recruitment of mods, which as the title of the thread may suggest leads on to this discussion about reforming/replacing the modding system.
Please keep on topic.

So, the one bone of contention you can find is that I said Happybeing was the first mod, which I qualified, said I had no issue with, that I wasn’t sure about, wasn’t relevant to the argument etc…yet you go on yet again to try to build that into more personal “attacks”. This creates a false impression, a straw man, mis-directs and moves the argument to be about something other than it is. Whether it is Happybeing alone, or Happybeing and one or 2 others - it makes absolutely no difference to the argument. [quote=“polpolrene, post:4, topic:6675”]
This forum is run in full consensus with a number of volunteers, the community and Maidsafe.
No, I would contest this. It is either a private forum with the full consensus of the volunteers and maybe Maidsafe only. To have the full consensus of the Community, a different system of recruitment that directly involves the community is necessary. I believe until such a time, that mods refrain from repeating that they have this consensus and that it is a community run forum.
Mods always seem to try to make it personal - and yet again, I haven’t attacked anybody.
For your DIrvine argument from authority to have any kind of relevance in the first place, it would have had to have been quotes relevant to the topic of argument, not comments on performance. To be clear – unless DIrvine has stated that the present system/model is the most de-centralised and accountable to and involving of the larger community possible, with the most transparent systems in place already – then it is of no relevance……weak. :smile:

You want to change things to the way you like it. And that’s fine. But to reach that goal, you start off with a number of false statements and incorrect facts. It’s almost hard to count them all:

Not correct.

Not correct. @frabrunelle offered to do this and you even liked his post when he volunteered.

Not correct. We have 9 admins/mods and nobody is allowed to take a decision on who is “allowed to stay on the forum” on it’s own. If we do suspend users it’s always in full consensus after a long conversation (except for spam accounts).

Not correct. The role for admin was even offered to the community (you even replied to that topic). Look at this topic called “The future of this forum”. @frabrunelle offered to do it and you and 11 others liked his post. At that time the forum was quite small, not that many users yet. This is what he actually said:

Here’s the link. And again, you even liked his post. What more “apparent Community input or direction” do you want next to giving him a personal thumbs up both as Admin and Moderator?

Again not correct, all the last mods were introduced using the Forum Updates. When @neo was introduced in in a Forum Update we received 21 likes for the topic. We also said in that same topic: "When it comes to moderation a discussion was started in this topic". So we pointed to all discussion, introduced a new mod, got likes from all over the community and not a single complaint to @ moderators. Same for this topic introducing 2 new mods at once. 23 likes to be precise.

I could go on and show more incorrect statements. But it’s Friday night, and I not feel like doing so. I’ve exposed them here with links so all other users who want can check the facts. It’s really hard to understand for me why you keep making stuff up in trying to reach your goals. Maybe it’s a great idea to just enjoy this forum and come up with a great proposal in a fair and honest way. Just something to think about maybe.


So what are the things we agree on?

Hard to say really, mods seem to think that keep posting support/likes etc for things they’ve done after the fact have some kind of bearing on this discussion about reforming the modding system, despite me telling them already that it doesn’t. Anyway, just let’s pretend it does and look at the argument for “likes” - how many of the community didn’t “like” these things?
Can we keep on topic please, rather than keep repeating customer satisfaction surveys relating to performance as opposed to structure and the system itself? :smile:

As you can see, @ioptio offered her help at that time already (and she now is an Admin).

What @whiteoutmashups said and I would say it applies here, is that another choice was for no one to be a moderator. Which individuals like @whiteoutmashups found a reasonable choice to make.
But (as Hayek and others wrote) it’s always an opportunity for controlling individuals to assume these positions. I’m not saying any of mods are, but in general those who think others sometimes need to be ordered about, apply for such roles. :slightly_smiling:

Anyway, what probably could be done, if some sort of ownership-tied voting was to be introduced, is a voting coin could be sent out from time to time (when important vote is to be held) to those forum members willing to disclose their Bitcoin address with or without MAID at it (maybe a bonus amount of tokens could be given to MAID holders).
Then they could vote from a web page. I don’t know if Omni has such scheme but Counterparty does and it works well (asset issuance costs nothing besides the tx fee). The issue of course is the cost of sending tokens out, as it would amount to few cents per address.

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I know that mods/admins are not here to correct others, although that’s something that sometimes needs to be done as well. It’s more like, we want a clean and organized forum where people can talk Safenet and Maidsafe. Most incidents I see come by in the mod-slack channel are things like: “Deleted a spam account about weightloss”. Or “A new topic was started on the price of Safecoin, I moved it to the existing topic about the price of Safecoin”. Next to that we see topics go off-topic from routing to the post capitalism era. I think it would be a big mess when we wouldn’t have any mods. But most of these actions you won’t see because it doesn’t take that long for someone to flag or a mod to act on it.

We did a vote, and under 7% of all 1500 members (at that time) made a vote at all. I think using coins it would even be lower than that.

I’ve made more of these points here. I hope Safenet will provide us with apps to vote etc. But right now it really is hard to do. We have 1800 members, and some of them are very inactive. When do we accept an outcome? 150 users? Or 60 active users (how would we know who’s active, no app for that)?

I’ve used counterparty and voting coins btw. You really need active members for that.

Fair enough on the need for mods - it was an observation related to WOM’s comment more than anything else.

Voting: true, there would have been even less votes and I agree the more overhead and complicated processes there is the less turnout there would be.
I am trying to see what people, especially those vocal about the need to change, think about that approach. In theory at least, those who own MAID could have more weight in voting which may or may not be interesting to some, but it certainly would make the voting feel and act more like shareholders’ decision making process. At the cost of complexity and privacy, as we observed, and it’s pretty certain anti-capitalists would complain that the procedure gives more power to the MAID-rich.

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This is a fair point and so needs to be taken into account in the design of the moderator selection process.

None of the current moderators applied for the position, all were identified by one existing mod or admin (or in my case, nominated by a community member), and if the other mods agreed were asked if they would be interested. I don’t think anyone said no yet, or maybe one. If they were interested, those not so well known to any existing mods were also interviewed by Skype so there was also a person to person discussion as well as online input to the process.

So I think our current method is pretty robust against self selecting dictators.

I think it would be harder to achieve this in a voting system because nominations can more easily be manipulated, and it would be easier for people to self engineer their inclusion in a ballot.

It’s quite common in the wider world for dictators to come to power through a democratic process, so it is a difficult thing to get right.

All this ignores the fact that it is not the moderators who have power here, but the two admins (@frabrunelle and @ioptio, who appoint and dismiss moderators) and also whoever owns the domain (I guess that’s either @frabrunelle, MaidSafe or perhaps still @David).

So the moderators are, like the community, reliant on the admins to act in the interests of the project and community. Any and all of us could be dismissed and our privileges revoked at any time, yet I have no concerns at all about this. I realise it is a risk, but I trust @frabrunelle and @ioptio, partly because I feel I know them well enough, and partly because I know @dirvine knows them both even better, and he’s clearly very willing to trust them with this responsibility. So while I understand and value the democratic / decentralising principles that we all I think find appealing, I don’t think it is always best to try and apply them to the fullest extent in all contexts - and based on the discussions to date - not IMO on this forum at this time. I think it would both be detrimental and unnecessary. It would give an appearance of walking our talk perhaps, and that is not to be ignored, but IMO that would be outweighed by the downsides, including as we can see at least as much risk of it all still going wrong - either through self selection of the wrong type of mod, or @frabrunelle or @ioptio turning out to be saboteurs! :slightly_smiling:


The name servers for safenetwork.io point to my CloudFlare account. But the domain itself belongs to @dallyshalla :slightly_smiling:

Whois Record:

Domain : safenetwork.io
Status : Live
Expiry : 2016-10-17

NS 1   : chip.ns.cloudflare.com
NS 2   : edna.ns.cloudflare.com

Owner  : Javier Delahoya
Owner  : SAFE Pod San Francisco
Owner  : 620 Folsom St STE 100
Owner  : San Francisco
Owner  : CA
Owner  : US

From what I understand, the domain is protected by a lawyer named Javier Delahoya. @dallyshalla could give more details :smiley:


The idea to pay mods recently floated by Fabrunelle, got me thinking……first I thought…”Bollocks to that, money for old rope” etc…… but then I thought a bit more. Where would the money, or Safecoin come from, to pay for this? I don’t know the answer, but there appear to be a number of possibilities we could explore. My own thinking is that it depends on whether the forum is intended to be (eventually)
A) A Community owned or run (or both) entity (either for profit or not) – or
B) A privately owned and run entity.
I believe we are currently following the B) model but don’t know if it is intended to change to become A) at a future time. To be clear, by A), I mean something including a Community endorsed modding system that is transparent and accountable to the Community; something including de-centralisation of powers to elect/select/dismiss etc……more in keeping with the whole….you know……Maidsafe thing. :smile:
I’m glad that Fabrunelle for one (only one?) has recognised that things can be made more accountable/transparent etc. however I can’t recall any of the other mods suggesting any ideas about how this could be achieved in any of these “Meta” threads. Maybe they’ll come up with some good ideas soon perhaps?
I’ve heard the current modding system recently described as “robust”….and indeed, I agree ……well, it is in the case of B)……but not in the case of A) though – or not in the right way.
The thing is that A) robustly makes the mods/owners accountable to the Community, whereas B) robustly makes the Community accountable to the mods/owners. This is an important distinction I think when it comes to potential impacts on Free Speech and Censorship concerns etc. The ability to shut down dissenting voices or promote your own particular views is quite a power to hold over this particular Community. I’d question the efficacy of selecting mods from the “app builders” for this and for other conflict of interest issues too. These are also amongst the busiest people possible – would the Community not be better served by mods with more time to concentrate on the forum? What is their qualification, recommendation etc?
Let’s remember, when abused, powers to ban users etc can have a “chilling effect” on others and stifle open debate too. I basically think the modding system needs to be legitimised by the Community as this would be beneficial to both parties. The problem is that if there is no accountability, (other than to owners) then this generally tends to lead to authoritarian behaviour too ( as nothing to prevent/dis-incentivise it).
Anyway, I forgot to mention what a joy it is to be back feeling fully refreshed after my recent 2 weeks of suspension…….which was quick on the heels of the previous 1 week suspension.
So, where were we….ah yes, the point; prior to my exile as a political dissident….there were basically 2 things being conflated:

C) Issues around the competency of the mods.
(Complaints, disagreements, accusations etc, which I think have become emotionally charged, personal, mis-construed and have lead to errors of judgement, animosity etc.)
D) Issues around the centralised structure of the modding system.

I need not concern myself any further with C) as concerning myself only with D) will resolve C). This should hopefully also prevent anybody getting giddy with the big red “Suspend” button……lol
OK, in regard to the frequent requests from mods that I should make “a proposal” for an alternate modding system. Firstly, I would say that I have pretty much covered all the main aspects. Secondly, I would say No, the Community should agree a proposal together - the onus is not on me to do this. My whole point has been that the design/structure/recruitment/guidelines of the modding system should be made by the Community as a whole – not by an individual – whether that be myself or anybody else.
It is not for me to suggest an alternative system and garner x amount of support for it, rather to question the direction the forum took and why. At some point in time, a choice was made – that rather than consult the Community, a very centralised system was introduced. This is not the most desirable, robust, transparent, accountable or de-centralised system imo – call me a contrarian if you will. The onus is on the individual/small group to explain why the Community were not consulted - not for me to propose a different system. If the answer is that it is a private forum and none of my business then fine - just don’t claim the forum to be “Community run”…because it isn’t and its misleading to users.

TBH, I can’t actually believe how the hypocrisy of this situation seems of so little import and also can’t grasp why mods seem so un motivated/dis-interested in proposing more transparent/accountable systems themselves to give them more legitimacy?
Anyway, said my piece……

Welcome back @Al_Kafir. I have even less time available at the moment than recently, so can’t enter into long debates, but I want to respond to your point about creating a proposal.

We as mods are not proposing each for our own reasons, but for me this is:

  • I can’t see a change that could improve in what we have at the moment, and I think the system is currently working well.
  • the calls for change have come from a very small number of people who have been directly affected by and unhappy about the actions of moderators, so it seems best if proposals for change come from the community rather than mods, but any mod can of course propose something.

If nobody takes the responsibility for making a concrete proposal, then the community can’t express it’s opinion on it and that makes it unlikely that a significant change like voting on moderators will come about in the short or medium term.