The Accountability Problem:
It is oft touted by Mods that this is a “Community run” forum – I do not believe this to be strictly correct. The argument used to substantiate this claim, appears to me to be so weak that it could just as easily be used by Kim Jong Il, in order to claim North Korea is a “Community run” country. “I am North Korean and I hand picked the Govt from the North Korean community……therefore it is a community run country.” It makes no difference whether this is 1 person, or a small group to my mind……propaganda really….
My understanding is that it is privately owned by an individual Mod who runs it with the other mods. (who between them also drew up the laws of the land that the Community are expected to submit to). As mentioned previously, obeying these laws is not any guarantee you can remain on the forum though– the Mods can banish for any reason at any time.
If on the other hand, it is claimed by Community members that Mods themselves do not adhere to the same laws, there appears to be nowhere to go to, other than the “Central authority” of the mods. My personal experience of this system is probably exactly what I’d expect from such a system tbh.
There appears to be no clear Appeal procedure or way to remove Mods etc……without asking Mods themselves – it seems to be a closed system that does not involve the larger Community at all. I’m sure we may be told, “Start a petition”, “use a different forum if you don’t like it” etc, but I think we can do better than that.
Just to relate my own latest experience of being suspended for a week for……well, for sod all, let’s be honest. It is maintained by mods that warnings were issued, however I can honestly say I have no recollection of any warnings being given (again what for I don’t know or when – is there some secret colour coding system where you are supposed to stop defending yourself from accusations or get banned?) Seriously……no idea there were any warnings, never been shown any or anything.,not that it matters really…lol. The bigger issue is that nothing was mentioned on the thread, the mods had their say, then they just disappeared me, so I couldn’t reply/defend myself. The larger community had no idea I had just been disappeared – it left the impression that the mods argument was reasonable and I just walked away – It wasn’t and I didn’t.
It is only because I insist on being transparent, that I refuse to deal with mods by PM – mods generally prefer and advise to use PM.
A suggested solution:
I think we can start making the modding system more accountable to the community – (as I believe was the original intention of Maidsafe/The Community.
The first step would be to ask the Community to propose others from the forum community to become Mods. Names could go forward for election etc, maybe a fixed term, can be booted off and replaced quickly and easily by community consensus etc. I’d expect most people to vote for others with earned reputations for fairness, consistency of principle, ethics, reasoned arguments, sticking to guidelines etc.
I also envision a public appeals process, judged by the community (not Mods) and the powers of Mods and security of tenure to be drastically reduced. This way, many more members of the community get a chance at modding and it will actually mean they have an incentive to behave – not having been “knighted” permanently.
The other thing is that I don’t think it is ideal having an individual owning the forum (Maidsafe’s call though as they are paying the Bill – the choice is between carrying on with a privately owned forum, or registering as Maidsafe or Foundation I think)
Both owning the forum and being a Mod is also a potential conflict of interest too I think.
I think I’ve given a few ideas of how a properly community run forum could begin to evolve naturally from now on and improve on the current model.
Any further ideas about how to make modding processes more transparent and accountable to the wider community would be greatly appreciated.