For many, most, yes. But there are indeed members who feel it is not. I feel they are also members of the community, and their concerns matter. I think the mediator idea is one that could help to provide a way to allow those concerns to be heard, anonymously or publicly, and impartially and help members to feel as if there is a neutral person to take their concerns to. Particularly in the case of those people who have never kicked up a fuss, but have concerns, and don’t feel comfortable taking their concerns to the very people they are criticising.
The mediator can’t ‘do’ anything, in terms of making decisions. Their role is to try to make an attempt to bridge the gap of understanding between mods and members, to facilitate communication, and remove the interpersonal tension between the member and the mod/s, because even if another moderator weighs in, they are still a moderator and, however reasonable they are, hold power over the member. This fundamentally changes the relationship between a complaining member and their port-of-call to complain, which is, at present, the very people they are complaining about.
That is logical; you, as a moderator, probably haven’t been subject to the negative consequences of decisions you disagree with very often. Instead, you make these decisions. It’s a perspective issue. On the other hand, members who complain and take issue with moderators’ decisions probably (almost certainly) don’t understand what it’s like being a moderator.
I agree with you; it’s a private forum, the admin group has a right to run it the way you wish. But that’s why my suggestion is a suggestion, rather than a demand. And it’s true indeed that people can leave if they don’t like it. I understand that if you bent to every demand that was put forward to you, then you would end up with (probably) a mess. But I don’t think having a person trying to facilitate better communication between mods and members in a voluntary way, with no obligation on the part of mods or the member, is a poor suggestion. Think of the time you’ll save in all of those back-and-forths!
Exactly the point of the suggestion. I believe some people clash with you simply because you are moderators, just as some people clash with the Police simply because they are Police. But I think mods also (sometimes, and I don’t want to overstate this) react defensively as an initial instinct, as well, because they are being criticised. A mediator would add to the discussion a person who is concerned with the success of the forum/project, but is not a member of the mod team, and hopefully (and this depends upon the person greatly) is able to speak impartially.
First, that’s a great thing, and somewhat of an achievement, on the mods’ part, and on the part of the great collection of people we have on this forum. But I don’t believe that ‘most people like the way things are’ is an argument against the idea.
- By definition, it would help the admittedly existent members who do feel there is a problem here
- It may help remove some of the mod’s workload, which you yourself have pointed out in several threads is a strain on your time
- What people who don’t have a problem think is not really the issue. This idea wouldn’t affect them in any negative way. Everything essentially stays the same, but now there is an extra person available for people to go to when they want to express their views/frustration, rather than being asked to complain directly to those who hold the very authority they are complaining about. I would agree with you in a public matter, where everybody would pay more taxes to provide this role, but as there is no negative placed upon the ‘happy’ members of the forum, I see no reason this is relevant.
My suggestion came on the back of an assertion by me that more bureaucracy is both impractical, and probably ineffective. I think mediation is no further burden on anyone but the mediator themselves. And I don’t think mediation is a form of bureaucracy, either, as the mediator would have no power, save to have a discussion from an impartial standpoint. Elections are a different story, and, as @polpolrene has pointed out, would probably be rather ineffective anyway. So that’s a different story. It doesn’t get any better if we reverse it, and ask for objections to a nomination (as in a club situation). It’s a tricky one, I admit. But it is what it is.
This is another thing that crossed my mind.
On the one hand, there would have to be a guarantee of anonymity and privacy to both sides; a member complaining should feel as if they will not be targeted because they complained, and moderators should be able to deliberate without laying bare everything they discuss, as this prevents further offense being taken by the concerned member, but also because laying bare moderators’ thoughts on the member’s actions may be embarrassing to the member. We also don’t want micro-management (direct democracy) of mods actions, as they have to be able to do their job without justifying every tiny little thing they do (think of police spending more time in court than on the street).
My comment on this in my OP was that the mediator could, with both sides express permission, show justification of decisions and an opinion on these decisions. Perhaps the mediator would, with the members’ permission, start a topic in meta to discuss the matter, build a timeline of public posts, outline the relevant issue in terms of the FG, and offer an opinion, and then allow others to comment.
Note my original idea did not include the mediator being privy to moderators information; I rather envisaged the mediator respectfully approaching the mods and asking for relevant info/links that they could provide if they wished, and asking the member to provide links to the incidents. I would envisage that this person would work with the public information available, put it together, sum up the arguments on both sides, state the mod decision/s made and allow other members to weigh in on whether they thought the mediator had it ‘right’.
But all of that would presume that a moderator decision had to be made in the first place. The mediators’ chief role would be to attempt to prevent such an action from needing to be taken in the first place. Doubtless, there are actions that need to be taken immediately (extreme profanity/attacking others/spamming). There could be a role for the mediator to ‘review’ mod actions that the affected member continued to maintain were unfair after the fact, or actions that were controversial among other members, with a goal to helping the two ‘groups’ understand the facts and each other’s perspectives.