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A bit about how The Standard works

Written By: - Date published: 12:08 pm, October 27th, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: The Standard - Tags:

Eight days until the US election, and then maybe an indefinite time of whatever shit show unfolds after that. I want to be writing posts and it will have been obvious to commenter in Open Mike that I’m short on patience for moderating stupid shit at the moment.

This year’s NZ general election has been relatively quiet on The Standard with respect to moderation. Hardly any long ‘until after the election’ bans at a time of increasing comments. This is a good sign. 

But there is always this ongoing thing around moderation and much of it this year has been coming from commenters who’ve been here long enough to know better.

The following are some thoughts from me personally on how the site works regarding moderation.

Wasting moderator time

The single biggest mistake I see here is people missing how big a deal it is for moderators when we have to waste our time. Most of us are fine about taking the time where a commenter doesn’t get something, or stepping in to avert a flame war when someone reacts in the heat of the moment. But once someone starts arguing with moderators and/or continues the behaviour they’ve been warned about, it gets tedious.

Wasting time might be having to chase up someone we have given the benefit of the doubt, or it might having to engage with someone who thinks they know how to run the site or what moderators should be doing.

So much of moderation comes down to moderators just not having or being willing to spend any more time on a specific issue.

For me it’s often that the time I spend on moderation in a week is time I could have spent putting up a post. We don’t have an abundance of posts this year, so this is both annoying personally but also not great for the site. 

It also means less time spent keeping up with important issues going down in NZ politics – a half hour spent on moderation instead of reading posts so I understand what is going on is also likely to piss me off.

The point here is that despite what it might look like on the front end, moderation takes time. It takes a certain amount of time to gather the data to put into the back end to ban someone or put them in premod. It takes time to write mod notes, including how to phrase them. It takes time to think about how to manage a particular situation and to go look up past instances. The amount of time needed is often reflected in the moderator’s response.

Other key things to get to grips with:

Authors/Mods get treated differently from Commenters. This is because it’s hard to attract and retain authors. Attacking authors/mods is a sure fire way to get moderator attention, and there is a much lower tolerance for this than with commenters.

Moderation isn’t primarily about fairness. While most mods do try and be fair, the primary points of moderation are to a) limit the amount of work for moderators and b) keep the site functional and serving its kaupapa of robust debate.

Some mods moderate on patterns of behaviour. It rarely has to do with content except where the comment might cause legal problems for the site or where it has tone or language likely to exclude others (usual things like racist, sexist, etc comments). Patterns of behaviour are not necessarily obvious on the front end, but can often be looked up easily in the Moderator thread in the back end.

Moderators vary in how they handle all these things. It pays to read what moderators are saying to other commenters because that’s where the guidance tends to be.

Both of the main moderators at the moment are short on patience for spamming the site with long cut and pastes. Use your own words, a short quote and link.

Likewise, if you cut and paste and I can’t easily see what are your words and what are the quote, then currently I am just deleting the comment if you seem to be someone who should know better. This falls into the wasting mod time category. I don’t like deleting content, and try not to when it is someone’s words, but something that is likely to just be a cut and paste from off site is not going to be high in priorities to keep.

Mods and other commenters are generally happy to help people figure out formatting and tech issues around commenting, so please ask.

The above isn’t comprehensive. It pays to re/read the Policy if you are unclear on what is happening. It’s also fine generally to ask questions about moderation that don’t attack the author/mod, litigate the moderation, or tell the moderator what to do.

A couple of final points. It’s important to remember that by far the majority of commenters never get any moderator attention. The purpose of the site is to provide posts from a range of perspectives aligned with the labour movement and to provide a place for robust debate. Focusing on the politics within the robust debate guidelines is the easiest way to avoid moderator attention. It also makes the site a good place to be.

16 comments on “A bit about how The Standard works ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    Goddit.

  2. Treetop 2

    I would like to see more commentators whose first language is not English on the standard. I have given it a thought as to what might put people off from this group commenting.

    I was raised by parents whose first language was not English and I had trouble pronoucing words up until I went to college. There were few books in the home and my father could read but not write English. My grammar, punctuation and spelling is not the Queen's English either and on occasion I have been corrected and I have not said what I really wanted to say about the correction.

    I find that there is a richness in other cultures and I would find a different perspective to be interesting. I do get it that people want to be anonymous and I could be asking for too much.

  3. Sacha 3

    Thank you.

    Clearly sourcing any quotes or mentions in each comment we add also makes it easier for other commenters to play our part in keeping discussions 'moderate'.

    Please copy the whole link address from the top of your browser and paste it into your comment somewhere. Nothing fancy needed.

  4. Ad 4

    I'm just annoyed for you that you had to write the post.

    Good on you for volunteering your time on a public good enterprise. You have more patience than I do.

  5. ianmac 5

    Yes. Thank you moderators and writers. When occasionally the site goes down there is a sense of loss so please keep up the good essential work.

    • Anne 5.1

      Ditto. The Standard is a bit like a drug. You have to have your daily fix otherwise withdrawal symptoms set in.

  6. Roy Cartland 6

    Yep big ups to the mods, and posters. It really does make a difference, noticeable in comparison to other blogs' comment sections. In fact I think it's improved over the last few years as the kaupapa of the site continues to strengthen.

  7. nzsage 7

    I run and moderate a sports forum and most of my time is spent on moderating (mainly deleting) political posts!

    I take my hat off to The Standard mods, I really don't know how they maintain enthusiasm and motivation given some of the trolls and dickheads we often get on here.

    Well done guys, without your work this place would deteriorate into chaos.

  8. lprent 8

    weka: I couldn't have put it better myself. Especially the palpable sense of irritation when someone starts chewing up my time having to moderate their behaviour for no reason that seems obvious.

    One day I'll get more 'free' time to spend on the site. But that is increasingly rare at present.

  9. RedLogix 9

    And perhaps to add one small thing, the typing out of the mod message is the least of it. It's the time and energy spent determining if something needs doing and what the optimum action might be, that no-one sees.

    In my view right now TS is very fortunate to be served by two moderators doing a great job.

    If there is one lesson I can pass on after 13 years here it's this, think twice before hitting 'Submit' when you're feeling angry or snarky. Rarely works out as well as you imagine …

    • greywarshark 9.1

      The other thing to remember is that you have a considerable length of time to tone down the wording, and remove all the snarkiness. The message will be all the stronger for being well worded not ill-. And you can then correct the spacing between links etc. The default here is to go down 2 lines when the enter button is hit and sometimes you want single spacing in list form.

      When I muck around with my comments too much, I now put edit at the top. Apparently some people get a feed to their system of the new stuff put up and if I change mine then it isn't true to what went on the feed and that is confusing. I am probably not using the right words but perhaps you'll get my meaning.

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