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Some notes on moderation

Written By: - Date published: 10:47 am, February 6th, 2022 - 23 comments
Categories: admin, notices - Tags:

Quick post.

As a moderator I’m increasingly finding myself having to spend time on things I shouldn’t have to eg long term commenters flouting the rules repeatedly. The biggest thing that people getting moderated fail to understand is how much moderators value our own time and hate having it wasted. Many moderation starts as a simple warning and ends up as a ban because the commenter either ignores moderation, doesn’t follow instructions, or picks a fight. Which all boils down to wasting moderator time and the moderator drawing a line under it.

From the site Policy,

  • Generally wasting a moderators time is just not a good idea. We’re there to deal with isolated problems. People persistently sucking up our voluntary time won’t like the results.

So, my suggestions:

  1. moderation notes are inserted into the bottom of a comment using hard brackets in bold eg [moderation note – weka] or [lprent: moderation note] Moderators now usually put something like ‘mod note’ in a reply, so that the commenter can more easily see there has been a moderation.
  2. learn how to use the Replies list (tab in top right of screen on a desktop and the desktop version on a mobile. Not currently available on the mobile version, you can switch to desktop version at the bottom of any page). This is where you can see if moderators are telling you something you need to know. Current moderaters on TS are: Lprent, mickey savage, Mike, weka, Incognito. Authors can moderate their own posts.
  3. if you get moderated, pay attention to the instructions. I give clear instructions because I want to balance being fair to the commenter with demands on my time. If you don’t follow instructions as given, you may get further moderation.
  4. if you are unclear on how things work, ask.
  5. different authors moderate differently. It’s good to read other people’s moderations as they happen to get a sense of how that moderator works.
  6. if you choose to argue with moderation, you may get banned (because we don’t want to waste our time). It varies from mod to mod, but asking genuine questions politely is usually fine. Having a go at authors or mods isn’t.
  7. we protect authors here, they are far more important than individual commenters, because authors provide the posts we all comment under. Don’t attack authors or mods.

It’s also a good idea to remember that we have a site Policy and there is a requirement to read it.

My patience is now pretty thin. I remain committed to giving fair warnings before bans for most things (anything way over the top will get an instant ban), but I’m going to claw back my time from this where people should know better, so that I can spend that time writing posts and enjoying the site.

People are welcome to ask questions and discuss under this post providing they can behave themselves.

23 comments on “Some notes on moderation ”

  1. Anker 1
    • Thanks Weka. Completely understandable that you don’t want your time wasted in this way
  2. mary_a 2

    Cheers Wekayes

  3. Matiri 3

    Last time I checked the Replies list there was one from Lprent! My little heart raced but it was all good – he was just taking part in the discussion.

    • lprent 3.1

      I don't get as much time as I like on the site. Work and living get in the way. Especially in the last few years. The focus goes on to keeping the site running, and keeping the authors from defenestration of other authors.

      But be assured. When I have time, I would normally comment a lot. Usually targeting the misconceptions of others in a sarcastic and generally unfriendly way clearly referenced facts,or my opinion.

      If I get bored with commenting and have time, then I start writing annoying posts.

      But it is hard to drop writing code for simple english.

  4. Thanks Weka. I value the moderation process. I value the time that moderators put into the site. I agree the time spent should be limited and not strained by rule breakers

    The replies tab is valuable. I am disappointed sometimes that some posters prefer the oracle approach rather than a give and take approach that comes from replying to replies.

    I value opinions, even those I may possibly disagree with, if they are supported by citations so I can see the thought processes. I don't value unsupported opinions bearing in the crude saying about 'aXXholes and opinions'.

    There is one poster who this weekend has put a huge effort into providing some talking points…….

    I am running around at the moment & will be away soon but always at the back of my mind is the thought ……'I must read TC Smithfield's latest posts and citations'. I have not always agreed entirely with their previous views but anything that has lots of views and supporting opinions is manna to me.

    • weka 4.1

      I've been appreciating TS's efforts on commenting too. I disagree with a lot of what they say, but they're definitely improving debate. This is a good example of how moderation isn't about content and how commenters can effect positive change to the community here.

      The main moderation edge for me atm is getting people to explain, quote and link. I'm going hard on that because it's just too easy for complex, heated, fast moving conversations like covid or Bellis to sink into FB-esque rather than robust debate.

    • tsmithfield 4.2

      Thanks for the nice comments BTW.

  5. Blade 5

    Agree 100%. I think uncertain times and stresses and realising Righties have opinions too, adds to the mix.

    One thing I have learnt over the years of blogging, and alluded to in your post, is moderation is sometimes an arbitrary thing.

    Mensa members have a saying " learn who the puzzle setter is'' That allows you to understand their puzzles and their proclivities.

    Bloggers should learn who is moderating. That way they know what to expect.

    Maybe a post each day to say who's moderating would be good?

    • weka 5.1

      that puzzle analogy is spot on. Sometimes lefties struggle with this because they think moderation should prioritise fairness above all else, and fail to understand that moderation generally tries for fairness within a different set of goals.

      Maybe a post each day to say who's moderating would be good?

      It's just whoever is around, and most of us don't plan when we are here. Better to assume that anyone on the list in the post can moderate at any time. I learned a lot about how to moderate from watching the moderators here when I was a commenter.

    • Ross 5.2

      Maybe a post each day to say who's moderating would be good?

      And their general disposition. When a moderator starts name-calling, you know it’s probably not a good day to try to engage in a mature discussion. 🙂

  6. Patricia Bremner 6

    Thanks for all you and other moderators and authors do. It is much appreciated.

  7. Stephen D 7

    The fact that moderators do the job on a voluntary basis is a constant source of wonder to me.

    Thank you!

  8. Belladonna 8

    As a very new commenter (long time reader, takes a lot more courage to contribute) – I really value both the work the moderators do, and the clear guidelines that the site provides.

    Balancing a very … diverse .. group of strongly opinionated people [anyone who thinks the 'left' is monolithic should read here!] is a profoundly difficult juggling act.

  9. Puckish Rogue 9

    For what its worth I think you do a good job, you're fair and even handed.

  10. Chris T 10

    Personally think the mods on here do a good job, even if I have been turned off a couple of times:)

    I mod on other forums and it can be a pain in the arse.

    The only comment I would make which could be interpreted as negative (It isn't) is this comment.

    "different authors moderate differently." is always going to be a problem. Is kind of unavoidable, but kind of needs to be alleviated as much as practicable.

    As I say. She ain't exactly an easy problem to solve though. Different people with different patience levels, on different days etc.

    • lprent 10.1

      We also seldom have time to talk to others or to coordinate.

      And that is before we even consider the levels of disagreement about what is appropiate moderation levels.

      I have been moderating off and on now for about 40 years in various forums from the technical to the political. It is always a process for moderators to learn how to moderate and to learn what triggers them. And that is in an environment where little matters.

      I'd point out that this is a way easier environment than it is for the fools/public spirited who enter the actual political environs from local to international. They have to self moderate and to moderate their less experienced colleagues all of the time.

      It also isn't hard to look around the world anf inside the small political world here to see examples about where this has failed.

      Spare a thought past partisanship for those who moderate those forums..

  11. tsmithfield 11

    I have decided to be a bit more thoughtful and constructive in my comment style rather than combative. Hopefully my last couple of posts have been evidence of that.

    I think on these sorts of forums, right or left, it is easy to get into groupthink where those of us from the same side of the fence can just reinforcing each others thinking with the result that we can start to see all views from another perspective as toxic whereas that often isn’t the case.

    Hopefully, I can provoke thought and good discussion by bringing a different perspective that is well thought out and argued, while accepting that my views my often not be agreed with here.

    I actually find it a lot more enjoyable discussing ideas where there is a lot of views from a different perspective. It challenges my thinking a lot more, and helps me develop a wider perspective for my own views.

    • Chris T 11.1


      I think what can happen is from both sides of whatever weird political fence you sit on.

      If people don't particularly like a "team" they tend to concentrate on just the negative and avoid posting on any positive. If it is their "team" they tend to purely concentrate on purely the positive and avoid talking about any negative.

      It is a little bit like sport.

      I don't want to come across as holier than thou btw. I have never held any secrecy my not thinking Ardern is that great.

      But thought similar about some of Key's things

      It is just human nature I guess. The only thing I find slightly annoying is people who ring Talkback and purposefully miss-name Ardern "Jacinta" and Key "Keys"

      Like it is some victory.

  12. roy cartland 12

    Timely reminder, thanks Weka.

    I'm guilty of being a bit of a dick at times, against the rules, such as when I reply in kind to a rule-breaker rather than rising above it (hi Blade). No more.

    You're right, the moderation is what makes this comment section so much more resourceful than other blog sites'.

    Kia kaha mods, we heartily appreciate you all 💚.

  13. Tiger Mountain 13

    All good stuff Weka, your work is appreciated by this long time reader and intermittent commenter.

    Though perhaps an exemption could be granted for anyone replying to Gosman.

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