Author Topic: Forum Moderation  (Read 5428 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Forum Moderation
« on: October 07, 2007, 11:02:25 PM »
Recently there has been some questions and concerns about the moderation of these forums, and confusion about what exactly our forum moderation policy is. So let me clarify.

We have never and will never censor or edit intellectual content in these forums. We encourage open and pointed debate, we understand that the nature of scientific skepticism is to be critical and would never ask or expect anyone to pull their punches.

However it is our intention also to foster a friendly, collegial, and open environment. We have done this primarily through example (and so far have had to do very little moderation), and we are all very proud of the online community that has developed here.

Part of this is to expect that the members of this community will use reasonable judgment in following the basic rules of decency, politeness, and respect that should accompany any public forum. As is clearly stated in the forum rules, when we feel these basic rules are violated we reserve the right to take whatever action we feel is appropriate in order to maintain the environment in these forums that we desire.

Recently we created an unmoderated forum (labeled as explicit) for those forum members who feel they need a completely unfettered forum for their expression. But at the same time we put our forum members on notice that we will be moderating the other forums more closely. We feel this compromise is more than fair.

Some have complained that the moderation rules are fuzzy, but that is the nature of the beast. No one has created razor sharp rules for such moderation. There are extensive guidelines in the forum rules, this combined with a modicum of common sense and social awareness should be enough. If someone accidentally steps over this fuzzy line, we will gently point out where it is, and they will learn by experience.

This is all an outgrowth of a very good thing - that these forums are growing as the SGU is growing. We appreciate everyone, both new and established forum members, riding through these growing pains. Please continue to give us your frank feedback, and we will continue to make adjustments as necessary.
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Offline mindme

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Forum Moderation
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2007, 12:31:44 AM »
I'm on the side that says nothing about the forum is broke so no need to fix it.
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Offline Kwisatz Haderach

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Forum Moderation
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2007, 12:46:50 AM »
Quote from: "mindme"
I'm on the side that says nothing about the forum is broke so no need to fix it.


I don't believe that adding a special explicit section and being slightly more deliberate about the very liberal moderation elsewhere is an attempt to fix a broken forum as it is an attempt to improve an good forum.

Although I've often been on the "please just be a bit more polite" side of the etiquette debates, I've never been particularly offended by anything I've seen anyone say on these forums, nor have I ever seen a moderate moderate too zealously; I doubt that these minor changes will have a significant effect on the environment of these forums.

Offline thefellswooper

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Forum Moderation
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2007, 08:19:04 AM »
I appreciate Steve's frank posting here.

I would suggest that rather than (or perhaps in addition to?) an "explicit" forum, the moderators might want to consider establishing a "clean" forum.  My impression (borne out by the admittedly not-necessarily-random sample of forum members who have weighed in and/or cast votes in the relevant polls) is that the majority of the members would prefer to feel that all of the forums were sites for "unfettered" discussion.  And I agree with mindme - I don't think there was really anything seriously broken with the forums prior to some of the heated postings on the issue of moderation itself.

I can't imagine many people seriously objecting to the existence of an expressly "clean" forum, and I think there would be general compliance with "clean" standards in such a forum.
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Offline Kwisatz Haderach

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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2007, 08:50:23 AM »
Quote from: "thefellswooper"
I can't imagine many people seriously objecting to the existence of an expressly "clean" forum, and I think there would be general compliance with "clean" standards in such a forum.


Maybe a "clean" forum would have made more sense, but I really don't think it's that big a deal... all of the legitimate conversatios are going to happen on the main forums, anyway -- unless this new more deliberate moderation gets out of hand, which I doubt it will.  Everyone seems to have to best interests of the forum community in mind, let's just wait and see how things work out.

Offline Steven Novella

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Forum Moderation
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2007, 09:11:08 AM »
Our response was not to the perception that these forums were "broken." These forums have been growing, and our feedback from them was growing as well. We get a lot of direct feedback, by e-mail and private message, in addition to what is publicly posted here.

Like the format of the SGU itself, we listen to all feedback and then try to hit what we perceive is the sweet spot. Based upon all the feedback and our own experience in these forums it was our judgment that the tone needed to be tweaked back a notch.

Forum members have different views about what the optimal amount of moderation is - so obviously we cannot please everyone. We are trying to employ a "self-regulating" process, by which we make small adjustments and then see the result.

Also - to puts things in perspective - we are talking about a very minute amount of moderation. You have to almost make a specific effort in order to get moderated in these forums. Also, the moderation is far below the level that can possibly affect the ability to engage in heated debate or to completely, even forcibly, express one's position.
Steven Novella
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Offline Mark7300

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Forum Moderation
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2007, 11:32:13 AM »
Am I the only one with the ambition to have the first moderated post?
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Offline thefellswooper

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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2007, 11:33:56 AM »
Quote from: "Mark7300"
Am I the only one with the ambition to have the first moderated post?


Hmm, isn't it too late?  Wasn't Paul's post that started this deleted?
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Offline Kwisatz Haderach

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« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2007, 11:54:06 AM »
Quote from: "thefellswooper"
Quote from: "Mark7300"
Am I the only one with the ambition to have the first moderated post?


Hmm, isn't it too late?  Wasn't Paul's post that started this deleted?


I thought it was JurijD's list of naughty words in his sig that started this?

Offline Mike

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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2007, 03:24:20 PM »
Quote from: "thefellswooper"
Quote from: "Mark7300"
Am I the only one with the ambition to have the first moderated post?


Hmm, isn't it too late?  Wasn't Paul's post that started this deleted?


We've never deleted a post.  Not by Paul or anyone.  You might be referring to one that I split from the podcast episode thread and made a separate thread from it here.
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Offline thefellswooper

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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2007, 03:25:28 PM »
Quote from: "Mike"
Quote from: "thefellswooper"
Quote from: "Mark7300"
Am I the only one with the ambition to have the first moderated post?


Hmm, isn't it too late?  Wasn't Paul's post that started this deleted?


We've never deleted a post.  Not by Paul or anyone.  You might be referring to one that I split from the podcast episode thread and made a separate thread from it here.


Probably so, thanks for the clarification.  

Still, Mark, I'd say that counts as primacy of moderation.  Point for Paul!
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Offline Mark7300

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« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2007, 05:42:20 PM »
Sorry. I thought it was a good idea to point out to people that toning it down a bit sometimes was appropriate.
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Offline spiney

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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2008, 07:49:17 AM »
What I slightly object to is rude comments - without any intellectual content and referring specifically to me - which identically and always appear in every post made by some people (eg mr36). That said, I suppose it's bearable. Indulging in "tit for tat" is infantile and rather pointless.

Offline Skulker

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Explicit Forum
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2008, 01:30:38 PM »
It's nice you gave the kids their own sand box to play in  :D
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