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Susan Wise Bauer

Moderation Suggestions?

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For the record, I am not against private groups (in the sense of not being viewable to all), but I don't like the idea of them being unmoderated. 

 

At this point I have heard different info from different sources regarding whether or not the rules provide for moderation of private social groups.  Am I reading it wrong?  PPs are complaining that moderating was against the rules, but it actually is not against the rules?

 

Try and see this from a different point of view. I was a part of a group that got disbanded for whatever reasons. The group was a kind of haven from censorship that I appreciated very much. One of the reasons I appreciated that haven from censorship was particularly because the moderation staff left us alone. I was at liberty to share my ideas, thoughts, and concerns unrelated to personal issues, that I couldn't share on the open boards without receiving warning points, being banned, and having my posts edited or deleted. To the very best of my ability, I don't address my impression of anyone's character or personality traits, but try and stay on task to the topic in as an emotionally neutral way as I know how. It still gets dinged for being "RUDE! RUDE!" I cannot share facts without being reported. I cannot use certain words without apparently triggering someone's sensitivities. I cannot contribute to satisfaction on a forum that exists to support educators, because there are certain privileges that exist, privileges that my comments do not respect. Can you imagine how frustrating that might be? To find a forum that exists for the support of home educators, only to find it actively censors certain educational approaches that are rather standard otherwise?

 

The SG was free from that privilege. I could use words like "delusional" in context, in an accurate way, without throwing off an entire conversation because I've somehow been identified as the Big Meaning Who Hates Religious People. I could talk about facts and concepts without politely answering how an opinion is not, in reality, equal to a fact, and not all opinions are "equal" nor should they be equally respected regardless of how sincere the opinion is, or how nice anyone thinks the opinion holder personally is. Actually, we didn't talk about these things because they were assumed. Without a common belief system that holds an opinion in higher regard than fact, there is no reason to talk about that opinion. We could simply focus on topics relevant to all of us. There exists a very real privilege on this forum that was rendered inoperable in that SG. There existed a place where people could share open opinions without having to first consider if they would get targeted with warning points for daring to recognize that denying evolution is the academic equivalent to denying a spherical earth, or that abortion isn't in any meaningful way, "murdering a child," or that any belief in or claim about a deity (regardless of one's personal opinion about its character or moral standing) were irrelevant to the situation at hand.

 

There are educational concerns that cannot be addressed on the main boards because people tend to get rather worked up, each post showing a bit less reservation when it comes to responding with emotion and restraining sarcasm or personal jabs. One solution is to open the board to become a genuinely an uncensored environment when it comes to the subject of education, politics, religion, culture wars, etc etc etc. Let people defend their statements and let their claims stand or fall based on the merits with which they are presented. There would be no privilege one way or the other. That would require a much larger moderating staff that appears to exist, and would be asking people to put in free time in sufficient quantities in order to make sure the posts don't truly infringe on someone's right to post without fear of harassment. Of course that brings us back to what truly is harassment. If using the word "delusional" with regard to maintaining a belief that not only defies known evidence but actually advocates the opposite of what evidence shows (the very definition of the word) is considered "harassment," then this environment protects a particular privilege that I, and others like me, are bound to respect and support. But doing away with that privilege and opening the conversation up to include actual facts and not allow opinions to stand as evidence in any given argument tends to drive the more sensitive participants away. That's not conducive to the kind of friendly, supportive gathering spot SWB likely has in mind for her forum here. And I have to admit, there's merit in her position. Even if I think there's greater merit in relaxing this privilege, or even providing a SG for those who do hold beliefs to not be challenged by such inconveniences, freeing the moderating staff up for a more enjoyable use of their time, this isn't my sandbox, not my rules. 

 

So the SG was created as the logical place to keep those ideas in circulation where those who expect and demand a particular privilege wouldn't be exposed to, wouldn't be offended by, and wouldn't pose a burden to the rest of us. This was never for the purpose of gossip, or targeting people, but for the goal of exchanging ideas and information for the sake of preparing a more elegant environment for our own home education.  Part of it was to be able to avoid the expected pseudo-scientific ideas that often get lobbied around, part of it was to avoid the expected accusations of hostility. Moderating a SG that exists to escape the privilege of the open board would defeat the purpose of the SG if those moderators shared the goal of protecting this privilege. History suggests they do. 

 

I've no doubt this post will raise the hackles of a great number of people who will by now be bristling with the idea of "delusion" or the concept that denying evolution is no more respectable academically than denying a spherical earth. I've no doubt these ideas will be very upsetting to people. I've no doubt this post will be responded to in ways that attempt to show me where I'm not being polite enough, or inclusive enough, or respectful enough. This will illustrate the very point - when the ideas are given privilege status such that targeting an idea is identified as disrespectful, there's an assumption of privilege at play. Let's turn it around a moment and ask, why is it not more logical that the open boards be inclusive to all ideas, beholden to none (moderation to reflect a secular order), and religious believers have SG to protect them from unwanted challenges and the appearance of disrespect to their deeply and sincerely held beliefs? 

 

 

 

ETA: Just saw SWB's last post requesting no more talk about the SGs. I hope this post will stand as it's not so much a commentary to defend the SG, but to explain a bit more specifically, and ideally helpfully, the trend in behavior of the moderation tactics on the forum. It is my hope that this will contribute to the mod staff's database of knowledge they'll use to modify their approach as they desire. 

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I agree with Ashley -- I'm surprised that anyone would think that SWB and the moderators shouldn't be permitted to visit their social groups at any time. I do understand the desire for discretion, and think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that neither SWB nor the moderators would publicly discuss anything they read in those groups, but I think it's a bit much to expect total privacy. If groups truly need total privacy, they should probably host themselves on a separate website.

 

I'm not trying to be snarky. I just don't understand why the social groups should be exempt from all forum rules and not be subject to some form of oversight.

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Try and see this from a different point of view. I was a part of a group that got disbanded for whatever reasons. The group was a kind of haven from censorship that I appreciated very much. One of the reasons I appreciated that haven from censorship was particularly because the moderation staff left us alone. I was at liberty to share my ideas, thoughts, and concerns unrelated to personal issues, that I couldn't share on the open boards without receiving warning points, being banned, and having my posts edited or deleted. To the very best of my ability, I don't address my impression of anyone's character or personality traits, but try and stay on task to the topic in as an emotionally neutral way as I know how. It still gets dinged for being "RUDE! RUDE!" I cannot share facts without being reported. I cannot use certain words without apparently triggering someone's sensitivities. I cannot contribute to satisfaction on a forum that exists to support educators, because there are certain privileges that exist, privileges that my comments do not respect. Can you imagine how frustrating that might be? To find a forum that exists for the support of home educators, only to find it actively censors certain educational approaches that are rather standard otherwise?

 

The SG was free from that privilege. I could use words like "delusional" in context, in an accurate way, without throwing off an entire conversation because I've somehow been identified as the Big Meaning Who Hates Religious People. I could talk about facts and concepts without politely answering how an opinion is not, in reality, equal to a fact, and not all opinions are "equal" nor should they be equally respected regardless of how sincere the opinion is, or how nice anyone thinks the opinion holder personally is. Actually, we didn't talk about these things because they were assumed. Without a common belief system that holds an opinion in higher regard than fact, there is no reason to talk about that opinion. We could simply focus on topics relevant to all of us. There exists a very real privilege on this forum that was rendered inoperable in that SG. There existed a place where people could share open opinions without having to first consider if they would get targeted with warning points for daring to recognize that denying evolution is the academic equivalent to denying a spherical earth, or that abortion isn't in any meaningful way, "murdering a child," or that any belief in or claim about a deity (regardless of one's personal opinion about its character or moral standing) were irrelevant to the situation at hand.

 

There are educational concerns that cannot be addressed on the main boards because people tend to get rather worked up, each post showing a bit less reservation when it comes to responding with emotion and restraining sarcasm or personal jabs. One solution is to open the board to become a genuinely an uncensored environment when it comes to the subject of education, politics, religion, culture wars, etc etc etc. Let people defend their statements and let their claims stand or fall based on the merits with which they are presented. There would be no privilege one way or the other. That would require a much larger moderating staff that appears to exist, and would be asking people to put in free time in sufficient quantities in order to make sure the posts don't truly infringe on someone's right to post without fear of harassment. Of course that brings us back to what truly is harassment. If using the word "delusional" with regard to maintaining a belief that not only defies known evidence but actually advocates the opposite of what evidence shows (the very definition of the word) is considered "harassment," then this environment protects a particular privilege that I, and others like me, are bound to respect and support. But doing away with that privilege and opening the conversation up to include actual facts and not allow opinions to stand as evidence in any given argument tends to drive the more sensitive participants away. That's not conducive to the kind of friendly, supportive gathering spot SWB likely has in mind for her forum here. And I have to admit, there's merit in her position. Even if I think there's greater merit in relaxing this privilege, or even providing a SG for those who do hold beliefs to not be challenged by such inconveniences, freeing the moderating staff up for a more enjoyable use of their time, this isn't my sandbox, not my rules.

 

So the SG was created as the logical place to keep those ideas in circulation where those who expect and demand a particular privilege wouldn't be exposed to, wouldn't be offended by, and wouldn't pose a burden to the rest of us. This was never for the purpose of gossip, or targeting people, but for the goal of exchanging ideas and information for the sake of preparing a more elegant environment for our own home education. Part of it was to be able to avoid the expected pseudo-scientific ideas that often get lobbied around, part of it was to avoid the expected accusations of hostility. Moderating a SG that exists to escape the privilege of the open board would defeat the purpose of the SG if those moderators shared the goal of protecting this privilege. History suggests they do.

 

I've no doubt this post will raise the hackles of a great number of people who will by now be bristling with the idea of "delusion" or the concept that denying evolution is no more respectable academically than denying a spherical earth. I've no doubt these ideas will be very upsetting to people. I've no doubt this post will be responded to in ways that attempt to show me where I'm not being polite enough, or inclusive enough, or respectful enough. This will illustrate the very point - when the ideas are given privilege status such that targeting an idea is identified as disrespectful, there's an assumption of privilege at play. Let's turn it around a moment and ask, why is it not more logical that the open boards be inclusive to all ideas, beholden to none (moderation to reflect a secular order), and religious believers have SG to protect them from unwanted challenges and the appearance of disrespect to their deeply and sincerely held ideas?

Are you suggesting that the moderators have a religious bias?

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Are you suggesting that the moderators have a religious bias?

 

I'm suggesting the moderation behavior supports a religious bias on the open forums. 

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I'm suggesting the moderation behavior supports a religious bias on the open forums. 

 

I'm an atheist, and a pretty hardcore one. I'm pretty quick to sniff out and be outraged over religious bias. This is not my perception here. I've seen obnoxious posts on both sides deleted. I've seen what I considered obnoxious posts on both sides left in place. I've seen posters on both sides kick up a stink over why "that person's obnoxious posts are allowed and mine are removed or censored," and I've seen posters on both sides claim the site/moderators have a bias.

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Are you suggesting that the moderators have a religious bias?

  

I'm suggesting the moderation behavior supports a religious bias on the open forums.

 

For the most part, it is ingrained into our whole culture.

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ETA: Just saw SWB's last post requesting no more talk about the SGs. I hope this post will stand as it's not so much a commentary to defend the SG, but to explain a bit more specifically, and ideally helpfully, the trend in behavior of the moderation tactics on the forum. It is my hope that this will contribute to the mod staff's database of knowledge they'll use to modify their approach as they desire.

Again, there is the implication that the moderators are treating you and others unfairly.

 

If you feel the moderators are so terribly biased against you, why would you continue to post here? Why wouldn't you simply join or start another forum? I wouldn't hang around a forum where I felt uncomfortable and where I thought I was being discriminated against.

 

I don't want you or anyone else to leave the forum, but I am hearing a lot of resentment, and if you needed a private group to talk about issues, because you didn't feel that you were able to discuss them on the public forum, why would you even want to bother being part of the forum at all?

 

Again, I don't want anyone to leave -- I'm just trying to understand what you and others have meant in your posts. I'm hearing a sense of entitlement and a lack of gratefulness toward SWB for providing this forum for us, and I have a feeling that isn't what any of you intend.

 

BTW, I have had posts deleted and have been slapped by the moderators from time to time, too, but I have to admit that when it happened, I deserved it.

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Are you suggesting that the moderators have a religious bias?

 

Oh Cat, you gave me my first lolololololol of the day!

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I'm an atheist, and a pretty hardcore one. I'm pretty quick to sniff out and be outraged over religious bias. This is not my perception here. I've seen obnoxious posts on both sides deleted. I've seen what I considered obnoxious posts on both sides left in place. I've seen posters on both sides kick up a stink over why "that person's obnoxious posts are allowed and mine are removed or censored," and I've seen posters on both sides claim the site/moderators have a bias.

:iagree:

 

I also suspect that perhaps the issue may be who is reporting whom in a given thread, rather than moderator bias.

 

As I understand it, the moderators aren't trolling the boards looking for posts to delete. I believe they only read threads when posts are reported.

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I'm suggesting the moderation behavior supports a religious bias on the open forums.

What evidence do you have of this bias?

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What evidence do you have of this bias?

 

The history of my moderation, and those of other posters who were moderated for things that appear to favor a double standard. Queen spoke of her experience with this earlier in this thread, I think. The mods will have this information in their database. The software doesn't send a copy of the post when it gets edited or deleted, so I don't have copies of my posts pre-moderated, but the mods have that stuff. 

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Perhaps religious members are more likely to report atheistic/free thinker posts than atheists/free thinkers are to report religious posts. (See Duggar post reporting as an example.) 

 

And if there's an overworked moderator who is relying on the members' reports, the bias is built into the system. 

 

I have seen plenty of things which could be offensive to religious people left untouched; whether no moderator saw them or whether they were left to stand, I do not know. It's possible they were unreported and unseen, reported yet unseen, unreported yet seen, or reported and seen.

 

Rather than changing people's personal beliefs, it's easier and more consistent to have clear guidelines on when to report and when threads will be locked and/or posts deleted, which brings us back to this thread.

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Perhaps religious members are more likely to report atheistic/free thinker posts than atheists/free thinkers are to report religious posts. (See Duggar post reporting as an example.) 

 

And if there's an overworked moderator who is relying on the members' reports, the bias is built into the system.

 

That pretty much sums up my guess as to what has been happening.

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The history of my moderation, and those of other posters who were moderated for things that appear to favor a double standard. Queen spoke of her experience with this earlier in this thread, I think. The mods will have this information in their database. The software doesn't send a copy of the post when it gets edited or deleted, so I don't have copies of my posts pre-moderated, but the mods have that stuff.

Not to be argumentative, but the experiences of a few individuals do not necessarily represent the experiences of all of the other members of a very large forum like this one.

 

I'm sure we could start polling religious members and find some that feel they have been unjustly moderated, as well.

 

Perhaps you are simply being more vocal about it, leading to the impression that you are part of a specific group that is being unfairly targeted by the moderators.

 

I'm not seeing evidence of a double standard here. I am seeing your opinions about there being a double standard, and opinions are not facts.

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I enjoy the mostly polite discussions that happen around potentially controversial issues here. I think most people do a good job of moderating themselves, but I also think the presence of official moderation helps to keep things civil.

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Yes, snippy insults are definitely the way this thread should be going.  Are we going somewhere constructive with this? 

 

Yeah, let's not derail a constructive thread with that kind of thing. Susan's trying to involve us in the problem-solving process here. Let's participate rather than harp.

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I'm suggesting the moderation behavior supports a religious bias on the open forums.

You mentioned using the word "delusional" above. I think the word "delusional" when used to describe someone else's beliefs is rude, even if I think it is true it isn't polite. And I don't always have an easy time being kind and polite either, I can get snarky and insulting. I'm no angel on the boards, I've had my moments. But it sounds like you get reported when others are offended, and you think you are just being honest. I don't think it is the result of a "religious bias," but religious beliefs are very personal and very important to people and so it is a subject where I think people are more likely to lose their cool and hit the report button.

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I'll give a concrete example of the religious bias. There was a very interesting topic during the summer where people were discussing why they left religion. There were people from both "sides" being polite and respectful. One religious poster came in and was rude. She was called out for it by members from both "sides". She came back again and was now reported (I know this for sure since I did report her). The moderator came in and edited one of the rude posts but not all. She then went into another thread and was rude again on the same topic. She was again reported. Nothing happened. She then went into the first thread and got it locked.

 

When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

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Perhaps religious members are more likely to report atheistic/free thinker posts than atheists/free thinkers are to report religious posts. (See Duggar post reporting as an example.) 

 

And if there's an overworked moderator who is relying on the members' reports, the bias is built into the system. 

 

I have seen plenty of things which could be offensive to religious people left untouched; whether no moderator saw them or whether they were left to stand, I do not know. It's possible they were unreported and unseen, reported yet unseen, unreported yet seen, or reported and seen.

 

Rather than changing people's personal beliefs, it's easier and more consistent to have clear guidelines on when to report and when threads will be locked and/or posts deleted, which brings us back to this thread.

 

:iagree:  :iagree:  

 

I am sure some moderator bias exists, because it always does.  But I have seen less of it on this board than on other boards.  That is one reason I like it here.

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Perhaps religious members are more likely to report atheistic/free thinker posts than atheists/free thinkers are to report religious posts. (See Duggar post reporting as an example.) 

 

And if there's an overworked moderator who is relying on the members' reports, the bias is built into the system. 

 

I have seen plenty of things which could be offensive to religious people left untouched; whether no moderator saw them or whether they were left to stand, I do not know. It's possible they were unreported and unseen, reported yet unseen, unreported yet seen, or reported and seen.

 

Rather than changing people's personal beliefs, it's easier and more consistent to have clear guidelines on when to report and when threads will be locked and/or posts deleted, which brings us back to this thread.

 

 

That pretty much sums up my guess as to what has been happening.

 

Yes, I agree, in addition to the issues I raised previously. And I think that has been a consistent theme in this thread - have some guidelines and enforce them equally for everyone.

 

Not to be argumentative, but the experiences of a few individuals doesn't necessarily represent the experiences of all of the other members of a very large forum like this one.

 

I'm sure we could start polling religious members and find some that feel they have been unjustly moderated, as well.

 

Perhaps you are simply being more vocal about it, leading to the impression that you are part of a specific group that is being unfairly targeted by the moderators.

 

And I also agree that confirmation bias can play a part in the perception of unfair moderation. Don't get me wrong, I wrote a novella upthread about uneven moderation and I believe this to be true. I'm just not convinced that it has more to do with religion rather than a given moderator's tolerance for vigorous debate in a given thread on a given day.

 

Along with others I do remember when the board seemed to favor (in posts, not necessarily in moderation) a certain flavor of Christianity and it was uncomfortable at times for me as one who is definitely not of that flavor. As the years passed and more voices were heard the tenor of board changed and had more of an even keel (if I may mix metaphors). And such has continued to happen for the better, I believe. I enjoy reading differing points of view even when I disagree with them. I just want even-handedness from the moderating team when it comes to moderating the boards.

 

Albeto., I do think that you have at times been unfairly targeted (and, I assume, your posts reported) and I can understand your frustration. I just want you to know that even when I whole-heartedly disagree with you (and I do at times  :D ) I enjoy reading your posts. 

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I'll give a concrete example of the religious bias. There was a very interesting topic during the summer where people were discussing why they left religion. There were people from both "sides" being polite and respectful. One religious poster came in and was rude. She was called out for it by members from both "sides". She came back again and was now reported (I know this for sure since I did report her). The moderator came in and edited one of the rude posts but not all. She then went into another thread and was rude again on the same topic. She was again reported. Nothing happened. She then went into the first thread and got it locked.

 

When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

 

So, this could be bias or could be different moderators handling things differently.  Hence the need for more specific moderation guidelines regarding what results in deleting, banning, etc.

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I'll give a concrete example of the religious bias. There was a very interesting topic during the summer where people were discussing why they left religion. There were people from both "sides" being polite and respectful. One religious poster came in and was rude. She was called out for it by members from both "sides". She came back again and was now reported (I know this for sure since I did report her). The moderator came in and edited one of the rude posts but not all. She then went into another thread and was rude again on the same topic. She was again reported. Nothing happened. She then went into the first thread and got it locked.

 

When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

But do we know that none of the "religious" members have been banned?

 

Is there any proof that only non-religious members are being targeted by the moderators?

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Not specific to anyone, but I think many times posters are so steeped in their own POV that they don't even recognize when they cross the line into rudeness, and they don't see their own complicity when things go south. So then they are surprised when they are moderated. I actually recognize this most often when a position I agree with is being voiced but even I think it is rudely expressed. LOL

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I'll give a concrete example of the religious bias. There was a very interesting topic during the summer where people were discussing why they left religion. There were people from both "sides" being polite and respectful. One religious poster came in and was rude. She was called out for it by members from both "sides". She came back again and was now reported (I know this for sure since I did report her). The moderator came in and edited one of the rude posts but not all. She then went into another thread and was rude again on the same topic. She was again reported. Nothing happened. She then went into the first thread and got it locked.

 

When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

 

I remember this episode and I thought it was a shame that one person was allowed to derail the thread when everyone (from both sides) was acting as adults. This poster also derailed a religious thread (if I recall correctly) and got it locked. What I don't know is if one moderator was working that day or if there was more than one and each one had a different standard s/he was applying. 

 

Thus the need for clear, consistent guidelines known to both the end users and the moderating team.

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Since I do believe both religious and non-religious posters would report bias against their posts on here, I think that's probably a sign of *successful* moderation. Each side is having content removed or remain in various threads, as the mods deem necessary.

 

If only one group was annoyed I'd be much more concerned, YKWIM?

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But do we know that none of the "religious" members have been banned?

Is there any proof that only non-religious members are being targeted by the moderators?

They could very well have been but I was talking about this specific incident and I know that poster wasn't banned.

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So, this could be bias or could be different moderators handling things differently. Hence the need for more specific moderation guidelines regarding what results in deleting, banning, etc.

Right. Or it could be a difference in word choice and level of vitriol, not just the superficials of generally annoying posting behavior.

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AM, I think what people are objecting to is not that moderators delete posts and lock/delete threads; but that they do so seemingly randomly and without any rhyme or reason the posters can understand. What is acceptable one day will get one banned the next. It's not a matter of only one side being annoyed. I think everyone wants a clear understanding of what is acceptable v. unacceptable and assurance that what is moderated is done so equitably. 

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And no one can derail a thread alone. It takes someone on the other side engaging, repeatedly. It takes two to tango.

Actually in my example above it was ONE poster who derailed the thread.

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Again, there is the implication that the moderators are treating you and others unfairly.

 

If you feel the moderators are so terribly biased against you, why would you continue to post here? Why wouldn't you simply join or start another forum? I wouldn't hang around a forum where I felt uncomfortable and where I thought I was being discriminated against.

 

I don't want you or anyone else to leave the forum, but I am hearing a lot of resentment, and if you needed a private group to talk about issues, because you didn't feel that you were able to discuss them on the public forum, why would you even want to bother being part of the forum at all?

 

Again, I don't want anyone to leave -- I'm just trying to understand what you and others have meant in your posts. I'm hearing a sense of entitlement and a lack of gratefulness toward SWB for providing this forum for us, and I have a feeling that isn't what any of you intend.

 

BTW, I have had posts deleted and have been slapped by the moderators from time to time, too, but I have to admit that when it happened, I deserved it.

 

I'm just seeing this post now, Cat. In answer to your comment about the mods being "so terribly biased against me," I think there's been a valid argument offered that majority of moderation might very well be inspired by reported posts. If my posts inspire more people to report than others, it makes sense mods are more likely to do something about it. If, however, they ignore other comments that are also reported, then that would show a bias in favor of protecting certain comments over others. Like I said, they'll have the information we aren't privy to. I'm not going to assume my opinion should be held to a standard higher than evidence, and we know that memory and eyewitness reports are notoriously unreliable for gaining objective information. So if the mod staff wants, they can keep an eye out for potential double standards.

 

As far as why I participate here, it's because this is the largest community I know that supports home educators. I'm an unschooler but this forum provides all kinds of resources and ideas I wouldn't be introduced to otherwise. I enjoy the art of argument - not like angry argument, but making a claim and supporting it with logical reasons. WTM forums are kind of like a mental parkour park for me. I think logical argument is a skill that's underdeveloped in most educational environments, and I can't hope to help my kids develop the art of logic if I'm not familiar with it myself. It's one thing to think I know something, another to be called out on what is in reality an assumption on my part. So it's a kind of unschooling experience for me, too. I've also made friends here, and enjoy spending my time with people who can offer insight, humor, and support, who are clever and funny and kind. 

 

As far as hearing a sense of entitlement, I don't mean to present one. SWB is asking for suggestions with moderation, and clearly the idea of a biased moderating style is not of my own creation. It inspired the SG that has been the topic of discussion recently. I think it's a valid solution to moderate the boards with a secular flair, offering a kind of safe haven for religious beliefs in private SGs rather than on the open forum. I think it would be good press for SWB as well, and this is one of the reasons I'm contributing to this thread. Upthread she mentioned how touched she was that people take her forums so seriously. There's reason to believe that people will put in effort and resources to things they value and think are valuable in general. Forums tap into this, which is why we can go online and find a community to answer any question we may have, from trying to fix a computer software glitch to dog breeding, to education. I value home education very highly and I want to see it given the respect it deserves. I want to see it presented in a positive way in society, and a public board that presents a strong bias in one direction will naturally dissuade others from participating and adding their own insight. People were understandably upset at the Urban Dictionary's portrayal of WTM forum, but it's not without merit. Perhaps SWB would like to see her forum, and her book, and the practice that she supports, be held in higher regard. Perhaps I can offer an idea or two the mod staff haven't considered. Perhaps not. But I don't mean to demand or even imply *my way* should be given highest priority. I'm helping in the brainstorm portion of this. Kwim?

 

As far as deserving moderation, that's neither here nor there. I don't recall how many times I've been edited or deleted. I do know that for every post of mine that has disappeared, there are dozens if not hundreds of readers who had no idea a comment or idea or challenge or defense ever existed. I think the moderation might be more prevalent than you believe. Maybe not. Again, I'm happy to let the information speak for itself. I'm just throwing out ideas as I think they may help. 

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She posted and no one responded? And that derailed the thread? I've never seen that.

 

No I didn't say that. I said that she got the tread derailed by not listening. The responses to her from BOTH sides were polite versions of "knock it off".

 

Here you go

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/523429-curious-why-you-turned-away-from-christianity/?hl=why%20did%20you%20leave

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I'm an atheist, and a pretty hardcore one. I'm pretty quick to sniff out and be outraged over religious bias. This is not my perception here. I've seen obnoxious posts on both sides deleted. I've seen what I considered obnoxious posts on both sides left in place. I've seen posters on both sides kick up a stink over why "that person's obnoxious posts are allowed and mine are removed or censored," and I've seen posters on both sides claim the site/moderators have a bias.

 

This is what I see as well.  I get moderated pretty often although I try to be careful what I say.  Of course when it happens (usually in the context of a heated argument where I am obviously right!!!) I usually feel kinda crummy about it, maybe even picked on, but then I get over myself.  I feel the mods do what they do because the tone gets ugly and not because they agree or disagree with my opinion.

 

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And no one can derail a thread alone. It takes someone on the other side engaging, repeatedly. It takes two to tango.

In some cases it seems to be twenty tangoing. But I think that's more of a conga line of drama.

 

Hmmm...

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When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

 

Some on the other side have been banned without warning.  Such as, for telling another poster s/he was being rude to prior posters.  Does that make you feel better?

 

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No I didn't say that. I said that she got the tread derailed by not listening. The responses to her from BOTH sides were polite versions of "knock it off".

 

Here you go

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/523429-curious-why-you-turned-away-from-christianity/?hl=why%20did%20you%20leave

 

Right. My point is that it takes a response (or many...and back and forth) to derail. Someone needs to stop going forth. Or back. LOL Whichever. Someone has to be the more mature party, so if it's immature behavior for someone to have started off at all, OK, well then it is obviously going to have to be (collective) you. If someone (hopefully the OP) can come on and ask to stay on topic and stay respectful and to please stop responding to the off-topic attempted derailment, there would be a huge improvement in these closed threads. There is the ignore function. It is patently obvious what opinions some people here hold that are never going to change. Is it rude to keep posting them where they are obviously unwanted? Of course. But to pursue that, to engage, just feeds the habit. 

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Guys. Please. Keep on topic?

 

Don't want to lock the thread, but also don't want it to become a debate among those who do/don't see religious bias. For the record, complaints from "The moderators are biased towards Christians!" and "The moderators are biased against Christians" are almost exactly equal. And have ben since the board began.

 

Positions have been stated. Move on towards positive suggestions for the future?

 

And, for future reference: This thread may, possibly, be culminating. (As in, contributing all the useful information needed before devolving.)

 

SWB

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But do we know that none of the "religious" members have been banned?

 

Is there any proof that only non-religious members are being targeted by the moderators?

 

Like I said earlier, it is a private or quiet action and many people are going to be embarrassed and not broadcast that they had their hand slapped.

 

We cannot know how many people of each "side" have been banned and we also don't know how many people of each "side" report posts they find annoying.  A lot of baseless assumptions are fueling defensive reactions.

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I'll give a concrete example of the religious bias. There was a very interesting topic during the summer where people were discussing why they left religion. There were people from both "sides" being polite and respectful. One religious poster came in and was rude. She was called out for it by members from both "sides". She came back again and was now reported (I know this for sure since I did report her). The moderator came in and edited one of the rude posts but not all. She then went into another thread and was rude again on the same topic. She was again reported. Nothing happened. She then went into the first thread and got it locked.

 

When albeto. and KK have persisted even after having been told to cut it out they have been banned.

 

This is the type of bias that is being criticized.

 

You know, I think we all know PHP is not a secular company. If they want these boards to have a Christian bias, that's their choice. But, in that case, it really should be clearly stated policy.

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I think it's a valid solution to moderate the boards with a secular flair, offering a kind of safe haven for religious beliefs in private SGs rather than on the open forum.

 

If the religious people would be restricted to joining private social groups to discuss their religious beliefs, isn't that even more discriminatory than anything you believe is currently happening here?

 

No one has ever said that non-Christians were not allowed to discuss their beliefs on the public forums. If you and others have chosen to take your conversations to your private group, of course that was up to you -- but it was your decision, not any kind of forum rule.

 

On one hand, you seem to be advocating fairness to all, but then you post that the moderation should be secular and that the religious people should have to discuss religion in private groups.

 

That doesn't make any sense.

 

I think the moderators should strive to be fair to everyone, and to look at reported posts in terms of their level of offensiveness, rudeness, or nastiness, and not show any bias regarding whether or not a poster is religious. I happen to believe that they are already doing that, but I realize that we disagree on that point.

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In general, I think that if a point is worth making it is worth taking the time to try to formulate my posts in as inoffensive a manner as possible. If I say:

 

"Atheists are bigots who hate Christians" I am making a personal attack that is very likely to offend even if I believe it to be true (I don't). If I say instead "I know some atheists who are very vocal in condemning Christianity" then hopefully discussion of different viewpoints can continue in an interesting and productive manner.

 

I think such discussion is the aim of this board, whatever topic is being addressed.

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I guess my point is that disagreements can be handled politely, and when multiple posters start reporting the discussion has probably moved past that point and moderators need to step in.

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You know, I think we all know PHP is not a secular company. If they want these boards to have a Christian bias, that's their choice. But, in that case, it really should be clearly stated policy.

ARGGH.

 

OK, people, I'm really trying here, but this is not helping.

 

1) "PHP is not a secular company." A lot of definition is being assumed/unexpressed here. You all know that I am a minister's wife, and that I am personally a Christian. I run PHP. I also hope that you know that PHP has no desire to impose a Christian point of view on anyone. That's not our viewpoint, or our mission. I don't know how I can make that clearer.

 

2)"If they want these boards to have a Christian bias." We want these boards to be accessible to home educators. Kapish?

 

3) "That's their choice." It isn't. So much interpretation is being overlaid here onto individual moderation decisions, each of which probably had as a main goal "Please make multiple  members stop reporting this thread."

 

Is anyone beginning to understand why moderating these boards is a difficult job? We have relied on member consensus to edit/not edit threads. One report? No moderation. Multiple reports? A moderator goes to see and makes a decision.

 

Many of you have been very helpful in helping us rethink this strategy, which worked for a long time but is clearly no longer adequate for a board this size.

 

We'd appreciate rethinking, not blanket statements with massive assumptions about our motivations.

 

SWB

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I can't speak for anyone else, but the only things I've ever reported over were spam and blatant personal attacks.  I don't think either of those need to be tolerated in order to have a good discussion.

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