Moderator Guidelines

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Moderator Guidelines

Post by Sils on Fri Jan 11, 2008 11:46 pm

Moderator Guidelines

The primary goal of the moderator is to keep discussion interesting, fun and informative. Some

Simple Rules:

Be objective. This isn't possible, but it's a good guideline nonetheless.

Be very careful when moderating in any thread where you are also a participant. Using your moderator powers to give you an advantage in discussion is a difficult temptation to resist, but resist it you must.

The Forum Rules or Guidelines are the moderator's guide for deciding when moderator action is called for.

Moderator actions will usually consist of posts to the relevant thread. Moderators may sometimes encounter situations where it is more appropriate to instead send email (if the member's email address is public), but this approach should be avoided when possible.

In any moderator action, always use a light touch. Suggest rather than command. Keep it positive.

Point of view should never be a factor. Members should be permitted to advocate any position they like using whatever means they choose as long as they follow the Forum Guidelines.

If moderator action does not resolve the issue, the next level of enforcement is suspension of posting privileges. At present only Admin have suspension power, but this power will be extended to other moderators who prove themselves over time. Suspension is removed upon an email request to the board administrator (Admin). Variations upon this are certainly reasonable, such as suspending for a time period like 24 hours or 1 week, etc.
One thing that has been discovered over time is that suspension tends to cause anger. For this reason it has been used increasingly sparingly. Fortunately, the increase in the number of moderators has made this less of a problem.

Occasionally permanent banning may be necessary. User posting random vulgarities, with spammers, and with those who have attempted to get around suspension by joining under another ID.

Comments for moderators on each of the Forum Guidelines:

*Please stay on topic for a thread. Open a new thread for new topics.
This is where moderators can be most helpful as there's a strong tendency for threads to drift. Natural topic drift is fine, but some members have a tendency to take sharp turns, and these should be resisted.

*Debate in good faith by addressing rebuttals through the introduction of new information or by providing additional argument. Do not merely keep repeating the same points without elaboration.
It's important that discussion keep moving forward. The simplest example of this type of behavior is when someone just keeps repeating that they don't believe something. Example:

"I can't believe the ark could carry all those animals."
"Why not?"
"It just seems impossible."
"What seems impossible about it?"
"All those animals in a boat?"
"Perhaps if you could identify some of the issues about the ark that you have trouble accepting we could help explain them."
"It's just the unlikelihood of it all."
And so forth. Naturally there are much more complex manifestations of the same behavior, and when they can be identified by administrators it can be very helpful to moving discussion forward.

*Respect for others is the rule here. Argue the position, not the person. The Britannica says, "Usually, in a well-conducted debate, speakers are either emotionally uncommitted or can preserve sufficient detachment to maintain a coolly academic approach."
We want a lively discussion, so where the boundary lies is hard to say, but though it's difficult describing what is out-of-bounds, it is often easy to recognize it when you see it. Needless to say, once a discussion becomes personal the coherence declines.

*Bare assertions on controversial points should be avoided by providing supporting evidence or argument. Once challenged, support for any assertion should be provided.
When members are encouraged to follow this guideline it can often be very helpful in guiding discussion onto productive paths.

*Bare links with no supporting discussion should be avoided.
"Argument by link" should be discouraged . Members should introduce and describe the point they're making and only use links as supporting references.

*Never include material not your own without attribution to the original source.
One of the great entertainment values provided by Internet discussion forums occurs when you see a meticulous, well-argued post from someone who heretofore has barely been able to put two words together. Usually you can put just one sentence of the post between quotes in Google's search box to find where it came from. Often just pointing out the original source causes sufficient embarrassment to prevent further occurrences.

*Avoid any form of misrepresentation.
The dividing line between opinion and misrepresentation is usually not clear. Any moderator actions on this rule probably should be extremely well supported by the available evidence, approaching unequivocal. Otherwise you may be better served to simply continue observing.

*Participating as more than one ID is extremely strongly discouraged.
This has happened a few times, but almost always because of difficulties with their existing account. Sometimes it's pilot error, but that's okay. This hasn't really been a problem. I usually just send email asking which account they'd like to keep, then delete the other one.

*When introducing a new topic, please keep the post narrowly focused. Do not include more than a few points.
When this occurs it is usually a list of points culled from other websites. Often the auther doesn't even understand the points himself.

*Do not cut-&-paste long excerpts into message boxes. Please instead introduce the point in your own words and provide a link to your source as a reference. Most of a message should be the author's own words and not cut-n-pastes from elsewhere. does not have infinite disk space.

Use RED TEXT for giving WARNINGS

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