last day (16 days later) » 

2:59 AM
A: “Is something wrong?” Yes: Too much moderation

mxyzplkOverall SE Norms So here's the deal - I think that this impression is caused by a mix of not really having visibility into what actually caused moderator intervention (frequently it's flag driven) and also a misunderstanding of what the limits of mod exception-handling should be. Let me offer u...

Do you have any insight to offer regarding why folks have an impression of less aggressive moderation on other Stacks, if all moderators are getting this same guidance from on high?
@BESW One possible difference is between professional-topic Stacks (like SO) and hobby-topic Stacks (like here). The moderation on Arqade seems about the same as here, for instance. Oddly enough, the moderation on Workplace seems more intense, but then the community there is even more emotionally charged and argumentative than here. So possibly the aspect I observe hinges more on the emotional charge related to the site topic?
@SevenSidedDie Are you saying that the level of moderation is probably fairly equivalent across sites, but citizens' perception of moderation intensity is heightened on sites where the topic is more personal?
@BESW Oh, perception might be involved, but that's not what I meant. I meant that moderation is inherently in response to a community's particular dynamics. Topic is one thing I think strongly influences a community's needs and behaviours.
@SevenSidedDie I'm confused. That seems tangential to, if not in conflict with, mxyzplk's explanation of the reasoning being given to RPG.SE moderators to maintain high levels of activity. (It also seems quite reasonable, I'm just having trouble reconciling your comments with mxy's post.)
2:59 AM
@BESW The message from Above is to moderate the things that need moderating, and not to shrink from or shirk that duty. How much needs moderating and how is emergent though, conditioned by the site activity. Objections that we moderate more here than elsewhere may not be controlling for that difference—if we must moderate more here due to different local conditions, then we must, right? Un-nuanced comparisons to other Stacks may be overlooking important differences.
Hmm. Okay, I think I get it, thanks. So, my takeaway from this is that the moderators will be reflecting on their comment habits to see how they can better show the community why and how moderation is necessary. This would at least help with communication channels and avoiding confusion, but hopefully it will also increase citizen participation in the moderation arena.
I have greatly expanded my answer to address these points.
Thanks, I think this is a good forward step. A couple points for action right off the top of my head: I'd be happy to personally raise a new meta Q about seeing if form comments can be improved (create more for other situations/get them feeling more friendly) for the community to participate in consult on, or to consult on it personally, whichever is appropriate. I'd also like to be more aware of when something is taken to; I had no idea Mxy was championing such things over there. What can I, or others, do to know about that next time it happens?
Thanks. 1. on pro forma comments, go for it, I'd love to have something to cut and paste rather than free-writing and 2. in those cases I mentioned them in the meta that spurred the discussion at the time. I do it less now because I can generally anticipate what the answer will be. Though of course no diamond is required to suggest/chip in on existing in
@BESW Pro-forma comments are great, and have greatly taken the emotional charge out of some of the more sensitive repetitive comments I often need to make. I think they even end up more helpful comments, since they start from a neutral-to-warm register that starts me on the best foot, and I can reserve my brain for any customisation they need. Having a script that lets me click-click and have a set of pro-forma comments ready to go is an indescribable boon.
2:59 AM
While I think this is a great and informative post, could you emphasize what your proposed solution is? Truly hypothetical, if I ran for mod, got elected and then did less moderation, because I don't think that some of what you do is necessary, how would that change anything? You would still do what you do, my non-action -even wielding mod powers- will not hinder you to do exactly what you do today.
1. There's no silver bullet, I'm not sure I can emphasize the proposed solution more than I have. "Be better about communication, understand the needs of the site aren't always about you, and participate more in site moderation yourself as your rep allows." 2. In theory there'd be 33% less moderation activity? But the mod team isn't just three independent actors, we discuss and align on the amount of intervention needed. Each new mod becomes part of that discussion. 3. If you approach it as how can I help the site, not how can I hinder the other mods, you'd probably see more options.
If you were to use your mod powers less aggressively, would other mods or the SE community managers take action against you? I'm a lurker/outsider, so I don't claim to know what this community wants or needs; I'm just surprised you feel pressured by "higher-ups" to go against what (some of) this community has asked for.
It's not a matter of taking action, it's a matter of them knowing what's best for the stack. They've heard all the same complaints over time, but have build a best in class site with their approach. Therefore even when someone doesn't like it, we feel responsible to align with their approach, as they "know best." And furthermore, we've built a very successful SE here by not straying too much to the eternal cries of "well but so what about off topic answers and comments and..." Folks who think they know more than Atwood et al. about running a community are pretty much provably wrong.
9 hours later…
11:50 AM
@mxyzplk The only thing I can take home from your answer is "the mods are doing fine, the users need to adapt to our style because we are right." Do I get this wrong? Is any piece of your answer meant to convey that the mods may change something about their behavior in the future?
2 hours later…
1:46 PM
@nvoigt There is a long litany of complaints, some of which are valid, and some of which are not. The primary problem is communication (and not just on the mods' side). And we've made some mistakes in the past with procedure the community didn't like - well, mainly the game-rec one. But yes, I believe our general approach to closes, etc. is correct. Specific items bear specific discussion on meta - "what should be closed as NAA?" to get community clarity around them
I've heard two major things that bother you - one, the downvotes on answers people don't agree with. That has nothing to do with moderation, it's a community behavior.
Two, us moving too fast to close - we should wait and let the community do it. That's against SE best practice. Here's the meta.SE post on that same topic.
Q: Moderators should not close crap, flamebait questions, let the community

John DiblingWhen a moderator comes across a question that deserves to be closed, they should not. This should be left to the community to handle. Here's a fresh example right out of the Stack Overflow oven: "STDLIB and IO routines in C++". It's a crappy question, to be sure. It is long, ranty, and flame...

For that topic, I would say that it is not relevant "who" does a close or "when." The question is was it a needed close, with a meta-reason of do those closes make the site better. "who" does it "when" seems like quibbling.
So we are going to try to communicate better and involve the community more effectively in both policymaking and execution. There's not a lot of specific action changes that have been proposed that really pass muster at this point, however. It's virtually all 'well the right thing was done... but it seemed mean" or "the right thing was done... but you did it instead of a non-mod." Which means communication has to change, but not necessarily the mechanics.

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