* Forum Moderation Strategy *

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fiby41
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Re: Forum moderation strategy

Post by fiby41 »

This is the only forum I frequent presently and I'm trying to cut down on that too.

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Re: Forum moderation strategy

Post by fiby41 »

Hey pukingRainbows, I remember you from reddit.com/r/financialindependence , if you're the same person behind the username.

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Re: Forum moderation strategy

Post by fiby41 »

jacob wrote:IMHO one of the worst social media inventions ever, other than instant "sharing".
Is there a reason for the disdain of the share function?

As I see it, it's no different than posting a link to a forum or embedding an image.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by LiberateMind »

Jacob, Thanks for running such a wonderful forum. Sorry you have to put up with such nonsense.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by pukingRainbows »

@fiby41 Hello! But no, that's not me. I'm surprised there are two of us.

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Re: Forum moderation strategy

Post by fiby41 »

jennypenny wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2016 7:40 pm
Ego wrote:Is that one of the threaded comment plugins that automatically deletes a comment with a lot of down votes? It would be a shame if, say, an unreasonable comment on banning was automatically deleted like that, wouldn't it?
You can do that?

I'm glad we don't have that here. My post count would plummet.
Ego wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:42 pm
I was talking about the site where the original comment appeared. They've got a thumbs-up/down feature.

What I should have said was what scott2 said above.
jacob wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2016 9:36 pm
@Ego - AFAIK this forum has no plugins whatsoever. We run a really lean operation for stability/easy reasons. Notice the resistance everytime anyone suggests installing "features".

Besides, I really dislike karma-voting procedures, ala reddit or amazon as it turns posting into a subjective opinion/Matthew-effect popularity contest. IMHO one of the worst social media inventions ever, other than instant "sharing".
What Ego meant was, did the person who inspired this thread, post their badmouthing comments on a site like reddit or voat.co . In which case we could downvote it, and all other such comments from that user, into oblivion. Its called vote brigading.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

Just a heads-up to everybody (Not just moderators).

Instead of continually PM'ing me about "THAT [proverbial] guy" or asking for what the guidelines are for inappropriate, spammy, crossing-the-line, etc. stuff is ... please click on the "!" (exclamation mark) symbol on a given post to report it instead of PM'ing me. What this does is to put it in the moderation queue where I will definitely see it. Putting posts in the queue also hides them from everybody else until I deal with it. Do not worry about reporting stuff. I can always revert it. As a positive side-effect, immediate [community] reactions also prevents potential shitstorms from escalating. Think of it as neighborhood watch.

PS: I thought it should have gone without saying that the report function is not there for abuse, personal entertainment, or other stupid misuse :x

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by Dragline »

I'm so tempted to click on the "!" on your post just to see if it works. :twisted:

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

Somebody already did that.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jennypenny »

Why don't people just express why they think the post is inappropriate instead of immediately flagging it? We used to be able to self-police around here and I often got something out of the discussion. If a post just disappears, no one learns anything.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

Okay, I guess I might burst some bubbles, but this forum is not exactly self-policing and it never has been. For example, remember my last vacation from the forum?

Policing the forum is more of a fractal enterprise with me nuking the worst offenses and very rarely offenders too.

About 2% of the posters cause 98% of the issues around here. Generally almost everybody adds value but there's always one (or two) people who is causing grief. The Pareto Law is very strong. I try to stop those few in their tracks by deleting posts before it turns into a shitstorm/he-said-she-said/lynch-mob crapola thread.

What you might see as a self-policing forum is the kind of forum that comes after I've deleted posts that violate the forum rules to prevent shit from escalating.

You're seeing the minor issues of the 98%---the result after significant(*) clean-up effort---unless you're fast, you don't get to see see the crap that causes people to ask me to wipe their accounts.

(*) Not in terms of volume but in terms of staying on top of it.

TL;DR => What I'm asking here is for people to click and report posts that violate the forum rules rather than PM me every time it happens. It's just easier [for me] that way. As a corollary... using "reporting" in a humorous/irrelevant way is like prank-calling 911. Not exactly life/death here, but generally it's not appreciated :evil:

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jennypenny »

I've moderated 4 forums. This one is shockingly civil.

I'll go with whatever policy you'd like, but 'reporting' sounds like 'see something, say something' to me and I'm not a fan of that either. I guess it's just a personal preference. I'm more the "I'm Millwall" type.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

Wrong analogy. Moderating online forums is more like wildfire management. Think Smokey the Bear.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jennypenny »

edit: I retract my statement. His house, his rules.

Play nice.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

I think it's time to bump and re-read this thread in the light of the recent moderation activities and thread lock-downs.

Please read the first post in this thread to understand my moderation strategy and why only one person has ever been banned from these forums.

The short story is that I prioritize abiding to the Albion netiquette (rule 7) more so than any regard I have for totally free speech(*). I try to be tolerant of occasional cringe worthy posts or bad acts but if I find bad actors who knowingly and repeatedly break or push the limits instead of just having their head up their ass, I'll have to tighten things down.

(*) Especially in its gratis interpretation of thinking one should be able to say anything anywhere as opposed to the 1A definition of the liberty to critique the government without repercussions.

I should also note that these forums ran for over 5 years without any rules :o Think about that!

This means that for a good while everybody here was capable of "internet adulting" and common decency. This ability to behave also holds for people who knowingly break the rules or push the standards. They just choose not to and my patience is running out with that. And no, claiming that something was "just a joke" doesn't cut it. Moderating isn't funny!

The initial version of the forum rules had 6 entries (the first six in the list). However, in the past few years the number of rules added has expanded at a rapid clip. This is not because the forum has become bigger. This happens when a few forumites push the limits. Let me, therefore, be clear that just because something isn't explicitly restricted, it doesn't mean that it's acceptable behavior. The first person to think up a loophole or a new way to do damage doesn't get a pass. Rules are always playing catch-up with bad behavior.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

ARGH! Seriously ... less than 1 day after posting the above?! :x

Alright, fine, we'll do it the hard way with the ban hammer.

So, someone just became #2.

So now the total ban incident list looks like this:
2010: 0
2011: 0
2012: 0
2013: 0
2014: 0
2015: 1
2016: 0
2017: 0
2018: 1

It's a temporary ban like the first one. However, patience and benefit of the doubt applied has been significantly decreased.

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

Over the years, I've discussed my approach to running this forum. These comments are now scattered in various threads. I think it would be a good idea to collect them here, so I don't have to continually restate my philosophy on the forum every time there is an issue.
jacob wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:18 am
... is as far as I'm concerned an emergent quality of its participants. Over the years (it's been almost 10 now), the emergent political atmosphere on the forum has swung right, then left, then right again. The gender pendulum has also swung back and forth. Mostly, though, gender didn´t use to be an issue and as such the gender lens is relatively new. People didn't use to identify on the forum by gender(*). Often I/we didn´t even know and it didn´t matter. Whereas in 2017-2019 it matters so much that it seems to determine almost everything. But this too shall pass ...

(*) Which sometimes caused some surprises at meetups.

The problem with emergence is that it tends to trend as a new "atmosphere" gains momentum. People who like the new atmosphere feel encouraged to post more. People, who don't, post less and begin to lurk or leave outright. Fundamentally the atmosphere, whether it welcomes this idea or that idea, is a product of the community. When select people stop participating, of course it changes. Another effect of this [lack of mean reversion] is that the system tends towards bistability. This means that it can flip instantly based on a single event or discussion thread.

I posit that when forums (such as this one) are unmoderated wrt sentiment, they converge on monochrome states according to the prevailing societal lenses that people apply. For example, there are two large FIRE groups in Denmark on facebook. One is 95% male and the other is 95% female. I have never observed any genderism fights in either... it's just that most people post where they think they'll be welcome according to their lens---which is now gender. Ironically, when it comes to gender stuff, both groups internally complain about the dearth of members of the opposite sex, not realizing that their combined choices created the emergent gender sorting effect. (I'm a member of both groups, so I can see the meta-dynamics.)

My priority is not making this forum more welcoming according to whatever lens is trending in general society. Basically, what I want to promote here is intellectual discussion with the aim of expanding the Overton window (for any and all lenses). After all, I believe such an attitude is the progenitor ingredient to puruse something as open-minded as an ERE lifestyle. This also means I'll allow opinions/posts that I wildly disagree with as long as they abide by reasoned/intelligent arguments. I am also not super-pleased with the current state of the forum when it comes to politics/gender atttiudes, but I also understand that this could easily change on its own because of emergence maybe next week, next month, or next year.

In particular, if I start cleaning house (as some have told me they'd like), I think that would be much more destructive to the ultimate goal of thinking outside the box than having to endure disagreeable political or sexist or whatever lenses for a while. I'm trying to take the long view here and in that regard, I think the underlying hardware, that is, the nature of how we discuss, is more important than whether we like whatever software is currently running on the platform.

The result is that I tend to come down much harder on posts (and posters) that drag down the level (misinformation, memes, personal attacks, ... ) than posts that are disagreeable in topic or framework.---Because the cost of not setting a limit of the thoughts one is allowed to think is that sometimes other people´s ideas is that sometimes they will fall outside one´s Overton window. Basically, I moderate for form, not content. As long as you present well, you can present anything you want.

This is because I believe that it´s a lot harder to fix stupid than it is to change opinions or mature.

I strongly believe that insofar I fix the Overton window in place and only allow sentiments in accordance with it, things would get stale, and frankly, I'd rather be annoyed than bored. Insofar I desire a particular atmosphere, I'm not optimizing for "welcoming" as much as "fair and smart". A place, where participants are willing to consider any wild idea even if and perhaps especially the ones they don´t like.

Conversely, the other way of running the forum would be to fix the Overton window but allow a larger range of immature behavior for lack of a better word. That setup, I think, defines the vast majority of online forums.

Actionable advice: To change the atmosphere or lens of the forum, there´s strength in numbers. Retreating or lurking only serve to propagate the current situation. Effectively, every time you decide not to post, it's a vote that you approve of the current atmosphere. I realize that it takes more than one person to change the tone (this is also why I can´t do it on my own even as a moderator) and so it will require some spontaneous coordination in which several people consistently push the new lens or atmosphere for a while. It works. This is, after all, how the current atmosphere was "installed". And no, the atmosphere is not changed by attacking the old one. It's changed by replacing it.

TL;DR - To create the space that you prefer... you simply have to take it by which I mean develop it. Don´t take it from someone else. It´s much like converting land by throwing seeds. Complaining about the current crop or garden (that someone else planted) won´t change anything. Planting enough seeds will.
I suggest reading the entire thread and if not ten at least also viewtopic.php?p=186875#p186875

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

jacob wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 10:42 am
[...]

There is---I think by construction---a lot of interaction on the social media that is unnecessarily combative. (And one can indeed spot combative people from a mile away.) Some passionately dying on hills that most other people really don't care or even know about. In most cases (other than mine of course :P ) I believe these "social casualties" are needless. One of the questions I ask myself before responding and before hitting send is whether I'm being combative or tried to instigate or trigger someone? I also ask myself based on having possible danced with someone in the past whether I'm likely to move them in any way. Likewise, if I see someone trying to needle or trigger me to engage in combat, I'll simply circle or bend away and maintain the same distance. I'll let them punch holes in the air. Maybe they'll get tired. There's some recognition that I will have to live with them in the future, so I try to avoid destroying anyone. Very few are beyond redemption but they usually have to come about it on their own. I do not always succeed but this kind of dancing is the overall strategy.

In very many cases---on very many hills---it's a win-lose or a lose-lose proposition to engage. That is direct confrontation is a net loss proposition for most controversial issues---especially when there's a risk of third-party collateral damage. For me it's not really a question of "never backing down" because I've seen where that attitude ends (insert war metaphors) but whether a particular hill is worth fighting and dying on or whether it's better to control the hill in better or more subtle ways. For example, I can engage someone from the index investor cult all day long and sometimes it's tempting. Yet what's the point when we're both free to invest however we want? Instead I can focus my energy on making people better investors and at some point some will realize that investing is not about being for or against indexing (combat) but rather that indexing is part of investing (dance).

TL;DR - It's all about perspectives and it's usually the wrong perspective (e.g. seeing every challenge as win-lose single combat) that causes social ruin rather than the wrong ideology.
And a subsequent post discussing politics in particular ...
jacob wrote:
Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:37 pm
[...] There's a Swedish concept called an opinion corridor [of popular opinion] where the point is to navigate it w/o crashing into the sides. In order to stay centered, one has to know where the Overton boundaries are and adjust accordingly. That doesn't mean it can't be steered, but there's a right time and place to do so.

Consider how the forum is being moderated. There are indeed people with a chip on their shoulder. They don't have an agenda but rather an agenda has them and they see it as the most interesting thing in the world---there's no other right way. They will always defend their agenda if they feel threatened. They're the sheep-dogs of their agenda. If someone makes a point or a slogan, e.g. "Black Lives Matter" they can not help themselves to counter with "Blue/All Lives Matter". They literally do not see the effect this has on others or how saying it reflects back on themselves depending on who hears it. Insofar they do see it, they don't care. I don't know how this fits into Wheaton levels, but in terms of Kegan, it corresponds to the imperial mind (level 2). Purity matters because they see themselves as representing that. These are the ones spoiling for a fight because they're looking to prove a point regardless of how much it matters or how ridiculous the argument gets as long as they remain consistent with their principles. They're prepared to die on their hill or find another hill to attack or defend. When two opposing agendas meet in a debate, I know I'll spend the rest of the day doing damage control. When it happens IRL, it results in videos and shitstorms on twitter.

There's also the sportsball voters. They don't have an ideology as much as they're on a team or a political party. Of course that's an ideology in and of itself, but it's not nearly as sophomoric as the paragraph above. They belong to a party and this requires them to most importantly a) defend that party from attacks (by pointing out similar bad things about the other party); and less importantly b) have and follow the ideology ostensibly being representative of the party. As countless survey's show, the latter is not nearly as important and voters are really good at joining a party that is against their personal interests and beliefs. In the grand scheme of things (wolves, sheepdogs, and sheep), these are the sheep---the technical term being low-information voters. Properly socialized adults or in Kegan terms, level 3. This is the middle class, who don't care enough about politics to engage in culture wars. Voting is enough for them. They might say some shit about the other party, but they don't really care, and if you do engage (as a sheepdog), all they have to offer back is whataboutism or "lol idk shrug" reactions which is code for wanting to end the political debate. You can end it the same way. This stuff is pretty easy to moderate and in terms of behavior, these guys are pretty easy to get along with as long as one doesn't stir the shit pot.

Then there are people who have bona fide ideologies, that is, beliefs they've constructed themselves. Not to be confused with those who've adopted an agenda. The difference between the two is that ideologists will usually allow for exceptions and they will change their minds if they're given the right argument at the right time by the right person. They are aware of the opinion corridor so to speak. If they hold views outside the Overton window, they know how to keep it for themselves insofar they're not in sympathetic company. In the US they'd describe themselves as Independents (despite voting consistently for the same party). The group above would dismiss them as RINOs or DINOs or closet-Republicans/Democrats. To a large degree, the person here has adopted their ideology based on their situation. They stand where they sit. As their situation changes, they'll change their ideology to reflect that. If they bring new people into their orbit with different values, their ideology might also change to reflect that. For example, a person might be against LGBT rights until a child comes out gay at which point the ideology is changed to resolve the cognitive dissonance. A person who receives a windfall might experience a sudden change in their opinion on the capital gains tax. A healthy person who got sick might start questioning their ideology on health care. Politics in this crowd reflect their lives, situations, and who they are and how they live. In Kegan terms, they're self-authoring. In the US they vote according to who best represents their interests with the understanding that they can't get everything. In the political vernacular these are high-information voters. However, this vernacular can be misleading because the agenda driven crowd is also highly informed in terms of absolute quantity.

And then there are people for whom ideology is just a tool(*) or an abstraction. Some politicians demonstrate the ability to wield different tools when off camera which is highly refreshing. This would be a person who can describe an opponent's position in a way that that person would find fair. Also see campaign operators. The group above typically can't do that because they don't have enough experience with ideologies other than their own. The group two steps above definitely can't do it because their perspective of "other ideologies" is that of the enemy, so while they can make a description, the person would hardly find it fair. (e.g. "A socialist is a person who hates America".) These guys have opinions, of course, but they're hard to pin down. I don't really encounter this attitude until I worked in finance, where the perspective of politics was very much one of what [market] consequences the clashing ideologies would have. The reason being that insofar the trader got it right, they would make money either way. Contrast this with the group above who only benefits if the ideology is aligned. (Metaphorically, a trader makes money whether the market goes up and down. A buy&hold investor only makes money when the market goes up. The former is agnostic. The latter is religious.). Seeing ideology as a competing or collaborating tools describes the interconnected mind. At this point, it does get frustrating seeing people dying on hills to attack or defend agendas. Why are they willingly banging their heads against the wall? (Of course you know why---the frustrating part is that they don't) Ditto the meme-sharing or talking point repeating sportball fans. However, from the point of running/moderating the forum, I am trying to guide it into the direction of being an interconnected mind. That is, one that is smarter with us together as well as one that will if not elevate people out of developing their politics according to their own beliefs but see politics as something (a process) that includes all people. Effectively, by trying to discourage sportsball fandom, pushing back on agendas (I have nukes), and pushing/pulling on ideologies to get people to see a bit more than their current spot.

(*) Rare masters of this can build new tools or change or refactor a tool completely. These individuals can either be highly dangerous or highly beneficial.

In that regard, staying within the opinion corridor is pretty easy, because regardless of how people deal with their political thinking, there are still some "absolute" rules one can count on and which people rarely diverge from. In particular, the one known as the golden rule which various philosophies and religions have each phrased in remarkably similar ways. Just remember to consider the other(s) as people too. (I prefer the Rawlsian formulation of justice.) The second one being "recognize and avoid trouble". Whenever someone gets hung out to dry by public opinion, it's usually because they forget both.

[...]

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Re: * Forum Moderation Strategy *

Post by jacob »

jacob wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:09 am
[...] the current forum regime functions somewhat like a school yard with me as the principal in charge.

I can't just ignore fights or behavior that falls under the wide umbrella of bullying whenever they're not fighting me. I do understand how staying out of trouble is a good survival strategy for individual kids. However for the school itself, a school where the level is high and people get good grades, ignoring fighting and bullying is destructive. If a gang of kids start taking over part of the school or interfering in geology lessons with flat earth speeches, I can't ignore that either.

The normal (other forums or schools for that matter) approach is either ignore the problems resulting in a Lord of Flies situation where people ultimately learn nothing except fighting. Or be tough with expulsions and suspensions and restricting all teaching "to the test" never straying from the curriculum.

These are two easier extremes. The hard work is in the middle which requires selectively blocking off "fight zones", having long and boring conversations in the principal's office, making the environment unwelcome to gangs, and pushing back on the flat earth lectures each and every time it doesn't happen organically.

Since these efforts mostly go unseen, I understand why people presume this is easy. If a machine is mostly running fine, it is easy to conclude that maintenance is easy and the machine is all good except for the minor issue that seemed to lead to the current breakdown. If there are no fights or bullying in the school yard, it's easy to conclude that everybody is well behaved and the principal is getting paid for doing nothing.

My point is that it's hard work. The hard work is mostly created by a) the existence of a few revolving individuals; and b) politics.

Keep in mind that "the school problem" is not about individual behavior but about how individual behavior affects group behavior. "A bad apple spoils the barrel" comes to mind. I can't just clobber things I don't like w/o changing the dynamics and hence what learning is taking place.

Individuals can be "polished" or "raised" to be more considerate. However, politics is essentially a threat multiplier. It makes the forums more interesting, but it also leverages the risk of problems. (It's like spraying ethylene into the barrel.)

So I'm weighing my personal pros of allowing politics as far as I find it interesting with my personal cons of having to deal with an increased load of fighting, bullying, and flat earth lectures because of the political environment. Running this forum takes a lot of my focus which I have the liberty to spend elsewhere, so it has to be worthwhile for me.

Basically, politics has gotten far worse on the forum in the past few years than it was in the beginning years, so it's up against a rising tide ...

Ideally, there would be a fourth way where people take more ownership of the community (Kegan3+) instead of just using it as a place to say their piece.

Basically if you want politics to continue existing on the forum, you can't just ignore it when it becomes too much, because I can't. Unless this situation improves markedly and soon, I'm going to lock down the "politics and eternal disagreements" forum until at least after Jan/2021 or however long it takes for the culture wars to calm down to the 2010-level (early days of the forum) again when things were manageable. After the last several years I'm at the point now where I've had enough.

Locked