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Author Topic: Hey, Mark....
TomDavidson
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"I feel that this thread is serving no purpose anymore."

This is a singularly bad reason to give for locking a thread. You've done it more than a few times now, and I'd like to suggest that you elaborate on your reasons when you do so.

For example, the "offensive joke" thread should almost certainly have been locked -- or even deleted -- a while earlier. But "this thread serves no purpose" is a much less informative reason than "this thread is blatantly offensive and insulting to members of the groups involved, and humor of this nature has no place here" helps explain your decision -- if indeed that was the reason behind your decision.

If you don't want people to think you're arbitrary, you need to actually explain why you do the things you do.

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Leto
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No you don't. As long as you can justify it to the Cards, if they even care about this forum, then you are well within your bounds to do it. People don't have to agree with it, they just have to take it. Or leave it, I suppose. Of course, since the "supar sekrit" AI-Jane forum was made after whatever the hell that last banning scandal was, it looks like the line was drawn.

And don't worry about Tom making snide remarks about it—he does the same about my site all the time (though I've not seen one comment about sake). [Razz]

[ April 30, 2004, 01:43 PM: Message edited by: Leto ]

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Redskullvw
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Tom

I think it is very evident why the actions are taken on each thread.

In the case most recently locked, it was a trollish thread.

Just as this is a trollish thread. You can moderate your fourms as you wish.

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OrneryMod
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I had no problem with KE venting his anger at what happened.

However, it was degrading into a name calling fest, and not just at me.

I am sorry that you could not see that. I thought it was obvious what was happening.

OrneryMod

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TomDavidson
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"I thought it was obvious what was happening."

*nod* I, too, believe it was obvious.

HOWEVER -- and take this suggestion in the spirit in which it's made, Mark, and do me a favor by NOT taking any of Greg's advice (which has always worked out so well for you, right *insert snarky, ironic roll of eyes here*):

Whether or not it seems obvious to you (or me, or Greg, or anyone), you lose nothing by explaining the reasoning behind your decisions. At the very least, by doing so, you eliminate any speculation as to your reasons. Furthermore, having to vocalize your own reasons makes them clearer to YOURSELF, thus reducing the possibility of arbitrary behavior.

Complete and total transparency is, in the long run, far easier than the authoritarian, top-down approach.

Let me also suggest, based on your previous announcement of a "warning, then suspension/ban" policy, that any thread which you find it necessary to lock ALSO result in public warnings for the people that made it necessary. This not only keeps your reasoning transparent but demonstrates to the public exactly WHICH behavior you find offensive, while at the same time helping you maintain consistency with your enforcement of suspensions.

[ April 30, 2004, 01:37 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Ron
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Maybe we can all contribute money for the maintenance of Ornery. That way we can have a basis to criticise how they run it.

[ April 30, 2004, 07:30 PM: Message edited by: Ron ]

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TomDavidson
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Are you suggesting, Ron, that we have no basis for doing so now?
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Ron
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The internet isn't limited to this site. I think we agree to certain standards (all of us, though some of us sometimes need to be reminded), and I guess it's implied that we agree with the owner when he puts someone in charge (otherwise we can just leave). I'm sure there is a reason that one person was put in charge over other people and that person showed a good neutral face. And while it might not make everybody happy, I don't see much support for the person in charge either. Do you want to be in charge Tom Davidson?

I think when we sacrifice some of our money, it would put us on a more level moral playing field, since right now we aren't sacrificing anything, just complaining. I used to complain about eating my oatmeal. But I never paid for it then. I buy something else now.

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Everard
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I think that what Tom is trying to do, if I read him right, is a great idea. Teaching the moderator how to be a better moderator, makes the site better for all of us.

However, the site isn't a democracy, and never has been. Would it be better if it were? I don't know. I do know that Greg and I argued over this thread when Tom posted the initial point, because we have differing views (wow, there's a surprise... the fascist and the communist disagree?) over how best to run an internet forum. Greg thinks Tom is trolling. I think Tom is trying to make this a better place by offering his opinions on how to moderate.

Do we have the right to criticize how ornery operates? Yup, yup we do. Do we have the right to expect that our views be taken into account? No, no we don't. There's nothing, when we sign up, that says "Ornery will operate on the consensus of its users." What we CAN do, is ask our moderator to operate in a manner we think is beneficial to the site as a whole. What we CAN do, and Mark has definitely allowed this, is criticize our moderator when we think he's done wrong.

Will such discussions eventually be shut down? Yup, but OM has pretty much let them run for a few hours at least, and has not deleted posts from threads bashing his modding style.

Which, in my opinion, means he's listening.

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TomDavidson
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*nod* That is, basically, my intention. Mark's never been a mod before, on any forum -- and Ornery's a tricky forum to try to moderate, even on its best days, because of the fine line you've got to walk between civility and authoritarianism. As John has pointed out, and as Ron has repeated, Mark doesn't have to take any suggestions at all, as long as the Cards are still willing to let him moderate the place -- but I think it's to his credit that he's willing to listen to advice.

The simple fact is that Mark's doing this out of a love of the site, and got the job primarily because he volunteered; in some ways, as he'll readily admit, he's a bit out of his depth. I don't see that acknowledging this and offering suggestions -- while remaining willing, mind you, to abide by his decisions even when I think they're wrong -- is particularly hubristic OR offensive, as I think Ornery benefits from having a strong, skilled hand on the tiller.

I'll freely admit that, like many of the "Ornery 8," I contemplated skipping out on this place when the suspension was handed down; I understood what they were trying to do, but felt that the execution looked arbitrary and despotic. This does not mean, however, that I think Mark's an arbitrary despot; I just think he's new enough to this kind of thing that he didn't realize how his actions would be perceived.

I believe he's doing his best, and he's clearly committed to making this place work. In my own way, so am I. So in addition to helping him by cutting down my involvement in this place -- as I'm clearly rather problematic when I let myself get too emotionally invested in threads; I'm much better at doing exactly the kind of "skipping stone" thing that RedSkull can't stand -- I'm helping him out by passing on some suggestions I have based on my own fairly extensive experience with moderating forums and groups. He's welcome to disagree, and I certainly don't expect that anything I say is taken as gospel, but I don't see any barrier to making the suggestion in the first place.

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Ron
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I don't know if the advice Tom Davidson would give is so good, I mean I personally have found him to be insulting and willing to break the rules when he feels like it. Should the moderator do this?

I wonder why people with advice can't send an email to the moderator instead of announcing it here? Ego maybe?

Wouldn't the alternative of sending an email directly to the moderator be more constructive and less of a power play than announcing it to the forum? Wouldn't that be the better way? I guess we all like the fact that everybody can read how clever and smart we are. But putting it in the forum isn't the best way to do it. Unless we primarily want people to see how clever and smart we are. Then I think we can all agree we're doing it the right way.

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Ron
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I looked at the links, are the moderators of the other forums like Hatrack offering help to the moderator of this one? Wouldn't they be better at it since they know the owners policy?
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Leto
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quote:
I'll freely admit that, like many of the "Ornery 8," I contemplated skipping out on this place when the suspension was handed down; I understood what they were trying to do, but felt that the execution looked arbitrary and despotic. This does not mean, however, that I think Mark's an arbitrary despot;
That's so funny, mostly because I can relate.

But the thing is, no matter what happens, both sides of an issue will fully justify their actions according to the decisions they made. Therein lies the crunch, because when it's all said and done, it comes down to who has the final decision.

Almost an analogy for life, I would think.

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TomDavidson
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Ron, don't be such a whiner, 'k? Frankly, as a newbie, you're making certain assumptions based on a remarkably short experience with the forum, and your ignorance shows. But I'll answer your question.

"I guess we all like the fact that everybody can read how clever and smart we are. But putting it in the forum isn't the best way to do it."

Nope. It has nothing to do with showing off. It has EVERYTHING to do with two things:

1) I believe, based on my experience in forum moderation, that complete and total transparency of the decision-making process is the fairest and most consistent way to run a forum. This includes the discussion of forum policy. Ergo, if I'm making suggestions related to forum policy, I believe it is better to make those suggestions in public rather than in private. Witness the recent debacle, in which three "secret" people -- Ev, RedSkull, and LetterRip -- were invited to give OM their opinions, and these secret deliberations wound up having some very negative repercussions. Had these conversations been open to everyone, I believe the downside would have been minimized.

2) Secondly, I think Mark is more likely to change his behaviors if there is popular support behind a recommendation. I'm just one guy, and don't expect him to listen to everything I say -- but if what I say seems like a good idea to multiple people (who then say so), I think OM may well pay more attention.

[ May 02, 2004, 08:35 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Ryoko
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Tom,

While I think any suggestions intended to improve the forum should be encouraged, perhaps it is your tone that needs a little adjustment. I’m sure you don’t mean to, but you come off sounding as if you are a “victim” of some injustice by the mod.

Might I suggest showing a little contrition as well as making the suggestions?

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Murdok
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Does anyone control what the Card's write? I mean Scott is one of the most vocal right wingers out there and gets front page coverage.

I just wish he would write some of his own thoughts as opposed to parroting the GOP line on everything.

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TomDavidson
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"Might I suggest showing a little contrition as well as making the suggestions?"

Sure. But as I'm not a bit contrite, I won't be showing any contrition.

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Leto
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quote:
I just wish he would write some of his own thoughts as opposed to parroting the GOP line on everything.
Hey, if you can toe a party line, so can he.
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Tezcatlipoca
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quote:
I just wish he would write some of his own thoughts as opposed to parroting the GOP line on everything.
Funny, I thought a political party was a group of like-minded people trying to push their agenda in politics. Is it shocking that you acutally see someone who agrees with what other people have to say?
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Kamisaki
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Murdok, what in the world did that have to do with this thread?
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OrneryMod
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Ok this has gotten off topic quickly.

I don't want to debate Tom's mind set here. He asked a question, I answered. We disagree.

OrneryMod

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TomDavidson
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*nod* Out of interest, though, OM, what harm do you think is done by explaining the rationale behind your decisions as -- or even before -- you implement them?

Is it just that you feel this would take too much time, or do you believe that making your process transparent erodes your authority in some way?

I've honestly been trying to think of some downside to it, and I can't come up with one. There are ample examples -- both here and at Hatrack -- where opaque decision-making leads to excessive confusion and/or accusations of injustice. I can't, however, think of a single example, on any forum I've visited, in which "excess" transparency has had an equivalent result.

[ May 03, 2004, 10:26 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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seagull
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quote:
Is it just that you feel this would take too much time
This forum is not like many other "fluffy" forums. The average poster here could easily keep any moderator busy full time just answering serious questions that s/he never even thought of before.

quote:
do you believe that making your process transparent erodes your authority in some way?

I've honestly been trying to think of some downside to it, and I can't come up with one.

I am surprised that you haven't considered this before.
One obvious downside is that it will establish or excercise TOO MUCH of the authority he does have.

Excercising authoritative power too often or for small details can turn a diverse community into a monolithic set of groupies. Not that it would ever happen to Ornery, the posters here would leave or go back to Hatrack long before that happened.

Have you ever wondered why TomD keeps coming back to Ornery and even recommending it as an example to members of other forums? What does Tom get from this forum that he can't get from being an experienced moderator on the many other forums he participates in? There must be something that makes him come back here that he can't get at the forums he moderates.

Whatever it is that Tom is coming back here for, I'd hate to lose it and I suspect that we would if OrneryMod followed too many of Tom's suggestions.

BTW, have you ever wondered why OSC hardly ever posts on this forum (at least not under his own name)? As the owner, originator and warWatch author, his mere presence here his AUTHORity ( [Wink] ) would be nearly absolute. It could unintentionally stifle those who disagree with him or alternatively cause those who oppose his view to attack him at the personal level. Is it possible that in the interest of diversity, he has chosen to avoid that route?

Is it possible that OSC is actually one (or more) of us but he has chosen not to reveal his identity in order to encourage the free flow of ideas on his site?

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TomDavidson
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"Whatever it is that Tom is coming back here for, I'd hate to lose it and I suspect that we would if OrneryMod followed too many of Tom's suggestions."

Why, exactly?
Which of my suggestions -- which can all be boiled down to: have a consistent policy, enforce it consistently, and publicly explain how your enforcement is consistent with that policy at the time of enforcement -- would damage this site?

I'm actually intrigued by your opinion on this, since I can't think of a single way it would.

-----

As a side note, the reason I don't generally "get" what I "get" from Ornery at the sites I moderate is two-fold: in some cases, I'm paid to moderate a forum in which I have little personal interest; more often, I maintain a fairly strict separation between my role as moderator and my role as a "regular" on that forum. What Mark's doing -- attempting to remain a "regular guy" with one login and a mod with another login -- is something that I've never considered viable.

[ May 03, 2004, 02:15 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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seagull
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Tom,
I'll try to get back to you tonight on the other thread (no promises, its not up to me).

But some of the answer may be in my comment above about why OSC is not visible on this site.

Sometimes excercising too much authority stifles the discussion or the sense of community. Allowing (or even forcing) a community to develop internal self regulation makes it stronger. A self regulating community is less dependent of the benevolent dictatorship of the moderator. It also requires less of an investment from the moderator which has many other benefits.

Tom,
In spite of all of our disargreements, I can remember times when you did a pretty good job at keeping people from being too insulting to each other by using only the authority of your own credibility. I can't believe you have changed too much in less than a year, so I am sure you can still have a very positive influence on this site (in addition to your intelligent insights).

Sometimes I think that it would be nice if you hadn't wasted some of your credibility on things that I do not consider important. But then I remember that if you and I considered the same things to be important our interaction would not be nearly as interesting. I am glad you are who you are.

I haven't been around enough lately to know what it was that you got suspended for, and I don't really care too much. I am VERY glad that you are back.

Thank you for being you.

And that applies to many of the Ornery 8 and to Baldar and Pete as well.

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seagull
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On the specific issue of trying to:

A. Have a consistent policy
B. Enforce it consistently

I think we are closer to each other than we are to OrneryMod. As our joint request to reopen the About civility at Ornery. thread and simply edit the offending comment shows.

As to:

C. publicly explain how your enforcement is consistent with that policy at the time of enforcement.

I also wish that this was possible but I recognize that it can require too much of the moderator's time to do so and I thank him for any explanations he cares to give publicly.

I also recognize that in some cases private communications can be more effective than public humiliation by the official moderator who throws his weight around. Many of us here can administer public humiliation (as in knockout punches or thread killers) without the need for the moderator title. I think it is a good idea to reserve moderator actions to abuses of the forum spirit.

Finally there are some cases where sensitivity to the privacy of individuals may be an issue. In cases where the privacy issues are not symmetric public explanations may not be consistent with fairness. If fairness, balance, diversity or some other concept is part of the policy you are trying to enforce, a public explanation may be inherently inconsistent with the policy itself.

Your seeming inability (or is it unwillingness [Wink] ) to even consider the possibility that there are considerations you are not aware of is as always a very interesting and refreshing.

One of the things I like about Tom is that when confronted with such valid possibilities, he manages to gracefully extract himself from his previous statements without suffering too much damage to his credibility. It is an art (or is it a lifestyle?) worth learning even for those of us who vehemently disagree with him.

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TomDavidson
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"One of the things I like about Tom is that when confronted with such valid possibilities, he manages to gracefully extract himself from his previous statements without suffering too much damage to his credibility."

Ah. Perhaps you misunderstand.
I am not extracting myself, seagull; I am denying the validity of your possibilities altogether.

Specifically, I was asking for SPECIFIC EXAMPLES -- even weird and wacky hypotheticals -- in which a clear policy and open communication would be bad, even disastrous, for the forum.

What I find particularly ironic about your reply is that, while accusing me of gracefully "retracting" my position, you provide no such examples AND concede that my position is, in fact, ideal -- but still impractical for nebulous reasons on which you fail to elaborate.

Frankly, I had hoped for more from you than empty spin; I had assumed that you had real and legitimate reasons to not want communication from the mod -- reasons more meaty than "we do a perfectly fine job of humiliating each other already."

I don't need your backhanded "compliments," man, especially when I know perfectly well that they're not intended that way. What I need from you is a specific example of the kind of situation in which communication from the moderator would make things worse.

[ May 10, 2004, 07:57 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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seagull
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[Wink]
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TomDavidson
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And yet you continue to avoid giving a specific example. Are you willing to concede your error, then, or are you just going to continue stringing me along until I tire of it?
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