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Role of a Moderator

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Dr. Bob, May 16, 2001.

  1. Dr. Bob

    Dr. Bob Administrator

    Jun 30, 2000
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    The Webmaster, knowing that his busy work schedule would keep him from being on the BB consistently, asked a few of us contributors to the old BaptistBoard if we would help him by "moderating" certain forums.

    In the millenium, all will be just (because Jesus will have an iron rod). In the nasty now-and-now, we have folks venture into our forums from cults, false religions, vile blasphemers (with accompanying 4-letter vocabulary) and Baptists of every possible description. We need moderators.

    Beside that obvious policing role, what duties and responses do you perceive a generic moderator to maintain? Can a moderator take "sides" and express his/her opinions? Can they edit for length, content, language, logic?

    Help me out on this one, folks!
  2. Pennsylvania Jim

    Pennsylvania Jim New Member

    Oct 8, 2000
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    Dr. Bob, since I know nothing about it, and since you asked for help I will give my opinion as only that. IMHO the moderator should 1) perform what you define as the "obvious policing role" since it's necessary and 2) yes, he should take sides and give his opinion as he wishes, since that's what we're all here to do. In most cases I think he should NOT edit out things that are not in any way harmful; If someone says something stupid it is my experience that in most cases it doesn't take too long for someone to point it out. If someone says something irrelevant it can simply be ignored. If something says something off topic and it's interesting then let it go where it goes. etc. etc., just my $0.02.

    P Jim
  3. Hal Parker

    Hal Parker New Member

    Apr 26, 2001
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    I participate in the listserve for the Creation Research Society. The moderator there does not post very often. When he does it is usually to remind us to stay on topic or to stop discussing certain topics because they don't fit with the mission of the listserve. Other than that, he doesn't post very often.

    In my opinion, a moderator would not regularly participate in discussions. That keeps him (or her) above the fray. Then when the moderator steps in it seems more impartial.
  4. Blade

    Blade New Member

    Feb 27, 2001
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    Dr. Griffin,

    Thank you for starting this topic. I had intended to, but was sidetracked by other discussions here.

    The BB has 3 rules:

    Rule One: Be Nice and Respectful at all times.

    Rule Two: No Personal Flames and No Offensive Language.

    Rule Three: Since, your opinions will be challenged, if you can not handle it, please stay out.

    If everyone followed the rules, there would be no need for moderators. However, as we all know (and as you gave specific examples), there are those who do not follow the rules. Sometimes it is willful disrespect, other times people simply get caught up in the "heat of battle" and post things that aren't in line with the rules or being a good Christian. And, there is a fair amount of subjectivity that goes into determining what is "nice," "offensive," and "personal."

    The following are what I consider the duty of a moderator.

    1) The principle duty of a moderator should be to enforce the rules. Sometimes that requires editing material that is in clear violation of the rules, sometimes it involves deleting entire posts. Occasionally, the feat may be accomplished by simply warning posters to shape up. Again, this is only if the posters are in violation of the above.

    2) Sometimes people start a thread that doesn't belong in a forum. In this case, the moderator should ask the poster to move it or move it himself with notification.

    3) On occasion, people will double post, use hard returns, or unnecessarily lengthen posts in some other way. Here the moderator might ask the poster to edit the posts or might do it himself in order to make the BB more efficent. Here, it is not the content being edited for breaking the rules, but rather for form and structure. Still, the poster should be notified.

    I think that most of the discontent expressed by members who feel they have been unjustly edited does not come from invocation of the above duties. I have felt, and others as well, that posts are being edited not for any of the above reasons. Rather, it is disagreement with the moderator that incurs this censorship. It seems like posts are only edited in this manner when addressed directly to or at the moderator. If they don't break the rules, they are in acceptable format, and they are on topic (not necessarily the original topic of the thread--that often changes as the discussion progresses, but in the right forum and relating to previous posts), then there is no need for editing/deletion.

    The sad part is, we usually don't save a backup copy of our posts; that isn't practical. So, when we want to express our grievance, we can't bring it to another forum to get an opinion. It is forever gone. Further, there is not place to challenge this sort of perceived unfairness. We need one.

    And, finally, we are never told about it. We just notice that our post is no longer there. It is almost as if the moderator is trying to "sneakily" delete our work and hope we won't notice. This further adds to our skepticism about the motives behind the censorship.

    For "reform" recommendations that might help, I believe the following should be put into place:

    1) We should be told before anything is going to be done to our post so that we may back it up to express our grievance in another forum. This should be done publicly.

    Realizing that a time limit would be a practical consideration, if the post must be edited or deleted immediately or if the poster doesn't show up for a few days, a copy should be sent via private message or e-mail. Sometimes a lot of work goes into those posts just to have them deleted unjustly.

    2) There should be a forum for grievances or a way to appeal to the webmaster or board of moderators who will consider the post on the basis of its compliance with the rules, format, and appropriateness for the forum in which it was posted.

    I have no problem with the moderator participating in the discussion as long as his views don't compromise his impartiality. I agree with Pennsylvania Jim as to posts that are silly, stupid, etc. As long as they are in line with the rules, they only harm the poster. They would be fair game for retort and [intellectual] embarrassment.

    Just my opinion,
  5. Sam Hughey

    Sam Hughey New Member

    Jul 28, 2000
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Dr. Bob Griffin:
    The Webmaster, knowing that his busy work schedule would keep him from being on the BB consistently, asked a few of us contributors to the old BaptistBoard if we would help him by "moderating" certain forums.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I understand the situation Bob. I have two forums where I both moderate and participate. I struggled at first if I should participate thinking someone would accuse me of being impartial. I have assured anyone who posts on my forums that I am as responsible as anyone else for my posts. I show partiality only to the extent that I state what I personally believe to be true and to the extent of deleting only what is unwelcomed which has no relationship to the discussions at hand. I have also had strangers to post filthy and lewed remarks. I delete them without hesitation, notice, explanation or compassion and will block their ISP address to prevent future posts.

    I have rules posted and a notice that I reserve the right to delete any post not in accordance with the rules and without any further warning. However, I do post a notice and will generally allow the post to remain for one day before I delete it in case anyone wants to challenge me. To this date this has never happened.

    I see no problem with a moderator participating in discussions so long as he does not abuse his authority. The moderator should be held equally accountable for his posts and he must never delete/edit posts merely because he disagrees with someone's theological point of view, no matter how bad it is.

    I have found that people who seriously want to discuss will not have a problem with my rules. They are fair and biblical and are designed to ensure serious and relative discussions. Anyone who has a problem with my rules knows up front what to expect and should not post. I do not always agree with those who post their views, but as long as the rules are followed, they may post their views as much as they desire so long as they are willing to have them challenged.

    Sam Hughey
    The Reformed Reader
  6. Barnabas H.

    Barnabas H. <b>Oldtimer</b>

    Jul 1, 2000
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    "A Moderator is a friend when he agrees with me, but he is the enemy if he has a different point of view." Doesn't everybody think this way? :D

    Yes, the Moderator can do what ever he was asked to do by the originator(s) of the site. And since this supposed to be a fundamental Baptist website, the opinions of those posting should reflect this. As long as the discussions are healthy and in compliance with Biblical standards, the Moderator can keep at arm's lenght. But when it becomes personal and does no longer edify the readers, a Moderator has all the right to step in and use his/her power of censure. (My humble opinion) ;)
  7. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman Active Member

    Dec 15, 2000
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    I didn't realize this was a Fundy sight. I just thought it was a "Baptist" sight, whatever that means.

    I just thought that a moderator was like the one who cleaned up the fringe, the double posts, or if there was a problem, to help be a part of the resolution (if needed.)

    I don't think they should edit necessarily except for cleaning the fringe--But if they need to delete a whole thread--I have no problem.

    I think they should be involved, but we need to remember they are human--and can be wrong--at times too.