Harder moderation needed on the forums?

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kring
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Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby kring » February 1st, 2014, 11:29 am

I've been thinking about this for quite some time now and to put it bluntly, sometimes this forum seems like a circus to me. Not to be disrespectful to the staff and moderators of this forum, but I feel that the moderation here should be a lot tougher on the users. I read the code of conduct carefully when Alena posted the updated one here: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=50309
I can be very honest and say I hadn't read it before. I'm a member of some other forums so I have a general feeling of netiquette and how you should act on the internet and on forums. But when I read through it some things made me think about what I've seen here that seemed contradictory to the code of conduct (from here on out the CoC).

Now I really wished I bookmarked every single topic/post I found something on but unfortunately not. Well, here goes:

The CoC says "Only meaningful posts, please". To me, that is a post that contains some kind of discussion value and of some relevance. In other words, a post that contains more than a one-liner. The classic "+1" comes to mind (or +10, +100, +1000, +10*10^100, even some +2's. Sometimes members use actual words but they say as much: yes, agreed, indeed etc). I see this in many of the topics here and it pisses me off. To me that's a typical way of "Attempts to artificially increase your post count" (taken straight from the CoC). It doesn't add any value to the topic and posts with actual discussion or arguments gets washed away in the current.
Off-topic posts are also something I can't see as meaningful. Also topics which themselves contain no discussion value at all (example: viewtopic.php?f=91&t=50704). I think posts like this should award a warning and removal of the post itself. Re-occurring infractions leads to suspension and ultimately, a ban.

The CoC says "Play nice". Most of the time I think this rule is followed very well on this forum but not everyone's perfect. Sometimes a discussion will get heated and when it does... most of the time not much happens. In some threads I've seen a moderator trying to calm everything down by telling people to back off. Sometimes this is enough, sometimes the flame war continues and a moderator locks the thread after a couple of more posts/pages. Some topics have a really good discussion going on if you can look past the flaming. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to remove the posts going out of control and give warnings to the members involved instead? This prevents good threads being locked and the creation of exact replicas since the old one was locked.

Other things that comes to mind at the moment are:
  • Topics posted in the wrong forum section, or not as right as it could be. See the general topics of the Thought and Suggestions forum. Many topics could be placed in the more precise sub-forums.
  • Endless amount of topics about the same discussion. As an example, in the last month or two I've seen half a dozen new topics about EM$ offers, and I guess there are countless more. Is it possible to merge these topics to one big thread? Something like "The only thread about EM$ offers". Make these kind of threads for all topics that get re-posted often, server problem etc.
  • Members don't use the search function. I've seen countless threads when the original poster starts with "I've used the search function but couldn't find anything so...". Sometimes I try and search for the same things as the topic and many times I actually find the information that's requested, either on the forum or on the Wiki. No repercussion for this makes people lazy.
  • Topic headings that doesn't match the content of the topic or are totally misleading. When you look at a heading for a new topic you should understand what it's about the same moment you lay your eyes on it, not have to guess the content. Example: viewtopic.php?f=91&t=50623. Or viewtopic.php?f=91&t=50332. Or viewtopic.php?f=91&t=50321. Good example: viewtopic.php?f=91&t=50310.
  • People ranting about everything. Sure, these rants have some substance but the discussion value is often lacking and people use posts and topics like this just to let off steam. A sub-forum only for ranting would be better, so that more constructive discussions doesn't get hindered.

I can probably come up with more but not at the moment, I'll edit this post and add if I can think of anything else. Not all of the above is extremely serious but using the forum would be a lot easier if people thought a bit more before they posted. Warnings and maybe even suspensions should be used more liberally though, in my opinion. Personally I would like to warn people not using proper capitalization, spelling and grammar when writing but I understand that that's totally excessive moderation.

There's a lot that could be improved but that requires work, and apart from the EW staff there's only 8 moderators on this forum (if that's how you should count it: memberlist.php?mode=group&g=11) and the amount of activity from the members here is quite intense.

I don't know how the moderation works on this forum, but on another forum I regularly frequent the moderators have responsibilities for smaller sub-forums instead of the forum as a whole. Is this forum managed in the same way or not? I believe it would be easier moderating here if there were 1-3 moderators on each sub-forum (General Chat, Thoughts and Suggestions, Other Games & Tech Talk etc). The workload would be a lot lighter and it would be easier catching topics in the wrong place and move them to the correct location, and many other things.

Another thing is to encourage members to use the report button more often. I've used it a couple of times but if I reported all of the things I've written about here I would worry about being too nit-picky and a enormous pain in the behind to all the moderators. Is it perceived as good manners to (very) often report things you deem being no good value for the forum?

That's about all I have to say in this, for now. I hope someone actually has the energy to read all this (especially the staff and the moderators, but also members) and give your input in the matter. I'll try to do my part and use the report button more frequently, until I get a warning for excessive meddling! :D
Last edited by kring on February 1st, 2014, 1:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TundraPuppy
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby TundraPuppy » February 1st, 2014, 12:14 pm

I'm with you, I think.

I left the forums back around March 10th of last year due to a combination of extreme hostility/toxic environment from a handful of the general users, as well as a feeling of "same old, same old" with the newly chosen moderators not actually moderating the hostile posts, and locking down posts asking why they are not moderating. I've been back a few weeks now, and while it seems the hostility has greatly decreased, I still think the community in general could do with some gentle prodding to get it to move into a more constructive atmosphere.

I'm totally with you on the "+1!!!!!" stuff. It's fine if you agree, but explain why you agree. If you don't feel like you've got any viewpoints that add quality to the discussion, then just don't post. I always feel like there is such a missed opportunity for communication when someone just says "That idea is awesome!" or "That's a dumb idea and would kill the game", but doesn't actually explain why they feel that way.

Another really dangerous 'shut-down' move that some users here make is appeal to authority - the idea that if you've never personally done something, or are not an expert on it, that your opinion is valueless. That happens here -all the time- and drastically cuts down on good communication. Never hunted with a bow? Well your opinion on how fast animals should die is useless. Never done software development? Well your opinion on whether the engine should get updated or not is useless. It's a bit like saying "If you've never actually been a surgeon, you shouldn't complain if a surgeon leaves tools in you after a surgery."

I've had threads that I've made as well as participated in, locked by moderators, because of other people flaming. That's always incredibly disappointing, and sends the wrong message that it doesn't matter how well you behave - if someone else begins to act up, the entire conversation you are having - even with other people where this toxic member has butted himself in - risks getting locked, cutting off the good as well as the bad communication.

Sometimes the CoC doesn't feel like it's a list of rules that are universally enforced, but rather a list of rules that moderators can choose to turn to if they want to silence a particular user for whatever reason. That feeling of "random enforcement" I think is confusing to the users in general, but especially disheartening to users who feel they are being harassed.

One of my hypothetical questions that I always am interested in hearing moderators of communities answer is: "Pretend you have a member of the community who is harassing another member personally. Really rude, calling this person names, attacking him, making the community toxic. Maybe he does this to more than one member. He keeps getting away with doing this, and it's obvious that the other member(s) are noticing this behavior is continuing, and not seeing the moderators come down on this person is causing them to post less and less. What do you, as a moderator, do? Now pretend that this member of the community is well known, maybe spends a lot of money on the game, or is in some 'valuable' position, but he's still making the community toxic. Now what do you do?"
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby kring » February 1st, 2014, 3:03 pm

TundraPuppy wrote:Another really dangerous 'shut-down' move that some users here make is appeal to authority - the idea that if you've never personally done something, or are not an expert on it, that your opinion is valueless. That happens here -all the time- and drastically cuts down on good communication. Never hunted with a bow? Well your opinion on how fast animals should die is useless. Never done software development? Well your opinion on whether the engine should get updated or not is useless. It's a bit like saying "If you've never actually been a surgeon, you shouldn't complain if a surgeon leaves tools in you after a surgery."

This is something I totally forgot about in my original post. When you say it I can remember numerous occasions I've seen this exact phenomena. You can take it even further than this, members using the "I've been registered here longer than you...", "My post count is higher than yours..." or "My hunter score is higher than yours..." ("... so my opinion/argument is worth much more than yours.") card to show that they're in charge, so to speak. This is in my opinion even worse since it has absolutely no relevance of any kind.
I think that if a person (I'll use your example of people that have never hunted with a bow in real life giving their opinions on bowhunting in the game) states his/her opinion on the matter and a person with experience as a real life bowhunter replies how that is not plausible I don't see anything wrong with it... if it's done nicely and in a constructive way. Most times it's not unfortunately. I think the moderators should see this with sterner eyes.
TundraPuppy wrote:Sometimes the CoC doesn't feel like it's a list of rules that are universally enforced, but rather a list of rules that moderators can choose to turn to if they want to silence a particular user for whatever reason. That feeling of "random enforcement" I think is confusing to the users in general, but especially disheartening to users who feel they are being harassed.

I totally agree with you, random enforcement of forum policy sure is confusing and the thing that should be kept at an absolute zero. It's like when you're correcting a dog or cat in one situation but let the matter slide in the exact same situation another time. Perhaps it's not as random as we think, even though it feels like it. Maybe we just can't see what the moderators are doing. In the other forum I talked about earlier they have a separate sub-forum for suspensions and bans, so you can check when and why people get reprimanded. Maybe something like that here, and preferably containing warnings too. The forum I talked about has at the moment over 830 000 members while we "only" have a bit over 13600 members so I think it's plausible. Add to the fact that it's mostly the same people posting the lists shouldn't be too hard to manage.

I can agree with the other things you write too. I think the moderators are already trying the gently prodding-approach and that they should instead take out the big guns for a limited time, get the members in line and then revert back. The atmosphere should be more easy to handle and maybe even the members appreciate the aftermath!

The question you posted at the end really intrigues me, I would love to her how the people in charge think about that one.
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby snakeyes32 » February 1st, 2014, 3:38 pm

I can see your points and agree to a point there a diff between an argument and a debate but i think most people can tell that diff. Also one thing i would like them to change is in steed of locking down a whole topic when a few get out of line in it just remove the posts from the ones getting out of line leave the topic open. I can see if the point of the topics been made and discussed to the full extent but a lot of times it's not but the whole topic will get locked because of a few people getting out of line.
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby kring » February 1st, 2014, 5:04 pm

snakeyes32 wrote:I can see your points and agree to a point there a diff between an argument and a debate but i think most people can tell that diff. Also one thing i would like them to change is in steed of locking down a whole topic when a few get out of line in it just remove the posts from the ones getting out of line leave the topic open. I can see if the point of the topics been made and discussed to the full extent but a lot of times it's not but the whole topic will get locked because of a few people getting out of line.

Exactly, removing the posts that are off-topic or just for flaming is a lot better than locking down the whole thing. I think that actually keeps the frustration lower on the forums, I've had things I wanted to post and I've found the perfect, existing, topic for it but when it turns out that it has been locked down I lose all my steam and decides to leave it be.

As an addition to not locking down threads I think that merging pre-existing topics if they're about the same thing should be a standard procedure. Posters might be complaining about having to share their questions with other people in one thread since this makes their post more prone to not be seen but usually they'll still get a response. As it is now, people start topics about the same thing over and over again, making it even harder to search for a specific topic. If there's only one topic about a subject it would be a lot easier to actually find what you're looking for.
I don't know if this forum supports merging of threads, I've never seen a topic getting merged with another one here. The staff might be able to answer if that's the case or not.

Also, I believe that the people here can differentiate between arguments and debates too (even when there're language-/cultural barriers in the way), but it seems that the flow of some topics go very quickly from debate to argument to all-out flame wars.
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby Belorian » February 1st, 2014, 10:02 pm

LMAO!
Censorship is never a good thing.
:lol:
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby BlindTyldak » February 2nd, 2014, 1:06 am

Please note that this response is based upon prior personal experience, and is not to be taken as an "official response" from the Moderator team as a whole or anything of that sort. (After all, I only turned orange here less than 24 hours ago. :lol:)

I used to mod and help admin a very large art site, as well as put some mod time in on other sites of varying sizes (everything from 20 to 500,000+ users), and one of the biggest lessons I learned is that the best approach to being a moderator is implied in the title itself - moderate with moderation. Always remember two things first and foremost . . . a forum or site is a community, and people want to be involved in that community. Some people will always do so in a way that others may find value in, others not quite as much, possibly. But as long as the person is not doing anything to cause harm, disrupt the community, or acting like a real doofus (to be polite), quashing involvement can backfire badly.

For example, the "only meaningful posts, please" rule. Yes, I know that to forum regulars posts like "+1" can get on nerves, but they are in response to the original post and while exceedingly short, not a "bad" thing. "I agree" may not be much better, but not everyone has much to say beyond that, but they want to contribute. I personally take that rule as more along the lines of "stick with the subject and don't post nonsense for the sake of posting nonsense". A thread titled "I like pie" with an original post of "discuss my like of pie plz" would be the sort of thing that was against the rule.

One also has to be careful of discouraging new posters or less-than-regular forum members from discussing the game, particularly the topics that we see time and time again. There is only so many new things that can be said about a video game, particularly one that has a very static gameplay mechanism and endgame such as this (no matter what, you hunt and your "endgame" is killing something). Because of this, topic repeats are going to happen and happen often, especially in the eyes of those of us who are here daily or several times a week. Part of supporting a good game community is making sure that no one feels embarrassed for posting a legitimate question, even if that question was asked over and over again by other people. Ones that fall within a day or two can be merged, yes, but having only ONE thread for everything we see often would end up being pages of threads that people were expected to exclusively post on; confusing to new folks and a real headache for mods.

In short, over-moderation not only becomes a problem for the moderators (who, remember, are volunteers who can't devote every spare moment to the forums), but an even bigger problem for the community. No one likes being told how to post a question, whether enough time has passed between their post and the last time someone posted something similar, whether or not their title was appropriate enough for someone's tastes, whether or not they stated something that was considered to be constructive enough (in the sense of whether or not they provided enough constructive information and not plain old ranting, which we all know is a no-no), whether or not they tried enough options with Search, and that sort of thing. It drives people away, and that is the last thing that any business wants to do. Forum rules are not designed to be a burden on the community, they are there to provide a guide that can be enforced if there is an actual problem such as spam, bots, inflammatory behavior (or worse, which we have all seen), etc.

Caveat: none of this is to say that there could not be more done to clean up the forums a bit and make sure that they are handled in as professional and unbiased a manner as possible - especially the rant threads, IMO - but we have only had a new community manager for a short time. I would not be the slightest bit surprised if changes to how moderation is handled does not come down the road in the future. :)
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby Flanker305 » February 2nd, 2014, 3:12 am

kring wrote:The CoC says "Only meaningful posts, please".] ...
It doesn't add any value to the topic and posts with actual discussion or arguments gets washed away in the current.
While I see your point, I have to say I do this too sometimes. Most of the times I did it was because the suggestion just sounded good to me and I was giving my vote to such a plan. Example here. (What do I have to say more? Just a good plan, bring it on.) It will be good to refrain from doing this too much, but my point is: let people give their vote the way they like it. If they wanna explain why, go ahead. The forum is to express opinions, and before we get threads filled with only +1's and +1000's I personally see no problem.
kring wrote:The CoC says "Play nice".Most of the time I think this rule is followed very well on this forum but not everyone's perfect. Sometimes a discussion will get heated and when it does... most of the time not much happens. In some threads I've seen a moderator trying to calm everything down by telling people to back off. Sometimes this is enough, sometimes the flame war continues and a moderator locks the thread after a couple of more posts/pages. Some topics have a really good discussion going on if you can look past the flaming. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to remove the posts going out of control and give warnings to the members involved instead? This prevents good threads being locked and the creation of exact replicas since the old one was locked.
I agree. Actually I try to do it this way as much as possible. When a thread is going in circles though, with several interventions by mods, and people keep getting off topic and such, why should we keep cleaning this thread up over and over again? In such cases I see no better solution than to lock it. I don't do it too often, and I am not triggerhappy to, so to say, but sometimes letting a thread be is just a waste of everybody's time.
kring wrote:Other things that comes to mind at the moment are:
  • People ranting about everything. Sure, these rants have some substance but the discussion value is often lacking and people use posts and topics like this just to let off steam. A sub-forum only for ranting would be better, so that more constructive discussions doesn't get hindered.
I see your point, but I think it will be very hard get this on track. We would have to judge whether opinions are a rant or not and if so move those threads to the 'rant section'. That would give trouble. Also, sometimes constructive discussions heat up and the thread goes off topic. We would have to split those heated posts off then and put them in the 'rant section' because it belongs there. The people involved would feel as if their opinion is not worth to stay in the constructive discussion and that is not something I personally would prefer.
kring wrote:Not all of the above is extremely serious but using the forum would be a lot easier if people thought a bit more before they posted.
Agreed. +1. :P :P Sorry, couldn't resist. ;)
Seriously, this is a very valid point. Sometimes I think it should be a good plan for everybody to read the CoC again once in a while. It would save lots of modding, although that is part of our job.
TundraPuppy wrote:One of my hypothetical questions that I always am interested in hearing moderators of communities answer is: "Pretend you have a member of the community who is harassing another member personally. Really rude, calling this person names, attacking him, making the community toxic. Maybe he does this to more than one member. He keeps getting away with doing this, and it's obvious that the other member(s) are noticing this behavior is continuing, and not seeing the moderators come down on this person is causing them to post less and less. What do you, as a moderator, do? Now pretend that this member of the community is well known, maybe spends a lot of money on the game, or is in some 'valuable' position, but he's still making the community toxic. Now what do you do?"
I can honestly say that I threat everybody the same. Even if a member is here for a long time or is well known or in a valuable position, still he or she would have to behave the same way we expect the others to. Since we mods are all volunteers and have a personal life next to theHunter we can't always be here. So it's easy to overlook a single post that is out of line. That is exactly what the report function is for, as Kring stated. Very true. I believe we need each other here. I don't feel like I am 'more' or more powerful than other members. I am just another player. I (we, the mods) just have some tools to keep the forum clean and clear, in everybody's interest. At least that's how I see it on my end.
So please feel free to contribute by reporting posts that are a violation to a rule/guideline., as stated in the CoC. I have done it a few times when I first joined and felt a bit of a traitor, but actually it is more about helping the community.
kring wrote:I don't know if this forum supports merging of threads, I've never seen a topic getting merged with another one here. The staff might be able to answer if that's the case or not.
Yes it has and yes we do, quite often actually. :D

Finally I would like to quote BT in her first statement:
Please note that this response is based upon prior personal experience, and is not to be taken as an "official response" from the Moderator team as a whole or anything of that sort.
If you have any comments or questions regarding my post here, please feel free to add a reply or send me a PM.

Cheers,
Flanker
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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby Tod1d » February 3rd, 2014, 10:56 am

Great thread guys. Thanks for all the insight.

It's refreshing to hear that you all feel pretty much the same way we do, and want to see these forums become an even more open & friendly place.

In addition to BT & Flanker's replies, I wanted to share some of the recent changes we've implemented to help improve the effectiveness & consistency of the team.

  • While I'm sure you've all seen the new Code of Conduct, there are some other things going on behind the scenes.
  • We've standardized the way we handle CoC violations, and the notifications we send to members. You wouldn't notice this unless you've received a warning. This will help us be more consistent & fair in moderating.
  • Alena has implemented several new policies that will help the team communicate better, and has also updated all of the policies & procedures that the team uses.
  • Shortly, we'll be assigning moderators to specific forums so we can improve the coverage & promptness with which we respond to issues.

My comments on a few things:

kring wrote:Now I really wished I bookmarked every single topic/post I found something on but unfortunately not.

That's what the Report button is for. Please feel free to use it liberally.

TundraPuppy wrote:One of my hypothetical questions... Now what do you do?

As a matter of fact, I sent a warning just yesterday to a member who's been around much longer than I have, and is generally an upstanding & respected member.
No one is above the law, up to and including the staff. I'll be the first to admit that this is probably the biggest thing we need to improve, being consistent with moderator actions and catching all of the issues quicker.

snakeyes32 wrote:there a diff between an argument and a debate but i think most people can tell that diff.

I wonder...??? It seems to me there are a few (a bunch) of people that can't remain objective while arguing an opposing viewpoint. They let their emotions take over, or get defensive & personal. Don't get me wrong, I love a good debate & have frequently advocated an opposing point to maintain balance in a discussion.
We will do our best to catch these in the "argument" stage before the turn into flame wars.

Belorian wrote:LMAO!
Censorship is never a good thing.
:lol:

Rights, without responsibility is never a good thing.
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt & assume you were being intentionally sarcastic. ;)


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Re: Harder moderation needed on the forums?

Postby DriftPrize » February 4th, 2014, 7:02 pm

so you mean 2+2=4 and I have to discuss more about it than I agree or being sarcastic about it? What's the point of being friendly and humble to what people truly appreciate to validate others strong points. This post is nothing but hate and discrimination.
Last edited by DriftPrize on February 4th, 2014, 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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