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Amcan

What a Mod Does - updated

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Amcan

Hi Everybody!

Hi Doctor Amcan!

You join us here for a very special TV special (minus special guest star) in which I aim to enlighten everybody (including myself) as to what a mod actually does on a day to night basis. I hope to dispel the idea that moderators are somehow magical beings from the planet Saturn.

Firstly when a mod logs onto AVEN they have forums they need to look at:

1) The hidden Admod forum to check in on Admod discussions (we're covering this in a later chapter so no need to take notes now)
2) Their own forum. That is the forum or forums which they mod.

What do they do in their forum? I hear you cry. Well there's a lot they do. Let's take it step by step:

1) Read all the current active threads (if they can - in JFF this can be a nightmare and the mods will prioritise the popular ones and ones that might cause issues).They will know which threads have been posted in since they last checked - just as you as a regular flavour member do.

Some forums require more reading than others. Think of JFF as reading many many cartoon strips compared to reading the novel that can be Musirants.

Each forum is like an individual, unique and mods learn their forums. They learn what topics are more likely to raise issues, they learn the regulars who post there (in a non-stalkery way of course ;)). It's not just about reading, it's much more than that.

2) They might post in some of the threads.

Often a mod of a particular forum will be active in it. They probably ran for a mod position for that forum because it's an area they like. Whether that is offering vast helpings of :cake: or helping answer burning questions or ruminating upon the colour purple. But wait?! Isn't that what an ordinary member does? Well yes, it is, for mods are members too. Apart from the fact they are green and have access to shiny buttons.

Those shiny buttons aren't hard to get to grips with if you have basic IT skillz but the responsibility can be. That's why we have the Admod forum (more on that later. Spoilers).

And because mods are into their forums they often have awesome forum related ideas. Like maybe there's a thread which brilliantly explains the causality between cake eating and chocolate which the mod thinks it's a really good thread for newer members and casual browsers to read. So it gets pinned in order to mark it out as an important thread. A pinned thread is a bit like a rec on Pinterest. Only on a forum. And involving fewer pictures of knitting.

Often the mod themselves might come up with a pinned thread idea to help answer questions or give more information about the forum, so they create the resource. And that's great. We're using pinned threads and resources now that were created years ago because they are still relevant and we keep them pinned because they are. Sometimes a mod may overhaul the thread and give it a fresh coat of relevantness and that's also brilliant.

But back to the nitty gritty of 'modding'. That is taking modly action.

So what happens if there's issues that have arisen in a mod's forum?
1) A thread has veered off into a totally different direction. In JFF this is not a problem but say in Off-A a discussion about pillows veers off into more general talk about bedsheets. Then the mod will then need to split off the bed sheet discussion into a new thread.
2) A thread is in the wrong forum. Like a thread on the greater spotted juggling advark is not really Q&A material. So it gets moved to JFF.
3) A thread is getting a bit heated so you suggest people take a step back or something to that effect. Usually posted as an official green mod comment so you know the mod is being modly.
4) If a thread gets really heated you might need to lock it.
5) A duplicate thread might need locking too and moving.
6) You feel someone might have committed a warnable offence so you go talk to the other admods.

Which leads us to....

And now the bit I know you have all been waiting for...what the admods talk about...

Let's get the worst out of the way to begin with.

Disciplinary action

Warnings and Nudges

We talk about warnings. And nudges. A lot. We would like to talk less about warnings and nudges. For 2 reasons;

1) We don't like having to warn people (I know! SHOCKING) and

2) we spend so long talking about it that sometimes the warning doesn't get issued and the person is not made aware of where their behaviour crosses the line (which means they may make the same mistake again which is not good for them, the community or us).

We're working very hard on making the warning process more efficient but it takes time. We have discussion, polling. What we want is to be sure that every Admod gets a say and has as much input as possible. Like I said though, we don't like warning people, and if we do warn people we want to make sure we have enough information on why that person is being warned, to make the warning we send clear and understandable (there's a process of drafting and tweaking because drafting and tweaking makes for better clarity). Plus we don't always agree on the disciplinary action that should be taken (to warn, to nudge or to do neither. Tricky questions).

We also talk about appeals against warnings. We'd like to do less of this because we'd like to think we got it right first time. But like all humans we are not infallible (I know, we're human! Who'd have thought!) and we do sometimes get it wrong. So it's important to discuss appeals and see if in fact we're the ones who were too harsh.

Banning

 

Then there's bannings. We hate these. It's never nice to suspend a member for a period of time or ban them permanently from the community. Because we like to think of AVEN as a supportive community and it's no fun to have to make the choice to cut someone off from that, but the good of the community comes first. The needs of the many outweigh those of the few or the one (citation – Spock). So sometimes we feel it best to ban one member, and lose them, than have many others leave due to that member's actions.

The only time the ban hammer is happily wielded is against the most obvious of trolls (and we are talking extremely obvious, we like everyone to have the benefit of the doubt) and the spammers. Then we ban with no warning but we still have to agree on it. If we didn't, we'd be like some sort of solo judge from the future, a Dreadful future. That's not who we are. We are here to protect the forums and the people within.

Threads and other exciting topics

Threads don't mod themselves. If they did, sentience would have overtaken AVEN and we'd all be running from AI overlords (or cyborg penguins, as the case may be). But threads are also tricky (ask the dragonriders of Pern) and new and old mods alike always find it useful to seek second, third and fourth plus opinions.

Does a thread need to be moved? Well a mod might think yes, but is unsure where to move the thread too. So ask the other Admods! Another mod may adopt the thread into their own forum or suggest said thread find a new home elsewhere. Think of it as like a thread rehoming centre, setting threads up so they get the best possible chance of the right kind of responses and right kind of visibility.

Some threads might have veered off topic here and there. So we might say - hey thread X needs to split. And then thread Y can go in Forum B (names are for illustrative purposes only).

Or a thread might need to be locked. For several different reasons; too heated, under review, duplicate thread etc.

And all of this gets documented in Admods because keeping track is important for the future navigation of the sea of threads we find ourselves in.

In the grand tradition of the army, navy, airforce and schools everywhere we also have rollcalls. To make sure we're all where we say we are. And not where we shouldn’t be (that is not on AVEN). We also mention when we're away so that forums can have spare eyes kept on them (we keep the spare eyes in a jar. Not really…maybe.).

Projects

We like to talk about site changes. We talk about policy. There are several layers to this (like orgres and onions). Sometime the initial idea may be sparked in Admods. Sometimes it might come from the community, for instance when we post a poll asking for feedback.

The ToS for example has always been a pretty much Admod only thing. It gets reviewed, it gets tweaked, and it gets additions, which we note when we amended the viewable version in the Site Info Centre. It's like a constitution it will never be perfect so we have to debate amendments. Or Clauses. And other such legal government sounding things.

But we talk about other things too. In fact there are currently many projects being talked about. Volunteer projects, forum link projects, admod procedure projects. Whichever area you look at, we're likely to have a project for it. Not all will come to fruition but all will be looked at. And it takes time. Some projects are huge and big and scary like giants. Others are small and fluffy like baby rabbits and they need commitment. So often a couple of mods will work on a project in addition to reading, voting, discussing everything else.

Declassifications for example are an area that's still being worked on (yes still I know). But it requires careful reading, redacting, feedback, it's a very long job and a thankless job too, but it is something we are chipping away at slowly.

There are however some fun projects. Like things suggested by the community that can come to fruition.

Here's an example:

There were requests form the community for a gender forum.
Polls were made the community was in favour.
A sub forum was created as a test.
The community used it and made it popular.
It got made into the fully fledged forum that you see today.


Here is another:

There were requests form the community for an older asexuals forum.
There was a poll.
I voted against it (because I am occasionally an idiot!)
The forum got made anyway as the rest of the community voted in favour of it.
The community made it a success!


And one more!

People asked for a science forum.
A poll was made.
There was some interest.
It was asked if science could be added to phil and poli. Folk were happy.
It was.

Unfortunately we perhaps of late haven't not been getting as much community input as we could. Often the community is seeing a bigger picture, other members will pick up on gaps where things could slot in and make AVEN even better. And that's great. Some things turn unworkable and whilst I listed several successes there have equally been several things that we unfortunately couldn't work out.

If we change something big on AVEN we feel it is only right the people who use AVEN (that's you) also get a say.

We can do better with our communications. That's partly why we have this post. It's like a long reminder. But we do value community input. More than cake even! (Hard sell though :cake: )

Admods can test things out first (and that's purely because we're an easy group of ready-made guinea pigs) and we might not like it but our opinion means nothing if the community majority disagrees. I was against the creation of an older asexuals forum. The community however wanted it and I was outvoted (THANK GOODNESS). As an admod my opinion was only as important as another member. It didn't hold any special weight or influence. And that's the way it is and always will be.

Other

In Admods we also talk about :cake:

Chat

Once upon a time AVEN didn't have a chat system, (I know dark times when we had to resort to AOL messenger). Then it had an offsite unofficial chat and for the last however many years we've been lucky enough to have an integrated chat. Lucky, as in it's part of AVEN and the ToS applies to it and it is treated accordingly. Which in theory means that it's a more controlled place than an offsite version.

Chat is not easily modded in any way. Things rarely flare up when an admod is present. So we rely on reporting and the logs.

And mods cannot pull chat logs.

However they can do a few things. They can ask users to stop certain behaviour, they can kick users if there's persistent behaviour that is inconsistent with the ToS. But of course this rarely happens as when things are really bad, there's rarely a mod present. There's (probably) a couple of reasons for this;

1) We might not have many mods who actually bother with chat (or are too stuffy to hang out with the cool kids)

2) if a mod is in chat people might be less likely to cause major issues (which is a good thing generally. We don't want issues if possible)

Of course there's exceptions to every rule and it does happen.

Suffice to say there can be a lot of reports in chat. And discussion of behaviour in chat. But no more so than any other disciplinary area.

So that's it, that is what a mod does. Simply put in tl;dr.

And to conclude mods learn by experience. They just need the chance to gain it.

This post was brought to you by Amcan in association with Admod enterprises.

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