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Safety and Civility

Posted by mair on September 15, 2002, at 10:24:02

In reply to Re: Another idea, posted by Dinah on September 14, 2002, at 12:28:09

Theoretically, a moderated Board should feel "safe" to people. I understand that there are those who are concerned that a poster-moderated Board would essentially be an unmoderated board, but I don't think that's the case where, as here, you have so many posters who have been here long enough to develop relationships with other posters, and a sense of responsibility to the site. I don't think the fact that several of the more disgruntled PB members have left or mostly left this site specifically because they couldn't abide Bob's moderating decisions is at all an indication that there would be anarchy if he stepped back and left the day to day monitoring more to the membership. In my opinion, as long as Bob is the sole arbiter, he will be a lightening rod for controversy and criticism and the Board will continue to become polarized. Controversies on the board become less about who said what, and more about Bob. The deputy or deputies who are poised to intervene when Bob's not on-line (how will they know), are eventually (regrettably) going to become as much convenient targets as is Bob. Dinah's tenure as substitute moderator was successful, I believe, because people had no expectation that Bob was really lurking in the shadows. Decisions about whom to admonish and how they should be approach were hers, not his, even if she made her determinations with Bob in mind. I also think her efforts were appreciated because people understood that she had undertaken a job that was particularly tough for her and would not have been as tough for Bob.

I don't believe it's necessarily a bad thing that multiple moderators, serving on a rotating basis, might apply somewhat different moderating standards. If it's understood that this could happen, people could adjust. My guess is that in practice, civility rules would not be applied all that inconsistently and that people would take a little more care and personal responsibility for their own posts if the moderator is a friend or if he or she has served as a moderator too.

The alternative, a board where people are almost paranoid about how a post is going to be construed, or who don't want to end up in the middle of a swirling controversy over what they "meant" to say, hardly seems safe or supportive or affirming to me.

There is no question in my mind that PBCs and blocks are being handed out to a far greater degree than ever before. I think all of the "old timers" would agree. It's too easy and convenient to say that this is a mere outgrowth of the expansion of the site. I think it can equally be argued that this has happened because Bob is so much more of a visible and active presence on the site. People don't have to or aren't given the opportunity to work out misunderstandings themselves. The resulting tone is different.





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