There's a lot to respond to here, but let me first set the scene here for anyone who might be joining this thread late.
@Gandalfthecat originally posted this thread in the Football Talk forum. We don't have a problem with people raising issues about site policy, but we do need these issues to be raised in the right venue, so I've moved the thread to the Fantasy Feedback forum where we can hopefully have a more focused conversation.
Also, and with apologies in advance for the irony of moderating a thread about moderation, I've removed some content in the OP and some responses pertaining to a poorly-chosen metaphor comparing the RW forums staff to police officers. This comparison was causing people to weigh in on whether we need police, which was getting in the way of a more focused discussion about the issues people raised about the job we mods are doing. A discussion of how much policing should exist in society is well out of scope for this discussion, and not likely to go well here if we let it continue.
I'm going to try to respond to as many of the complaints/concerns raised above as possible. (There's not really much to say in response to the supportive / positive posts beyond "thanks".) If you don't feel that I've properly addresesed your concerns, please let me know.
Keep in mind I'm speaking only for myself here -- I did give the rest of the team a heads-up that I'd be responding, but we're all individuals who try to moderate in a consistent way, but don't always share the exact same views on things.
Let's start with the OP:
The thread begins with a false dichotomy -- either mods are necessary or the user base can "take care of our own." In actuality, there's a broad spectrum of how moderation is done on internet discussion forums, from totally anonymous and unmoderated spaces to sites where every single post is vetted prior to publication. Whether it was your intent or not, opening the discussion by presenting this false choice is detrimental to the discussion by prematurely ruling out the many shades of gray that exist between these extremes.
Of course, there's a different way to read this statement that makes it read more accurately, which is to remember that we mods are members of the community first and foremost. We are, in fact, the ones helping to take care of our own community. We have elevated privileges with respect to being able to remove/move/edit posts and suspend/ban users, but all of us came here first to talk fantasy sports, and that's our primary reason for being here.
I don't know for certain how you meant it, but I think a vast majority of people recognize the need for at least some moderation of content. How much is too much is something we can debate here, but I do not believe there is any merit to eliminating moderation entirely and going full free-for-all, and I think most of the community is with me on that narrow yes/no question, with the obvious caveat that people who truly prefer a more no-holds-barred approach may have already left the community some time ago. We can debate whether we'd be better off having them back and potentially losing some of the folks who are here and prefer more moderated spaces, but I think we have to work from the assumption that some amount of maintenance is necessary for the discussion to be useful to most people.
Yeah, we definitely hear the complaints as well, but I think it's important that we understand that a complaint does not necessarily mean that an error was made. I know that I've made some errors in judgement during my relatively brief tenure as a moderator, and I'm sure I'll make more in the future.
At the same time, simply put: some complaints have merit and some don't. I've had many people justify their AC/BC/CSB post with the "I've seen other people getting away with it" excuse. I've had plenty of people complain that I warned them about personal attacks when they were just attacking someone who attacked them first, as if that justifies the behavior. But I've also had people convince me that I made a mistake, apologized for making that mistake and, where possible, reversed my original action once I recognized my mistake.
Without knowing what exactly the nature of the complaints are and what action of ours prompted the complaint, I can't really respond to this vague notion that there are "a lot of complaints of late". Let's judge each complaint on its merit instead of assuming that all complaints are equally valid.
And let's not forget that there's another side of the ledger, which are the complaints that would be made if we weren't intervening as often as we do.
I would be interested to hear more on what kinds of things you guys feel we've gotten more "oppressive" and "draconian" about recently. We added some mods a little over a year ago (including myself), and part of the rationale was to clean up some things that were getting out of hand. I can see how one might feel this is oppressive/draconian if they're used to getting away with things that were against site policy but not enforced because of insufficient staff resources, but I think this misunderstands the dynamic, which is that the "natural" state of things wasn't working, at least as far as the mod team was concerned when they brought more of us on board.
I think you pretty much nailed it here. I don't have any inside info into traffic numbers, but maybe someone with more details can chime in here.
I can say with 100% certainty that we're being asked to do more with fewer resources than before, and that this makes keeping up with the growing popularity of the forums very difficult, which forces us to try some new things to keep up. As it turns out, I have a background in software development, so I've developed some scripts to help keep things organized and help us manage the workload. The automatically-generated MLB/NFL player index threads are the most visible part of this, but I've also recently started automating the posting of the weekly waiver thread, and the weekly start/sit thread in the AC forum, and have some plans to roll some other things out as my time allows. We wouldn't have had to try these things if the status quo was working for us.
We did just add two more mods a few weeks ago, but we also had some mods step down recently, and had several others pull back from the amount of time they're putting in Because Reasons. Meanwhile, it takes time for new team members to be contributing at 100% of their capacity -- I've been around for over a year but I still feel like I'm learning new stuff about the role as I go.
But yeah, I think it's important to note that we haven't chosen this path -- it's choosing us.
Eh, this doesn't really capture the dynamic as it actually works. The mod team gets very little direction from the NBCU mothership, and I personally have never had any kind of "orders" come from on high. I haven't been around long enough to know how much of the CoC came from the corporate side of things vs. how much came from the community itself, but maybe someone else from the team can jump in here and share some of that history.
What I can say for certain is that the owners of this site do not micro-manage us. My feeling is they're probably more concerned with things like ad revenue and how the forums complement their paid content, and just want things to run smoothly and without a whole lot of interruption or need to monitor things on a day-to-day basis.
We receive no financial compensation for our work as moderators, but, I couldn't disagree more with the notion that this means the rules shouldn't matter.
If I were just some mindless drone going through the motions to collect a (probably very small) paycheck, the guidelines wouldn't have nearly as much of a meaning to me except as a means to an end. The reason I participate here because I enjoy fantasy sports as a hobby, and enjoy the community-building aspect that this site provides. The community here provides for a lot of very useful and unique content, and I think that's worth putting in a little bit of time to maintain. I've acted in a similar role on a number of smaller online venues in the past, and I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor yield something positive. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this gives me more of a feeling of investment in the community than I think a paid gig would.
This is mostly accurate. We do very little proactive moderation of game day threads. This is in part because of their ephemeral nature -- they're open during the day or game in question, and then they're locked. This means the impact of things veering off topic is very little, and most people participating in them expect them to be more chatty / free-flowing anyway. We recognize the need for chattier threads like this, and are happy to oblige as long as the integrity of the other threads is maintained.
We do react to reports of GDT posts that cross the line into abusive behavior, vulgarity, etc. but we're far more reactive in there than proactive. Even if we wanted to keep up with every post, we couldn't -- not at our current staffing levels, anyway.
The assumption underlying these two comments is that things would be just fine if we let some more things go. I'm happy to have that conversation, but we can't do so in a way that's divorced from the context outlined above, whereby the team is having to do more with fewer resources.
When faced with these resource crunches, you try to do find new ways of doing things to keep up. One way that I've tried to use my resources has been to try to nip things in the bud earlier instead of letting things spiral out of control and having to clean up a bigger mess later. We can debate the merits of this approach, discuss whether the feeling of oppressiveness / draconian-ness is more or less harmful to the discussion than having more threads turning into the Henry or Gordon threads, etc., but it's not like we're doing this for fun -- we're just trying to react to sub-optimal conditions with some new approaches.
One other important point here: it's a lot easier for people to say that we're intervening too often when they only a small fraction of the volume of stuff that's removed. When you're the one deciding between cleaning up a small mess now and a larger mess later, there is a real resource optimization problem, and I've found that my resources are better applied to nuking one or two early violations than having to jump in later when several pages of responses have piled up and then try to reassemble the context, decide which posts have to be removed vs. which ones can be kept, etc.
This is not an excuse I am proud to acknowledge here, but we do have to preserve our own sanity as we do this "job". If it were the case that just letting more stuff go would lead to better outcomes, then believe me we would love to do that, but that has not been my experience.
These comments allege some kind of inconsistency, double-standard, or misplaced priorities in how we apply our resources to different categories of problems. These complaints are not new, and we do take them seriously, but I do think it's important to note some common errors that people make when they come to the conclusion that we're being too inconsistent or not focusing on the right things.
One of the more common fallacies underlying these complaints is "I see a bunch of nonsense posts (memes, bad jokes, etc.) that weren't deleted, therefore, the mods aren't paying enough attention to these posts." Unless you see things from our vantage point, you cannot know which posts you aren't seeing because they've been removed before you ever see them. Suffice it to say we spend a *lot* of time removing nonsense posts, memes, and the like. What you're seeing on your screen on a daily basis is the output of our moderation process, not the input.
Also, keep in mind that we do permit *some* levity and silliness here, even in our more strictly-moderated threads. I can't imagine a "Mark Sanchez 2012 Outlook" thread without some buttfumble GIFs, or this season's Josh Gordon thread without the Vince McMahon thing -- but we do try to keep this stuff to a minimum, according to our judgement of what makes the threads most useful and enjoyable for everyone involved.
This is an inexact science, but just because you don't like the outcome you see (the posts that are present when you're reading, which may or may not have been seen by the staff yet) doesn't mean that we aren't trying to deal with these issues.
With regards to personal attacks -- I won't speak for the rest of the staff, but I have pretty much zero tolerance for them. People sometimes express shock at how minor the infractions are that I warn them for when they're attacking someone personally. so if you see a personal attack on you or someone else, then I can assure you that I haven't seen it yet, because if I had, it would be gone.
If you feel someone's attacking you, or anyone eles, you can help us out by reporting the posts in question -- and this is where I really get frustrated by this "you deleted my CSB but you're letting someone else get away with something much worse" logic, because I don't think I've ever seen this come from anyone who regularly reports posts to us. I'm not necessarily assuming bad faith here, but, for whatever reason, it seems the people most likely to point to someone else's bad behavior to excuse their own are not bothered enough by the original infractions they are upset about to report the things they're seeing to us.
And, hey, I get that nobody's required to be part of the solution here, but even if we doubled the size of our staff, I doubt we could read every post. We have to rely on you all being our eyes and ears for the threads that might not already be on our radar. So when someone asks me why I'm being so hard on them and didn't act on some other thing, but they didn't report the other thing.. well, it makes me question what the intent of bringing up the other thing really is.
Nah, I don't think this is it. The football forums are by far our most popular, so of course you're going to see more intervention. Baseball is second in popularity by a healthy margin. If someone drops a turd in a baseball thread in April or May and we don't see it for an hour or two, we have to put out a small fire. If someone drops a turd in a football thread in September, it's an inferno within five minutes. Just because you're seeing more of us in Football Talk doesn't mean we have contempt -- it just means there's more to do, because there are more people, and things can go sideways much more quickly.
I'd like to know what's left you with this impression, If you have specific things we're saying / doing that's making you feel we take ourselves too seriously, please share them. I take the responsibility of being a mod seriously, but if I were relieved of it today, I'd continue posting here and enjoying the discussion here because I value the community. If that comes off as taking *myself* seriously, well, I don't know what to tell you, but I'd caution against the wisdom of trying to read the intentions and motivations of someone you don't know in real life over the Internet.
I'm not sure what you mean here. If you're alleging that we're being too hostile to new users who don't know the rules yet, I can assure you that any time I see a new or new-ish user posting a CSB or AC/BC content and haven't reached out to them already, I send them a courtesy PM informing them of why I edited/removed their post.
I do these so often that I have hotkeys in my browser for them. Here are some samples:
Once someone is warned about the rules, there is no longer a question of ignorance. At that point, we do simply edit or delete the posts, and will eventually issue more formal warnings if it continues, but the idea that this is somehow pretentious, or that this indicates that we need to "get a life"... I mean, I just don't see how that follows.
I see very few "please delete" comments and/or reports as compared to the volume of other stuff we deal with. Maybe 2% of our job is cleaning these up. Meanwhile, letting people delete their posts comes with its own problems. I do not see this as a useful change, but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise if you have some compelling argument for it.
This last one is dripping with so much sarcasm and derision that I can't figure out what it's actually trying to say. Assuming it's meant to be taken at face value, there is nothing "hidden" or "secret" about the rules. The Code of Conduct is at the top of every page, and the posting rules for each forum are in a pinned topic at the top of them. I routinely direct people who make a post that violates the rules to these items, complete with hyperlinks.
As for the "ambiguous" bit... There is naturally going to be some ambiguity in any rules when human communication is involved, but the idea that we are out there trying to kill useful fantasy discussion and using vague rules in a sinister way to make sure that people don't discuss things they want... that's just silly. We're here because we like discussing fantasy sports! Click on my avatar and read through my activity stream and tell me I don't want to talk about fantasy sports and engage with others who want to do the same. If you're interpreting a particular edit/deletion as a desire to stop a useful conversation, well, I say show your work -- give me a specific comment, thread, etc. where you think we're doing bad things -- and I'll explain what happened, or ask the mod who intervened what they were thinking. We are *always* willing to explain our actions and discuss ways we can do things better, but assuming the worst of us because you don't like the outcome reads as unfair to me.
Well, this turned out to be a wall of text, didn't it? If nothing else good cmoes from this, I hope that my willingness to respond to these complaints demonstrates that we are genuinely interested in doing what we feel is best for the community, or at least take the responsibility seriously and don't do things willy-nilly. If there are more specific things people want to talk about, questions we can answer, etc. please feel free to ask here. I will remind you that if it crosses the line into attacking us personally then the usual rules will apply, but if we can stay focused on what the problems are and how we can best solve them, then maybe something productive can come from all of this venting.