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Disconnected Thoughts On Moderation In the GS Community

Just a few quick notes that I’m not sure everyone knows that I think will put some of this in context:

1. Moderators do not work for Gamespot or CNET. We are volunteers from the community. Our reward for moderating is a free Gamespot Complete membership (sans the EB discount).

2. Moderators are not the beginning and end of moderation. While moderators can make suggestions, Gamespot comes up with the ToS and in the end makes the call on how it is to be enforced. Obviously when it comes to individual posts moderators have some discretion. However, in the end it is those folks at Gamespot who make the call how things are done overall.

I also ask that those who read this journal also read the Terms of Service if they have not.


I Moderator

I like the GS community and that’s pretty much my motivation for moderating. I like the idea of keeping a relatively (relative to the internet) flame, spam, troll, or flamebait free forum where people can speak their minds and discuss games. As a user by signing up I agreed to post within those guidelines, and a moderator I agreed to use it as a guide for moderation.

Do I agree with every last act of moderation or the ToS in general? I’ll get to that in a bit.


More Detailed Corrective Actions and Terms Of Service

Often I hear calls for a more specific Terms of Service and exact details on what corrective actions will occur for what violations. It is even a topic that comes up amongst the moderators frequently.

My response is simple. It would be great, if it could be done.

Humanity is capable of a lot of things, and nobody just can write them all down. Even if that wasn’t the intent, a specific list of what type of act will prompt what action would be incredibly hard. Also such a detailed list of corrective actions would leave out an important, although problematic tool, moderator discretion.

To be clear I’m not talking about the moderation category of moderator discretion. I’m talking about the ability for the moderator to judge the severity of an offense and act, and the problem with coming up with a standard action to deal with them. Let’s take a look at two hypothetical (actually I just picked two recent ones out of the moderation queue) comments that might

Example A: “You’re stupid. I don’t think you’re smart enough to post on the forums. Go away!”

Example B: “I’m going to ***** your ****** and **** ***** ****!” (This one actually when on for a while but if you use your imagination you get the idea)

Clearly one post deserves a bit harsher action than the other, especially considering that this is Example B’s fifth post that he’s been moderated for posts just like that. Example A is also somewhere near his fifth similar post but over a much longer period of time.

Now while we could measure the amount time between posts. How do we quantify the severity? Also are example A and B flaming, trolling, offensive, or what?

I’d like it to be so that everyone knew exactly what would happen in case A, B, or C but I think in the inevitably complex system would be just as difficult for everyone to work with, if not create even more problems.

That’s not to say the ToS is perfect. In fact it has changed over time and is likely to continue to evolve. However, but attempts to make the ToS and corrective actions more specific I think would likely result in it being more confusing.


Do I agree with the ToS or how it is enforced?

For the most part I think it is a good guide to maintain a good forum, but I can’t say I completely agree with all parts of the Terms of Service, or even every last act moderation done on the GS forums.

At the same time I don’t really expect to either, because it is not my forum. It is Gamespot’s forum, and by extension CNET’s. They chose what behavior they will and will not tolerate in their forums.

I think some people take the ToS far too seriously as if it is some sort of a model for behavior that Gamespot or CNET will one day enforce upon the world. In fact I see the Terms of Service is just that. Something users agree to not violate when posting on the GS forums.

It is not a tool to judge opinions, art, people or anything else, just something used to maintain part of a relatively sane forum.

At least until CNET finishes work on the giant robots.


The Bi8s1111

Whenever moderation comes up (and regularly in my PM box) I’ll hear complaints about some sort of moderation abuse, or unfair moderation. Moderators are human and they make mistakes. I certainly have, and from time to time I’ll get a PM from a user who makes a good argument. In such cases the moderation is often corrected provided the powers that be at Gamespot agree.

Of course, I also receive complaints that don’t make a good argument. Typically these users say something to the effect of “I was moderated just for saying the word goat.” Then I check the post they were talking about and it was full p0rn, trolling, flames, and any number of other violations. :roll:


Conclusion

So there they are, some of my thoughts about moderation. Although I often post in the Ask The Mods forum because I think communication is important, typically I don’t like to post about moderation in public. Mostly because it seems like some people take it as an invite for any user who wishes to freak out and make the above goat claim and then reasonable discussion and issues with moderation gets lost in the mess.

In the end the ToS and moderation on the forums is imperfect. Same goes for the GS Community. Yet like both and I find GS a more than worthwhile place for discussion about games and other topics.


Resources

For those wishing to propose moderation policy changes and such, the proper forum is the Site Enhancements forum.

Those who have questions for the moderators the Ask The Mods forum is a good place to post in.

Just like in any forums please read the floated thread before posting ;)

Mad Action Impact Community Panel Now!

Reply Notification

Jamesinclair recently made a post about an issue he identified in regards to communication from GS about what they’re doing with the community. It was good to see GS is going to put forth an effort to provide a short, even small tokens like that go a long way IMHO. One of the great things about GS is the availability and professional nature of the staff.

Jamesinclair also mentioned the Site Enhancements forum and about how few suggestions get a reply. Several GS staff stepped up and noted they read them all but understandably can’t reply to them all. As such Jamesinclair suggested we keep posting suggestions. Never being one to ignore what a member of the community who I respect says. I chose to post a site enhancement I’ve been begging for a long time, reply notification.

I envision a system where there could be a link to a page with Replies To My Posts in the same space that My Posting History. It would provide a similar page but with just links to pages that someone clicked reply or reply with quote to that individuals comment. To make it easier it would help if it moved the page to that comment immediately or highlighted it somehow in case they didn’t use the quote feature (although most do now).

I feel strongly that a system that notifies fellow community members when someone replies to their comment would provide a great deal of value to the community. This would allow participants to continue conversations that they didn’t know they got replies to.

I think this would also enable less hardcore community members who don’t have time to track all their previous comments or visit the site frequently and revisit each thread they posted in (the only way to find out if you received a reply) to participate more efficiently and frequently.

I could go on and on about the good things such system would provide. Now granted flaming battles could be enhanced by this feature but really those participating in such things are already checking the same thread frequently and I think the good far outweighs the bad.

This Is Not the Journal Entry You Were Looking For

While I keep other weblogs outside of Gamespot I thought I’d try out the Gamespot journal system here. I don’t know if anyone would read it or how they’d find it.

I wish I worked in the gaming industry. I could work anywhere in it and I think I’d likely be pleased if my work had something directly to do with gaming. In particular I’d like to work in the gaming media as I enjoy writing about and discussing games just as much as playing them.

Having said all that much of this journal entry is about obstacles that would keep me from achieving, and perusing my wish to work in the gaming media and / or industry presented in no particular order.


I Work

I have a job and some semblance of a life and as such time is an issue. This week I’ll be working a nice 60 hours. Now that isn’t every week but such weeks (even regular ones) leave little time for playing games as I did when I was younger. I don’t have the time to play, write, or read about games as much as I feel I should. I go through a smattering here or there of periods intense gaming and writing, while other times, I do very little of either.

Toss in maintaining a relationship with my SO (by no means a burden but it takes time) and there’s not nearly the amount of time I wish I had to game, write, and improve my writing.


Starting Over Is Hard To Do

As I noted I work. I consider myself well paid being that I’m able to save for the future, bought myself a house about a year ago, and I’m able to do most of the things I want to do within reason. While I certainly am not doing my dream job I also do not hate it. I work with good people and there is some satisfaction I derive from it. Being well into a career saving for a family and such I can’t imagine starting over at an entry level job.

I can imagine that’s the entry rout as I would think there’s a lot of competition for such gaming media jobs as it is, and thus it’s unlikely for me to just plop down in a good position. This would seem to direct me to freelance work but even that I’m not sure how much demand there is as gaming media outlets seem to have a lot of permanent staff.


I Don’t Live On The Coast

I love where I live. The Twin Cities is a wonderful place and I recently bought a house there. Unfortunately for me most gaming media companies exist out west. As far as I know my local area is not a hotbed of anything gaming (other than my house ;)). Again more of a personal preference issue with me. It is one of the larger obstacles in my mind. One I might not ever overcome.


I Can’t Write

I’m rarely satisfied with my writing. I freely admit at times it is total crap. I have an issue with writing and rewriting my work into irrelevant parenthetical nonsense. I’ll start writing a review, get something nice in there and when rereading “oh damn I should have said something about that”. Then I edit and rewrite, and more often than not it is down hill from there. Most of the time salvaging my work involves rewriting from scratch. While not the end of the world it does take time. No doubt regular practice would help there, at least I think so.


In the end I recognize that much of this is more an issue of me taking the steps and making the sacrifices to see if I can get there rather than anything else.

Now where’s my cake? I’d like to eat it too.