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 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.
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:
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.
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 ;)