Being a better member moderator

by 147 replies
Member moderation is like a "neighborhood watch" in many ways. It works best when the participants know the rules and understand the issues. And, sometimes, people who are minding their own business and hurting no-one will get hassled by control freaks and nosy busy-bodies who think everyone should have to live their way.

For the most part, though, what hassles do come up are the result of well-meaning people not knowing how the system is supposed to work, and what the goals are.

That's the purpose of this thread. To discuss a bit about what moderation is, what it's supposed to accomplish, and what the standards are for posts. The more people who understand what moderation is and how it works, the better off we all are.

It's also useful to have a place specifically for the discussion, rather than 27 different threads that bury posts on other topics.

Note: These are my opinions only, and are not to be considered official statements of any kind.

That said, I've been moderating electronic forums of various types since 1987, so I have some amount of (hopefully useful) clue on the topic.

....

The definition I use for moderation is: To keep discussion within topical limits that allow for optimal benefit to all participants.

Every word of that definition is important. For starters, the last one: Participation is a requirement to be considered part of the community. Lurkers are welcome, but if you never add anything to the conversation, you have no say about how it's run.

If the only time you ever post is to complain about how someone else does things, don't bother. You have every right to your opinion, but it doesn't carry much weight. You shouldn't expect it to.

....

Topics are limited to make it possible for people to better use their time. If the board was open to everything and anything anyone wanted to discuss, it would be useless for anything practical. Hence the "Where we talk about making money."

That does not mean that casual asides and humorous twists are bad. Those things let you see more than one side of a person's character, and add to the strength of the community. That means that people work together, have more success, and become invested in the community. So, they stay around longer and do more to make it a better place to be.

Everyone benefits.

....

Now, for the most commonly misunderstood concept: Self-promotional posts.

The prohibition on spam is not an arbitrary one. If ads are allowed unchecked, they'll choke out useful communication. We've all seen what that can do to email, and it can happen even more quickly with a forum.

People do pretty well with reporting the obvious spam. Drive-by ads, articles posted just to get attention to a link and the like go away quickly. No need to explain that.

For the edge cases, a quote from a post I made in another thread:

This is something most folks here never quite get their heads around. People create products on the subjects they know the most about. That also happens to be the area in which they can offer the most help to others. No coincidence there, and no conspiracy. Just plain logic.

One of the guidelines I always used when I was moderating was a question: Is the information in this post useful on its own, without needing to buy a product? If so, it's a valid post. If not, it's not.

The decision was based solely on the content of the post. I deliberately ignored sig files for purposes of answering that question, unless the poster made a reference that seemed to point to theirs. That provided a balance of interests that worked. People got to promote their knowledge and their products, in ways that were helpful whether someone purchased anything from them or not.

Win-win.

People pay waaay too much attention to the correlation of sig files and post content these days, and way too little to the value of the content itself.


Self-promotion, if that's your motivation for posting, should be driven by adding value, not blatantly (or sneakily) shoving ads in people's faces.

Put another way: If the post would be useful without the sig file, the poster has earned the sig file.

....

There are people who think the forum should be devoid of anything that looks like self-promotion. The common call is:

"Ban sig files, and see how long they stick around!"

My question is: Would that really help? Or would it hurt?

If someone contributes, and their expertise actually helps others, those are the people we want to know about when we need products or services on that topic. They're not just posting articles or one-offs. They're putting personal time and experience into helping the group.

Should we make them invisible?

That's not really in the group's best interest, is it?

Look at it another way. If it passes the test above, it's adding value. If they happen to make sales through their sig file, that just offsets a little of the time they put into the post.

Fair enough.

The people who are only here for that never last, though. Either they leave, or they escalate their tactics, getting to the point where they start going over the line. They get called on it and they either back off or they leave.

Balance is maintained.

The people who are naturally social types and enjoy teaching will stay around for the other benefits. Learning, conversation, networking, WSOs,the satisfaction of seeing someone gain from what they've posted, and the fun they have.

It all sorts itself out nicely, as long as you go by the answer to that one question: Ignoring the sig file completely, is the information in this post useful on its own, without needing to buy a product?

The best part?

You don't have to even care what someone's intention was in making the post. If the information is useful as-is, it's useful. Period. The person who needed it doesn't care why it's there. It's what they needed.

....

Are there people who push this? Absolutely. As a rule, those should be left to folks who've got more experience. This has nothing to do with intelligence, mind you. It has to do with experience, and knowing where things lead when left alone.

The problem: If you don't know what to look for, you're likely to cast too wide a net, resulting in damage to innocent parties. Once accusations start flying, people tend to read things in ways that create further suspicion. They repeat their interpretations, and smoke starts to imply fire.

Sometimes there really is nothing there but the smoke machine.

I recommend being very cautious about what you listen to. Accusations need to be backed up with evidence, or they should be heavily discounted.

Never forget that forum politics - in any forum - can be a nasty and messy business. Like nuclear fuel, it can be used for good, but you don't want to get any on you.

....

That leads us straight to Rule #1.

As I understand it, Rule #1 is not intended to keep out all conflict. People who try to use it that way are going to fail, as that's not only impossible, it's not always desirable.

The original motivation for Rule #1 was, I believe, to stop the "XYZ company sucks" and "Joe Schlabotnik is a scamming thief" threads that would pop up all the time here. People were creating these threads just about every day, pursuing vendettas, trying to use the forum to blackmail merchants, cutting down their competition, etc.

Yes, it is also supposed to apply to WSO issues. Exceptions are made occasionally in cases where it's provable that the WSO is a fraud, but that's far less common than some people make it out to be. Problems with downloads, refunds and the like are not supposed to be handled in the main forum.

The most common argument against Rule #1 is that "people should be allowed to alert the other members to crappy products and frauds, so they don't get sucked in."

Doesn't work that way. Far too many of these "warnings" are just expressing gripes or grudges. Some are trying to blackmail a merchant to get something they don't deserve. Others are outright lies. The majority are people who simply don't understand how something is supposed to work and who are angry because they're confused.

Except for the outright lies, every one of those people believe they've got a legitimate case. None of them do.

Without a lot more information than is usually available, there's no way to know which are the few that really are sound, and which are the mistakes or malicious postings. So, they all stay out.

The same dynamic applies here as with malicious gossip: Once the accusation is made, some people will always wonder. And some will swallow it whole, without any evidence at all, much less actual proof. Then someone will mention the allegations on another board, and they (or someone else in the thread) will link back to the thread here, presenting the allegations as evidence.

It gets real ugly, real quick. And there's usually nothing there but a smoke machine.

That just ain't right.

....

As far as members duking it out... That can be a good thing. It is very often a better idea to let them sort their problems out on their own than for anyone else to jump in and try to fix things by suppressing them.

It's not just good for them. It's good for the group. Grown-ups sometimes have to hash things out, and that's not always pretty. If the end result is that folks get a better look at the characters of other members, that helps. And quite often, if they handle it right, the people beating each other up end up being better friends because they stayed in it and worked through the conflict.

That's the real world, folks. It has sharp corners and hard edges.

If things get to a point where they're a problem for the group, believe it: There are people watching who can deal with it. And they will.

Being a moderator does not mean you're suddenly a parent to the whole world. That way lies madness, guaranteed frustration, and various other forms of insanity.

....

There is a lot more to what is being called "official moderation" than most people ever see. There are often things going on that we, as members, don't know about. There are tendencies that have to be taken into account, like, "This is okay by itself, but it tends to lead to this other thing that isn't so good."

That's why some things are left to continue that you think should be cut off, and why some things are cut off that you think should be left to continue.

That's a function of experience.

I see a lot of people arguing for "official moderators" to be brought back. They have all sorts of ideas about how that's somehow better than member moderation. Most of those people have never been moderators here. (Yes, this place is, in some very important ways, different from most forums.)

I've been a member here for 10 years. The current system works as well as any other we've had. The same problems and complaints that come up now came up when we had one moderator, three moderators, and something like thirty moderators.

The current system is a hybrid. We have "official" moderators to handle the edge cases that require experience. We have members to take the majority of the load of handling spam posts off their backs. It's working just fine, as far as I can see.

It will work even better when more of us understand that the role of moderation is to keep things within limits, not to try and make them perfect, or force them to conform to one person's social standards or personal preferences.

The trick is the balance. If you make the limits too broad, you lose all focus. If you make them too narrow, you lose the interplay that generates much of the value and interest of the place.

Look for the balance, and you'll do a much better job as a member moderator.

You'll also find yourself sweating a lot less of the small stuff.

....

Enough for now, eh?

Well, don't just sit there looking silly. You know you have a question or opinion. Out with it!


Paul
#warrior forum help #member #moderator #pauls goggles #turn blue in cold
  • Profile picture of the author Allen Graves
    This was very compelling, Paul!

    But something you didn't cover above was drawing direct attention to your own products or services (or ego) over and over and over again. How do you think those cases should be handled?

    Is it ok? Is it grounds for dismissal?

    AL
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Al,

      Yeah. Imagine if I'd tried to actually cover the subject...

      If people keep pointing to their own products, they're pushing the line. They may be over it. That's one of those nasty things we in the trade refer to as a "judgment call."

      None of us get those right every time. Do your best and learn from the ones you get wrong.

      Edit Added to this post on 9/24/2010, to make sure it's seen earlier in the thread and not missed because it's 100+ posts down...

      There was a discussion of an apparently faked screenshot for a WSO, posted in the main forum. My response to it is duplicated below. Don't worry if all the details don't make sense. The policy aspects will.

      ....

      Okay. Some thoughts on this, wearing the official red and black moderator's cap:

      You may not comment on a WSO product or associated customer service unless you have bought it, or been given a review copy for that purpose.

      If you suspect/know a screen shot is faked, you should post that in the WSO thread and also report it to the mods. Unless the comment on the screen shot is early in the thread, a lot of people will buy without ever having seen it. Be specific about your reasons for the suspicion.

      Posting this in the main forum is not allowed. Posting a copy of the screen shot, without reference to who used it, might be useful if it showed how to recognize the fake.

      Raising questions regarding sales copy within a WSO thread needs to be done only with clear reasons. It is best if those issues are left to be raised by people with reputations at stake, since the problem of new people asking questions with the apparent intent to damage someone's sales is way too common.

      In response to one of Brian's comments: Yes, it is possible for someone to cook a graphic and still have a useful product. I've seen that happen. That doesn't make the use of the cooked graphic in any way acceptable.

      If you make an outright accusation of improper behavior that turns out to be wrong, and you get caught, you're getting a timeout. If you ask questions that seem to be motivated by malice, careless reading or inexperience, they'll be deleted if seen by a moderator. (We can't read every post in every thread. Simply not possible.) Push it and you'll get a timeout.

      Anonymous members with few posts have nothing to lose, so they shouldn't be surprised or annoyed if they end up being banned for this stuff. If your username is something like Spartacus, hellokitty69, or t4aw72853 and you have 6 posts, ANY questionable activity will likely get you banned.

      If a WSO seller does not include some way to contact them outside of forum channels, report that. Such contact methods are required. The fact that someone gets banned does not necessarily mean there was something wrong with some offer they were running at the time. And the fact that you have a WSO going does not give you a free pass to break the forum rules.

      No-one should ever read the word "Banned" under someone's name as meaning anything more than that access to this forum for that user account has been blocked for some period of time. There are reasons a person could be banned that have no reflection on their character, their product or their integrity. And some people have personally asked to be banned for some period for reasons of their own.

      Bill: Yes, it is possible to know some screenshots are faked, in the sense that there is no other remotely reasonable conclusion. As an example, I once saw a Paypal "screenshot" that had no decimal points or cents places in any of the dollar amounts for sales.

      Mal said: "Negativity and doubt sows the seed for more negativity and doubt. And away it goes - downhill. "

      That is absolutely true. It is one reason for the caution we encourage in making accusations or asking such questions without some reasonable basis. "Everybody knows you can't believe thus-and-such" is not a reasonable basis for anything.

      In response to Mal's comment, Jill said: "If those questions/comments are perceived as trying to derail the offer, those kinds of comments can be requested to be removed from the thread. "

      And if they're deleted, the conspiracy theorists shout about how we're protecting frauds. Which is just a way of biasing the discussion against the seller, and adding us to the mix.

      It's been demonstrated time after time that raising negative questions creates a tendency in the mind that can be difficult to overcome even by proof that the basis for the question is completely false. If you ask "Is it true that So-and-So was caught murdering puppies in a hotel with a prostitute?", and they're later shown to have been at church with their wife in another state, just seeing the question may have lingering negative effects.

      That doesn't mean you don't ask reasonable questions. You should do that. You should also be mindful about when and how you ask them. All judgement calls are based on one's estimation of probabilities based on personal experience. They can all be wrong. You still have to make them. Just remember that last part: You could be wrong.

      Kay is correct. Offering to PM people stuff that would break Rule #1 if posted publicly is still against the rules, unless that offer is made to a moderator for purposes of checking out the situation. The reason is simple: If someone passes you something in secret, that deprives the accused of a response, and creates an air of "private knowledge," which may not be "knowledge" at all.

      ....

      Putting the Stetson back on and speaking from personal opinion: Ignore income claims/proof. The ones that aren't faked are irrelevant.

      Also, please, folks, learn the difference between evidence and proof, and the different standards of "proof" that are required in different venues.

      Evidence is one or more facts, presented along with an interpretation, set forth in an effort to demonstrate the truth or falsity of a claim or proposition.

      If the interpretation is wrong, the evidence is misleading.

      Opinions, assumptions, rumor and other purely subjective mental constructs are not evidence.


      Edit: Added 10/05/2010:
      The fact that you're new doesn't mean you don't know a lot about marketing. It may suggest that you don't know how things are done here. Take this as friendly advice, intended to help you avoid the most common mistakes.

      1. Do not use affiliate links in your signature file.

      2. Post in the appropriate section of the board. Questions about SEO or posts asking for advice on specific products belong in other areas. Not Main Discussion. Post them here and they're more likely to be deleted than moved.

      3. Use subject lines that indicate something specific about your question. Subjects like "Heeelllp!" or "I'm annoyed" are pointless and waste people's time. They also usually fail to get the attention of the folks most well-equipped to give you useful answers.

      4. Do not post complaining about specific people, guru or newbie. We're not the Internet police and we can't do anything about it. And we don't have a clue if the complaint is even valid. Most of them turn out not to be. So, the claim that you're just trying to "alert our fellow Warriors to this problem" most often means nothing. Even when that's your sincere intent, which isn't usually the case.

      5. If your thread is deleted, do not re-post it. Do not post a thread asking why it was deleted. Read the rules, watch how things are done here, and figure it out. This is not complicated stuff.

      6. Remember that threads get deleted for lots of reasons, most of them having no reflection on the original poster. They can be nuked because they're the umpteenth copy of the same discussion in a short period, because they're on topics which too often degenerate into flame wars, because they have nothing to do with making money, because they're pointless, because they tend to drift into bashing, and lots of other reasons.

      7. Don't assume anything when you see the word "Banned" under a user's name, other than that the account has been blocked from posting for some period. "Banned" does not always (or even usually) mean anything bad about the person.

      8. If your sig file is a bunch of keyword phrases with links on them, don't be surprised if it's deleted. If that happens, don't just re-insert the same sort of thing. Especially if there's no way for us to know the domain belongs to you.

      You are not allowed to link to other people's sites that way from this forum. If you get caught doing it, you're likely to be permanently banned.

      9. Read the stickies at the top of this section, and make sure you understand them.

      10. Don't be surprised if something is deleted and you're not told why. This place is too big. It would take more time than there is in a day for us to notify every person of the reason, every time we deleted a post or thread. And that doesn't begin to count the time that would be wasted arguing with people who don't understand or refuse to accept the rules.

      Deleting posts is not a personal thing. Don't make it one.

      11. Count on your posts being deleted if you make a lot of one-liners early on. We know what that's about, and we're as likely to delete you as your posts if you push it.

      12. Use some common sense.

      Edit: Added February 26, 2011

      If one or more of your posts have disappeared, here are the most likely reasons:

      1. Violated one or more rules. This is the one you most want to avoid.

      2. Tons of pointless one-liners. Sorry, folks, but if you come in as a new member and start posting a ton of one- or two-liners, they're going to end up being deleted. If you're new and your post count dropped a lot, fast, that's almost always the reason.

      Same with posting to a lot of old threads. One member dredged up at least a half dozen threads today from 2009, with comments that added nothing to the original discussions.

      3. Wrong section of the forum. This is getting ridiculous. We move 100 or more posts per day from main discussion into various sub-sections. I'd say that's a very conservative guesstimate, since my last 3 passes through have resulted in moving 40 or 50 in a short time. And that's just me. There are a half dozen mods handling stuff in this section.

      If you want the best answers to your questions, post them where the people hang out who focus on the topic involved.

      Over the past few weeks, I've been alternating between moving such posts, closing them with a note about where they belong, and outright deleting them. I am going to start slanting much more toward simply deleting them. It appears that is the most likely action to get people to pay attention.

      If you want a review of your web site design, or have a question about web site design, put it in the web site design section. If you want help with Wordpress, put it in web site design. Or, if it's a programming issue, in the programming section.

      If you want a review of your sales copy, put it in the copywriting section.

      Posts relating to CPA that are posted in main discussion will simply be deleted. The majority of those are fakes, designed to get attention for specific programs. Speaking of which, I'd be very careful about believing most of the reviews of programs in that section of the board. It's rife with shills.

      Cleaning that section out without nuking every person associated directly with a company would take two weeks, doing nothing else. Yeah. It's that bad.

      You've been warned.

      Product reviews belong in the reviews section. If you don't have enough posts to put one in there, wait until you do. There's a reason for that limit.

      Note: Support questions about products are not reviews, and do not belong in the review section. A LOT of people are confused about this. The first place for a support question is (surprise!) the merchant's support forum or mailbox. Not the Warrior Forum.

      If you must ask here, do it in the section most relevant to the product in question.

      The SEO stuff is absolutely the worst. Questions about backlinks, page rank, the effect of domain names on placement in the search engine results, and anything else that has to do with where a site appears in a search engine belong in the SEO section. AdSense, AdWords and PPC stuff go in the same section. (Yes, it seems odd. It's close, and it keeps us from having too many sections that are too narrowly focused.)

      Do not expect a personal explanation about why your posts were deleted. We're not going to get into 100 or more arguments per day with people who haven't read the rules and don't pay attention. Or with more experienced people who post in main discussion because it gets more eyeballs.

      If someone posts something that's in the wrong section, please point them to this thread, and then report the post. We'll probably just nuke it, but they might see the pointer before that happens.

      If you spend time answering a question that doesn't belong in the section where it's posted, don't get mad if your answer gets deleted. Wait until they post it in the right place to help them out.


      Paul

      PS: If you're in a rough situation, read this thread: http://www.warriorforum.com/main-int...desperate.html
  • Profile picture of the author JayXtreme
    I soooooo needed this...

    From now on I'm gonna follow this and then just put in my report post form:

    "Paul Myers told me to"

    Thanks Paul.. I said the same to Allen in a post today about this kind of thing, it is good for us to get it from this perspective.. I stopped reporting posts for a few days because the lines were looking a little too grey for me to decide...

    This, combined with Allen's post have helped me set a few things straight in my head for reporting posts..

    Thanks

    Peace

    Jay

    p.s. (I am all of a sudden REALLY aware of my writing, spelling, grammar/er...uuughhh, no more Paul Myers threads for me)..lol
    • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
      As long as it meets with Allen's approval, maybe Paul's post could be tagged
      onto the "Members are Moderators" sticky. Sort of suggested further reading.

      Another stonking post Paul! Your obvious passion for maintaining a healthy
      forum shines through. Let's hope that your message reaches the people it
      needs to reach. I know I, like Jay, needed to hear it.

      Thanks

      Peter
  • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
    Paul,

    Originally Posted by Paul Myers View Post

    To keep discussion within topical limits that allow for optimal benefit to all participants.
    That's an excellent definition.

    I've deliberately highlighted the word "keep" because
    it seems to me that many people seem to think that
    moderating is about removing content.

    I can tell you from my own brief experience as a
    Moderator on this forum that removing someone's
    content was a last resort and not a decision that was
    taken lightly. Nor should it be an easy decision.

    It's not just a matter of clicking a button.

    John
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      John,

      That was always my thought on it, too. I had something of a reputation as a "hardass" when I was moderating here. Because of that, very few people ever noticed that, other than spam and similarly blatant stuff, I deleted or rejected almost nothing.

      I always preferred to assume that people are adults, and can think for themselves. Other people have different ideas on that.


      Paul
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Allen,
      The Warrior Forum's first Redneck Sticky..
      It's the yogurt. (That's my story and I'm sti... umm... anyway, that's my story.)

      Maurice,

      Thank you. You've given me illustrations of several other points that people can learn from. For instance, your comment...
      isn't that ironic
      ... is an example of what's called thread hijacking. Deliberately introducing off-topic comments (changing the subject), or on-topic comments that tend to pull the conversation in a different direction.

      Some people freak out about this. I personally don't think it's always a bad thing, as long as the new direction is useful. It's good to be aware of it, though, because it's the most common cause of useful threads turning into flame-fests and getting deleted.

      When good threads go bad, as it were.

      What I just did there is called, "bringing it back on-topic."

      As far as posting articles as thread starters, that's usually frowned on. The reasoning is the same as that applied to more direct advertising: It would quickly take over the forum, swamping conversation.

      There is an article directory attached to this forum. You'll find the link on the front page, near the bottom.
      apparently the WF good ol boy network is still as strong as ever

      sorry, i don't follow cults of personalities...regardless of how high their post or "thanks" count may be
      Since you quoted me just before that, I should point out that I have repeatedly stated that I don't think post count is an indicator of much of anything except post count. I don't recall ever even discussing "thank you" counts at all. At least not as any indication of general status.

      Yes, thankfully, the WF "good ol boy network" is still as strong as ever. And still as non-gender-specific as ever.

      One of the things that people don't like to admit is that every forum has its share of cliques. (Note the spelling. It's not 'clicks.') A clique is just a group of people who share a common set of interests, and actively protect and promote those interests.

      In any forum, the clique that's referred to as the "old boys network" is the group that protects the overall group: the forum itself. They actively promote the traditions, values and tone that are established over time, and which are set by the owner and/or moderator(s).

      Folks who disagree with those values and traditions call it "the old boys network." Those who agree with them tend to refer to the people in that group as the forum's leaders, or senior members. There is one thing that can be said about these groups to which I've never seen an exception:

      For any forum to be successful in the long term, it must develop an "old boys network."

      These things tend to be exclusive. That's the nature of the beast. In order to be part of one, you must show - over an extended period, and by action, rather than just words - that you share the fundamental goals of the group.

      Post count has very little to do with it, except in so far as there's a certain amount of time and activity that's needed, varying with the age of the group itself, to demonstrate consistency.

      You don't "get in" by sucking up or just saying the right things. You get in when the established members of the group believe that you genuinely share the values that guide the forum overall. It's not a single step, and it's not something anyone votes on. It's a matter of recognizing a thing as it develops, rather than creating it.

      Whether that's good or bad depends on the goals and values. The fact of the existence of an "old boys network" is just that: a fact. An inescapable reality of group dynamics.

      That has very significant implications for marketing, and pretty much all of life, not just forums.

      Humans are tribal creatures. Ignore that at your own risk.


      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author globalpro
    Paul,

    Member moderation is like a "neighborhood watch" in many ways. It works best when the participants know the rules and understand the issues. And, sometimes, people who are minding their own business and hurting no-one will get hassled by control freaks and nosy busy-bodies who think everyone should have to live their way.
    I find it both ironic and appropriate that you use the analogy of the 'neighborhood watch'.

    Like most communities, we have a watch program where I live. While it's a good tool to use in crime prevention, the problem that usually comes up is the overzealousness of some of the watch personnel.

    Since it's a volunteer organization, that does well all in all, you get the few that end up letting the badge and the car (fortunately they don't carry a weapon) go to their head. It's like it becomes a power trip that can get extreme.

    In their desire to do the right thing, they become like little vigilantes that will get involved in ways that aren't their place to. The conclusion I always drew from the few like this is they are people that have nothing better to do with something to prove.

    In the end it proves to be their undoing.

    I can almost see the similarities to some of the 'neighborhood watch' personnel here.

    Thanks,

    John
  • Profile picture of the author Talltom1
    Paul,
    You took a lot of time and effort into clarifying this for everybody. My concern is that the people that need to read this, probably won't.

    Thanks for this valuable contribution.

    Talltom
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      John,

      I chose the "neighborhood watch" analogy for exactly the reason you mention. Everyone who's ever had to deal with those groups knows... Most of the people in them are there for their community. A small fraction are there for the perceived power.

      I have no time or use for power junkies and control freaks.


      Tom,

      The people who read it, read it. If they apply it, and explain to others what they're doing, it will spread. If not, at least a few more people will understand the dynamics, which is always good for the group in the long run.


      Steven,

      This stuff is reflex to me. Very basic. There's precious little new in this area of communication. I saw the same things happening on BBS's back in the 80's. Fidonet, Usenet, discussion lists, web forums, bars... it's all the same.

      Human beings.

      The only real thought that went into this was in what to remove. I had about 3 pages of examples of things that have happened, and how they should have been handled. I deleted them all. They would have pissed off some people who deserve it, but they wouldn't have done any good in the long run.

      It's rarely a good idea to derail your own thread.


      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    This is the only other truly useful thread, besides the one that Allan posted, that I have seen on this subject lately.

    If there was never another thread about member moderation ever we could rely on the wisdom in this one.

    I vote to make it a sticky on all forums throughout the universe.
  • Profile picture of the author Michael Mayo
    Paul,

    You absolutely have to allow me to add your definition to my Warriors
    Handbook. Back in mid 2008 I captured the domain name
    warriorshandbook.com

    I had planned to create a Handbook that could be distributed to new WF
    members. It would consist of Words and Wisdom from Warrior Elders...lol

    When Allen moved the WF to this new platform I placed the project on
    hold until the dust settled. Now I feel the project is needed!

    Please let me know if you would like to add a chapter to the project.
    Paul, You can't blame me for asking, I would be in a "DUH" state if I didn't.

    Your pearls of wisdom and clarity help make the WF a great place to be!

    Have a Great Day/Night!
    Michael
  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    There's a challenge with making something like this "sticky" anywhere. If you do that, basic guidelines take on a semblance of being rules, and the list lawyers start quibbling.

    Not to mention, there are other approaches that work just as well. This is just one way of looking at it.

    Paul
    Then I volunteer to stand at the door and hand out Paul goggles. Not mandatory but they will increase your viewing pleasure. :-)
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Michael,

      Feel free to quote anything I say in this thread, and use it any way you like. With or without attribution.

      Josh,
      Then I volunteer to stand at the door and hand out Paul goggles.
      [chuckle] Thanks. I needed that laugh just then.


      Paul
    • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
      Originally Posted by Josh Anderson View Post

      Then I volunteer to stand at the door and hand out Paul goggles. Not mandatory but they will increase your viewing pleasure. :-)
      Josh,

      You should brand that product and get it launched
      immediately!

      John
    • Profile picture of the author Angela V. Edwards
      Originally Posted by Josh Anderson View Post

      Then I volunteer to stand at the door and hand out Paul goggles. Not mandatory but they will increase your viewing pleasure. :-)
      Are those kind of like Beer Goggles?
  • Profile picture of the author Steven Fullman
    Sticky, please!

    Great guidelines, Paul.

    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author admin
    Administrator
    The Warrior Forum's first Redneck Sticky..

    :-)
    • Profile picture of the author John Taylor
      Originally Posted by admin View Post

      The Warrior Forum's first Redneck Sticky..

      :-)
      Splorphhhh!!!!!

      Allen,

      You owe me a new freakin laptop!

      Sheesh that's got my sides aching man. :-)

      John
  • Profile picture of the author tomw
    Wow, I go away for a few days and everyone gets all grow'd up 'n' sensible!



    Thanks for making this thread, Paul. It's long overdue!

    ("Redneck Sticky" - LOL!)

    I don't have a record of anything that I have written in any of the deleted threads. I write straight out of my head directly into the comment box. If you have a summary of some of the points that many of us made and choose to post them for the benefit of this thread then great.

    I have no problem at all with anyone quoting something I may have written. However, I don't really think anything needs to be added to your original post. It stands up pretty damn well on its own in terms of clarification.

    I'll leave the evaluation or judgement of absit omen to you.



    Thomas
  • Profile picture of the author tomw
    Wonderful end to this thread. Nothing further to be added. Except maybe a word from our sponsor.



    Cue music...roll end credits.
  • Profile picture of the author Patrician
    Paul Myers should have been a writer (i know, i know)

    I always enjoy reading your posts and I always learn something.

    Write on,
    Peace Out.
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Another recurring theme. I figured it would be good to have this here, so people can refer others to it when appropriate.

      On February 4, 2009, MichaelBSoftware posted the following, quoted in its entirety:
      It's interesting so many of you seem to dislike new posters.

      I'm new, and you're making me want to leave. I mean seriously, how many of you old members had to put up with these rules we have to put up with.

      30 posts before you can do this, or 15 before you can do that. I've bought 4 products through WSO's since I've joined and I can't even PM the vendor I am a customer of.....that's BS from my standpoint as a new poster.

      It's real simple for you guys that have been here for years to let your ideas flow to increase the difficulty for a new poster to do anything. You want us to contribute but I can't even answer some questions because I needed to post dummy links to illustrate the answer and I couldn't even do that.

      So it's now wonder people use one liners to get through the bs as quickly as possible.

      Try and see it from both sides, imagine how you would feel if you were just now joining...versus joining years ago when the hoops didn't exist.
      Here is my response to that post:

      Michael,
      It's interesting so many of you seem to dislike new posters.
      It's interesting that you assume that we don't like any new posters, simply because we don't like new posters who abuse the forum.
      I mean seriously,
      how many of you old members had to put up with these rules we
      have to put up with.
      splorf!

      Dude, here's an announcement I posted on February 4th, 2001, Ironically, exactly 8 years to the day before you made these comments. If you want to verify it, go to this link, at Archive.org.

      The exact text of the original post:

      Message: IMPORTANT: Changes in Posting Rules
      Author: Moderator

      Posted 02-04-01 - Article 1 of 12 in this thread.

      [Back to Index] [Next Message] [Reply] [New Thread] [Hot Threads]

      Hi folks...

      Some changes in the rules. I've discussed these with Allen, and he agrees that they should be implemented. From now forward:

      1. All posts must be accompanied by the poster's real name, and include a real, working email address. No anonymous posting will be allowed.

      2. No posts will be approved that have any affiliate URL anywhere in them EXCEPT in the sig file. No posts will be approved which specifically refer you to their sig file for an affiliate URL.

      Oh yeah... If your sig file suddenly starts changing to reflect the appropriate affiliate URL every time you post, that's a no-no too.

      3. Posts requesting a site review MUST be accompanied by a description of the specific issues the requester is trying to solve. If it looks like it MIGHT be a game to get traffic, the post will be refused. (You know who you are...)

      4. Host4Profit technical support questions should be referred to H4P support or the manuals.

      H4P customers are encouraged to ask and answer questions relating to marketing and design of websites, and all the other issues confronting an online business. Only H4P system-specific questions are not allowed.

      5. Anyone regularly trying to abuse the forum by breaking the rules will be banned from posting for a period of one month.

      For the record, I already refuse most posts that say "Email me for details." The exceptions are ones where the offered help is in the form of information that would be too long and/or situation specific for normal posting.

      Paul

      Email the author (paul@talkbiz.com)
      Yep. You had to use your real name, AND a working email address. If I found out an address didn't work, you didn't get posts approved until you fixed the problem.

      When I say that using a real name changes the way people post, I'm not talking out of my hat. I saw the difference, first hand. It was very significant, and very positive.

      As you can see, the problems with affiliates abusing their access isn't anything new. It was old before that post was made. You may not believe it, but we've seen all of this stuff before.

      You have to have 30 posts before you can send a PM? Take a look at the row of phrases in [Brackets] there. Those were the functions available. Do you see PMs in there? Or blogs? Or groups? Or even a function for a sig file? You pasted your sig file in manually, if you used one. Most of us didn't bother.

      People offering WSOs these days are required to include contact information that's outside the forum's systems, so even new folks can reach them if there are problems. If you find that someone has failed to do this, use the help desk to notify the Powers That Be. Such things are taken quite seriously.

      You think it's tough to participate enough to hit the posting mark before you're allowed to make a WSO? (A whopping 30 posts, at the time of this writing.)

      The requirement back then was not so easily finagled. You had to get past me. They went right in the main (single) forum, and I only approved them when they offered significant value, and when they came from people I personally considered to have earned the right, by way of their contributions to the group.

      One of the big rules back then was, quoted exactly: "Them that gives, gets."

      By the way, there was no such thing as a "Made for WSO" product in those days. You had to be actively selling it to the public, and offer Warriors a discount on that price.

      Notice the part about posts not being approved if they broke the rules? Yes, that really does mean that Allen or I read every post, and refused a lot of them. You had to get past one of us before your post was even visible to the members.

      Say something stupid and get blistered for it? The philosophy at the time was, "Hey, if you can't handle it in a discussion forum, you're just not ready for prime time. Real customers will eat you alive." We had some ferocious battles back then.

      May the best idea win.

      At the end of the day, we learned about and developed respect for each other. We found out who was really thinking, and who was just running off at the keyboard. New folks who played by the rules got treated with decent manners, certainly, but that was it.

      If you wanted respect from the Warriors, you damned well had to earn it.

      People who came in and demanded respect, while spewing nonsense as fact when we knew it was wrong or dangerous, got treated the way they deserved: Like idiots.
      Try and see it from both sides, imagine how you would feel if you were just now joining...versus joining years ago when the
      hoops didn't exist.
      You were saying?

      This is neither bragging nor complaining, and it's certainly not saying things were necessarily better back then. They were just different, from a technological perspective. Certainly not as easy as today, but we didn't care. It was just what was possible at the time.

      But, as far as your completely inaccurate assumptions about how the old-timers here think, or what things were like back when we joined, I have a recommendation: Get facts before you start making assertions.

      Dude, we were all newbies at one point or another. And I remember exactly what it felt like, too. It felt like, "Cool! This is going to take some figuring out, but look at the possibilities!" It still feels like that.

      There are a lot of people here who remember this group in 2001. There are some who were already here when I joined, in '97 or '98. Those people are the ones who walked a ton of newbies through the learning stages, and who made the place what it is. They've seen all this stuff before. It goes in cycles, and none of it, absolutely none of it, is new.

      There is one huge difference: The number of people. A lot more newbies, so the cycles are shorter. A lot more experienced people, so the potential for learning is higher. A lot more posts, so you have to be more careful of how you mine the information.

      A lot more opportunity. A lot more tools and proven information (much of it developed by those same old-timers). And a lot more whining about how hard it is to make anything work.

      Those weren't the golden days, in terms of potential. These are. Do you want to take advantage of it, or waste it, talking about how "tough" things are?


      Paul
    • Profile picture of the author Melvin Truth Holloway
      Thanks Paul! That was a book. lol. But I am glad you wrote it because it lets people see from the inside instead of the outside looking in on what a moderator goes through.

      Rule #1 was a "biggy". I believe there is a difference between a "rant" and having an honest detailed discussion about the pros and cons of a product or program.

      I have not been on here too long and I think it would be great if newer members such as myself take the time to read this post.

      This is one of those "Warrior Forum MUST read"
  • Profile picture of the author mmurtha
    uhumm ... getting back to the topic of "being a Better Member Moderator ..."

    Hi Paul,

    You know besides the nickname of "Forum Redneck" you are also known to many as the town mayor, and I for one appreciate the fact that we have people like you that use their wisdom to teach and guide people in the right direction.

    I think the neatest thing about your comments/posts/threads like this one is that you don't tell us how to be but encourage us to make our own choices backed up by useful information about the subject.

    So Thanks!

    I particularly found this segment of your comment the most useful:
    The current system is a hybrid. We have "official" moderators to handle the edge cases that require experience. We have members to take the majority of the load of handling spam posts off their backs. It's working just fine, as far as I can see.

    It will work even better when more of us understand that the role of moderation is to keep things within limits, not to try and make them perfect, or force them to conform to one person's social standards or personal preferences.

    The trick is the balance. If you make the limits too broad, you lose all focus. If you make them too narrow, you lose the interplay that generates much of the value and interest of the place.
    I think it's working fine too. There will always be people "playing" with the system to use it to their advantage, but they will eventually figue out it's a wasted effort.


    Hey Maurice,

    Far be it for me to jump into the midst of your dilemma/discussion, but I did notice one thing from youe comment here:

    but in the end...what difference does it make...I am automatically the bad guy because john is automatically the good guy. but thats a different point.
    I think you have a very unhealthy way of viewing WF members. It's not about good guy vs bad guy, or bad guy vs. good guy, or even big vs small.

    In the end we are all members of a "community", striving to grow, learn, etc ... from, and with, each other. Sometimes it takes another person or group of people to guide newer members in what's to be expected of them if they want to remain a vital part of the community that will benefit the entire group.

    Anyway, I wish you well in the end ...


    Mary
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Roger,

      I don't think it's been defaced at all. It's instructive stuff. And, after having a long conversation with Maurice (which got cut off somehow while we were laughing at my taste in schlock TV), I'm glad. He's a bright guy. Stubborn, intelligent, witty, and willing to keep going until things are resolved.

      Had some heated moments but, all in all, a worthwile conversation.

      An excellent point on how much there is to go around. It's easy to miss that when you are focused on what the other guy is getting, instead of what you can do to create value.

      Mary,
      I think it's working fine too. There will always be people "playing" with the system to use it to their advantage, but they will eventually figure out it's a wasted effort.
      Yep. And new people will come in and try to game the system. That's not going to stop.

      The thing we can do is constantly educate others on how to handle it, so that the damage the new creeps can do is always being reduced.

      Eternal vigilance is the price of intelligent conversation.


      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author mmurtha
    Hey Paul,

    Eternal vigilance is the price of intelligent conversation.
    I hear you there.


    Hey Roger,

    I view what Paul stated here:

    It's easy to miss that when you are focused on what the other guy is getting, instead of what you can do to create value.
    As a way of expressing that it's not always about "us" (generally speaking of course, and applies to everyone on an individual scale) or what one "Gets" or can "take out" of the forum (or life), but what one can pack into it. Instead of sucking the life or value out of something, try the reverse and adding to the value.

    Hope this helps ...
  • Profile picture of the author kennethtang
    Eternal vigilance is the price of intelligent conversation.
    Ahh...now THAT is a gem that should be highlighted in neon lights three feet high. Alas, much of many people's brains are bereft of anything resembling vigilance or intelligence, let alone their conversation.

    Kenneth
  • Profile picture of the author Louis Raven
    Cheers Paul.

    This thread makes being a member, and a moderator a whole lot easier.

    Louis
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      From time to time, I'll update this with comments on the subject from other threads. Those will scroll off, and not be available for long. They may also be missed by people who are interested in this subject, but not whatever the original thread was about that caused the questions to be raised.

      These may be slightly edited before posting here, to adjust for the context, and to avoid confusion.

      We had one like that today. Here are the questions and my answers:

      Paul Coleman (ic7) asked,
      Ok, if someone creates a very useful thread and at the end of their post says, "Check my sig for more info." And in their sig is a link to their related WSO...

      ...is this out of line?
      Ahh... THAT can get tricky. Even long time members can get confused about that.

      I spoke with a gentleman the other day who's been a member here for four years or so. He occasionally jumps into threads and offers help or comments, but rarely starts his own. He saw a question repeated, remembered my comment about the value of the content, and posted an article he'd written that he thought answered a number of those questions. Complete with copyright date.

      That looked self-promotional, and got deleted. Properly so, as he readily agreed when the situation was explained to him.

      He could have done the same thing by prefacing the post with, "I've seen X posts recently asking about [problem]. One here, one here and one there. Rather than post the same thing in a bunch of threads, I thought I'd offer my thoughts on it in one place, in the hopes it will be helpful to anyone who might have the same questions."

      Then edit the thing so it becomes part of the conversation, rather than an "announcement." Done properly, that could be a good way to handle it.

      I generally recommend against pointing to an offer in a sig file unless it's in response to a specific request for information on the topic. I very strongly recommend against pointing to any offer at all in a thread starter. It's very difficult to do that without being perceived as having posted for the advertising value.

      I say perceived because we don't really ever know the intent of the poster. We, as collective moderators, have to make decisions based on what things look like. If it looks like an ad, we need to get rid of it, because leaving it stay will encourage others to do the same thing in the same way. That encourages folks to post ads intentionally.

      Does that lead to people with good intentions occasionally being foiled in their efforts to be helpful? Sure. And that sucks. But it doesn't suck as much as creating an excuse for dozens of people with less helpful intentions to claim they're "just doing what Joey did."

      Chris Hunter asked,
      I guess my question is this: If I'm running a WSO about how to get more traffic from your articles and a link to my WSO is in my sig, should I not post answers to threads with article marketing questions?
      Answering questions is the place where my comments apply about the value of the post being the factor that determines fitness.

      If the answers would be useful without the sig file being attached, then yeah. The answers are appropriate, and the presence of a sig file should be irrelevant, except to people who find them useful enough to want more.

      Example: I've been answering threads here about writing for a looong time. When I had an offer going recently for a book on the subject, I didn't let that stop me from continuing to answer those same sorts of questions. In fact, I made sure I put more effort into giving complete answers, in order to make sure people got more value from the posts themselves.

      Some people might have thought that was intended to get attention for the offer. It wasn't, but that was probably an added benefit.

      That's how it works. The more value you offer for people who don't buy from you, the more attention you'll get from the folks who want to learn what you teach.

      The offer is gone now, but those posts still have value. That might be another useful way to look at it, if you're not sure.


      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author MickG
    I have only just joined this forum but I thought you made an excellent post Paul, this is like being in your lounge and we are your guests and have to behave accordingly or we are asked to leave
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Mick,
      this is like being in your lounge and we are your guests and have to behave accordingly or we are asked to leave
      Well, Allen's lounge, but yeah. That's a good analogy.

      Thinking about participation here as a social thing, and looking at how a planned action would be seen in an offline social setting, can lead to some very useful insights into what works and what doesn't.


      Paul
  • Profile picture of the author Allen Graves
    I don't understand why people don't just answer the entire question in their posts to the best of their ability...or don't post at all. We are here to help each other. If you're not going to give everyone the information, don't post. If you just want to sell stuff (and it's obvious after a short while that that's what you're trying to do!!!), don't post.

    If we want to keep our "stuff" secret and for sale, then don't post in a thread saying that you know the answer but won't tell anyone (which is in itself another form of self-promotion in a lot of peoples' opinion). That's just rediculous and doesn't add to the value of the thread at all. All that does is get people to your sales page...that is what pisses other people off (and that is what the WSO forum is for).

    From what I have gathered, if your posts are helpful and never hint at someone visiting your site, sig or WSO for "more answers" then you have absolutely nothing to worry about...not even from the alleged "bullies" or even from people that "don't like" you, as I've seen it described lately in other threads.

    AL
  • Profile picture of the author Casem63
    Paul, I think the all encompassing scope of your analysis and in depth school of thought clearly demonstrate the extent of your experience, even if you had not divulged the length of your history with forums. I was greatly impressed with the views you expressed and found them quite instructional.

    As an aside, thanks so much Peter for the definition of "stonking"
    • Profile picture of the author Paul Myers
      Allen,
      From what I have gathered, if your posts are helpful and never hint at someone visiting your site, sig or WSO for "more answers" then you have absolutely nothing to worry about...
      That isn't entirely accurate.

      There are things one can do that seem (and often are) intended to be promotional, but which never involve pointing to a sig file or other link in the body of the post. These can form patterns, which experienced people will usually identify.

      Among them are the constant one-liners, regular posting of articles related to one's products, resurrecting multiple old threads on the same topic (usually by a new member), and probably more that I'm forgetting. A corroborating sign of this is including keyword specific links in one's posts or sig file.

      None of these are proof, but they can be very convincing evidence.

      Oh yeah. Posting questions about a product, and including an affiliate link to the product. Also, anonymous or unknown new members asking for impressions on a product, and then discounting negative comments. That one happened yesterday. The creator of a service came in and started that kind of thread using a sock puppet.

      Those are pretty much givens. You nuke them outright.

      The ways people will try to game the system are pretty limited, but the possible variations aren't. That's why so much of moderating is composed of judgment calls.


      Paul

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