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Old 05-24-2010, 12:03 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Thread management in ATMB

In this thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...1#post12491581 Fenris says:

Quote:
Ok.

I object to the thread closure. What possible reason to close it is there? What does it hurt to leave it open?

I strongly feel that unless there's an overwhelming reason (illegal acts being discussed, actual real-world threats) there's never, ever a reason to close a thread.

While I don't really care about the issue here, there's a principle at stake. Turn the question around: the default position of the mods shouldn't be "Dopers, convince me to keep this thread open", the default position should be "Hell no--I don't care if you want it closed, you made your bed, now lie in it. You want it closed, show me an overwhelming reason I should."
I promised that I would discuss it with him.

Also, in this thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...0&postcount=77

I said:
Quote:
I'd like to focus on your OP and your request for clarification. If you want to raise that issue, you may start a thread about it.
in response to a question about some moderator conduct in that thread. Some posters have questioned this. It's part of thread management, so I'll include it here.

Before I start, I need to make the usual disclaimers:

1. I am expressing my own personal views as a moderator here. I'm not announcing any rules--new or old.
2. I'm not a moderator in ATMB, so my statements may not even reflect the practices of the moderators here.


I posted this in The Pit almost exactly a year ago. To the extent I have a thread closing "protocol" this is it:

Quote:
Here's my current thinking on thread closures, generally. These are not rules at all, they are just an explanation of how I think about requests to close or reopen a thread.

1. They are procedural. In most cases, nobody has a right to have a thread open or closed. It's about convenience and efficiency. There are some special cases, in which there may be a great reason to close a thread, but in most cases, those reasons are based on some more substantive concern.

2. Starting a thread that gets closed isn't going to draw any sort of warning from me unless there's something else going on. I might warn somebody for trolling or opening a thread that I've specifically told them not to open, but beyond that, it's just a procedural thing.

3. I'm always willing to reconsider a thread closing or refusal to close a thread. As I said, it's procedural, and it's not a big deal.

4. I usually start with the assumption that the thread stays open and need to be convinced that it needs to be closed. But this is a procedural assumption, I don't think there is a right answer in most of these cases.

5. If I close a thread, that doesn't imply that another thread can't be started on the same topic.

6. Unless there's a good reason to close a thread immediately, I try to give folks an opportunity to make that last post or convince me to leave the thread open.

7. I've got limited time and attention, so if a thread is very long, I'm more inclined to close it, subject to all of the other stuff I've said.
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...&postcount=188

Once again, the quoted language reflects how I think about thread closures and not a rule or a protocol.

Fenris, so far it looks like we basically agree--that's because we do. Where we differ, I think is on how many good reasons there are to close a thread in ATMB, as opposed to The Pit, for example.

Here's my thinking:

1. We are trying to solve customer problems here, at least in some of the threads. Others, like this one, are more general discussions, and shouldn't be closed, as a rule. But customer service is different. Once the complaint is resolved, there is little point to leaving it open.

2. Some posters may object that a new issue has arisen in the thread and that justifies continuing the discussion. The problem is that nobody will be aware of the new issue in the ongoing thread unless they are following it. I tend not to follow threads about other moderators, for example. I may check in on them now and then, but I won't know about a side issue that has arisen in the thread. So a poster might repeatedly ask a question about the new issue and get no response from the intended audience. Which sometimes results in this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by posted in the thread about the new Election 2010 forum
Ed could you please address the questioned asked in post 109 of the 're: closure of the Big T thread'.

None of the mods seem to want to tackle them, though they are very valid questions that deserve answers.

They have been asked, repeatedly, in the correct forum, in a polite fashion, yet continue to be roundly ignored.

Thank you for your time.
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...89&postcount=9

3. Similarly, I'm unlikely to go back and check an older ATMB thread that's been bumped, just to see if someone is raising a new issue.

I've got some more to say about this stuff, but I need to get back to work. I hope this is at least a good start of a discussion.
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:19 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Gfactor - do you want to limit this to just thread closures or expand it out to the OP's title "thread management"? Just curious - the latter could make this unwieldy and hijack-prone.
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:36 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Thanks for asking. I intended it as a general discusion of thread management concerns. You may be right about it becoming unwieldy. If it does, I guess it will be a case in point. I hope it doesn't, but if it does, I'll try to split out the separate discussions.
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:02 PM
padabe padabe is offline
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Gfactor, the point you've made about closing ATMB threads when the customer's issue is resolved is appreciated. I hadn't considered that perspective, and it's a little counterintuitive (at least to me). It's not a big deal for threads that can be resolved in 5-6 posts, but when a bunch of people are chiming in on a multipage thread, an abrupt closure can feel awkward. But I see your point, and it makes sense for ATMB threads.

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this with us.
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:57 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by padabe View Post
Gfactor, the point you've made about closing ATMB threads when the customer's issue is resolved is appreciated. I hadn't considered that perspective, and it's a little counterintuitive (at least to me). It's not a big deal for threads that can be resolved in 5-6 posts, but when a bunch of people are chiming in on a multipage thread, an abrupt closure can feel awkward. But I see your point, and it makes sense for ATMB threads.
Right. I think giving notice of impending closure helps with the awkwardness. I may be wrong about that. But that's one of the reasons I tried it in The Pit.

From the mod's side of the fence it's a lot easier to deal with five 20 post threads than one with 100 or more posts. And it's also easier to find and refer to shorter threads whose titles match their content.

Quote:
Thank you for taking the time to discuss this with us.
No problem.
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Old 05-25-2010, 09:07 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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Since this is a dying thread regarding closure, I'd like to expand it a bit and address this from the 2nd BigT thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Care to explain how responding with a bit of harmless humor on a small side issue lowers the level of respect more than comparing the moderators to a 3 year old being potty trained? At this point I'm not sure I care how I score on your Moderator Checkoff List but(speaking solely as a poster) I think you are overreacting just a bit.
Czarcasm's getting a bit of heat, for a number of reasons. Namely, posters are trying to get some honest answers out of the moderators (Czarcasm in particular), and their participation is lacking. Now, I don't expect mods to be hovering over ATMB like an over-protective mother, and swooping in every time their name is called. But I simply don't see it to be all that unreasonable that if a mod is going to participate in a thread specifically set up to ask questions regarding moderation, that that participation be limited to the questions set forth - or at least be the first priority. There are thousands of threads on this board in which to play grab ass and be glib and joke around, and a limited number of threads asking mods direct questions.
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Old 05-25-2010, 02:27 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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In general, I would agree. But in that thread, the OP asked about a specific incident. The first two mods who posted had not participated in the thread in question and were not the ones who closed the original thread, so they likely felt it was up to the mod who did close the thread to answer the question "why was this thread closed?"

Now, the issue is a bit bigger, because the OP was also asking some broader question about the appropriateness of how it was closed, and what policy is about closing threads like that. They might could have answered "There is no set policy, just moderator judgement." But they probably felt it was Twickster's place to answer about Twickster's moderation.
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:36 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
But I simply don't see it to be all that unreasonable that if a mod is going to participate in a thread specifically set up to ask questions regarding moderation, that that participation be limited to the questions set forth - or at least be the first priority. There are thousands of threads on this board in which to play grab ass and be glib and joke around, and a limited number of threads asking mods direct questions.
I'll address the principle you raise here because I agree that it fits in this thread. A couple of points, once again, my own opinion, not rules:

1. Yes. I think it's best in ATMB if staff and members alike refrain from creating additional issues in that sort of thread. I think the reason is explained above: I (for one) would like to keep threads that ask a direct question responsive to the direct question.

2. That said, in most cases, the staff will defer to the moderator who made the decision that is being questioned. As Wombat indicates here http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/...d.php?t=564563 , we all report to Ed. My recent promotion doesn't give me any more authority to direct the moderators. It just gives me access to more tools. We might express an opinion about the rules, generally, but that's about it.

3. Moderators are also allowed to post as posters. In ATMB, I try to make it crystal clear when I do that, but sometimes I forget.

So, yes we all ought to work on staying on the topic of the thread, but no, I don't necessarily think I have to avoid posting in a thread as a poster if I want to, just because it's about what some other moderator did. If a thread questions my own conduct, I think the case is clearer--I'm not going to come in and goof off and ignore the question.

Was this responsive to your question?

Last edited by Gfactor; 05-25-2010 at 05:39 PM..
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:23 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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I think the intent of the question related to how much joking is allowed in the thread prior to a moderator answering the question.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:32 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishman View Post
I think the intent of the question related to how much joking is allowed in the thread prior to a moderator answering the question.
As I said, moderators are allowed to post as posters. We need to do a better job of clarifying when we are doing so. I don't think it's especially productive for any posters to come into a thread where the OP hasn't been addressed and start cracking wise. Once again, that's my personal opinion--not a rule--and even given my view on that type of post, I'm not about to start handing out warnings to anyone for doing it. I might try to redirect the discussion with a note if I'm on top of things, but I'm seldom on top of things.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:46 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Thanks for the reply, Gfactor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gfactor View Post
3. Moderators are also allowed to post as posters. In ATMB, I try to make it crystal clear when I do that, but sometimes I forget.
ATMB has become a bit of a bear ever since the new Pit rules. Since moderators have to be treated differently in here, I'd like to propose that they have to ACT differently in here as well. It is extremely frustrating to see mods active in a thread about moderation and talking about something else entirely. I doubt the request will be taken seriously, but I personally think it'd go a long ways towards reducing the friction around here.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:02 PM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Munch View Post
I doubt the request will be taken seriously,
I take it seriously. I actually try to do as you say. I'll either joke and talk shop, or just talk shop. I'm sure counterexamples abound, but that's what I shoot for.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:13 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Thanks Gfactor - I appreciate it. Any chance you could bring it up at the next secret meeting? I'd imagine there's an internal discussion in the mod forum on this already.
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