An open letter to all moderators

How do you moderators view your role on these boards? How does the Chicago Reader view your role?

I ask because to my mind, a moderator should be just that: one who moderates and facilitates discussions between others – not one who takes an active participation in those discussions. Personally, I don’t feel it is a moderator’s job to join discussions, criticize arguments (or the poster making the argument), or applaud them either.

As soon as a moderator makes it clearly known whose side s/he is on, all semblance of neutrality disappears. If a moderator makes a judgment to delete the inappropriate remarks of a poster with whom the moderator is known to disagree, the action immediately smacks of bias – even if the decision in that case was perfectly legitimate.
Actions I personally feel moderators should engage in:
· Calling obnoxious posters to task – in an official, productive, I’m-a-representative-of-the-Straight-Dope-Message-Board sort of way, not an I’m-a-regular-here-and-you’re-an-ass sort of way
· Providing pertinent links to topics both external on the Web, and internal to previously-posted SDMB material and Cecil columns
· Removing threads from inappropriate boards, placing them where they belong, and succinctly explaining why the decision was made
· Generally helping the experience here be positive and enjoyable – for both newbies and veterans.
Actions I personally feel moderators should not engage in:
· Playing favorites
· The flip side of the above: persecuting those you dislike
· Critiquing a poster’s argument

You can probably see a pattern developing here: I think moderators’ roles should be as minimalistic as possible in order to stay as neutral as possible. I don’t expect moderators to magically lose their bias - but I do expect moderators to be able to control them.

I realize, however, that my view is sorely at odds with the participation level of some moderators. I further realize that most moderators probably took the position because they like the board so much they wanted a more - not less - involved role in it.

So, moderators, what think you?
Dopers? Agree or disagree?

~ Complacency is far more dangerous than outrage ~

I obviously can’t say what the moderator’s response might be. But here’s mine.

The UBB software costs $170. Your ISP will install it on your web page for a small fee, probably around $200. Bandwidth is cheap. You can swap ads until you’re on your feet. I figure about 2 grand, all in.

So if you think you can find moderators uninteresting (and uninterested) enough to work under your conditions in exchange for coffee mugs, go for it. Otherwise, quitcherbitchin.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

STARK, this is not the way to get David B and Nickrz on your side :slight_smile:

Seriously, the mods here, especially David and Nick, were once members like us. They had, and still have, biases that they cannot lose. They shouldn’t say that their biases are those of the SD, and I don’t think any of them do that. IIRC, the moderators have a special sig that identifies them as such for “official” posts like closing/moving threads or whatever else they do for the SDMB. I think that they should be able to post their opinions as their own. Not playing favorites, just stating their feelings on the subject. “Trollish” behavior should be noted, and the threads deleted, if necessary. Pertinent links are already provided, by members and mods alike. And I’d say that since that fiasco earlier this summer and its fallout, it has been a fairly enjoyable experience, outside of the Pit.

My conclusion: Moderators should be involved with the workings of the board, but should post their opinions and beliefs in moderation.

I’m not picking on you, STARK, but everyone has had something to say about the moderators and their position around here. I guess I’ve been quiet too long. Don’t take it personally, I need all the friends I can get. :slight_smile:

(Note: I was logged off AOL while deciding whether to post this. Take from that what you will :slight_smile: )

“Of course, that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.”–Dennis Miller

Here’s the bottom line, though, STARK: none of the Moderators wants to give up the ability to post. We became Moderators because we enjoy these boards and enjoy posting to them.

Someone suggested that we post under a different screen name, but Ed squashed that for two good reasons:
(a) the whole point is that the Moderators NOT be computerized gizmos searching for naughty words, but people, who can interact with the teeming millions
(b) there’s enough paranoia out there as it is.

It’s usually pretty clear when we’re posting with our Official Hat on, and when we’re posting as mere mortal beings. (I guess this post is something of an exception, since I’m posting in my capacity as Moderator, but I’m adding comments that are very much Me-as-Person.)

I think, frankly, that we view our roles as more administrative than parliamentary. We’re not judges or chairpersons or coaches who should refrain from the debates; we’re more like the maids and janitors and security guards, who happen also to be participants. That’s my take.


As one that often finds oneself on the receiving end of the bias of one SDMB moderator in particular, of course, I very clearly see your points and agree with them all. I might guess that your witness of the tactics used against me and those that think like me provided the examples and impetus for your post.

There are others that over time have made the same points and suggestions that you have made. Each time, their valid, fair, and articulate suggestions have been quickly dismissed by those in charge. Some of those that believe as you have either left the board in disapointment and frustration, or they have severely curtailed their level of participation.

I won’t leave. I’ll continue to suffer those that are intimidated by a different point-of-view. I no longer expect any changes to be made. In fact, my criticisms have garnered me deletions and threats of expulsion. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you have received a “cease and desist” email for having brought up a topic that “stirs things up” (to quote one email that I received).

Hang in there Stark. The redeeming feature of this board is that there is a large collection of people with above-average intelligence, and that helps me to ignore the “Iron Curtain” handling and administration that we face.

Contestant #3

It’s not about you, C#3. That fact of the matter is that this board is run by the rules that they think work best. Their game, their ball, their playing field, their rules. What is so difficult about this concept? Nobody is forcing you to leave, but by the same token, you are not going to force them to change the rules to suit your needs.
Moderators and Moderatites, if I have mistated anything, feel free to correct as you see fit.


If we were guilty as charged, there would be no dissent on these boards and anyone that criticized us would simply vanish, never to be heard from again.

Let common sense and your own eyes be the judge.

your humble TubaDiva/SDStaffDiv
for the Straight Dope

You people would not believe how scared I was when I saw the number of replies (6) on the thread list. And then I scanned the names on the side of this thread. Yes, I almost screamed when I saw “Contestant #3:slight_smile:

If we were guilty as charged, there would be no dissent on these boards and anyone that criticized us would simply vanish, never to be heard from again. – TubaDiva[/q]

Not true, Diva, as I think you know. There would not necessarily be no dissent, just any effective dissent, like a conversational coup that a particular moderator wasn’t up to besting. The ‘charge’ being levelled isn’t one of indiscriminate purging, but of a lack of evenhandedness with regard to a specific viewpoint. And there are more ways to discriminate than merely deleting. A moderator can refuse the reasonable requests of one party to a dispute while fulfilling those of another.

Within this context, I was going to complain about what I took to be unfair treatment by DaveB in the “July, 1952” thread, where he deleted an insulting response I made to pldennison as a result of pld’s starting a gratuitous insultfest earlier in the thread. When I then requested that he remove all the insults back to Phil’s use of an epithet in my direction, he (DaveB) refused, and seemed to make quite a bit of doing so.

I was going to, but in reviewing the thread it appears he has gone in and deleted the posts in question. I’m assuming that he did so after reviewing his actions and deciding his initial refusal was wrong. If so, I congratulate him. Hell, I’ve even had a civil exchange with pldennison lately, so ya know anything’s possible.

However, Stark’s remarks are well-made. I would suggest that, if someone wants to be a moderator on one of the boards, that they agree not to involve themselves in threads where a controversy breaks out, except under the circumstances Stark suggests. If they find the need to express themselves irresistible, they should leave a breadcrumb message and move the thread to one of the boards they don’t moderate. GQ could be moved to GD and vice versa, it seems to me, since in real terms there’s little difference between them, and what there is, is not all that important.

Of course, there may be those who would still charge collusion between moderators, but somebody’s gotta do the job, and sometimes you can’t have egg in yer beer. However, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for Budweiser without asking the pubmeister what’s available. Rules may be rules, but rules can and do change to meet new situations.

Actually their is one moderator is is most often out of line. He will flame someone.

I read his posts and you can generally knock off the first two paragraphs which are just name calling and then he makes his point. Granted the point is usually correct but it isn’t proper for a moderator to use name calling.

Secondly a lot of mods I can see want to do was CA does. Call names. This CA guy is a writer, when he does it, it has a tendency to be funny. When most everyone else (mod or not does it, it is not funny.

Mods and Admins like it or not represent the Straight Dope and should be accountable for higher standards. No one is asking them to stifle their views but do it w/o childish name calling. If you can’t give up the job and go back to being a regular member.

Contestant says: << Each time, their valid, fair, and articulate suggestions have been quickly dismissed by those in charge >>

This is absolutely a falsehood. There has been nothing of “quickly dismissed” about it. There was been considerable debate amongst the Moderators and Administrators about these ideas, with some of us supporting and some not. Ed’s arguments were ultimately convincing, but I guarantee you there was nothing quick or dismissive about it.

Just because we chose to have our discussions quietly behind the scenes does not mean that there were no discussions. We had decided earlier (some of you will recall) that such discussions should be held quietly amongst the Moderators and not publicly.

And, yes, Markxxx, we agree that Moderators need to be held to a higher standard of behaviour than non-official posters.

See, if I were only a Moderator, I’d have to stop there. By being also a poster, I can add: Nonetheless, Con, please hang on to your illusions, I’d hate to think that reality might impinge.

I made several assertions in my post. Some of them were echoed by others. Dex picked but on one of my statments, and at that, he attempts to wiggle out on a technicality. Apparently the ONE WORD he objects to is “quickly”. He affirms that the suggestions were indeed dismissed. He doesn’t provide a timeframe, but rather refocuses upon volume…so I still assert that the dismissal was performed “quickly”.

The fact that he expounds on that one word within that one statment while witholding comment on the other statements I made is telling.

Contestant #3

Which just proves that a duck’s quack does indeed echo. :slight_smile:
As I have stated in so many of your topics, C3, facts are not something you get to vote on. If you have actual evidence of something, show it. Finding people who share your opinion is only proof that you’re not the only one who likes to plant seeds of dissent just to watch the havok that ensues.
To say that you want the Moderators to both keep their personal opinions off the boards and put their private arguments on the boards just show me what type of person you are.

C#3 said:

CKDextHavn responded:

To which I say: It’s a candy mint and a breath mint! One man’s perception of ‘quick dismissal’ is another’s ‘timely, reasoned discussion’. Since it’s a subjective judgment, it’s pointless to argue back and forth about it, unless someone can offer a specific time-frame to go by. If a jury goes out and comes back in with a verdict in 4 1/2 hours after a nearly yearlong trial, it may be fair to conclude something about their mindsets going into the jury room; if they take a couple of days, that’s something else. Since I came into the board very late in the whole brouhaha over whatever it was C#3 or Melin said or did, and don’t really know how much time was involved I’ll let that particular dog sleep.

However, CK, I would like to recommend you avoid the use of terms like ‘absolutely’ when possible, for the reasons just given, unless you assert something that is truly unassailable. I generally try to do the same, which may get me charged with being waffling or wishy-washy, but so be it.

You were doing fine, but then you seemingly had to blow it:

I hope you realize that, by stooping to impute that C#3 is somehow deluded, you’ve merely served to make his point, along with Stark’s, Markxxx’s, and mine (to a lesser extent). In a forum where, up that point, the postings have been refreshingly free of vituperation, your resort to it would seem to indicate a certain self-awareness of the insecurity of your position; not to mention cueing slythe, who of course must leap for the biscuit:

Pretty craven tactic, IMO: sort of like being in a press conference and calling out, “Senator, do you still molest your daughter? Oooo! Ooooo! ‘Just kidding!’” Your past behavior in regards to C#3 justifies a charge of hypocrisy and cowardice, after you fling an insult and then dare to hide behind a smiley face. I don’t recall seeing you respond to C#3 in any other thread with an insult followed by an iconagraph symbolizing humorous intent. That you would do so here, where the behavior of certain moderators has been called into question, is (as C#3 might say), telling.

You’re right about ‘facts’ not being a demographic; however, sir, it’s a fact that I don’t think you’d recognize a fact if it came up and tapped you on the shoulder. And it is equally a fact that C#3 is not alone in his perception that there is level of improper, immoderate behavior on the part of some ‘moderators’ going on, which calls for reasoned response from someone who can truly say they ‘speak for the board’.

As far as evidence goes, as I pointed out in my first post, there was what I considered to be real evidence of biased treatment, but the posts in question have subsequently been removed, and thus the reason for the complaint. But, as someone on another thread noted Stephen Jay Gould said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, especially when the allegation is that some posts have been deleted when equally offensive posts of opposing viewpoints have been sustained. It is for C#3 to cite the specific instances of his own maltreatment, as I believe he well could, if he saw any point to responding to you.

Some brass, coming from someone who’s typical behavior is to ‘hang’ in a troika with others who customarily ‘stalk’ the board for Contestant#3’s postings, only to start throwing conversational hand grenades from the get-go; and contribute little or nothing to the subject at hand, once your slurs have been cast. I’ve been posting to these boards for about 2 1/2 months now, and I’ve seen enough instances of that to know that C#3 isn’t just ranting when he complains about it.

Contestant#3 is an iconoclast, no doubt about that, and iconoclasts by their nature are going to get on people’s nerves. You, unfortunately, only seem intent on being his gadfly.

And distorting what someone has said to make it fit your own delusion is pretty revelatory of your character, as well. The basic complaint is that moderators should not indulge in arguments on the boards they themselves control since it will inevitably lead to charges of unfairness, and when it would be a simple matter to move the thread to a board the moderator doesn’t control.

As for private arguments – when the arguments concern the operation of a public forum which vaunts the reputation of being open to all who enter seeking information, enlightenment, and harmless entertainment, then to do so ‘behind closed doors’ is bound to strike some as smacking of the Star Chamber.

The moderaters are cool!
The Trolls/Swine are in rebellion!

<font size=6>Flog the Swine!
No mercy for Swine!</font>

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.–Walt Kelly

Dif, this is neither a publicly supported forum nor a forum that you have a financial interest in. This a privately owned forum that we have been invited to participate in. We have no say in what the moderators may or may not do/say. We are the guests at this party, and as such have the option of either getting in the party mood, or finding another party.
As far as my postings go, I tend to react to C#3’s postings of incredible but unproven claims, which are sometimes supported by nothing more than, “I heard it on Art Bell!”, by asking him for some sort of proof of said claim. May I suggest you go back and review what his reactions to this is before you criticise my posting patterns.

The fact that I chose to comment on one item in your post, Con#3, and to ignore obvious rhetoric and polemic drivel, means nothing whatsoever except that I chose to comment on only one item. No implications may be drawn from my silence, and certainly my silence does NOT in any way imply any agreement on my part with your soi-disant point of view.

The point that I did decide to comment on was the term “quickly dismissed.” You have chosen to reply that “quickly” is subjective – yes, I suppose. The choice of the loaded word “cur” compared the neutral word “dog” is probably subjective too, but the person who uses it knows its implications. The fact is that the term “quickly dismissed” implies little or no discussion, WHICH WAS NOT TRUE. There was considerable discussion, over many days.

Yes, DIF, I confess, I got a dig in at Con#3, it was a human failure on my part and I regret it. If the role of moderator WERE that of police, then I would feel bad about allowing my emotions to show when I feel someone is shitting on me and my colleagues. The police are supposed to sit there and take it. But, frankly, if the role of moderator is NOT that police, then I don’t mind that my annoyance shows thru from time to time.

If Con#3 can pretend that “quickly dismissed” is a neutral or subjective term, then I can say that “absolutely a falsehood” is also a neutral term. From the Latin:
Ab = lower stomach muscles
Sol = sun
Ute = Native American tribe

OK, I’m done. Someone asked about how Moderators view their role, and I thought that was a legit question and I responded. If this thread is only a pretext for more moderator bashing, then I have no interest in reading or responding any longer.

Tuba says " if we were guilty as charged there would be no dissent on the boards and everyone that criticized would vanish" Yeah, and then you would " moderate" empty space.

“Wet Floor” sign does not mean do it.

Hey Mr. CKDextHavn, mister administrator sir,

You might want to take the opportunity to re-read BOTH of my posts in this thread. I offer that advice because you seem to have gone “off the deep end” with your imagination of what I have written.

First of all Dex, you make reference to my posts as “obvious rhetoric and polemic drivel”…come again?..then you spew: “I would feel bad about allowing my emotions to show when I feel someone is shitting on me and my colleagues.”…huh?..nice use of scatalogical visuals, but where is the “shitting upon”?..then, you finish with “If this thread is only a pretext for more moderator bashing…”…what?..where did I BASH?..

Good folks of the SDMB, please carefully re-read my 2 posts in this thread. In fact, re-read ALL the posts in this thread especially the OP. A few of us have brought up legitimate complaints concerning the lack of proper behavior of some SDMB moderators and administrators.

I feel that the posts have been well written and free of flaming. In fact, the first several, including mine, did not even name names. I don’t see the “drivel”, the “shitting upon”, or any blatant “bashing”.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that emotional outbursts toward the members like the ones displayed by Mr. Havn in this thread are indicitive of the type of behavior that we don’t expect from the ones in charge. The OP by STARK is true and should be internalized and acted upon by those holding the SDMB “power”.

Contestant #3

Well writtten and accurate, 3. I see the poop but it wasn’t from you.

“Wet Floor” sign does not mean do it.