Are there any standards of neutrality for modding?

There are some topics where modding seems to be very one sided.

Do mods recuse themselves from modding debates they have strong feelings about? I have only really witnessed this sort of bias in Israel threads but I suppose it might exist in others as well.

Offhand I can’t think of a time I recused myself from modding a particular topic, no. That doesn’t seem very practical. I can think of situations where I recused myself from specific threads based on my participation in them, and sometimes individual mods will recuse themselves from a discussion of a poster for similar reasons.

One of the problems is the timing. A mod who is involved in a discussion will see an infraction (probably) sooner than other mods. We’re not on 24/7, so if a mod sees an infraction, they act on it, and usually as quickly as possible. The process of emailing a buncha other mods to say, “Gee, I’m involved in this discussion, can you come in and read the four preceding pages and then Warn the guy for personal insult…” just takes too much time and energy. Most of the situations (96.4% of the time) in works just fine. In the 2.5% of cases where the mod is deeply involved and doesn’t make the right decision, correction is made within 3.6 days. (I don’t know what happened to the other 1.1%, must be rounding error.)

Based on the number of Reported posts, the number of reporting posters, and the sorts of posts that are Reported in threads regarding Israel, it is pretty clear that posters from every viewpoint think that we are “favoring” the “other side.”

There will never be an agreement that we are being neutral until Israel and the Palestinians negotiate a lasting peace. Until then, a significant number of posters will insist that we are letting “the other guys” get away with murder while applying harshest scrutiny to their own posts.
It should be noted that for any poster who has reported three or more posts, more than one poster has reported them, as well.

I will not claim that we have been successful in all our efforts, but we are making a sincere effort in the midst of a very emotional situation.

You mean 0.1 + 0.999…

What Tom said. In the vast majority of he said/she said threads in Great Debates I get messages accusing me of favoring ‘the other side’ when, honestly, I don’t really give a damn about the issue at hand. I just try to act as recess monitor and hope for the best.

Math is for people who can’t afford a calculator. Mods get the big bucks, they can easily afford a calculator.

Sure, I get that. I don’t even think mods are even aware of their bias but just do a quick headcount on how many warnings are issue to either side, my impression is that this is not even close to being equal.

For example in this thread:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=17609765#post17609765

The mod blows the whistle and tells EVERYONE to simmer down.

In Post 2 Shodan implies that Israel critics are gullible assholes, which is probably moddable in its own right.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=17600668&postcount=2

Then he directs that insult at Pjen in post 17.

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=17600923&postcount=17

Still no response from the mod.

Then in post 19 Alessan says: “I suggest you don’t say those words in the same room as an Israeli.”

and Pjen responds by saying: “Why? Might he come over and demolish my house as a punishment and kill my family. Are they all that dangerous?”

and Pjen get a warning. in post 54.

In post 88, Ibn Warraq says:

“You’re the one who stupidly brought up the idea that people who’ve been ethnically cleansed have a “right of return”.”

In Post 111, I say to Ibn Warraq regarding his strawmanning:

"Its usually when you put words in people’s mouths and you tend to do it a lot. "

And then the mod tweets the whistle again and calls foul on everyone as if everyone is equally culpable.

This is not uncommon in israel threads. Critic of Israel does something that might be moddable and they get a warning. Israel apologist does something moddable and nothing ahppens until a critic of Israel responds and then EVERYONE gets modded.

I don’t think its intentional but unpopular positions seem to get modded more than others.

I think many mods do manage to mod these sort of threads neutrally (tomndebb, I think you are the best mod for Israel threads, but there is one mod in particular who has been horrible in israel threads (I’m not talking about Jonathan Chance) and it seems like there is a bias generally against unpopular positions)

We don’t issue moderate on the basis of “sides,” though. It makes sense to do that if both sides are acting up to an approximately equal degree, but unless the offenses are balanced, the moderation shouldn’t be either.

Then how do you explain the moderation in this particular thread? If the modding in this thread was representative of modding on a lot of israel threads, do you think there is a problem? Or do you think that there is some evidence of bias?

I can go back for years and the pattern repeats itself, not in all israel threads but I have not noticed this sort of one sided bias on other topics (maaaaybe abortion, but I’m on the 'favored" side of that debate, so I might not notice it as much as a pro-lifer).

Israel thread starts, Israel critics attack Israel, Israel apologists respond by attacking Israel critics and there is no modding. Then israel critics respond in kind to the Israel apologists and then the mods step in to warn the Israel critics or to mod everyone as if everyone is equally at fault.

I agree the “asshole” comment is borderline at best, and I assume the mods let it go without comment because it was not overtly directed at any poster. My experience with modding threads about Israel and Palestine is that both sides will accuse you of bias on a regular basis, which is typical of the arguments over terminology that go hand in hand with arguments about that entire situation.

I’ve tried to be the referee in that thread (and thanks, guys) and Marley is right, there’s no way to do it that won’t have both sides making accusations of bias. The emotional level of the arguments makes it impossible.

I might point out though, that the usage of the phrase “Israel critics” is not balanced by the use of “Israel apologists”. It’s that sort of terminology issues that make moderating such threads such a joy.

But then when Shodan directed it Pjen in post 17, there was still no action.

Later on when Pjen made a comment that was not directed at anyone at all, he was given a warning.

Does apologist have a negative connotation? Am I using it incorrectly?

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=apologist+definition&gbv=2&oq=apologist+definition&gs_l=heirloom-hp.3..0l3j0i22i10i30j0i22i30l6.1045.3541.0.3775.20.15.0.0.0.0.218.1949.0j10j2.12.0....0...1ac.1.34.heirloom-hp..8.12.1949.Zb5pvN-booo

http://www.bing.com/search?q=apologist+definition&qs=n&form=QBRE&pq=apologist+definition&sc=8-9&sp=-1&sk=&ghc=1&cvid=347d8b818e2648189573c242bce2a5b4

This sort of unbalanced modding has a chilling effect. I stayed away from Israel threads (more or less) for years because of the bias in modding those threads. You are discouraging people from taking one side of the argument and consequently you have a robust well populated defense of israel with one or two critics at a time getting shouted down by the apologists, or being nitpicked to death by them. That seems antithetical to the purpose of great debates.

If its difficult to keep track of all the israel debates, perhaps all israel debates should be merged. Its the same group of people in all of the threads and no matter where the thread starts out by the second or third page, the threads start to become interchangeable.

Perhaps this will make it easier and you will notice when someone calls another post a gullible asshole or when someone consistently adds unnecessary and insulting adjectives to describe other people’s posts.

Looking back and reading that thread, can you honestly say that the correct result is one warning for Pjen (the Isael critic) and a universal condemnation for both sides?

I do think Shodan’s second post was directed at Pjen, and possibly Jonathan Chance didn’t interpret it that way. But I don’t think you can argue that there’s any kind of chilling effect in play when there’s such a proliferation of threads about this subject - there are so many right now that it can be confusing, and if they were all merged the thread would be about 40 pages. And Israel/Palestine has been a regular subject of debate in GD for as long as I can remember, with more than one or two people on each side.

Just chiming in here to offer the opinion that yes, it does. The definition is technically neutral, but in practice it tends to get flung out only as a pejorative - it tends to get used in same breath as “useful idiot.” I’ve had Islamic/Muslim apologist tossed at me a time or two on these boards and I can assure you it wasn’t meant as a compliment to my bold defense of the controversial ;). It is generally taken to mean “someone who is inappropriately apologizing for someone/something bad” whether the dictionary agrees with that notion or not.

ETA: By the way the real reason to avoid the Israel/Palestinian threads is not biased moderation, but the simpler fact that they never go anywhere and will just give you a headache. That’s why I try to avoid them, anyway :).

Sorry, the phrases exactly balance.

See, this is why we can’t have nice things in the English language. :slight_smile:

All too true. This is why I advocate annexing Afghanistan as the 51rst state and in the interest of easing the process politically, force every American to adopt Pashtun and/or Dari and abandon all English within ten years on pain of harsh penalties. It’s the solution to everything :). Afghans get access to federal benefits and we get a cheap supply of opium - win-win!

Everyone will have to convert to Manichaeism though, just to keep some things fairly neutral.

I’ve been repeatedly called an “apologist” for Islam and occasionally for Israel and it’s always rather clearly meant as an insult. To claim it’s not is simply not credible.