Continuing the discussion from Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what’s the best way to add younger members?:
Having content disappear without any explanation doesn’t educate anyone as to what happened. But on the other hand, if it’s a drive-by user with a low-effort troll, perhaps a quick delete is all that is necessary? The moderation effort should be commensurate with the situation.
There’s also the “criticize in private, praise in public” concept. I think the way to walk this line is to be critical of the discussion, pointing out when the discussion isn’t going in a productive direction.
I definitely agree that letting moderation discussion take over a topic is never a good idea. But I also feel that a quick mod note (which can be applied as an annotation on the top of the post, or as a special standalone post in the topic) acts as a nice signpost and reminder to keep things on topic, be civil, etc.
I can definitely say that, in my experience, it’s never a good idea for a mod to get into a back and forth argument on a topic. Nobody wants to deal with “rules lawyering”. There is the #about-this-message-board area for moderation discussions, and at a minimum you’d want to use the split topic functionality to split out these kinds of digressions so they don’t take over the topic. I hesitate to say PM, because staff have enough on their plates without having to defend their every choice in personal messages…
Should moderator actions be in public or in private?
Moderation should be mostly private – but a robust discussion of moderation strategies and decisions in a separate area is very healthy for a community in my experience.