Unclear moderator instructions

This is not the first time I’ve complained about this.

Here is the moderator instruction in question:

It didn’t quote or respond to a particular post. AFAICT, no one called anyone racist in the thread up to that point. I asked for clarification, and I PM’d the mod in question, with no reply and no clarification. I gave it a few days, but there’s been no response. ISTM that the line of discussion I was having, which seemed to me like a good and thoughtful one, was ground to a halt because of this unclear instruction.

Request moderator instructions be clear, and when they aren’t, request mods try and clarify in a reasonable time frame.

Is there a link to the post in question?

Click on the arrow next to JCs name to go to his post.

On some browsers/themes/devices that arrow either does not show up or is extremely difficult to even see. Here is the link.


It’s a general note, to everybody in a thread. It doesn’t specify any specific individual. Deliberately so. That is standard moderator action when there have been several different people in a thread coming close to the line.

Which posts were approaching the line, and what line? The discussion halted because I (and presumably others) had no idea which posts were close to the edge of any rules.

The topic of that particular debate does not attract me. I have no interest in wading through it looking for examples. And if I did, it would probably be classed as junior moderating.

I’m just commenting on what it means when a moderator issues a general instruction without specifying individuals at fault. There have been numerous examples of it in the past, enough to know the meaning without examining this particular instance.

If you’re not willing to look at the thread, then I don’t think this is helpful. Sometimes general instructions are clear. IMO, this one was not, not at all. It is not at all clear what I or any posters were doing wrong in that thread.

No, it wouldn’t. We talk about what we think are and aren’t rule violations in ATMB. If that becomes junior modding, ATMB has little utility.

It seemed pretty clear to me. Looking at the thread before the warning was issued, I see a discussion about police reform. The topics mentioned are things like unions and political ideology and outside agitators and public image.

But some people were talking about white power and black culture. And that’s the “racist aspects” that Jonathan Chance was talking about.

I have read a couple of dozen posts leading up to the mod note. The argument seemed to me to be this: on one side, a poster saying that Black people and culture are largely responsible for their own problems, and on the other side, other posters saying it is oppression that is the problem.

The problem is that it is pretty difficult to maintain the first position without skating close to the line of actually making racist posts; maybe that is what the moderator was trying to avoid. Maybe the moderator didn’t want to make the situation worse by naming that one individual who seemed to be the only one among the posts I read who was defending that view. The note was ambiguous; maybe there was no good way to clarify the problem. But I can see why it would be frustrating for at least one poster.

Sideline remarks: I don’t think it was that productive a discussion, frankly, although I did think iiandyiiii made some well-reasoned arguments. The problem, as it so often is with that poster, is that he feels the need to keep at it, trying to persuade someone that they are wrong and get them to admit it and recant in the thread. This is why he can’t resist interacting with trolls (I am not accusing anyone in that thread of being a troll). And when has it ever worked? Never, is when.

[Cue the neverending argument about how we can’t let wrong assertions stand unchallenged for the sake of all those people who aren’t capable of thinking for themselves.]

ETA: your criticism of unclear moderator instructions notwithstanding…

Good and thoughtful perhaps, but still off-topic in my opinion. FlikTheBlue originally created a topic about, basically, what reforms are appropriate in Minneapolis in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death. Police and protest reforms are the particular focus. Why wouldn’t these reforms work? That’s the basis of discussion.

Much of the thread is (was) a hijack by split p&j & others about whether Mr. Floyd’s death was personal or racist in nature. This is clearly off-topic because the original post specifically requested that participants refrain from that debate.

Your line of discussion culimates with Chingon’s “So why do you think black people just don’t fix themselves?” Somehow the topic has drifted from debate over specific police reforms to debate over whether systemic racism exists or should be addressed in the black community. There has been another hijack.

I’ll help you out and identify the exact post where this particular hijack occurred. Look at [POST=22334660]#150 by thickpancreas[/POST]. This particular post is not exactly a hijack, because whatever the veracity, the opinion that police and protest reforms are inadequate is on-topic. Let’s look at it:

Basically says, it is folly to try and solve the underlying problems by reforming police because the problems come from “the state of the black family”. This argument is actually on-topic, it is a direct answer to the original post. To dispute the premise - that the underlying problems come from the state of the black family - is decidely off-topic. Even split p&j [POST=22336912]realized[/POST] that to dispute thickpancreas’s rationale would be a hijack.

k9bfriender responds with what I see as basically, “I disagree, there’s a lot wrong with that.” But I wouldn’t say this post is a hijack because they didn’t go into the weeds - yet. To disagree with an on-topic argument is still on-topic.

And so we see that the hijack occurs right here, in Kearson1’s [POST=22337188]reply to k9bfriender[/POST]. Kearson1 goes into the weeds, thereby abandoning the topic of the thread, and starts a whole new debate over whether the underlying problems are in fact rooted in black culture. This is the sub-discussion you were making progress in, and unfortunately, I think it was a hijack better suited for another thread.


If it was a hijack, a note indicating this as a hijack would have been fine with me. My criticism is about unclear moderator instructions – it seems clear to me that the note wasn’t about a hijack.

I can get behind that.


I am wholly sympathetic if Jonathan Chance hasn’t had the time to clarify, and also that the moderators have to deal with server errors like everyone else, but if this is a regular occurance and the root of problems is time dedication, I am left wondering why we don’t recruit more moderators.


Because they’d have to learn the current software, and then shortly have to learn new software.
…was the *last *excuse we heard, IIRC.

You could just take the Note at face value.

I have no trouble identifying the “racist aspects” and since I’m a white man in my forties that takes some doing.

Still waiting for a mod to chime in on this…

Still waiting…

I understand the mods are surely busy with the new site, but this thread (and my question) were put forward over a week before the transition, with not even an acknowledgement by the staff. Could a mod at least let me know if I can expect any response, even if it might take a while?