[DIS] [FORUM] Moderation Method

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MODERATOR'S NOTE: This thread was split from another recent one which became too off-topic. The issue in question here was whether I should forcibly remove posts made by a dummy account warning users away from RetroDan's website.

I am taking a neutral stance on the issue. However, I do want feedback on my moderation style - what do you think I should do when problems arise? I do not believe that blindly deleting posts that others do not agree with is the answer. Solving the root of the problem is always better than trying to just sweep it under the carpet.

Discuss here to avoid fouling the other topics. End Note.

Depends on what others think. I don't want to mess with people's posts too much - just because I am now a moderator does not give me the right to decide if someone may express their true opinion. You'll notice I've only directly removed posts so far that have been true trolls (nothing but unwarranted abuse) and not the ones where someone has expressed their opinion. I have asked the real owner of the MOM account to remove the posts volentarily, and have recieved no reply.

I'm new to this game. What's the concensus on this? My PM box and email account is always open for those who wish to speak privately...

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

Last Edited: Sat. Apr 15, 2006 - 01:05 AM
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Thanks Dean.

I guess my personal confusion lies between idea of a Tutorial and Open Forum.

As an open "Forum" I think most non-abusive posts are quite alright.

But if someone (and I don't mean only me) takes time to put together a nice useful tutorial, should OTs and such be allowed to ruin it?

If it were my area (but its not). I would severely limit [TUT] posts to only useful OT comment because newbies go there for instructions, How To's, etc. and I don't think they want to be bothered with a lot of other 'junk'.

On the other-hand I think Forums marked as [DIS] are open to free discussions and opinions on a topic.

As a general rule-of-thumb I would check if negative posts are about the topic-at-hand in which case you may have to think carefully about removing them. But if they are just "personal attacks" on the OP then removed them immediately. Also if any comments from OP are 'personal' as well. Those are what usually ignite huge flamewars, when someone turns a legitamate topic into "personal" war.

I think this in general is where I am constantly getting myself in trouble. If someone wants to criticize a valid TOPIC or PROGRAM or ROUTINE you'll notice I have no problem debating on that level. However, when people start taking "personal" cheap-shot I lose all control, even when they're not directed at me, and especially if it's some poor newbie. However, after discussing this issue with Moderator-Sean I have tried to severly limit doing that.

Those are my thoughts however it's your area to run as you see fit. I still think you are the best moderator here by far so please don't take any of my comments as criticism in any way.

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Not that I am on RetroDan's side but he did state my position exactly.

If a thread is a tutorial and has the [TUT] in the subject then remove any OT messages. Maybe Dean and the author of the tutorial could determine what is an off topic.

Maybe the first post in a [TUT] thread should have the "was this helpful" voting mechanism. And maybe start a [DIS] thread for the each tutorial to allow people to explain their vote if they care to.

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Why not use the PHPBB's inbuilt voting mechanisms? Each non-DIS post could have a poll on it of "Article Rating:", rated from 1 (Lowest) to 5 (Highest). It would make seeing the general concensus on an article much easier.

Doing so will take some time, as I will have to go through every post made so far. Can I get some votes it (hehe) for or against it?

EDIT: Did a test. Aside from the ugly "[POLL]" prefix to all the articles, using the inbuilt poll forces the user to submit their opinion (or at least click the "view results" link) to see the results. Hmm.

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Rather than the "POLL" method of determining a useful post, would it be possible to sort the list by number of views?

While not as accurate, at least it provides a rough indication of interest.

Or you could ask the Admin to change the ugly "POLL:" indicator to something less obtrusive like an "?"

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RetroDan,

Viewing is not an accurate method of usefulness.

I view tons of stuff but, rarely download the material. And, of that which I do download, I might only actually use 10%.

A poll will most likelt reflect the true usefulness of the information.

And, if off topic noise is a problem, why not submit the tutorial in the form of a PDF. The PDF tutorial would be located in the first posting. Further postings, valued content or noise, could be parsed. If you (the original poster) find something useful to add to the content of your tutorial, you could always incorporate that new information into the PDF file - with due credit, of course. This way, the off topic noise stays in the thread and the quality of the tutorial is continually improved.

Personally, I wouldn't consider any thread in itself a tutorial because, frankly, there are just too many distractions introduced into the information stream.

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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microcarl wrote:
And, if off topic noise is a problem, why not submit the tutorial in the form of a PDF...

Thanks for the suggestion Carl. However, I hate to admit that I despise bloated PDF files with a passion. I am however experimenting with locating Tutorial Off-Site where ugly comments can be removed immediately. Personally, I would have much rather kept them here though.

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Hello,

Quote:
. You'll notice I've only directly removed posts so far that have been true trolls (nothing but unwarranted abuse) and not the ones where someone has expressed their opinion.

I tend to assume the best form of moderating is done with words and not tools. I will rarely remove abusive posts unless they are possibly illegal, or true trolls. By "true" I mean that someone is just posting messages to get a reaction and doesn't know AVRFreaks.net otherwise.

I do not consider posts by real members trolls most of the time, as these people have proven that they are part of the AVRFreaks.net community. If they wish to disagree (even vocally) with a topic they are free to do so, although often I'll split the topic and move it to the OT forum. They posted the message, and wish to stand-by this message with their name.

That is their decision, not mine. And it's not my problem to make sure no one gets offended in the world.

Also - shouldn't this whole thread be in the AVRFreaks.net forum? I don't understand the point of having discussions in this forum, isn't that what regular fourms are for?

Warm Regards,

-Colin

PS: If it makes any more sense about my position on moderating: I don't like seeing anyone having an excessive amount of power (maybe thats a bit of anarchy?). This includes myself - which is why I don't like moderating in a way that censors anyone.

As well I do *not* have moderator access to AVRFreaks.net forum, so if you have a problem with my moderation you can be sure of a safe harbor on that forum ;-)

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My own personal belief is that a moderator should "moderate", ie: keep-the-peace and create a friendly environment. However, that's only my own personal opinion and is in no way a criticism. This board is better than most I have seen.

However, may I very politely point-out that we've wandered a little from the original point of whether posts labeled as [TUT]orials should be treated as totally open forums. The point being that they act as an introduction for beginners and ugly off-topic posts probably give the newbie a bad impression right-off-the-bat of the entire Freaks community; and you only get that one chance to make a first impression.

Assuming that we stay on-topic, then this is the right place for such a discussion as it does not concern the entire Freaks.net, just the [TUT]orial posts.

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Quote:
My own personal belief is that a moderator should "moderate", ie: keep-the-peace and create a friendly environment.

My only fear is that by keeping the peace arguments can often be made worse. Then someone says you're siding with one side, etc. Getting involved in others conflicts rarely ends well. I'd make a jab at the US here, but there's more important things to do ;-)

This is usually why I encourage continuing the flame wars in the off-topic forum or by e-mail, and lock the original thread. Whoever was involved in it is free to start again, and the community can view how people acted in the past.

Quote:
Assuming that we stay on-topic, then this is the right place for such a discussion as it does not concern the entire Freaks.net, just the [TUT]orial posts.

Ahh... I was basing it on the title, "Moderation Method". Although even though IMHO it still could be an AVRFreaks.net forum post. In general any "problems" with forums are encouraged to be discussed there, simply because it ensures all members of AVRFreaks.net will read them. Some people who are not looking for a tutorial might not come on this forum right now.

And the point of seperate forums isn't to create distinct and seperate "universes", AVRFreaks.net is one common AVR universe!

Quote:
However, when people start taking "personal" cheap-shot I lose all control, even when they're not directed at me, and especially if it's some poor newbie.

There is a saying "never attribute to mallice what can be explained by stupidity", which in online forums needs to be extended to "never attribute to mallice what can be explained by poor english, having a bad day, or a poorly-judged joke". Although sometimes they are just cheap shots, most of the times they are one of those.

A while ago some guy claimed he was going to sue me because I commented on his software (threads on AVRFreaks somewhere). Last I heard he was "preparing the court case against me", oddly enough I never heard anything back from him. Though all the really funny stuff was sent to me over PM, so some of the hilarity isn't posted.

Quote:
If a thread is a tutorial and has the [TUT] in the subject then remove any OT messages. Maybe Dean and the author of the tutorial could determine what is an off topic.

Maybe the first post in a [TUT] thread should have the "was this helpful" voting mechanism. And maybe start a [DIS] thread for the each tutorial to allow people to explain their vote if they care to.

So if you have a question about a tutorial, do you start a new thread? Then how can you only search tutorials by selecting this forum without getting the discussions too? You can specify the [TUT] message tag and hope they don't mention that in the discussion in a link or something...

I just don't see where you need a seperate discussion for a tutorial. If you have a question after reading the tutorial it seems likely that it's either a wording issue (PM author) or a problem understanding some part of the AVR.

If you don't understand something about the AVR then the AVR Forum seems like the place to ask such a question. If you had a question after reading the datasheet, you would post to the AVR Forum. If you can't understand an example posted on someone's website, you'd put a question in the AVR Forum. And if you have a problem understanding after reading a tutorial... wouldn't it make sense to post where more people will see it?

If you have a SPECIFIC question about a tutorial, then it makes sense to me to put this in with the tutorial to me. Otherwise people will keep asking the same question about the tutorial likely, as people won't see it's been asked before. The OP can go back and edit his original posts if needed. Now if this question is asked in a seperate thread, the OP might not read it, and hence will not fix his tutorial. Now someone else who is familiar with the subject answers the question, and the person who was confused is happy :D Reader 2 comes along and has the same problem, so posts a new discussion.... etc...

People move, people stop caring about the AVR, and forget about their tutorials. To me it seems very likely that if there is a problem with a tutorial someone who is not the author will explain the confusion, hence creating the situation I just mentioned.

This is how the Academy forum is supposed to work - it's not a forum for discussing general problems with code found in the Academy (how does this timer work?). It's a forum for SPECIFIC problems with the academy projects, new projects released, discussion ABOUT a project, etc.

It would be great if the Academy forum linked discussions to the project, so from the project you could see discussion about it.

We've got a chance to do this with the AVR Tutorial forum. Creating seperate "discussion" tags IMHO fragments this again. You could request that people link in the FP from each thread, but this will create far too many threads and the links may not work against a massive DB change. Old AVRFreaks.net links are broken to the forum since AVRFreaks changed a while ago to phpBB2.

Furthurmore - you'll be busy removing "OT" posts I'm sure. Even with clearly labeled forums there are a fair amount of topics posted in the wrong forum. I can't imagine people respecting the "don't use this forum as a forum" tag that TUT is.

Warm Regards,

-Colin O'Flynn

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PDFs for tutorials isn't a bad idea but would need to include some keywords in the subject or thread body so it could be found with the Forum search.

Like RetroDan, I would like [TUT] threads to be free of off-topic posts. If somebody really wants to discuss then move it the [DIS] thread. Then if the OP decides it is an improvement then let them add it to [TUT] thread. Hopefully this would stop or slow down some of the knee-jerk reaction posting and keep the tutorial thread focused.

Let anarchy rule in the other forums and any thread in here that isn't strictly a tutorial.

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Quote:
I tend to assume the best form of moderating is done with words and not tools.

Exactly my thoughts and exactly how i'm handling it at the moment. I'm taking the view that blindly deleting comments is a bad idea, and it is better to reach a solution/compromise between the two (or more) parties. It's been working so far, and i've managed to encourage people to remove abuse, death threats, accusations and the like without ever needing the "Delete" button.

As for this thread, no specific topic apart from how I should moderate. Discuss at will.

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Dean wrote:
As for this thread, no specific topic apart from how I should moderate. Discuss at will.

There has to be some sanction. Otherwise what are you going to do - say "Stop it, or I'll say Stop it again!" In any community you always have neighbors who don't get along, but people limit their conduct because if they don't, the community will do something about it up to and including calling the cops. You're the cops here, Dean. Just like a sensible cop won't arrest people until actual harm is done, so you keep your big gun (banning users) in its holster, but people have to know it's there and you'll use it if you need to. Moderate like a nice Australian cop, not like one of ours (when it makes the evening news if a suspect is taken alive). On deleting posts, I think you should take a fairly narrow attitude in this particular forum and delete anything off-topic to the tutorial - anything that doesn't include a technical point or ask a technical question. Maybe the system allows you to delete part of a message.

In the particular case of Retro Dan (sorry to get personal, Dan) there are obviously people here who don't like him at all, for whatever reason - that's their business. For my personal opinion, I think he's interesting and has a lot of useful knowledge, but that's my business. As a member of the community, I say we don't need a neighborhood association to enforce conformity; we just need a moderator to prevent abuse.

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 death threats,

DEATH THEATS!!!?!?!

It would be nice if their was some kind of warning system...you notify the User by PM that he/she is causing trouble. Then, put a publicly viewable warning on the user lke: [=red]Warned[]...then limiting the amount of posts ect. ect.

But really, DEATH THREATS!?!?!?!


My AVR Site

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Well as much as "I wish you were dead RetroDan" or "Drop dead RetroDan" constitute death threats :).

I do not have the power to delete users, nor do I think that it is nessesary for me to have it - I can always ask the owners to do so if someone becomes a significant problem. Make no mistake I will delete your posts if you misbehave - or don't play by the rules - but I try to resolve situations peacefully as much as possible before I do that. Deleting the problem does nothing for the cause.

Off-topic threads here are either deleted outright or moved with no shadow topic. The stickies clearly state what this forum is for (if it doesn't, please alert me so I can reword it) and anyone who wishes to ignore the "PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING" stickies do not deserve to have me move it to the correct forum. As for off-topic posts, if the concensus is that they are to be removed I will do so from now on.

As always my PM and email account is always open for those who wish to speak in private.

Cheers!
- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Quote:
anyone who wishes to ignore the "PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING" stickies do not deserve to have me move it to the correct forum. As for off-topic posts, if the concensus is that they are to be removed I will do so from now on.

I *highly* recommend against deleting posts like that. The reason is that the user has no indication they were deleted, and will likely post them again.

However moving thread puts a "moved" note in it, so they can get the idea of where they are supposed to be doing this. The only case I've deleted posts that weren't in the proper fourm is where it's cross-posted, and already answered it one forum.

I think you're going to end up seeing a lot of OT posts if the other forums are any indication.

Regards,

-Colin

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Hmm, point taken. I have nuked a few extreamly short and undescriptive "please help me" threads in the past, and they havn't reappeared. I usually move any off-topic threads that worth moving (read: longer than one sentence and does not consist of "my AVR doesn't work help me pls") to the other forums, but I refuse to leave a shadow topic. Leaving the shadow topic will mess with my tag search scheme (see sticky about searching in this forum) and I don't want clutter.

Moderating here has been a learning experience for me. I already moderate a few places (one being the largest source code website on the internet) but working out the dos and don'ts for a large user-base forum discussions is an eye-opener. I'm new at this, so if I make stupid judgements or silly mistakes, tell me but don't condem me just yet ;).

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Hey,

Yeah the short ones rarely come back!

Out of interest though, how does the moved shadow screw up the searching? Most of the time you are specifying a tag anyway, so the unnamed topic wouldn't come up.

Although shadow topics don't even appear in the forum search anyway. As a test there is a message with an [AJU] tag in the AVR forum I moved to the OT forum. Searching [AJU] in the AVR Fourm yields nothing, searching all fourms only yields the OT forum as a hit.

Quote:
I make stupid judgements or silly mistakes, tell me but don't condem me just yet Wink

This is mostly IMO stuff anyway, so hard for anyone to be correct ;-)

Regards,

-Colin

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Shadow topics, I believe, are searchable just like any other topic. In theory here it is possible to search by subject only with a few key words, and find all the relevant articles. Yes it's true that in 99% of cases searches would be refined by the use of tags (kudos to whoever suggested that idea, I think it's a brilliant one) however subject searches for "STK500" should still return all relevant results rather than shadows. That, and I hate the idea of 1000 "MOVED:" topics cluttering up my shiny new forum ;).

Quote:
This is mostly IMO stuff anyway, so hard for anyone to be correct Wink

You wouldn't believe the PMs I got after the RetroDan/RickB (and RetroDan in general) confrontation. I didn't have any idea while sorting it out that so many people would commend my actions :D. I'm happy that all the PMs so far have been positive, but i'm prepared to eventually get the negatives. Moderation is a fickle job and if moderating here is anything like moderating at the other sites I manage, then it's impossible to please everyone!

- Dean :twisted:

Make Atmel Studio better with my free extensions. Open source and feedback welcome!

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Quote:
Shadow topics, I believe, are searchable just like any other topic.

No they don't - thats what I was trying to test / say in my previous post. Search for [AJU] and it only appears in the OT forum, even though I moved it from the AVR Forum and there was a shadow topic.

My concern is that the point of AVRFreaks.net is to help users get their questions answered. If their questions disappear, and it's their first post, they may think the database screwed up or just give up.

With a forum name like "Tutorials" too it seems fairly likely to get newbie posts here, who honest might not have seen the sticky's. Even though they are on top, sometimes you miss the things that are most obvious because you don't expect it to be that easy ;-)

Regards,

-Colin

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While there might be a few out there spouting "Freedom of Speech" blah, blah blah! I truely believe there is a mostly silent majority that would much rather see a well-organized, cleaned up Forum, that is well maintained and to heck with all the OT posts, rude comments, and personal attacks.

I don't think that cluttering up such a well-run Forum as this, needs to be ruined with a bunch of "MOVED:" threads either. I agree with Dean - Delete the darn things without guilt. However, if they seem to have been important issues, or re-appear, perhaps a nice polite Private Message to the Original Poster would be in order to point them in the right direction.

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Change the "PLEASE READ BEFORE POSTING" to PLEASE DO NOT READ BEFORE POSTING".....it works wonders :wink:


My AVR Site

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My two cents..

Nothing should be posted into the tutorial forum until it is a stable example. The [dis] tag is just asking for noise. There should be no need for a [tut] tag in the tutorial forum.
Also, editing previous posts is incredibly disruptive to the reader, unless the member clearly states what has changed and why. A thread should be a timeline, and the excessive editing I have noticed has been detrimental to the clarity of the forum.

I would like to see the tutorial forum as a slightly more relaxed version of the academy. I'd like to see ideas and concepts thrashed out in the main forum, and then the final result moved into the tutorial section once it has settled out (perhaps when the moderator considers a concensus has been reached). There can still be useful dialog in the tutorial forum, but it would be more focused.
I have seen ideas and algorithms delevoping here which are very exciting, but they are not complete enough to be considered tutorials quite yet, and could be confusing to a newcomer.

There are as many opinions as there are members of this forum, and so mine can be weighted appropriately. I didn't wish to be lumped into the 'silent majority' category hence I have expressed my views. I hope they contribute in some way to the greater good of the fine members here. You are a great bunch of people, and I am proud to be part of this community.
AVRs Clock!

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Quote:
. . .editing previous posts is incredibly disruptive to the reader, unless the member clearly states what has changed and why. A thread should be a timeline, and the excessive editing I have noticed has been detrimental to the clarity of the forum.

May I very politely point-out that I don't consider a tutorial as a typical historical thread. If you have ever taken the time to develop a tutorial, you'd understand that you are going to want to go back and "polish" and improve your tutorial over time as any written document should. Imagine books that were published in their first draft form and only errata and addendums tacked to end?

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I agree with what RetroDan is saying. Some seem to be suggesting what we already have with the academy section.

I would suggest that if at all possible the tutorial should be held in the first post, the second post should track revisions. In other words every time the author adds a revision. A date and time stamp. And a one line description of the changes made. The rest of the post should be problems, questions, suggestions of improvement, etc.

Aaron

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RetroDan wrote:
May I very politely point-out that I don't consider a tutorial as a typical historical thread. If you have ever taken the time to develop a tutorial, you'd understand that you are going to want to go back and "polish" and improve your tutorial over time as any written document should. Imagine books that were published in their first draft form and only errata and addendums tacked to end?

Personally I'd vote for tutorials being in the first post of a thread (without exception) as a .PDF file. If later suggestions/improvements are made the PDF is updated and a revision history is added to the first post. Any subsequent posts in the thread would be from thirdy parties to add suggestions, make corrections and point out omissions, perhaps even debate about whether a suggestion is valid or not or whatever.

This keeps things neat and tidy and the person who comes along nine months later wondering "how do I do that?" can ignore everything but the first post, download the PDF and go away and enjoy it not caring how it got to be in it's current, well polished state.

(if you think about it, this is pretty much exactly how the academy works except that the "valuable item" is a ZIP file in the academy download section rather than a PDF embedded in the first post)

In fact maybe that's how tutorials really should operate - a library of PDFs just like the library of ZIPs in the academy - a bit like a "bookcase", searchable in the same way as the existing acadmey and this forum is just to announce their existence/updates and get feedback?

Cliff