So several recent posts have brought up the issue of moderation but none addressed the question I want answered which is what is good moderation?
Markos argues that less is better while others argue more is needed. IMO that's greatly oversimplifying the issue. The type of moderation policy a website has should display the values of the website. In some ways, I believe the Daily Kos approach is very good. For example, in supporting the Democratic community as a whole, as opposed to this is my website and everyone else is the competition, I would give the Daily Kos the highest marks. I would also give the Daily Kos high marks for not following into the happy talk moderation as some Democratic websites have done. In my view there are a lot of very serious issues at there and they can't and shouldn't be discussed in just a positive or happy way. Another way good thing is the Daily Kos allows criticism of itself. For me those reflect positive values that are consistent with most users. A blind peer review process has worked well, for the most part, in science and the Daily Kos has an approach that is somewhat similar to that except that the reviewed in science get to see their reviews and can protest to the editor.
Ultimately, a moderation policy reflects certain values. Do moderation policies attempt to raise the level of discussion. Do they seek justice or the truth in discussion. Are decisions made by the community or by the owners? Are policies enforced for equally for everyone. Is their accountability for inappropriate moderation. Whose interests are served. In my view, the moderation policy could be improved in these areas. However, I'm more interested in hearing what others think.
However, there is one idea that I would like to put out there. Leadership theory argues that the best approach is where everyone works together as a community to solve problems like moderation (e.g., juries, accountable moderation). However, leadership theory also indicates that 99% of owners adopt Theory X which is essentially a bankrupt philosophy which argues that evil people are out there trying to kill the website and we need people to pounce on them. It's not that leadership deny that that problem exists. Rather, it argues that pouncing is a terrible idea. Instead, building community is what works. Another big positive for the Daily Kos is that is does build a community. My question is can we do better? Building community might involve warnings instead of secretly hiding or rating people. It might involve more responsiveness, openness and accountability for those who moderate and less threats and sanctions unless someone persists. In my view, it all boils down to whether you take the libertarian approach that there is no truth and you should let the mob decide or the liberal approach which argues that an organization can strive to uphold certain ideals and the community as a whole can seek to uphold those ideals.
So what is an ideal moderation policy and what values should that moderation policy promote? Some argue that addressing a person who is wrong is promoting arguments. If you seek the truth, that's not wrong. Some argue that personal attacks are destructive to the process. Some argue that moderators can't determine who's truthful and who is not? If that's the case, do we need a new process that seeks the truth or do we admit that the libertarians are correct? Is truth so elusive that we as a community can't find it?
4:47 PM PT: Note that on many forums most of the trusted user comments would be deleted because they are off topic. That is, they don't suggest how the moderation can be improved but rather they attempt to defend the existing system. I'm glad the Daily Kos doesn't use that system but it's worth mentioning why the system is used on so many other websites. The reason is people feel that off-topic comments are a form of troll baiting. You bait the person into responding and then claim when you disagree with them that they are a trouble maker. I've seen trusted users do just that so perhaps it's worth considering doing that for trusted users but not others. Just an idea.