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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.

Poll

Do You feel the moderation policy at the Daily Kos reflects the values of Democrats?

83%5 votes
16%1 votes

| 6 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  My proposed policy... (8+ / 0-)

    Step 1- Don't be a dick.
    Step 2 - If someone is being a dick to you, see step 1.

    Step 2 is where it usually goes wrong for me.

  •  I would say that the best policy (5+ / 0-)

    is to remain polite, argue your corner, don't make personally disparaging comments.

    It's a simple thing that some find difficult.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:08:57 AM PST

  •  Acceptance. (4+ / 0-)

    This is a political blog and politics is a contact sport.  People are passionate and some people are assholes to other people when they are particularly passionate.  We've gone through this debate countless times since I got here.  The infamous Pie Wars were a freakin' trip to watch unfold.  

    There is a pattern when a divisive issue comes to the fore - some people take firm stands on opposing sides seemingly totally unable to ever possibly agree - the battle ensues and once everyone basically wears themselves out - the middle ground usually finds a way of emerging - OR "the truth" emerges and consensus is built around that.  

    The final stage is when Bob Johnson writes a diary satirizing the brouhaha that people on both sides of the issue generally find themselves being able to laugh at the madness.

    Accept that there will be fights; that these fights are a part of the political process; that disagreement is not "evil"; and that things will work out in the end somehow.

  •  The best form of moderation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Joy of Fishes

    is self-moderation. It consists of thinking before one hits "Post."

    People are going to get heated up about things; that is human nature. As has been remarked elsewhere, sometimes the best thing to do is to simply leave the conversation and let the other person think they've won the pie fight.

    There is a thing about rules which is that there will always be situations where applying them as written has unintended results. So I would agree there should be a means by which, for example, someone who's got at least some record of reasonably civil participation here but goes off the rails has a means of getting themselves reinstated without resorting to mere groveling.

  •  Is there a DK4 Moderation group? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, Joy of Fishes

    Sounds like a gathering of ideas should be at one part of the blog.

    And maybe the group blogs are at a different moderation standard vs. the personal (individual account) blogs.

    But DBAD seems to cover everything.

  •  No easy answers. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass

    There's always going to be tension between freedom and abuse. Too tight a grip and you kill dissent and valuable views that go against the grain. Too loose and people with dishonest and cheap intent run amok.

    The "big" problem (no pun intended) for us is the raw size of the community. A hundred regulars are much easier to moderate than thousands.

    And while I'm rambling on here, I see another problem: a tone of raw frustration is set not just by diarists, but also by some front pagers. Certainly frustration has a large role in political advocacy, but all too often I see front page postings that cater to raw frustration only slightly less than many of the diaries. Too much cat calling, too much baiting, too much stuff that ought to be more at home on cable TV political porn shows than a thoughtful liberal advocacy site. The diarists see that tone and follow suit.

    IMO, of course...

    "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

    by kenlac on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:23:38 AM PST

    •  PS: I guess a simpler way of saying (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass

      what I'm thinking is that we need better "tone setting" just as much as we need better moderation. We need some kind of mechanism to encourage the best behavior and writings and discourage the worst, rather than a set of hard and fast rules. Easier said than done. Yes, there are some of those methods already in place, but they seem to be increasingly ineffective, if not downright counterproductive.

      "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

      by kenlac on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:26:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since Speech Here is a Tool for Achieving Objectvs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, kenlac

    out in the real world, the primary use of moderation should be for behavior not content. In a pure free speech forum such as the old USENET, those who use speech most aggressively come to dominate any discussion they wish to.

    In a speech contest that may be ok but in a forum for developing ideas to elect more and better Democrats, aggression or strength of speech isn't what we want to foster but rather quality of speech and ideas. Great ideas often come from people who won't, or are poorly equipped to, participate in a strongly contentious environment. We want to influence an entire democracy so we need to foster an environment that's welcoming to the broadest range of participants.

    The community moderation goes a long way but it's clear that many people feel some amount of realtime management moderation is required occasionally. The main objective is to stop disruptive behavior not controversial ideas.

    As for tools, I would favor warnings and short time-outs as the overwhelming majority of actions, leaving bannings rare for egregious and repeat offenses.

    I don't see that the owner needs to do any moderation himself, especially since he says he dislikes that kind of work.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:28:25 AM PST

    •  Quoted for truth: (0+ / 0-)
      ...in a forum for developing ideas to elect more and better Democrats, aggression or strength of speech isn't what we want to foster but rather quality of speech and ideas.
      There's a larger and important diary waiting to sprout from this seed of a comment, methinks.

      "Every now & then your brain gifts you with the thought, 'oh, that's right, I don't actually give a **** about this.' Treasure it" -- jbou

      by kenlac on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 01:12:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You see the result of the current moderation (4+ / 0-)

    policy as a non trusted user. Trusted Users see the unmoderated version and it is not the same experience.

  •  As someone who has been involved in the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes

    moderation discussion, I think that for the most part the community moderation model is working here. The Courtesy Kos "talk me down" project is an excellent addition in allowing people to seek some advice before deciding to engage in "pie fight" behavior.

    My main concern, and I have seen others voice this too, are diaries which are clearly inappropriate and don't disappear fast enough thus potentially harming the reputation of Daily Kos. As I pointed out in a comment last night, there are lots of people who read but do not write here who have a lot of respect for Daily Kos and its content.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:56:37 AM PST

    •  I haven't (0+ / 0-)

      seen the inappropriate diaries but I accept that is occurring as well.  I have seen numerous examples of totally inappropriate moderation including hiding diaries that have later been reposted and received numerous recommends.  It seems to me an appropriate solution in both cases is to improve the moderation system which lacks oversight or lacks appropriate oversight.    The rules lack clear definition and give administration inappropriate wiggle room to do what they please which suggests an inappropriate lack of faith in the community as a whole.  The same rules should apply to everyone, especially on a Democratic website.

  •  Diary mentions truth several times (0+ / 0-)

    That should be a separate subject from moderation.

    It's remarkably hard to make a completely false statement about politics, and it's possible to build constructively on the nugget of truth in a mostly false statement.

    Completely false statements can have value as examples to study of how the other side emotes.

    The statements most worthy of being thrown out are those which are neither true nor false, like "You're a poopy head!".

    •  The point was you shouldn't delete truthful (0+ / 0-)

      comments because you disagree with the content.  If the person is really insulting you have a point by I was referring to cases where the person wasn't being insulting.  The moderator simply abused the process because they liked the other side of the argument and that does go on at the Daily Kos all the time.  There are those who claim it doesn't or claim they haven't seen it but I have and it's not the sort of thing that fuzzy at all.  For example, if I say that on the third page of a scientific report it say video games can cause violence in children and a trusted user hides that comment or lowers the comment ratings, I believe you'd have to agree with me that is inappropriate and I'm saying it happened repeatedly so if you don't want to believe me fine but it does happen.  

  •  I've been a moderator before (2+ / 0-)

    It was a political subsection of a, believe it or not, top Star Trek cite about twelve years ago.

    Let me tell you, no one is ever happy. The ones who want moderation don't think you are doing it enough, and the ones who don't want moderation think you are a jerk who craves authority, etc.

    And these were all otherwise logical, very smart people "nerds" if you will.

    I think the only moderation that is going to work is stuff that the owner simply doesn't want on the site (e.g. the -isms, overt racism, sexism, etc.), or that is going to get the site into legal trouble (copyright infringement, libel, etc).

    Other than that, you participate or not on your own determination, and if you want to be a jerk, folks will ignore/hide rate you, and if you don't want to hang around, then don't.

    •  that's exactly what does happen on websites as (0+ / 0-)

      it's kind of appalling from my perspective as a social psychologist.  A number of studies have shown that approach invariably leads to bullying by more popular members.  I like the democratic underground's jury system which deals with it somewhat.  The real problem is that most website owners don't know how to make their moderation accountable or their communities supportive of the website when practically any leadership textbook would tell them exactly how to do it.  I believe people have gotten used to a cruddy system and assume something better doesn't exist when it does.

      •  that site had a system of (0+ / 0-)

        warnings and temporary bans. Of course, the debate always moved to the legitimacy of warnings or bans, not the actual conduct.

        I eventually quit once I warned one of the site owners friends, and she didn't like it, but it was definitely not a fun thing to volunteer for, and I don't think it really made the environment any better.

  •  My obervation on the comments (0+ / 0-)

    Libertarian response from trusted users.  Democratic response from non-trusted users.  Interesting breakdown on a Democratic site.

    Also most comments I've seen hidden are completely factually accurate.  As noted in the moderation policy accuracy isn't given any weight.  Rather, conformity/agreement is what is valued.  However, that's a dead end according to social psychology because it always leads to in-out groups, group think and other deviant behavior among the majority or those in power.

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