Moderation: the Daily Kos example

This blog entry is related to the poll:What procedures and regulations does this community need? (Total: 3 posts)

Daily Kos is often gripped with intense disputes and flame wars. Someone wrote to me that she's afraid to post there for fear of "saying the wrong thing" and being flamed for it.

As a result, some people called for some moderation:

Almost anyone who's been reading diaries here lately have noticed that there are a lot of fights going on. Brutal, awful, name calling, fierce battles being waged in the comments. They've been getting worse and we've been losing far too many great Kossacks in the process.

Despite the lack of bloodshed, there are hurt and angry feelings. And call out diaries where fights in the comments of another diary are the main topic and the fights just go on at an even more intense level.

This cannot go on.

We often forget that there is a real, live human being with feelings behind every post. We also forget that discussion is good even if we disagree, but we can disagree without being disagreeable or hostile. We can disagree without the name calling and insults. We can and should walk away when discussion turns into argument which deteriorates into angry tirades and even more hurt feelings and anger.

Aside from forgetting our manners at times, what we really lack is consistent moderation.

We cannot police ourselves because we don't have the power to do so. [...]

We need consistent moderation, the sort that occurs continually.

To which Kos himself replied: Moderation? Be careful what you ask for:

[...]So here's the thing. If you guys insist on me moderating, then fine. I'll come in. Just note that in these situations I'm not a Kindergarten Cop, I'm a Terminator. I guarantee no one will be happy with the results.

I suspect given the options, a hands-off approach is the preferred option. It always has been. Even better would be "please be nice and courteous to each other".

In fact, Daily Kos solely relies on a simple moderation system called "Bojo" (Bony Mojo).

Personally, I wouldn't tolerate the thought of some nice people wanting to contribute here but who wouldn't for fear of being bullied and insulted. However, the amount of moderation and the form it can take must be discussed by the whole community whenever a need for it is being felt by some members.

What I liked in the first diary linked above, is that it provides a list of common sense rules to prevent that type of negative behaviour:

Remember, behind every post is a person.
They have feelings and beliefs.  Don't say anything in the comments that you wouldn't say to them if they were standing right in front of you.
Never, ever post when angry.
Don't drive a car when angry, don't make decisions when angry, in fact, don't do anything when angry.   Whatever you do in anger usually leads only to a pile of regrets.
Being polite doesn't cost anything.
In fact, you get bonus points sometimes.
Don't ever be afraid to apologize if you've been misunderstood or phrased something unclearly.
If at first you don't succeed, try again.  Rephrase the point you were making.
You are under no obligation to reply to a comment.
Walk away when a fight starts.  You're not displaying cowardice, but wisdom.  You haven't "lost" the discussion or surrendered your position.  If it makes you feel better, put in a reply that says you'll have to agree to disagree on whatever the subject was.
If there's a point you want to make privately, there's always KosMail.
Highly recommended for spelling, grammatical, or other errors rather than posting it in a comment in the diary.  Also recommended to carry on a discussion that started in the comments, but needs to move out of the public.
Always remember that I'm a guest here and need to behave like one.
This isn't my house.  I don't pay rent or mortgage (not even the light bill).  When I go to someones house, I don't start fights or trash the place.  Do you?

JekyllnHyde provided her own list of Do's and Don'ts:

  • Do remember there is a live human being at the other end of the blog exchange.  One who is sensitive, has emotions, and may not react well to constant criticism.  Some of us often lose sight of that fact.
  • Don't belittle or disparage anyone in your comments nor hold personal grudges.  Even if you had an unpleasant exchange, try to forget it by the next day.  Move on.
  • Do have a high level of tolerance for dissenting view points.  You aren't the repository of all knowledge and wisdom.
  • Don't expect others to support your blogging efforts if you don't bother to reciprocate.
  • Do try to visit all kinds of diaries and, in particular, support the community diaries.  It will strengthen your ties with others.
  • Don't express the first thought that crosses your mind, particularly when responding to an inflammatory posting.  Take a deep breath before you do. Sometimes, just as in real life, reticence is a desirable trait.
  • Do rely upon humor to diffuse a thorny situation and gently disarm someone.  Even if you disagree with them, walk away after the second or third exchange.  Beyond that point, the conversation will usually deteriorate.  Simply learn to walk away and don't insist upon having the last word. And, don't worry if you're on the losing end of an argument.  In professional baseball, for example, the best hitters fail seven out of ten times and still have a chance to make it to the Hall of Fame.
  • Don't write anything that you wouldn't say to a person's face.  This approach will help you restrain yourself.
  • Do recommend generously.  Others also put in a great deal of effort in writing diaries and comments.  It isn't all about you.
  • Don't ever Hide Rate anyone unless their behavior is very disruptive or egregious such as someone making racist, bigoted, or homophobic comments.  HR-ing isn't about making you feel all-powerful.

What do you think?


Kos is full of contradictions

But then, everybody is!

Anyway, above I quoted kos saying he didn't want to moderate the community. But a few days later, he jumps in and threatens to ban anyone who posts a so-called "TTN" diary ("Ta Ta For Now").

As far as I am concerned, there are much worse crimes than posting a TTFN diary, and much better uses for moderation powers!