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Thread: Overmoderated?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Overmoderated?

    This may get me in some heat...but it's been on my mind the past few months...

    I would say as time has gone on here, it feels like the site has crossed into "overmoderated" territory. I started to think this back when the banned/suspended list starting coming up. But as I was going through the FAC, it seems like too much is getting moderated. Instead of letting threads die, they get closed. Why not let natural selection take its course? I realize some things get out of hand but some of the closed threads were not out of hand...and far from ever being in that realm. And I think that sends a message to regular users...and not always a good one. I'd have to say it's been something of a turn-off for me as time has gone on...

    Just my observation really and something of a suggestion that it seems like it is a bit much these days...and I could be alone thinking this for all I know...
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by GeogPlanner
    This may get me in some heat...but it's been on my mind the past few months..................Just my observation really and something of a suggestion that it seems like it is a bit much these days...and I could be alone thinking this for all I know...
    Happy birthday GeogPlanner !!! (they closed your b-day thread)
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    Any changes over the past year in moderating styles has certainly won the praise from me. Cyburbia is now a much more enjoyable and civil place to visit.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wanigas?
    Any changes over the past year in moderating styles has certainly won the praise from me. Cyburbia is now a much more enjoyable and civil place to visit.
    What the hell do you mean by that????












    Things change. People change. Boards change. Change is good. Being an active mod (a description that is not very applicable to me any longer) is hard work. I think the place has become more professional and has a broader appeal. And....wait for it...more appealing broads.

  5. #5
    I agree that these forums are overmoderated, but I think it only makes sense that a board run by planners would be. It's really reflective of a profession that's hell-bent on regulation, and pretty enlightening as far as professional culture being transferred into other arenas.

    Also, I'm not sure I agree with some of the standards for what is and isn't acceptable. If "professionalism" and work-safe content are the goal, I think there are a lot of questionable specifics to meet that...

  6. #6
    maudit anglais
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    I don't like to have to moderate in a heavy-handed way, but unfortunately it has become increasingly necessary over the past few months, and it is really turning me off this place.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Thanks for all your comments. We might have to look at our "overmoderation" a bit.

    One problem that the Cyburbia Forums always faces is being taken seriously by the planning community at large. Many have outright told me they will not support or use message boards, because the medium "serious" enough compared to mailing lists. However, we know all the shortcomings of mailing lists; no sense of community, no room for drifting off-topic, and not very fun, which is the opposite of what we want this place to be like.

    We want to keep conversation here on an adult level. On too many message boards. a discussion will include too many one-liners, smiles only, or similar lwo-content posts that you might expect on IRC or in a chat room. I've always used The Straight Dope as a model for Cyburbia, but there have been some complaints about overmoderation there. I also look to Something Awful as a model of a well-run message board. While there is a bit more leeway about things such as NSFW topics, profanity and so on, the moderation at Something Awful is perhaps the most draconian in the message board world; break even a minor rule, and you'll find yourself suspended or banned. They're tough for a very good reason; SA users tend to be young -- but smart -- and Richard Kyanka wants to keep discussions from degenerating into the one-liners and AOL-speak one finds on other boards. I think they sometimes go way too far with the moderation, but they're one of the Internet's most popular message boards for a reason.

    There are some things we're tough on, but for a good reason. For example, thread titles for planning-related subforums appear on the front page of Cyburbia, and it's important they be descriptive. Thus, our strict enforcement of the "no teaser itles" rule.

    We might be a bit prudish in the FAC, but there's the challenge of finding that fine line between having fun and watching out e-mail boxes fill up as people hit the red flag button. One of our old board cliches, ironic use of the word "fag", fell victim to frequent red flagging as the board became more popular. IMHO, I do think some people really need to lighten up, but we don't want to drive users away.

    Suspeding users with bad e-mail addresses isn't so much heavy-handed moderation as it is our struggling to keep our e-mail boxes from filling up with bounced notification messages. The alternative is not allowing users to have any sort of e-mail notification for post replies, private messages and the like.

    We might be a bit too hasty in closing threads. Again, something we'll talk about.

    Tell us what we're doing right, and where you think we're being too tough.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    One issue I haven't seen mentioned is the growth of Cyburbia. There were under 800 members when I joined (around 2 1/2 years ago) and we now have almost 2500. I have seen this on an e-mail list that I have participated in (on and off) for more than 7 years. There were around 300 members some years back, when I was a moderator there, and now there are over 900. The group dynamic changes as the group grows. It becomes less an environment of "shooting the breeze with trusted friends" and more an environment of dealing with strangers who are highly likely to take your remarks out of context. This inevitably forces the moderating staff to implement stricter policies in some areas and formalize things which were handled more informally in the past and to generally intercede more often. It is also inevitable that there are growing pains, not just for the forum but for the bewildered staff trying to keep up with a changing environment and moving target.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    ...Suspeding users with bad e-mail addresses isn't so much heavy-handed moderation as it is our struggling to keep our e-mail boxes from filling up with bounced notification messages....

    We might be a bit too hasty in closing threads. Again, something we'll talk about...
    I can agree with the suspensions for bad e-mail addresses and while that was probably one of the things that made me notice, I think that it's the thread closings that made me say something. I appreciate the resonses and all the work that you all do. I've moderated other boards and it's not easy and there are never enough volunteers. And I will say that when I have a planning question, this is the first place I always look!
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  10. #10
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I've noticed that posts go missing on a fairly regular basis (despite not being offensive). I guess that would be alright if it were stated so in the rules, but its not. Sends the wrong message.

  11. #11
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I've noticed that posts go missing on a fairly regular basis (despite not being offensive). I guess that would be alright if it were stated so in the rules, but its not. Sends the wrong message.
    Two things about this:

    1. What is not offensive to one may be to others. We know this because of the red flag emails that we get.

    2. Most of the posts we get rid of are personal attacks. We just cannot let things escalate out of control. Other than that we get rid of a lot of spam. We never delete posts just because we disagree with them. (If we did EL Guapo's delete button would be worn out)

    If you can give us an example of posts that you think we should not have deleted let us know.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by abrowne
    I've noticed that posts go missing on a fairly regular basis (despite not being offensive). I guess that would be alright if it were stated so in the rules, but its not. Sends the wrong message.
    Occasionally, someone willl start an inane thread. (99.9% of Cyburbians don't, fortunately.) People start responding. The initial post, and that poster's responses may be awful, but the contributions by others might not be so bad. Still, when such a thread is deleted (really, moved to a hidden deleted posts subforum), all the intelligent responses go with it. If we kept just those intelligent responses, their context in the thread may be completely lost. Sometimes, people respond to spam or viral marketing attempts, and again their posts disappear when the thread is removed.

  13. #13
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I have no problems with the level of moderation on this site. At least when things are deleted here, the moderators give a reason why. A lot of forums just delete without explanation. It's even better when they quote chapter and verse from the forum rules. I've never seen a hair trigger when it comes to banning someone for something other than spam. I've never seen a post outright disappear without explanation though (other than spam).

    My only suggestion is for image leeching. Rather than immediately drop the hammer, is there a way that you could track who has been warned about leeching and give everyone one warning on it? This seems to be the most frequent suspension issue besides email updates and one that even experienced users may forget. Although it seems that a suspension for this reason hasn't occurred for quite some time. When it comes to rule violations, this one seems to pose the least liklihood to harm administrators, moderators or other users of the site.

    Ya'll kick ass as the Spam Firing Squad. I don't think I've ever seen one survive more than about an hour or two.

    The email thing makes perfect sense to me. I can only imagine how many bounces ya'll would get if you didn't hold people's feet to the fire on this. All it takes is the person spending five minutes setting up a gmail acount and they are good-to-go.

    I like the yellow card - red card system. It's a rather humorous way of warning people and keeps ya'll from coming off as just some anal retentive hard asses. I can probably count on one hand the number of people I've seen issued a red card and suspension during my time on here for something other than image leeching. Ya'll usually give several warning shots across the bow, like you did with achoooo or whatever his name was.

    In terms of making the site more "acceptable" to professional planners, I would suggest a more detailed explanation for the FAC. Perhaps explaining that while this site is geared toward helping professionals, citizens & academics share knowledge of the planning profession, that it also serves as a social outlet for us to escape the rigors of the profession for a moment and relax, thus allowing improved job performance. It could also say something about that by the nature of the profession, planners often have common interests outside of work and that they enjoy and can foster personal & professional relationships...and so on...

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  14. #14
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I think the forum is definately overmoderated- yet at the same time it's what helps to keep the forum from getting out of hand. web forums are notorious for getting out of hand very quickly.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I'm thinking that it is moderated more than what else I have seen out there. Of course, this seems to be more serious than other forums as well. I think that b/c of the moderation of the moderators we do not experience threads like: I am sad, send happy thoughts* or Here is a photo of my grandkids, tell me how cute they are...* And I thank you Mods for that.

    *this is why I only visit the dog forums, if I need health advise-- like when poochPLAN ate a bar of soap last week...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  16. #16
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by imaplanner
    I think the forum is definately overmoderated- yet at the same time it's what helps to keep the forum from getting out of hand. web forums are notorious for getting out of hand very quickly.
    My $.02:

    1) I admit there have been some times when I wondered, what the heck, why did (fill in the blank) post a red card/yellow card/delete, etc. this post or a thread? Sometimes a few have seemed so innocent, but on the other hand, I also understand that we don't all know when someone has complained or if someone is offended. But being on the outside, in the past (and not lately, really) it sometimes it seemed as though the mod gets carried away (see #4).

    2) I REALLY appreciate the lack of spam ALOT and the email issue.

    3) I also agree with Suburb Repairman that with the image leaching thing people should be first given a warning rather than banning them right away. I hesitate to post any pictures because I don't know really what is allowed and what isn't allowed except if they are my own personal pictures.

    4) Not sure why birthday and intro threads are closed? That seems silly to me (see #1 above).

    Quote Originally posted by zman
    I think that b/c of the moderation of the moderators we do not experience threads like: I am sad, send happy thoughts* or Here is a photo of my grandkids, tell me how cute they are...* And I thank you Mods for that.
    I like the kid and animal pictures and don't mind the sad ones either. To a certain extent a lot of us open ourselves up on here, and if we didn't care in the least bit about what we all do (personal and professionally) we wouldn't meet up for alefests. Yah but of course, there are intimate personal details that we all really shouldn't know.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    I like the kid and animal pictures and don't mind the sad ones either. To a certain extent a lot of us open ourselves up on here, and if we didn't care in the least bit about what we all do (personal and professionally) we wouldn't meet up for alefests. Yah but of course, there are intimate personal details that we all really shouldn't know.
    I guess you are right. I have seen FAC-esque subforums where it has gotten carried away, like 6 threads on photos of pregnant women's bellys, etc.. I have to admit, I have posted threads about my dog and sometimes open up to folks on here more than I should, but I do care about people on this board, and I have enjoyed offline interactions with a couple Cyburbians (even The Banjo Song Telethon the other night once I realized who it was...)
    I guess I meant I am glad we do not have threads like Post Your Favorite Airbrushed Unicorn Picture...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    4) Not sure why birthday and intro threads are closed? That seems silly to me (see #1 above).
    I think that intro threads started getting closed when new people began replying to dozens of old intros to get their first 25 posts in and stuff like that. When I first joined, you didn't see things like happen. When it got to be something of a consistent problem, a response had to be formulated. When things in the forum change, the moderators are forced to come up with answers and those answers may appear to be harsh initially because it takes time to develop more finesse. And, face it, "quick and dirty" is sometimes all the mods have time for. The size of the moderating team has not tripled in the time I have been here the way the size of the membership has.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    I am sad, send happy thoughts* or Here is a photo of my grandkids, tell me how cute they are...* And I thank you Mods for that.[/SIZE]
    To be honest. We do get threads like that. And I find them annoying. Along with the birthday threads.

  20. #20
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I feel that overall the level of moderation is fine. Though, I echo that 'one warning - before suspension" for image leeching.

    All of the threads that have been closd recently, were mainly intro., birthday, and low content threads, which are the best venues for post padding.

    I certainly don't think the value and substance of Cyburbia has bveen changes/compromised in any way.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  21. #21
    I think that the image leeching thing is a good policy as is. I was suspended for a day and now I know never to only post images that are mine or are allowed to be linked to. I think a warning would help people but a one day suspension really drills it into user's heads.

    I don't think the site is overmoderated. I do think that there is a lot more FAC content than planning content...which I think helps make the site fresh for the long-time regulars but may turn off casual or new users. I have heard comments from fellow planners that they join but feel out of the loop in any of the FAC type threads and they think that planning questions don't get the responses they deserve.

    I have been on sites that are way overmoderated. I finally got to join the eGullet (a foodie site) forums after submitting an esay on why I should be allowed to join. They'll will let you lurk all you want. Talk about strict. If anything gets off topic the thread is closed really quickly. Someone recently asked about what type of christmas music they should play while serving a party of 200 people and the thread was closed becuase it focused on music and not food. Then I have been on some threads where the discussion goes unmoderated at all and every thread ends up turning into some kind of personal attack on a user.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I don't have a problem with the mods. I've said a few things I shouldn't and gotten called on it.

    And I do appreciate their getting rid of spammers and the terminally annoying out there.

  23. #23
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I'm a guest here and I should behave accordingly. I've screwed up here and there and been deservingly called/carded/edited on it. I have no problems with the Mods.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    I'm a guest here and I should behave accordingly. I've screwed up here and there and been deservingly called/carded/edited on it. I have no problems with the Mods.
    What RJ said.
    Its your party, you guys set the rules. I have no problem following your rules in your house. I think the mods do a bang up job. Thanks for this board and thanks for letting me tag along.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
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    I had been away from cyburbia for almost an year or so (boy sure I was glad to hop back into cyburbia) and on coming back i saw that new thing about intro threads being closed and immediately realised that it must be due to some management issue.
    The fact that such a decision has been taken must mean that the mod know what they are doing ( including implications and counter views)

    A tendency to control/regulate might just be because this is a planners forum but because there has to be some handle on whats going on and how much is going on.

    The managers/moderators are the only ones who have a birds eye view/ better perspective of everything (including the overall philosophy, direction and quality of content, diverse views of so many individuals and the changing external environment).


    Quote Originally posted by savemattoon
    What RJ said.
    Its your party, you guys set the rules. I have no problem following your rules in your house. I think the mods do a bang up job. Thanks for this board and thanks for letting me tag along.
    As 'savemattoon' said, its the mods who take the decision and if we dont like it then theres always some way of letting them know. Thats a good system.
    With growing numbers I'm sure its difficult to manage forums/activities especially if its voluntary work.

    A big problern with good ideas which materialise is that once they get very popular there could be tendency for it to get hijacked(sometimes temporarily and due to seemingly pure 'democratic-right to express/participate' reasons)

    I would go to the extent of saying that the people who conceptualised, implemented and have sustained cyburbia have a right to regulate and draw the line and also to choose who would have those powers and who wouldnt.

    Its a very good sign that there is a lot of scope for feedback here.

    Commendations to Cyburbia and the people behind it!
    "I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them".
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