SuttaCentral

Where do moderators draw the line


#1

How would you as moderators distinguish and combat techniques for dilution and misdirection of an online community?

Where do you draw the line between giving a member the benefit of a doubt and censoring harmful content?

Here is a guide on how to ruin and protect an online community which outlines commonly used techniques and vulnerabilities
https://pastebin.com/raw/irj4Fyd5

I don’t think this community is as badly affected as others but i do see some things which look rather suspect to me on this forum as well.


#2

For those of us who follow the suttas, we all moderate ourselves according to:

Divisive speech is a bad principle.
Avoiding divisive speech is a good principle.
Harsh speech is a bad principle.
Avoiding harsh speech is a good principle.
Talking nonsense is a bad principle.
Avoiding talking nonsense is a good principle.

For those of us who don’t follow the suttas, this forum is rather boring in its non-reactiveness. Although there are the odd few who do need to be shooed away…

It is a beautiful system.


#3

Greetings inb4dead :slight_smile:

The nature of your comment can go very deep, right into the nature of human interactions. The points raised in your attached document are a small illustration of general human interactions that happen everywhere and all the time. By interactions with other humans, 99.9999% of interactions have an aim to infulence or guide responses and reactions. I mention this because it is a basic and natural part of human behaviour, and analysis of any interactions will yeild these kinds of observations.

Now intentional manipulation is another matter all together, and this can be divided into the aims of manipulating this in a beneficial direction or manipulating things in an unbeneficial direction. Manipulation is just another word for influencing.

For example the Buddhas descriptions of Right Speech, are designed to influence people to behave in beneficial ways.

This forum explicitly states what kinds of behaviours, and the kind of community that we wish to foster. There is nothing insidious or devious about it. It is stated up-front, that individuals participate here on the understanding that they agree with and accept the guidelines. This is what drives moderator actions.

However, moderators are just human beings We discuss issues as a team to try and minimise personal bias, and to be as fair in applying the guidelines as possible. However, it will not be perfect… that is just the nature of reality. Mistakes will be made - but they are never done so with a negative intent.

Outside influences. It is a very difficult and complex job to moderate ‘public’ input. If moderators notice specific attempts to manipulate the forum by individual participants or groups, or even by fake accounts, we do our best to deal with it.

We have recently been discussing exactly these issues, they are not easy. However, an aspect that members may not be aware of is the extent of forum users who are silent. It is only about .001 % of forum users who post. That’s right 1/1,000. Now we also have a duty to look after the interests of those users, not just those who are posting.

Given the very clear outline of the purpose and expectations of SC D&D, it is up to forum members to align themselves to the forum, and not the other way around. This is not a “publicly” owned platform. It is resourced by SC and is operated with specific goals in mind. Therefore it is not open to a ‘democratic’ process of changing the focus or the nature of the forum. Of course any well functioning service of this kind, takes user input very seriously - the aim is for win -win outcomes. But still one must remember just how small the percentage of “vocal” members is. The moderators are aware of this and take it into account - but it will be invisible to other service users.

This is my personal opinion, though it is informed through experience of being a moderator as well as through many discussions with the Mods and Admins here.

I hope that it puts things in greater perspective for you.


#4

Thanks for sharing that link @inb4dead. It brings a lot of interesting material into one place. It’s good to see a wide range of counterproductive strategies described and named. Bookmarking it. :slight_smile: My first reaction is that while the language presents these processes of destabilisation as conscious strategies I think there is a bit of a continuum that moves from cynically planned campaigns (I hope we never see such here!) through short-term strategies that are spontaneous and reactive to various degrees, to subconscious community drift. This last is hardest to detect and hardest to counter without appearing draconianly over-reactive.

Frequent users of Discuss & Discover will be aware that the software it uses, Discourse Hosting, has been designed with various features intended to help off the worst abuses and that the User Guidelines express similar goals in an explicitly Buddhist setting. Implementing and monitoring the Guidelines is an ongoing work for all Forum members and moderators. Keeping the balance right all the time is quite tricky. I shall enjoy having access to this document.


#5

Can you give an example? Outta curiosity


#6

if i wanted to raise particular concerns i would talk to moderators. it’s imo inappropriate to talk about suspicions in public like that because it can be perceived as allegations and would be unpleasant for people… to talk about these things it needs to happen in controlled environment and according to agreed upon procedure


#7

Right on

:anjal:


#8

Hello,

I am one of the non-vocal members, I rarely post. Sites like reddit, which have upvotes and downvotes seem to engage a higher percentage of lurkers, and there’s not so much need for moderation since trolls, flame-wars and non-relevant posts are downvoted by everyone into oblivion, including I believe the lurkers. And yet, it also allows tangential discussions to take a life of their own, and occasionally go into interesting directions. But I guess the architecture of this forum does not allow reddit style structure.