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PhiNotPi's avatar

Have you read today's new Blog Post?

Asked by PhiNotPi (12681points) June 24th, 2014
49 responses
“Great Question” (9points)

The newest blog post is titled “The State of the Tide Pool” and covers a wide range of topics. If you have not read it yet, please do so. You can find it here.

Observing members: 0
Composing members: 0


LuckyGuy's avatar

I read it! Yet another example of why you are my hero.
You wrote: “Please be assured that we Moderators truly have the Fluther Community’s best interest at heart. We love this site as much as anyone and want to see it thrive as a place where everyone feels welcome, respected, and can enjoy lively conversations.”

Pizza’s on me tonight!

P.S. I’m still waiting to hear your estimate for Clifford the Big Red Dog’s weight.

PhiNotPi's avatar

^ Actually, most of the physical writing was done by Hearkat, so she deserves applause for putting everything together.

Blueroses's avatar

Change is a challenge and Auggie is missed. She brought genuine warmth and humanity to her leadership role. Huge shoes to fill with a volunteer staff.

I’m glad Fluther continues.

janbb's avatar

I thought I detected Hearkat’s tone in the excellent writing. Good work, team!

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Yeah, I totally read it~

dxs's avatar

Cool. Just read it.

dxs (15160points)“Great Answer” (2points)
jonsblond's avatar

I don’t always feel respected, but I usually feel welcome and the discussions can be lively.

I know the mods are giving it their all. Thank you!

longgone's avatar

Well written. Thank you for putting so much thought into it!

Ooooh, new additions to the team. I wonder who it’ll be. I suggest a public casting thread. With challenges :]

Mimishu1995's avatar

Thanks for the post. That’s cleared the misunderstanding between some users and the mods.

cookieman's avatar

c o o l
b e a n s

ibstubro's avatar

Basically, as with all civilization, we can only destroy our community from within?

“Fluther is so broken/evil/bad that I’ll be an agent in destroying it.” NOT

Personally, I’m torn. Fluther has been so much better, but if the current incarnation is as good as it can be, that’s kind of sad but better than nothing.

ninjacolin's avatar

Thanks for the post, guys! You’re doing a good job. I love the Flag First, Moderate Second concept. It really makes maintenance a community thing.

ucme's avatar

Of course, if there exists a “rogue element” on Fluther who carry a clear agenda to oust certain jellies on purely personal grounds, then their flagging may be ever so slightly tarnished.
Done properly with an open & fair structure, then yeah, can only do good.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@ninjacolin “I love the Flag First, Moderate Second concept.”

I can’t see any reference to this. Can you provide a direct quote?

johnpowell's avatar

The entire thing is a direct quote. They don’t have the time to read everything so flag it and move on.

I was a mod of chat for a bit and I should not have been privy to all the flag emails and discussions about those. I woke up with hundreds of emails I didn’t care about and asked to be removed from the list I was accidentally added too. It is a mess. I would say there is way to much discussion between mods. One mod should be able to make a thing go away under these circumstances.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@johnpowell Ok, I didn’t understand from the blog post that the overall policy is “flag first, moderate second”. At all. That’s why I was asking for a quote. Where did they say that?

johnpowell's avatar

Lines.. Read between them.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Yup, that is some awesome evidence you have there.

dxs's avatar

@dappled_leaves I can’t speak for @ninjacolin, but perhaps (s)he was talking about the modding method in general. First, a Jelly flags a response they think is a “bad apple”, and then the moderator reviews it and determines if it needs to be pulled or not.

dxs (15160points)“Great Answer” (3points)
dappled_leaves's avatar

@dxs I no longer understand what @ninjacolin was trying to say. I can’t find that in the blog post itself, yet the number of GAs given to @ninjacolin, @johnpowell, and you seem to indicate that everyone understands it but me. So I’m asking for some explanation. Is that a bad thing? The GAs on this question seem to indicate that it is.

Seaofclouds's avatar

[Mod says]: We want to clarify that we are not really using a “flag first, mod second” approach. Rather that we appreciate flags and respond to them since we don’t see everything, but that we also remove things that have not been flagged if we see them and they do not meet the guidelines. Flagging things to bring them to our attention is how we see most of the content that does not meet our guidelines, but we also come across it on our own when we are participating on the site. This means some content is never flagged by another user because we catch it before someone flags it. If we see something questionable, we flag it for another mod to look at.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Seaofclouds Thank you, that is what I thought.

And it makes me understand better why posts containing French are being removed from discussions in Social. I’d still like to know if that means all foreign phrases are now disallowed as “not proper English”. No more “oy veys”, no more “eurekas”?

My interest is sparked by the comments removed in this question, in response to my saying “Mais oui”. Apparently that was enough to cause a small shitstorm in Social. I don’t get it. Maybe it’s only ok for @gailcalled to speak French on Fluther.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@dappled_leaves there was a brief discussion here regarding the foreign language posts. As it stands right now, the mod team is actively discussing the issue and will let the community know what we decide as soon as we come to a decision.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Seaofclouds Wow, that is unreal. I don’t understand how this could be a sane interpretation of the guidelines. Truly a case of the letter of the law being chosen over the spirit of the law.

XOIIO's avatar

Wait, auggie is leaving? that’s sad :/

Seaofclouds's avatar

@XOIIO Auggie stepped down from the community manager position months ago. She now participates as a regular user, though we still seek her guidance from time to time.

ninjacolin's avatar

Lol, sorry about that, @dappled_leaves. I didn’t know what else to call it besides a “concept”.

First of all, I do like the concept of “Flag first, Mod second” regardless of whether it’s in the blog post. I stated the reason why I like it: Because it’s community driven moderation.

The mods are themselves a part of the community, I realize, so they can flag/deal with things before anyone else gets a chance to flag it. But I would personally encourage them to generally wait until a problem manifests (ie. a flag from the community) before they do anything rash.

I think that french thing makes a good example. If a post is flagged for being in another language without being stylistically appropriate (aka. “cool!”) then deal with it. Otherwise, if no one complains and everyone understands it’s usage, leave it alone.

The mods aren’t gods. They don’t know what’s best for the community. Not necessarily. But they (historically) do a good job of guessing under the guidelines. They make their share of mistakes too. I think a little patience via the “flag first” concept would go a long way to helping them in their own goals of not being too heavy handed.

As the blog post makes plain, mods don’t have infinite time (the way a real god would) so why not just focus on the glaring/blatant violations and don’t sweat the small stuff that bothers no one whether it’s 100% up to standard or not.

Anyway, the stated reliance (not a sole dependence, I realize) on flagging is what I was dubbing as the “flag first, mod second concept”.. I was also personally giving them my permission: “It’s okay if you want to rely mostly on community generated flags. I think that would help.”

longgone's avatar

^“As the blog post makes plain, mods don’t have infinite time (the way a real god would) so why not just focus on the glaring/blatant violations and don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Good point. On another thread, @Seaofclouds described how much trouble she went to, trying to translate a post by @janbb. It must have taken up a lot of her time.

Glaring grammatical errors, personal attacks and incredibly off-topic rambles do make the site less user-friendly. But the occasional post in a foreign language? Not really. As I posted on that same thread, I consider the snippets of French/Dutch/Finnish an addition to Fluther. Like the “You look lovely today, but your desk is a mess.” or, incidentally, “You have that certain ’Je ne sais quoi”, posts in other languages are quirky. And educational. I, for example, can now finally spell the French term above.

Quirky and educational. What’s not to like? Maybe interpreting the guidelines literally is really not the way to go here? Please decide wisely, mods.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@longgone I agree. Just some occasional playful foreign post is fun a does no harm. Why can Dr. Jelly says in a foreign language an not us?

canidmajor's avatar

Site after Q&A site closing down, others going begging for user dollars to keep them up (MetaFilter for example) and Fluther is filled again and again with outraged discussions about how the mods are “not telling me everything I want to know about other users” or interpreting the guidelines to pull a question that is worded in a deliberately frivolous way that violates site policy, or removing some remarks that really didn’t add much substance because they were in another language.

I don’t see how the moderation here can affect someone’s real life in a negative way. I might disagree with the occasional pulling of a comment, or the decision to stop a heated argument in its tracks, but I won’t lose my job or my home if I get moderated here. The children in my neighborhood won’t get killed by e-coli in tainted food because of the moderation here.

I see this in forum after forum on the internet, people outraged because they can’t say whatever they want whenever they want. I have seen some really high-quality discussions here get derailed because a few are incensed that their comment was removed.
Your right to free speech does not apply here. Look it up.
In fact, you have no “rights” here.

What you do have here is an opportunity to enjoy an exchange of ideas with people from all over the world on a vast number of topics, overseen by some extremely patient volunteers that try to keep it all civil and workable. You can make friendships here that can continue off-site. You can get good advice and information here.

Instead, time after time I see people acting like 8 year olds on a playground shouting “it’s a free country, I can do what I want!!!”
Fluther is NOT a “free country”. It’s a neighborhood coffee shop. Bitching at the baristas and servers is just rude.

You wouldn’t act this way in a brick and mortar coffee shop, why do you think it’s OK here?

Mods: I thought the blog post was extremely well-written and clear.
Thanks for your patience.

janbb's avatar

@canidmajor I tend to agree with what you said for the main unless it’s my post that gets modded. :-) And that’s really not true because I have been modded a number of times and not objected at all. And I do appreciate the thankless job that the dedicated and wonderful mods do. But many of us users have been here for a long time and are, as the mods are, invested in the quality of the site as a quirky, intelligent exchange of ideas. When I see a policy change or an enforcement that feels like it is changing the nature of Fluther and leading to a decrease in quality (i.e., dumbening) I do feel I can question it respectfully. Nobody is perfect – not the mod team, not the Jellies. We don’t own the site, none of us do, but we are a community.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@ninjacolin we had discussed community based moderation and only removing things after they had been flagged, however we decided against it for a few reasons.

1. This is what the founders decided they wanted for the moderation process. They most likely chose this for a reason and making such a change would have a major effect on the content on the site.

2. Not all users are willing to flag content. We have had numerous Jellies say the will not flag anything. If users aren’t going to use the system, we can’t rely solely on that process.

3. Consistency- how can we be consistent if we are being equal in regards to the content. You might be surprised how some personal attacks get 10 flags, while the one right above it doesn’t get any, usually because people agree with it. This is where the current system works nicely. We see the attack that was flagged, then read over the thread, find the one that wasn’t flagged, and remove it too.

4. Specifics. How many flags makes something removable? Is one flag enough or should there be more? Do we “blindly” follow what the community seems to want?

At the end of the discussion, we decided that we were asked to do a specific job and to keep the site how the founders want it. We even clarified this with Ben. Since they want the site to remain how they intended, we are going to keep the moderation process how they intended it.

longgone's avatar

@canidmajor Fluther needs its users just as much as it needs the mods. Yes, the team is doing a wonderful, thankless job, and I’ve said so numerous times. I continue to think they are doing their absolute best. From experience, I know that making decisions for a large group is hard, though. For that reason, I hope the mods take most input as helpful suggestions.

The “bitching”, as you call it, happens from time to time. However, I also see jellies calmly and respectfully discussing how to best keep Fluther fun. If I was a mod, I think I would appreciate that. Not daily, while I’m answering the same question for the tenth time, but still – on the whole – I would want jellies to take an interest in my team’s work.

Rather than comparing Fluther to a coffee shop, I’d compare it to a party in someone’s living room. There’s the landlords – Ben and Andrew – who are not there much, but ultimately have the power to shut us down. Then there’s the mods, who might be the hosts. They can throw people out if they misbehave, and without them, the place would get thrashed…
And then there’s the regular jellies, without whom there would not be a party. They might complain, and argue, and dance on the tabletops…but if they don’t have fun, they might stay away next time – and that would be a shame.

jca's avatar

I have defended the moderation of Fluther several times (back in the Wundayatta days), most recently during the religious discussions where some Jellies were very upset that they couldn’t have very long discussions where some felt others’ religions were being insulted. I wrote that the site is like a community, HOWEVER, everyone has to understand that we don’t own it and if the rules are no long religious discussions, then users are free to go elsewhere. .

I remind myself of that now as I am confused at the new, more stringent moderation in Social. I used to avoid asking questions in Social as they would devolve into discussions about the frizzer, pancakes and stuff like that – stuff that I didn’t really understand as I am pretty much out of the insider’s loop and not sure what the jokes really mean. Now, lately I ask in Social more as I enjoy the way the discussions sometimes veer off to other topics. A discussion about grilled veggies may become a discussion about favorite restaurants. A discussion about this may become a discussion about that.

That was described as the reason Social and General started (in the beginning, when I joined in 2007, there was just one line of questions plus Meta). For off-topic discussions. I don’t get modded very often because I usually avoid foreign phrases, I don’t insult other users and I usually try to avoid arguments. Still, I am defending what I feel Fluther used to be, and what it is not now.

I don’t understand how some foreign phrases might be subject to modding. I don’t use them too much, there are some users that use them more often, but still, is that such an issue? I can see if a whole post is in a language other than English, but someone saying one or two sentences?

I have also seen other excessive modding in Social lately that, without knowing exactly what was taken down, it’s impossible to criticize or compliment, but that was always the pleasure of Social. If someone wanted strict answering of their question, they were free to ask in General. Of course, spam, flame and real nasty-ness should be taken down but the rest is not clear to me.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (3points)
dappled_leaves's avatar

@jca I agree. As I said on the BYOB thread, unless it’s a personal attack, why should anything be modded in Social? Who is that helping? What good does it do? Everyone is having a friendly conversation, and then 10 posts are wiped out because I say “mais oui” instead of “yes”.

And as someone (I think @marinelife) said on the “nice things” question, this constitutes a further dumbing-down of Fluther. Is that what we want?

jca's avatar

@dappled_leaves: True – that’s why Social was created (many moons ago).

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (2points)
ibstubro's avatar

It’s human nature to resist change, @canidmajor, especially of the “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” nature.

Basically what we’re seeing right now is the backbone of the community fighting for the principles that caused them to stay here through 10, 20, 30,000 lurve. Members are pushing back on time honored principles they see changing, that they feel are vital to the existence of Fluther.

What, exactly does “The children in my neighborhood won’t get killed by e-coli in tainted food because of the moderation here.” have to do with anything?? Is there a electronic strain of e-coli active?

What I see is a healthy discourse between Fluther’s members and member-moderators regarding the future of the site post-Auggie. There was a point in the past where the founders found the need to separate the free-wheeling social questions from the strict general questions. Many members feel that that definition is currently being blurred and are fighting to stem that tide. If you don’t agree, you merely have to stay in the general section and all is well.

Yes the moderators do a good (if not entirely thankless as is proven here) job. I applaud @ninjacolin‘s call to reason as a way of increasing user satisfaction while lessening the moderator’s burden. Give a skeptical eye to flags, use flags yourself, then intervene.

I think the danger is in a moderator looking at everything they read here with a “Is this wrong?” Better, as @ninjacolin suggests, to review the member flags with a critical eye, flag the questionable stuff for another mod, and remove the stuff you may see that’s just wrong [flame bait].

canidmajor's avatar

Oh, good grief, @ibstubro, my post was referring more to the type of ridiculous over-reaction that is displayed when something is moderated here. On another thread a long time (almost 4 years) user called one of the moderators (a user of longer standing) “ignorant and lazy” because a whimsical Q had been pulled for word usage. It went on and on, an extended hissy fit.
I did not say, or even intimate, in my post that there should never be change. I addressed the attitude that I see here.
I appreciate that many of you have an emotional investment, as @janbb mentions. I get that, I really do. Rail against the restriction of the types of things that are modded, issues that are important and need to be discussed.

Mostly, however, I object to the way so many voice their objections
to the modding. Sometimes with a marked lack of respect, at times with anger, and too often with snide derision. I have never, even once, seen a mod respond to any of this with less than grace and patience.

And yes, I have been modded (not only here, but on other fora as well) and it may annoy me slightly, but if I have something so profound, of such great import to say, I will say it in a place where I know it will make a notable difference.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, very nice!
I have no significant complaints and thank all the mods for their excellent, ongoing and often, under appreciated contributions.
I’m really easy going and agree with @canidmajor , if I am modded it is nothing more than a fleeting annoyance, if that. I have been participating here for 4 years now and always thoroughly enjoy 99.9 of my interactions.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

In all seriousness, the mods are doing a great job and I commend them for taking time from their busy lives to keep this place in shape. My only complaint is that they are not strict enough and this site is not totally clean from game threads. I don’t mind being modded at all.

Oh yeah.. that’s it…a little bit more…

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Quite interesting though it seem to do more on troubleshooting than what I expected to find; which is how long before Fluther implodes, or not. Some parts I found mildly comical to put it lightly, such as:

While we neither limit the topics nor censor language within discussions, the Question Titles must be ‘safe for work’ to allow Jellies from the age of 13 years and up to scroll through the lists of Questions safely.

That is about like having a porno on the coffee table with the Spiderman and expecting them not to pick up the porno when no adult is looking. Those between 13 and 18 have access, and I am sure taking advantage of it things that would be unimaginable teens would be able to get their hands on 30 years ago. The NSFW as insulating them is a joke.

Also musing was :

As the community grew, some expressed a desire to be able to have a little fun and let conversations wander and flow a bit.
A bit? under <cough, cough> statement

Meta was then added as a place to discuss Fluther itself, and to celebrate Lurve milestones.
Which I hear has no importance and most people play no attention to it anyhow so why even have it? If it is that insignificant it can all be flushed and no one would know the better or notice in the slightest.

Since, like our Mod Team, the members of the collective are in different parts of the globe and have various schedules and responsibilities of their own, it may be a while before corrections are made and the post reinstated.
Sometimes even after the requested changes are made, the question never comes back, almost as if conveniently forgotten; just an observation.

The Guidelines and Terms & Conditions of Fluther state that we do not allow: trolling or propaganda; ego-centric or attention grabbing content; deceitful or deceptive information; hateful, abusive, bigoted content or harassment of others. They also state, “Feel free to ask questions on controversial topics; all we require is that you don’t just do it purely for the sake of it. Asking a question on a controversial topic because you genuinely believe in the question and want an answer is acceptable, whereas doing so solely because you want to spark off a touchy discussion is not.” And let us not forget the directive to “disagree without being disagreeable.”
Sometimes no matter how much you want to explore a question you have to pull the emergency brakes, stopping on a dime because someone (if not many) will see it as bigoted, hateful, trolling, bla, bla, bla, because they may see themselves in the question in less than a flattering light. The question if viewed open-mindedly might be better than the –fluff-, soft frolicsome questions that permeate the site
We would much rather that you politely question, refute, and/or discredit ideas by exposing the conceptual flaws, rather than just declaring them irrational or some other derogatory adjective.
That is a concept; let’s hope that sticks better going forward.

We all should have a better idea what the protocol is behind the scenes even if we do not know how the criterion is applied question by question. I know I do not care to be a mod, you will never make all happy and to do it for free is commendable. Just don’t drop questions after the changes you asked for has been made. Jolly good work, keep it up.

Coloma's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Hey…what’s wrong with “wander & flow”, yep, I’m one of “them”...I like to let things unfold spontaneously, just like in real life. No big secret about me. haha

ibstubro's avatar

@Coloma. “When the site started, it was only one section with the strict guidelines of the current General section, where the comments must relate to the question asked in the original post (OP). As the community grew, some expressed a desire to be able to have a little fun and let conversations wander and flow a bit. This was when the Social section was added, which allowed for some joking and sarcasm relative to the topic, and for conversations to evolve and broaden a bit beyond the OP.”

Remember, ”the goal is to maturely and respectfully share knowledge and experience on various topics.”, not entertain or ”del ganso” a ‘member’.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Well..screw the goals….I say have fun.
Once the goals have been met, lets allow some human banter.
Discussions grow and flow organically….I agree that the “General” section should stick to topic, but social should appoint the question asker as moderator.

But hey…remember..I don’t really care, I work around things, it’s called adaptability. haha

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Coloma You must have the adaptability super-power. No kidding! ~

rojo's avatar

We have a blog??!!?!?!?!?

ibstubro's avatar

You thought it a golb? @rojo

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