Moderation Theory

    It so happened that I am an unprofessional moderator with many years of experience moderating a pair of Internet resources (hereinafter referred to as resources) on which users communicate in forums on various topics. Since I participate in communication on other resources in order to obtain the necessary information, advice and opinions, I have the opportunity to observe how other resources are moderated.

    This note provides both general information on the moderation of such resources, and it will describe what the management of such resources prefers to disseminate:
    • how such resources are managed;
    • what problems do moderators and management of forums and similar resources encounter;
    • how these problems are solved;
    • unsuccessful resolution of problems;
    • what are the methods to support the development of such Internet resources in order to avoid their degradation.

    At the end of the note you will find a list of what turned out to be completely different from what I expected before I came to moderation.

    I am publishing this note right now, after I left the moderation of one large and legendary portal with a forum on another small, but no less legendary resource. A secondary reason is that I have the impression that online communication on the forums has been going through a crisis for several years now and those resources will survive that can be rebuilt or built differently from the very beginning. I can’t imagine the practice of moderation in this article, therefore I will touch only on theoretical things from the point of view of the practice of moderation.

    The reasons for choosing Habrahabr for this publication are as follows:
    • I have no relation to Habrahabr, therefore I will not tell anything secret and harmful to this resource;
    • there are enough people here who either participate in Internet communication, or moderate it, or create websites for communication - the experience of another moderator can be useful to them, and developers can take this experience into account to create the best engines for Internet resources;
    • the level of presence of trolls and simply violent users on this resource is small, because there is a high chance of a constructive discussion.

    Internet forums and other resources for communication are created for various reasons and by different people, but you can always draw an analogy between a garden and an Internet resource. The owner in the creation and maintenance of the garden sets himself certain goals as the creator of the resource. He thinks about what goals the garden (resource) will pursue, what and where to plant (what and where attractive to make for users), how to make it pleasant to look (make not a ugly design), pleasant, useful and interesting for his stay and guests (to collect the best and most interesting on the resource), how to make the garden grow (opportunities that are attractive to users) are added and developed, how to deal with weeds (those who interfere and harm). The right, and, even often the duty, the creator of the garden and the Internet resource is making decisions on the above issues. This is understandable, the garden (resource) belongs to him, it is up to him to decide what, how, when and where. We will return to the garden analogy, but let's look at how such resources are managed.

    Internet resource management (created for communication)

    Typically, such resources are created by a group of like-minded people, one or two of whom become resource administrators. As a resource develops and more and more users come to it, sooner or later, administrators realize that they lack strength and need moderators. By that time, some resource rules were usually written, which, in theory, should be guided by both users and moderators and administrators. If moderators or administrators deviate from these rules, it damages the reputation of the resource. After all, few people are interested in being where arbitrariness exists. Trolls, who can use this feature for their own purposes, also realize this. But about the trolls later, and here it’s worth mentioning that users are more comfortable with the departure from the rules by administrators (if the administrators are the owners) and less tolerant with the moderators who deviate from the rules. It makes no difference to them that “moderation” in English means “moderation” and that it is the moderator who determines on the portal rules scale (using his interpretation and understanding of the rules of the resource, his knowledge and logic) what violates the rules and what does not break, how act in one way or another and to what extent be moderate in the requirement for users to comply with the rules.

    A useful resource management and moderator communication tool is a forum for moderators that is closed to the eyes of ordinary users. There they can discuss their issues, discuss what and how can be improved on the resource, publish reports on problems to attract the attention of other moderators. What is interesting is the fact that at these moderator forums the moderators themselves feel more freely and somewhere even with impunity. Therefore, there moderators can exchange experiences, learn, and at some stage it becomes clear which of them is a corrupt moderator, who is rude or not very smart, and who can do more than just moderate. The last point is very important, because in order for the resource to live, it is necessary that already trained and not just the best moderators come to replace the leaving moderators or administrators, and moderators who are better than the previous ones. After all, this is the principle of development.

    A person’s moderator status on a resource does not guarantee that he has sufficient experience, knowledge or integrity of a person, therefore part of the decisions or all administrative decisions regarding the resource and controversial issues are decided by administrators. Another governing body, in the creation of which I took part, is called management and serves to reduce the burden on the administrator. There, the most experienced (ideally) moderators make complex and require serious discussion decisions such as planning a future resource, considering requests to ban individual users from entering a resource, resolving conflicts and monitoring trolls. Decisions are made by simple voting, but if a decision cannot be made within a certain period of time or the number of pros and cons turned out to be equal, then the secretary is looking for either an average solution or uses his voice so that a decision is finally made. Only one problem could not be solved by the management for the entire time it worked - the decision about what to recognize as plagiarism on a resource and what to do if someone is suspected of plagiarism. The difficulty turned out to be that the members of the management are in different countries and environments where the concept and attitude to plagiarism is different. In order to finally make such a decision, the secretary contacted one of the moderators, who then wrote a definition of plagiarism for his section of the resource. From this definition, everything began to build on moderation. Only one problem could not be solved by the management for the entire time it worked - the decision about what to recognize as plagiarism on a resource and what to do if someone is suspected of plagiarism. The difficulty turned out to be that the members of the management are in different countries and environments where the concept and attitude to plagiarism is different. In order to finally make such a decision, the secretary contacted one of the moderators, who then wrote a definition of plagiarism for his section of the resource. From this definition, everything began to build on moderation. Only one problem could not be solved by the management for the entire time it worked - the decision about what to recognize as plagiarism on a resource and what to do if someone is suspected of plagiarism. The difficulty turned out to be that the members of the management are in different countries and environments where the concept and attitude to plagiarism is different. In order to finally make such a decision, the secretary contacted one of the moderators, who then wrote a definition of plagiarism for his section of the resource. From this definition, everything began to build on moderation.

    Often users expect and sincerely want openness in moderation and decision-making, explaining decisions of the administration and moderators, the availability of lists of moderators and members of the board. What ordinary users usually don’t know, but trolls know, is that as soon as this information becomes known to many, trolls and simply violent users for their own purposes begin to use it.

    What is dangerous in such cases:
    • establishment of “friendly” relations with moderators in order to obtain the necessary information and protection in case other moderators calculate the troll;
    • arbitrary accusations and attacks on moderators and members of their families;
    • sweeping tracks;
    • They know what and when to do for a strong influence on the resource and the moderators.
    Therefore, some resources in recent years more and more hide the names of their moderators, as well as information about discussions and decision-making.

    Problems and solutions

    Most problems can be avoided by writing detailed and understandable rules of behavior for users and moderators on this resource. As the owner of the garden has the right to establish rules of conduct for guests in his garden, just like the owners of the Internet resource I have the right to establish rules that will serve the achievement of the goals that these owners set. The rules cannot cover all possible situations, especially since if some users wish, they can find holes in the rules and use them not for the best purposes, including harm to the resource.

    What to do when a certain event is not provided in the rules?

    In this case, usually, administrators or owners of the resource, as the owner, make a decision and all users will accept this as they are, since they are visiting the owner. If there are no administrators and owners, or if they simply avoided making such decisions, then the resource management can make the decision. This item is better to immediately stipulate in the rules of the portal, because knowledge of this is useful to users. The solution of such issues by moderators is not always constructive, because among them there are even more different people with different values ​​and life principles than among management and among more people it is more difficult to come to a common solution.

    How to resolve a working conflict among moderators?

    Again, administrators, resource owners or resource management can act as the one to decide which point of view to take in such a conflict. It’s better to try to do it objectively, and it’s better to look for an option that will suit as many conflicting parties as possible (this is from the theory of project management). We can proceed from the principle "a loafer should not criticize the one who works." Not everyone will understand this, but such a position will morally support the moderator who is active in the work and will immediately set boundaries for others. Moreover, among the moderators of different sections of the resource there is relative autonomy in decision-making. For example, a presenter of a photo contest or a democratic election should not be pressured to influence the outcome of a competition or election.

    Personal conflict among moderators

    If the conflict does not harm the resource and its visitors, it is usually pretended that no one notices the conflict. If the conflict begins to harm, then the source of the conflict is removed. If the source is difficult to determine, and the difference between the conflicting parties is not noticeable, then the most active conflicting people are removed from the moderators.

    Appeal against the decision of the moderator on moderation

    Some forums allow you to do this openly in front of everyone, but most often some users use this to troll and unnerve moderators. As a result of this, the moderators discussed begin to make even more mistakes. Therefore, it is best not to allow such discussions in a general forum. Let the user communicate with the moderator, management and administrators in private messages and try to convince them of their rightness using logical arguments, rather than rudeness, insults, and controversy.

    Rudeness of users (or other violations of the rules) in relation to the moderator

    In this case, administrators, site owners or site management should be on the protection of the moderator, since if this is allowed, then with other moderators this behavior will become the norm. It does not matter whether the moderator is right or wrong. His righteousness can only be discussed calmly and respectfully to his honor and dignity and without bringing him to emotional decisions. The best option was the following sequence of events: 1. the moderator, after receiving a rude message, asks the user not to write this more; 2. if the user does not ignore the request, the moderator sends a message to the administrator; 3. the administrator makes a decision (if rudeness really took place, then you can warn the user about the inadmissibility of such behavior and explain why this cannot be done or immediately block access of such a user to the resource).

    Rudeness of moderators (or other violations of the rules) in relation to users and other moderators

    In this case, they do the same, such a person can create more problems than bring benefits in the form of moderation. So it would be better if administrators warn him about the inadmissibility of such behavior by explaining why it is harmful. For some users, the moderator is a role model, and if he is rude, then such users will also be rude. Moreover, if such behavior is unacceptable according to the rules of the resource, then he, as a moderator, will not be able to demand that these rules be followed by users, since he himself does not follow the rules.

    How to get users to follow resource rules

    Users forget or don't even read the rules. The same thing happens with moderators. There are many repressive methods ranging from warnings, continuing to delete messages that violate the rules and ending with the prohibition of access to such users on the resource. But the best method for users was the moderator's explanation of his position based on the rules of the resource and an attempt to explain why the moderator cannot allow this behavior. That is, first there follows an explanation in a simple language why this is not worth doing, and then, there is already a link to a specific paragraph of the rules. If the user accepts the opinion of the moderator, understands and will no longer break the rules, then you are lucky, there are not many such users. Take care of this user. If he begins to argue with you and is engaged in polemics, then it is quite possible to say that “I explained my actions, I ask you to accept my opinion as is and not to violate any more, even if you do not agree; moreover, if you do not agree, then you can always appeal my decision to the management. ” This method works, because we are all people and do not always agree with each other. But he works again with normal people.
    If you are dealing with a user with signs of a troll, then be careful in your statements. Unfortunately, I have not seen a better solution than completely ignoring such a user and deleting his messages from the resource. At the beginning of my moderator experience, I tried to act with such as with normal users, but over time I realized the futility of such communication with them - after all, users with signs of trolls come to the resource for other purposes compared to ordinary users.

    How to act towards users with signs of trolls ( PPT )

    Среди этих пользователей есть и убеждённые тролли которые знают что они делают и почему именно так выстраивают фразы, есть просто буйные люди (да, те самые которые ещё в школе доставали своих одноклассников) и, вероятно, есть ещё не совсем психически здоровые люди. Последних могут опознать психологи и психиатры, но модераторам приходится иметь с ними дело. Для простоты я объединю всю эту компанию в одну категорию — и назову их всех как Пользователи с Признаками Троллей (ППТ) simply because they are trolling other users. I emphasize that I call them just that for their actions. There are PPTs specializing in religious issues, on anti-Semitism (they “fight” against anti-Semites, or those to whom they can label this or impose resources on anti-Semitic ideas), on the advent of extraterrestrial civilizations, and so on. They are all united by the fact that they obsessively seek to make unpleasant the presence on the resource for other users. Similar thoughts were expressed in a similar article about tolls , but I would say that what I saw significantly exceeds the statistics of the authors of that article. For example, the authors of the article write that 32% of Internet users were abusively called by other people on the Internet. But according to my observations, it’s hard to find the person who was not called.

    PPTs are worthy of a separate note, but in short, there are two options for action: a) to tolerate their presence on the resource to some extent, and b) not to tolerate and close access to them. Proponents of the path a) argue that the Internet resource reflects life and such people exist in life. That is, in their opinion, it is not necessary to remove the PPT from the resource, as they create topics, leave posts, move this resource. Indirectly, these same proponents of path a) create a support group for the PPT on the resource. If the PMTs feel the danger, they can come together to protect moderators who support option a). That is, it will already be a threat to the goals of the resource and closer to the corrupt relations between the moderator and users (in the broad, English-speaking sense of this concept), since there will be mutually beneficial cooperation between him and the PPT.

    Let's just turn to the analogy of an online resource with a garden. Not only those plants that the garden owner planted will grow in the garden, then self-growing plants (flowers, trees, etc.) can grow there simply because they have taken root there. Weeds will climb too. It is clear that what the owner planted, he will most likely support and he needs it. Self-planting plants, if they bring benefit or joy to the owner and his guests (the target audience of the resource), then they are only for joy and they can be created conditions. And what about weeds (PPT)? Yes, they create the appearance of a large population of plants (this is what the proponents of option a) operate on). They close the flowers necessary for the owner, interfere with their growth, parasitically live in his garden and consume his resources, often harming the goals for which the garden was created. Therefore, if the owner of the resource, its administrators, management and moderators put in the first place the number of visitors, then they might think that the ITT is worth leaving. This is tempting, since at some stage they can increase the attendance of the resource. However, over time, the PPT on the resource will become even greater, they can begin (and most likely will start) harm constructive communication on the resource, discourage those who develop it from participating in its development. Their number will grow further, since weeds grow if you do not regularly weed the garden. For example, PPT poetry writers can basically write that their verse is disgusting, that the participants of the photo contest are dirty and the methods are dirty (even if there’s none), and that the horizon is “littered” in the photo, and that democratic elections on the resource are not democratic at all everything is decided in advance (even if it is not). They need a few minutes to do harm. Moderators and active users will spend weeks and months to restore the interest of participants and their trust. Therefore, the sooner the PMT will be removed from the resource, the better for the resource.

    What to do with those RPTs that return

    If they return and have not changed their habits in communicating on the resource, this once again confirms that the previous decision to block access for them was correct. It is better to remove them immediately (block access, ban) and save the time of moderators and protect users from the IPT. On some resources there is another rule - if the user has already been denied access, but he returned, then his posts are automatically deleted and access is denied to him under a new name. I’ll be skeptical about this method, because the PMT often knows better than administrators how to hide.

    What to do with those FPTs who return intrusively for the tenth and hundredth time

    If the administrator considers it possible for himself to go to the police or the court, then he can do it. Most often they are limited to the fact that over time a system and methods for calculating such people (both programmatically and manually) are created and these people are denied access as soon as it is determined that they have returned.

    Internet advertising distributors

    At times, distributors of advertising on the network make their way to resources. If there are too many of them, then it is difficult for ordinary users to communicate. Therefore, moderators remove their posts and comments as soon as possible, and administrators do everything to ensure that advertising distributors are present on the resource as little as possible. Distributors of advertising are robots (it’s easier and easier to calculate with it), they are also living people. These people can simply leave spam, but they can also write messages in which they seem to accidentally mention the right product, store, company. It happens that several registered users communicate and maintain interest in such a topic. It also happens that these users have accounts registered many years ago, which, apparently, is designed to avert suspicion from them in advertising and give greater importance to their posts. The latter is difficult to calculate and only an experienced moderator, ready to take responsibility, can do this. Very useful in the fight against spam are robots that can calculate the distributors of advertising and spam, remove their messages and disable their account.

    In my practice, there were a couple of interesting cases with such people:
    • When spammers (supposedly from China) realized that their posts were being removed, they left a video on the forum. In this video, they sang the desired advertising slogan while sitting in their dorm room. Honestly, I was very sorry to delete their message. So they impressed me with their resourcefulness that I remembered this story.
    • Once I found on a video of advertising distributors in which they reviewed the resource on which I moderated and told that there are a lot of visitors and where you can post ads.

    In general, advertising distributors are harmless. You just need to remove their posts and I did not meet any political games and trolling from them. Most likely, even the owner of all the accounts was present at the forum for many years and made the forum under its main nickname interesting for everyone.

    Political agitators

    This is one of the most difficult categories of problem makers, judging from my experience. Among them there are simply amateur activists who scatter the necessary political material on the forums and support communication on the necessary topics. It is interesting to them as to any person who has something to say, but only as long as he does not add agitational and political spam. There are those who claim to be an influence agent, impose and repeat the material they need using all the tools:
    • distortion;
    • juggling facts, a mixture of facts and political propaganda material (which not everyone can separate from each other at first glance, and for a quick glance the propaganda material in such a note looks like facts);
    • very often the same person uses several user accounts, maintains them for years with different legends, comes from computers with the necessary IP addresses in the countries necessary to maintain the legend (even gets to know himself under different nicknames, and administrators have to watch this quietly );
    • PPT methods;
    • acts synchronously with political events, political campaigns (for example, attacks on a certain politician) and synchronously with other similar people on the resource;
    • justification of his actions by political freedoms, which he does not often suffer from other users;
    • similar to the previous paragraph, accusing others of what he does or is himself;
    • attempts to “shout over” a different opinion, humiliate the interlocutor and show his insolvency or incompetence (for example, in response to an uncomfortable personal opinion expressed, he palm off the article he needs with the necessary conclusions, which is published in a more respected place in his opinion than just on a forum or on Wikipedia );
    • polemics, especially in the style of "and these people forbid me to pick my nose";
    • they change the name of the account after the end of a dirty mission (black PR) and after they realize that the attention of users to publications under the old account has fallen.

    My attitude to them is like with spammers, but they come to political forums, use political freedoms to achieve their goals. As soon as they begin to oppose the moderators who can figure them out, they begin to accuse the moderators of political commitment and write that such a moderator cannot moderate the forum. Therefore, the best moderator who will deal with them, oddly enough it sounds - the one who had experience in communicating on political forums of other resources, but never expressed his political views on this resource. Then, for example, a communist agitator may fall into a stupid situation when he accuses the moderator of intolerance of the communists. What the moderator can always ask: “Where and when did I write this?” The accuser cannot confirm his words, it will be seen that he made slanderous fasting. This method has a drawback. Such moderators are accused of lack of experience.

    Despite my personal attitude to people like spammers, I have never been to a resource where their posts would be deleted for this reason. And it would be interesting to see how effective this method is. But I have one more unverified feeling that they will stop at nothing if they are counteracted. That is, the resource can be blacklisted at their request, and the attack can be committed and a libel campaign can be launched if they need it. Just because, by all the signs described above, these people behave like professionals. For them, being on a resource can be a matter of professional honor and making money for their families.

    Depending on the opinion of the management or the owner of the resource, such users are either removed from the resource, or try to reduce the side effects of their presence, or do nothing with them. Methods to reduce side effects from such guests of the resource that I know about or have used:
    • create a section for propaganda in which to move topics and posts of such users (for example, campaign material);
    • introduce into the portal rules a ban on libel and the publication of knowingly false information (for example, arbitrary materials under the guise of a translation);
    • the moderator of the political section should be critical of the news, try to double-check them and be active in maintaining cleanliness (and, of course, with the support of the administration in this resource);
    • the physical separation of discussion topics from news (that is, two sections are needed: the first for news and the second for policy discussions) so that those who discuss are not in the same section as those who put campaign material under the guise of news, which inevitably happens;
    • the last paragraph also requires the activity of a moderator who will remove from the discussion topic all possible propaganda posts that will be necessarily thrown by the agitators as they understand that it is in these topics that all the attention of other users (in our time, we did not do this and are able to constructively discuss with time left the forum, because they were not interested in topics in which they propagated campaign materials);
    • the prohibition of controversy and the restriction of other forms of non-constructive communication in this section (since spam and unsuccessful communication are of no interest to anyone other than spam carriers).

    Controversial points in understanding the rules

    You can spend several weeks writing rules of user behavior on the resource, write them together with moderators and block almost all possible actions of users that could damage the resource and guests of the resource there. But there will always be moments in the rules that can be interpreted by different people differently. For example, you can select and reflect your definitions of pornography and eroticism in the rules, or refer to Wikipedia as a source independent of the authors of the rules. But at times, users will still appear who will argue with the moderators and prove that for example a certain picture is not pornography, but eroticism (this dispute is solved by including a robot in the work that will simply remove all such pictures).

    Yes, it’s clear to everyone that moderators rely on their personal interpretation of the rules, their opinion on rating posts on the resource rules scale, and their knowledge on this topic (which are not endless). When users begin to argue with the opinion of moderators, they do not always pursue the goal of developing a constructive solution together with the moderator and forget that first the user, and then the moderator, decides whether the rules correspond to a certain post or topic of the user.

    And, here are the methods for the moderator to exit from this situation that I know of:
    • listen to user arguments, check them and make your decision;
    • you can ask your moderator colleague for a third opinion, it helped me especially when a decision was made regarding political topics and another moderator had different political convictions from me - he saw something that I did not notice and that I did not know;
    • if the user is still dissatisfied with the decision of the moderator, then you can ask him to write something that resolves such disputes - we had this control, which could, for example, restore the deleted topic of the user and at the same time inform the moderator of his decision so as not to humiliate him did not feel stupid after such an action;
    • express method - to fix in the rules that (for example, in a dispute about erotica and pornography) “pornography, unlike erotica, is all that a moderator considers pornography”.

    Changes in the structure of the resource control

    This is one of the most difficult problems that gives rise to another group of problems. I managed to meet in the departure of the main person of the resource, the administrator, from active participation in modeling and in the life of the resource in general. What problems did this cause:
    • resource users began to panic with the questions “what will happen to the resource?” and build the most fantastic theories about the future and present of the resource - they will not listen to anyone and will be confident in the raider capture of the resource until the owner openly says that this is not so;
    • disputes and conflicts among moderators began to occur more often, because they are equal in rights, and there is no main or single authority;
    • management and administrators are often involved in tracking down IPTs, blocking user access to a resource, establishing users with many user records on a resource, and those who make decisions in contentious situations - as soon as they stop doing this, the resource management system is paralyzed.

    The solutions to such problems are obvious, but often administrators for a long time can not decide to transfer administrative rights (there are also restrictions by laws) or share them with the new administrator. In one of these cases, the administrator was succeeded in replacing in the field of decision-making by collecting resource management. From the very beginning, we managed to gather adequate and honest moderators there who wanted to work only on condition of hiding the fact of their presence in the administration. Decisions were made by simple voting and, if moderators could implement them independently, then they implemented. If only the administrator could implement it, then they asked the administrator to do it. So after the management crisis caused by the administrator’s retirement, the resource began to “fall asleep”.

    Moderator Behavior for Users

    Surely everyone understands that the moderator should avoid rudeness, personal nit-picking, bullying others, trolling users as well as not violating the rules of the portal. But moderators, like all people, are stressed even if we assume that all other causes of this behavior do not occur. I’ll write about stress below, but here I’ll mention that the moderator is better to behave with users ideally or, at least, in accordance with the rules, if only because then the moderator will need to ensure that these users behave in accordance with the rules. Yes, I understand that there are such users who get their disputes out and spend a lot of time on the moderator, and from the very beginning it is clear that the dispute is going nowhere, he does not seek any constructive solution.

    The best method that some moderators already use is to pre-evaluate whether there is a potential benefit from such communication. If there is, then at the next stage you can try to chat with the user even if he shows all the signs of the PMT. Yes, a lot of time can be lost, but the benefit can be this:
    • You can get new ideas from users that can be used to improve the resource (but do not assign ideas to it);
    • if suddenly you misunderstood the user, then there will be another chance to understand him and many users appreciate it;
    • you can find a solution that suits everyone or just a compromise;
    • even if such a solution could not be found, then users see the willingness to work, the moderator’s constructive approach, his willingness to solve problems and, again, they appreciate it;
    • if it’s a PPT, then it will most likely show it in the process of communication and can give you valuable information (for example, point to a corrupt moderator, show the falsity of his statements, etc.).

    Moderator Stress Management

    A stressed moderator can make many mistakes that will be either difficult or impossible to fix. While writing this note, Fedia published an article on how to behave in order to avoid mistakes in a stressful situation.. I just want to add that it is important for the moderator himself to understand in time that he is in a bad state and needs rest. You can isolate yourself, walk on the grass, throw darts at a poster with an image of an unloved star, bite your head off a chocolate troll, and so on. If one of the other moderators, administrators, or administrators notices this behavior from another moderator, you can simply write to him about it and offer to moderate it instead, or simply offer help in moderating the topic where he is already at the limit of his patience. You can just as well start talking on that topic and relieve the conflict there. In extreme cases, you can use this method to isolate the moderator under stress as shown in the photo below.

    Investigation of events and logs

    Event logs come to the rescue in cases where site owners, administrators and management need to investigate the events that occurred, such as accusations of moderators and non-moderators of breaking the rules, dishonest behavior, insulting users and so on and so forth.

    Immediately examples:
    • The user in communication with the moderator constantly asks the moderator not to edit his (moderator) messages by the moderator after sending. If the moderator edited them to quickly fix their mistakes in the post, then this does not create any problem. If he edited to hide the insults he had previously written against the user, then this is a serious problem in the behavior of the moderator. If he edited the post correcting a typo, and the user several times says that editing the posts is not good, then an inexperienced, sleepy, tired, stressed moderator can explode and make even more mistakes. Not only can this user be a PMT, but in the case of moderator errors, other PMTs, with a high probability,
    • The user leaves a post that does not violate the rules of the resource knowing that other messages that he left earlier are most likely to be deleted by the moderator due to a violation of the rules. A few days later he, realizing that the moderator’s attention to the old posts had already subsided, replaces the old post with a new one, which most likely the moderator should have been removed. There are two points - the moderator’s irritation by such methods, and then again, the PMT can blame the moderator for not having removed the message for this individual user in violation of the rules, but for others. So, according to the logic of the PPT and some ordinary users, this is a biased and poor moderator.
    • The user leaves an innocent message on the forum in the evening, and in the morning writes that his message was edited by a moderator and, after the user saw this, he (the user) returned the message to its original form. The moderator himself, who has been cast a shadow over such events, can walk around the national park that day. In the evening and with surprise, he learns that other users are hinting that he edited an innocent post.
    • The same user communicates with himself under different names on the resource, untwists the necessary topics, spills the resource with the spam he needs, raises the ratings for himself and uses many accounts on the resource to harm the rating of other users, returns many times under new names after access is closed under the old, threatens users, trolling and so on. Very often it happens that after he harmed other people or the resource (intimidated or insulted so that the person did not sleep at night or did not come to the resource at all), the harm does not disappear even if such a user is removed from the resource. For example, a user showed his photo, and they reacted to it so that he felt humiliated and he lost the desire to show photos, participate in photo contests on this resource and so on. Damage to the user and the resource has already been caused and it will not be easy to correct the situation. Therefore, the sooner such users attacking other users are calculated before they cause harm, the better for everyone.
    • Сообщения пользователей, нарушающие правила, либо редактируются модераторами чтобы убрать нарушения, либо вообще удаляются с ресурса. Естественно что другие пользователи да и руководство ресурса, которые не видели эти сообщения до момента их редактирования или удаления, могут думать всё что угодно об удалённых сообщениях и действиях модератора. Да так и происходит часто когда ППТ начинают возмущаться по поводу удалённых сообщений, утверждают что в тех сообщениях не было никакого нарушения правил и что модератор — лжец. Видимо это делается для того чтобы модератора вывести из равновесия модератора или добиться его снятия в надежде, что никто кроме него их сообщений не видел.

    There are many examples and experienced moderators have not seen this. The portal management knows that in order for the moderator to develop his skills and experience, he must work as a moderator for a long time and there is no one who wants to be scattered by working moderators. Moreover, if you remove a person from the moderators just because they seriously took the accusations towards the moderator, and then it turned out that the charges were fictitious, then this will be a direct road to destroying the moderation system on the resource. But how to check fictitious charges or not? Here you need to keep a record of events and as complete a story as possible for as long as possible:
    • Каждое сообщение форума, гостевой книги, блога, внутренней почты, во всех его правках со временем, датой правки и именем того человека или модератора который правил сообщение (и, лучше историю правок показывать прямо внизу сообщения чтобы все пользователи видели) должны быть доступны если не всем пользователям, то руководству ресурса.
    • Каждый вход пользователя и служебная информация (IP адрес, имя провайдера, всё что указывает на компьютер с которого приходит пользователь) должны записываться и быть доступны для руководства ресурса.

    Oddly enough, this is not on all resources, which opens up unlimited possibilities for the PMT where such a message history is not kept and is not checked. All this will not save the resource from the problems created by users simply because even normal people sometimes create such problems, but it will help to reduce the consequences of problems to a minimum and avoid them in the future in some way. What exactly gets into the event record and what doesn't get there, users do not need to know.

    Unresolved Problem

    Guys, I myself did everything to remain anonymous on the network, I used methods, but after I became a moderator I was faced with the fact that anonymity is not a friend of the moderator. Most often, it’s the PEP (as well as political agitators, advertising distributors) that have used anonymity methods in my practice, and as soon as the moderator or administrator sees that the user is using these methods, then a suspicion arises of the user. They check him, follow him more than others. The advertisers and, apparently, political agitators use the same methods. Such users sometimes set up many accounts, “wind up” ratings, intimidate other users (with phrases such as: “I have hundreds of nicknames here”, “I can do anything with your rating” and “find you” and so on), can return from different IP addresses in a few minutes within a few hours with obscene messages that moderators have to respond to. One such one even came through paid anomizer servers. No, well, you only think about it - a person is ready to pay his money in order to do disgusting (if it is not his servers). Other users used anonymity methods to “win” votes for the candidate they want in the election of the coolest person of the resource, and the administrator was forced to move away from the regime of non-interference in the elections and engage in trapping and “untwisting” of such “winded” votes. Well, you only think about it - a person is ready to pay his money in order to do disgusting (unless it's his servers). Other users used anonymity methods to “win” votes for the candidate they want in the election of the coolest person of the resource, and the administrator was forced to move away from the regime of non-interference in the elections and engage in trapping and “untwisting” of such “winded” votes. Well, you only think about it - a person is ready to pay his money in order to do disgusting (unless it's his servers). Other users used anonymity methods to “win” votes for the candidate they want in the election of the coolest person of the resource, and the administrator was forced to move away from the regime of non-interference in the elections and engage in trapping and “untwisting” of such “winded” votes.

    Realizing that technical methods did not work, administrators and moderators began to establish administrative restrictions on the participation of newly registered users in voting in elections, voting in ratings and in other similar actions. For example, even on this resource it is impossible for a newly registered user to immediately send an article to the article feed. For new users, pre-moderation works. However, the peculiarity of forums and other resources for communication is that the very idea of ​​their creation and existence provides for the widest and least possible range of opinions. There, one cannot prevent newly registered users from writing comments, otherwise such a resource will not fulfill its function. Which ultimately just guarantees fertile ground for the FPT, those who will abuse the rules of the resource and methods of anonymity on the network. All this harms the forums, reduces communication for interesting users to "no", leads to the transformation of forums into "trojniki" and, ultimately, to the closure of forums. You probably saw such forums, and a discussion thread under the news of news resources. Often, news agencies are forced to turn off the ability to comment on news.

    The moderators, administrators, resource management and their owners counteract the rolling of resources into the state of “trojans”. But if moderators are left alone with such users, without the support of "heavy artillery" in the form of administrators, then again they can do nothing to maintain a normal discussion environment on such resources. Therefore, I will express a bold idea - forums and discussion of news in the comments are gradually dying away and if the owners of resources and authors of forum engines do not find the opportunity to correct this situation, then we will no longer have forums and constructive discussions on the Internet.

    Even if there is the possibility of investigating events and the corresponding tools, then the PMT and network advertising distributors know how to minimize the possibility of their determination by moderators and resource managers. I’m not sure that the developers of resource engines can significantly help in this case and improve the efficiency of identifying potential problem creators, because much has already been done that could be done. Perhaps it is time to create a base of personal characteristics of the problem-creators on one of several resources, since the same people and TIP are on different resources? But this also harms anonymity and centralization. Or maybe, Is it time to create programs for automatic forensic profiling of users to search for the creators of problems and identify them in the early stages of presence? Indeed, one way or another, moderators are already engaged in profiling, not always knowing that this method is used in forensics.

    Resource Development Support Methods

    Development support methods are similar to what they already wrote in the sandbox . In addition to the contests mentioned there, the portal develops when something new is born on it that is not like other similar resources. For instance:
    • section of poetry, poetry games, poetry contests (especially with moderators who protect authors' copyrights and interfere with the activity of the PPT);
    • photo contests (especially if the hosts of such contests do not support the quality requirements of photographs of participants at a trivial level, do not allow authors to participate with old photographs and hold contests on arbitrary topics for which authors need to prepare photographs;
    • other contests and the exchange of interesting news, interesting links;
    • обсуждение вопросов, например, компьютерных, с упором на результат и оказание помощи тем у кого есть проблемы;
    • если обсуждение новостей, то с упором на серьёзный разбор события с поиском документов, а не скатыванием во флуд и флейм;
    • если есть раздел для поиска людей, то сделать список тех кого ищут люди и пытаться модераторам помогать найти людей хотя бы по телефонным книгам;
    • проведение отрытых и демократических выборов (например, самого классного пользователя ресурса), обсуждение того что можно улучить в системе выборов, желание слышать пользователей и пробовать новые методы даже если есть сомнение в их эффективности;
    • спрашивать пользователей о том, чего им не хватает на ресурсе;
    • и так далее и тому подобное.

    Each of the above points aimed at development can be brought to the point where it begins to harm and lead to degradation of the resource. Similar issues are also mentioned in a translated article by eretik. Moderation of social networks: Flickr experience.. I have already mentioned the holding of elections, but here I will take the poetry section as an example. Poets, like all creative people, are very sensitive to the topic of plagiarism. Among them there are those who, according to the words, will disassemble the work of another person and may find such borrowings from another work that he himself recognizes the presence of plagiarism in the work being disassembled. The recognition of plagiarism and the ability to distinguish it will depend on the individual as well as on his experience, hobbies, environment and country. PPT (and they play) can play on this topic trying to get some users out of themselves, survive them from the resource or threaten the owner of the resource. This can damage the resource and lead to its degradation. Thus, the resource simply needs a system of protection against degradation. In the case of plagiarism, the decision to recognize the work as plagiarism can be made by the moderator of the poetry section and, so that there is less debate, the resource management can say that it will be based on the decision of the moderator. And you can immediately write in the rules: “plagiarism is everything that the moderator of the poetry section considers as such” (naturally, in this case the moderator should be adequate).

    In general, methods to counteract resource degradation and support resource development can be as follows:
    • the prohibition of rude communication, insults, humiliations, dishonest methods of discussion (as a rule, those who develop can do without all this);
    • the prohibition of non-constructive communication or the separation of constructive and other communication in different sections;
    • the prohibition of flame, flood, obscene words, or the creation of separate sections for flame, flood, obscene language (this is the way management of one of the resources went after it became obvious that users need freedom to flood, flame and obscenities - after some time, new users of the section Mata began to believe that they have the right to use obscene words outside this section);
    • административные решения должны приниматься и не задерживаться независимо ни от чего (если решение у управления застряло, то его в аварийном режиме принимает тот же секретарь управления);
    • приоритет и защита управлением ресурса для тех кто развивает;
    • относительная свобода принятия решения в процессе модерирования для модераторов и большая свобода и защита автономии ведущих конкурсов по сравнению с модераторами;
    • стимулирование высказывания собственного мнения пользователей для поиска новых идей и поддержка тех кто готов их пускать в жизнь;
    • делегирование работы тем кто может её делать и имеет нужные идеи;
    • назначение адекватного числа модераторов — если их не хватает, то уровень модерирования падает;
    • назначение авторов отдельных тем модераторами этих тем;
    • ориентация границ и направленности обсуждения темы на запросы автора темы и поддержка этого административными методами;
    • наблюдение за ресурсом и конкурсами для того чтобы вовремя помочь ведущим в случае возникновения проблемы;
    • поддержка и защита носителей противоположного мнения и мнения меньшинства (если меньшинство будет задавлено большинством, то и меньшинства уже не будет, а потом части большинства станет неинтересно ходить на ресурс и меньше будет оригинальных идей);
    • назначение специального человека, заботой которого будет выслеживание ППТ и блокирование учётных записей ППТ (если ресурс большой, то таких людей может быть несколько);
    • разумное ограничение распространения информации обычным пользователям (например, никто не должен знать об ограничениях движка ресурса которые не позволяют проводить полноценное расследование событий);
    • preventing the development of conflicts among moderators;
    • encouraging those who develop, or at least more often say "thank you" to them.

    Not at all as I expected ...

    When I was a simple user, I thought that the moderators make a lot of mistakes and I know how to moderate correctly. After that, when I became a moderator, I realized that as a user I could not see the whole picture of moderation, and I do not always know how to moderate in a particular situation. This part contains a list of what turned out to be completely different from what I imagined as a simple user and what I discovered during the moderation process.

    No moderators needed

    There are many different forums on the Internet with different levels of moderator activity. There are those where there is almost no moderation. Previously, there were more, but they simply “die” due to the absence of those who will clean the forum from spam, messages that violate laws and support the development of the resource protecting users from the IPT. Often, it is the moderators who take over the majority of attacks from the PMT and the more PMTs are engaged in moderators, the less time and energy that the PMT has for normal users. Moreover, it is the moderators who act in case of problems with the resource, write to the management, call the administrator at night.

    Democratic decision-making system - the best on Internet resources

    There is resource management built on the principles of the monarchy, when the administrator or owner of the resource is the main one and his decisions are carried out by moderators. This happens when the administrator has enough desire and time to deal with the resource. But there is a management of such resources by a certain administrative apparatus, which is sometimes called the supervisory board, sometimes management, management, and so on. Sometimes members of the management are elected by users (I met this once even when the influence of the IPT was minimal), but more often they are selected among moderators by active moderators, administrators or owners. When making decisions within governance, democratic methods really work. There may be a vote and a decision. What is not less important, so this is the presence in the management of different people with different views (including political) and different experiences. This helps in making objective decisions. All members of the management are aware of the decisions they have made and build their further actions in accordance with them. Although such a system has the ability to counter failure with sufficient activity and a desire to agree within the management, there is a chance that at some stage the management will not be able to work and make decisions. In this case, the administrator or owner of the resource may enter the decision-making process. That is, in fact, such an established management system is close to a constitutional monarchy. If you select management members in the general election among users or make administrative decisions by voting users, then there will be the influence of the TIP.

    If the moderator benefits, then they will appreciate him

    There are several features worth mentioning:
    • the memory of most users (and moderators) is short, some of them do not remember or not notice the activity of moderators after a couple of months (in this case, an online archive comes to the rescue ), and after a few years the audience of the resource can change so much that they won’t even know what this or that moderator did;
    • the participation of all kinds of information wars, advertisers, people who are in conflict with such a moderator and PEP most often cannot say anything good about the moderator;
    • some users generally have nothing against applying the rules to other users, but as soon as the moderator starts to apply the rules to them, a personal conflict immediately begins.

    And now let’s remember that the moderator relies on the rules and in theory should act on all users regardless of whether they are friends for him or not, whether he supports their information war or not. That is, one who seeks to moderate impartially just guaranteed to receive the most negative feedback from users. Therefore, the only ones who will be able to evaluate his merits will be the administrator, the owner of the resource or the management of the resource who have the tools for this.

    Users are adults and can resolve any conflicts themselves.

    Yes, this happens when users are ready to listen to each other. When they grappled with each other’s grip on each other as a result of the conflict, only a neutral person with administrative powers can stop the conflict without offending any of the conflicting parties. In the event of an IPT attack on users, only a moderator can cope with less harm to others. Yes, many users believe that compliance with the rules is not their problem. Then the moderators become the only ones to monitor the implementation of the rules.

    Users understand that the rules are for everyone, not just those they don’t like.

    No, I wrote about this above and I repeat once again - a situation often occurs when users do not mind if the moderator acts (by talking or repressively) towards others for their actions, but they are outraged when the moderator begins to act towards them for such actions.

    Everyone has read and know the rules.

    No, not all. Moderators know the rules best of all, but they too forget them or may miss the changes in the rules. But the more often the moderator will show links to the rules, the better users will know them.

    Everyone understands that if there is no agreement with the rules of the resource, then you do not need to go to it

    Yes, some people understand that if they don’t like sausages, then they will not try to eat them. If you are not satisfied with the rules of the resource, then they can be proposed for change, but if you do not agree with them and there is no desire to follow them, then you do not need to go to the resource. But in the practice of moderation there are also such users who even specifically register on the resource to write how they do not agree with its rules.

    The task of the moderator is to monitor compliance with the rules of the resource

    As I wrote above, resource rules cannot block all possible behaviors that can harm the resource. At a minimum, the moderator monitors the implementation of the rules, but over time it became clear that this work includes communication with users to explain why some rules should not be violated, the effect on users so that they abide by the rules, cleaning of those messages that violate the rules . Later, it was also understood that the moderator was also responsible for the tone of the discussions, for supporting the conditions for constructive and interesting user communication, protecting the minority before the majority (in the name of species diversity on the resource), searching for methods for further development of the resource, protecting the resource from degradation and so on and so forth.

    For the resource, the number of visitors is more important than the quality of the discussion.

    This is what some users write about (often after their friend is blocked from accessing the resource), but I also thought exactly the same in the past. Yes, a large number of visitors helps in advertising the resource, creates a species diversity of users, leads to a greater number of issues discussed, expresses opinions and attracts new users. But if the quality of the discussion suffers, then this number of visitors will dissolve very quickly. Those users who come to discuss issues and can tell something interesting to other users, as a rule, are not interested in communicating with the IPT, rude, information war activists and spammers. More than once it was necessary to observe the picture when in the middle of communication spam-campaigning material was thrown in which distracted the communicants, which they did not make sense to discuss and the discussion stopped. It was the same with rudeness - they stop a constructive discussion of the topic. Therefore, if you chase the number of users and do not remove the rude, PPT and other non-constructive people from the resource, then sooner or later the quality of the discussion will suffer. It is followed by the outflow of those who are able to discuss topics at a higher level than others. In the ideal case, it is best to balance between cleanliness, order, and the desire to create conditions for the best users and attract more users. And then, after all, the cemetery is clean and tidy, without snappers and PPT, but this is still a lifeless cemetery. If we return to the analogy of the resource with the garden, then in the garden, if the owner of the garden decided that he was interested in the quality and not the number of plants, he has no other method than the physical removal of plants that he does not need.

    PS Thanks to Milfgard and MaLikoV for reporting errors in the text - I am looking for and correcting. Thank you so much Jazzina for spending my time and sending me a bug report - I will be corrected.

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