Thoughts on paizo moderation and communication


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Following on from the recent events regarding the banning of some forum users, I thought I would list some of the things which seem to me to be causing friction and/or confusion and some suggestions for things to be considered:

  • There is a perception that users can be banned without understanding exactly what the ban is for. I know Paizo have a general policy of not providing individual notification and justification for deletion of posts, nor for locking of threads. Nonetheless, it seems to me that a ban, even if of limited duration, is serious enough (and hopefully rare enough!) that it deserves a private email. Perhaps this happens already – but if not, I’d suggest the payoff will be worth the work.

  • I’ve seen it suggested that part of the reason a user might be banned is for lots of little things building up over time (even if the ‘trigger event’ is not that serious). If this is the policy, then perhaps it would be good if we the users could access our moderation history in some way, so as to know when we’d been crossing the line more than would be explained by mere carelessness or ignorance. I’m suggesting something a bit like “infraction points” – presumably decaying automatically over time. However, it needn’t be such a discrete and formalised thing. Perhaps if we just got a note when we logged in saying when our ‘moderation frequency’ has grown too much. I was thinking green/amber/red classification – or unlabelled/cautioned/final warning or similar. That way at least if I’m on my final warning and I call someone a jerk, the temporary ban isn’t coming out of the blue. It also means I can’t point to other, unmoderated posts as examples of “bias”.

  • Whilst I personally think the explanations posted for thread lockings and post deletions are sufficient. It does appear there are a number of people who feel uninformed as to why it is occurring. I guess my only suggestion is to make sure this policy is continued and that the reasons given are clear – “the language here got abusive and personal, directed at the poster and not the argument” rather than just “these posts breached community guidelines”.

  • I have no idea how viable this is, but it does appear that there is often resentment when a long post has been deleted – especially when it isn’t a problem on its own but is rather buried within a problematic series of posts or quotes one. Since it’s possible to retrieve such length posts, I’m presuming that a “deleted” post is actually still visible to moderators. If it were possible to make it still visible to the person who posted it (but perhaps in green or something to save confusion) that would make it easy to salvage the lost material. I realise this would allow people to just cut-and-paste deleted posts back in immediately, however perhaps there could be two categories – hidden (from everyone but moderators and the poster) and deleted (as it exists currently) if you thought that was a risk? Or maybe this could combine with the earlier point and “green” users could see their deleted posts but amber/red users couldn’t?

  • There is a definite perspective (not from the Paizo forums but from another site) that the community@paizo.com email address shouldn’t be the venue for complaining or challenging views of the community team. Whilst another address might be unnecessary, I think a transparent outline of “what we do when there’s a complaint about moderation” somewhere might be useful. Do you have a policy that a different moderator looks at the action under dispute, for example? That would make sense to me and if everyone knows that’s in place, it might give people more comfort when they send an email off knowing that it’s not going to be reviewed by the person with whom they’re in dispute.

  • My personal view of paizo’s moderation is that it’s excellent. It’s very close to the perfect level of intervention, in my view (with perhaps one exception). Nonetheless, even if it is to continue as is, I feel that there is some confusion about exactly what service is being offered by the forums and more transparency can’t hurt. I also think it doesn’t need to involve abandoning the subjective “guidelines-not-rules” approach which you favour.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't see what the upside is, from Paizo's POV, to getting into any protracted discussion on any given mod action or ban. It's going to invite even more grar and arguing, which are both things Paizo seems to want to keep to a minimum, which makes sense because Paizo sells gaming books, not forum drama.

I do, however, think they could do a better job of explaining why a series of posts were removed and revisit the policy of removing posts that quote removed posts in their entirety. If the rest of the reply is acceptable, how about just replacing the offending quote with:

Quote:
Quoted post removed by moderator.

That alone would nullify many complaints, re: "what happened to my post, grar?"

-Skeld

Liberty's Edge Developer

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I think recent events have shown just how terrible the general public's concept of moderation practices is.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Do you have any resources to recommend by which I can educate myself on the subject?


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Crystal Frasier wrote:
I think recent events have shown just how terrible the general public's concept of moderation practices is.

Yeah, me too.

To be clear, I'm not really suggesting any great shift in philosophy (I like it here!) but pointing out that there is a significant disconnect between what some people are expecting and what paizo is providing - a disconnect which might be alleviated by spelling things out a little more.

Project Manager

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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Do you have any resources to recommend by which I can educate myself on the subject?

If you're genuinely interested, you should feel free to search the GDC public archives for presentations on community management, and look at the IGDA Community Management SIG's resources. Gamasutra also has had some in-depth pieces by professionals.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Skeld wrote:

I don't see what the upside is, from Paizo's POV, to getting into any protracted discussion on any given mod action or ban. It's going to invite even more grar and arguing, which are both things Paizo seems to want to keep to a minimum, which makes sense because Paizo sells gaming books, not forum drama.

I do, however, think they could do a better job of explaining why a series of posts were removed and revisit the policy of removing posts that quote removed posts in their entirety. If the rest of the reply is acceptable, how about just replacing the offending quote with:

Quote:
Quoted post removed by moderator.

That alone would nullify many complaints, re: "what happened to my post, grar?"

-Skeld

I think the latter is a good suggestion.

In terms of gain for paizo - I'm presuming that being more transparent will lead to less forum griping, not more. As I said - I think paizo is moderated really well and don't want them to change what they're doing.

However, there are some people signing up for the forums who are then disgruntled by the way things are done. If things were more transparent then don't you think that would lessen?


I don't think any one answer will make everyone happy, but I do think a more objective set of guidelines or rules might be needed.

The "don't be a jerk" rule is not really clear because sometimes people don't see what they are doing as bad.

This might lead to the members cutting back on snarky comments, which are sometimes made as joke vs trying to be insulting, but I'm ok with that if it leads to a more orderly environment.


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wraithstrike wrote:

I don't think any one answer will make everyone happy, but I do think a more objective set of guidelines or rules might be needed.

The "don't be a jerk" rule is not really clear because sometimes people don't see what they are doing as bad.

This might lead to the members cutting back on snarky comments, which are sometimes made as joke vs trying to be insulting, but I'm ok with that if it leads to a more orderly environment.

Part of the reason for starting this thread was to try to divorce it somewhat from a specific instance and just have a constructive chat about 'things which might be a good idea'. So I fully expect to hear perspectives quite different from mine.

However, I strongly support the subjective nature of paizo's community guidelines - especially since the incidence of banning/silencing is really quite low (ie they cut people a lot of slack whilst new users learn what's acceptable and what isn't).

I've posted on another forum with extremely rigid, objectively spelled out rules and we had a user arrive who was a master at needling within the rules so as to provoke action outside the rules. Whilst the oldtimers who all ended up banned were responsible for their own actions - it became this game with the newcomer to provoke people and absolutely destroyed the community over time.


I wasn't saying it should be super strict, but having examples of "what is a jerk" might be useful, or examples of things not to say while also being clear the list is not exhaustive.

However, even if that is not done letting someone know they are on thin ice and why is a good idea.


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Gah, I promised myself I wasn't going to dot this thread, but...

Will Save: 1d20 ⇒ 3

I honestly think the rule is pretty clear. I mean, it's not that hard to tell when you're saying something that might escalate tensions or flirt with jerkiness. Personally, when I'm writing a problematic post, I almost always get a niggling voice in my head that says, "This joke might just cause trouble."

And then sometimes I ignore it, and that's why I have a reputation for getting threads banned.

I do think clearer communication about deletions might help a lot with those who feel unable to express their opinions. There's clearly a lot of confusion over what gets deleted and why. Sure, we can say "they aren't understanding", but part of the burden of communication always has to be on the messengers. If people are getting confused, maybe something is unclear. Or maybe it's clear, but some people are used to different standards of moderation, and need extra help understanding the rules.

I sympathize. I used to be pretty bad at not being a jerk, too.


An example of jerkism is people using the term "rollplayer" as if it is inferior to how they game, or calling someone who does not play like they do a "powergamer". I think they really feel like the other person is going beyond or outside of what they consider the expected limitations of the system so to them it is stating a fact. They have no idea how derogatory it sounds.


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Personally I have little interest in seeing the moderation policies on these forums become much more codified, and I certainly wouldn't want a more comprehensive set of rules to be put up. It's impossible to capture every nuance that makes interactions a problem or not, and I think forums that try feel very unfriendly places.

At the end of the day, if I don't trust the moderators then it doesn't matter what the policies are. I wouldn't much want to post here if I didn't trust the staff anyway, and the hypothetical untrustworthy moderators could make posting life hard for me whatever the written regulations. On the other hand if I trust the moderators then I'll trust them to use their judgement whatever regulations are written down.

In any system the 'wrong' moderation result will happen now and then. Bans have happened that seemed unfair to me, while some posters have been able to keep posting who I personally might have banned. But I still like the forums a great deal, the moderators still have my trust and I like the community.

To be honest, this situation actually shows how well moderated I think the Paizo forums are. The incident in question that sparked all this wasn't hidden and a multi-page thread was allowed with a lot of back and forth on the particular issue. Even as things got heated it appears that multiple opportunities were given for people to put in their two cents. I'm sure that some people will be unhappy whatever the final outcome, but people have certainly had the chance to put the case to Paizo on whatever they think should happen.


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Berik wrote:

Personally I have little interest in seeing the moderation policies on these forums become much more codified, and I certainly wouldn't want a more comprehensive set of rules to be put up. It's impossible to capture every nuance that makes interactions a problem or not, and I think forums that try feel very unfriendly places.

At the end of the day, if I don't trust the moderators then it doesn't matter what the policies are. I wouldn't much want to post here if I didn't trust the staff anyway, and the hypothetical untrustworthy moderators could make posting life hard for me whatever the written regulations. On the other hand if I trust the moderators then I'll trust them to use their judgement whatever regulations are written down.

In any system the 'wrong' moderation result will happen now and then. Bans have happened that seemed unfair to me, while some posters have been able to keep posting who I personally might have banned. But I still like the forums a great deal, the moderators still have my trust and I like the community.

To be honest, this situation actually shows how well moderated I think the Paizo forums are. The incident in question that sparked all this wasn't hidden and a multi-page thread was allowed with a lot of back and forth on the particular issue. Even as things got heated it appears that multiple opportunities were given for people to put in their two cents. I'm sure that some people will be unhappy whatever the final outcome, but people have certainly had the chance to put the case to Paizo on whatever they think should happen.

Nobody asked for every little nuance to be moderated, and trust is not an either/or situation. It is normally a matter of degrees. That is how you can trust one person more than you trust someone else.

We all know that no system is perfect, but nobody is asking for perfect. Some are asking for what we perceive as "better".

"Well moderated" is also subjective, and leaving something open for discussion does not by itself make good conversation or good anything else. You can listen to someone already know you are not going to agree no matter what they say.<----I am not saying the mods are doing this. I just pointing out the error in logic.


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In this post Jiggy gave good examples of how to handle things without listing every possible infraction. I wish I could have been as elegant with what I was trying to say.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Steve Geddes wrote:
I have no idea how viable this is, but it does appear that there is often resentment when a long post has been deleted – especially when it isn’t a problem on its own but is rather buried within a problematic series of posts or quotes one. Since it’s possible to retrieve such length posts, I’m presuming that a “deleted” post is actually still visible to moderators. If it were possible to make it still visible to the person who posted it (but perhaps in green or something to save confusion) that would make it easy to salvage the lost material. I realise this would allow people to just cut-and-paste deleted posts back in immediately, however perhaps there could be two categories – hidden (from everyone but moderators and the poster) and deleted (as it exists currently) if you thought that was a risk? Or maybe this could combine with the earlier point and “green” users could see their deleted posts but amber/red users couldn’t?

Here's an alternative idea:

So, you know how people's profiles already have multiple tabs (Aliases, Posts, Favorites, Favorited by Others, etc)? What if there were another tab, called something like "Moderated Posts", wherein were listed all the posts that user had made that were later deleted by the moderators? (Obviously, this tab would only be viewable by that user, not by just any passerby who checked out their profile.)

This actually addresses several issues:

• "Casualty posts" (long, good posts that got deleted because of one line or because of being a reply to an offending post) can have their contents easily retrieved without having to contact a moderator to ask for the text. Less work for both parties.

• There's already an issue that folks don't always follow along closely enough to realize that their posts were deleted, and therefore they have no reason to alter their future behavior because they don't know anything's wrong. The presence of a "Moderated Posts" tab in their profile still isn't much, but it's at least an extra chance of discovering that there's an issue. Even better if the "(X new)" thing could be put on that tab.

• If issues have accumulated over time, the poster can't really claim ignorance or say that a suspension/email was out of the blue, when there's a seven-page list of moderated posts right there at their fingertips.

• If a poster gets surprised by moderator actions that they don't understand, they have the convenience of being able to re-read their exact words in an attempt to understand where they went wrong. Maybe they read it and realize they were coming off much more harshly than they meant to. Or even if they still disagree with the decision, at least their first email to Paizo staff can be more focused/specific (i.e., "I reviewed the post and the strongest language I used was [phrase], which doesn't seem that bad to me. Can you help me understand this moderation action better?") instead of a vague "I don't know why this was removed"/"It was getting too heated"/"I wish I remembered what I said" type of exchange.

Would something like this be feasible to implement?

Bonus Round:
What if, when deleting posts, the moderators could highlight or red-text parts of a post, or otherwise tag/label it, such that someone viewing their own history of moderated posts could immediately see what was considered unacceptable in their post?


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Jiggy wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I have no idea how viable this is, but it does appear that there is often resentment when a long post has been deleted – especially when it isn’t a problem on its own but is rather buried within a problematic series of posts or quotes one. Since it’s possible to retrieve such length posts, I’m presuming that a “deleted” post is actually still visible to moderators. If it were possible to make it still visible to the person who posted it (but perhaps in green or something to save confusion) that would make it easy to salvage the lost material. I realise this would allow people to just cut-and-paste deleted posts back in immediately, however perhaps there could be two categories – hidden (from everyone but moderators and the poster) and deleted (as it exists currently) if you thought that was a risk? Or maybe this could combine with the earlier point and “green” users could see their deleted posts but amber/red users couldn’t?

Here's an alternative idea:

So, you know how people's profiles already have multiple tabs (Aliases, Posts, Favorites, Favorited by Others, etc)? What if there were another tab, called something like "Moderated Posts", wherein were listed all the posts that user had made that were later deleted by the moderators? (Obviously, this tab would only be viewable by that user, not by just any passerby who checked out their profile.)

This actually addresses several issues:

• "Casualty posts" (long, good posts that got deleted because of one line or because of being a reply to an offending post) can have their contents easily retrieved without having to contact a moderator to ask for the text. Less work for both parties.

• There's already an issue that folks don't always follow along closely enough to realize that their posts were deleted, and therefore they have no reason to alter their future behavior because they don't know anything's wrong. The presence of a "Moderated Posts" tab in their profile still isn't much, but it's at least an extra...

This sounds like a really good idea, from my side of the screen at least. I really hope that the powers that be give every reasonable effort to implement this, or a very similar system.


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Jiggy is on fire today. I hope his ideas get implemented.


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If such a "Moderated Posts" tab as Jiggy suggests were to be implemented, I think being able to identify actual "moderated posts" and "replies to moderated posts" would help people understand better which posts got caught up in the problem, and which were problematic themselves.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

It bears mentioning that having to explain each moderated post in great detail, rather than a single blanket explanation for a moderated thread, would significantly increase the workload involved. Having to label portions of each post would add further to this. With the departure of Liz Courts, the moderation staff now consists of a single person (with aid from Sara Marie in Customer Service), who also has to handle a lot of the web side of product management.

This proposal would require a great deal of added labor. In addition, it would involve the creation of another text filter (for the red text), which requires short-term added labor from the web team.

Additional staff could be hired to address this... but that takes money. Given that Paizo is effectively competing with their own freely-available material (via Archives of Nethys and others), I suspect that price increases are something they'd very much prefer to avoid. ^_^

This is not to cast judgment upon the proposal's merits. It's simply a reminder that the labor involved has to come from someone.


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Kalindlara wrote:

It bears mentioning that having to explain each moderated post in great detail, rather than a single blanket explanation for a moderated thread, would significantly increase the workload involved. Having to label portions of each post would add further to this. With the departure of Liz Courts, the moderation staff now consists of a single person (with aid from Sara Marie in Customer Service), who also has to handle a lot of the web side of product management.

This proposal would require a great deal of added labor. In addition, it would involve the creation of another text filter (for the red text), which requires short-term added labor from the web team.

Additional staff could be hired to address this... but that takes money. Given that Paizo is effectively competing with their own freely-available material (via Archives of Nethys and others), I suspect that price increases are something they'd very much prefer to avoid. ^_^

This is not to cast judgment upon the proposal's merits. It's simply a reminder that the labor involved has to come from someone.

A fair point. Perhaps it would be best to implement the basic tab first, then consider the extras latter.


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I don't think that many people get in trouble here, and I don't' think everyone needs to be address specifically.

What could be done is to have all moderated post tabbed when they are all tied together, and one explanation could be given to everyone vs each person being personally counseled for lack of a better term.


Crystal Frasier wrote:
I think recent events have shown just how terrible the general public's concept of moderation practices is.

Not necessarily. One can be pleased enough with the moderation in general and still disagree with some cases.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Kalindlara wrote:

It bears mentioning that having to explain each moderated post in great detail, rather than a single blanket explanation for a moderated thread, would significantly increase the workload involved. Having to label portions of each post would add further to this. With the departure of Liz Courts, the moderation staff now consists of a single person (with aid from Sara Marie in Customer Service), who also has to handle a lot of the web side of product management.

This proposal would require a great deal of added labor. In addition, it would involve the creation of another text filter (for the red text), which requires short-term added labor from the web team.

Additional staff could be hired to address this... but that takes money. Given that Paizo is effectively competing with their own freely-available material (via Archives of Nethys and others), I suspect that price increases are something they'd very much prefer to avoid. ^_^

This is not to cast judgment upon the proposal's merits. It's simply a reminder that the labor involved has to come from someone.

There's a reason that highlighting posts was listed under "Bonus Round" in my proposal. ;)

Seriously though, I don't think anyone's asking for a labor-intensive solution here (at least, on the part of the moderators). Even just adding the tab, once the feature is put in place, would actually reduce workload (albeit very slightly). Furthermore, switching the system from "click this button to remove the post" (or whatever the current moderator-side functionality is) to having two buttons (one for "remove as offensive" and one for "remove as reply") would produce zero extra work for the moderators.

Yeah, getting it set up will take some labor from the tech team, but you're never going to find a zero-additional-work solution for anything. At least the extra work in this solution would be upfront-only (rather than ongoing) and would just be a tweaking of existing infrastructure rather than building something from scratch. I think we could do a lot worse, you know?


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Jiggy wrote:
Furthermore, switching the system from "click this button to remove the post" (or whatever the current moderator-side functionality is) to having two buttons (one for "remove as offensive" and one for "remove as reply") would produce zero extra work for the moderators.

I wouldn't be surprised if the current system let them remove a post and all replies automagically, so having to do them one by one would be more work. OTOH, it shouldn't be hard to change such functionality to tag the replies differently than the original removed post.

OTGH, I suspect they often remove entire discussions because they got out of hand, rather than identifying the exact post where an escalating argument went too far. In that case, it might not be the root post that was actually the offensive one. In fact, there might not be any easy division into offensive posts and inoffensive replies.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Furthermore, switching the system from "click this button to remove the post" (or whatever the current moderator-side functionality is) to having two buttons (one for "remove as offensive" and one for "remove as reply") would produce zero extra work for the moderators.

I wouldn't be surprised if the current system let them remove a post and all replies automagically, so having to do them one by one would be more work. OTOH, it shouldn't be hard to change such functionality to tag the replies differently than the original removed post.

OTGH, I suspect they often remove entire discussions because they got out of hand, rather than identifying the exact post where an escalating argument went too far. In that case, it might not be the root post that was actually the offensive one. In fact, there might not be any easy division into offensive posts and inoffensive replies.

Several threads I have participated in that received moderation exactly had that situation

Community & Digital Content Director

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Hey folks, I just wanted to thank everyone for lending their voices to this topic. I can't quite delve into providing a detailed response at this point (catching up from being knocked out sick), but as a data point I'm not sure that's being considered in the "two-button" moderator-side scenario: posts that are removed for more nuanced reasons do not fall into those two cases. I have some reservations about a public-facing "moderated posts" tab causing folks to start looking for problems on accounts for which the problems have been long resolved. There's a very careful line that's being tread with that suggestion between showing the community what the moderation team is doing and doing a disservice to accounts whose posts have been removed.

Just something to consider in this discussion! Again, I hope to be able to contribute more efficiently when I'm running at 100% rubit power :)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Chris Lambertz wrote:
I have some reservations about a public-facing "moderated posts" tab causing folks to start looking for problems on accounts for which the problems have been long resolved.

That's why the idea was that only the account holder would be able to see that tab. It would not be public-facing. Just like I can't go to your profile and look at your Private Messages tab, but it still exists.

Hope you feel better soon! :)


if the replies are offensive in themselves, wouldn't they just get tagged as offensive also (and that they are replies become irrelevant)?

Community & Digital Content Director

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Jiggy wrote:
Chris Lambertz wrote:
I have some reservations about a public-facing "moderated posts" tab causing folks to start looking for problems on accounts for which the problems have been long resolved.

To reiterate, the idea was that only the account holder could see that tab. It would not be public-facing. Just like I can't go to your profile and look at your Private Messages tab, but it still exists.

Hope you feel better soon! :)

D'oh! My bad! That's what I get for jumping in pre-coffee.


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never jump in pre-coffee.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Nicos wrote:
Crystal Frasier wrote:
I think recent events have shown just how terrible the general public's concept of moderation practices is.
Not necessarily. One can be pleased enough with the moderation in general and still disagree with some cases.

Crystal is referring to people having ideas about moderation that are poor and unproductive. I certainly believe that moderation is too loose as it is, hence why I asked if there were resources explaining why I was wrong.


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cuatroespada wrote:
if the replies are offensive in themselves, wouldn't they just get tagged as offensive also (and that they are replies become irrelevant)?

Then we're back in having to judge each post individually and make a binary "offensive/not offensive" call on each. Every one of which will be subject to questioning.

When they really want to remove the discussion and stop the spiral.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Chris Lambertz wrote:

Hey folks, I just wanted to thank everyone for lending their voices to this topic. I can't quite delve into providing a detailed response at this point (catching up from being knocked out sick)...

Again, I hope to be able to contribute more efficiently when I'm running at 100% rubit power :)

Thank you for being part of the discussion. I hope you're feeling much better! ^_^

Scarab Sages

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cuatroespada wrote:
never jump in pre-coffee.

Would it be possible for the web team to add a breathalyzer that detects coffee on the breath and prevents posting if it's not there? People having to have their coffee before posting would conservatively reduce posts needing moderated by 37%.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Love Jiggy's ideas, for the record.

Just to mention something (armchair theorist ahoy!) that I think is true - if a post gets deleted, anything replying to that post that was done with the "reply" button gets caught in the trap, as does anything replying to that reply, which is why you get collateral damage with post removal. Other posts which were just made using the "add new post" text box at the bottom of the thread need moderation on their own.

I'm sure Chris or Sara will tell me I'm wrong, but that seems to be how some of the moderation tech functions.

Really love Jiggy's ideas, though. Awesome. High five.


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I would think just reviewing posts in context would be a great start.
For both the Mods and other gamers.


Good ideas all, Jiggy.


Something else that Jiggy's suggestion may help with, and which may have been a factor (to whatever degree) in the incident that spawned the other thread (sheesh.. roundabout way to get there without naming names)...

A text message from a moderator is going to be politely worded, as befits a professional communication from a company. But text can't convey nuance well, as we have all seen. So a message worded "Please stop doing that" may be interpreted as a mild REQUEST rather than a stern ADMONISHMENT. Providing color-coded or "Infraction Points" indicators on the account may help make clear that the moderator(s) consider the message seriously.


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Berik wrote:
At the end of the day, if I don't trust the moderators then it doesn't matter what the policies are. I wouldn't much want to post here if I didn't trust the staff anyway, and the hypothetical untrustworthy moderators could make posting life hard for me whatever the written regulations. On the other hand if I trust the moderators then I'll trust them to use their judgement whatever regulations are written down.

And this is what it boils down to, IMO: trust.

I've run across this situation before when administering a game. People spoke about not being able to trust the admins, but (usually) that sort of comment came after they or their friends were negatively affected by them. In the case of here, that would be having posts removed, someone banned, etc.

I cannot speak for the mods but I know I would much rather have a nice quiet day where I didn't have to mix it up with a poster if I were them. I do not believe there is any personal grudges being worked out here on their side. I think they are heading off problems as they see them or as they are reported to try to make this place work well.

Regardless of any system put in place, there are still going to be people working on it, not AI. They are going to have to use their best judgement to stop hate speech, arguments, derails and so on. If you don't trust them, you aren't going to magically trust them under a new system either.

There are good ideas on this thread, don't get me wrong. But at least some of the onus on moderation falls to the poster as well as the staff of the forums. Self-policing cuts down on their work, cuts down on misunderstandings and hurt feelings, and makes the place better overall.

If this happened at a game table, would it be the GM's responsibility to keep someone from being annoying at the table and/or come up with a complicated way of addressing the problem, or would you hope that people could control themselves?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I think the turmoil is too recent for improvements to be discussed with the required serenity

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
knightnday wrote:
If this happened at a game table, would it be the GM's responsibility to keep someone from being annoying at the table and/or come up with a complicated way of addressing the problem, or would you hope that people could control themselves?

If this happened at the table, the GM would be able to clearly express what the problem is and how the player needed to behave.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Manager

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Jiggy wrote:

Seriously though, I don't think anyone's asking for a labor-intensive solution here (at least, on the part of the moderators). Even just adding the tab, once the feature is put in place, would actually reduce workload (albeit very slightly). Furthermore, switching the system from "click this button to remove the post" (or whatever the current moderator-side functionality is) to having two buttons (one for "remove as offensive" and one for "remove as reply") would produce zero extra work for the moderators.

Yeah, getting it set up will take some labor from the tech team, but you're never going to find a zero-additional-work solution for anything. At least the extra work in this solution would be upfront-only (rather than ongoing) and would just be a tweaking of existing infrastructure rather than building...

Sidenote: the way our forums and store is integrated is not usual. Everything is custom software due to Paizo having a vast amount of really crazy corner cases and unique situations to work with and maintain*. Its really easy to think "Wow this thing would be super simple, why can't they just do XYZ?" when the reality is that every day fixes or feature I think ought to be simple can take a couple days or a week or a month of a developer's time and can easily break completely unrelated features. Because we are also a store, we are very cautious about features that could have privacy implications. This is not to diminish any suggestions or imply every little thing is going to be way more labor intensive than expected, but assuming a particular thing is easy or simple is a very perilous road to head down. Once you assume a particular bug or feature is simple, easy or fast to fix, its a very quick jump to assuming we won't implement it because of laziness or malice.

*:
cough cough Dungeon & Dragon magazine transition options cough cough


TriOmegaZero wrote:
knightnday wrote:
If this happened at a game table, would it be the GM's responsibility to keep someone from being annoying at the table and/or come up with a complicated way of addressing the problem, or would you hope that people could control themselves?
If this happened at the table, the GM would be able to clearly express what the problem is and how the player needed to behave.

Maybe. But you run into grey areas of "you are annoying the other players" or "You are being a jerk." The player asks how and the GM cannot express it as well as he'd like outside of "You are bothering me/the others."

We've seen this expressed in a number of threads. There are people that do not believe they are annoying, or that bathing would bother other people, or think that they are the height of hilarity and so on. People tend to delude themselves often that they don't do anything wrong and it is the other people's problem.


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I've been staying away from this conversation, so this will probably be my only post on the matter, but as it concerns trust, many people do have reason to not trust the moderators here.

Maybe not because of anything all of them has done, but because something (or things) one specific one did that soured that person on the rest of them.

Perceived favoritism or bias is only really a symptom of that root cause of trust. Some posters may misread an honest mistake as one or the other because of some past event.

I'm trying to stay as non-specific as possible, because who, where, and specific incidences don't really matter, but that kind of thing can color perceptions for a long time hence. And when one person, or several people have at one time or another done things to many posters that are clearly out of line, perception starts to skew everything that skirts that line as being on the wrong side of it.

A very poor analogy here, say you have a crew of doctors working at a hospital. Patients come out, all are treated. Some die, some live, some make full recoveries, some only partial. That's the nature of the business.

Now imagine it comes out that one of those doctors purposefully let a man die he could have saved, due to personal reasons.

How do you think that colors the perceptions of the rest of the doctors at the hospital? And every other patient that doctor had worked on. How many deaths were unavoidable, and how many were malpractice?

In reality, it is a single incident by a single doctor. And yet it colors everything that doctor and every other doctor he has ever associated with has done for quite a while afterwards.

And that's an insidious sort of mental bias, because even when you're aware you have it, you just can't quite shake that niggling feeling of "Maybe it wasn't just a mistake..." every time something questionable happens.


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Jiggy wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:
I have no idea how viable this is, but it does appear that there is often resentment when a long post has been deleted – especially when it isn’t a problem on its own but is rather buried within a problematic series of posts or quotes one. Since it’s possible to retrieve such length posts, I’m presuming that a “deleted” post is actually still visible to moderators. If it were possible to make it still visible to the person who posted it (but perhaps in green or something to save confusion) that would make it easy to salvage the lost material. I realise this would allow people to just cut-and-paste deleted posts back in immediately, however perhaps there could be two categories – hidden (from everyone but moderators and the poster) and deleted (as it exists currently) if you thought that was a risk? Or maybe this could combine with the earlier point and “green” users could see their deleted posts but amber/red users couldn’t?

Here's an alternative idea:

So, you know how people's profiles already have multiple tabs (Aliases, Posts, Favorites, Favorited by Others, etc)? What if there were another tab, called something like "Moderated Posts", wherein were listed all the posts that user had made that were later deleted by the moderators? (Obviously, this tab would only be viewable by that user, not by just any passerby who checked out their profile.)

This actually addresses several issues:

• "Casualty posts" (long, good posts that got deleted because of one line or because of being a reply to an offending post) can have their contents easily retrieved without having to contact a moderator to ask for the text. Less work for both parties.

• There's already an issue that folks don't always follow along closely enough to realize that their posts were deleted, and therefore they have no reason to alter their future behavior because they don't know anything's wrong. The presence of a "Moderated Posts" tab in their profile still isn't much, but it's at least an extra...

Yeah, lumping moderated threads in their own tab is superior to leaving them as is, but visible to the poster.

I was considering what could be done without imposing additional work on the community team (so tried to describe how I imagine it is now). I think your idea has significant improvements though.

The bonus round idea does sound like too much work for too little payoff, in my view. The times people don't know why it happened are pretty rare, IMO. granted it takes some time to learn "how things are done" but I don't think it's going to be reduced much without turning each moderation explanation into an essay. As it is, I think a brief account will invite lots of mini-debates from moderated users - which could easily add a pile of work to the community team.


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Sara Marie wrote:
Sidenote: the way our forums and store is integrated is not usual. Everything is custom software due to Paizo having a vast amount of really crazy corner cases and unique situations to work with and maintain*. Its really easy to think "Wow this thing would be super simple, why can't they just do XYZ?" when the reality is that every day fixes or feature I think ought to be simple can take a couple days or a week or a month of a developer's time and can easily break completely unrelated features. Because we are also a store, we are very cautious about features that could have privacy implications. This is not to diminish any suggestions or imply every little thing is going to be way more labor intensive than expected, but assuming a particular thing is easy or simple is a very perilous road to head down. Once you assume a particular bug or feature is simple, easy or fast to fix, its a very quick jump to assuming we won't implement it because of laziness or malice.

As a software engineer, I'm quite familiar with this kind of set up. The correct solution is almost always to redesign and rebuild from scratch.

As a developer, I'm well aware there's never time or budget to do that.


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thejeff wrote:

As a software engineer, I'm quite familiar with this kind of set up. The correct solution is almost always to redesign and rebuild from scratch.

As a developer, I'm well aware there's never time or budget to do that.

In my experience - and from what I've heard from others - that's an unfortunate truth that comes up much more often than a lot of people think.

While I like a lot of the suggestions that were put forward, that can often be like someone saying "I really like this house, but the roof needs to be a foot higher. It's only a foot, that's not that hard, right?" When in fact, doing that wouldn't be that much different from building a brand new house, with commensurate costs.

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