Oh I agree. The authoritarian regime helps no-one. It happens (in my experience) both because of ego-tripping, and also because of successful ‘gaming’ of the rules causing escalations.
It’s why I thought the Other Place’s rules were interesting, being left pretty loose, at least in writing.
As it turned-out, that came with its own issues - people also need to know roughly where the boundaries stand, and the vaguer rules left that more open, with less consistency and predictability.
I still don’t feel like I know where I stand, there, depending on which staff is active in the area (mentioning no names *koff*), taking an interest, or even just happening to be wandering by.
I also saw it voiced more than once that people didn’t flag because that was a crapshoot, and they didn’t have a feel for what kind of outcome they were going to get, and whether that would make things worse - things were inconsistant.
Now, the takeaways as I saw them were threefold:
The first has to be about the dangers of authoritarian and inconsistent modding. Simple message, and it’s why most of us are here.
In addition, the forum rules/or whatever formal conventions are a balancing act:
- They need to both be loose enough to let the moderators intervene when needed, defend the community against gaming, and let people have fun, dammit!
- They also need to have enough definition to let the mods act with confidence and certainty and also let the community know where they stand, and predict reasonably well where the lines that bring moderator involvement are - no surprises please!
So, yeah, a balancing act -
Careful crafting for the ‘lightest touch’ possible, that’s still actually effective.
Now the other thing that falls out of the above is something we’re seeing great signs of:
- Visibility and consensus. Visibility of decisions made, and consensus both between the mods, and at least listening to consensus from the floor.
Mistakes happen, and everyone has a bad day, and this includes the mods. Multiple mods being involved in, or even checked-with after an event helps address that. And visibility of actions (and reasons) helps us be confident that they’re doing e the right thing for the right reasons, and makes it obvious where goofs have happened that need fixing.
(And this is now approaching an essay - I apologise. That was a good and inspiring mission statement from you above. )