Oh! If we’re moving the blogging decisions process here, can we look at opening-up some of the existing blog-process-working-group file for viewing?
We discussed a lot of the underpinning process (and yes, tool choice) and I’d hate for that to get lost.
I’m pretty sure only four of us ever spoke, and myself and @Haystack were by far the most voiciferous ‘main protagonists’ (and @waetherman, natch), so getting permission from the other shouldn’t be hard.
That process stalled, about a fortnight ago (stepping back to make sure others got their say in didn’t work that well, with hindsight.) and I’m well happy to see movement - but if we’re now circumventing that group, I’d hate to see that work and consideration of the issues and process ‘lost’.
This. I would rather see our community plan and policies in place before we charge headlong into the growth phase – including a plan for financial support.
Expenses are a large reason why awesome communities fail (R.I.P. the-toast.net). So is haphazard expansion, which leaves them vulnerable to troll takeover (too many RL local government examples to cite), which is why the plan is so important – it gives members something solid to point to and say “that’s not what this community is meant to be”.
Yes, I know we ran into the “this isn’t what the community is meant to be” in the last place, which is why community plans don’t need to be entirely static, but the counterexample is Reddit, and the toxic swamps it spawned. It’s very easy for trolls to overrun even a well-moderated community, if there are enough of them, they coordinate, and the community concept too nebulous to defend against them.
I am very interested in creating strong, connected communities online. It’s why I really love Discourse. There is a lot of care that CH takes in the development and you can feel it. I think fundamentally it’s a tool and not a solution by itself, but it’s a very good tool.
From what I’ve seen with communities, a lot of the issues arise from moderators who are constantly pointing at rules and saying, “You violated our rules” (banhammer, timeout, punishment) instead of working with people to train them on acceptable interactions. Someone who comes back time and time again to share with a group of people is seeking connection. If they consistently try for connection by battling and aggression, I think that those people are open to conversations about how to connect better.
If someone comes on brand new to a place and instantly starts spewing, spamming, and word vomiting, that’s another story. That is someone who you need to turn really fast into a friend or protect your community from.
And that is why I felt the decisions made at BB were not conducive to a real community.
I agree, which is why I am saying community plan. Establishing who we want to be, before we get too big to do anything but wonder what happened to our community gives us something to train people towards.
The part where rules really become useful in enforcement is in preventing mods from going on a banning tear by having thresholds for action. Consistency in mod actions can also help in ensuring that everyone knows what is and is not acceptable. When one person lets a topic veer off course enough to call the coast guard and another bans people for a decade for not being perfectly on point, it’s rather hard to gauge what one can or can’t post on any given day. Those particular thresholds don’t have to be public (to help prevent gaming the system), but mods should all be following the same steps / asking the same questions when coming to a decision. They may not always agree on the answers, but at least it is clear why the action was taken and appropriate explanations can be given.
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. )
I’m not quite sure where to put this, but this seems like a good a place as any.
On ye olde other site, CodingHorror said this:
“What I’ve recommended for a long time (and what Discourse is designed to nudge everyone toward) is for the community to appoint its own moderators who work alongside the BB editors to maintain the community, and have Lounge discussions to determine what the right decisions are and what the policies should be. A form of enlightened self governance.”
So, it kind of sounds like this place is doing what he’s talking about. I’m not one of the ones doing the work (though I would contribute $ once there is a way to do that). This pleasant place seems to actually be doing enlightened self governance, so YAY for all of you who are working to make it happen. It is very much appreciated.
Note that neither happymutants.space nor www.happymutants.space resolve or redirect. We’re still kind of in the ‘you have to know that it exists and where to find it’ stage, like a speakeasy. And even on bbs.elsewhere.cafe, the opening page is just the discourse topic list. So I would expect that growth right now would primarily be by invite.
And as @waetherman said, we need to start more new topics to keep things lively. I resemble that remark, have a tendency only to respond instead of starting topics, so I need to do better about that, and I’ll make it a goal of mine.