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Moderation on Chowhound

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Although I love the Chowhound site, I find the moderation to be very heavy-handed. I've had yet another post deleted--this time because I've expressed interest in another food site out there (one that I have no affiliation with other than as a foodie, the same as my affiliation to this site, and this other site isn't in competition with Chowhound). Was looking for info, not driving traffic or raving about it. I should also add that I wasn't notified of the deletion or told why, I'm guessing after finding yet another missing post.

Another post I had deleted was because I mentioned that I had a couple of hygiene-worrying experiences at restaurants in Piccadilly Circus. Even when I didn't name names, my posts were removed because the moderator said that although my post didn't expressly break any Chowhound rules, it might lead to posts that did break Chowhound rules. A little controlling, no?

I've been using Chowhound for years, and was introduced to the site by my father who has been using the site for even more years than me. And although I love the people I meet here, support your advertisers and click on your ads, I don't feel that I, as a user, am respected or valued.

My feedback for Chowhound: reign it in a a bit with the moderation and remember that your users (and the free content they provide you with) are what you are trying to monetize.

  1. Their site. Their right to monitor as they like. Perhaps it isn't a good fit for you (not being sarcastic).

    7 Replies
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      This is a sad statement: like it, or leave it.

      1. re: vyieort

        Not at all. Some forums are a better fit for some than for others. Not.one.thing. wrong with that. I've had many posts removed, I have no issue with that. If someone has an issue with Chowhound monitoring the posts on their site, they may be happier posting elsewhere (again, not being critical or sarcastic).

        1. re: Janet from Richmond

          You could say the First Amendment is a better fit with some people than others.

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            There's no first amendment issue here.

        2. re: vyieort

          I agree with you. I am often baffled by people snarking off with the take it or leave it attitude when someone merely mentions some issues they think a site may have in THEIR opinion. Maybe Chowhound could consider the opinions of their users. Wouldn't that be what we should all prefer? It is like they are taking personal offense and declaring you audacious! I rank those people with the weirdos that go around correcting other's grammar and spelling.

          I haven't had anything deleted that I know of, but there should be an ability to sound off over heavy handedness. Frankly, I think Lina made some valid points. A post might LEAD to another member making an illegal post? What sort of silliness is that? I will tell you. It is the kind that drives users to other sites. Hmmm.. I guess Janet from Richmond would get her wish.

          So annoying!

          1. re: Sal Vanilla

            Not all replies like this are snark. It's also a legitimate response. Janet went so far as to specifically note that she was being neither sarcastic nor critical. To voice an opinion is entirely valid. This, too, is an opinion: perhaps the site isn't a good fit for some.

            Janet also didn't call anyone any names. Like "weirdo."

            1. re: Sal Vanilla

              others'!

              just kidding. (actually, i have no idea where that apostrophe goes. ;)

              despite all the invitations to leave, i hope neither you nor vyieort, xiao yang, alkapal, lina, silverbear, soupK, givemecarbs, nor any of the other well spoken, well thought out hounds on this site leave. i would miss you terribly. and how boring it would be to have only cheerleaders for company.

        3. You can't take it personally. You may not agree with the mods' decisions, but an unmoderated forum is a recipe for unmitigated chaos. As one who's had more than his fair share of posts deleted, I understand your frustration, especially when you've put significant time and effort into writing something up. But it's the nature of the beast.

          My motto is, if you're not getting deleted, you're not trying hard enough.

          2 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            'My motto is, if you're not getting deleted, you're not trying hard enough.'
            Love that Alan!

            Not to be a kiss ass but they all do a really good job..
            I get deleted at least once a week...Get over it and don't take it personally.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Your motto is brilliant, Alan.

              I've had my share of deletions too. It's a pain but I know it's to keep the focus on the deliciousness of the chow we're supposed to be reporting on.
              Keep on keeping on.

            2. The problem with heavy handed moderation is that it's another reason for people to quit it. Add in the sluggish, ad-intensive website, moderation can be the proverbial straw.

              1. I too have had many deletions.
                There is a restaurant up here that we aren't allowed to post about. I do once in a while anyway. Let the mods earn their money.

                When it first started to happen I was really pissed. Then I just decided that the site is better than the headaches.

                DT

                47 Replies
                1. re: Davwud

                  Please don't deliberately create work for the moderators. The majority of moderation is done by a small, very dedicated crew of other site users like you, who volunteer to help out. They don't receive any payment, and it adds more work to their efforts. As well, it's confusing and upsetting for other members who reply to your posts and find theirs deleted as well.

                  -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    Fair enough.

                    The one place in question is a sore spot for me. They've been rather tyranical in my view on the subject. But I'm not in charge and have to live within the rules.

                    DT

                    1. re: Jacquilynne

                      You've pointed out something I see as a problem: some posters are also moderators. Posts may be deleted for disagreeing with another poster/moderator; there is no check on that, and I have been the victim of it on a number of occasions.

                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                        I very strongly doubt (make that I am sure) you were not deleted for disagreeing with a moderator/poster. And, even if you think that's the case how would you know/be sure that it was a moderator/poster you were disagreeing with? As long as your disagreement post is on topic and you weren't attacking someone personally then it wouldn't matter "who" you were disagreeing with. Hell, back in the day I got into it pretty good with Jim Leff and all of my posts remained up (and Jim gave as good, or even better than he got! - lol).

                        1. re: Servorg

                          "And, even if you think that's the case how would you know/be sure that it was a moderator/poster you were disagreeing with? "

                          I'll mention that I get a certain amount of profane email traffic from various posters who have been deleted and believe that I'm a moderator and responsible. It's been like that for all the years I've been on the site. Most times i never even read the post that was removed, but I'll say from the language used in mouthing off to me via email, I can imagine that vulgarity, rather than disagreement, had something to do with pulling a post.

                          Nope, I'm too immoderate to wear that hat. And, seeing just that tiny fraction of responses that is misdirected and ends up in my inbox, I appreciate their seemingly thankless task.

                        2. re: Xiao Yang

                          All actions by all moderators are visible to me and all other moderators, and most deletions get looked at by several pairs of eyes afterward. If a moderator was involved in a grudge match like that, it would be noticed very quickly, and dealt with very severely. In practice, the mods step back from moderating threads they're significantly involved in, asking another mod to review those threads instead.

                          Another factor to keep in mind is that if you're involved in a running personality conflict with another poster, there's a good chance that low levels of discontent are flaring up into rules violations more often than you're recognizing it in your own posts. Those sorts of simmering feuds do tend to lead to a lot of posts being removed. That might lead you to think that the other person must be a mod, when that's probably not true.

                          One of the drawbacks to having anonymous mods (we recognize there are pluses and minuses to that decision) is that it can seem like you're being picked on by one moderator, even when that's not the case. It might help to know what we don't have moderators assigned to specific boards or specific shifts, so just because all your deletions happen from one board, or around the same time of day, or whatever commonality they have, doesn't mean they were done by the same person. I don't know where it would make you feel better or worse, but if you've been deleted a number of times, the likelihood is that it was done by a lot of different people, not just one.

                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                            I haven't been deleted often (not counting as part of whole threads that went astray) but very selectively. It's the very selectivity that arouses suspicions.

                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                              If you've got specific things you'd like me to review, please send an email to me at jacquilynne dot schlesier at cbs dot com and I'll take a look through your history.

                              1. re: Jacquilynne

                                By saying you have "history", you are suggesting that there could be members that are red-flagged, or on a black list of sorts, that are repeatedly acting up or problematic. A history of all our deletions? Can you refer back to our (complete), history and could this be used in the decisionmaking as to whether to delete or not delete?
                                I believe you have banished a significant (contributing), member (or members), and have also reinstated one or more.

                                1. re: Scargod

                                  We have basic records on posts, mod actions, emails, etc, that have happened since we moved to this software. We do consider a poster's history in deciding on current situations -- a person who has a long history of personal attacks and insults would get a different warning from someone who has always been civil but lost their temper once, as an example.

                        3. re: Jacquilynne

                          Jacquilynne, you probably recall where I stand on voluntteer moderators! THEY SHOULD BE PAID!!! I mean, it's not like Chowhound is the small start-up relying on Jim Leff's perszonal pocket. CBS, despite the depression (I can't bring myself to call it a recession any longer) is STILL a deep pockets entity, any way you slice it.

                          The great advantage that paid moderators would bring is, first and foremost, more even handed and consistent moderation. As things stand, things ebb and flow with the change in staff, or the mood of a particular moderator.

                          Couple that with the constant technical problems, and Chowhound just isn't getting much bang for it's buck as things stand.

                          FYI, I haven't been able to get ANY of the final Recipes pages to load for a couple of days now.

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Why you think paying moderators would bring about more even handed and consistent moderation is not apparent or even necessarily true. The moderation to my mind is both as consistent and even handed as it can be, given the constraints of the posting guidelines and the material. Moderation is never going to be an exact science (or any sort of science).

                            The ebb and flow of paid staff could certainly be the same or even worse given the state of the economy, and the mood of any single moderator is already not an issue since Jacquilynne has stated more than once that it is not just one moderator looking at deletions, or that is part of the decision making process about what goes and what stays up.

                            Finally, as you can see with the engineering issues that ARE taken care of by PAID staff; paid employees are not always the answer / path to purported perfection. CBS has enough current financial challenges that I would doubt very strongly that adding employees to their payroll is something that corporate leadership would be look favorably upon at this moment. Corporate pockets everywhere in the world are a lot shallower than they have been in a long, long time.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Well, without going into the minutia of my life, before my kids were born (they've both now kicked 40 in the teeth) I was a psychiatric occupational therapist, and did both group psychotherapy and group motivational therapy. Additionally, I have also served as a volunteer group facilitator in a self help group specifically for newly divorced/divorcing and widowed people. In the self help group all facilitators and directors were "volunteers." A constant problem with volunteers was some of them not understanding how to perform their function. Some would jump in and do more damage than good. In my experience with Chowhound, that happens more frequently than I believe it would with paid professionals.

                              I have "taken my marbles" and stayed away from Chow because the mods AND the tech problems were not doing anything good for me. Generous private emails brought me back.

                              At that time there was a thread about what to take in the way of food to a "Beatnik" party. It quickly became apparent that few had any idea what a Beatnik was, and were confusing them with "flower children" and such of later times. I wrote a fairly long explanation of the beatnik movement AND the food and covered American culture of the time. The mods removed it. When I objected (I think it was over that post) they wrote back and suggested I start a blog. BUT... They left up a totally inappropriate post from someone about mashed potatoes with ketchup and menses that may have been appropriate to the militant women's movement, but is entirely unrelated to beatniks.

                              Extending cultural literacy seems often frowned upon on these boards by mods. That bugs the hell out of me. It is NOT the job of moderators to squelch food related information. I don't think professional moderators would have the same personal policies because it does seem to be a personal thing with some moderators. It is not uniform.

                              Now, the technical problems are wholly unrelated to the time to time over exuberant moderators. The technical problems may or may not reflect on the competency of that staff, but I tend to think (based on observation) that it is as much if not more of an old equipment / new software problem than it is bad technicians. Doesn't matter how great a technician is, there's not one on the planet who can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. To do all of that they acomplished while keeping the boards up and "sort of" running was a daunting task.

                              I wouldn't waste too much time worrying about poor CBS facing any financial shortfalls on behalf of Chowhound. Have you taken a look at the never ending stream of ads down the right side of every new page you open? Have you counted the number of ads plopped in front of you per hour? The Chowhound cash cow appears to be in good health and still giving milk. With lots of cream. And people like you and I -- who ARE in effect "volunteers" -- earn those bucks for CBS. Why are you so willing to feel guilty about asking for a reasonably well thought out and enacted policy from moderators, or better equipment for the tech staff, for that matter?

                              If as much progress had been made in a more even handed moderation application as has been made on the technical side, I would not be writing this but would be singing their praises! But I will say they have backed off somewhat on me, for which I am grateful. But I do see other people occasionally chopped off at the knees. And I have to admit I just don't post as much as I used to because I don't want to fight with mods over trying to be useful, so that is a factor as well.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I think that if there was a university which offered a course of study which ended in the award of an advanced degree in Chowhound moderating then perhaps the analogy of volunteers overstepping their bounds in the field of psychology would have some relevancy here. Alas, they don't.

                                As to the mods frowning upon "cultural literacy" I find that if the literacy is on topic it will stay and if not it will go. Carolyn, if it were only you who wrote this type of erudite, witty and interesting detour de force there would be no problem. But, unfortunately one draws another and that one draws two more and before you know it this site would be an unusable chaotic mess.

                                I try and remember that "before" I make a humorous aside. Sometimes I don't, and when said aside is laid to rest by the moderators I take it with a grain of salt. Not too mention, when the mods let yours stand then the next few hundred potential posters with itchy off topic trigger fingers note that, and expect theirs to stand as well. And when their witty bon mots don't remain, they rain holy hell down on the mod's for being "uneven handed" and "inconsistent."

                                While you see the moderation of your contribution as being personal you aren't seeing what else is being taken down for the most part. And, when you push the envelope you tend to "augur" into the ground more often than the other pilots.

                                CBS may be making money. But when the time comes to having layoffs and cut backs you can be certain that the powers that be are going to be very sensitive to adding head count on Chowhound. You won't want to be seen as eliminating peoples livelihood right before Christmas with one hand, while you start paying folks over here to do something that is done, and done well in my estimation, for gratis.

                                My earlier statement someplace else about moderation here is that you need to find out how the "refs" are calling the game, and then match the aggressiveness of your play to the way the game is being called. Otherwise you will find yourself riding the pine.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  "As to the mods frowning upon "cultural literacy" I find that if the literacy is on topic it will stay and if not it will go. Carolyn, if it were only you who wrote this type of erudite, witty and interesting detour de force there would be no problem. But, unfortunately one draws another and that one draws two more and before you know it this site would be an unusable chaotic mess."

                                  Yeah, scary to think how confusing and unsettling a place Chowhound would be if it had a few more culturally literate posters.

                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                    Culturally literate as defined by whom?

                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                      Well, my problem was that what I wrote that was removed was NOT off topic, but the objectionable post I refer to was off topic and it was left up. You might say, on a cultural literacy level, it was similar to confusing the Revolutionary War with the Civil War. Beatniks and Flower Children are neither the same nor were they contemporary. My point was that a post explaining the differences was removed while one that added to the confusion was let stand. Which undoubtedly says a lot more about the cultural literacy of the mod who removed my post than it does about anything else. I do believe having paid moderators who can be tested on their knowledge before hiring instead of having moderators being invited to serve as a volunteer simply based on how active they are on the technical boards and asking for deletions from the boards would go a long way toward making things more even handed around here and restoring the sense of fun and mutual adventure. After contributors are slapped up along the side of the head a few times for their contributions, it rather puts things on the gray side of life. Who needs more gray?

                                      Please don't think I don't appreciate your droll wit and tongue in cheek comments. I do! I do! They are delicious. I just wanted to correct the misconception that culturally relevant posts will be left on the boards. That's a false impression simply because it depends heavily on whether any given moderator doing the deleting is culturally literate. And THAT is the rub! '-)

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        The one thing the moderators have in common is that first and foremost, they're all hounds. They're passionate participants in the community outside of their moderating activities. That makes them better moderators, not worse.

                                        What they do, they do because they're motivated, not by money, but by their love for the site. Bringing in outside people, who aren't familiar with the vibe of the community, who don't understand the implications of their actions, and who blindly follow a rulebook, isn't going to improve the situation.

                                        I know it seems like it would be easier for people if we could set down a series of hard and fast 'this gets deleted' and 'that doesn't get deleted' rules, and if ever you got deleted, you could get an automatic email that says you violated paragraph 4, subsection 3 of the Chowhound code of conduct. But moderation is simply not that simple. There are shades of who and what and why in every decision. Previous posting history, the content of the post and the overall situation are all considered.

                                        All of the moderators are longtime hounds who were asked to join the team (we don't really take volunteers who volunteer themselves) based on their thoughtful feedback and posts on site issues and their active and interested participation as hounds. New moderators aren't simply thrown into the deep end and left to sink or swim. There is initial training for them, to ensure they understand the rules and the reasons for them. As I've noted elsewhere, every action a moderator takes requires them to leave a comment that's visible to all of the moderators. Other mods see and follow up on the decisions of new (and old!) moderators. The team is also in very close contact with each other via email, IM and our site tools, so we discuss and debate possible actions with each other constantly.

                                        I know that it can be difficult for members to trust that this anonymous group of people really, truly has the site's best interests at heart and isn't advancing their own agenda or acting out of ignorance. But I've worked very closely with all of them for a long time, and these are good, smart, caring people. I see how hard they work, and how much they agonize over making the right decisions. While we're never going to reach 100% consistency, I trust them to try to do the right thing in every situation. I hope you will, too.

                                        -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                          How incredible helpful to know all of these points, Jacq. If you had posted this insightful, first hand account days ago fewer "best guesses" would have appeared in trying to understand/defend or assume how Moderation is determined.

                                          From my own experience on CH, the "mystery" of how Mods are selected/volunteer/function/assess threads was long overdue explanation.

                                          Please consider turning your revealing post into a sticky at the top of the Site Talk page.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            Would it be forward-thinking to create a Moderation Board separate from Site Talk where Mod specific conversations and announcements could be posted?

                                            Site Talk has many other points to ponder and Moderation appears to have a good deal of inquiry.

                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                            I'm not asking that you and CBS rethink moderators, as paid professionals, but part of your reasoning is (I think), part of why Caroline1 and others object to volunteer moderators. They are people interested in food and the discussion. I guess you wouldn't want moderators ignorant of food, restaurants and cooking but how can they be objective all the time? They are not paid to be professional at moderating or professionally objective.
                                            Education, literacy and professionalism are all relevant. I don't think much is done to inhibit members from using French or Spanish to skirt the moderators. I enjoy the contributors who are good writers and understand ethnic food history. I think the site should be well-balanced and have that included. There is plenty of useless back-and-forth that is left in that has no content about food. I've been guilty....
                                            All together, I think we are blessed with having Chowhound around. There has been improvements or I am just getting comfortable with my place.

                                        2. re: Xiao Yang

                                          Don't bet on people not missing you! Did you leave an email address on your profile page when you left? If I hadn't done that, I too would have gone on thinking I wasn't missed. I just checked your profile page, and I'm saddened that you haven't posted in a year. I, for one, would love to see you become active again. Just don't spend all of your time hiding on the LA board...! '-)

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            The difficulty (impossibility) is that everyone thinks that "their" posts are the epitome of "cultural literacy" and that whatever off topic post they put up should stand as "pearls of wisdom." Without moderation this site would be unusable. Do the moderators make mistakes? Of course. They are human. But in the majority of the cases that I personally have knowledge of their deletions are on point and necessary.

                                            This issue boils down to seeing the glass (site) as either more full (beneficial) or more empty (deleterious). I believe that there are better sites out there for those who have a lower tolerance for moderation. For those of us who dislike off topic chaos and verbal assaults this site works well. And, since we are all here voluntarily, there is really no need to become agitated by the moderation. It is what it is. We can live with it, or live without it. I choose to live with it. Your choice is always in your hands.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              What Servorg said - all of it. :-)

                                        3. re: ChinoWayne

                                          Thank you Servorg and CW that's about what I meant by my rapidly deleted post and said much more elegantly.

                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        The paid, trained officials at baseball, football and soccer games never make a judgment error?

                                        1. re: wolfe

                                          And what exactly does that have to do with the price of eggs on Chowhound? I never said things would be perfect with paid moderators, but I do strongly believe they would be greatly improved.

                                          1. re: wolfe

                                            They often do, but their errors are more visible -- either via the first-hand observations of spectators or via video recordings. Egregious errors in officiating are exposed, discussed, and may eventually result in changes if they are systematic.

                                            In contrast, Chowhound moderation is completely opaque. There's no exposure of what has been done and why. As a result, there's no reason to have confidence that the moderation is being done appropriately. The assurances that the moderators are all "hounds" themselves, that they're passionate about the site, etc. are not enough to reassure skeptics when good posts disappear and mean-spirited, unhelpful posts are allowed to stand. Maybe there's a good reason for the decisions being made, but until those decisions are more transparent, no one will know for sure.

                                            1. re: silverbear

                                              I visit one site that at one point had the most heavy-handed moderation I'd ever seen. I probably lurked for a good 6 years before getting the courage to post, because everyone I know who tried posting almost got banned in their first 10 posts. While sometimes the rules here can be opaque, I do appreciate that I won't get automatically deleted because I didn't see a post 100 posts up on the thread or didn't capitalize a word. I don't really mind my posts getting deleted as long as it doesn't start some counter to me being banned. I'm sure on that other board I've mentioned, I would have been banned ages ago because I've had many posts deleted here.

                                              On the other hand I don't think I've ever gotten a notification as to why the post was deleted- even just something generic to say it was deleted would be nice. I thought I had signed on with an email address I never used because I was sure at least a few would get a mention, but it was a normal email address.

                                      3. re: Davwud

                                        "There is a restaurant up here that we aren't allowed to post about."

                                        This is what blows my mind about this site. Users aren't ALLOWED to post about a RESTAURANT on Chowhound.

                                        <Throws hands up in air>

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          But if they've dealt with heavy-handed shilling from that place before, it's understandable. It does suck that you can't post about them, but when it's hard to figure out future posts as to whether they're shills or not, it's ultimately just easier for the Mods.

                                          Really no different on Yelp, where if you give a bad review on a favored restaurant there (i.e., one that provides ad revenue dollars) they won't allow the bad review - or force it to the bottom of many posts so many people don't see it.

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            Yelp does allow bad reviews--I've left plenty, and it's generally in the order of what was most recently posted combined with what was deemed most useful by other yelpers. Even on this site I've read contradictory reviews on restaurants (loved the beer and food at (place in Princeton)...no, the food is crap and I hated it and the beer is too watery). Then again, maybe these aren't favoured places who advertise, so only the users care?

                                            I have adblockers and flashblockers installed on my browsers, so I don't see the ads anyway.

                                          2. re: invinotheresverde

                                            If a restaurant orchestrates a shilling campaign despite knowing that what they are doing is verboten to the point that they won't stop, then being banned from the site seems only fair and right.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              This is actually addressed in the "Interview with a Moderator" linked to below (and transcribed here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3780... ). We don't ban such restaurants out of a sense of fairness or justice, it's simply because we get to the point where we don't feel we can be sure about the honesty of many posters, so we don't allow discussion of the restaurant at all.

                                              It's also addressed on our posting etiquette (which, again, we'd recommend everybody read at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605). Here's the relevant part:

                                              "Restaurateurs (or their friends, employees, PR firms, relatives, etc) who post phony testimonials or recruit others to post for them will be uncovered. Any subsequent discussion of the restaurant -- from any poster -- may be removed. We fight hard to preserve the site's reputation for integrity and to ensure the trustworthiness of our resource."

                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                "... we don't feel we can be sure about the honesty of many posters...".

                                                I'm curious. If a longtime poster had a question about this restaurant, and a second longtime poster answered, the thread would be deleted? This isn't sarcasm, I'm actually curious.

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  In the rare cases that we have to take the action of banning a restaurant from our site, we disallow all discussion, from any poster. It would confuse and upset people if we allowed some discussion from trusted posters, but no discussion from posters we're not sure about. It would make the longtime posters think that the people we're deleting are shills, when that wouldn't always be true. It would make new posters feel unwelcome and untrusted when they see that we allow some people to discuss the restaurants, and not them. And the people who caused the situation in the first place would do their best to manipulate the discussions so that trusted hounds mentioned their restaurant.

                                                  We're very thankful that the majority of restaurant insiders stay hands off on our site so we're only forced to take such action for a very small number of restaurants, and only when the problem can't be managed any other way. We're hounds and we like to talk about food too. We hate it when we're forced to take this sort of action by people who don't respect the values of an open, honest site.

                                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                      Probably not a good idea to publicize the names of restaurants that are banned for shilling since it just gives them more free online "air" time (exactly what they are looking for).

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        True, but it must be frustrating to posters truly looking for info.

                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                          We do our best to email unsuspecting posters who are deleted in these situations.

                                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        If they put up the list, they'd have to delete themselves. :-)

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            And they'd have to email themselves to explain why.

                                                            And then the internet would implode.

                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              A black hole that once was the Internet. There goes Al Gore's invention. ::::Sigh::::

                                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                For those trekkies still out there this sound like a rerun of the Nomad and Landrew episodes.

                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                Why wouldn't they let you post on a restaurant? Isn't that the point here?

                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  If you read through the rest of the thread, you'll fine reasons about why. You may not agree with them or think they're good reasons, of course, but they're given nonetheless.

                                              3. I agree that the moderators on this board are occasionally heavy handed and sometimes also just completely off base. I understand that to a great extent moderators can only apply standards, not hard and fast rules. But there are times when deletion patterns seem almost completely arbitrary to me.

                                                My thoughts on the matter: moderation is desirable, but try to make standards clearer to the moderators so they can apply them more consistently. Deleting good posts has an undesirable cooling effect on discussion.

                                                57 Replies
                                                1. re: cimui

                                                  It's worth keeping in mind that the moderators are making their decisions with a more complete picture of the situation than the users have available to them.

                                                  As a single example: users may have seen only the first joking post or two in a thread, and not the dozen that rapidly followed, completely derailing an otherwise chowish discussion. When they check back later and find those remarks deleted, they wonder why we have no sense of humour, when really, we were just trying to keep the thread on track.

                                                  The moderators don't live to delete stuff. We don't even like to delete stuff. (Except shills. We like to delete shills -- and we delete a lot more of them than you might imagine.) And we're definitely not perfect or always consistent, though we do hope we achieve a standard that's higher than 'arbitrary'. We work hard to keep the conversation honest, friendly and on topic, and while our reasons might not always be obvious to an observer, we hope you'll trust that we have the best interests of the Chowhound community at heart, and that those reasons do exist and are good ones.

                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                    I understand your perspective and appreciate your good intentions. I do suspect there could be better consistency in applying standards.

                                                    1. re: cimui

                                                      If I am correctly reading what Jacquilynne is saying, cimui we (the regular CH posters) won't / can't understand that, what looks from this side of the curtain as inconsistency, is actually not. But, because we aren't privy to all the things the moderators are seeing, we perceive the deletions as unnecessary or inconsistent.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        I agree. Moderation is one thing. Shaping the threads and overall "big picture" message to fit an aesthetic of Chowhound seems overbearing and counter to the expressive and excitable nature of food and its followers.

                                                        1. re: vyieort

                                                          If we will just stop concentrating on the trees and look at the forest we find a thriving food discussion community with thousands of varied and interesting topics to follow along with and participate in, if we are interested in doing so. And the suggestion to find and participate in a site that fits "our" personal aesthetic is on point.

                                                          Chowhound is only "one" of many, many sites where we can discuss food. If the moderation here gives any one of us "heartburn" then we should find a site that is more to our liking. This sort of site is meant to provide fun and be a diversion. This is certainly not life and death.

                                                          1. re: vyieort

                                                            I don't see any effort to create an aesthetic or to shape threads other than to keep them on the topic of food. I also don't think there's any particular message inherent in Chowhound. The content is still driven by individual posters and for every opinion on the site there are disagreements also on the site.

                                                            Not everything that people who love food want to talk about is about food only because people who love food want to talk about it.

                                                            1. re: ccbweb

                                                              I agree - the moderators never attempt to pull or otherwise shape a discussion in any particular direction, they just delete ones that wander off in what they consider to be inappropriate directions.

                                                              Perhaps it could be said that this creates an aesthetic by virtue of leaving behind only certain "civilized" types of posts, but having seen the nasty, ugly chaos that so easily erupts on unmoderated sites I say Go Moderators!

                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                You've visited gaming forums haven't you BobB? He he! Well I have and it sure gives me a sense of perspective.

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  "the moderators never attempt to pull or otherwise shape a discussion in any particular direction, they just delete ones that wander off in what they consider to be inappropriate directions. "
                                                                  "what they consider to be inapproriate directions"?
                                                                  That could be anything related or unrelated to the topic. The bottom line is this site is way over-moderated.

                                                                  1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers

                                                                    There are many inappropriate directions that a discussion could take. For example, a restaurant insider shilling for his own place, or an ex-employee slamming that place after he leaves. Snarky comments about other posters or their writing style are another big problem- we ask people to review the chow, not each other. Our posting guidelines at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/367605 do explain our moderation approach very well, so we'd recommend anyone who hasn't read them take a second to do so.

                                                                    We'd also recommend people check out this interview at http://www.chow.com/stories/10474 to get some insight into the way the site is moderated.

                                                                    1. re: FastTalkingHighTrousers

                                                                      Over-moderated in what sense? What do you think ends up missing that would benefit people who come here to get tips to find great food? What do you think should be allowed to be posted here that would help that search?

                                                          2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                            That's precisely the problem: Moderation is opaque and the community therefore has little opportunity to understand what has happened and why.

                                                            CH could improve by considering the following, all of which are common in other moderated online discussion environments:

                                                            -- Leaving a placeholder note in place of the deleted post showing the reason for deletion: off-topic, TOS violation, etc.

                                                            -- Consistently sending deletion notices to the "deletees." That's happened to me only about 1 out of 10 times.

                                                            -- Allowing for some community role in moderation. Right now, it's in the hands of an invisible elite, and as you have said before, "We don't moderate by consensus." That's maddening. Why not let the community have a role in setting its own standards?

                                                            Alas, these questions and suggestions are rhetorical, because CH's most loyal participants are a self-selecting group that has bought into its opaque moderation strategy. Those who object either adapt to the site's non-democratic nature or move on.

                                                            1. re: silverbear

                                                              Far more eloquently said than I could have said it. I wish I could think of a much better alternative, though. I'm not sure that more democratic moderation, at least as it exists in forms I'm more familiar with (i.e. Craigslist) are very effective, either.

                                                              I do appreciate that there are fewer shills on this board than other places in cyberspace, Jacquilynne!

                                                              1. re: silverbear

                                                                I *completely* disagree with allowing the community itself a role in moderation. How in heavens name could that be productive to anyone, allowing anything and everything to be deleted?

                                                                We *do* have a role in moderation right now that works - click on the "Report" button and give an explanation as to why something should be deleted/moved. The Mods see it, they make the judgment call.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                  I think you *completely* misunderstood my suggestion, which is not about allowing unilateral deletions by anyone and everyone, but instead allowing the community a role in setting standards for what gets deleted by moderators.

                                                                  As for the "report" button, I'm not too satisifed with it. It has resulted in deletions only a small fraction of times I've used it.

                                                                  It's obvious that you're pleased with CH's moderation strategy, and that's great. I'm less satisifed, so we'll agree to disagree.

                                                                  1. re: silverbear

                                                                    But just because you think something should be deleted doesn't always mean it should be. It's there to use; sometimes it works to your (or my) satisfaction, sometimes it doesn't. Can't always get what we want.

                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                      We do always read the reports sent to us, investigate the situation, and consider whether the post presents a violation of the guidelines. Our motto isn't "does the post deserve to stay?", it's "does it absolutely *have* to go?" We do apologize that we don't always email people who send reports to thank them for the help and to explain why we left a post if don't agree it's a problem. With the large volume of reports we get (hundreds per week), it just isn't possible to respond to each person, but we greatly appreciate all the help we get.

                                                                      There is a bug that prevents us from seeing a small number of reports, so if you've reported something and it's not removed, and you feel there's a chance we missed your report, please send an email to moderators@chowhound.com.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                        That's obvious, but when the report "button" results in deletions less than 25% of the time I click it, and when lots of useful and innocuous posts disappear without explanation, it's a sign that CH moderation is not working for me. If the ratios were better, I'd be happier because I undersand "can't always get what we want." I'm less understanding of "almost never get what we want."

                                                                        1. re: silverbear

                                                                          what are you reporting on, typically, silverbear? i mean, i get deleted a lot because i'm a wingnut, i frequently have a diametrically opposed pov to others', and sometimes i freak out, but i also use the report somewhat frequently-- and i hardly ever use it when i see something that's borderline ot, or snarky, or dumb-- i mean, unless it's really really bad. if i did report something like that, i'd expect that there's at least some chance that the mods might elect to leave the post, or let the discussion continue for a little while before deciding to axe it. it's gray area for me, as just a regular poster, i might not always be right, indeed, i may seldom be right.

                                                                          i *will* absolutely report a shill the instant i see one, or if someone has started a new topic on the wrong board, that just needs to be moved in order to get more helpful response-- to me this is just basic housekeeping and should be everybody's job on the site, and ime the mods have been really responsive to these reports, no complaints from me on these more black&white moderation issues.

                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                            discriminatory remarks
                                                                            disrespectful comments
                                                                            dismissive one-liner attacks

                                                                            ... that's the type of stuff I report. I don't report shills because they're usually so obvious that anyone can see past them. In fact, I find them often rather amusing in their amateurishness.

                                                                            My general feeling is that CH moderation pays too much attention to topicality and not enough attention to civility. That bothers me as much as the Orwellian "We know what's best for you; trust us" tenor of official CH non-explanations of moderation decisions.

                                                                            1. re: silverbear

                                                                              These are the types of comments I report, as well, with particular emphasis on discriminatory remarks. I very, very seldom see an of these removed and most of the time, if I post to point out a discriminatory remark, my posts are deleted.

                                                                              On the other hand, lots of innocuous posts are removed, as sksoze has noted. I think I might know which well spoken poster he/she is referencing. It seems to me a tragedy that someone who adds so much to the discussion on this board be driven away.

                                                                              I don't know what the solution ought to be, but I really think it would not be a terrible idea to have the moderators be (better) moderated.

                                                                              1. re: cimui

                                                                                So long as a post is on-topic, it shouldn't be automatically deleted just because it's discriminatory, disrespectful, or dismissive. Take a look at the posted guidelines: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3676...

                                                                                A few excerpts: "Personal attacks and offensive language aimed at other posters are not permitted." But "incidental vulgarity, obscenity, and general offensiveness in otherwise chow-ful postings" is "OK so long as it's not said in anger or is clearly intended to stir up trouble."

                                                                                The moderators have expressly limited their role with regard to potentially offensive posts: "Our role as moderators is not to shield all users from anything they might find offensive. If we tried to do so, there'd be literally no end to it, because many different people are offended by many different things." So report all you want, but don't expect them to take a post down just because you find it offensive.

                                                                                On the other hand, you should probably expect to have a post of yours deleted if it has no content other than to state that you're offended. That's off-topic; you can't hijack a thread and turn it into a discussion of whether a substantive comment was appropriate. I mean, c'mon - it's the internet. There's offensive stuff everywhere. If you can't tolerate that, you're in the wrong place.

                                                                                The rules for this sandbox are posted in plain sight. You can choose to follow them, ignore them, or try to skate as close to the line as you can. As noted above, I get deleted on a regular basis. But I'll be the first to admit that there's generally a good reason for the deletion, and the last to whine about it.

                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                  I've read the guidelines. The guidelines also say that the moderators' role is to promote civility in discussion. Discriminatory posts are not civil. If a response addresses the discrimination in some way and also has a content that is on point, I don't see why it should be deleted, if the moderators are applying the same standards.

                                                                                  This is the type of moderation I object to.

                                                                                  I am aware that this is the internet and that discriminatory and offensive things are here. But if there is to be moderation of some sort, I object to double standards and standards that are applied unequally.

                                                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                                                    If you are expecting perfection from human beings in each and every moderating decision you are going to be disappointed. There is no way around it. This is generally a very civil and friendly forum for food discussion. Generally the moderation is excellent. But focusing on the few times it's not will promote extreme frustration in you and for no gain. Concentrate on the food and enjoy the site. If you need to air a grievance do so in a private email to the moderating team. No one likes to be called out in public. Finally, no one site can be all things to all people. There are many choices in the marketplace of the Internet. If Chowound moderating ruins the experience for you then maybe another site would be a better fit.

                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                      You make reasonable points, servorg, and I agree with many of them. I really, really enjoy many of my fellow hounds. Many are often insightful, knowledgeable and all around great human beings.

                                                                                      I agree that no site can be all things to all people and no one can be perfect. But we can all be better. I don't mean this as an attack on the moderators, but more as an optimistic statement. Applying standards more consistently would be wonderful. Instead of doing a good job, they would do a GREAT job. I encourage them to keep up the good work... and also try to do great work. There *is* room for improvement.

                                                                                      That's really all I have to say on the subject, frankly.

                                                                                    2. re: cimui

                                                                                      ~~"I've read the guidelines. The guidelines also say that the moderators' role is to promote civility in discussion."~~

                                                                                      Really? Where? Please provide a link to where the guidelines say that; I've read the guidelines and searched for more, but can't figure out what you're talking about.

                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                        " We moderate the forums with our mission in mind - keeping the site ... friendly ...."

                                                                                        "A friendly, respectful environment encourages onlookers to offer their chow tips."

                                                                                        So, perhaps, "friendly" and not "civil" is the word I'm going for. But friendly's a stronger standard, no?

                                                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                                                          Thanks. I see what you're talking about.

                                                                                          I believe the mods act consistently with the guidelines. My take on it is that the language about a "friendly" environment is aspirational, while the rules about deletion are proscriptive. The goal of the rules is to create a certain kind of site, but their application is governed by the more specific do's and dont's.

                                                                                          That's not to say that I always agree with the judgments made. There are posts that stay up when I think they should go, and there are posts that get deleted that I wish would stay. But although I don't always agree with the results, I can't imagine a moderation paradigm that would work better, at least for the way I use the site.

                                                                                          Which is really what it comes down to. I enjoy your posts and those of many others, from the bubbly to the irascible. So the teacher comes along and smacks us with a ruler every once in a while. Big deal. It won't stop us from having fun here.

                                                                                2. re: silverbear

                                                                                  Please do report the shills -- we don't read everything, so we don't always see them, no matter how obvious they might be. We'd appreciate the help.

                                                                                  1. re: silverbear

                                                                                    I totally agree with the concerning Orwellian tone of the moderation defenders in this thread.

                                                                                    1. re: vyieort

                                                                                      vyieort, let's hope the breezyness doesn't turn into a chill wind.

                                                                                      1. re: vyieort

                                                                                        Good grief. You're free to exit the system here. There's no requirement that you participate in Chowhound. There's no state-supported restriction of free speech. There's a handful of folks trying to keep a site about food on the topics of, you know, food and finding good food to eat. Maybe they're not perfect at it. Maybe they're actually really bad at it. But I don't assign the nefarious motives to it that you and others seem to.

                                                                                        It appears that you've signed up for an account here rather recently and found much to dislike pretty quickly thereafter. Why continue to bang your head against a wall? (I ask seriously...are there things you do like about Chowhound?)

                                                                                        1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                          To paraphrase Winston Churchill, "Chowhound is the worst form of online food discussion site except for all those others that have been tried."

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            Indeed. Nice paraphrase and quite accurate.

                                                                          2. re: silverbear

                                                                            There are trade-offs, which may be ok for some and not ok for others.

                                                                            One reason why we all don't like spam (even though we know it's spam and can discount it easily) is that it adds clutter and slows us down. Leaving a placeholder does the same thing. If some post is deleted because it's spam or off-topic, I'd rather not have a place holder around, because it would be just as disruptive for me.

                                                                            The other thing is, I'm a curious guy. If I saw one of these placeholders, I'd like to know more. Exactly why was it off-topic, or which TOS did it violate...again, another distraction from our goal in life, which is to find something delicious.

                                                                            I decide to use and participate on CH based on a practical criteria -- can I find useful information about where to eat, as efficiently as possible? If the answer is no, I go somewhere else that fits that criteria better. There's plenty of websites on food on the internet and that offers us a vast amount of choices. I think that's a very efficient model.

                                                                            1. re: limster

                                                                              Good point. My observation is that CH values topicality over transparency and community-building. The decision has been made to keep the discussions as tight as possible, even if that means truncating off-topic discussions that might bring participants closer together. For CH's devoted followers, that decision makes sense, but it does constrain CH's appeal to a self-selecting group. That worked well in the pre-CNET days, but I sometimes wonder how it meshes with the need to sell ads on the site that will be seen by as many visitors as possible. I don't pretend to know the answer; it's just an interesing question to ponder.

                                                                              1. re: silverbear

                                                                                There are a couple of reasons why we chose not to have that kind of marking built into the software.

                                                                                One is what was mentioned, above -- it distracts from the conversation. People end up discussing what was deleted and why was it deleted and who was deleted, and that's a lot of posting energy that could be directed towards actually talking about food. And then we'd end up deleting those off-topic conversations, as well, which would be more work for us and more distraction for people who were just trying to get to the chow.

                                                                                Another is that it feels like a public slap to the face for the people who got deleted. We do try to let people know in private if we think they might not recognize the reason why their post was removed (though, when we remove strings of posts from different posters, that's not always practical), but we prefer to do that as quietly as possible, so no one feels like they're being made to stand in the corner for being bad. Everyone gets deleted eventually -- even me and the other moderators sometimes -- and we hope people will come to recognize it as just something that happens occasionally on a moderated site, and not take it personally. Public warnings wouldn't further that goal.

                                                                                If there's a particular pattern of postings in a thread that we think people might not understand why it got removed, or might continue the conversation in that vein if we don't make clear why it's being stopped, we will leave a public note as 'The Chowhound Team'.

                                                                                Another reason is that much of what we remove is spam or shilling or trolling, and frankly, we don't want to call any attention to the fact that it ever was there. Spammers and shills want to be noticed, and trolls would just derive satisfaction from having been removed.

                                                                                1. re: silverbear

                                                                                  I really like your comments silverbear. Is there another site where I would fit in better? I am looking for fun and a sense of community. I'm starting to feel like an unwanted weed in a very cultivated garden and I wonder if there is a place where I might bloom and prosper. I'm pretty new to chowhound and I'm feeling confused and clueless.

                                                                                    1. re: mlgb

                                                                                      shudder. :) He he been there tried that. But thanks for responding mlgb -still clueless in Pennsylvannia.

                                                                                      1. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                        Actually, I would recommend reconsidering Yelp, but it depends on the climate of the Yelp community in your locality. I thought it was useless in my community until the site hired someone to manage it in my area; now, it's as good as CH for the buzz on new restaurants, and there's less groupthink. Of course, there are a lot of strident voices on the site more interested in self-promotion and political diatribes than good food, but in most major cities, there's also a subgroup who are mostly interested in good eating with a little community-building on the side. In cities in which Yelp has cultivated a large enough community, there's usually an unofficial subgroup for every taste. I'd also say that Yelp's software is much more stable than CH's, and that makes a difference in my frustration level.

                                                                                        1. re: silverbear

                                                                                          Although I originally did not think much of Yelp, now I find it is handy for small mom and pop places that are under the radar. And when you're going into the 'hood, you want to hear about the vermin, etc. Chowhounders in my area seem to recommend the same 5 to 10 places over and over, focusing on the trendy, rarely anything new. In some ways, Yelp is now more "chowish" and certainly more democratic than Chowhound. It also has that social networking function.

                                                                                        2. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                          Don't give up, givemecarbs! Many of us enjoy your posts. What fun would it be if we all walked the same walk and talked the same talk? As they say, variety is the spice of life and I still find things spicy 'round here!

                                                                                          Stick around and wallow in the underbelly - it's good times down here. :)

                                                                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                            Thanks for your warm words lynn! They mean a lot to me.

                                                                                      2. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                        don't go, givemecarbs. just come on over on the home cooking board!

                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                          Holy smokes alkapal! Home Cooking is where it's at! Thanks I'm warming myself there right now!

                                                                                        2. re: givemecarbs

                                                                                          Facebook, MySpace, Friendster (does that still exist?) and the like are specifically designed to foster community or at least social connections and communication.

                                                                                          Perhaps check out Team Sugar which bills itself as a "Women's Social Network and Community" and has a section for food and restaurants and recipes.

                                                                                          If you're new to something (as you note that you are here) its difficult to expect a sense of community. That grows over time if at all. If discussion of finding the best food possible is secondary in terms of importance (and I'm not for a moment arguing that that's bad or wrong) to having a sense of community, Chowhound may well not be the right place to look for it. That's because ranging conversations that don't focus on finding food may well be deleted, removed or otherwise shut down as its not what Chowhound is trying to be. As silverbear noted, they've made the decision to try to be narrow and focused in their mission and that means it won't be all things to all people.

                                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                            Blogher or blog search engines may be another avenue to consider. Searching will lead you to hundreds of food blogs. Commentary is avail on most blogs and only the blog owner Moderates.

                                                                                    2. re: silverbear

                                                                                      I've been posting on CH for quite a while now and I have never, not once, received an e-mail explanation of why a post was deleted. Granted, MOST of the time I know full well why a certain post was deleted, but there have been many times where a post of mine was deleted, where the deletion seemed completely arbitrary and inexplicable.

                                                                                      (A little venting here - sometimes it really peeves me when I come back to a thread, realize a subsequent poster took a nasty pot shot at me, nasty post was up for days and as soon as I have the temerity to defend myself, wa-la! all the involved posts get instantly deleted. Can't help it - this just makes me feel like certain posters get favored treatment over others and it's annoying.)

                                                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                        If we think it's likely to be pretty clear to the poster why a post was deleted, we will often skip the email. If you're genuinely confused about a deletion, you can email us at moderators@chowhound.com and we'll try to explain.

                                                                                        The second situation does seem unfair, but it's generally the case that we never saw or noticed the original post -- we definitely don't read everything on the site. Your defense of yourself may have been flagged, or we may have happened to read it, and so when we realized that the original post was an attack on you, we removed it all. The best thing to do is to use 'feedback' to bring the original attack to our attention as soon as you see it. That way it doesn't stay up any longer than necessary.

                                                                                        1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                          I knew intellectually that was the likely scenario. (And I know life isn't always fair.) But it felt good to vent a little about that pet peeve of mine.

                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                            i've never gotten an email, and have certainly had posts deleted more than once. only email i ever got was when i started a thread about moderation that got deleted.

                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                              Our records indicate we've sent you at least half a dozen emails. Perhaps they're ending up in your spam trap?

                                                                                      2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                        Just curious, J: Can anyone volunteer to be a moderator? How are moderators chosen and is there ever any sort of review of a moderator's decisions?

                                                                                        Say a moderator hates Chowhound X. If said moderator deletes every third post by Chowhound X, would this trigger any sort of review of the moderator's actions?

                                                                                        I realize all this could require some burdensome administration that's not practical for a website like Chowhound, so I'm not necessarily advocating for such procedures. But at the very least, it would be nice to have a clearer idea of the limitations of the moderating process as it currently exists.

                                                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                                                          Moderators are invited to join the team based primarily on their history of reporting problems. When we're looking for more hands, we look for people who've consistently provided thoughtful feedback via email or the 'report' button. The 'report' button is really the community's best source of input into moderation. We review all the flags that comes into us, and while not all of them result in deletions/moves/etc, they are a very important source of feedback. They attract our attention to potential problems we might not have otherwise spotted (we don't read everything that gets posted on the site) and also let us know how the members feel about specific issues.

                                                                                          All moderation actions are permanently logged in a way that's highly visible to all moderators. While there's not a formal review process where we check up on every action, several pairs of eyes look at the vast majority of deletions that happen, and a moderator who was deliberately removing one person's postings would absolutely be noticed. The moderators make a point of not moderating in situations where they may be less than objective, instead passing on those tasks to other moderators, to ensure that the situation is handled fairly.

                                                                                          1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                                            very interesting. thanks for the explanation.

                                                                                            is it public information who moderators are? (by public info, i mean are the handles that moderators use public.) how many moderators are there? do you all sit in the same physical space when you moderate?

                                                                                            it would be interesting to think about how we could elect moderators.

                                                                                            1. re: cimui

                                                                                              Information about the moderators isn't made public. They're volunteers, and we'd like them to have the ability to enjoy the site as regular users when they aren't modding.

                                                                                              They're spread around the country and around the world, so no, we definitely don't sit in the same room and mod.