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Moderator guidelines?

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Are there moderator guidelines or is it up to each individual moderator? The "moderation" these days seems to be very inconsistent.

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  1. I'm fairly sure I have read that it is mostly mods discretion within the terms of service for the site. But as always I could be wrong.

    1. There are moderator guidelines, as well as templates we use for communicating to users that help guide mod actions. It is possible for two mods to make different decisions in the same situation, since there is a judgement call involved in moderating, but decisions and actions are also visible to the whole team, so other mods can and do review them and we do sometimes change the decision after a second look and further discussion about it.

      A lot of what's seen as inconsistency is inconsistency in what we see rather than in how we respond to it. Very often we get Flags saying things like "I can't believe you left this up!" and that's the first time the post has been Flagged, so it's not so much that we left it up, but that up to that point, we were unaware of its existence. Two similar situations may be treated differently merely because one of them was never read by a moderator.

      Timing also matters -- a questionable post that we see shortly after it was made is more likely to be removed than a questionable post that we don't see until it has 20 useful replies hanging off it that would also have to come down. We'll take down large swathes of conversation if we have to remove something truly horrible, but if a problem post is more borderline, we're reluctant to do that.

      We've also been trying for the last couple of years to lighten up on moderating in general. We've been allowing a great many more controversial threads, which means a lot more opportunities for problems to arise. We've also been trying not to pre-emptively mod stuff as much, but to let conversations flow more freely and to step in only when they get really out of hand. The lines between free-flowing and out of hand aren't bright line ones, so where and how we step in can vary.

      We don't aim to be inconsistent, of course, but it's a natural byproduct of moderating things only after the fact and based on reports rather than systemic review of the whole site. It's also a natural byproduct of trying to let things go until they become problems, rather than pre-emptively removing things we're pretty sure will become problems. We used to be (somewhat) more consistent, but we had to be much bigger hardasses in general to do it.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Jacquilynne

        Timing also matters -- a questionable post that we see shortly after it was made is more likely to be removed than a questionable post that we don't see until it has 20 useful replies hanging off it that would also have to come down. We'll take down large swathes of conversation if we have to remove something truly horrible, but if a problem post is more borderline, we're reluctant to do that.
        -------------------------------------------
        This is exactly what just happened. The conversation was "flowing more freely" and did not "get really out of hand" but large chunks of a discussion were removed.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          If send me an email at moderators@chowhound.com with the details on the specific situation you're referring to, I'd be happy to take a look at it.

        2. re: Jacquilynne

          <<We've also been trying for the last couple of years to lighten up on moderating in general. We've been allowing a great many more controversial threads, which means a lot more opportunities for problems to arise.>>

          Well, at least now I know that it's not my imagination.

          1. re: MrsPatmore

            It's not in your imagination as we were discussing on another thread where our discussion magically disappeared.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Alice in Wonderland . . . table for two? Alice in Wonderland, your table is ready!

          2. re: Jacquilynne

            Certainly appreciative of the lighter touch on the UK/Ireland board. Exhuberant modding used to be a right pain in the arse.

            1. re: Jacquilynne

              Hi, Jacq: "We've also been trying for the last couple of years to lighten up on moderating in general."

              Thank you 1,000x.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

            2. I've seen a definite lightening up on moderation over the few years I've been here. And I think it's for the better. Thanks. And as someone who has moderated a couple of sites, moderation is more of an art, not a science, and there are always grey areas where you just have to make a judgement call.

              I think if you've been here a while you know which of your posts might get deleted as soon as you type them.

              1. all of this reminds me of the thought police-
                not a good thing.

                the moderation IS inconsistent

                the conversations/comments need to flow-as long as nothing dangerous or threatening is mentioned

                20 Replies
                1. re: jpr54_1

                  Could you give an example of something "dangerous or threatening" being mentioned?

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I have not personally seen anything dangerous or threatening in any of posts-
                    that is why all post should be allowed unless they violate the aforementioned

                    1. re: jpr54_1

                      Generally agree with you, jpr54_1. That said, the board has "respect for other posters" guidelines which can make a response to some contributors very difficult.

                      After several years contributing I am still unsuccessful in expressing a form of words that's acceptable to the mods that still conveys the message to a person that they are "An unpleasant arsewipe who knows nothing about food". I shall keep trying until I get it perfect as some folk really do richly deserve such a response.

                      ;-0

                      1. re: Harters

                        LOL, hard to imagine you could be having difficulty finding the right way of saying that!

                        I too am appreciative of the lighter hand.

                        To this day, though, some of my favorite threads are currently locked.

                        1. re: Harters

                          If everyone here who so desires can simply say to any other poster that they are" An unpleasant arsewipe who know nothing about food". can you imagine what discussions would look like? Talk about unleashing a giant clusterfuck, with no further chance to actually discuss food and where to find it.

                          I think you would rue the day the mod's let that sort of thing go. Free-for-all's look like fun only from a distance. Actually being in the middle of them, not so enjoyable.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            The mods certainly don't let that sort of comment stand. Nor should they. My issue is that I havnt yet found an alternative form of words that's acceptable to them that conveys the same sentiment - as I said in my earlier post.

                            1. re: Harters

                              I've sometimes tried "okey dokey."

                              1. re: c oliver

                                c oliver

                                I've tried "Of course, you are entitled to your opinion" but it just doesnt have the venom that I'm trying to convey. And there are a tiny number of people on any board who you really want to convey that to. Leaves me deeply unsatisfied.

                                At least, on another board I use, there is an "ignore" option which means you simply don't see their posts. That said, i must mention the guy on the "other board" with whom I had a series of altercations and ended up "ignoring" him for a couple years. Then there was a gathering of board members, including dinner and I found myself sitting next to this guy - a bit pompous but pleasant enough. There was a slow realisation on the part of both of us about who the other actually was. Nothing was said but it was a difficult couple of hours wondering if something would be.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  I had the exact same experience with someone who'd been rude to me online at a food gathering. The look on his face seemed to reveal that he regretted judging me so harshly ...

                                  A very bright and talented guy--but nothing really makes up for the kind of arrogance he displayed.

                                  1. re: foiegras

                                    Harters, meet foiegras; foiegras, Harters.

                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                      Too funny. No, it definitely wasn't Harters ... different continent, different name, different national origin ... but the pomposity of our dining companions was quite similar.

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  In the South they'd just say, "Well, bless your heart." :)

                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                    Yes, we do...even after I moved out of the South :)

                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                      And the Mods will even delete THAT!

                                      1. re: carolinadawg

                                        I will definitely be trying it then ;)

                                        I remember when a college roommate baked cupcakes for a guy (her theory was, if I don't see a ring on his finger ...), his girlfriend told her over and over how sweet she was.

                                        And my aunt telling me when she was bidding on fur coats from an eBay seller who was transgendered that she just couldn't insult him--he kept thanking her for being so understanding and having such an open mind, telling her how much it meant to him to be accepted for who he was, etc. no matter what she said. She was genuinely puzzled that she just couldn't get her point across when she was being so very clear.

                                        Kill 'em with kindness ...

                            2. re: jpr54_1

                              Nope. IMO the moderation here is the only thing that separates Chowhound from the anonymous and unpleasant cesspool that forms the rest of the internet. This is not a democracy but everyone is free to go elsewhere, to let the diamonds and rubies that fall from their lips land where they may.

                              1. re: Samalicious

                                "Rest of the internet" ?

                                You must have had generally very unfortunate experiences online. I know of many well managed discussion boards, both in and away from the area of food.

                                If, on the other hand, you actually meant that there are some unmoderated boards where discussions can become unpleasant, then I would agree with you. But I also know of some unmoderated boards where things do not become unpleasant.

                                I make these remarks as someone who, generally speaking, posts on boards either using my real name or, as here, where my real name is in my profile. Some of us are far from anonymous.

                            3. re: linguafood

                              Years ago, I once had a conversation with another 'Asian food specialist' hound on the Ontario/Toronto board about the best Chinese Snake Soup in town, An obnoxious hound by the name of 'fatswine' ( subsequently banned from posting ) stepped in and call us XXX..ing Asians who ate anything and caused the SARS epidemic! He then go on further to say that he hoped one day we got strangled by pythons and suffer excruciating deaths!!

                              Tone sounded pretty threatening to me!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                Trolls are everywhere. Best to simply ignore them.

                            4. re: jpr54_1

                              There are subthreads that get a life of their own, go on and on and on and have ZERO to do with food. They hijack and are generally just silly and not infrequently vulgar. I'm very pleased when those get the knife.

                            5. (in response to c oliver's question, but somehow in the wrong place ...)

                              You e-mail sellers to ask questions about what they are selling. That's how. Why would best be answered by her. This would be my difficult-to-please relative.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foiegras

                                Sorry I wasn't clear. You wrote "She was genuinely puzzled that she just couldn't get her point across when she was being so very clear." I just didn't understand what her point was. And what being transgender had to do with any of it.