I like it. It’s broad, but it’s not unfocused. I think it’s a good thing that mods have openly stated privileges.
I appreciate the nod towards transparency. I would like to know if it’s the moderation and administration’s position that there is a clear preference for moderator actions to be publicly visible, whenever possible. Personally, I think that it would be best to favour that as much as possible… when I think of petty internet moderator tyranny, the first thing that comes to mind is moderators acting with impunity in ways that they have no charge at all to justify or communicate. I’ve seen @Syzygy do it in their eternal wisdom (thank you @Syzygy), and @antillese do it more recently, so, I do appreciate that when actions are taken, or even when moderator pants need to be put on for a moment to get the vibes right again, they are compelled to explain what they want to happen and what they’ll do if it doesn’t, and that that be publicly and transparently visible to all. I think the whole internet mod tyranny tendency is just conflating expecting people to submit to authority and not question it, with communal trust in that authority. When, in fact, I think we would be fostering a much more meaningfully and maturely trusting environment if the mod team is not at all mysterious or arbitrary about its stances and the actions it takes.
However, if a matter were to involve sensitive subject matter that doesn’t need to be broadcast, or if being open about it would violate the privacy of any forum member (moderators or users alike), or if someone might just be acting especially hostile, I can see why actions taken don’t need to be visible. At the same time, though, I think transparency is still possible and preferable in the sense that descriptions of actions taken that would be in the forums’ interests to know about can still be shared with the sensitive or privacy-concerning information carefully extracted from the statement. Well, that sort of thing, I’m sure will be really a case-by-case decision.
Perhaps it would strengthen these sections of the guideline if these sections had more clear descriptions of what kinds of things the moderators will be called upon to reveal publicly and remain transparent about, and what kinds of things the moderators will be using their discretion to protect. It is primarily my opinion that preference for public and transparent actions is best so I don’t necessarily feel that that must be adopted or I’ll have a problem with it. I suppose I just think this aspect of these guidelines don’t feel right by prefacing it all with “It is impossible to make a contingency plan for every unforeseen circumstance.” I think it’s highly possible to make reasonably good predictions on which approach (transparent vs. protected) will be used in what kinds of circumstances. Otherwise, it’d hardly occur to anyone to even make them separate guidelines, right?
I also appreciate that mods are called upon to be accountable to each other when taking any actions that will not be publicly acknowledged or visible. It might be a good idea to maintain some sort of centralized log of moderation action, for ease of reference. And, say, in the event that there is some kind of pressing desire within the community to know more about, a redacted version could be shown. But that sounds kind of extreme, maybe it will never be necessary.
Few other questions–will the Mastodon link be a URL that one can access the functionality of without knowing anything at all about Mastodon? I understand the reticence to use Twitter but, like, why tha fuck does a social media website have instances, I thought that shit was for Ragefire Chasm…
Also I wonder if the main website (not the forum) needs that sort of information publicly displayed somewhere. A pinned post might be hard to remember exactly how to refer to once you read it and it gets bumped off of your home page. Perhaps there should be some kind of Tag for this sort of site functionality stuff, so you can always zip straight to all of it?
Another question, is there a forum administrator role that can see, if absolutely needed, even PMs they are not recipients of? Getting practically game theory about things at this point but, if there is some kind of site administrator role that can access PMs if it is absolutely needed, I think it would be a good idea to be, topical adjective here, transparent about that. That is something that would inform everyone’s behaviour and conduct quite heavily.
However, if PMs truly are private, and they cannot under any circumstances be seen except through logging in to the account that is a recipient of a PM, I think these guidelines need very robust and clear directions communicated to users about reporting potential intrusive or even abusive conduct that they may experience via PMs. Like, almost more than any online community I have ever been a part of, I would be utterly shocked and profoundly saddened to find out that someone was being a sex pest to users in PMs. Yet, I must also acknowledge that, well, I’ve felt trust and safety in even smaller and seemingly more intimate online communities before, and these communities still harboured sex pests who got away with being slimeballs with a shocking number of other members for a very long time.
Like, I know the culture here, and I know the people who hold the keys to the control console. I know that if, say, someone were to PM me some sex pest shit, I would immediately PM a moderator and they would be banned moments after a moderator could get to a computer. I’m not quite sure what would happen after that, but, I imagine our community would have a comprehensively good response to that sort of threat to its safety and integrity. We’d probably find the best way to communicate to as many of our users as possible who the threat came from and what you can or should do if you were also targeted by them. Perhaps we would also create some sort of sharing/healing/justice circle and process it all as a community. Perhaps we would collectively become stronger and more knowledgeable and more socially cohesive as a result of how we addressed such an urgent and distressing threat to our community’s safety and integrity. I even know that all of this is probably a pretty unlikely scenario, we do have a pretty strong anti sex pest vibe just in general.
…but that’s what I know and can expect and imagine and think is not only possible but likely, ’cause I am in here posting thousands of words a day sometimes. It’s not necessarily what, say, the kind of knowledge a newer or younger and more impressionable user would know and understand. You know, the kind of user that would be most visibly vulnerable to being targeted by a sex pest covertly among us. But, I think in the absence of some kind of administrator’s ability to see any and all PMs if necessary, I would want them to know exactly what collectively we as a community would want them to do the moment something that shouldn’t be happening suddenly happens to them. Even if we can never 100% gaurantee anyone’s safety, I would want it to be very clear to all users whether or not an administrator can see PMs, because if they can it might induce a chilling effect on attempted sex pestilence in the first place, but if they can’t it should be very clear to users that if anything that happens in a PM makes them even remotely uncomfortable to…
Okay I took a second and realized I’m veering way off topic. What I’m really proposing is additions to the Moderation Guidelines and Expectations which isn’t this thread, lol. Well, this thread made me think about it.
It also made me notice that PMs allow you to Flag PMs sent to you, which presumes that it is possible for someone to access your PMs one way or another. Is it Private until the recipient Flags a PM they have received?
At any rate I think it would be worth it to have some sort of publicly available breakdown of how it all works intricately so that people can do what they need to do to protect themselves from abuse that could otherwise go entirely hidden.
But I guess this does relate to transparency in the actions of the moderators and administrators. Well, I guess it has more to do with transparency about the powers that you have. So, maybe the more we know about what it is the forum overlords can and cannot do would, the better you can deliver on that promise to be transparent in moderation and administration, which is a technical and objective thing that can be outlined and described. Then, it would be maybe good to develop and publish guidelines on how moderators and admins will be using their special powers, and one step further, what criteria they will use to make decisions on specifically how public and private their actions will be recorded publicly referenceable.