Let’s address some other issues.
Do we play favorites? The short answer is “no”, the rules apply to everyone and we try to make sure that happens. The more complicated answer is that if someone has always been a good and contributing member and they just have a bad day, or something is wrong in their life and they post totally out of character for them, I see it for what it is. That good history is worth something. I will try and find out what’s going on, but I will not be as hard on that person as I would someone who likes to walk the edge of acceptable behavior, likes to agitate, engage in some verbal fisticuffs, and has been warned multiple times before.
Are we in the developer’s back pockets and as a consequence of that, do we let the “fanboys” do whatever they want while stifling others who are critical? Short answer, no, we are not and we do not. We work very hard to maintain objectivity, both in our forums and in our reviews.
People can be critical, as long as they do so constructively, meaning a post that says, “Sim X sux!” is probably going to bring out a lot of opposite reaction from members who enjoy it, and there’s nothing constructive going on with their comment. Contrast with “Sim X isn’t for me. It’s frame rates are in the low teens on my machine (specs posted), I found the manual incomplete and an utter waste of time, besides being contained on one side of a postcard…”. You get the idea, although I’m sure everyone will not agree. That’s fine, I don’t expect everyone to jump on our bandwagon just because I spend time discussing this stuff.
Let’s talk about locked threads. Why do we do this? Can’t the members just decide when a thread is over by their lack of participation or their influence on disruptive members? Answer: No, they can’t, or else they won’t. We’re not talking about good threads here, the ones that just die out from natural forum causes. That is the norm, not the exception. What we are talking about are problem threads, the ones with the “IBTL”’s (In Before the Lock”) in them.
We lock threads for many reasons. Probably most often it’s because the original topic has become derailed by members who have gotten into it with each other and began an insult-trading session. These sessions get going so fast back and forth it’s unbelievable. A thread where the original topic has run it’s course and is now a boxing ring is going to get locked. We will try, as time permits, to do post or thread “surgery” if we can, in order to restore an otherwise good thread, but this is not always possible.
Still on the subject of locked threads, people have asked why we delete locked threads. The primary reason is that they tend to be like watching car wrecks, only with the difference that some people may get agitated just from reading them, get mad at this poster or that one and carry a little grudge into some other thread. I usually will leave a locked thread up for a while (how long is a judgment call), so people who had previously read the thread can see what happened. If a warning was issued hopefully it will be seen, but after that it’s gone. Once in a while I will leave a locked thread in place to serve a specific purpose, but this is unusual.
Do we delete posts or threads as a form of censorship? Well, yes, and no. If by censorship you mean deleting profanity, links to obscene material or similar embedded images, racist or threatening remarks, spam messages or links and the like, yeah, I guess so. If you mean deleting critical or negative remarks, no, I don’t think so. We try very hard to allow our members to discuss issues pro or con.
We have been criticized on occasion for not being tough enough on certain members when they’re out-of-line. I recognize that some people have a way of irritating other people with regularity. That sometimes they say things I wouldn’t have said, or would have said a different way. But I think we need to allow for some flexibility, allow people to be different, even to be somewhat provocative in their posting style.
It’s a fine line sometimes, deciding where and when someone just crossed a ‘line” of behavior, and then what to do about it. And I also recognize that we have people who think they know exactly where that “line” is. They will dance along that edge, walk right up to it and then back off a little. Are they getting away with something? Depends on your point of view, but if they clearly step over, or their posting is constantly objectionable, we’ll do something about it. We always try and look at each post and each poster objectively and make the call as we see it at that point in time.
Is there a Moderator school? Well, as the joke goes, sorta. You’re in it. Also known as the “school of hard knocks”. New Mods learn from the veterans, from asking questions of the group, by observing, and by doing. I also look at how other sites do it and if I find something that I believe is a good technique that might work for us, I may “borrow” it. I like to think that maybe the reverse is true as well, that perhaps other sites may see something worthwhile in the way we run our forums.