I used to have a set of Moderator Guidelines and they were useful to a degree, but I found there was just so much that you cannot write down in a checklist, and things were and are always changing. Still, we update the guidelines periodically and make them available to all Moderators.
Do we think we’re above our own rules? No, definitely not. You have to understand that our Moderators and Administrators are members of SimHQ as well. As such, we wear two hats. One when we’re posting like everybody else, the other when we have to perform some Moderator function.
You may see me in the Community Hall being goofy, down in the Motorsports Forums asking questions, maybe in the Event Photography Forum being amazed at the quality work those guys do. I think we’re very conscious about following our own rules, in fact so much so, I can clearly recall one Admin (who shall remain nameless), who got pushed over the line and voluntarily suspended himself for two weeks.
So we’re SimHQ members first, but now and then, we may see something that requires us to switch hats and go into moderation mode. When I do that, I’m not being silly, curious, or anything other than serious and down to business. It’s a mental “switching gears” to be sure. Sometimes it takes quite a while to read through a thread and ascertain where things went wrong. If it’s really involved, I may lock the thread up to prevent any continuance of the verbal fisticuffs, then read the material and come back.
In many cases, the posts that push the thread over the edge are cumulative in nature, rather than a one shot“YOU STINK!” jab. It can be a matter of nuance, of how people use words, of a little verbal jousting that gets out of hand, of this side or that taking offense, of certain people knowing how to push other people’s buttons without being overtly obnoxious, you name it.
And this brings up an important point: In many cases, I don’t find a clear “this is the troublemaker and everyone else is fine” or “Aha, that guy is the one that started the whole thing, so he’s out, but everyone else is fine”, but rather a ongoing situation of punches and counters from several members. So I may lock the thread, warn specific people to stop the offending behavior. This will often lead to a reaction that reads something like this:“Why are you picking on me? I didn’t start that situation, Poster X did and still I get the shaft?”
My point is it may not always be about who started it, but who didn’t decide to stop. I don’t want anyone treating their fellow members with insults and the like. It takes two or more to tango, so it’s up to each member to simply decide they don’t want to fight. It’s a matter of self-control, and frankly I am amazed at how little there is of it to go around sometimes. Did you ever think that commenting back is exactly what the person needling you wants you to do, and you’re playing right into their plan? Don’t come back at them and you’ll be respected more for your demonstration of good self-control than any retort. Just choose not to respond to whatever the perceived insult, contact myself or one of our Moderators and let us handle it.
I mentioned adjustments we made at SimHQ from the events of 2004, but when it comes to moderating, we do this all the time. We may decide to let a little “gray” WCE go for a while and see what happens, we may review a set of developing circumstances and come up with a game plan on how to handle them. Things are rarely static at SimHQ, and when things change, they can change really quickly.
So that’s it, “All Things in Moderation”. We thought it was important that those of you who are interested learn about why things are the way they are. What it is the Moderators are trying to accomplish, maybe give you some sense and appreciation for the job they do.
If in the process I have made it sound like going to battle every day in a tiger cage, I apologize. It’s really not.Really! SimHQ has a great membership, very diverse, clever, intelligent, passionate and committed to their hobby. By it’s very nature, an article about moderating is going to focus on the not-so-good behavior that sometimes erupts around here. When it does, I can’t help but remember the Rodney King line, “Can’t we all just get along?” Or another one, by an unknown SimHQ poet: “Knock it off! This is SimHQ.”
I’d like to close with another quoted excerpt from my November 7th address, one of the final paragraphs:
I hope you understand that our purpose here is to make everyone’s experience a better one, to bring out the best that our community has to offer, not the worst. We only ask that you view these changes with an open mind. As with most things, time will be the judge. I thank you for your attention, and most of all for being part of SimHQ.
Thanks for reading everyone and remember, if you have questions about how or why we do things, post in theFeedback Forum, or send me, or another member of the Staff an email or PM. We’re happy to answer questions as best we can.
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