Moderating

edited January 2010 in - WM and WN
Hello everyone,
After much deliberation, we are about to introduce official moderation on Talkback. As many of you will know, we've previously tried to leave discussions up to you as much as possible, and for the most part, everything has run smoothly, but as the site, and number of users, have grown, that has become less practical.
We will mostly just be ensuring threads do not drift off topic, and attempting to minimise disruption, but as ever, contact us if you think a thread or comment needs attention.
Happy talkbacking!
Webbo
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Comments

  • Thanks, webbo, but half the fun of this forum is that 'freds' DO drift off topic, then back on. MOst of us don't worry about that -what annoys us is the odd troll who likes to stir up trouble. If you can manage to keep any of our 'freds' on topic, you'll deserve a medal. BTW, why didn't Mcbemused get a medal or a ribbon for being the nicest talbacker 2009. Also can you please amalgamate the nicest 2010 and LAst to post is the nicest talbacker 2010 freds. I didn't realise Stan had already started one when I started mine. I suggest new title 'Nicest Talkbacker 2010' for the amalgamated fred. Cheers mate!

    Happy new year and good luck with the moderating

    Lolli
  • I'll give this moderation thing a month, it's either gonna be great and make the place better or kill it. Be sad really if every whinging person with blown out of proportion complaints emails in huffing and puffing about this and that because they have nothing more exciting to do on stuff they've read on posts.

    As I said, I'll give it a month.
  • I agree with Lolli, that part of the fun of TB is how threads go off topic - how strict will you be with this?
  • [quote=forget-me-not] agree with Lolli, that part of the fun of TB is how threads go off topic - how strict will you be with this? [/quote] That is the fun of Talkback! As well as writing. Nice to meet you Webbo! I see you control this madness we call talkback.
  • Who'll be the moderators?
  • Lee, as far as I remember Jon mentioned some time ago they might consider moderation.

    We have to accept that parts of Talkback are open to the world and there are rules to conform to consequently, and I doubt that it will be a case of 'whinging' with 'blown out of proportion complaints' as you fear.

    Thanks for letting us know Webbo.
    Yes we do drift off soetimes, but if it drifts too far a member will usually bring it back.
  • edited January 2010
    Ok so in theory moderation is a good idea, I have no problems with it as long as this place doesn't end up becoming so regulated us artist sorts find it constricting. I personally don't see what the problem is with going off topic it always makes its way back eventually.

    It's a bit of a minefield however you look at it. All I can say is good luck to the mods! (Having been a moderator on a fan site I know it's not an easy job).
  • I'm not a naysayer and afraid of the new, as I said I'll give it a fair chance. Though first sign that it becomes like an online version of Mary Whitehouse I'll be gone, it's not a threat, it's that 98percent of us are able to control ourselves, and yet now we'll be moderated and chastised.
  • I've found that forums which are well-moderated actually feel more free and happy than those which are not moderated. It seems to lift the level of discussions. People who are determined to bully aren't allowed to get away with it; and nor are people who are determined to play victim when really they're only being asked difficult questions.

    My concern is that no information has been given on who is going to moderate the forum, or on how moderation is going to work here. If it's going to take the form of the odd interruption from a relatively faceless tech-guy, then no, I don't think that's a good idea.

    I've recently been made a moderator on Absolute Write, which is huge and very broad in its scope. It's a complex and difficult skill to learn, and I'm in awe of the more experienced moderators there, who do a very good job (often so delicately no one who isn't a mod is aware of what's happening). I suspect that good moderating could take this board several steps further and make it far better: but bad moderating could kill it.
  • edited January 2010
    .
  • LizLiz
    edited January 2010
    Steps further towards what HPRW?

    I suppose it depends what you come here for. I guess if I was coming for showing my writing, having it discussed/critiqued, or reading a lot of information about writing in topics rather like a book, I would be disappointed.

    However if you have something to ask here it virtually always gets answered very constructively by a variety of opinion whether the thread goes off topic or not.

    Personally I come here as a writer to talk to other writers.. it's lonely business and you need to talk to people who understand word-play and the sort of issues you are faced with, even if it is only loneliness.

    I find that anyone stepping out of line is corrected mostly quite mildly by other TBers, with only the occasional ruckus. What I do find is that questions asked of you Webbo don't get attended to very quickly... is that because you are doing a lot of other things?
  • My main concern is that by ensuring we don't go off-topic, we risk not developing conversations and subjects which are still of interest.
  • edited January 2010
    Just to lay your fears to rest... we are not planning to be at all heavy-handed. We understand that it can be fun to go off-topic sometimes. Hopefully you won't notice any significant changes to how Talkback "feels" to use, and we don't intend to be chastising or censoring non-trolls!

    Liz - I'm afraid we are all busy with a whole range of other activities – from running Writers' News and Writing Magazine to maintaining websites for the rest of the Warners Group – but hopefully we'll be more approachable now. It was traditionally the policy that we didn't join in discussions on Talkback, but the time is right for us to become more involved.

    It's something we'll get used to slowly, so that Talkback can be a better forum for everyone.
  • I thought that was probably the case. Sounds all fine to me then.
  • I think it will be a good move. I agree with HPRW, moderating over on AW works brilliantly, when trouble makers appear they are dealt with quickly.

    TB has lost too many good members because of nastiness, and that's why I spend more time over at AW these days.

    [quote=Baggy Books]My main concern is that by ensuring we don't go off-topic, we risk not developing conversations and subjects which are still of interest. [/quote]

    Over on AW if an interesting conversation arises, it will be split off onto a different thread.
  • KJKJ
    edited January 2010
    One thing we all need to remember is that this forum is only here because of the generosity shown by WN /WM . We need to respect the decisions made.
  • [quote=Webbo]It was traditionally the policy that we didn't join in discussions on Talkback, but the time is right for us to become more involved.[/quote]

    Oh righto. See you on the naughty thread, laters. :)
  • I think that's probably the best approach Stirling. It would make finding half-remembered topics and comments easier if diversions were split off, and appropriately titled, after they've developed so far, too.
    AbsoluteWrite is a benchmark site, and hopefully we can achieve something similar with a UK focus.
  • I'm sure feedback will help find a balance.
  • Sounds good, Webbo.

    I appreciate Talkback - often as light relief but also as a great source of help and information. I'd be sad if it changed too much.
  • Will whispers be moderated?
  • No Baggy, whispers are between yourselves... unless you receive problem ones, which you should report to us as usual
  • So, just to be clear Webbo, are you going to be the moderator? If so, how does that differ from before?
  • Of course, there has been some quiet moderation on Talkback in the past, but now I'll be more actively involved!
    It also won't be just me - there will be at least three of us at any given stage.
  • edited January 2010
    [quote=Webbo]No Baggy, whispers are between yourselves... unless you receive problem ones, which you should report to us as usual [/quote]

    In which case I don't mind. I communicate mainly via whispered discussions and if they are moderated then I'd leave altogether. It's like being at school.

    I'm okay with it, since I hardly contribute any more since there's nothing really worth contributing to.
  • Might be an idea to give each moderator a separate name, to avoid the Big Brother effect.
  • I'm happy with it. :-)
  • [quote=st force]I'm happy with it. [/quote]

    Good, cos happy smiley people are what's needed around here STF. :)
  • What about the pointless threads? Like Dora's thread, my thread, Stan's thread and Ceka's thread to name a few. How can they stay on topic when there isn't one?
  • edited January 2010
    Webbo,

    Thank you.
    A timely intervention.
    I, for one, was beginning to get a tad peeved with certain comments, but held back as I respect too many fellow writers on here. I really appreciate Talkback and, as I've said before, it's been my equivalent of a writers' group and a catalyst for the exciting writing journey I've embarked upon - which is why I often promote this forum on both my blogs.

    Regards,
    Col
  • [quote=Col B]I, for one, was beginning to get a tad peeved with certain comments, but held back as I respect too many fellow writers on here.[/quote]

    Good post Col.

    AW has two mantras:

    1. Respect your fellow writer.
    2. Own your words.

    Two ethics that should be adopted here.
  • [quote=Stirling]that's why I spend more time over at AW these days.[/quote]

    Have you got a link for Absolute Write, Stirling? Not that I'm clearing off, but I'd like to take a look.

    [quote=Pixie J King]I hardly contribute any more since there's nothing really worth contributing to. [/quote]

    PJK, come on now, you can't make a comment like that without adding what sort of threads you would like to see and contribute to. Over to you...

    I'm in favour of moderating if it makes things better. Thread integrity, for example, and I didn't enjoy the little spat recently over the One Word Challenge.
  • edited January 2010
    [quote= Dwight]PJK, come on now, you can't make a comment like that without adding what sort of threads you would like to see and contribute to. Over to you...[/quote]

    Well, I can actually. I chose not to say what ones since I don't want to start the whole debate again. But ones I can actually get my teeth into, see if my English lessons are actually working or not, and that I actually do deserve the grade I got. And more on writing too. But as I said, I'm not getting into that argument, since I get shouted down on. I'll just stick to posting when I want to post. When something interests me.
  • Your English lessons and grades... and more threads on writing!!! How dare Tbers shout you down on such matters of authorship. Let the shouters lose their plots; may their fingers ache inexplicably and may their computers throw a glitch.

    Put up a thread or two on exactly what you want to, and you'll find support from the right people, I'm sure.
  • edited January 2010
    [quote= Dwight]Put up a thread or two on exactly what you want to, and you'll find support from the right people, I'm sure. [/quote]

    And what, let them sink without a trace like previous member's attempts have?

    As I said, I refuse to relight the debate again.
  • Any TBer can start a thread Pixie. Please do so and I'm sure you will get many sensible contributions.

    I don't want to start a spat or continue the one that emerged in the OWC rules and queries, but it should be recognised that some writing sites where stories are posted do contain a basic warning- as this lets potential readers know that there could be content included at some time that they may not like. Everyone is different. It isn't about censorship it is about respect for other readers or writers.

    I personally would welcome the Moderators view on this matter so that we can all continue to contribute to the OWC without restriction.
  • Here you go Dwight:

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/index.php

    If you do decide to become a member, I know you will fit right in!
  • Wow, thank you, Stirling. I popped over to have a quick shifty and bookmarked it. I like the look of those 'Ask the agent' and 'Ask the editor' sections. The trouble is I'm doing well at limiting internet time in favour of work.
  • You're doing better than me!

    Too much internet and too much tennis :D
  • Any forum is the sum of the people who are using it at that time.

    The 'feel' and interest of the members will change hour by hour, week by week... threads which drop like a stone one day may be a hive of activity the next, or maybe the next month or whatever.

    Sadly this will mean that a single member may find what they are interested in not the topic of the moment, but it will not always be the way.

    It's so easy to feel left out or not attended to on a forum, but I have come to realise that it isn't like that at all, it's not personal, it's just the mechanics of the thing.
  • True. Sometimes I have started a thread and no-one has replied at all. Other times it runs to pages! We are not all interested in the same things. But somewhere here there is eventually something that will grab us, intrigue us or inform us. Stick with it, Pixie! If you want feedback on actual stories, try whispering to someone whose opinion you seek if you are wary of posting openly.
  • I think a little gentle moderating might be a good thing. There are fun threads here with no main topic to drift away from and these probably don't need moderating, but I do find it slightly annoying to click on a serious writing discussion only to find it's turned into a thread chatting about non writing issues.

    It probably puts some people off posting to discover their serious question has been 'answered' by half a page of jokes and chats that don't relate to the original post, or that their post is lost beneath dozens of fun posts. They might think their comments were unwelcome or not of interest. Maybe that's partly what Pixie means about being shouted down?
  • Oo-er...must've missed this in the wash. Thanks Webbo and Webbo-ettes.
  • Morning all!
    St Force - I intend to be most severe with those threads![/sarcasm] Those are yours to do with as you please, and we're not here to spoil anybody's fun, but as some others have suggested, perhaps we'll try to keep serious questions slightly more serious than they have been in the past. Dwight's phrase "thread integrity" is at the front of my mind.
  • [quote=Dwight]Wow, thank you, Stirling. I popped over to have a quick shifty and bookmarked it. I like the look of those 'Ask the agent' and 'Ask the editor' sections. The trouble is I'm doing well at limiting internet time in favour of work. [/quote]

    Ha! Those are two of "my" boards at Absolute Write. I'm glad you like them.



    [quote=LizB]Steps further towards what HPRW? [/quote]

    With all due respect to the people who both run and participate in this forum, it's not seen as particularly cutting-edge by the people I know in the publishing business. It's too small, and (compared to sites like Absolute Write, Write Words and Zoetrope) relatively unsophisticated in its content.

    I know of several writers (a few who are big names) who won't even read this forum because they've seen so much bad advice dished out here, and so much bickering and rudeness. AW and WW don't have that problem because people know that the moderators won't allow it; and both of those places have literary agents, editors and prizewinning writers as ordinary, every-day members. They have a high standard of publishing knowledge, and a high level of expertise, which I've not seen here.

    As I said before, good moderation by a team of people who know about publishing might well improve that. Bad moderation won't help anything.
  • Webbo, love your modesty!

    ;)
  • Love it. A touch of humour.
  • Webbo

    Will you be having a spring clean around here soon then? Only I'm intending 2010 to be my best writing year, not 2009.
  • I hadn't seen that one pop-up on the rotate, Dora, but yes, that would be an idea!
    Also, where that banner pops up at the top of the page, directly below it should be a set of links, "Discussions", "Categories", etc. Can everyone else see those links? It seems the banner is obscuring them on my screen
  • I can see them.
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