Not moderating the thread! March 11, 2002 7:37 AM   Subscribe

When someone replies to a Front Page Post that they started, they are often accused of moderating the thread. This is an incorrect assumption. They are responding to what others have said in a thread that they just happened to start and this should be acceptable behavior.
posted by ZachsMind to Etiquette/Policy at 7:37 AM (20 comments total)

I'm glad you brought this up, Zachsmind. I've read all the arguments for and against cheerleader/moderator posts and I'm still in two minds. I've tried all possible approaches - cheerleading and moderating all the way(in my younger days I actually thought it was rude not to answer someone's comment); commenting only when I was directly addressed; not commenting at all and commenting only at the very end.

The only thing I'm fairly certain of is that:

a)a poster should wait a bit(either six comments or six hours; whatever comes first);

b)a poster should make collective counter-comments, grouping together the various comments he wishes to reply to;

c)a poster shouldn't engage in direct dialogue with one or two specific commentators, because it spoils the thread for everybody else

d)a poster should do his best not to "drown out" the discussion or otherwise dominate it, because it makes the thread boring and unattractive.

I've repeatedly committed all these crimes so I'm not judging anyone. The key to resisting is patience. That and the fact that generally someone else will make the point you're so eager to make.

That said, jonmc has a style all his own and his threads wouldn't be as much fun if he wasn't such a good sport.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:48 AM on March 11, 2002

I respect your certainties, but I see them as choices, which each poster should consider and participate in at their leisure. We each have our own unique style, and if a 'code of conduct' became a requirement in MeFi, everyone's personalities would get vanilla'd. It'd be less fun.

I'm breaking your certainties by responding to you now, but I don't see how it does anything but encourage the thread.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2002

For instance, now I'm itching to answer you, Zach, but people would rightly tell us to take it to e-mail or get a room. So I'll wait. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2002

The accusation we're talking about came from Bluetrain.

Practically all of Bluetrain's comments are attempts to moderate the threads.
posted by bingo at 10:51 AM on March 11, 2002

Oh for goodness' sake, Miguel! This is exactly what I'm talking about! If you feel compelled to respond go right ahead. You're at the pooter. You got some grey matter to throw at the website. Other people just aren't over in this thread and when they get around to looking at this thread, if they feel like it, they'll speak their mind.

This behavior is like trying to affect not only what one says in one's post, but also how one appears on the thread. "Don't want my name too many times on the page people'll think I'm hogging the space." That's just silly.

"Can't respond to my own thread people'll think I'm being a loudmouth." Same thing. It's just silly to me. I only post FPP's when I come across something that I personally want to discuss. Why would I bother creating a FPP at all if it wasn't something of interest to me?
posted by ZachsMind at 10:52 AM on March 11, 2002

[Zach, I'm sorry but so far I've contributed enough to this thread. My first comment addressed your question directly and at length. Now I'm interested in what others have to say and am conserving my further points. I think this is the right way to honour an interesting post].
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:01 AM on March 11, 2002

Zach and Miguel, two of my favorite writers: you are of course both correct. The extreems are re-railing a thread, which has been done but isn't easy, to commenting to every comment, which is the hated chat room. Something in between, moderated by common sense seems to work best, not anything carved in stone.
posted by Mack Twain at 11:03 AM on March 11, 2002

I think it's fine to comment in your own thread, but I don't want to see it as every other comment. That's an indication you're sitting there watching the thing, which pretty much *is* moderating.
I do agree with Miguel's first two points. Give it a little time, and then answer a couple of people at the same time. It keeps things a little neater than seeing a back-and-forth between two people and then suddenly replies to another comment way back and having to scroll for it. It's one of the consequences of posts not being threaded. A little extra care has to go into keeping the whole thing readable.
posted by Su at 11:47 AM on March 11, 2002

moderating the thread: posting a link and then making every third or fourth comment in the discussion, often to complain about what other people are talking about, thus preventing a more natural exchange. (See also bogarting the joint.)

Moderating a thread isn't just being chatty. It's a particular kind of somewhat obnoxious behavior that deserves its own somewhat obnoxious insult.
posted by rcade at 11:59 AM on March 11, 2002

Maybe the term should be "facilitating," or even "catalyzing"? "Moderating" doesn't necessarily (to me) suggest that the person had a interest in the thread to begin with, so much as in criticizing others' comments at a meta level, with more interest in such criticism than in the discussion actually going anywhere. It seems a different sin entirely to start a thread and then to become its most active contributor, as the motivation in such cases may be to look at the front page and see a large number of comments listed under one's own name.
posted by bingo at 12:35 PM on March 11, 2002

Wow bingo...I actually want more people to read what I write, and you put together a fine list. Thanks.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:42 PM on March 11, 2002

Moderators by definition have the power to delete, edit, and move messages. Nobody here besides Matt can "moderate" jack.
posted by kindall at 12:53 PM on March 11, 2002

More on topic, moderating is probably an incorrect term. I simply hate using the words "game show host" of your own thread. I somewhat agree with Miguel, though no rules were meant to be followed all the time.

The comment Zach refers to is part of a history I had with Wulgar! earlier this year. There was a thread whose topic was using the WTC flag for the Olympic Games. Every 2-4 comments, Wulfgar! defended himself instead of allowing for a free discussion. In his own MeTa thread, Wulgar! then angrily roasted every poster individually who didn't agree with his POV.

When your comments allow for open discussion, I don't consider it "hosting" your thread. However, in this specific instance, I think Wulfgar! made the thread hostile and he was relentless in defending himself. Hey, I love being right as much as everyone else, but sometimes you have to let a thread run its course, and allow posters to freely comment as they see fit.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:04 PM on March 11, 2002

We'll be right back to hear how BlueTrain's comments make ZachsMind feel, and to bring Schweppes Girl in from backstage.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:19 PM on March 11, 2002

Oi, obi! You stick to your exhumations, hear?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:33 PM on March 11, 2002

More on topic, moderating is probably an incorrect term.

How about chaperone. I like it because it brings to mind adults watching over a junior high dance.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:35 PM on March 11, 2002

Kindall is correct. MeFi's only moderator is Matt. Accusing someone of being a moderator in the thread is the equivalent of namecalling. It's like calling someone a bastard. Even if they happen to have been born illegitimate, what does that have to do with their opinion and their right to have one?

When someone starts a thread, and then responds to other people's replies, they are nothing more or less than active participators in said thread. Since they started it, it makes sense that they'd have an active interest in the conversation. I see no rationale for criticising someone for active participation. In fact it should be encouraged.

Now, if the person in question is namecalling or in some way being derogatory towards fellow participators, and diminishing other people's opinions with little respect, they should be criticized for that behavior. The same is true about someone who is derogatory but didn't start the thread.

There's no restriction on how many times any one person can comment on a thread, nor should there be. People should use their own discretion, but one shouldn't be criticized for active participation. If you wanna criticize, be critical of what a person says. I find attacking someone for starting a thread and then commenting a lot as belittling, and it changes the subject which risks derailing the thread.

In my experience, the person criticizing how someone posts rather than what someone is saying, does so because deep down they know they're losing the argument anyway. It's the MeFi equivalent of "oh yeah? Well, your momma's fat!" It's one of the ways a good thread turns bad. Criticism of how people participate in MeFi isn't what MeFi's for. At the very least, take it to MeTa.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:49 PM on March 11, 2002

It's actually an interesting question Zach brings up. Generally speaking commenting like crazy on one of your own posts is kind of like visiting your own website to increase click through rates and like miguel points out I've been as guilty of this as anyone and got myself dragged in here because of it, and FWIW, learned my lesson.
The only real good reasons to "moderate"(I don't mean participate-further elaboration on your own thread is fine) your own thread is 1)it's in desperate danger of being completely derailed or 2) [this applies to all metafilter "rules"] you have something so good that you have to put it up.

A good rule of thumb with just about all MeFi ettiquette matters is:if you've managed to alienate people who ordinarily like and/or respect you, then you've probably crossed the line.
posted by jonmc at 8:08 PM on March 11, 2002

"if you've managed to alienate people who ordinarily like and/or respect you, then you've probably crossed the line."

Heh. Sometimes it means you've crossed the line. In my experience, sometimes it also means you're on the right track. The real tricky part is being able to tell which is which.
posted by ZachsMind at 12:07 PM on March 12, 2002

For what it's worth on the recent, terrible, infamous thread that Wulfgar! put up his posts account for 20% of 71 posts (and counting.) That is a lot.
posted by n9 at 11:22 PM on March 12, 2002

« Older When the cat's away...   |   SXSW post, wherefore art thou? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments