Identifying mods on the blue and the green March 8, 2017 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Mods are identified as staff on MetaTalk, but not identified as such on AskMe or on the blue. Why is that?

Sorry if this has been addressed before. I understand why you would want to identify a site moderator on MetaTalk. But it is incongruous to me that the mods are not identified as such when performing mod activities on the green and on the blue.

Ideally to me, mods would be identified as such when acting as mods on the blue and green, but would not be identified as mods when making posts or comments on the blue or green as site members. That's probably a lot of work for little gain though.

I'm only posting this publicly because I imagine other site members have wondered the same thing.
posted by Rob Rockets to MetaFilter-Related at 2:19 PM (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Mod note: Generally we're much more likely to be speaking in a moderative capacity in any given comment in MetaTalk, and less likely to denote an explicit this-is-a-moderator-note angle to comments here with our conventional mod note styling, so identifying staff with byline tags made sense as a change to make a number of years back.

Elsewhere on the site, most of our comments are in just-a-person-chatting/answering context, and those that are explicitly mod notes get the small with square brackets treatment so they jump out a bit in the flow. Not having staff tags on those other subsites allows us to more easily be not-mods when not moderating, which is nice since being able to just be a member of the community a lot of the time vs. the voice of authority at all times is one of the things that I think basically everyone on staff appreciates about this job.

All that said: we talked a while back about the possibility of reworking the styling on this-is-a-mod-comment specimens through one or another tweak to stylesheet stuff on mod notes, which is something we haven't acted on yet but may return to eventually.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:25 PM on March 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Sorry Rob. Just something I always wanted to say to an actual rocket scientist.

If you spot a mod in the wild with nary a fig leaf or a staff tag my experience has been that a pm gently informing them that you are looking away now but you did see them is well-received.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 2:44 PM on March 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

(please do not slide into our DMs with hilarious jokes about us being naked)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

being able to just be a member of the community a lot of the time [...] is one of the things that I think basically everyone on staff appreciates about this job.

I was going to make a facetious comment wondering how you guys kicked back and relaxed at work when participating in comment threads is part of your job, perhaps maybe joking that you programmed games or wrote AI systems, then I realised that quite literally is what cortex does for fun.
posted by ambrosen at 4:20 PM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Yes indeed, I brought this up as an accessibility issue one week shy of a year ago..

Peeking at the code, I didn't find any natural hooks. But if the began their comments with
!mod, users would have something that requires no programming and is evident and searchable. (Yes it wouldn't apply retroactively but I'd much rather have something now than the perfect in two years.)
posted by Jesse the K at 4:34 PM on March 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

I imagine that for anyone who has "is_a_mod" enabled for their profile, comment boxes would have a check box for "mod comment", and comments could be formatted using the small + brackets deal, and have "mod comment" somewhere around the comment.

...I wonder if I could script that, I say daftly.
posted by XtinaS at 4:40 PM on March 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm going to second, very hard and VERY LOUDLY, Jesse the K's request in her previous MeTa:

That's exactly why I want to find moderator comments whenever they appear. This is important to me for several reasons:
  • Assessing how fighty the post is
  • Determining current thread mood before I contribute
  • Showing where the mods are herding the thread
  • Admiring our mods at work

Mod comments are important to a conversation, to our community, to the nature of Metafilter. Their purpose is to direct the flow of a conversation away from unproductive discussion. The mods always stress that their contributions are not punishments—why should site design minimize them?

I do not want to limit the contributions mods can make as members. When they're not posting as mods, their posts currently appear identically to regular members and that's great. I want them to continue to be able to toggle their "staff" role as appropriate.

And speaking as a visual user, when coming back to a thread where there may have been comments spoken ex cathedra as a commenter by a mod vs. a mod modly commenting, it's nice to know where that boundary lies loud and clear. I'd add to that - when scanning a thread I've left and come back to, it's nice to know where the mod pop-ins have had to happen. And yes, of course there's the convention of having mod comments square bracketed and such, but having comments from mods being explicitly badged in all cases where they're acting in their moderation capacity just benefits all users.

In short: it makes it clear where mods are entering the conversation as participants vs. moderating said conversation to ensure people are working within the spirit of the community.

This to me does not seem unreasonable because it hews very closely to the notion around conflict of interest, i.e., as important as conflict of interest is the very perception of conflict of interest.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:24 PM on March 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

I thought mods were only supposed to identify themselves when they were speaking ex cathedra.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:26 PM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I've always liked the phrase ex cathedra - it literally means "from the chair." The cathedra is what you call the chair the bishop sits in. And of course this leads to the name of the building a cathedra would be found in - a cathedral.

Another term for that chair is sedes. And thus we get the term "see" for the jurisdiction of the bishop.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 PM on March 8, 2017 [17 favorites]

Could the mods please send me email alerts whenever they make a comment?

I don't want to read any threads or boring shit like that.

I just want to very efficiently swoop in to the various situations where you guys are trying to moderate, whatever the topic of discussion, and form some opinions about what y'all are doing. It'll really help me, uh, "read the room" and "bless my heart" as we MeFites say on this web site.

Again, I can't stress enough that I don't want to actually read any threads.
posted by fleacircus at 3:52 AM on March 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

I used to use a Greasemonkey script that added Staff tags on the whole site (this was before even the official MeTa Staff tags). I imagine you could make a version of that which looked for staff comments that were bracketed by <small>[ and ]</small> and only tagged those? I don't know if the original script made it through the new site theme and still functioned though so it would probably need some amount of reworking.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:11 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like this pony, and I would love to give it some apples. That is all.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:36 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thinking about this more, I think it's a really positive thing that moderators' moderation comments on the blue are not labelled explicitly as ex cathedra statements. My feeling is that they should be heard as a voice that's part of the conversation, rather than one coming from outside. All moderation in MeFi is contextual rather than rule based, and making comments stick out from the context they belong to would probably dilute that distinction.
posted by ambrosen at 7:16 AM on March 9, 2017 [3 favorites]

Well I, for one, think that this will inevitably lead to the destruction of our society. Not only are the mods being denied their official "Staff" tags, but that other guy is being denied his official "MERCILESS AND ALL-POWERFUL GOD-KING OF ALL METAFILTER" tag. You know the guy, old whassisname ... quiltfunk, or whoever. quipskunk, I mean. No wait - quillmonk. Aw fuckit I can't even remember but - you know, he's always going on about how you should vote #1 for him, for the above-mentioned position. quizdrunk? quimshrunk? quintpunk? I dunno. But lemme tell you this: when he's in charge around here, we'll ALL have tags. Sure, most of your tags will just say "account deleted" - but his tag will be a really great one. So, yeah - vote #1 for him ... if you can ever remember the motherfucker's name. quirkpunt? Yeah maybe that's it.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:57 AM on March 9, 2017 [18 favorites]

I think the current system works well, but not smoothly, and that's fine. In the end, the mods are regular people (or so I've been told) who are members that really enjoy the site. They're less dictating policy and more steering a large ship that turns slowly. So they relate to us and the site as people, albeit some with extra powers/responsibilities. Hence the less explicit indication of their job roles.

Yes, it's a little odd and requires a sometimes maddeningly frustrating learning curve on the part of each user. But in the end I do believe it works better to establish the mods as people and so members relate to them as such. We're more likely to forgive their mistakes and respect the decisions we don't agree with.

So yeah, not perfect, but the site is all about people and their interactions, so it never can be perfect.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mod comments are already outside the conversation - that's why we have small bracketed text to differentiate regular comments from mod comments. To me, the mod comment formatting says "This comment is not part of the conversation, it's a meta statement backed by authority". The idea that the mods are just regular site members is lovely, but it's simply not true. If I ignore a request from a regular user I may get in-thread pushback, but if I ignore a mod instruction my comment could be deleted, or I could be banned.

An explicit mod tag would allow users who aren't deeply familiar with MetaFilter site norms and staff to understand this, not just the power users.
posted by Turbo-B at 9:08 AM on March 9, 2017 [4 favorites]

quipskunk! quipskunk.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:13 AM on March 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

What about a check box on the mod’s interface that defaults to OFF, but can be checked so that any individual comment will show the “staff” icon?
posted by terrapin at 9:23 AM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mod comments are already outside the conversation

Well some are and some aren't, is the thing. Mods participate like regular users on the rest of the site but sometimes they jump in and speak as mods. If I am hearing people, what they would like an easier way to find the "I am speaking like a mod" comments in threads, particularly long threads? Seems like that might be doable.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:50 AM on March 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

Sorry, I wasn't clear - in my mind, I was distinguishing Mod Comments (small bracketed text) from Regular Comments (which may of course also be posted by mods).

Searchability in long threads would be great, but I think that clarity for casual users who don't know what small bracketed text means is just as important.
posted by Turbo-B at 10:05 AM on March 9, 2017

Yeah, this is something folks have suggested a number of times over the years, and while there are a few considerations gently against it, it's something we're open to. I think it'll be a medium term thing, since we've got a few other things in the development queue, but it's a reasonable suggestion for sure.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:10 AM on March 9, 2017

If I am hearing people, what they would like an easier way to find the "I am speaking like a mod" comments in threads, particularly long threads?

That's where I'm coming from, yeah.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:41 AM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

(Sort of sorry I was too cheap to spring for a Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale sock puppet for that gag.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:07 AM on March 9, 2017

I think that was about the idea of an always-on "staff" tag like we have in Metatalk.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:26 AM on March 9, 2017

I'm saying, cortex's comment makes the most sense to me as a comment about an always-on mod tag -- because it's clear why that would have the effect he mentions. And always-on is the way it works on MeTa, so it's one obvious form this kind of suggestion could take.

Maybe OP meant a toggle-able staff tag instead. That's also a fine suggestion. I don't think cortex's remark (about making it harder to participate as just-member) was about that version of the suggestion, that's all.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:36 AM on March 9, 2017

Yeah, I would strongly oppose an "always on" mod tag. I would support as "mod tag on when speaking in mod voice."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:44 AM on March 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yeah, like what I'd suggested, a check box for the comment field for staff only to indicate when they're modding versus when they're chatting.
posted by XtinaS at 12:48 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd like the see the staff tag on while the mod is on duty, and off when they comment while off-duty. Because sometimes I see a mod participate without using the brackets and smalltext and wonder they're shooting the breeze or being a mod and monitoring how the conversation goes.

Please don't think I'm reading anything negative into mod participation or modding in general.
posted by kimberussell at 1:20 PM on March 9, 2017

I think most people who want this want a toggle-able tag, and I don't think anyone (in this thread) has said anything that a mod should interpret as wanting mod-tags to be always on.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:36 PM on March 9, 2017

Yeah. If mods would just do
[Moderator comment: knock it off, your not that cute, blah, blah, blah.]
That would help.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:31 PM on March 9, 2017

But even if you know the workers, you have to search for them one by one if you are looking for modly interventions. That's a hassle.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:53 AM on March 10, 2017

what about a scrod emoji
posted by listen, lady at 11:32 AM on March 10, 2017

Yeah, sorry, I think the confusion about always on vs. the proposed toggleable take was just poor writing on my part when initially answering this during a busy moment. Like LM said, pursuing a per-comment toggle of some sort is something we can think harder about implementing. I don't have any problem with the idea on the face of it but have minor (but I think probably addressable) hesitations about the implementation itself as far as how we can best set it up to not create too much extra fiddliness for us under the specific circumstances where we have the least spare bandwidth for it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:49 AM on March 10, 2017

A "per-comment" toggle is years overdue, cortex. This has been an odd issue with the moderation here for a long time.
posted by mediareport at 12:54 PM on March 10, 2017

If the two factors being balanced here are 1) paid mods might agonize over never being able to speak without a mod tag attached to their comments and 2) new users might be confused about when a mod is speaking ex cathedra, there shouldn't be any doubt about which factor should prevail.
posted by mediareport at 12:58 PM on March 10, 2017

Mods use the word "folks" whereas others don't. Another giveaway is "couple comments deleted" in small print. Always read the small print. Comic Sans could be added as an identifier, like a circus pony.
posted by Namlit at 2:11 PM on March 10, 2017

"I would support as "mod tag on when speaking in mod voice.""

Well great, now I have to practice my mod voice.

I asked the kid what my mod voice sounds like and he said gruffly, "Hey! Stop that! Go on time out!"

I personally tend to think something searchable would be very helpful, as it is often helpful to scan the thread for mod comments, and ctrl+F is the fastest way to scan. But that's just me, everyone uses the site a little differently.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:31 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I asked the kid what my mod voice sounds like

Mod-voice comments should have the easily-searchable tag [DONT MAKE ME TURN THIS THREAD AROUND].
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:14 PM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here on the small island of Metafilter, we get a rare glimpse of catching a moderator in its natural habitat. For the first time on camera we may even see a rare taz, generally considered the most nocturnal of this rare breed. Note the plumage, manifested to clearly draw attention to their proper grammatical structure and the evenness of their temper.

These moderators of Metafilter Island have acquired and unusual adaptation comparative to most of their breed. Unlike other habitats, where they are the prey of the internet troll, on Metafilter Island, they have developed symbiotic relationship, one where they have even partially tamed and domesticated this beast. These moderators, or ‘mods’ as they are referred to by the local tourists have utilized a $5.00 usage fee to quell the number of trolls and have learned to forge primitive tools referred to as posting guidelines which they invoke as almost a sure fire trap to cage and tame the troll.

posted by Nanukthedog at 4:26 PM on March 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

I really don't know much about sliding into a dm, but if it's anything like a dh sliding into 2nd, I wouldn't want to do that without pants. Consider my demurral de facto, ipso nolo pantalones.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:09 PM on March 11, 2017

You could do something like [MeMod] at the beginning of mod comments.... easily searchable and unlikely to get false drops.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:51 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Unlike other habitats, where they are the prey of the internet troll, on Metafilter Island, they have developed symbiotic relationship, one where they have even partially tamed and domesticated this beast.

Based on my own recent experience with silently excised commentary (be they never so “on the issues, topics, and facts at hand and not at other members of the site,“) I’d argue that one mod at least (Lord knows which) has gotten a bit trigger happy.

But then in general in recent years, even recent months, I’ve seen a decidedly more illiberal, even violent, mindset grow on the island. Which discourages debate and commentary (tamed, domesticated, or just driven off). Which makes the place even more an echo chamber. Which may be soothing for the single minded, but both less useful for those who could use a little opinion challenge, and less interesting for anyone looking for a wide range of opinions and insights.

A pity, really.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:48 AM on March 18, 2017

IndigoJones, if you want to have a discussion about deletion policy, could you please post a fresh MeTa about it, rather than dropping in a comment in an unrelated, 10 day old, post?
posted by Chrysostom at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Created a GM/TM userscript to display tags on main...   |   Thank you, MeFites! Newer »

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