Closing threads - a suggestion

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Baldeee, Jun 14, 2023.

  1. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    For good order, and to avoid the accusation of bias, dishonesty, hypocrisy, etc, should it not be a rule that if a moderator is a significant party to a discussion that they not be allowed to unilaterally close a thread so as to end that discussion, especially when them simply not responding to that discussion would achieve the same result?

    I.e. should it not be that they get another moderator to review and allow that moderator to act as they see fit with regard closure etc?
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I have seen a thread closed for a mod's apparently abitrary reason. I reported the thread and asked why, since the reason seemed counter to SciFo's agenda. That same mod reopened the thread - perhaps merely because I showed interest in engaging in it.

    So it does happen. Have you tried simply requesting a thread be opened for reason X?
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    That being said, I do share your frustration with moderators wearing a reader hat and a mod hat for the same thread. I asked for some sort of oversight many moons back - essentially if you're an active participant you shouldn't get to invoke mod powers.

    The response was that, for several reasons it is highly impractical. The short version:
    1 there aren't enough mods
    2 how can a mod who has NOT been involved in a thread get up to speed? It would double their (volunteer) workload.

    I accept those as valid reasons, especially in a forum with highly limited resources.
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  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I used to post on another forum a couple of years back, whereby apparently, there was a moderation “rule” that required more than one mod (by him/herself) couldn’t independently ban a member in violation of forum rules without the agreement of at least three additional mods.

    Not sure if that’s the case here. Maybe not three required, but more than one mod allowed to ban or issue infractions.

    I thought that was extremely fair in that it wasn’t left up to one mod’s personal bias against a member.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2023
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  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Sure, you can always throw more resources at a problem - if you have them to throw. Hard to do on a forum with a paucity of moderators
  9. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Agree. Maybe that’s what the infraction points are for and that “method” provides some leniency until they add up, and you’re banned for “x” amount of days. Unless a member does something egregious, then a perma-ban makes sense.
  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Oops, this thread is about closing threads, but I see the problem. If a mod gets into an argument with another member here and doesn’t like where the conversation is going in any particular thread, they can close the thread. Yea, that seems unfair.


    I think many of the offenses on really any forum, seem to come down to threads derailing out of control, that could be managed if a mod or well-intentioned members stopped it from happening, sooner. Once a thread goes down a rabbit hole of ad homs, it’s often a lost cause and closing it is the only reasonable option.
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yup. It's a tough call, and a thankless task. Their job is not always to be "fair" to some member. Mods are also burdened with keeping the peace for others to enjoy.

    Sure, the ideal state would be for mods to be impartial and arms-length, but wher in the world will you find someone who wants to moderate the secrets of Mongolian stir-frying who isn't also interested in discussing Mongolian stir-frying?

    I'm not blanket defending mods, I just know that it's a broadly grey area.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2023
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  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Ideally, it is preferable that a moderator handles any thread closures or other related issues that arise in a thread in which another moderator has been an active participant in a debate - or especially in an argument - to avoid a perception of conflict of interest. Best practice would be for an unbiased reviewer and arbiter to moderate the thread. As we all know, there is a moral duty to act appropriately when one has a vested interest that might potentially cause a biased response or other conflict of interest.

    The fact of the matter, as some have already pointed out, is that we are a little short-staffed at the moment. There are only a few active moderators of this forum. One moderator has decided, for reasons known only to himself, that he won't be involved in any "difficult" moderator decisions, which means that, essentially, he only does obvious spam removal and very little else.

    Speaking personally, if I close a thread, I always post an explanation for why I closed it. I am quite happy to listen and respond appropriately to any persuasive argument as to why the thread should be reopened.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Brief Notes

    You objected to the closure of a cross-site repost, the same sort of thing we frequently bust. Inasmuch as you thought the thread was sciency, and thus inappropriately closed, okay, sure whatever. But, no, I am not at all surprised that the science failed to emerge in either that thread or its follow-up.

    And I don't really think that's the circumstance at hand, this time.

    I failed to get involved in this last night, though I'm still not sure how much good it would have done if I had. I did think of ongoing↗ discussions↗ in other threads, though, because it is important to me that, at some point, I convey to you the basic environment in which the change you seek must be established. Or, more directly: Yeah, this is kind of how policy discussion goes.

    To wit ....

    • • •​

    Yeah, it's one thing if I saw that, another to know what to do about it. More particularly, yes, I saw the strange escalation↗ about what is "unnecessary and rude", and being "unable or unwilling", &c., and, yes, I'm familiar with the whole routine. In fact, I have one sitting around in open view from about a month ago. I keep wanting to say to Dave (see above), "Now that you see how this goes", because, yes, this is kind of how policy discussion goes, but that point only means so much compared to what remains uncertain.

    Similarly, I'm uncertain what advice to give you. It's hard to explain, for instance, notions of "intellectual integrity and honesty", such as Dave inquired about, when the reference points are so unstable as you are experiencing. There is, actually, all sorts of discussion to be had about what has gone on over the course of years, but the short form is to observe that of late the threshold of offense has become more assertive, and some recent events might appear openly forward in a way that seems to defy the reasons we didn't do it this way in the past.

    That is to say, yeah, I saw that, but I just don't have a good answer for you right now.
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yes. You saw that; I did not.

    Don't misunderstand. There are insanely dumb posts rampant throughout the site that are not redacted or otherwise removed or closed - because ostensibly the site has a strong free speech policy. Yet, an actual post with a question about some science, linguistic and maths appeared to be inappropriate for discussion?

    Ok, now I see why you closed it - and it had nothing to do with the content of the thread, just with its ... provenance. So OK.

    Neither am I, but so what? "I personally don't think this guy's question is going to get much traction" is a pretty bass-ackwards reason for closing a thread.

    Nether do I. I was simply drawing attention to the fact that moderators aren't complete dicks about responding to member requests re: thread status. It is not unheard of for reasonable requests to be met with reasonable action.

    I wasn't really part of the other thread that spawned this one. I see that as an asset - I don't carty the baggage from it, and hopefully might provide some objective, disinterested-party insight.

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