↑ comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) ·
2021-05-18T09:08:56.078Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Speaking as the lead moderator, I feel as though we really don’t make all that many visible “warning” comments (though of course, "all that many" is in the eye of the beholder).
I do think we’ve increased the number of public comments we make, but this is partly due to a move toward public rather than private comments in cases where we want to emphasize the existence of a given rule or norm. We send fewer private messages than we used to (comparing the last 12 months to the 18 months before that).
Since the new Forum was launched at the end of 2018, moderator actions (aside from deleting spam, approving posts, and other “infrastructure”) have included:
- Two temporary bans
- Phil Torres [EA(p) · GW(p)] (one year, see link for explanation)
- rafa_fanboy [EA · GW] (three months, from February - May 2019, for a pattern of low-quality comments that often didn’t engage with the relevant post)
- 26 private messages sent to users to alert them that their activity was either violating or close to violating the Forum’s rules. To roughly group by category, there were:
- 7 messages about rude/insulting language
- 13 messages about posts or comments that either:
- Had no apparent connection to effective altruism, or
- Were very confusing, completely unintelligible, or written entirely in a language other than English
- 4 messages about infohazards or the unwelcome disclosure of someone’s personal information (not sure whether to call that an “infohazard”)
- 2 messages sent to users we suspected had been involved in mass downvoting
- To preserve the anonymity of votes, we created a system to contact these users without knowing any information about their accounts.
- Neither case was serious enough to warrant any action beyond a warning.
Of the 26 private messages, only 8 were sent in the last 12 months. I’m not sure what fraction of that change is “fewer posts that break the rules” vs. “moderation standards are a bit looser now” vs. “we’re more likely to do public rather than private moderation now” vs. “random chance”.
I searched through the history of the Slack channel used by Forum moderators, and the last year of my own comments, and found the following instances of public moderation:
- 7/2/2020 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 7/27/2020 [EA(p) · GW(p)] (this was also the reason for one of the private messages I mentioned)
- 1/3/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 1/27/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 3/9/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 3/19/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 3/22/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)]
- 5/12/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)] (Halstead)
- 5/12/2021 [EA(p) · GW(p)] (Phil)
If you know of anything I’ve missed, please let me know, and I’ll add it to this list.
In some cases, I wrote and published the comment myself; in other cases, multiple mods reviewed the comment before it was posted. I do much more “active moderation” than the rest of the team, though we all share the work of reading new comments, reviewing content flagged by users, etc.
There are probably instances from before May 2020 as well, but I didn’t have time to track down all of those, and they seemed less relevant to concerns about moderation “of late”.
Overall, we send out roughly one moderation warning per month, and roughly half of the warnings involve concern over rudeness or insults. For context, over the last year, the Forum has averaged ~40 comments per day. (I don’t know how these numbers compare to moderation/usage statistics from before the new Forum was launched.)
Overall, I’ve gotten roughly equal amounts of negative feedback saying “there’s not enough moderation of rudeness, which makes the Forum unpleasant to use” and “there’s too much tone policing, which makes the Forum feel stifling”. This isn’t biased towards newer users wanting more moderation — people in the “not enough” group include a lot of experienced community members whose views I respect (same goes for the other group, of course).
Based on my recent exchanges with Dale and Halstead, I’ve updated slightly toward future moderation comments using more language like “we suggest that…” and less language like “please don’t do this”, to emphasize that we’re trying to maintain a set of norms, rather than cracking down on individual users.
Has anyone had positive or negative experiences with being moderated?
As a moderator, my perspective on this is obviously biased, but the modal reaction I get from the moderated person is something like “I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think I did anything wrong”. There are also a few cases of “I don’t get what you’re saying, this seems stupid” and a few cases of “actually, I think you’re right”.
I’d be interested in other users’ thoughts on this. I don’t think of myself as an especially skilled moderator, and I’ve certainly made mistakes before. I’m still trying to find the best ways to keep the Forum’s standards high (for quality of discussion and for kindness/charitability) while ensuring that people feel comfortable sharing views that are speculative, unpopular, etc.Replies from: Habryka, Ramiro, IanDavidMoss, RyanCarey
↑ comment by Habryka ·
2021-05-23T01:13:50.066Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I generally think more moderation is good, but have also pushed back on a number of specific moderation decisions. In general I think we need more moderation of the type "this user seems like they are reliably making low-quality contributions that don't meet our bar" and less moderation of the type "this was rude/impolite but it's content was good", of which there have been a few recently.Replies from: RyanCarey
↑ comment by RyanCarey ·
2021-05-23T10:10:32.011Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Yeah, I'd revise my view to: moderation seems too stringent on the particular axis of politeness/rudeness. I don't really have any considered view on other axes.
↑ comment by Ramiro ·
2021-05-18T12:33:02.083Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I don’t think of myself as an especially skilled moderator, and I’ve certainly made mistakes before
You're a pretty good moderator.Replies from: aarongertler
Do you think some sort of periodic & public "moderation report" (like the summary above) would be convenient?
↑ comment by Aaron Gertler (aarongertler) ·
2021-05-20T02:41:55.968Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
I doubt that the stats I shared above are especially useful to share regularly (in a given quarter, we might send two or three messages). But it does seem convenient for people to be able to easily find public moderator comments.
In the course of writing the previous comment, I added the "moderator comment" designation to all the comments that applied. I'll talk to our tech team about whether there's a good way to show all the moderator comments on one page or something like that.
↑ comment by RyanCarey ·
2021-05-18T12:17:38.191Z · EA(p) · GW(p)
Thanks, this detailed response reassures me that the moderation is not way too interventionist, and it also sounds positive to me that the moderation is becoming a bit more public, and less frequent.