Thread: Proposal
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Old 22 Mar 2009, 14:30   #1 (permalink)
Tau-killer
Shas'El
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: In my secret lair plotting forum domination....hehe
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Default Proposal

Hi there people.

Those of you who have read my Tau-Online Epic will be aware of a shadowy and sinister figure lurking in the background, known only by the title of ‘the Regulator.’ And if I can find the time in my horrendously over busy life, to finish the final trilogy, you will see him (or her) in all his/her terrible glory.

But the actual Regulator idea is based on something far less sinister which has been idly floating around in my head for some time now. Because of recent forum events, I have put my idea to FT. And we’ve decided that we’d like to see what you, the general community think of it.

Now, when I say recent forum events, I’m sure you all know that I am talking about the recent Anton/JD/Wargamer controversy which I’m sure we have all seen. I should make clear that this thread is not for raking up that specific issue. Action has been taken. That particular incident has been dealt with and is closed. However, I would like to mention some issues that arose from that incident. In that topic, one relatively new member to the forum said:

I like this 'no one is above the forum' mindset, I'll observe if this can be implemented effectively.

And another relatively new member agreed, saying:

I hope this mindset is actually implemented as well

Now these comments sadden me. They sadden me because they imply that certain new members to this forum feel that not everyone here is equal under the law – that certain people can use their authority and status to bend the rules and get away with it. Now I know, as a long standing member, that this is absolutely not the case. I know that the staff and moderators work extremely hard to be neutral at all times and fair to all. And one of the reasons why this forum is so popular and well mannered is that things like moderatorships, custom titles, karma, etc do not grant you any kind of immunity from the rules.

Also, I know from my experience on many different forums, that public rows involving moderators and moderator actions can be extremely nasty and destructive. Thankfully, here on Tau-Online they are rare – and they are rare for a very good reason – but they do happen and indeed I’ve been in such a row here myself. Indeed, my personal history when it comes to this matter is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about it – as I hate seeing other members make the same mistake that I did.

So, with all this in mind, I am suggesting a new forum position – that being a Regulator – which, if implemented correctly, should hopefully prevent any such public (or indeed private) row from breaking out again and which should hopefully reassure all members, both old and new to the forum, that whoever they are, they have the same rights as everyone else and are just as welcome here as everyone else.
So, I should now go on to explain what exactly a Regulator would do, but first, I will start, for clarity, by outlining exactly what a Regulator cannot do. A Regulator, under my proposal, cannot:

• Give karma
• Delete/edit posts
• Give warnings
• Have a say in the running of the forum beyond that of expressing an opinion in the Comments and Suggestions board like that of any other normal member. (So, for example, if there were a hypothetical private board in which the moderators could gather to discuss the running of the forum – new boards/new moderators/general forum policy etc etc etc, the Regulator would not be able to see it and take part.)

Therefore, a Regulator quite clearly is not a moderator or an 'improved' version of a moderator and I think that it is extremely important to emphasise this and keep the distinction clear.

So, having said that, what is a Regulator and what can a Regulator do?

The Regulator is there for when members feel that a moderator has acted inappropriately – eg they feel that they have been smited unfairly or a topic has been wrongly locked etc. The idea is that instead of (as often happens) complaining to the moderator directly about it and/or making a public fuss, they go to the Regulator and ask him to take a look. Now I anticipate that if this is implemented, the vast majority of the time, the Moderator’s actions will have been perfectly correct and reasonable and it will be the Regulator’s job to give a friendly diplomatic response, educating the member as to the forum rules and how this place works. This will be greatly advantageous to both sides. Firstly, the moderators would not have to waste time repeatedly justifying their own actions – which I imagine can be extremely infuriating and exasperating. So they’re left free to just get on with their job. Also, the member would benefit from their new knowledge and, importantly, they can feel that their situation has been thoroughly looked at by an independent person with no vested interest to lie or conceal anything. Now, I know that here, moderators do try their utmost to be fair and neutral but we all know that this is not the case for the vast majority of internet forums. And, for new members especially who don’t know this place well, it can be very easy to get into the irrational mindset of ‘Well he would say that that wouldn’t he. Of course he’s going to stick by the moderator...they all stick together.’ But, with this new system, I would argue that the logical justification for that would be completely removed. And, just as importantly, there has been absolutely no need for any public conflict on the actual forum whatsoever.

Now, what if the Regulator does agree with the member and thinks that a moderator is out of order? In that situation, he would, using his judgement, get in contact with an appropriate staff member (either a Global Moderator or for something more serious an Administrator) and give his take on the situation to them. Now, as I said before, a Regulator would not be able to smite or hand out warnings so it is important to emphasise the fact that a Regulator would not be able to punish moderators. His role would be purely that of an independent advocate. He’d put the case before the Global Moderator/Administrator – and that staff member would be free to either act on it or disagree and disregard as they see fit, based on their own judgement.

I’m nearly finished; I will just add one more important thing. If this were implemented, it would be a rule that the Regulator cannot take any kind of action unless a member complains to and asks him to look into something. So, even if he just happens to see what he considers to be a fairly blatant abuse of power by a moderator - he can't do a thing until someone asks him to look into it - if indeed someone does. This may look a little strange at first but I think it is necessary in order to make sure that a Regulator does not become more like an Inquisitor. A Regulator should understand that it is not his job to police the forums - that is a moderator's job. And, out of fairness to the moderators, it is extremely important for them to be able to feel that they can do their job without someone always looking over their shoulder, watching everything they do, waiting for them to slip up.

Anyway, that is my suggestion. We’d be very interested to know what you think…whether you like it, loath it, think it unnecessary – all comments are welcome.

TK
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