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Subject: Increase Moderation Transparency Through Release of High Level Metrics rss

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M. B. Downey
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Moderation on BGG is handled privately. While it protects the person being moderated from embarrassment, this lack of transparency can make it seem like problematic language and behavior are not treated seriously by the site. This is especially harmful to groups that are historically marginalized and can make them feel unwelcome here. There are compromises that both protect those moderated as well as make the process more transparent.

I suggest BGG release metrics about moderation on a regular basis. This should be done at a high level and without names attached, so no individual user is singled out. They can include a wide variety of numbers for the reporting period, such as:

Number of moderations
Average length of suspensions
Number of posts marked for moderation by the community
Number of posts marked that resulted in moderation
Number of posts marked that did not result in moderation
Number of moderations for each reason

I am sure there are additional metrics that would be useful. I suspect the administrators already have this information, so it should be relatively easy to produce. I would like to see this done both on a regular basis and for past periods.
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Most of the admins are volunteers. The last thing they need is more work.
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M. B. Downey
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herace wrote:
Most of the admins are volunteers. The last thing they need is more work.


Thank you for your helpful comment on my suggestion! I already accounted for this factor, as you can see here:

downeymb wrote:
I suspect the administrators already have this information, so it should be relatively easy to produce.


Additionally, this is primarily directed at a paid-admin as a direct result of his commenting on threads that the current moderation system does have drawbacks (as described above).
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Wow, this has peeved me for years, but never knew what the solution was.

I've been moderated/blocked more than once for what some disparagingly refer to as "white knighting." IOW, I've directed more than one rude post toward individuals who were being an asshole to someone else.

The official rules are that I'm supposed to report that person. The way that works, however, does very little to 1)discourage others from expressing the same views and 2)does nothing for the target of the abuse.

It is #2 that makes BGG at times an uninviting and hostile environment. For me it's one of my top reasons for no longer donating. The moderation as it stands now does not create the environment the admins claim it does and is in fact demonstrably counterproductive. Some transparency would help alleviate the problem.
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travvller wrote:
Wow, this has peeved me for years, but never knew what the solution was.

I've been moderated/blocked more than once for what some disparagingly refer to as "white knighting." IOW, I've directed more than one rude post toward individuals who were being an asshole to someone else.

The official rules are that I'm supposed to report that person. The way that works, however, does very little to 1)discourage others from expressing the same views and 2)does nothing for the target of the abuse.

It is #2 that makes BGG at times an uninviting and hostile environment. For me it's one of my top reasons for no longer donating. The moderation as it stands now does not create the environment the admins claim it does and is in fact demonstrably counterproductive. Some transparency would help alleviate the problem.


Yes, this is exactly the problem I want to correct! It also will help to diminish the third category of problem: showing bystanders that neither the web site nor the community will stand up for them.
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Perhaps first a poll. Why?

I have been a moderator on other websites before. I have a sense of what it entails due to personal experience, as well an understanding of what both ends of what that process can look like as a general user or moderator.

Therefore, I will say this and suggest a poll.

BGG is one of the most inviting and friendly environments I've ever encountered online.

The moderation as it stands now does a good if not excellent job of creating the environment the admins are seeking to establish. I have even been moderated here once myself, and in hindsight I think it was fair, unbiased, handled well, and had clear purpose, even if I did not agree with it.

However, if you wish to pursue the idea, it might help to know what percentage of BGG users actually have concerns and what they are with the moderation process as you suggest, much less their impressions of the overall moderation process here. The hardest part would be creating an unbiased set of questions, as its fairly clear that you have a "stance" on the way moderation is currently being conducted.
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ejtracer wrote:
Perhaps first a poll. Why?

I have been a moderator on other websites before. I have a sense of what it entails due to personal experience, as well an understanding of what both ends of what that process can look like as a general user or moderator.

Therefore, I will say this and suggest a poll.

BGG is one of the most inviting and friendly environments I've ever encountered online.

The moderation as it stands now does a good if not excellent job of creating the environment the admins are seeking to establish. I have even been moderated here once myself, and in hindsight I think it was fair, unbiased, handled well, and had clear purpose, even if I did not agree with it.

However, if you wish to pursue the idea, it might help to know what percentage of BGG users actually have concerns and what they are with the moderation process as you suggest, much less their impressions of the overall moderation process here. The hardest part would be creating an unbiased set of questions, as its fairly clear that you have a "stance" on the way moderation is currently being conducted.


I'm no newbie to internet discussion forums. I was on usenet.

On one hand you're correct, BGG is one of the more hospitable sites one can visit.

However, the issue here is specifically moderation. Having been blocked multiple times, often for the same reason, I do have a beef with how the site is moderated.

On other moderated sites when someone gets into trouble it's obvious. Their comments are removed by the moderators. It becomes obvious that certain remarks will not be tolerated. The biggest and most important point is that whoever is the target of the comments is fully aware, assuming they come back to the forum, that something was actually done on their behalf - even if it was merely the removal of the comment.

There is no such evidence offered here on BGG. It DOES create an environment where those who have been the target of rudeness or bullying are unaware that anything was ever done about it.

I'm not sure if deleting comments is the correct way. Nonetheless, the current way offers no justice, no relief to those who have been the targets. Personally, I suppose I'd be much more in favor of deleted comments versus outright blocking. But that's not always possible when people quote the comment in question.
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travvller wrote:
ejtracer wrote:
Perhaps first a poll. Why?

I have been a moderator on other websites before. I have a sense of what it entails due to personal experience, as well an understanding of what both ends of what that process can look like as a general user or moderator.

Therefore, I will say this and suggest a poll.

BGG is one of the most inviting and friendly environments I've ever encountered online.

The moderation as it stands now does a good if not excellent job of creating the environment the admins are seeking to establish. I have even been moderated here once myself, and in hindsight I think it was fair, unbiased, handled well, and had clear purpose, even if I did not agree with it.

However, if you wish to pursue the idea, it might help to know what percentage of BGG users actually have concerns and what they are with the moderation process as you suggest, much less their impressions of the overall moderation process here. The hardest part would be creating an unbiased set of questions, as its fairly clear that you have a "stance" on the way moderation is currently being conducted.


I'm no newbie to internet discussion forums. I was on usenet.

On one hand you're correct, BGG is one of the more hospitable sites one can visit.

However, the issue here is specifically moderation. Having been blocked multiple times, often for the same reason, I do have a beef with how the site is moderated.

On other moderated sites when someone gets into trouble it's obvious. Their comments are removed by the moderators. It becomes obvious that certain remarks will not be tolerated. The biggest and most important point is that whoever is the target of the comments is fully aware, assuming they come back to the forum, that something was actually done on their behalf - even if it was merely the removal of the comment.

There is no such evidence offered here on BGG. It DOES create an environment where those who have been the target of rudeness or bullying are unaware that anything was ever done about it.

I'm not sure if deleting comments is the correct way. Nonetheless, the current way offers no justice, no relief to those who have been the targets. Personally, I suppose I'd be much more in favor of deleted comments versus outright blocking. But that's not always possible when people quote the comment in question.


Please forgive me if I'm over simplifying, but what your saying gives me the impression that its more about making the offended person feel vindicated, rather than actual improvement of the overall BGG environment.

I'm personally more concerned with the overall environment rather than a personal feeling that somebody got a well earned moderation and I was the source of it.

If nasty, rude, inappropriate, or just plan tactless comment mysteriously disappears, I tend to figure one of three things happened.
1) The poster self moderated as they realized their "error" if you will.
2) The poster self moderated as they decided it was just not worth the engagement.
3) They got moderated admin style.

In any case the environment was improved, and ultimately if I was the offended, its gone now, so I should be pleased. I don't see what more is needed if the environment is the focus.
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I'm not sure what this would really accomplish? People who think there are others who should be moderated get to read that so and so many users were banned for so and so many days, kind of imagine that those are exactly the ones they were thinking of, and feel better? Do the statistics really serve a critical function there?
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Kaffedrake wrote:
I'm not sure what this would really accomplish? People who think there are others who should be moderated get to read that so and so many users were banned for so and so many days, kind of imagine that those are exactly the ones they were thinking of, and feel better? Do the statistics really serve a critical function there?


Self-modulating placebo.

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I think what it shows is that the admins are in fact moderating the site and working to keep it welcoming.

The thing is, after reading the threads in question, I don't think it'd do much good. I think we'd quickly see accusations pop up to the tune of "BGG is fabricating their statistics".

That said, I would be very interested to see the statistics noted in the OP. Not that I don't think the admins are doing their job, just that I think seeing the data would be interesting. I would think Quarterly Postings would work.

I'd also be interested in the following as BGG releases the data.
- Percent increase/decrease for postings flagged
- Percent increase/decrease for postings moderated

EDIT: General grammar.
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I doubt we'd get accusations of fabricating statistics. But I still don't know how much this would help in contentious instances--it's really hard to get a hold of the whole scope of BGG for anyone not involved in running it. So it would be interesting in the way arrest statistics are interesting, but I don't think it would solve immediate problems.
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dthurston wrote:
I doubt we'd get accusations of fabricating statistics. But I still don't know how much this would help in contentious instances--it's really hard to get a hold of the whole scope of BGG for anyone not involved in running it. So it would be interesting in the way arrest statistics are interesting, but I don't think it would solve immediate problems.


I could see doing something along the lines of what news papers do for a crime log.

"User directed misogynistic insults at another user. Offending user was suspended 1 week."

"User posted RSP content in a thread outside of RSP. User was warned and voluntarily deleted offending content."

Something along those lines, but it'd be fairly labor intensive. Granted if you excluded offenses stemming from RSP you could probably cut way down on just how much labor.

EDIT: Grammar.
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dthurston wrote:
I doubt we'd get accusations of fabricating statistics. But I still don't know how much this would help in contentious instances--it's really hard to get a hold of the whole scope of BGG for anyone not involved in running it. So it would be interesting in the way arrest statistics are interesting, but I don't think it would solve immediate problems.


The point isn't to solve tactical problems, it's about solving the strategic problems, building trust through increased transparency. It would also say whether or not the current community moderation model actually works. If the posts being marked for moderation aren't resulting in actual moderation, then the model doesn't work and needs to be fixed. It would also give a scope. There is a significant difference to 2,000 posts being moderated in a quarter instead of 20.

I'm sure there are lots of other metrics that would be good to include.
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morris9597 wrote:
I could see doing something along the lines of what news papers do for a crime log.

"User directed misogynistic insults at another user. Offending user was suspended 1 week."

"User posted RSP content in a thread outside of RSP. User was warned and voluntarily deleted offending content."

Something along those lines, but it'd be fairly labor intensive. Granted if you excluded offenses stemming from RSP you could probably cut way down on just how much labor.


Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

There are a lot of things there that would help the community (and I'd argue the admins) better understand how (and if) moderation works.
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downeymb wrote:
Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

Enforcement statistics are constructed from both the behavior of violators and the behavior of enforcers.

Your first paragraph provides an example of how these statistics are impossible to interpret without further context. If there were 100 misogynistic posts moderated last month, is that a large misogyny problem? Or is there really an even bigger misogyny problem that they miss?

If your city sees a big increase in arrests, is that because you have a new crime problem? Or are the police being more vigilant in pursuing the existing crime? Or are the police trying to make a lot of arrests for less noble reasons, overstepping appropriate bounds?

For the questions you appear to be interested in, I doubt that macro-level statistics of this kind will be very useful.
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downeymb wrote:
morris9597 wrote:
I could see doing something along the lines of what news papers do for a crime log.

"User directed misogynistic insults at another user. Offending user was suspended 1 week."

"User posted RSP content in a thread outside of RSP. User was warned and voluntarily deleted offending content."

Something along those lines, but it'd be fairly labor intensive. Granted if you excluded offenses stemming from RSP you could probably cut way down on just how much labor.


Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

There are a lot of things there that would help the community (and I'd argue the admins) better understand how (and if) moderation works.


Ahhh....okay, I just went back to you OP and see where you actually do suggest "Number of moderations for each reason". That makes a lot more sense now.

That could actually work. I've got to say, I really like this idea of yours.
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tumorous wrote:
downeymb wrote:
Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

Enforcement statistics are constructed from both the behavior of violators and the behavior of enforcers.

Your first paragraph provides an example of how these statistics are impossible to interpret without further context. If there were 100 misogynistic posts moderated last month, is that a large misogyny problem? Or is there really an even bigger misogyny problem that they miss?

If your city sees a big increase in arrests, is that because you have a new crime problem? Or are the police being more vigilant in pursuing the existing crime? Or are the police trying to make a lot of arrests for less noble reasons, overstepping appropriate bounds?

For the questions you appear to be interested in, I doubt that macro-level statistics of this kind will be very useful.


The admins can certainly tell us if they implemented a policy change, such as the change in moderation of RSP. And if the metrics include the number of posts being marked for moderation, it will help interpret any changes in results of moderation.

Obviously it won't tell us everything, and some of the results might not tell us anything. We won't know until we see the metrics. That's Alamo why historical trends are important. Additionally, one of the biggest complaints about the current moderation policy is the resulting lack of transparency. Making an effort to be transparent will itself be a helpful step, even if the metrics lack clarity in some instances (which I would expect will occur).

We can also talk about further refining metrics going forward, if needed. If metrics for particular forums were released, we will have a better understanding of where problems would arise. If a particular community forum experiences a heavy amount of moderation, maybe the admins need a community liaison to serve as a focal point for resolving issues.

These are just examples of things that could be done to improve the climate, and metrics are a solid start. I don't know what metrics are the right metrics, and would encourage us to find the right balance.
 
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downeymb wrote:
Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

There are a lot of things there that would help the community (and I'd argue the admins) better understand how (and if) moderation works.


I think further stats would be required to provide context. Although the above was just an example, saying if there are large number of moderations for issue A suggests the community are a bunch of A-ists, whilst a low number of cases would suggest the community are still a bunch of A-ists but the mods just don't take issue A seriously!
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alcazar wrote:
Although the above was just an example, saying if there are large number of moderations for issue A suggests the community are a bunch of A-ists, whilst a low number of cases would suggest the community are still a bunch of A-ists but the mods just don't take issue A seriously!


I think this hits the nail on the head. Presumably there is a group of people who think the existence of A-ists is a given and want to complain of one of two things, but can't be entirely sure which one. To the same extent that they would feel vindicated by the added "transparency", they would use the information to pursue those grievances. Add in the negative sentiments from people who are fine with nonpublic moderation or who see all moderation as evidence of power-tripping, and I don't see how this could be a net gain for the administration.
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Kaffedrake wrote:
alcazar wrote:
Although the above was just an example, saying if there are large number of moderations for issue A suggests the community are a bunch of A-ists, whilst a low number of cases would suggest the community are still a bunch of A-ists but the mods just don't take issue A seriously!


I think this hits the nail on the head. Presumably there is a group of people who think the existence of A-ists is a given and want to complain of one of two things, but can't be entirely sure which one. To the same extent that they would feel vindicated by the added "transparency", they would use the information to pursue those grievances. Add in the negative sentiments from people who are fine with nonpublic moderation or who see all moderation as evidence of power-tripping, and I don't see how this could be a net gain for the administration.


I wholeheartedly agree. Creating some sort of solution that creates more work for the admins and creates additional opportunities for gripping about the moderation is senseless to me.

I've touched the electric fence a couple of times. I get a note from admins saying don't do that, and I stop. That was the end of it.

Being able to post anonymously just brings out all sorts of trolls. I really think that overall the monitors do a good job in maintaining civility.
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alcazar wrote:
downeymb wrote:
Sure, but I'm asking for the macro-level statistics. It tells us where the problems are. And the mods. If we see something like "5,000 posts calling someone a troll resulted in moderation" then clearly the BGG community writ large doesn't understand that calling someone a troll violates the site rules. Similarly, if we saw "5,000 (or 5) posts directing misogynistic insults at another user resulted in moderation" that would tell us that BGG has a large misogyny problem among its user base (or the admins don't take it seriously if it were 5).

This kind of transparency will tell us a lot. And we can compare this to the number of posts in the quarter. If there are 500,000 posts in a quarter and 10 of them resulted in moderation, maybe the admins aren't doing their jobs. If it were 5,000, it would show maybe they are doing their jobs, and there's a problem in the community, either through ignorance of the policies or discussions getting out of hand. If that were the case, then having threads be locked (something people have complained about) would seem like a useful tool to help counteract problems.

There are a lot of things there that would help the community (and I'd argue the admins) better understand how (and if) moderation works.


I think further stats would be required to provide context. Although the above was just an example, saying if there are large number of moderations for issue A suggests the community are a bunch of A-ists, whilst a low number of cases would suggest the community are still a bunch of A-ists but the mods just don't take issue A seriously!


I get for posting on my phone. You're absolutely correct, that is exactly how my post reads. I did not mean to and will not presuppose the answer.
 
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herace wrote:
Most of the admins are volunteers. The last thing they need is more work.


However, the site itself is a commercial entity.
 
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
herace wrote:
Most of the admins are volunteers. The last thing they need is more work.


However, the site itself is a commercial entity.

That is true, but I'm not sure I understand why it's relevant...?
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russ wrote:

That is true, but I'm not sure I understand why it's relevant...?


Because I don't think you can really use "we can't do this because the admins are volunteers" argument when the reason for that is that BGG chooses to use volunteer admins.
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