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I believe we have to strive to be fair and equitable to all user. I feel sometimes there is an asymmetry on moderation practices where some users are moderated in a stricter sense than other.

E.g. the following is a timely and interesting question: The terror tragedy in France in Buddhist light but it says it is not fit for the normal format of the site. Say another user asks a similar question then it is fair and equitable that this is allowed as a moderator has set the precedence. Nothing against this question, but if some one asks something similar tolerance should be practiced. (On a side note. Also one answer given has been deleted citing anti Muslim stereo type, though the answer actually critically analysers this in a Buddhist perspective. It may not have the sugar coating as some may desire and I do not see any Anti Muslim nature in it. This might be a matter of opinion.)

Likewise I have seen posts my certain senior users actively promoting their tradition. I think this is fair. This should not deny any other user to actively promote their tradition by having a higher standers or criteria on what is checked for in another set of users. Certain questions and answers from certain seam to be moderated at a higher standers than others. This is not equitable. If you are applying a higher stander this should be done consistently. If there is precedence in more tolerant nature for posts my moderators or senior users or certain set of suers then this criteria should be applied consistently.

Also among certain set of users there can be groupthink where they stick with each other can reinforce the option of other users than being independent. This also can be a source of problems.

Also following users is put on hold. (https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/users/7254/deva-mitta) He does not seam to have go much votes. (Total of 5 votes for 3 questions.) Also he has accepted answers from 2 users for his 3 question. It says as voting regularities. This action does not have been done transparently as what these irregularities are.

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  • 2
    Re. the last paragraph you added, moderators have some user data which they must keep private/confidential. StackExchange gives moderators a non-disclosure agreement. If a user is suspended then the brief reason is published, however the details of a suspension are private and (according my understanding of StackExchange's rules for moderators) the details are confidential rather than "transparent". – ChrisW Dec 3 '15 at 16:49
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  1. I don't think the moderators have the intention to be unfair or to promote their tradition while intentionally being tough on other traditions. Also, sometimes a misjudgment could be simply a product of not knowing a specific tradition, and so on...

  2. I don't think it's possible for a moderator to be consistent with applying rules of thumb that frequently fall in grey areas -- no moderator in that position is able to fully comply with this.

If we accept that moderators want to be fair and consistent (see #1) but are often observed unable to (see #2), the best we can do as community is question the individual decisions when they seem to be misapplication of rules, asking more details about the rationale for the specific decision and offering counter arguments. Either in comments, or bringing them to meta to discuss.

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  • 1 is not relevant to this discussion. It is border than tradition. You should be fair beyond tradition, friendships and alliances formed or simply a user being singled out. 2 is fine. but if a moderator does xxx he does not have the moral right ask some on else to have hight standard than on others. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Dec 3 '15 at 2:54
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I believe we have to strive to be fair and equitable to all user.

Yes, I do too more or less.


I feel sometimes there is an asymmetry on moderation practices where some users are moderated in a stricter sense than other.

Yes, you've been trying to make it clear that you feel that.

It's not clear to me (i.e. you have not been saying) what you base these feeling on. Have you identified the several causes (e.g. the questions, answers, comments, and/or deletions) for these feelings of yours? The one post I know you identified is this one; but apart from that, you're not always very specific. You mention "groupthink", but I don't know what to do about it.

So I feel like a programmer, where someone has come and said, "There are bugs in the software", and I'm like, "Oh: really? Where?"


E.g. the following is a timely and interesting question

Well, my opinion was that question is not a very good fit for this Q+A site.

The guideline Good Subjective, Bad Subjective advises that:

your answers must be based on either:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

The question you linked to is cleverly phrased to seem on-topic, for example it asks,

... seen from a Buddhist perspective? ... analyzed in terms of the Buddhist theory of human mind?

But to some extent it's just asking "How do you feel, what's your opinion?" In fact it says,

Please share your thoughts and opinions

I don't think I want to see dozens more questions like that one on this site.

That question is also probably a "Polling" question, and (ought to be) off-topic for that reason too.


Historically, to take another example, Andrei answered this question but he didn't like that question.

The Moderation policies for Questions now warns that questions like that might be off-topic (see "Broad comparisons"). This meant to be a site for "expert Q+A" about Buddhism, not really a site for Q+A about Buddhists' opinions of Christianity and Islam, of Christians and Muslims.

Similarly I answered this question but I didn't really like the question.


Say another user asks a similar question then it is fair and equitable that this is allowed as a moderator has set the precedence.

Being fair and equitable is one consideration but it's not the only consideration.

For example if I hit my brother, and so he hits me back, then from our perspective maybe that's being fair and equitable ... but from my mother's perspective that would be both of us misbehaving.


If you are applying a higher stander this should be done consistently.

I think my standards do vary depending on the history of the user.

If the user does something I don't much like, advertise a naked link to their blog for example in a way that's unrelated to the question, then I might think "Oh, yuck. Well I hope they got that out of their system and that they won't do that again."

If they do it again then I think "Oh dear, they're doing it again."

If they do it again and again and again then I think "Oh dear, I can't allow this." Then I edit the post, explain the "rules", ask them not to do it again.

And then I'm stricter, with that user. If they do it again and ... again then I'm like, "I told you not to do that. I don't want to have to moderate this stuff. Please, don't cause trouble. Nobody else on this site is here to advertise their blog: that's not what this site is for, and one user who misbehaves can make the site less enjoyable for everyone, especially if they do it often e.g. several times per day."


It's possible that I am more inclined to be tolerant of high-reputation users (including you).

You're more likely to know "the rules" already, and to show self-moderation without being moderated.

And the ratio of good to bad is different. If someone posted only "acceptable", "bad", and "very bad" answers, then I'd be feeling less tolerant when I read their posts than someone who posts consistently good answers with an occasional no-so-good sentence. Even so I try to apply rules fairly.

I think that part of "applying the rules fairly" is that I ought to overlook "transgressions" and I ought to be permissive if I can. If I want someone to change their behaviour, I should ask nicely. If I can overlook a possible mistake because it doesn't happen often and other users aren't complaining, then I can and should.

If you think we ought to be stricter, though, as moderators, you can suggest that.

  • You can leave a comment on whatever you think ought to be moderated: to tell the user how to self-moderate their own post.

  • You can "flag" whatever you think ought to be moderated. A disadvantage of flagging (from my perspective) is that it alarms the moderators (and I don't like to be alarmed). But it's private, i.e. nobody except moderators knows what flags you raise.

    A disadvantage to flagging is that if I disagree with a flag then I'll ignore/dismiss the flag. I can post a comment to explain why I disagree with the flag, but the comment is limited in length and it's a one-way message not a discussion. So ...

  • An alternative to flagging is to post a topic here on meta, to complain about a post ("I think this post ought to be moderated. Why wasn't it moderated?") or to discuss site policy ("I think that posts like this one ought to be moderated, do you agree?")


Also among certain set of users there can be groupthink where they stick with each other can reinforce the option of other users than being independent. This also can be a source of problems.

Wikipedia describes Groupthink as:

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking. The dysfunctional group dynamics of the "ingroup" produces an "illusion of invulnerability" (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the "ingroup" significantly overrates its own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of its opponents (the "outgroup"). Furthermore, groupthink can produce dehumanizing actions against the "outgroup".

Antecedent factors such as group cohesiveness, faulty group structure, and situational context (e.g., community panic) play into the likelihood of whether or not groupthink will impact the decision-making process.


Not purely in reply to your question but to add some thoughts of my own -- you seem to think that moderation decisions are clear, black-and-white: "This user did X, therefore that user should be allowed to do X too. If that user can't do X, then that's not fair."

A problem for moderators is that deciding whether something is "X" isn't always clear; for example:

Another problem is that I need to guess whether a given behaviour has or will or might become a problem for other users of the site. I get the feeling that people want the moderation to be fairly liberal/permissive. On the other hand if there were no moderation at all then I think there would be no site and even fewer expert users, i.e. this site is partly defined by what content it doesn't contain.

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