General Question

maccmann's avatar

Should the Fluther mods be a bit more stringent in policing "tools?"?

Asked by maccmann (657 points ) September 27th, 2008

There are some people on here who are just Fluthering to mess with us. They don’t give constructive answers and show up in places where they really shouldn’t, giving advice on things they really have no place giving. They are basically serial instigators. (Hell, by posting this I am probably gonna bring the pain…but hey, maybe the “tools” will be toolish enough to not be able to resist the bait and thus get ferreted out! OOPS! Was that out loud?)

Should we request that the Fluther mods begin tossing these people? and then should they do it?

Hey, yeah: it’s a free country (at least if you’re in the USA) and all that, but In Mod We Trust. Shouldn’t they be doing more to get people with “opinions” out and more with “answers” in?

I would like to think that the Fluther community is free from this type of crap that seems to manifest itself everywhere you look on the Web. Shouldn’t it be different and thus better here?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

57 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Use the “flag as..” site and add a clear comment. There have been a lot of attempts by overworked mods to deal with the inane, the show-off, the “last-word” hog, the grandiose, the predictable, the twit, the chatty kathy, the unfunny and the unmentionable.

Thank you for the question. Some wonderful folks are thinking about leaving, from fatigue and disappointment.

maccmann's avatar

@gailcalled: Have been. But I don’t want to be “that guy who is always bitching about people.” I would rather be that squeaky wheel that actually does get oiled.

Maybe they need more mods? (GIGANTIC HINT)

gailcalled's avatar

You are not alone, mac. Mods are unpaid and exhausted heroes. We try to help them, so bitch away.

blastfamy's avatar

while we’re on the subject of mods, how many are there.

or are they like Stassi, or something?

tinyfaery's avatar

Problem is even the veterans and typically appropriate users can and do fall into the “tool” category. Everyone has had comments pulled, and have engaged in off-topic chatter, or name calling. Everyone has their days.

maccmann's avatar

@tinyfaery: not to sound elitist or anything, but I have been on more discussion boards than I could ever count and/or recall. I learned to choose my battles carefully. I also use this little trick when responding to a flame or some other like commentary:

Write it like you would like to. Re-read it and edit it so that it’s not so “wicked.” Wait a bit. Re-read it and edit it some more. Make all the necessary corrections to round it out.

Then wait some more.

Then if you are done editing, decide to hit the send (or in the case of Fluther, “Answer”) button or not to.

This usually keeps one from having “one of those days.”

It also keeps you from looking like a tool! :P

tinyfaery's avatar

But EVERYONE does it. You are doing it right now by referring to people as tools.

marinelife's avatar

@Blastfamy According to PnL (a mod) on another thread, there are 9 mods right now.

maccmann's avatar

@tinyfaery: as previously stated. I choose my battles carefully.

marinelife's avatar

What, by the way, defines a tool? Where is that written in the Fluther Guidelines?

It seems to me that this is a delicate and subjective issue. It seems to me that it is a process that is handled well on this site. Generally, the mods work with the person about what is problematical and allow them a chance to rectify their behavior. Banning is a last resort. As it should be.

I agree with GC that you can flag answers you find objectionable. I do that. I also ignore things as much as I can if they are not directed at me. Often, even if they are directed at me.

If the behavior is ongoing in a thread, I may ask people directly as a fellow user to stop the objectionable behavior.

@gc I do think tf is right. Sometimes virtually everyone on this site is short or terse, if not downright rude. Sometimes almost everyone does insider jokes or off-topic chatter. We’re human (until otherwise proven not), and it will happen. I only object to someone who is relentlessly and flagrantly flouting of the guidelines.

blastfamy's avatar

My 2©;

I think that most of the politically charged questions on the site commonly lead to mindless bickering. I have gone off the deep end once or twice myself, but I think that all-in-all, the mindless political questions should be the first to be weeded out as unnecessary, and only in existence to further one’s own political agenda.

That said… most of the questions and people on the site are quite insightful.

Poser's avatar

I’ve found that ignoring “tools” is one of the best ways to make them disappear. At least for those tools who are simply trying to instigate or shock.

maccmann's avatar

@Marina: I agree that anyone who flagrantly violates guidelines should be ousted, but it’s the people who know how to work that system, skirt the guidelines and just plain instigate for fun that I am talking about. That type of behavior can actually be defined as sociopathy! To craft a response which you know (or may not know) is one which will elicit strong negative feelings in the readers/responders, then to sit back and watch the chaos ensue, occasionally coming back to add fuel to the flames = tool.

And it’s that “No, I’m right…you’re obviously wrong and you’re an idiot for not knowing that” attitude that really doesn’t belong in a place like Fluther. Also “toolism” at work.

maccmann's avatar

@Poser: Oh, absolutely. But usually and unfortunately, not everyone uses that strategy. And as long as you bring that point up, it’s those who bite on the line that is fed out who keep them here!

<sigh> Whudaryuhgonnado?

jlm11f's avatar

[mod says:] Why oh why do the mods not respond to your “flags” as soon as you flag them? Well, I wish the answer was that we were out at a party. The real answer is removing quips/questions is a tricky process. So even though we get your flags almost right after you send them, we cannot always act on them as fast as you would like. Some quips are clear cut, any kind of personal attacks such as “fuck you” etc to any user is removed right away. But most quips are in the gray area, though they might be white/black for you. And whenever something is not clear cut, the mods discuss the situation with each other to make sure everyone is on the same page. This acts as a good “checks and balances” system because it prevents a mod who might not get along with a certain user from going all “predator-like” on that person. And it helps to see things from a myriad of opinions.

Also, it is important to remember that just because a moderator does not always involve themselves on a public thread, does not mean they aren’t responding to the flag by PMing the user. The newer users just don’t know better and are not going to be publicly rebuked for that.

So to answer your direct Q, yes we have received all the flags we get from everyone, yes we do look into them all, yes we discuss them till the end of time and then decide on the appropriate response. If you don’t believe me, just ask to see a screen shot of one of the mod’s inboxes…the # of fluther emails i have….... :P. The Fluther team is big on communication because that enables us to make lesser mistakes.

What can you do to help? : Keep flagging things that you think are against the Fluther guidelines. Seriously. That’s the best (and fastest) way of letting us know what’s up and alerting us of the threads to watch out for. Besides that, be patient and know we are working on it. And last, this isn’t required, but a little trust in the mods ability to do the “right thing” as you suggested in your Q description helps us find “policing” the site less of a chore and is always appreciated :)

I think with the recent concerns about moderating and the moderated, the question you asked was important. And I hope to see inputs from other Jellies on how we are doing and how they think we can improve.

Response moderated
maccmann's avatar

by the way…“macmann” (note the absence of the “c” and the extra “n”) is not me.

and nice icon…yeah…I like it. Very creative.

Ladies and gentlemen: our first ferret!

Response moderated
maccmann's avatar

oh, and if it was ever unclear what I am asking in this thread, it would be the above simulacrum of myself.

Response moderated
Seesul's avatar

…and an extra “n” at the end.

maccmann's avatar

and the mods have arrived!

deaddolly's avatar

as a new person, I think everyone has the right to voice their opinions; whether ppl choose to read them, comment or ignore, is up to them. I just stop following threads that I think are stupid or are getting silly. I’ve been ‘removed’ and probably will again. I normally don’t get nasty and try to relate/dicuss only what I know or have experience about. Copying and pasting links from other sources is not my idea of help. I can google something if i want the ‘book’ answer. I came here, from Askville, at the invitation of someone else on here..he recommended it as a more friendly site, that was handled by the mods better. So far, I agree. But I also think there’s some ppl on here that think what they think/know is gospel and everyone else’s opinions are beneath them. I just let those pass.
Who are you to decide a person is giving advice they have place giving?
How can you know that? I take a person’s advice for what it’s worth, some helps me; others don’t. So what?

I also don’t reread every freaking thing i write. Don’t have time. If I’m vehement about something, i type fast and mess up. I am not witing an advice book: I’m posting a response on a human level.

Let my ppl go!

Response moderated
maccmann's avatar

@deaddolly: well that really is for the mods to discern (note that I did not say “decide”)

But it’s like my daddy always said: Opinions are like assholes. Everyones got one and they all stink and are usually full of sh[poop]it.

And then there are constructive, helpful answers which add to a discussion.

And I guess I just have more time on my hands. And speaking of “let my people go,” as the Hasidic Jews say: “Words are permanent. One should always take care in what one says.”

marinelife's avatar

@dd I disagree about answers and links. I am glad that you can find what you need on the Web. You would be astounded how many people can’t.

Also, opinion or advice are just that. Sometimes, I think an authoritative, expert, reliable source can add a lot to a discussion.

deaddolly's avatar

I’m more a spur of the moment person. React with first impluse.

I just think of of the ‘veterans’ on here have an ego problem. some do not make new ppl feel welcome. And, that, my friend, is very sad.

Having your own opinion is human nature. It should never be disregarded.

@marina it’s easy to find out answers online, for ppl that really look. I value personal opinion more.

poofandmook's avatar

I’m really not liking the air of superiority that some give off in regards to these “tools.” There are definitely people who have been here a while who seem to have no tolerance for anything that isn’t worded, spelled, or punctuated perfectly… no tolerance for silly questions or those who ask or answer them. Fluther isn’t a police state; which is why there are “guidelines” and not “rules.” We all have things that annoy us, and I think some people need to learn to stop criticizing every spelling/grammatical/wording error they see.

That being said, there are shit-stirrers who skirt around guidelines just to provoke people (lawnmower, anyone?), and while I’d like to say that they’re nothing but a pain in the butt, they actually sometimes manage to incite a good discussion, even if their delivery was twisted (there’s that lawnmower again). If you don’t like something, flag it. I think the mods do an excellent job of being fair and diplomatic… most people who’ve been here for a few months know that I can’t keep my mouth shut when I read something I don’t like, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to be here either. See what I mean? There’s a fine line.

deaddolly's avatar

@poofandmuck…great answer. I agree.

btw, I’ve never felt compelled to flag anything. Someone venting or being a pain and me jumping to report it is just not what I came here for. I just hit the ‘stop following’ if things get assinine.

poofandmook's avatar

mook, not muck :) my kitty would be insulted! lol

deaddolly's avatar

so very sorry!!! :}

poofandmook's avatar

very common mistake :)

maccmann's avatar

@poof: well, I agree with what you say, but I certainly hope that your opinion of my question isn’t elitist. I’d just like to see these people shut down and maybe even shut off.

And great work and bunches of Ups to the mods who were on top of this thread last night!

You ROCK!

syz's avatar

Poor mods, they just can’t win. Either people complain about having comments removed or people complain that they don’t remove enough. In my own (inestimable) opinion, I see them trying harder than I ever would to be fair. They give people the benefit of the doubt and seem to make every effort to communicate problems.

Of course, it all comes down to the fact that no one makes me come to this site. No one forces me to participate. If I don’t like the way things are run, my choice is to go somewhere else or start my own little world and run it the way I think is right.

deaddolly's avatar

@great answer, syz.

maccmann's avatar

@ syz: Not complaining at all. Asking a question. I have modded before and I realize it’s a chore and a half. I was asking if it would be appropriate to toss people of the type described. It’s not a complaint…it’s a question leading to (hopefully) some helpful answers which the mods can use to better this place.

StopTheNwo's avatar

I agree with maccmann. I have noticed the same things on other sites.

poofandmook's avatar

@maccmann: No. I mean that some of the more seasoned Flutherers would also apply your term “tool” to some people for making errors… and they need to realize that not every mistake warrants a correction. It just makes the person feel stupid.

scamp's avatar

syz and poof: I couldn’t agree more!

@maccmann If you know of some troublmakers from past experience, the best thing to do in my opinion is to alert the mods so they can be aware of a potential problem, then go on about your business. Let the mods take care of this as they see fit. Maybe the people you had trouble with before want a fresh start, just as you did, and they deserve a chance the same as you. If they are here to cause trouble, they will be dealt with accordingly.

@poofandmook I know what you mean about the finger pointers and how they seem to love to point out even your smallest mistakes. It takes me back to 3rd grade when children did it to get the attention of the teacher, and to try and make themselves look good. it doesn’t make me feel stupid, but it doesn’t make me think they are smarter than me either. I just notice that they don’t have very good manners, otherwise this would be done by pm, and not in the open. I learned to ignore it some time ago.

I’ve said this several times in threads such as this before, but I think it bears repeating. We are all guests here. Ben and Andrew have created a wonderful place for us to socialize, get answers to our questions, and have a few laughs from time to time. As Syz said above, we came here of our own accord, and we are free to leave the same way.

While we are here, it’s ok to make suggestions that might help the site improve, but constantly whining about the way things are run is nothing but rude. Here’s an idea. Why don’t we post some positive things about the site for a refreshing change? I’m sure Ben and Andrew would love to know how much we appreciate the place they have created for us and how much we love being here.

( The above is not intended towards any one person in paticular, it’s just a general observation.)

maccmann's avatar

@scamp: Um…I am assuming that you did not consider this question as a “whine.” No?

scamp's avatar

@maccmann No, I saw it as you asking the advice of the others here, which to me is not whining. That’s why I whispered the disclaimer at the end.

Rotwang's avatar

The way to solve this problem is two things:

1. Appeals.

2. Moderators being PUNISHED when they lose an appeal.

It’s really that simple. Politicians talk about this all the time “accountability”. The mods, and the posters, both need accountability. BOTH.

Oh and BTW, all of the above needs to be public. That’s what fluther (and the other sites) don’t get.

The bans should be public. You should be able to what was censored, and why. YES. We the users should be able to see that.

And you should be able to see what won out in appeals, and what lost.

richardhenry's avatar

@Rotwang Fluther is a Q&A website. For the most part, 99% of our users are happy. So you’re really suggesting we should 24/7 air dirty laundry and throw drama all over the place? As mods, people are generally happy with our decisions and we work things out between us and them, the person with the issue.

I think you’re digging for a conspiracy that doesn’t exist. People are of course free to talk about their issues, provided they’ve tried to work them out with us first. There are a few cases where people immediately post a “WTF” question without having spoken to us first, and the only reason to do that is that you like the attention.

Generally, we manage to work things out with people; we’re very reasonable people, and we love Fluther and the community here.

We remove the junk to keep the quality higher than any other Q&A site on the web, and we believe we do a good job. I think you’ll find that the majority of people agree, too.

Hope this helps answer your question.

Rotwang's avatar

No, it doesn’t, at all. I’m not talking about a “conspiracy”. I’m talking about crappy policy. Nor have I said that you need to do anything “24/7”. You constructing a straw man here, and I’m not that straw man.

What I’m arguing for is transparency. When you censor someone, we should be able to see who was censored and why. It should not be mysterious. We should not “just trust” you.

And to this: “We remove the junk to keep the quality higher than any other Q&A site on the web, and we believe we do a good job.”

Oh, yes, I DO believe that YOU believe that you do a good job.

poofandmook's avatar

you do realize that once you tell the owner of the site you’re leaving in the middle of a hissy fit, and then the next day you come back to continue arguing, you lose all credibility, don’t you?

gailcalled's avatar

Here comes yet another “last word.” (Don’t I wish.) Wait for the beep.

Rotwang's avatar

@poofandmook:
I sure do, isn’t that courteously, to finish the conversation at hand?

And thanks for not diminishing my argument into terms like, you know “hissy fit”. Or, referring to me as an “imbecile” (on the other thread), because you disagree with me.

gailcalled's avatar

—-Dear Rot; I do like the owl, but think you have made your point several times over. Stay or leave. Just make a decision; and it isn’t a question of agreeing or disagreeing with you. Andrew and Ben set the guidelines. That seems straightforward.

El_Cadejo's avatar

can i give you 20 GA’s gail?

gailcalled's avatar

Here it comes again. Wait for the beep.

Rotwang's avatar

gailcalled,
Unfortunately, these responses don’t have dates, so I don’t blame you for not realizing this detail:

richardhenry’s post here came between my post last night and this morning. So in short;

If people are still responding to me (and in the case of poofandmook, even asking me direct questions), should I really not respond?

I could be equally accused of being unwilling to debate the subject.

That seems straightforward.

gailcalled's avatar

Once you announce, dramatically, I might add, that you are leaving, it is anticlimactic to stay and debate and redebate. Nothing new is being said here and, as I think about it, there really is no issue to debate.

Rotwang's avatar

If you can think of a less “dramatic” way for me to have stated that, let me know.

And because you continue to do this silly childish gimic of “oh look here comes yet another ‘last word’ in the argument”) I’ll do it to you, and you’ll see how empty this is:

Wait for the beep everyone, here comes another post from gail. Yep she just can’t let it sit. That crazy gailcalled here she goes again!

gailcalled's avatar

(sending restraining order to myself.)

poofandmook's avatar

@gail: You’ve seen them come and go, and by the time the next one comes along, you will have forgotten this one.

gailcalled's avatar

-True, but his use of the echolalic as a childish gimmick does sound worrisomely familiar.—

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