Moderated Monday

September 17th, 2007 by Editor B

I administer an online discussion group for my neighborhood. With 432 members at last count, it’s been fairly successful, and we do our best to promote it as a higher-quality alternative to the notorious nola.com forums.

However, there’s always room for improvement. After toying with the idea for months, I decided to try an experiment in spot-moderation. Today is our first “Moderated Monday.” Here’s the message I sent which explains it all:

Dear Discussion Group Participants,

As a fun experiment, we’re going to have our first “Moderated Monday” on Sept. 17.

This discussion group is currently unmoderated. That means when you send a message it goes to the group automatically. No one has to approve it.

But on Moderated Monday, that will change — for approximately 24 hours. During this period, I will switch our discussion group to moderated status. Any messages sent to the group will be held back for moderation, and will not go to the group until approved by a moderator (such as myself).

How will we make that determination? Easy: We’ll just enforce the “eight simple rules” that we’ve established for this group. Everyone should has gotten a copy of these at some point, and I’m pasting them below for your reference.

If you send a message that violates one or more of these guidelines, it won’t be approved and it won’t go to the group. Instead, you’ll get a friendly note explaining why your message was not approved. If you wish, you can reformulate your message and send it again. Of course, if you are following the guidelines you won’t even notice, except that messages may be delayed slightly.

What’s the point? Mainly it’s a way of reminding people that these rules exist and to gently enforce them without being too heavy-handed. Right now I occasionally send reminders to individuals and frankly that’s a pain. Lots of people follow the guidelines, but lots don’t, and I hope this will help more people improve. The ultimate rationale is simply to maintain a high quality forum that is valuable to all participants.

Another point is to remind people that good communication is a group effort. And of course, it’s my sneaky way of reminding people that Monday Sept. 17 there will be a meeting of the Communications Committee (6:30 PM @ Bayou Coffee House).

Bart Everson
Communications Director
Mid-City Neighborhood Organization

There are a few simple rules you can follow to help us all get the most out of this group.

1. Keep it relevant. Discussion should be germane to the Mid-City neighborhood.

2. Keep it civil. Do not call names. Insults and slurs have no place here. Discussion with different viewpoints enriches us all, but arguments in cyberspace tend to lead nowhere. If you can’t be nice, keep quiet.

3. Do not spam. Spammers will be banned without notice and spam messages will be deleted from the archive.

4. Don’t respond to spam. That just adds further clutter.

5. Sign your messages with your full name. We don’t know you by your e-mail address. Please put your name to your words.

6. Trim your text! Some people subscribe to this group in a digest format. That means they get multiple messages bundled together. This digest becomes impossible to read if people quote the entire discussion thread with each reply. So: When replying to a message, please quote only the relevant portion in your reply.

7. Please don’t send “me too” messages — one-liners that don’t add much to the conversation.

8. Please remember that there are hundreds of people in this group. When you send a message to the group, it goes to hundreds of people. When you reply to someone else’s message, it goes to the whole group (unless you change the address). Therefore: Be thoughtful. Think before you type.

The moderators of this group reserve the right to remove anyone from the group at any time if they have been deemed to violate these policies.

Thanks for reading this boring stuff. Thanks for your interest in Mid-City. Please enjoy the group!

At the end of the day I’ll add a report here on how things went.

Update: Here’s how Moderated Monday went down.

We approved fifteen messages over the course of the day and rejected eight. One message was rejected because it was blank, two because they were duplicates. The rest were rejected because of rules. Rule #6 (trim your text) was broken four times, rule #7 (“me too”) was broken twice, and rule #5 (sign your name) was broken once. I tried to be polite and helpful in all my rejection notices. I hope the overall purpose was served, and that no one felt too bad about having their knuckles rapped. It’s worth noting that no one chose to resend a rejected message. I think the day was successful, and we’ll probably repeat the exercise in the near future.

3 Responses to “Moderated Monday”

  1. Jen Says:

    Ok Editor B, this is off topic entirely, but did Saint Expedite make it through Katrina? If so, could I send you a few bucks to buy me some Saint Expedite prayer cards etc to help with my land dilemma? I use to have some and gave them to friends. I am ready for help from my favorite Saint.!

  2. Editor B Says:

    I’m pretty sure we have a St. Expedite card lying around the house somewhere. If not I can probably scare something up at the flea market and mail it to you.

  3. Alan Gutierrez Says:

    I didn’t know what you were talking about so I searched for Saint Expedite and found this story.

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