On Transparency

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by mindseye, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. mindseye

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    I'm beginning a fresh thread for this, because I think it deserves a separate topic. My comments here are my own; I'm not speaking in an official capacity (In fact, I will always indicate when I am speaking in an official capacity.)

    A member offered this criticism of the board leadership, which I've excerpted for brevity:

    Rob took over LPSG in December 2005, and appointed his first set of moderators on February 25, 2006. The faked death of DoubleMeatWhopper took place just two weeks earlier, and that story had been unravelling in the meantime.

    As moderators, we had access to information, such as IP logs, that made the 'unravelling' process much easier. Within a few days, we knew what was going on, down to DMW's real-life name, address, and phone number. We even had a recent photograph of him that we found on an unrelated website. One of the first tasks we had as a moderating team was to decide how much, if any, of this information to share.

    The decision we made was this: we will not share behind-the-scenes information. This is a promise that we make that your online privacy, your identity, your private messages* will not be violated by us. Consider it our 'prime directive', if you're a Star Trek fan.

    What this means, is that we're willing to discuss issues like, "Why does the TOS allow X but not Y?" and "Should a decision to do X require a simple majority vote, or something stronger like 2/3 or a unanimous consent?" What we're not willing to discuss are questions about specific cases like "Why did you ban X?"

    Feel free to use this thread to discuss ways to improve the TOS (which is a work in progress that needs improvement), or to criticize our prime directive if you'd rather.

    _____________________________________

    *But we don't restrict moderators from disclosing their own private conversations.
     
  2. Gillette

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    The other portion of his post

    Quoted from Alex8
    "How could transparency be achieved? With ease, imho. One solution that some other sites have instituted is a ‘sin bin’ – a closed sticky thread on which moderators post short details of currently banned members using a set bank of phrases, such as “EatMyFeet has been permanently banned for racist remarks”; “alex7 has been temporarily banned for fourteen days for anti-social behavior”; “LickMyClit has been permanently banned for holding multiple accounts as LickMyClit, LickMyPussy and LickMyToes”; “17x11inches has been temporarily banned for seven days for posting Photoshopped images”; etc. This at least lets everyone know what is going on, without members having to be ordered to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. For sure, it may scare off the odd member who is too self-conscious to return after a ban; but how does that differ from the current state of affairs with regard to bans at LPSG anyway?"

    might have some merit. This could help to prevent others following the same path.

    I understand that we have no say in whether or not someone should be banned, but I'm not sure I understand closing threads that discuss it having happened.
     
  3. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Well, the same member you quoted added this, as a way of giving at least some information:

    How could transparency be achieved? With ease, imho. One solution that some other sites have instituted is a ‘sin bin’ – a closed sticky thread on which moderators post short details of currently banned members using a set bank of phrases, such as “EatMyFeet has been permanently banned for racist remarks”; “alex7 has been temporarily banned for fourteen days for anti-social behavior”; “LickMyClit has been permanently banned for holding multiple accounts as LickMyClit, LickMyPussy and LickMyToes”; “17x11inches has been temporarily banned for seven days for posting Photoshopped images”; etc. This at least lets everyone know what is going on, without members having to be ordered to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.

    I think this is a good, utterly practical, plan.

    Why should the general reason someone is banned not be given? Our media publicize court proceedings, in far greater detail than the above proposal would entail.

    And some degree of transparency on such issues is crucial ... otherwise the mods' actions will start to seem entirely arbitrary. Which won't help mood or morale on the board.

    Note: I'm not saying that all the detail need be given.
     
  4. naughty

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    Folks,

    I do not understand why you dont understand that some of this is not up to us as moderators. Perhaps you should discuss your concerns with Rob E.
     
  5. GoneA

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    ...although, Gillette, you have to take into account that Stronzo, Spladle and Pichulon might not want people to know why they were banned. Do you see how that could make one fee 'awkward' when they returned?

    I do, however, think that whether the ban is temporary or permanent should be indicated ... and for how long.
     
  6. D_Martin van Burden

    D_Martin van Burden Account Disabled

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    Kim, with all due respect, I'm skeptical that Rob would venture out to join in on the discussion. He reminds me of a clockmaker. He put the parts into motion, and time flows, but he doesn't seem willing or interested to intervene even when we ask him to do so -- and that's just disconcerting.

    I know the "sin bin" would create one more post for you all to explain what so-and-so did, but I think it would help everyone else see the lines of what constitute acceptable and bannable behavior. It might be useful to hear some concrete information, and it could be done without releasing confidential information.

    I think Lex mentioned something about how moderating behavior looks heavy-handed because us regular members only see part of the story. Well then, be a little more forthright and clue us in. We don't expect anything grandiose, just the basic facts.
     
  7. mindseye

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    I read his proposed solution, and think it's a bit indelicate. How would you address this (real) situation that we've dealt with before? (I've changed the names:)

    Fred
    is a long-time member of LPSG, much loved and respected by other members. In order to discuss a controversial and potentially embarrassing personal issue, Fred creates a multiple account, Tom. When LPSG members respond negatively to Tom's disturbing fetish, Tom gets defensive and starts lashing out, which is how the multiple account came to our attention.

    Under Alex8's proposal, we should post an announcement that says "Fred has been banned permanently for holding multiple accounts as Fred and Tom." To do so would link Tom's fetish to Fred, which is exactly the invasion of privacy Fred was hoping to avoid. I don't want to compound the administrative banning with a public humiliation for Fred.
     
  8. dong20

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    Why shouldn't the members of an organisation have a say in banning members of that organisation? After all isn't any 'democratic and open' organisation is only as good as, and thus responsible to its membership? Without its members LPSG is nothing.

    If this board is being run for the benefit of the Moderators and its owner that's one thing and one set of rules, but if it's intended to be run for the benefit of its members shouldn't they have some say in that running?

    Just a thought.:smile:
     
  9. naughty

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    THank you Gone A,

    There in lies the rub. We ride a fine line between full disclosure and the rights of members who may be going through a board disciplinary action. For as many people as those who dont understand why either of the three individuals are under going suspension, there are floods of reported posts flying under the door on a daily basis. We review each one and attempt to deal with it in the most equitable and humane fashion possible. After reviewing the TOS, we through concensus make a decision. We go out of our way to try to take the rights and feelings of all involved into consideration.






     
  10. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Some cases would be tricky, mindseye.
    You might let the chips fall where they may, and use the wording you want to avoid.
    Or you might just say "Fred has been banned permanently for holding multiple accounts as Fred and for another account which we do not feel free to disclose."
    The latter would invite criticism for its lack of transparency, to be sure.
    But the point is that on balance, adopting Alex's suggestion would result in far more transparency over all.
     
  11. dong20

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    I disagree. If someone is banned, then provided it's for a clear and identifiable reason why should any knowledge of reason that be withheld? I don't mean it needs to be in their profile like an plauge bell nor detailed beyond a fairly generic term; e.g. mulitple accounts, underage etc.

    Awkwardness aside, I think if you're an adult, which one must be to be here right; one should be big enough to take one's medicine and move on. If not then perhaps LPSG isn't for you. Again, some accountablility or transparency in the banning process would help avoid sudden, unexplained 'disappearences'.
     
  12. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    But naughty, there is no fine line.
    Nothing is said about the reasons a person is banned, so there is nothing approaching full disclosure.
    No fine line at all.
    But please understand: I know the mods are doing the best they can and everything is in a state of evolution.
     
  13. dong20

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    As, I think was the publication of PM's in 'that' thread, by both Moderators and members. I know that was somewhat exceptional but publishing PM's with 3rd parties names in, by Moderators, (whether they were posting as a member or not) to score points seems at least to me in some conflict with your opening statement:

     
  14. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    Listen, guys, argue as you may, the site is moderated.

    Giving the members a 'say' in who gets banned requires only that Rob_E appoint a single button pusher who does the members' bidding. As you can see from today's posts alone, opinions are too varied and feelings are too strong on either side of an issue for that to work.

    As for the transparency issue, we moderators do all we can to oblige but you must know that airing dirty laundry solves no useful purpose. The privacy of the LPSG membership must remain paramount in order to retain members and to attract new ones or else the board descends to the murky depths that you'll find elsewhere on the net.

    Be assured, friends, that the mod team is neither on a power trip nor do we wish to be authoritarian in any way.
     
  15. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    I'm sure that's true, Pecker.
     
  16. mindseye

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    Yeah. After having called us "crypto-fascist nannies" who tell people to "shut up", I'm feeling really receptive to his suggestion.

    Out of 163 accounts currently banned by the moderating team, 130 of them have been for either being underage or for commercial spamming (so the thread Alex proposes would be really boring). The remaining 33 accounts -- many of them were multiple accounts, so the actual number of incidents we've dealt with by banning is small.

    And for these small number of incidents, there's always going to be someone who disagrees with our decision. Look what's happened with this most recent incident: Members are re-trying their cases. To announce the verdict only without disclosing the evidence and discussion behind it, won't stop backseat drivers from point out just how wrong and unfair we've been.

    And ultimately, LPSG is not a democracy. It's a privately-owned enterprise, and our first obligation is to implement the owner's priorities.
     
  17. dong20

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    I don't think moderation per se is the problem.

    That doesn't affect obtaining a simple majority, that's the risk of any democratic system. I'm being idealistic here as LPSG isn't democratic but I was just punting ideas, this is what Mindseye asked for is it not?

    No one is asking for sight of the laundry. Only suggesting that members being banned for no readily apprarent reason doesn't help in instilling a sense of transparency in the process. I didn't suggest it was an easy fix.

    I'm trying to be positive, for the most part I think the board works extremely well, lately there has been some stormy weather. But, as Naughty said, storms pass, waters calm and, hopefully no-one is lost at sea or eaten by sharks.:biggrin1:
     
  18. Lex

    Lex
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    Dong20--you missed the explanation that Mindseye noted. I will quote it here:

    And for the record, speaking as myself, I will say that I posted those PMs to prove that someone was misrepresenting the truth and lying. Plain and simple.


    On another note: when a member is banned, there is a reason listed. The Moderator Team has, up until now, assumed that this reason is what the member sees when they try to log onto the site. I am planning to test this to see if it works or not.
     
  19. dong20

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    Yes, of course. But remember but in any successful business, the priorities of that business will generally be in satisfying the priorities and needs of its customers not the other way around.:tongue: :smile:
     
  20. D_Gunther Snotpole

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    I guess I would have to say that makes sense.

    I wasn't suggesting democracy. I was only suggesting an arrangement that might create more contentment on the board. But, as your above post plausibly suggests, it might not have done.
     
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