Inconsistent Moderation Activity


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This topic contains 8 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  mods-cm-org 2 weeks ago.

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  • #49559 Reply

    John Pretty

    I feel the need to raise this matter here as I feel that it is important. In doing this I am not suggesting that I have been treated unfairly. I am however suggesting that I have recently been subject to inconsistent moderation activity and feel the need to highlight the issue here.

    Before I begin I want to make a few assertions. I would be grateful if my statements are corrected if faulty:

    1) The moderators are not professionally trained in moderation technique.
    2) The moderators have received no professional training in moderation.
    3) The moderators are not paid for their work.
    4) The moderators are here on an entirely voluntary basis.

    As I say, if any of these statements are untrue then I would be happy to be corrected.

    My guess is that the moderators are friends or former colleagues of Craig’s who do this work as a favour to him. I do know (from public comments made on this blog) that a contributor named “Clark” has moderated here in the past and is a personal friend of Craig Murray’s. From what I can make out, Craig entrusts these people to monitor and police the blog.

    This is a necessary task. However, as the moderators are not trained they sometimes behave in an inconsistent and unprofessional manner.

    ELECTORAL FRAUD

    This topic is a very important one that deserves consideration. Today on this blog a contributor named “SA” made the following contribution under the topic heading “A Window For Peace” regarding the crisis in Iran.

    I extract directly from his/her posting:

    “Those of us concerned about how the issues we care about will soon be swept away should please heed the call by Kim Sanders-Fisher and in recruiting others in this forum. [A link was then provided to work done by Kim Sanders-Fisher]. Please could all who are interested read what Kim has been doing because even if there may not be proof of actual stolen elections this time, she has made two things clear, that there is creeping unsupervised privatisation of the electoral process, and that the Electoral commission lacks real teeth. We need a constitutional lawyer to look at these issues, we need data analysts to try and analyse the data and we need to bring this to wide notice. This is extremely important because of the overarching nature of the consequences.”

    and:

    “This is a very strong signal that Johnson has now done away with any form of parliamentary scrutiny because of his majority. This is extremely sinister and is something that was hinted on during the election. If Parliament has become toothless then this is a downward spiral to autocracy.”

    I have not problem with SA or with the comment. I then responded to this unmoderated comment. I did so quite innocently. However, the moderator on duty objected to my comment in response to that made by SA, saying that it was off topic.

    I would like to be informed of exactly how much of SA’s original comment was on topic?

    Well?

    When I pointed this out to the moderator I was told that SA’s comment was fine as he/she had provided a link to an off topic discussion.

    This is not correct.

    To give an extreme example, this is like Joe Bloggs posting a comment discussing the local football Derby of Liverpool v Everton and providing a link to the match highlights. Irrespective of whether a link is supplied the matter is still off topic! You cannot leave the match comment and link in place and then object to anyone who posts a reply giving their opinion of the game, saying the original comment was fine as a link had been provided. You have to pull the weed up by the root!

    The topic of Electoral Fraud is indeed a very very important one. But not in any way relevant to the current discussion!

    Either both SA’s comment and mine should have been left in place, or they both should have been removed. Any other action can lead moderators open to accusations of personal bias.

    Thank you.

    The issue of electoral fraud is an important one. However, it is not relevant to the current discussion. Irrespective of whether you provide a link to an off

  • #49564 Reply

    mods-cm-org

    John Pretty,

    Thank you for registering your complaint in the appropriate arena. The core issue of contention is whether the moderators were acting in accordance with Craig’s instructions by removing your off-topic reply to SA while allowing SA’s off-topic comment to remain. You allege that both should be treated in exactly the same way under the rule for removing off-topic comments. I will explain here why your objection is misconceived. The other issues you raise about training for moderators constitute a digression, as operational information about the moderation team is not necessary to judge whether the singular removal of your comment correctly followed the moderating guidelines.

    SA’s comment was permitted because it drew readers’ attention to an important ongoing debate in the discussion forum. As you know, the discussion forum was provided to allow commenters to raise issues that are not directly related to the article at the top of the comments section. We encourage readers to use the discussion forum for that purpose rather than posting comments that are unrelated to Craig’s article (and sometimes following up with petulant complaints about their deletion). Moderators can (at their discretion) permit occasional mentions of ongoing discussions in the comments section, as it helps to encourage appropriate use of the forum and directs any replies there.

    Your case is not exceptional. Similar actions have been taken with the topics of climate change, 9/11, the Skripal saga, and numerous conspiracy theories, regardless of which side of the debate the commenters were endorsing. Unfortunately, sometimes when a discussion is redirected to the forum, other (typically rather passionate) commenters have responded directly to the original comment rather than following the advice to take it to the forum. In such cases, the follow-up comments are suspended and the commenter is politely advised by moderators to post the same content in the discussions forum. This is what happened in your case, and it is that intervention to which you are raising an objection.

    Sometimes off-topic digressions have grown very quickly, and the replies have all been moved manually to the forum by moderators (in a process which is extremely time-consuming). In each case, a redirection notice has been retained or inserted to ensure that readers can find those responses in the appropriate place – i.e. the discussion forum. SA had already, helpfully, provided such notification already, so no further annotation was required.

    Your direct reply to SA’s comment was, as you concede, unrelated to Craig’s article. Unlike SA’s contribution, it wasn’t a first level comment which notified people of the ongoing discussion in the forum. It simply elaborated on issues in SA’s comment, thereby extending that contribution into an off-topic tangent. If other people followed up in the same way, we would end up with a lengthy off-topic digression which significantly distracted from the topic of Craig’s article – a phenomenon that Craig has asked moderators to constrain. However, if there is only a single comment notifying people of the ongoing conversation in the discussion forum then that problem doesn’t arise. Do you appreciate the difference? That’s why SA’s comment remained but yours was suspended with an appropriate recommendation: “[ Mod: Kindly take this off-topic comment to the discussion forum. That’s what it’s there for. ]”

    Sometimes discussions can drift off-topic by developing conversations that are initially relevant to the article but then veer into other domains. These digressions are thematically related to the article via the chain of comments to which they are appended, and therefore do not infringe the Relevance rule. Your comment, however, was a follow-up to issues that were explicitly unrelated to Craig’s article and were instead being discussed in an ongoing thread in the discussion forum. It fails the Relevance criterion. There is no grey area in this case. Your comment was correctly removed, while SA’s was permissible as it followed the correct protocol for directing attention to the discussion forum. Moderators have some discretion here, and can remove off-topic redirections if they disrupt the flow of topical comments – for example if there are too many of them, or if the commenter is evidently trying to distract from the topical issue. The only way in which SA’s comment could be considered problematic would be if other commenters perceived it as an invitation to follow up with arguments in the comments section rather than in the forum – as indeed you did. If several other commenters made the same error, then SA’s initial comment would become eligible for removal for causing a distraction. As things stand, it doesn’t need to be removed.

    Your additional enquiry into how the blog is staffed and managed is seeking information which isn’t necessary to judge the validity of the moderator’s intervention in this case. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the moderator who removed your comment is highly qualified in a relevant discipline (more so than you are in Chemistry) and has had over two decades of experience in web publishing, including configuring, editing and moderating on other sites. Moreover, we have compiled an extensive library of moderating rules and guidelines gleaned from other blogs and forums; in recent months, several days of work were devoted to investigating the protocols and legal implications of cyberstalking and harassment on public blogs.) Other moderators are similarly qualified and experienced in technical domains. Accordingly, you can rest assured that the moderation team has the required expertise and is keeping up to date with developments.

  • #49566 Reply

    John Pretty

    Thank you for your detailed response to my post. The issue of my graduate degree in Chemistry is not relevant here. I graduated 30 years ago and I have never worked in a laboratory.

    I asked the question regarding the qualifications of moderators on this blog as commenters are very much in the dark as to the competence of the people who make value judgments about what they write. A number of commenters have complained in the past. I think my questioning the moderation system here is not unreasonable.

    I am – with great respect – still not entirely satisfied with your response in this regard. I would like to see more transparency in moderation. Perhaps you might consider a posting at the top of each discussion to introduce the day’s moderation team.

    You will, I hope notice, that I make stringent efforts always to be polite and respectful of other commenters irrespective of who they are. However, some commenters may take me personally if they do not like my opinion. I do not control the actions of others or their attitudes towards me. However, I will not respond disrespectfully back to them.

    Regarding SA’s comment.

    Posters here are unable to distinguish between comments that are off topic – but that moderators deem acceptable – and ones that they do not. The comment by SA was unmoderated and I simply responded to it. There are a number of recent instances that I can point to where a comment has been made that is not directly relevant to the discussion at hand. Some very recent. For example, only yesterday there was a humorous comment regarding the Statue of Liberty posted by “doghouse”. I responded to this comment.

    How could I know that the moderation team’s attitude to my response to SA’s comment would be any different?

    I think it would be very helpful if the moderators might also consider perhaps appending “protected” posts such as those made by SA this afternoon, with a notice that other commenters are instructed not to reply. In this way, no misunderstandings will occur.

    Thank you.

    The problem here is for

    • #49596 Reply

      SA

      I would like to add to this and elaborate a bit. First I do not believe my contribution referred to was entirely off topic because it was related to the Window of peace that Craig had discussed but was pointing out to how this window was being jeopardized by the current political situation.
      But more seriously, a commentator called Jack then proceeded to make completely off topic comments even on my comments. These were not moderated out and he persisted in a rather irritating way to side track from my original post. I wonder why Jack’s comments were left but not John’s. That is where I find the inconsistency.

      • #49604 Reply

        mods-cm-org

        There does seem to be a change of focus in that branch. It looks like Jack was responding to your mention of European politics:

        The only hope for that is that Europe, including Britain, stand up against the belligerence of Trump and refuse to offer a fig leaf.

        However, his reply went off on a tenuous tangent about NATO and subsequently France, which he tried to justify by claiming that the EU was ruled by NATO, which in turn was ruled by the US. He was indeed changing the focus of your comment, but not by ignoring it entirely and introducing something only loosely related; instead he was developing a point you hadn’t intended.

        His contribution was relevant and on topic with regard to Craig’s article, to wit:

        We do not have to do this. Whether officially or on a pretext, French airspace was closed to the US military build-up and the Americans have had to fly from the UK, skirting France, around the Atlantic.

        Nonetheless, it does seem like Jack was trying to redirect your commentary on British politics towards his own European concerns, and for that reason his digression has been suspended. But it’s a grey area and a tough call. Thank you for raising it for reconsideration.

        • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by  modbot.
        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by  modbot.
  • #49569 Reply

    John Pretty

    PS: I don’t want to appear overly critical, so I will add the following:

    I find the discussions here to generally be very stimulating. So you can’t be doing too much wrong. I am not aware of any other blog that is quite like this one.

    With that said, there is surely always room for improvement. And I think it is right for people to question the wisdom of those who oversee this blog once in a while. 🙂

  • #49571 Reply

    Buffalo_Ken

    I’m airing my views. I don’t think my comment should of been suspended but I recognize that it is your forum and I respect that. Thank-you for posting the articles that you have and peace to you and your family. Moreover, and maybe most important, I support Scotland becoming its own place detached from the influence of London. Plus, I love that “Doune The Rabbit Hole” thing. Man I’ve been there, but I’ve figured a way out. Ken

  • #49576 Reply

    Buffalo_Ken

    Hey honestly, I tried to subscribe to a monthly contribution, but the only way it would let me do it (even though I offered up my credit card number) was via a Pay Pal account that I would have been forced to sign up with. So I’m only posting here because I wanted you to know that I tried to contribute but I couldn’t do it by just providing a credit card number, which I was willing to do. Perhaps sometime later there will be an opportunity for me to contribute again.

    Peace,
    Ken

  • #49577 Reply

    Buffalo_Ken

    Sorry if I’m being rambunctious but at this time I’d just assume the comments you suspended remain as such. Lets just keep them between you and I. Otherwise, please just post them now.

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