Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Self moderation...

...What it means in the Hall of Odin.

This is not a “BIG” or “I have a Dream” kind of speech. This is just an opinion. And it is only MY opinion. It does not reflect the view of other people in Kongregate or else where. It is not a suggestion for a method that kongregate has to follow. Nor is it a proposal for a way to start letting people tell each other how to behave.

About two years ago, as I started visiting Kongregate, it was like coming home kicking off my shoes, getting myself a cold soda and sitting back on my favorite beanbag and watching my Aquarium. Relaxing.

It surprised me that people were fun and always helped others in a polite and friendly manner. Damijin was then a Moderator and owner of The Van. Yet The Van had little moderation. It just held well together. By itself! Mods came and went but I did not witness any bans happen. I thought that it was because of the Alpha days. But the new rooms were getting their fair share of bans.

The van was unique. It seemed to be a place of peace and relaxation. The people there made a big difference. They were not moderators and they were not shouting at you to keep quiet. The best way that I can describe it is “It was like a monastery or a zen garden.” There was no one there telling you to behave and there was no peace enforcement force, yet no one wanted to shatter the tranquility by being loud or offensive.

How? Why? What is the difference between a library where every one is quiet and one where everyone has a free for all? How do such places maintain their peace? Damijin and I had a discussion when I had asked him these questions. His answer was simple. Educate a few people at first what you expect and how you would like them to behave. And soon they will educate the rest who come there and they will educate the others and so on. The pattern would be set and the behavior will be more or less in line with what you expect. He also said something to the effect of “Not every one has the same line of thought as you. So you have to let them have some level of freedom and let then have some slack in what they do”. The best generals do not have to bark orders. They tell their lieutenants their idea and let them draw up the means of carrying out those instructions.

So what is this Self Moderation mumbo jumbo?

There are two different “Self moderation” concepts. Greg, the community manager has one concept (which is more about Moderation empowerment than self moderation), known as Automated User Moderation, which will be implemented soon and is generic to whole of Kongregate. Learn more here

Please note that Greg's Automated User moderation concept often referred as Self Moderation, is about letting users have a fair deal of independence in what they want to see and not see in the chats. But it is not an excuse for people to start becoming overexcited and overbearing when dealing with others.

My Concept has nothing to do with power or empowerment. It is not in conflict with Greg, or in competition or in any way tries to suggest what should be done. It is just a plea to people, requesting them to contain themselves. It does not over ride moderators nor does it mean that the existing system is being questioned. In fact it is more a behavioral pattern than applies to life rather than just to Kongregate.

My suggestion for self moderation is not about being a Moderator in kongregate. It is about following a set of codes in your own life. Like being modest, reasonable, sensible, restrained, judicious and temperate. It is not about authority or about giving you the right to rip into someone, asking them to behave in a manner that you want them to behave. That is what trolls do. For those of you who are interested in splitting hairs.. please ask me for any clarifications before you assume anything. Self moderation is NOT going and telling everyone that they have to follow rules cause "YOU" said so.

In simple terms what does self moderation mean in context of The Hall of Odin?

It means that you moderate yourself. Let me clarify, it does not mean that you moderate others, it means that you have to have self control and self awareness. It means that users behave themselves, be polite, civil and that behavior will encourage others to behave in the same way. Please mark what I am saying. The behavior will encourage people to be like you. YOU do not encourage or demand people to be like you. It means that you should not have to ask someone to keep quiet or demand that someone stop spamming. But by watching you they will be inspired to be like you and settle down.

The best action that you can take when someone is being a pain is to mute them. Exchanging words of any fashion with them will only increase any existing bad intent. This saves your sanity and deprives the bullies of their thrill. When the room does not respond to any of their taunts, they get bored and just hush up. Only when people start showing some reaction do they get their thrill and want more of it. I know it is hard to stay silent when some one is puking filth, but this is the essence of self moderation. Restraint.

For those of you who seek to be a contributing moderator, here are some helpful insights. If you try to control the chats, and spread goodness in them by being aggressive and trying to project yourself as a moderator, you would be knocking down the chances of you becoming a moderator. Your best chances to get noticed and picked up for a nomination is to stay calm, maintain your composure and be polite even in the face of worst insults. So the best thing to do will be to behave like a good host. Smile and keep smiling even when the trolls try to get a rise out of you. And for any reason, do not ever tell another moderator how to do his/her job. That will only result in you being stereotyped as a "Know it all" and could destroy your chances.

It is ok to tell someone.. "hey name. In this room we do not wish to discuss that topic", or "Hello Name, it would be nice if you did not use such language in here. Please refrain". And if they settle down, fantastic. Nine out of ten times, a new person with no trollish intent will quickly apologize and adapt. Else Mute is the button to Bliss. Should they continue trolling, please get a moderator. It is not acceptable to say something like "Yo noname. You are not welcome here" or "No name, you are going to get banned. But we will give you another chance. Just this once" and most certainly please do not say something like "Shut up stupid" or "Blow it out of your other ear"

The Hall of Odin has become one of the best Rooms in a very short span of time. The members and regulars here have been outstanding in their support and flexibility. Your adherence to the room's codes has been truly exemplary. Of all the rooms that have been assigned owners and moderators, The Hall of Odin has the lowest ban counts. Which means that it has the best people in Kong. So it has not been very hard to maintain the friendly ambiance of the HoO. And I have had phenomenal help from Bobo82 and Vanilla_dreaming, two exceptional people.

Lets be nice. It sounds simple, and it is all that it takes. Be nice and everyone will be nice to you.

Enjoy your experience in The Hall of Odin.


McCoyEVP said...

Excellent post Valkyrie. A sublime example for all and something I think we all can learn from and apply both in and out of our digital world.

bobo said...

Awesome, very awesome. A nice philosophy to follow in life and in Kong. :)

MikeChilds said...

Great stuff Val, should be implemented in all rooms really

The Hall of Odin - the new Cafe Kong, yet totally cooler

Bacter said...

Hear hear!

Anonymous said...

The philosophy is nice and I wish more users followed it, but rooms without mods have no bans, but that doesn't mean there isn't trouble.
In the same way, just because the trouble occurs while the mods are away, doesn't make it a perfect room, it just means you possibly have the smartest and thus the worst of the trolls there are.
The cafe has gone down hill since the last owner switch, which means it does not sustain itself without regular mod intervention. The users willing to uphold these values are in the minority and they are rarely seen since the change.
It's great to love your new room, but claiming a clean troll title, only encourages them to come to your room.

Valkyrie said...

Thanks for that Insight Anonymous. There was no claim to a clean troll room. And I did not say that moderators were not required. I said that people who back seat moderate were not required.

AlisonClaire said...

Hey now! My room is just as good as your room... *weeps*

Valkyrie said...

Your room Rocks Alison. It is luxury penthouse. We are only a hall.

William_Wilson said...

"people who back seat moderate were not required"
Ain't it the truth!
There is a big difference between being helpful and being a back seat moderator as well. Being a general help and discouraging bad behaviour -in a calm way- is almost always helpful. Moderators take different approaches to different users, determining the best strategy to encourage good behaviour without a ban if possible. Trying to discuss/argue with multiple people can cause a problem; and it is appreciated if you simply let a moderator handle it. You may watch or mute the offending user as you wish, but asking for a user to be banned, or continuing a fight, only makes you look bad as well.
The other concern I've seen with this "back seat modding" is that each room has a different level of leniency, and often the rules of one room are being enforced in another room, without prior knowledge of what is considered acceptable. We talk about the rules a lot and I really believe that the moderators know what the administration's interpretation of the rules are much better than everyone else. We do not enjoy banning anyone.
Finally I find many of these "back seat modders" to be somewhat hypocritical. They jump on a user for accidental spam, or a single **** comment, when they have done it themselves and will likely do it again. Kongregate is a very lenient and tolerant 'society'. If a game upsets someone and the lash out in the chat, or they accidentally paste something twice, you can take note, but do not label the person and talk down to them in chat without just cause. Moderators may not say anything, but that doesn't mean we didn't notice, often it means the situation did not need tending to and it will resolve itself if left alone.

kikkerman said...

erg...I feel like I just read a transcript of our conversation today, I didn't expect it in a blog. None the less, a good post, keep it up.

Valkyrie said...

William, excellent points. And I have to admit that your statement about moderators having better knowledge of how administrators interpret the rules, is very accurate.

Kikkerman. This was posted long before we had our conversation. Nothing that we talked about came into this post.

Anonymous said...

A most excellent read. The one thing I did notice in my time modding at Kong is that rooms seem to behave worse when there is a mod present. This doesn't happen all the time, but it certainly happens more than can be accounted for by coincidence.

William_Wilson said...

really ackk? My room is behaved with or without me, most of the time. I have always seen the reverse, that many trolls or spammers will be careful. They want attention, but they also don't want to be banned.

The Hall of Odin said...

Interesting. I have experienced the middle ground here. If there is too much mod presence, people start acting up. Like a riot after a game when the police presence is high. Else when there are a couple of mods or when there are no mods, the room tends to behave fairly well. We do get the occasional troll who cries for his fries. But the room usually settles down very quickly and very amicably.

Venzael said...

An excellent read. This is just one slice of simple proof of why Valkyrie can create incredible rooms. I've learned quite a bit from this and rather eager to incorporate some of this into maintaining Cafe Kong.


coltchr said...

When I came to Kong I was captivated by the HoO simply because I love Norse Myth.
I quickly found out that it was the best place to be in the whole site and it's going to become even more now with these words of wisdom from our host.

All hail to Val and let there always be peace in the Hall!

Doc said...

Dear ackk,

its thal, right? I have a mathematic formula. Anonymity+audience= An attention geek.

Ever seen "BAN ME!" spammed? its because they don't care enough, and this is the one place that they can act out against authorities with out a big consequence. Banning will get them away, but will they learn if they don't care?

That is all.

Anonymous said...

Sounds nice. But seriously.. who cares.

Does anyone even take whole "Room and community" thing seriously.

get real!

Valkyrie said...

Dear Anonymous, I guess the 14 other people who have posted above you care. Seriously. They do.

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the points brought up here. One of the things I say often is "You don't need to be a Moderator, to moderate." Keeping the peace by example and by teaching is all that is necessary. Unfortunately the room tends to fall into chaos when I leave though.