There is a very lively SCN Support . Blag rightfully pointed out that people shamelessly copy answers and post them word for word again as an answer. Sometimes that even happens within the same thread. I’ve already expanded on this problem in web logs like From the Grumpy Old Man: The points of no return , From the Grumpy Old Man: Ignorance killed the cat , From the Grumpy Old Man: SDN Kindergarten , etc. but I want to add another point of view.
The classical answer to this would be to have more blue. Yes, it’s a political statement, at least in Belgium , because in Germany, for example, it’s green. What am I talking about? Well there are some political parties in Belgium that say that it’s not safe anymore in the streets. The classical answer from some of the other political parties is to put more blue on the streets, meaning that more police should be visible in the streets. It is claimed that there are enough police, but that they tend to hide themselves behind their desks or have tons of administrative paperwork. A recent study indicated that a vast majority of the citizens don’t even know who the policeman on their beat is.
If we extend this statement to the S(D)N forums, we come to the key factor, called forum moderators.
Do you know who the moderator is of the forum you’re posting in? If you do, how visible’ is he/she in that forum. I had a discussion with a fellow contributor the other day and I had to ask in order to find out whether there effectively was a moderator in the forum concerned. It meant that he/she didn’t do much to make him/herself visible to the outside world, neither by posting anything, nor by intervening when things go wrong.
The list of moderators isn’t helpful at all. First of all it’s outdated. I see people that take care of their moderator job properly that do not appear in the list. Furthermore, the list isn’t useful. It fails to indicate which forums they moderate and any contact info in case you wish to contact them if you want to report/ask something. The top of the list says: These are some of the SAP moderators who will help you find answers to your questions.’. A bit hard if you can’t contact them, no?
Don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t say that you need to contact them for problems which you should normally post in the forum.
I suggest that each forum clearly indicates which moderator is the owner’ of the forum you’re posting in, with a link to the Business Card, which of course provides an e-mail address. If the moderator doesn’t want to be contacted, perhaps because they’re afraid of being overwhelmed by mails, I don’t see any point in their being a moderator.
Too much work
The latter brings me seamlessly to the second issue. I’ve seen in the above discussion and in other ones that the moderators can’t possibly watch all forum posts. There is a flood of messages in popular forums. Secondly there is the time difference, which means that the forum needs to be moderated 24/7.
The only solution for this is to have at least 3 moderators who can give their attention fulltime to the forums. One can’t expect that from the current moderators. They have other things to do in their professional daytime job and usually moderate things on a voluntary basis.
Therefore one needs to leave the current voluntary situation and go for a professional approach. And no, I don’t mean that the current moderators aren’t professional enough. In the contrary. I want to suggest putting S(D)N/SAP people on this who do nothing other than constantly monitor the forums, helped by the volunteers and reports from the community.
What if we have a professional moderator mechanism established and people misbehave? It’s rather clear for me. First warn the people, and then if they persist punish them for example by excluding them from the community. It may sound harsh, but one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel. The only way to save the barrel is to throw the spoiler away. All the time and words (including this web log) wasted on this subject could be better used for more useful things.
I know that we should concentrate on the positive instead of the negative side. I don’t believe in the open sandals and woolly socks approach of self regulation anymore. It might do the trick with a small amount of people where everybody knows everybody, but not anymore with so many members. After all, it doesn’t work IRL, why should it work in the S(D)N community?