Recently, Tammy Powlas has been jokingly calling Steve Rumsby and I deputies – mainly because we are pretty active in our use of the report abuse alert moderator button across SCN content. I have suggested to Oxana Noa Zubarev and Gali Kling Schneider that some missions and badges for using the moderation feedback mechanism would be a good thing 😉
There is a pretty useful feedback loop between SCN users who can share content and do a little democratic peer-reviewing before using the moderation button in isolation, that has built up over time. For me, this is a happy benefit of the contacts I’ve made on SCN and a great aspect of the community. There are a large number of SCN stalwarts who have been around long enough to share common desires and goals for the community here but who aren’t directly involved with the ownership, running or decision making process. There are also lots of new-comers who are keen to “fit in” and be a contributing part of the overall community. Many are moderators and/or SAP Mentors but just as many aren’t either and simply enjoy the community engagement and knowledge sharing that comes with it. For me, using the moderation functionality serves two main purposes:
- It allows me to spend my grumpy old man quota for the day and moan about stuff that really doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things
- It gives me an opportunity to read around SCN in areas and content I wouldn’t normally choose to – most goes over my head or really isn’t interesting to me but quite often, I’ll find a really useful document/blog/discussion that I can bookmark for future reference
Of course, with any collective of people, opinions and ideas, there is a fine line between community and mob mentality. I’m conscious that personally I have quite strong opinions (on almost everything!) and naturally, like most others, will gravitate to people who share the same opinions as it is usually more rewarding to share with people who agree, rather than pour effort into arguing with everyone.
That said, it means everyone has a responsibility to try and have balanced views and try to empathise with other’s perspectives and opinions. This can be relatively difficult even in a tightly constrained and controlled environment such as the family home where everyone is from similar backgrounds, cultures, social class, etc. Try to apply the same in a community such as SCN that is made up of a global audience and it gets hard quickly. Cliques, sub-groups and eventually mobs can form. It is human nature at work. Add in SCN points as an extra motivational factor and things get very interesting 🙂
It’s also possible for things to go in the other direction, and people to just adopt a herd mentality through fear of speaking out or questioning the status quo. In my experience you can often build great bridges with people following an initial conflict, as it drives discussion between two adversaries and usually educates both sides. People who just follow the herd often miss out on this and I suspect SCN would lose out also.
Ok, I don’t really want to talk about a self-help book however the general concept of “self-help” is a good one. I also don’t want to carry on pointing out lots of the obvious like I’ve done above. Self-help as a concept is especially (IMHO) appropriate when entering into any community or forum, such as SCN. The sense of the community self-moderating and guiding what is accepted or not leads on from the mob rules points I’ve mentioned above. The whole community peer-reviewing via the SCN moderation & rating mechanisms (or indeed the ranking system on places such as Stack Exchange) help to deliver a stable and consistent environment for all (in theory – sometimes the reality is a bit wide of the mark.)
All that said, every now and then someone comes along and seems determined to just disrupt, create noise and go against the general ethos of a community. We see this often here on SCN, mostly with short-lived rants that end in agreement but every now and then, some go a little further. We’ve seen it recently and it appears, whilst I’ve just been writing this, the episode has come to some sort of conclusion (at least for now?)
Now, what I don’t understand is why people persist in trying to change, or go against the way a community exists when every single response they get should be clear they are heading in the wrong direction. In 99% of cases, where someone experiences their content being “moderated” for whatever reason, there is a real and fair reason for why this has happened. The author can simply accept it or question it to understand why. They can work with the rest of the community to either change their personal approach or help the whole community to evolve so that different actions and content are accepted and supported. In short, they can help themselves to become part of the community/herd/mob rather than an outsider. Typically, everyone learns and benefits from the process and the community is better for it.
Deputy Ryan is saved
Earlier today, I alerted moderator on some content that I believe simply didn’t belong on SCN in the format it had been posted. To be clear, I usually don’t have any issue with the content I report, it is usually in the wrong space, not appropriate for SCN or some other pedantic reason. Lately, I’ve been doing this more for lots of marketing, PartnerEdge and event announcement type blogs that I just don’t believe belong as technical blogs on SCN. The content is great and needs to be shared but in a more appropriate way. Anyway, none of this is really that important…
After getting lots of my reports rejected (with no reason whatsover most of the time 😉 ) I was beginning to wonder what was the point. I was learning to just go with the flow of SCN, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with all of the decisions being made. I notice other people commenting in various places were going through similar thoughts. Then the guestification process kicked in and all was well with the world again… My faith was restored. 🙂
A final thought
If you are new/old/whatever to SCN and you seem to be going against the stream of general opinion, stop and ask yourself why? Ask for feedback and explanations for moderation by all means but do it in a constructive manner:
- Don’t throw insults
- Don’t constantly go over the same points/questions after they’ve been settled, just because you don’t agree
- Do take on-board feedback, whether it is positive or negative and try to learn
- Use your energy and efforts on SCN in a positive manner
- Do or don’t do lots of other things that have already been explained to death in various other blogs here on SCN (I accept the irony of me posting this stuff again!)
Generally, with the right attitude it is suddenly very easy to become a part of the community, whose opinion actually counts for something and helps shape everyone else’s experience of SCN – rather than persisting with an uphill battle against the tide. You can quickly become part of the SCN network and a bit of positive feedback becomes addictive and motivates you to engage and participate further. In short, you don’t give to receive.
There are a few ironies in recent events here on SCN, my favourite being that our latest Guestified user had something like “Champions eat feedback for breakfast…” as a status update. If only he’d taken his own advice.