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Future of the forum

 
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ian neal
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 9:55 am    Post subject: Future of the forum Reply with quote

Good people

As you know nineeleven.co.uk faces some problems both technical and
moderation wise.

In response to recent emails and forum content raising moderation
concerns and the ongoing tensions and mistrust between John and Tony and Andrew I have made some proposals for the future of the forum, its moderation and management. Ultimately I propose that whilst being separate from the campaign it is sufficiently important to require that those responsible for it are accountable to the most representive body we have: namely the committee comprising representatives of the local groups.

If these proposals are acceptable I will annouce them by national
mailing list and the forum

But first an update of current state of play

1. Current performance problems mostly attributed to powweb, but
also looking at other possibilities. Trying to address these as soon as
possible. Forum will probably be moved to new ISP shortly.

2. It is worth flagging up some of the challenges caused moderating
by committee and why it does not work very well
• Decision making is slow
• No one person responsible and accountable
• Disagreements and tensions between moderators have undermined
consistency in the forum’s moderation and trust between moderators and
the users trust in the site
• Difficult to build a shared vision for the website (structure,
moderation policy, ‘editing’, etc) especially when we can meet so
infrequently
• Lack of coherence in terms of the sites identity and moderation
as experience shows
• Since owner (named individual) is legally responsible, forum
management / governance systems need to be clear

4. It is also worth flagging up the inherent weaknesses that all
public forums have to address
• Open to abuse by idiots and spooks
• Very difficult to steer/influence what gets discussed and how it
is discussed
• Heavy moderation is time consuming and antagonises many users
• Forums attract ‘cyber-activists’ and gives them a disproportionate voice in the movement
• Can and has been used by our critics against 'us'
• Difficult to influence the quality. Forum’s are poor information
portals
• The forum has certainly helped build the movement in Britain but
does not necessarily build coherent and united network focussed on
action

5. What works best IMO
• No editing or covert ‘management’ of front page
• Promoting respectful, reasoned and polite atmosphere with
moderators setting an example of this
• Moderators without strong positions on the issues that most
divide opinion on the forum such as the ‘researchers’ topics
• A clear voice to defend the forum’s integrity and management
from criticism and transparency/accountability

6. Points of tension
1. Lack of trust and good will between John and Tony and Andrew and
distrust of the site’s moderation from ‘researchers’
2. Forum name: propose renaming to Ian Crane’s suggestion “9/11,
the bigger picture and the quest for truth”
3. 9/11 controversies under latest posts on front page. Propose to change this
4. Front page external links should be the least contentious links.

My suggestions

1) I accept exclusive responsibility for moderation

I’m willing to moderate on my own with support from Mick when I’m not
available. I believe that this will defuse the tensions that are played
out on the forum and restore confidence that moderation will be
consistent and accountable. Provided I can count on others to alert me
to anything of concern and I consult on issues of any significance, I
believe this is manageable and potentially even a lot less work than I’m
currently doing.

I would be accountable to the users through the forum and to the wider
movement through the campaign committee. I make this proposal
reluctantly since I’m keen to free up time for other activities
including being a better co-chair and making the campaign function
better. Ideally I would wish to reduce my involvement in the forum and
its moderation within the next 3-6 months (although happy to maintain an
oversight role if asked to do so). During this time we would work to find suitable volunteer or volunteer team to take over moderation and ensure key people are happy with arrangements.

2) New section called Headlines

Now the most contentious part of this proposal. Many of the concerns raised about the site’s moderation stem from Tony Gosling wishing to influence the front page content. He has done this by editing thread titles and moving threads away from 9/11 news which feeds directly onto the front page.

This has on a few occasions been done without the consent of the thread starter and led to questions raised about Tony's suitability as a moderator.

Whilst the motivation is to present the ‘best content’ on the front page
which is an admirable aim, the problem with this is that this is
completely incompatible with the role of a moderator who should be and
appear to be neutral and fair to all users.

Whilst I agree with Tony that the 'best content' should be flagged up
prominently, this is the role of an editor and not moderator and being an editor is contentious and political. After all we would not all agree
about what is the 'best content'.

So having discussed this with Tony I propose a compromise. Tony is
completely removed from any moderation responsibilities. A new section
called headlines is created that feeds threads into the front page (as
9/11 news currently does). Threads to appear in headlines section and so
on the front page would be selected by an editorial team with one person accepting responsibility to perform what in effect is an editorial role of moving threads from other parts of the forum into the headlines section. This is the role that Tony is interested in. Editing of the thread title is allowed provided the thread starter agrees and only for threads appearing in the headlines section.

So this would mean Tony still maintains the technical privileges to
moderate but ONLY on the agreement that his role is limited to selecting
what threads appear under headlines and editing their title with the
thread starters consent and nothing else.

This creates a clear separation between moderation and influencing the front page headlines. It also means Tony would be positively identifying what he considers the 'best content' rather than demoting what he considers 'less good' content, which is an altogether more positive and transparent system

This is an experiment and potentially a controversial one. I suggest we try this approach and review it. if it raises a lot of concerns amongst the committee members or if there are a lot of complaints we would need a rethink of this approach.

3) Forum accountability

The website is the leading (as in search engine profile) 9/11 truth site
in the UK and as such it is an important asset (despite its well
acknowledged short comings and its current problems). As such it should
fall under the responsibility/stewardship of the campaign's committee as the most representative body we have to hold people with responsibilities to account.

The forum responsibilities would be split into 3 areas: moderation, editorial (managing the headlines section) and technical (Mick with ability to call on others). Users should be aware that if they are unhappy they have a group and route by which they can appeal and lobby for change and all these positions/responsibilities would be subject to approval by the committee at the AGM each year

And finally….

I want to say that it is disappointing that tensions have built up
between Andrew, Tony and John. I believe my proposal is the best
solution. I’m happy to justify this further but wish to keep this brief
and have no desire and see little value to revisit the issues that lie
behind these tensions in any more detail than I have set out here. So
unless Andy, Tony or John feel differently, I will just ask you to trust
my judgment that this is the best (temporary) solution. Temporary
because as I say I wish to step aside within 6 months.

Can I also just say that despite the tensions I sincerely thank ALL those involved for their time and efforts and despite the differences of opinion and approach amongst the moderator team you have all been volunteering considerable time trying your best to do what you see as in the best interests of then forum.

I understand why these tensions have arisen and accept responsibility
for my role in failing to defuse them before now. I hope that by
assuming exclusive responsibility for moderation will ease some of these
tensions and it will become a less onerous and contentious role.

As you now know Andrew has established his own forum. I see
this as entirely positive and wish it every success and I think it offers several interesting differences with this site (such as a separation for named and unnamed users and different sections for different areas of evidence) As our recent troubles both technical and moderation show it is wise for any movement to have a choice of different mechanisms and approaches.

I wish to thank Andrew for his integrity, time and patience. Whilst the ideas in this proposal will not wholly address all Andrew’s concerns, I wish to assure Andrew and others in the ‘researchers community’ that under my moderation I will aim to treat all users equally and fairly according to
the moderation rules and to make myself accountable to the site users.

I have discussed these ideas previously with my fellow co-chairs of the campaign and with the key people involved in the site's administration and sent these ideas around by email yesterday. If users have concerns about any of the suggestions made I'd like hear them either by PM/phone or on this thread. Assuming this is broadly accepted as the best way forward these changes will be introduced within the week

Sincerely

Ian Neal
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Busker
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I recall correctly, we, as members of the forum are asked to be accountable for our own posts.

In the past I have had posts edited and altered (which is why I rarely post anymore) without my consent or approval.

Your proposal retains an editorial function of other peoples' posts. For me this is unacceptable and if you require me to resign from the forum please let me know by PM.

I would make a counter suggestion that any posts that require editing for inclusion on the front page are copy / pasted into a new posting by whoever is carrying out the editing. That way it clear, who has done what and when. It also allows the person editing to post under their own name and be accountable and responsible for the content they in effect, manipulate or produce.

Any moderator should be only able to take one action against someone elses post and that is to delete it.

Editors shout not retain any ability to alter the posts of other people which can be achieved through the use of the group functions of phpBB.

What are your thoughts Ian?
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ian neal
Angel - now passed away
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Joined: 26 Jul 2005
Posts: 3140
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would not edit any one else's posts period.

Tony has been doing this, usually with people's consent but occasionally without. Although done for good intentions, editing someone's posts without their consent is totally unacceptible IMO and this in part explains some of the tensions that have arisen.

So what is being proposed is this

I do the moderation exclusively on my own. Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of my moderation you will then know the moderation will be consistent, who to report suspect posts to and who to complain about if the moderation is poor.

I will be accountable to the committee of the campaign and via this forum to its users.

There will be a headlines section. The top 7 most recent threads will appear on the front page under headlines or recent news. Which threads appear on the front page would be determined by an editor, which is proposed to be Tony. The editor would identify what in their opinion are the best threads and move the thread into the headlines section. The threads in this section (and only in this section) could have their titles changed by Tony with the consent (and only with the consent of the thread starter) in order to make the 'headlines' more news worthy.

Hopefully this is clear. Editting would only be done by Tony with consent, in the headlines section only. This woud be an experiment. From now on, if I receive complaints such as yours that your post has been editted without your permission you can know it wasn't me and that we would revisit who is responsible and in all probability revoke their privaleges. Also if editorial bias becomes a major issue, we would need to revisit this experiment.
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Busker
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK Ian,

Thanks for being open minded enough to consider my points.

I'll quietly withdraw from the discussion (don't want to fan the flames etc.) and watch how things develop.

Cheers.

B
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ian neal
Angel - now passed away
Angel - now passed away


Joined: 26 Jul 2005
Posts: 3140
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Busker wrote:
I would make a counter suggestion that any posts that require editing for inclusion on the front page are copy / pasted into a new posting by whoever is carrying out the editing. That way it clear, who has done what and when. It also allows the person editing to post under their own name and be accountable and responsible for the content they in effect, manipulate or produce.


Sorry I didn't address your suggestion, Busker

I don't think editing of the thread title in the headlines section to make it into a better headline is a big deal as long as it is with the user's consent and there aren't any complaints about it.
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paul wright
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does that make you king, Ian? Is Mick's role as a kind of Baldrick?Andrew's gone off on his own. Tony and John's power's are much subdued
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ian neal
Angel - now passed away
Angel - now passed away


Joined: 26 Jul 2005
Posts: 3140
Location: UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No dh I wouldn't be king

but thanks for asking because it should be a natural concern when power/responsibility is entrusted into one person's hands. Assuming my proposal is widely acceptible, I would undertake this responsibility reluctantly and for only as long as it takes to find a suitable replacement volunteer/volunteer team. I hope this can be sooner rather than later and if at any time the committee or a significant section of the users wished me to step aside I would.

I know your style and I know annointing me as king is tongue in cheek. At least hope it was.

What I would like to see is that moderation becomes a non-issue. There are rules that are widely agreed and followed. On the rare occasions when they are clearly breached I and whoever takes my place will intervene. Ideally users will moderate themselves and each other by politely challenging users who need to be challenged. I certainly intend to make moderation a far less 'political' role since I have always sought to promote a campaign or movement that is inclusive and non allied to any one theory, group or spokesperson but that welcomes all.

Perhaps you would like to volunteer or suggest who I / we should be approaching for moderation responsibilities. I think you would be good at the job
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paul wright
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ian neal wrote:
No dh I wouldn't be king

but thanks for asking because it should be a natural concern when power/responsibility is entrusted into one person's hands. Assuming my proposal is widely acceptible, I would undertake this responsibility reluctantly and for only as long as it takes to find a suitable replacement volunteer/volunteer team. I hope this can be sooner rather than later and if at any time the committee or a significant section of the users wished me to step aside I would.

I know your style and I know annointing me as king is tongue in cheek. At least hope it was.

What I would like to see is that moderation becomes a non-issue. There are rules that are widely agreed and followed. On the rare occasions when they are clearly breached I and whoever takes my place will intervene. Ideally users will moderate themselves and each other by politely challenging users who need to be challenged. I certainly intend to make moderation a far less 'political' role since I have always sought to promote a campaign or movement that is inclusive and non allied to any one theory, group or spokesperson but that welcomes all.

Perhaps you would like to volunteer or suggest who I / we should be approaching for moderation responsibilities. I think you would be good at the job

Very nice of you Ian. As someone who particularly likes you, Mick,Tony, John, and the departed Andrew and has no problem incorporating the disparate views in ones zeitgeist, I'd be very happy to volunteer. But then that would involve an inordinate amount of time being in here, and all these new people whose drift I haven't caught a hold of so far. And bringing so many old friends who've drifted away back.....

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ian neal
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Joined: 26 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dh wrote:
I'd be very happy to volunteer. But then that would involve an inordinate amount of time being in here, and all these new people whose drift I haven't caught a hold of so far. And bringing so many old friends who've drifted away back.....


I sincerely hope not.

I have a job and family and a very busy life (and being busy is not something I particularly aspire to). So i'm counting on removing or reducing the points of tension, everyone to moderate themselves and each other and alert me to concerning posts and not doing very much moderation at all.

Once upon a time this forum needed an absolute minimum of moderation and I hope to return to those times.
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paul wright
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ian neal wrote:
[
Once upon a time this forum needed an absolute minimum of moderation and I hope to return to those times.

Absolutely

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