I find these concerns of censorship to indicate a deep lack of understanding by the general public of what it is that Moderators do. And that's okay. Unless you've been a moderator, you'd never have a chance to be exposed to the raw combination of politics and public relations that it takes to run successful message board forums.
From the feedback I'm getting, it appears that a link to the generally-wiki-world approved rights and responsibilities of a moderator is warranted again. (Did anyone read it in the first place?)
Hint: Moderating doesn't involve me being your friend, it involves me being objective. ;-D Deleting posts is a fundamental part of what moderators are expected to do. It involves upholding the principles of the community that are set locally. Did any of you miss the part where it ways it is up to each board to tolerate the levels of profanity, intensity, insanity, off-topicness that is appropriate for the tone of the community?
Given the private support mail I've gotten on this topic today, I have read some pretty passionate (and grateful) opinions about how its about time someone with backbone addressed the newbie hazing issue. I also find it telling that these messages were kept private. Hmm. It doesn't take a genius to ponder why that might be.
I keep on hearing from multiple face-to-face sources about what an intimidating environment ModernPhoenix is. "Join?!? Oh no, are you kidding? I'd get creamed there!"
or "It took me months to get the courage to join."
As you might imagine, this news causes my heart to leap with joy and makes me beam with endless pride that members have created a community that is mightily feared.
(And Modern-e might want me to believe it was feared by the cowardly. No, it was by the intelligent, the creative, the insightful, the generous, the souls that make this city thrive. It kills me to hear about our intimidating reputation. It really does.)
Think I'm the only one out there deleting?
Here are some other sample Moderator guidelines from other forums:
(I like the quote from the movie at the top of this page - hilarious!)
(At the Well, one of the oldest and most respected communities online, moderators are called Hosts)
"...knock-down, drag-out arguments, especially those involving personal insults, are nonproductive and can easily get to the point of dominating the interaction in discussions which might otherwise be, though controversial, potentially fruitful. Hosts can do a lot to keep the tone in their gathering places positive by making general ground rules which encourage courteous argumentation, and with reminders, when necessary, to "attack the idea, not the person" and to "take personal disputes to e-mail, please." "
Where does "content" end and "behavior" begin? I find personal attacks and hate speech to be not only inappropriate behavior, but above all inappropriate content. Animated avatars are inappropriate (and wasteful, off-topic) content. To mistake community standards for censorship is, in my opinion, a ridiculous claim. Perhaps I should post my community standards so each of you may decide individually whether or not you (generic you) agree to abide by them. Yay! Hooray! Rejoyce! Another three hours I get to spend writing another article that nobody will read until it is too late, and members may contend til the horse is not only dead but decomposing.
How about just the general suggestion that we all be nicer to newcomers? That's all I was asking for anyway.
It should be enlightening to note that of the 6870 articles posted on ModPhx in the last 2.5 years I have had to delete such a miniscule portion of them, I'm amazed we are even having this conversation about censorship in the first place.
As far as "training" semantics go, Brandon, this term was used in completely appropriate context. The poster in question was brand spanking new to message boards as a whole concept (yes, there are still folks like that out there, and some end up here) -- and since my guidance work with them had to be swift and interventive (reactionary to a bad situation rather than proactive to a positive one) I called it training. Nothing militant or corporate was implied by it. Context is everything, don't you think?
Baseball players train. Gymnasts train. You might even own a pair of training shoes. You certainly had a pair of training wheels. Anyone learning a complex new skill has to get trained at some point, even if is through self-training. In this context, I suspect any distaste for the word training might come from your own personal anti-corporate experience. In my world, where training is a positive learning experience, it carries no such stigma.