Rule Update and Transparency in Waypoint Forum Moderation: Discussion


#1

This is the discussion thread for the July 2018 rule update and the Transparency in Moderation thread:
https://forum.waypoint.vice.com/t/transparency-in-waypoint-forum-moderation/16472/1

If you have not read that thread, please do so before posting anything here.

The purpose of this thread is for any questions or comments about the rule update, the contents of the Transparency thread, what moderation is, and what can be done in the future. Please note, it is not a thread for the discussion or re-litigation of past events or issues with individual moderators. If you have any thoughts or concerns about past moderation actions or occurrences on the forums, please contact us directly.

We welcome questions that:

  • Look for clarification on the rules
  • Look to clarify the thread
  • Ask how a situation might be approached
  • Ask how the moderation team might approach an issue should it arise
  • Suggest how the moderation team might approach an issue
  • Any other questions of that nature which are about the future of the forums and how moderation works moving forward.

#2

First off, thanks to all the mods for doing the nevernding work that makes this place tick. The Waypoint community is easily one of the best on the internet and is one of the few places where I feel safe commenting on the regular, and a big reason is the tone that the mods set. Also, this revisiting of forum rules and a commitment to greater transparency is fantastic. Just because the community is so great does not mean that we all can’t improve, and I welcome ongoing dialog as we try to make this place more welcoming to inclusive, thought-provoking discussion.

There is one clarification I would like to have, however, and that is with regard to rule 7:

Don’t post pirated materials or links to pirated materials. Don’t suggest you have access to pirated materials.

While I agree with this rule in principle, I am curious as to what the limits of it are. Certainly, no one should be posting cracks to new releases and the like, and if you are in the position to pay for games you should absolutely do so. But what about discussion of grey areas, like game preservation or black/grey markets in developing nations where IP law is nonexistent? What about discussion of emulation scenes that are doing some fascinating engineering work to help us understand games better or let us mod them? I feel that these are examples of “piracy” that make gaming more vibrant, accessible, and interesting, and should be part of this forum’s discourse, but as the rule stands I am not comfortable bringing those things up. Can we get some elaboration about how the mod team approaches this subject?


#3

Hey Navster,

Thanks for the question and your positive words!

This is absolutely a grey area and something we would talk about on a case by case basis depending on the conversation, and if we felt someone stepped over the line in a post we’d reach out privately and ask them to amend their post in a way we felt was appropriate to the conversation. Conversations about things like game preservation and intellectual property law are fine–they’re complex issues and we want this to be a place to explore them.

The general thought behind the rule itself can be boiled down to “talking about emulation (and related topics) is fine, but don’t link to rom sites.” Like I said, we want these conversations to happen and if they go to a place we feel uncomfortable with, we’ll either reach out privately or try to steer things back to a place we’re more comfortable with in that thread.


#4

To continue from what Mo said:

We acknowledge that the rule itself isn’t super clear on the limits and can understand the confusion. We’re working on an edit that makes it more obvious to everyone what our expectations are and what we’re trying to discourage in particular. We definitely don’t want to make folks feel uncomfortable talking about a thing that can only be accessed through grey channels, but being a public forum attached to a brand means that we can’t let folks explicitly reference the illicit means in which they might have obtained said thing.


#5

part-question, part-comment here - apologies if this is outside the remit of the thread, but it’s something i think is important

y’all do a genuinely difficult job, as do all community moderators. my challenge - for the admins, rather than the moderators - is that community moderation should not be a volunteer position. i’ve been behind the scenes on other forums when inflammatory, difficult, and complicated discussions have been going on, and i know it takes up a lot of time and mental bandwidth. i can only imagine how much work must have gone into this post alone, let alone the ongoing issues of the past few days.

i don’t expect a response to this, as i know it’s a complex behind-the-scenes issue which can’t be pithily answered in a thread, but why does a website which claims to take seriously the idea of moderation and community-building not pay its moderators for their time? this is serious, complex, time-consuming, and emotionally difficult labour, and it ought to be recognised as such.


#6

This is a complex behind the scenes issue, as you have mentioned. It is a question we have thought through before and are still working through and confronting. We aren’t able to give a definitive answer to it. With that said, here are my thoughts in light of the conversation we had as a result of your post:

The fatigue you talk about is real – it’s one of the reasons we lock heated threads at night (or permanently) so we (and others) can disengage, it’s why we have an intentionally large team (close to 40 over all platforms), and why we have an open door policy so when someone needs to step away for a night, a week, a month or six, they can – no questions asked. This freedom raises the issue of what being paid would mean for us in terms of responsibility and time commitment (as I said above we enjoy a ton of self determination on those fronts right now) and how that would change.

There’s also the question of why we do this without remuneration: which, for me personally, is – my actual job is very solitary and volunteering as part of this team and helping create something I believe in (the value of this community) as part of a team I like working with is worth it.

I’m not speaking for all mods here, just myself, and I’m sure other mods have different feelings and motivations for being part of the mod team.


#7

Just an additional note on this – the moderation practices on Waypoint evolved out of the Waypoint Discord, which started as the Waypoint Fan Discord as a fan initiative after the Waypoint 72 stream. It has grown since then (and not every mod started out as a Discord moderator) & become an official part of Waypoint, but this legacy is part of the reason why moderation is a volunteer affair.


#8

thanks for sharing this! i think part of the reason this is important to me is that, in my line of work (green space management) we actually also recruit and make use of a lot of volunteers, and we spend a lot of time thinking about what that means both for us and them, so it’s close to my heart in that way.

central to our volunteering strategy is the idea that the deal, at its heart, is that volunteers get something back outside of remuneration - connection to community, a sense of wellbeing, a hobby, a specific set of skills, etc. volunteering shouldn’t ever be simply about free labour from those willing to do it; it’s about the sense of connection and community which people get from it, which i’m glad to see you bring up in your post. there’s also a level of responsibility for our volunteers; many come from disadvantaged or marginalised backgrounds which means that their volunteering is part of building a support network for themselves, and we try to support that.

i’m aware of the realities of running a tight budget, especially given volunteer moderation is (frustratingly) the norm across online communities, but i really wanted to make sure this was raised. as much as anything, i want to know that there is at least a clearly stated and properly-implemented interest in your welfare as volunteers, or ideally that there’s a roadmap in place which is leading towards professionalisation.


#9

Personally, I would love to get paid for being “WeedLordVegeta.”

The problem as mentioned is that good forum moderation is seen as a nice side benefit as opposed to a vital component of community building.

So really our roadmap as a team is to look out for each other and do the best job we possibly can in order to normalise the idea of “hey maybe these folks should be paid.”

We can’t solve everything here on a message board for a vice vertical. But we can at least plant some seeds.


#10

I can’t speak for others, though I get the sense all of us get something for moderating, but there’s a lot for me, in moderating. I recently left my first major job for some reasons, and moderating has given me something that makes me feel productive and like I’m doing something and is a welcome break from job applications and my personal creative practice (which can be draining in its own way). It’s also a way to give back that I really appreciate. Ultimately, I’m really glad I became a moderator for these forums.

As for the welfare of members, I actually became a moderator for the discord for two weeks around a year ago. Because a myriad of reasons, including my fears of making missteps as a moderator or not measuring up (I was in a tough place in my life and was quite anxious) I wanted to step down. I was a little embarrassed by this, because I had signed on to be responsible and also hadn’t really done anything wrong and felt I was overthinking it (I still feel I was). Despite this everyone was really nice about it, and I was told I could come back if I ever had the desire, and I had plenty of support from Danika, the social media editor at the time, both in reinforcement that I was doing fine, but also in reassurance that if I wanted to step down that was also ok and wouldn’t change how I was viewed. I really remember their act of kindness. Even today, all members of the staff will help us with tough topics and also check in to make sure we’re doing okay and not over exerting ourselves. I personally get the feeling that the staff is looking out for us and wants us to succeed in ways other than us just keeping the forums going.


#11

For what it’s worth, Groves has been undeniably vital to the forum team since stepping on, and has done a ton of the day-to-day legwork. We’re thrilled to have her onboard.


#12

I’m not sure how any of this works, I’ve never had to deal with it before. but if you had a post disappear and you don’t know why (and also it’s gone so you can’t read it & compare with the forum rules), is there a way to get some feedback? Not sure where to post this and I didn’t see a way to just mail “the mods” as a whole. The mail I got just linked back to the now-gone post.


#13

if anyone is looking for specific feedback from us (as opposed to something that would be covered by flagging a post), sending a private message to a mod is a good way to go about it. even better is to send your message to the group called “Mods,” which will show up as an auto-complete option in the “Add a user” field (screenshots below to help illustrate). sending a message to the Mods group as opposed to one of us individually ensures that we will all see the message as soon as possible

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exceptions to this would be if you’re having a tech issue with the forums or the Waypoint site, and for that i would recommend making a new thread in the Site Feedback category