Friday, January 23, 2009

Ten Years of Moderation

Just over ten years ago, I was invited to moderate my first discussion list, a fast-growing Robert B. Parker forum. Two-and-a-half years later, I was disillusioned with Parker fans who jumped at the slightest discouraging word about him, so I left to form a smaller, more probing discussion and it has made all the difference.

There's something to be said for setting the tone from the beginning. DetecToday, Spenser's Sneakers, and CrimeSeen are places to post about the main topic and related topics. No more, no less. I may have scared away those looking for a "community" or "virtual family", but the rest of you are welcome to join. If you're already a member, how'm I doing?

This past July, I began a two-year term as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society, founded by Margo Power in 1996, passed to new officers every two years since. In addition to their duties of representation, the officers also moderate the Society's discussion list, Shortmystery. As soberly as I approached the job, I also believed I could simply port over my rule against personal disputes onlist. However, with more than a thousand members, Shortmystery dwarfs my lists. There are hundreds more perspectives on what is personal. Realizing this, about an hour ago I instituted the following:

...I can't police every phrase that may possibly offend a member. I would be injecting my sensibilities where they may not be correct or welcome. I prefer that we each bear personal responsibility for the content of our posts and use our own judgment regarding who to heed or ignore, to what degree, and when to send a message offlist if at all.

If anyone wants my opinion on the tone of posts, feel free to ask offlist.

1 comment:

John D. said...

I'm a member of two of those groups, DetecToday and CrimeSeen. From what I've seen, you're doing fine. The threads stay on topic, no one's afraid to share his/her opinion, and the discussions don't degenerate into personal attacks. If you have those three bases covered, you're good to go.