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Post 1

Sho - employed again!

I hope you don't think I was picking on you, pointing on you or otherwise being an eejit. I'm genuinely interested though in what you said (or what I understood you to have said, which may be a completely different thing) about there not needing to be a visible record on a post of edits.

this is meant in a spirit of interestedness and not at all a poke in the stylee of some researchers here. I have been known on at least one occasion here (a while ago now and I can't remember what it was exactly) to have rethought my ideas/attitudes/opnions on things based on getting an insight on what other people think.

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Post 2


don't worry, no negative connotations taken from your comment.

To explain.
Whilst writing the first part of that post certain thoughts solidified in my mind.
Firstly, that we were dealing with moderator editing and notuser editing of own posts - where evidence of tampering is required as otherwise unscrupulous people would retrospectively edit their own arguments to remove evidence.

Secondly; That being the case, what exactly is the purpose of a notification of mod editing? Seems to me it is all about the relationship between those with power in the community and the ordinary members thereof. The primary concern seemed to be that things could change and no one would know. If we trust the power users in the community then this doesn't actually matter. If we trust them then implicitly what they do is OK. Back to this in a mo.

If we don't trust the power users then a notification is not that meaningful. Even if we are told that they can't make a change without a notification, we have no way of validating that claim so it is meaningless (if we don't trust them). They could be making it up or they could have other ways of doing such invisible editing. And the crucial thing is, we'd have no way of telling. Person A, B and C might claim that a post has changed but our belief in that relies on us trusting them more than the power users. So if there is no trust then notifications are by the by since for all we know they could still be invisibly editing things and we'd never know.

So the purpose of the notification is a polite communication from the powers showing what they are up to. A self imposed form of transparency. Here we are, doing stuff, and this is what we are doing.
In other words, it is keeping people informed about moderation on site and reducing the 'them and us' feelings that might occur otherwise. It gives a feeling of accountability and policing with consent that means people feel they are involved as they are being informed. They might or might not actually have any influence, but this action, taken in isolation, goes a long way to making it feel like that.

which brings me on to:
Thirdly; who do such notifications actually matter to?
If you have one of your posts altered, why do I need to know? I can't see the content and, unless we communicate off site, I won't get to. I have no say in whether or not it was just. The only parties who need to know are the PTBs and you. Between these two the validity of the edit can be established and a final outcome agreed. There is the community trust issue as well but I propose that is only important in certain situations.

But back to the (hopefully!) H2G2 situation where we trust our mods.
That means I assume that any edits or changes they make are valid and within the accept terms, conditions and house rules of the place. That said, I don't need to know if your post has been edited. You do, but that should be handled off site via email or whatever. And if you feel that there is an issue and actually we can't trust the mods to abide by the house rules, then that should be discussed on site.

So in conclusion, the whole 'post edited for content' notes are really a 'keeping the natives happy' technique which should be superfluous in a trusting community and are at best meaningless (at worst deceptive) in an untrusting community. There resence or absence masks a deeper underlying issue of trust and what rules should govern the process.

Sorry that is rather long - you did ask!
I will say that this position is not the one I was working from when I started that post and is a set of discussion points, not a list of my unalterable convictions to which all must listen.

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Post 3

Mrs Zen

*tiptoes in*

Can I sit down and listen all the same?

.... er.... smiley - cake?

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Post 4

Sho - employed again!

(sorry, Ben, I just ate the last piece of smiley - cake have some smiley - redwine instead)

Thanks for that post, Icotan.

I completely agree with you that user editing would have to be handled in a completely different way and I really hope that we don't get it here, if I'm totally honest.

What's the reason for a notification about a mod edit? To be honest, I think it's a courtesy issue with me. I really really don't like the idea that I have made a post in a public forum and then somebody - no matter how much I trust them as a site PTB - has changed my words. Even if, as in the case Kea brought up, it's only to add a credit and some quotation marks.

But more than that really. I firmly believe that h2g2, the new owners and interested parties, have been trying very hard to make (as far as possible) the whole process of the buy out and what comes next as transparent and open as possible. Part of this transparency, for me, will continue and be reinforced by an open and transparent moderation process too. I'm not too keen on mod edits if there is another way, but I do believe that if it has to be done, it also needs to be flagged up. Becuase you don't know, after you press "post message" who has seen the post. If a discussion ensues, either after the post or elsewhere referring to something in the post that is later edited out it could be awkward.

For example. ResearcherA and ResearcherB have a bit of a spat. A goes to B's space and leaves a message - part of which is calling B some nasty words among a more reasonable explanation or apology or something. If B then starts a journal mentioning it, and friends go to their space to see the original message for themselves - and the crux of the message has been edited with no explanation, B would look (at best) like a bit of an idiot, or (at worst) potentially a trouble-making, muck-raking liar.

I think we broadly agree that it's just a courtesy, a polite note to say "we woz 'ere". Where we disagree is just how necessary that is.

Brings me on to your trust issue. I hope we can trust our mods. I certainly trust the Zs, I trust Noesis and I trust the mods - I know all of them to a greater or lesser degree. I know some of the CEs and generally i don't have a problem trusting any of them. Although, and I have to stress how much of this is MY opinion and only from reading things on the site, I can see some dynamic there that I'm not sure about sometimes (based on previous posts, nothing since we've been here). That means, indeed, that I am not 100% trusting of those who might have a final say. (and yes, I know they have agreed and have protocols and arrangements in place not to mod friends etc, but they are still few in number and stretched beyond belief at the moment: accidents might happen)

In future we are going to have elected reps, which should make trust easier, but what if I didn't vote for any of them? Maybe I didn't vote for them because i don't trust them, maybe because I don't know them or maybe because I think they are wrong. I = any researcher. For this reason, the transparency of a post-editing message on the post will help allay fears. I would hope.

When I poke around parts of h2g2 I see some behaviours that I don't like, Ask has been a pest over the last few days, and currently there is a horrible feeling about and a lot of mistrust. Of course most of it can be put down to pushing the new boundaries blah blah blah, but I think we really need to start as we mean to go on.

There have been one or two decisions about thread closing that haven't gone over well, and I hope that we have all learned something from that. Clearly flagging up moderation and editing will go a long way to not only showing that the new PTB mean business, but that business will be conducted in a fair and transparent way.

I think that a lot of "regular" researchers are maybe a little bit resentful of the "elevation" of a few and just want to cause problems. We need to rise above it and get on with the job of making this place work in a professional way.
smiley - smiley

does that make any sense?

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Post 5

Mrs Zen

All of it makes total sense.


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Post 6

Sho - employed again!

that's good - Icotan made such a carefully thought out post, I don't often do that but I thought it deserved a thought-out reply. My brain is a bit fried right now so I wonder if I'm being coherent.

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Post 7


Ben, feel free to camp out here with cake and vino. Feel free to chip in as well. As I say it is a discussion!

Sho - thanks for the reply, I shall now go read it and get back to you.

Any lurkers - feel free with your smiley - 2centssmiley - smiley

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Post 8


And now I've read it smiley - smiley
I think you put your case well.
If I'm to be fair to both of us, I'd say my thinking/reasoning was perhaps more abstract whereas you rightly concentrate on the concrete realities of what is. Perhaps my arguments are too decontextualised to have any real meaning in a specific circumstance.

What I mean is that the 'no notifications' ideal could only work in an ideal community. Your points about researcher A posting narky remarks to researcher B is a case in point. Ideally, we'd have a mature community where people could take a step back and not do that. Reality says there's always someone, and everyone has their buttons.

Of course, even with an edit message, that still doesn't fully address it - the next argument would be about what exactly was said since no one but the immediate parties involved would know. Although all would know something was removed, there'd still be scope for uncertainty and people taking sides.

On the other hand, the point about the message being a bit of politeness does stand; providing, I think, that it isn't just a token bit of communication for appearance. A bit like the manager who pops into the office once a month, goes round saying hello to everyone and then disappears for the rest of the month to make decisions that are passed down from on high. The discussions that have taken place, freely and with many involved, show that people are being listened to. But this needs to continue.

Your point about this being early days is also important. The ground rules must be laid out now and adhered to strictly. To much variation, too many exceptions will just lead them being used in arguments later and destabilizing the authority of mods and eds. Respect is, perhaps, a better term and that has to be earned not imposed. Consistency and fairness is the key I think. Ultimately it is a balancing act where we'll never get it 'right' because there is no objective 'right', so consistency is the next best thing. May not be right all the time but at least when wrong we're consistently wrong so at least people know what the rules are.

It's amazing how much of this discussion of moderation links into all the child rearing/development/parenting psychological theories and research I did in this year's OU module. Especially the bits about problem children smiley - winkeye

My final comment is perhaps on a side issue that feeds into this. It seems from speaking to researchers like you and kea that some people have a really strong sense of ownership of their posts. Not psychologising you (cos I can't, don't have the skills!) but you really seem to link your posts with your own identity, such that an edit of a post is somehow undermining you directly. It's something a lot of people do, it seems.

To explain where I'm coming from, I don't have that. My posts are far more speculative and discursive I think. I don't think they are, as you put it, 'my words'. I think the words are incidental and the concept is the key point. A post from me isn't presenting my identity to the world, it is presenting a concept or comment to the world and I am incidental as just the conduit for it. I mean yes, if someone changed it I would want to clarify that that was not what I meant, same as when someone misconstrues a post. But it isn't because it is what I said that was changed, it's because the concept I wanted to portray was changed.

Maybe I'm just weird and have problems with my self-identity or something! But it is a difference that I have noted over the years I have been here.

My, what a load of waffle smiley - smiley

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Post 9

Sho - employed again!

sounds like an interesting course - I'd really like to know just how many of us here are OU students (I've just finished DD131 and am just starting DD132 which are parts 1 & 2 of Introducing the Social Sciences)

It's interesting that you feel (slightly? vaguely? totally? a bit?) disconnected from your posts. It could be that I use the internet, places like this in particular, to have conversations that in my ideal world I'd have in person. I live in a foreign country and (I'm such a sad case) I don't have any friends here outside of people I work with. It means that I do see the dialogue here (and elsewhere, I'm a member of 2 very small private fora as well as the massive board where I used to mod) as a conversation.

If I were to be sitting with you in a café and having this discussion over a cup of tea and an iced bun, I would feel very strongly if I used words that the proprietor didn't like and he altered his CCTV footage to make me say something else. That's how I feel about some of my posts. (not all, I do tend to post frivolous fluff most of the time). But particularly in threads about abortion, politics, philosophy, Yorkshire I really would prefer my words to stand or, if altered, for a clear note to be visible to that effect.

Where you are absolutely spot on is that we absolutely have to have consistency from the word go. If, 6 weeks or so down the line (or 6 months, or longer) we find it's not working (community + TPTB, not only the community whining about things) then it is a good chance to tweak gently, announce changes (an why) and then apply the rules consistently.

Pretty much like raising children: what applies for a tiny baby doesn't apply for a toddler, and absolutely not for a teenager. I'd love the researchers here to be so mature that modding would only be for momentary lapses of reason/decorum and the CEs (ack, the name!!) welcoming newbies and gently directing the traffic from their rocking chairs.

That would be my ideal world/h2g2 but we aren't going to get that. We've seen recently how one or two individuals can alter the whole feeling of the site and either drive people away or put their backs up so severely that they also act up.

Your post mae a lot of sense, especially where you mentioned it's more abstract. Marx to my Stalin maybe...

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Post 10


OU - I suspect there are a few of us. Might be worth an Ask to see if anyone wants an h2g2 OU club of some descript - discus experiences, reviews of courses, residentials, what to and not to do, that sort of thing. Whaddaya reckon?

"It's interesting that you feel (slightly? vaguely? totally? a bit?) disconnected from your posts"
I'd go for 'quite'. It might just be a distancing thing, I'm not really a social joiner and having 'an identity' on here might be a bit too close, psychologically, to identifying as a member of the group and then having to worry about how other members of the group perceive me, where I stand in the hierarchy and so on.

OTOH it be just that I see this place as somewhere to put ideas forth rather than putting myself forth. Or maybe just a way of avoiding responsibility for what I say and the personal implications of what others say in response!

But I can understand where you are coming from and I think in the debate, as having is more important to those who want it than not having is important to view I proposed, then agreement must be on having the notifications. Reality wins out again smiley - biggrin

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Post 11

Sho - employed again!

aw, you're cute. smiley - smiley

I'm afraid I carry the scars of too many internet fights to be anything less than pragmatic.

Off to Ask to see about an OU thing.

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Post 12


well, I've not been called that before!

As for pragmatism, mine is not getting involved in the first place. Don't like the environment, don't go in.
I learned that in my usenet days. My, they did proper flamewars back then...

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