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eG Forums Moderation Policy Discussion: Fall 2013


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#331 pbear

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 11:38 PM

My $0.02’s worth.  I gave up participating on this forum a few months ago.  And was never particularly active (as can be seen from my post count).  But I still lurk occasionally and noticed this thread.  A little background.  I first stated lurking on the board in early 2006, brought here by a search for information on sous vide.  That was in the halcyon days when eG was very nearly the only resource available on the subject in English.  Other topics I recall fondly include Thai larb and no-knead bread, where the discussions here were the most insightful I could find on the web.

 

In January 2010, I bought a Sous Vide Supreme and decided to join.  That after having twice almost joined, but hadn’t because of two issues which have been mentioned in this thread.  One was the omnibus thread approach, which is quite daunting.  The implication is that you have to digest hundreds (sometimes thousands) of posts on a topic before posting, the upshot of which is that one isn’t inclined to try.  The other issue was the essay, which Chris Hennes has defended as weeding out bots, but also weeds out those of us who find it awkward and a bit insulting.  Before you can join, you have to prove you’re worthy.  Seriously?

 

Anyhoo, I finally bit the bullet and joined.  And what I found was a bit disappointing.  Even then, only a few years ago, the board was much slower than when I was a lurker.  In large part, I think Sam was right when he said this is mostly because the internet has changed.  I participate in several message boards and all of them have less traffic these days.  Partly it’s because of movement to blogs and Facebook.  And partly it’s topic fatigue.  The cooking shows and magazines have the same problem.  There’s only so much to be said about how to cook the perfect steak - an example mentioned earlier in the thread - and the opportunities for deep further contributions aren’t great.  These, I think, are the fundamental reasons for eG’s decline and there’s  nothing I can think of which will change this.

 

That said, there are two problems with the board I will mention.  First, there’s an unfortunate tendency among posters to play “gotcha” games.  I’ve run into this lots of times and have seen it many more (directed at others).  Frankly, it’s the main reason I gave up. To be clear, I don’t think the answer is for the mods to delete those posts.  Like others, I think deletion should be used very sparingly.  But what they could do, quite easily, is step in and make supportive posts.  “Actually, X, I think Y makes a good point.”  Or, “actually X, I think you misunderstand Y’s point.”  Which is to say, moderate the discussion (in the ordinary sense of the word) rather try to control it.  Second, housekeeping and consolidating threads are all very fine, but the mods should understand that the purpose of the enterprise is discussion, not accumulating a database.  On the contrary, as a database, the eG is a major fail.  Let that go.

 

Of which speaking, if I were factotum and could make one change to eG, it would be to develop a sticky thread which collects links to all the omnibus threads is one place.  Importantly, this should be a resource, not a barrier to new threads.  Telling a new poster to read all the threads on sous vide before asking a question should be right out.  (And, yes, I’ve seen this done.)  On the other hand, saying “we’ve done this before and here’s a post answering your question” would be fine.  Notice the difference.  The former places all the burden on the newbie; the latter actually answers the question.


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#332 Bill Klapp

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 01:16 AM

Great post, pbear, and a perfect description of what the moderators here should be doing, instead of what they are doing. They are referees at best, petty censors at worst, but rarely are they moderators in your true sense of the word. And frankly, moderation used to be just as you describe around here. Encourage the new and the timid. E-bitchslap the bullies around here in a very public way, rather than deleting posts or threads. Strive to keep the discussion going, whatever it may be, rather than shutting it down by imposing eGullet's arbitrary standards or worse, the moderator's own.
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#333 annabelle

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 08:35 AM

Thanks for the help, Smitty.  I'm using a new OS, so that may be the problem.  (Stupid upgrades.)


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#334 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 10:44 AM

re: off-topic or borderline posts.

 

I have no idea if it's possible with this platform but some platforms have an option below each post with a question something like "Does this post add to the discussion? Yes or No.

It's an anonymous, community-controlled assessment of post appropriateness and if a post has too many "noes" the post is collapsed but not deleted.


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#335 Emily_R

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 11:12 AM

Just chiming in to second Bill in support of Pbear's post... PBear really nicely captured what I think true moderation could (and to my eyes should) look like on this site... 


Edited by Emily_R, 08 October 2013 - 11:12 AM.


#336 Smithy

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 08:02 PM

I agree with Emily_R about the quality and value of Pbear's post. I hate posting a "me too" type of post, so I settled for simply clicking "like this". Now, however, I have an excuse to post again:

DiggingDogFarm, what do you mean by "the post is collapsed but not deleted"? This is outside my (admittedly limited) experience and I can't envision what you mean.

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#337 patrickamory

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 09:08 PM

Smithy, I'd imagine the collapsed-not-deleted posts would look the way the guest comments do on Eater if you choose not to view them.



#338 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 09:15 PM

Smithy, I'd imagine the collapsed-not-deleted posts would look the way the guest comments do on Eater if you choose not to view them.

 

Yes.


~Martin
 
Unsupervised rebellious and radical farmer, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist and contrarian who questions everything!
 


#339 annabelle

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 08:02 AM

That style of posting is supported by different software, though.  I wouldn't expect to see it here.



#340 huiray

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 08:59 AM

The software here allows such collapsing of posts, at least in a certain feature that can be invoked by members.  I don't know if it can be applied by the sysops in the generalized manner under discussion.



#341 annabelle

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:06 AM

I really doesn't matter to me.  I know who I skip over and who I am likely to read.  There aren't so many posters that I think this feature is a must-have.


Edited by annabelle, 11 October 2013 - 09:07 AM.


#342 cdh

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:02 PM

Hmmm... this is an interesting thread to catch up on today.  I'll add my voice to the those who lament seeing the vibrant community that was here get smothered by policies that seem to have been based mostly in fears of extremely unlikely, extremely bad things occurring.  My thinking on the whole meet-up policy debacle as it was happening was that somebody in mgmt realized that if an eG member got injured in a traffic accident on their way to an event organized through eG, that the managers might get dragged into court for the negligent action of failing to stop members from arranging to go places and do things through the website they managed.  I've looked at mgmt decisions through the same lens ever since, and it makes it at least consistent.  All things done here are viewed as potentially harmful to others and as sources of legal liability to mgmt.  Wish it weren't so... but so it seems.


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#343 Norm Matthews

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Posted 11 October 2013 - 09:22 PM

Just wondering out loud about how much this site may have changed  because of Modernist Cuisine. I lurked here a few years ago and went away, then came back after the book and sous vide cooking came into existence and it seemed the whole tenor of the site had changed. I don't know if the change and the book coincided or not. 


Edited by Norm Matthews, 11 October 2013 - 09:24 PM.


#344 Smithy

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 05:32 AM

Just wondering out loud about how much this site may have changed  because of Modernist Cuisine. I lurked here a few years ago and went away, then came back after the book and sous vide cooking came into existence and it seemed the whole tenor of the site had changed. I don't know if the change and the book coincided or not. 


Well, it might be a factor in the same way others have mentioned upthread that the online community options have changed and there's a much more widespread interest in cooking than there was 10 years ago. When Modernist Cuisine and sous vide started really heating up (heh) that seemed to be all the rage here, and most of the new posts were on those topics. Those of us who were only mildly interested had other places to go communicate, and apparently didn't have much to say on the more traditional topics. Now it appears that the modernist topics and traditional topics are more balanced. I don't think that's anything to do with management policies, just the way that conversations and communities ebb and flow.

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#345 dcarch

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 06:03 AM

Hmmm... this is an interesting thread to catch up on today.  I'll add my voice to the those who lament seeing the vibrant community that was here get smothered by policies that seem to have been based mostly in fears of extremely unlikely, extremely bad things occurring.  My thinking on the whole meet-up policy debacle as it was happening was that somebody in mgmt realized that if an eG member got injured in a traffic accident on their way to an event organized through eG, that the managers might get dragged into court for the negligent action of failing to stop members from arranging to go places and do things through the website they managed.  I've looked at mgmt decisions through the same lens ever since, and it makes it at least consistent.  All things done here are viewed as potentially harmful to others and as sources of legal liability to mgmt.  Wish it weren't so... but so it seems.

 

That to me is obviously questionable and unnecessary concern.

 

If you go to youtube, everyday you see a thousand extremely dangerous crazy nuts doing suicidal things, ----- "How to Microwave a hand grenade"  --- "How to jump from one roof to another roof across the street"-----

 

I see forums with members get togethers all the time.

 

If they are concerned with liabilities, they should not allow posts with cooking chickens, low temperature cooking -----. Ooppps!! I should not have said that!!    :raz:

 

dcarch


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#346 annabelle

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 07:58 AM

Really.  I don't see a liability issue to meet-ups.  Egullet is a web forum not a deity who can control traffic and weather conditions.



#347 gfweb

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:07 AM

Lawyer thought can find liability and risk in any interaction. In my business they wield that threat to discourage all sorts of things that are perfectly harmless. <br /><br />Having said that, I agree.
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#348 sigma

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 08:59 AM

d4v6.png


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#349 Smithy

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:58 AM

There are plenty of stones to be thrown around here, but the longer thread titles aren't the result of the Moderation Policy Discussion.

Over on the Cookbooks and References subforum, a new topic was started in which only one co-author's name was listed in the topic title. The excluded co-author - Maureen B. Fant, who is a member of eGullet - asked whether her name could also be included in the title. It turned out that it couldn't, given the previous title length limit. Chris Hennes got in and figured out how to extend the title length. The posts referring to the issue were deleted as being superfluous (we were notified by PM), so there's no evidence of this, but I happen to know because my post saying "I don't blame you for asking" was one of the deleted posts. That, of course, leads back to the deleted post issue which has been discussed here...but the fact remains that the longer title ability is unrelated to this Moderator topic.

The topic that led to the change, for those interested, is in the Cookbooks and References subforum. Its new, improved title is
"Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way" by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen B. Fant

If I get to a proper interface before the editing window closes I'll include a link. It's too tiresome to attempt from this tablet.

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#350 JoNorvelleWalker

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 01:30 PM

There are plenty of stones to be thrown around here, but the longer thread titles aren't the result of the Moderation Policy Discussion.

 

I've been reading the thread in question (and have a hold on the book for when our library gets its copies).  I noticed the tile change but did not realize the posts relating to the thread title had been deleted.  I would not have deleted the posts if I were management.  In my opinion the posts portrayed the forum in a positive light.

 

Let me add my thanks to Chris H though for finding a solution and fixing the problem.


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#351 Jaymes

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 02:54 PM

 

Hmmm... this is an interesting thread to catch up on today.  I'll add my voice to the those who lament seeing the vibrant community that was here get smothered by policies that seem to have been based mostly in fears of extremely unlikely, extremely bad things occurring.  My thinking on the whole meet-up policy debacle as it was happening was that somebody in mgmt realized that if an eG member got injured in a traffic accident on their way to an event organized through eG, that the managers might get dragged into court for the negligent action of failing to stop members from arranging to go places and do things through the website they managed.  I've looked at mgmt decisions through the same lens ever since, and it makes it at least consistent.  All things done here are viewed as potentially harmful to others and as sources of legal liability to mgmt.  Wish it weren't so... but so it seems.

 

I'm sorry but, having been here since only a few months after the beginning, I don't buy that one bit.  I do think that was the excuse given.  But, I find it more than just a coincidence that, after someone pretty high up in the celeb food world said something at a party to Fat Guy about eGullet being "that lonely hearts chat site for foodies,"  everything changed.  Most certainly the meet-ups.  And every other single "social" thing about eGullet and the individual participants' personalities - the autobiographical threads, etc.  All of it.  Gone.

 

There was only one "personality" allowed here.

 

And it was most certainly not going to be I nor thee.

 

Not to mention that around that time, the fund-raising thing really took off.  And if you were going to host an "approved" gathering, in addition to passing around brochures extolling the virtues of eGullet, you also had to pass around the eGullet hat.

 

I am aware that the "boilerplate" legal liability release form was included as well, but neither of the other two have any connection to legal liability; or, at least none that I'm aware of.

 

So, in order to believe the "legal liability" excuse for the elimination of most of the social meet-ups, you also have to buy that the reason why all of the autobiographical threads/info were eliminated had something to do with that legal issue.  Because it all happened at about the same time.  And the underlying philosophy was the same: "We're a Serious Culinary Association, not a social site, goddamn it!"

 

Are you telling me that you believe all trace of individual poster's personalities were suddenly outlawed due to legal concerns?

 

Somehow I don't think so.


Edited by Jaymes, 12 October 2013 - 03:26 PM.

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#352 Jaymes

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 04:19 PM

I just want to add that those autobiographical threads were some of the best things I've ever read, anywhere.

 

And incredibly educational. 

 

For one thing, it's where this Irish Catholic girl learned what a "bubbe" is, and why everybody in New York seemed to have one.

 

It's so easy to just assume that whatever is your own background is pretty-much universal.  Those threads were among the best proof I've found in my life that that sure ain't so.


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#353 Meredith380

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:29 PM

And the wait goes on. Personally I find this ridiculous. Especially doing it during a blog week when we have only had one other this entire year. But hey, we can post longer thread titles, thank god for that!
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#354 gfweb

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:54 AM

Small kerfluffle on CH about heavy handed mods. Revolution is in the air.  


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#355 sadistick

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 12:52 PM

This thread was started September 6th - 5+ weeks ago.

 

In the business world, the ability to manage expectations (and in turn; deliverables/time-frames) is critical.

 

EG staff needs a lesson in that theory/practice. 

 

Or perhaps there were more 'technical issues' that prevented a basic response to an aging topic?


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#356 annabelle

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 01:17 PM

I'm guessing they don't feel a sense of urgency at HQ.



#357 Smithy

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 03:55 PM

I'd like to see an update.  This is taking a long, long time for what might be, for the most part, addressed by changes in policy rather than software.


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#358 dcarch

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 04:04 PM

Personnel changes can easily take several months, if that is what is going on.

 

dcarch 


Edited by dcarch, 16 October 2013 - 04:05 PM.


#359 annabelle

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 05:42 PM

It's a blog, not IBM.



#360 Porthos

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Posted 16 October 2013 - 06:19 PM

How about a simple statement at least letting us know what level of real progress has been made.


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