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'Report' to 'Reported'...Ensuring Transparency, Consistency and Integrity

  1. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    In any online forum, there is a set of rules laid down for members to adhere to. While strict adherence is welcome as it keeps the forum healthy and tidy, it may be difficult at times when a post borderlines violation. In such cases, a decision either way should be justifiable.

    CHALLENGES FACED BY MODERATORS

    Moderators are often members just like everyone else in the forum, but with additional voluntary responsibilities to keep the forum tidy. Here are some of the challenges they face:

    1. Often, moderators are those who have been members for a lengthy amount of time. As members just like everyone else, they make 'friends' in the community. And with 'friends', one 'tends' to be lenient with rules.

    2. As volunteers, they don't get paid for their time. But they can't be volunteers and not work, because they have a responsibility to fulfil.

    3. As moderation involves personal judgement, there is the possibility of making an incorrect judgement. In such cases, however, a member can appeal the judgement which will be escalated to the Senior/ Assistant Head/ Head Moderator, with further scope of appealing (if required) to the Community Admin.


    KEEPING THE INTEGRITY

    Despite the challenges, here is what a moderator should do:

    1. Remain completely objective and independent, and respect the integrity the role requires. Personal relationship (which often results in bias, obligation or poor judgement) with the members involved in a report/ appeal should be strictly kept aside.

    2. Moderator Action should be available for the community to read. Just as judgments of court proceedings are a guide/ reference for future judgements. This will also be a good example of what to expect in case of a violation.


    ENSURING TRANSPARENCY, CONSISTENCY AND INTEGRITY

    With all that said, here is my suggestion:

    Under every post, there is the option to 'Report'. As far as I know, a post can be reported any number of times (once per member, but any number of members). I don't know how these reports are consolidated internally. I don’t know if a reported post shows up only once to a moderator or as many times as it has been reported (which will create unnecessary clutter). A moderator could throw some light on this.

    I suggest that once someone reports a post, 'Report' should change to 'Reported', so that it may NOT be reported again, reducing clutter for the moderator.

    One of the following should happen if someone clicks on 'Reported':

    1. Pending Action since 'date reported': Self Explanatory.

    2. Moderator Action: What action was actually taken and the reasons for the same. This could also mean:
    i. 'No action', if no action was taken
    ii. 'Moderator Edit', if the post was edited by a moderator to retain only relevant content.

    Once a moderator has acted on the complaint, a new button should appear:

    Appeal: An option to appeal the moderator decision. As before, 'Appeal' will change to 'Appealed' if someone appeals the moderator decision.

    One of the following should happen if someone clicks on 'Appealed':

    i. Pending Action since 'date appealed': Self Explanatory.

    ii. Appeal Decision: If Moderator Action was retained or overruled, along with the reasons for the same. This could mean:
    i. 'Retained', if Moderator Action is retained, with explanation.
    ii. 'Overruled', if moderator action was overruled, along with reasons for the same.

    If the reported post gets removed by a moderator, it is obviously gone from the feed. It will now be upto the member whose post was removed to appeal the decision personally.

    But where a post is retained, with or without edits, any community member can see that the post was reported and why it wasn't a violation enough to be removed.


    Advantages

    1. Ensures transparency (and therefore accountability) of moderation.
    2. Ensures consistency in the application of Forum T&C.
    3. Ensures integrity of the role.

    Disadvantages

    None I can think of. More importantly, transparency, consistency and integrity should be present at all costs.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021

    #1
  2. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021


    #2
  3. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    Hi there,

    First and foremost, thank you for your input. I'd like to provide some clarity on the matter.

    There is no clutter. No matter how many times a certain message is reported, they will all be under the same report. This means that whenever another person reports the same content, it is saved under the same report for traceability.

    The warning actions aren't public not to avoid transparency but out of necessity. Warnings and moderator actions are personal. There is no point in shaming others, publicly announcing their posts were deleted, edited or that they were warned for rule-breaking.
    In parallel, making the actions public would also make the infractions public. So name-calling, illegal content, or any other form or shape of rule-breaking would become public, effectively making moderation useless.

    There are however mechanisms put in place to ensure consistency. More serious warnings are never issued by a single moderator but rather discussed by a group of moderators. Any and every action by a mod can be appealed to the moderator itself, a higher-level moderator, or an Admin. When that happens, that action is reviewed and revised if needed.

    P.S. - Still, the overall logic of Report / Reported / Appeal, etc. is very sound and I have already shared it with the team for consideration for our upcoming app.
     

    #3
  4. Yash Pratap Singh. , via OnePlus 7T , May 7, 2021 :
    Yup, I had requested a ticket system thing for reports when I had joined the forum earlier.
    But it didn't work 🙃
     

    #4
    KaranRIyer likes this.
  5. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    Thanks for this clarification.

    As mentioned in the OP, a post that is in sufficient violation to be removed (such as those where a member gets abusive), gets removed and no one gets to see it (except those who have already seen it before it got removed). So the question of making the infractions public doesn't arise for such posts (because they are removed), which often tend to be of a serious nature. As a result, question of shaming someone publicly too doesn't arise.

    Only posts that are retained (if edited, only the edited form is visible) are visible in public. And if they are retained, they are unlikely to be of a serious nature. So it may help to understand what constitutes a violation, especially in the context of the discussion. Appeals in such cases, can be expected to be done only by the parties involved because the original (unedited) messages are only accessible/ known to them. This will practically eliminate an appeal by a 3rd party.

    As with warnings/ warning points issued, these will continue to be private in both cases (those that are removed as well as those that are retained, with or without edits).

    This is one area where serious work is required. Rules are applied arbitrarily, and very inconsistently. There are several examples that can be cited, so a tool such as the one explained in the OP can be useful for reference.

    Here, I would also like to add that a member who STARTS the violation must be handed a more stringent penalty/ warning. So even though the 'report' option is available, often, a response in kind is justified even at the cost of warning points. With a rule like this in place, members will refrain from taking things too far, and maintain minimum decency when engaging in a discussion. In such instances, both parties can be penalized, but the one INVITING/ STARTING trouble should be penalized more severely.

    Killing in self-defence is often justified.


    Thank you.
     

    #5
  6. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    This is your opinion but it is not in any way how we see things. Any rule-breaking will be seen in the same light. Rules are applied in the same fashion. If you insult because you were insulted, that is in no way a valid justification and will result in warnings for both users. That's precisely why the Report exists, so that users can report rule breaking rather than directly engaging with the ones breaking rules.

    It's also worth noting that many times there is no clear starter, as things escalate from both sides. You mentioned consistency. I believe a rule like this would accomplish the opposite.

    As for this, feel free to raise the situations where you felt that was the case via DM with a head-moderator or myself. We'll gladly go through them.
     

    #6
  7. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    Thats why democracy is important. Opinions should be considered carefully and thoughtfully, not outrightly rejected.

    Please note that the idea is only of a more severe penalty.

    While there may be occasions where there is no clear starter, those are few and far between. In most occasions, it is easy to pinpoint who is a clear starter, and therefore be handed a more severe penalty. That will deter such members from derailing a thread, and asking for trouble. If you want, I can show you many examples. Easy to see what the member was upto, because it will have nothing to do with the topic of the thread, and violating multiple T&C of the forum.
     

    #7
  8. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    And that's precisely why there is the Report button and the warning system. We also have Reply Bans that can be used on specific threads.

    What you are suggesting leads to more rule breaking, not less, as it would lead people to seek "revenge" by their own hands, as they would know the infraction would be less penalized. This way, everyone knows that escalating the situation will lead to a warning according to the rules. The plane is even for all.

    As your own signature states, everyone should "Always be polite, respectful and helpful with [their] posts, comments and replies."
     

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  9. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    Lets say a post (of a certain nature) carries a warning point of 3 points.

    If a member X makes this post, hand him 3 warning points. I'm not saying hand him less than 3 warning points. But what I am saying is, if this post was a response to an offensive post by another member Y, who had no business of violating the T&C like that, hand him 6 warning points (double) for multiple violations, because he started it.

    The suggestion is to hand a more severe penalty to the member starting the violation (not less for the one responding), because he instigated trouble!
     

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  10. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar May 7, 2021

    Tokolozi , May 7, 2021 :
    But as said, it's often hard to see who instigated it in the first place, that's why both parties receive an equal amount of warning points if their transgressions are similar.

    Also not every report / moderator action leads to a warning point. Most of us frequent users probably at some time had a friendly discussion on an off-topic gone conversation. I've even seen full-out flame wars just result in this at the end, as long as the conversation was kept to a somewhat civil level without insulting one or the other.

    The current system as it is I think is perfectly suited for this kind of forum, however, the "report/Reported" option would be a nice addition. Maybe also to some extent a notification for the reported that is " your post was reported to be out of community guidelines and will be reviewed by a moderator shortly"
     

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  11. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    Whether we increase the points for the starter or lower points to the one that kept with the escalation, the end result is the same. We would be promoting self-serviced justice, and we would increase the subjectiveness (and therefore reduce the consistency) of the moderation actions, not just because the "starter" is not clear-cut most of the times but also because the situations you typified are mostly escalating ones, where the "member Y" actually resorts to an even more offensive post.

    Again, while I thank you for your opinion, this is in direct contradiction with what we want to achieve for the community and the sentence you have in your signature. An offensive post should never exist to begin with and all of them will be regarded equally, as what they are: a disrespect towards another user.
     

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  12. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    It is much more often easy to see who is instigating trouble.

    Double warning should be applicable in those instances, for the one who is clearly starting it.

    Yes, I am aware of that.

    All the trouble starts when people cross the line. People forget basic decency, manners and civility. It is in such cases where Double Warning would become a great deterrent.
     

    #12
    KaranRIyer likes this.
  13. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    Using your own analogy, what you're describing is much more of a duel to the death than it is killing I'm self-defense.

    The warning points are the deterrent already in place. Again, what you're suggesting creates an additional problem rather than solving it.

    By giving different amounts of points, it'd be ensuring that people are less penalized if they escalate. So, rather than reducing the number of situations where someone starts a fight, we would be increasing the number of situations where someone continues one.

    Using your own words "All the trouble starts when people cross the line. People forget basic decency, manners and civility." It doesn't matter who's the first to cross that line. Someone that insults back has equally lost their basic decency, manners and civility.
     

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  14. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    I acknowledge that establishing a clear starter may be a time consuming exercise, since as you mentioned, the situations are mostly escalating ones where a member resorts to an even more offensive post. So a moderator has to go through all the posts, which is in a way penalizing a volunteer. To that extent, simply deleting posts and issuing warnings is justified. But only to that extent. This is more about respecting the volunteer moderators' time and efforts, than about how much warning a member deserves.

    That said, having a Double Warning system in the forum T&C as a deterrent would still be a helpful tool in many cases, and I would personally vouch for it.
     

    #14
  15. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    We are not talking about 'less' points for anyone. We are only talking of 'more' for the instigator, if clearly and irrefutably established.
     

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  16. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    I fail to see how 6 is more than 3 but 3 is not less than 6. Or how insulting back is more decent or civil than insulting first. No insult is justified.
     

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  17. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    You are again missing the point.

    6 is more than 3. Thats what I suggested.
    3 is NOT less than 3. You shouldn't compare 3 with 6.

    Point is everyone should behave in a dignified manner. As I said, sometimes a response is perfectly justified, even at a cost.
     

    #17
  18. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member May 7, 2021

    dsmonteiro , May 7, 2021 :
    And that is precisely why the points are the same – to avoid people from taking matters into their own hands – and why penalizing one more than the other would make matters worse, not better.
     

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  19. TheMystic
    Lollipop May 7, 2021

    TheMystic , May 7, 2021 :
    You are still penalizing the responder, and in accordance to the rules. Penalizing the instigator more would make matters better, because it acts as a deterrent.
     

    #19
  20. derLenno
    The Lab - OnePlus 6 Reviewer May 9, 2021

    derLenno , May 9, 2021 :
    TLDR but I'd suggest public hanging as a form of punishment for rule breakers. Maybe live streamed to show the power of 5G?
     

    #20
    McJader likes this.