Author Topic: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback.   (Read 2791 times)

Offline Monkey Mind

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Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« on: August 01, 2011, 08:41:43 pm »
I've been a moderator for this forum since December of 2009. I volunteered for a few different reasons. When I was a teenager, I received some great advise in a Buddhist chat room on what was then a very primitive Internet, and I wanted to "pay it forward". I was saddened and horrified by the shenanigans at e-sangha and Buddhist Community, specifically the bickering and hostility. I really liked what Wonky was trying to create here at FreeSangha. Call it a call to service.

Why don't I post more often? Why am I not more present in the chat room? Send more PM's? I work long hours, and on my days off I travel a lot. Most of the time when I am accessing FS, it's on a smart phone, which is not the easiest to type on. But all of that aside, I'm generally a pretty quiet person, in-person. 

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2011, 08:43:08 pm »
I've experienced forums that had negligible moderation, and I've watched them burn up. I've also witnessed forums that were moderated with zealous intensity, and that is not fun for the members either. If you exclude two specific members from the tally, I can count how many times I have used the moderation features here at FS on a four-fingered hand. Who those two members are doesn't matter. The main thing is that I feel very strongly about Right Speech (see above). Sometimes members feel very strongly about Right View (or exposing Wrong View), and sometimes members believe Wrong View trumps Right Speech. To complicate matters more, sometimes members do not even agree on a definition of Right Speech or Right View, so striking a balance between these can be complicated.

For example, a member might post that a certain Sangha is a "bunch of idiots". I might actually agree that the Sangha in question has indeed behaved poorly. But calling Sanghans "idiots" seems unnecessarily hostile, and I know many of our membership has taken refuge in the Sangha. So I either edit the post, delete the post, or move it the Danger Zone. This seems like a simple enough solution to me, but it draws some sure-fire complaints.

I serve the FreeSangha community, and not necessarily the loudest members but our wisest potential. In that spirit, I would like some honest feedback.

1) If a member posts something that seems contentious, hostile, or abusive (and remember I am human with my own biases), is it best to delete or edit the post? Or leave it in place and trust the membership community  to confront it directly?

2) Sometimes a lot of learning comes from heated debates. However, if heated debates escalate, people become angry and retaliate or leave the forum. How far should I let a heated debate go before I intervene?

3) Any other feedback for me?

Final note: I am the one seeking the feedback. Everyone on the mod team has their own strengths and deficits, so I cannot speak for the others. Perhaps they will chime in with their own requests for feedback...

Metta, MM
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 08:46:52 pm by Monkey Mind »

Offline t

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2011, 10:16:22 pm »
Quote
Any other feedback for me?
Can you use a cat avatar?  :cheesy:

Offline heybai

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2011, 11:25:43 pm »
1) If a member posts something that seems contentious, hostile, or abusive (and remember I am human with my own biases), is it best to delete or edit the post? Or leave it in place and trust the membership community  to confront it directly?

Of course it depends on the content and it context, which means that you have to use your judgement.  That's why you're pulling down that high moderator's salary, don't forget.   :)

In general you may assume that we don't need too much protection.  If something is really offensive to you, it's probably offensive to others.  Then there's the gray area in between, which is really what you're asking about.  I'd say err on leaving materials in place till others voice concern and then use your best judgement.

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2) Sometimes a lot of learning comes from heated debates. However, if heated debates escalate, people become angry and retaliate or leave the forum. How far should I let a heated debate go before I intervene?

Much the same holds true here too.

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3) Any other feedback for me?

Not at the moment.  You want I should PM you once a week with pointers?   :)

Best wishes --


Yeshe

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 01:22:59 am »
I think actions, if necessary, should be quick.  A minor edit or move is pretty transparent but sometimes whole posts, a whole series of posts, or a whole thread is deleted.

I know placing those posts and threads into the Bardo gives time to pause and to ask for other staff views, so that should always be done.  This means that quick action may be taken and then thought through carefully.  This has been happening lately and has been very successful IMHO.

In fact, I suggested to WB that maybe such posts and threads in the Bardo could be used to train Mods ''offline'', so that they are prepared when something nasty crops up and know what to do and how to use the tools to do it.  It also allows for a common approach across Mods.

A long time ago there was a discussion around members' expectations of Mods with regard to the Mods posting.  I think Daphne raised it.  I remember that we arrived at the consensus that Mods should be as free as anyone else to participate and that members should not expect Mods to be any more or less subject to the ToS.  It is part of the Freesangha 'freedom' ethos IMHO.

Maybe it is also something to consider that if Mods find that they are spending a disproportionate amount of their time disciplining or supporting specific members, again it would be a good idea to ask another Mod or Admin to examine what is going on, and perhaps to mediate.  If a member or Mod writes of leaving becuase of the situation, or if the debate has become a personal battle, this must surely be a trigger to hand over to another member of staff. 

Thanks to all staff - I know it ain't easy.



« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 01:56:41 am by Yeshe »

Offline Will

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2011, 08:04:42 am »
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Monkey Mind: 1) If a member posts something that seems contentious, hostile, or abusive (and remember I am human with my own biases), is it best to delete or edit the post? Or leave it in place and trust the membership community  to confront it directly?

2) Sometimes a lot of learning comes from heated debates. However, if heated debates escalate, people become angry and retaliate or leave the forum. How far should I let a heated debate go before I intervene?

3) Any other feedback for me?

1) Leave the post alone and wait for complaints (via PM much preferred). The rest of us, in such a case, should we agree with your take, should ignore the bad post and us PM to report it.

2) Again, ignore your own feelings and wait for reports about the negative note of the thread.

3) How to determine exactly when to intervene - the number of PM reports - who does the reporting or other criteria, is a Mods main (if not only decision).  I would advocate for as little and as slow interventions as possible.  Reading "tone" accurately on the screen is a popular delusion and not to be indulged in - by anyone.
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2011, 08:57:12 am »
Skull, I agree with a lot of what you have written, and usually I don't intervene unless a member complains. But I do have a counter question for you:

When a member pushes the report post button, I go back and review all of the posts that led up to that report. Almost always I can see that the problem began several posts prior, someone posted something contentious and every post after that was an emotional reaction to that first post, until finally someone looses their temper. Would it not serve the interests of the community to moderate that first post, rather than wait until it escalates?

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2011, 09:06:42 am »
Su Dongpo, as always thank you for your wisdom.

t- A picture of my cat would strike fear into the hearts of the weak, and the bold will have nightmares for weeks. Here is a brief sample, try not to look at it directly...

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2011, 09:46:29 am »
Since it appears that my reaction to your moving of a thread has some bearing on this, it might be best to explain my own reaction. You stated that the movement of the thread entitled "Does comassion equate with charity?" was not in compliance with the Dharma Express, where you even later cited another thread in regard to this which is just as vague:

It is rare that I use my moderation superpowers to intervene in the daily activities of village life. I am noticing a trend in the Dharma Express, and so I want for us as a community to return to some basic ground rules.

The mission of the Dharma Express states this:
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General Buddhism non-sect specific forum - any and all Buddhist topics.

As vague as that is, I want to start moving sect-specific discussions out of the Dharma Express and into their appropriate sub-forums. I will also start asking people to cite their sources, to avoid confusion for the new-comer or newbie. There is such a vast wealth of teaching that (almost) all sects agree upon, so if you are introducing a concept that is sect specific I want you to account for that. Finally, I ask for your patience; what I don't know about the various brands of Buddhism far out weighs what I do know, so it is possible I will make mistakes when relocating topics to appropriate sub-forums.



Unless you're trying to say that compassion and charity are not shared traits among all Buddhist traditions, then the thread in question shouldn't have been moved.

So why was it moved?

Was it because I spoke highly of Tzu Chi Foundation?

Was it because I mentioned the well-known history of welfare societies in many Chinatown settlements being used as fronts for gambling?

Was it the fact that I mentioned the tendency of ethnic Buddhists to isolate themselves from the suffering found in any given inner city in the West?

Was it because I was asking others to complain about such things or did I not actually ask others to share their stories of excellent groups that have undertaken charity work? It was most certainly the latter.

Did my thread pose more problematic than the one about Padmasambhava being a "black magician" that it warranted being moved, a thread which most certainly had a better chance of becoming combative?

Why? Is it something personal related to me? It certainly has the appearance of such.

Or is it something as simple as a personal believe that the posters here are hard-wired to do the exact opposite, that they can't respond in mature manner?

The role of a mod is not to be judge, jury, and executioner, but to mediate when necessary. And please don't take this to mean that I'm inferring that your a bad moderator, because that isn't the case, even in stances where you and I disagreed in the past I've never inferred that, but question the accountability or lack thereof in doing such things.

Accountability is the keyword here because if the forum isn't going to maintain any than what's the point?

Offline Will

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2011, 09:49:32 am »
Skull, I agree with a lot of what you have written, and usually I don't intervene unless a member complains. But I do have a counter question for you:

When a member pushes the report post button, I go back and review all of the posts that led up to that report. Almost always I can see that the problem began several posts prior, someone posted something contentious and every post after that was an emotional reaction to that first post, until finally someone looses their temper. Would it not serve the interests of the community to moderate that first post, rather than wait until it escalates?

The assumptions are that 1) "something contentious" is an objective fact and has nothing to do with the "touchiness" of the offended.  2) "Emotional reactions" can be discerned as differing from "losings of temper".  3) No allowance of time is given for the "offender" & the "offended" using the Dharma to cool off. 4)  The interests of the community would be best served, I think, by letting those people argue with animation who wish to and those who do not like such bad vibrations avoid the thread. Only when waste of bandwith and boredom, in your view, supervenes, then take whatever steps you think best.

The Danger Zone is where the feisty should be encouraged to post.  If a thread degenerates to a tiresome personal back and forth, then you could just move it over to the Danger Zone as first step.

Anyway, it is a tough job in one sense, but in another very easy.  In the latter sense, we can recognize troublemakers over time, whether they are whiners always taking offence at some perceived wrong speech (often butting in) or hell-raisers who enjoy the fray.  If the community finds Whiner X and/or Hell-raiser Z a pest, they will be shunned and they will have only each other to argue with or offend.  At that point they will be off in their own little bad karma world; which is they way life works. 

Maybe they will (or will not) learn, maybe we the spectators will learn from their bad example - maybe not.

To stretch my little-intervention point - "Buddhas can only point the way"; so also Mods cannot really "save" the community or any individual.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 10:06:26 am by Skull »
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline Monkey Mind

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2011, 11:26:11 am »
So why was it moved?

Thank you, Venerable. This is an excellent example of the struggle I am describing.   You titled the thread "Does compassion equate with charity?" and you placed the thread in the Dharma Express. But then you made this statement:

For example, here in Los Angeles, within a stone's throw of Skid Row, we have Little Tokyo with its temples and they not only have their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to the suffering around them, but also had the nerve to try to oppose the purchase of a hotel by an organization that provides housing for the homeless and low income, mind you the property in question wasn't even in Little Tokyo, just nearby.

So the thread is really about criticizing a specific Sangha which, in your opinion, is modeling the opposite of compassion and charity. We have 676 members, I do not know if any of our membership belongs to this temple. I do know that no one wants to read their Sangha described in such a hostile way. And I know that denigrating other Sanghas is not a universal Buddhist quality. It would be impossible for anyone to debate you on the issue and still comply with the expressed intentions of the Dharma Express. We do have a forum that allows for this type of debate, the Danger Zone. So I moved it. In my mind, that was very simple math, 2+2= 4. I am sorry you had such a negative reaction to that, but my logic made sense to me at the time...

And please don't take this to mean that I'm inferring that your a bad moderator, because that isn't the case, even in stances where you and I disagreed in the past I've never inferred that, but question the accountability or lack thereof in doing such things.

Actually, I have several dozen PMs from you that are pretty hostile. And then there is the related topic at BuddhaForum. But your own public words were:

Really, speaking the truth about something in Los Angeles, speaking highly of the Tzu Chi Foundation, as well as briefly mentioning that fact that I spent an afternoon with monastics of another religious, warrants moving a thread to the DZ?

Here's a novel idea... just shoot me and put me out of my missery because this place is so full of BS its not worth the time of even being here.


Venerable, I do not have a wish for conflict. I will observe that you often state your opinions in a way that are insulting to specific groups or members. I am not sure if I am supposed to challenge these events each time it occurs, but my experience is that you respond very poorly to being challenged. Maybe we can come to a gentleman's agreement?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 11:28:39 am by Monkey Mind »

Offline Dharmakara

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2011, 12:05:20 pm »
MM, we all have opinions, but please know that opinions are typically shaped within context of perception and actual events, where if criticism is due then it is due. For example, the very sad story about the nun being raped in Nepal and the intial response of the Sangha authorities in regard to it, the attempt to strip her of her robes, ect., was highly criticised and in most cases with less than flattering words.

What is the difference?

From where I sit, the only difference is your belief that I was stating an opinion without a foundation for having said so, when in fact my reference to Little Tokyo was from first hand experience because I also happen to be a Tenant Activity Coordinator  (TAC) for the non-profit in question and was not only privy to the event, but also helped with getting other community groups involved in pushing back.

Not only could you have asked in regard to this for clarification, but anyone who had knowledge to the contrary of the generalized opinion could have also stated so, even though a simple inquiry would show that it's usually Western Dharma centers and groups that carry out much of this kind of outreach, not the ethnic groups themselves.

Again, a very factual statement, with the noted exception of the  Tzu Chi Foundation, something I also mentioned.

You continue to place the creation of the conflict on one party, but for the record there's two of us involved in it, you and I, where any hostility on my part was directly related to disbelief that this had even occured in the first place, specificly because I do believe you're a good mod, where if any fault should be laid at my feet it would have to be the "expectation" of being a good mod somehow infers this wouldn't happen.

In all honesty, if you're going to sit here and claim that I'm "hostile" toward you, why not possess the accountability and transparency to explain the circumstances under which we were in disagreement, explain your own behavior that played a part in those supposed times of "hostility" and see if others agree with you or not.... just don't sit here and allow others to use their imagination.

That's the other part of that "expectation" when I say that your a good mod, the fact that you actually do know better and possess all the characteristics that separate a good mod from a bad one --- you can even ask Hakan in regard to that because he certainly knows what I've said more than anyone, especially during my time as an admin member here.

If in the past I failed to convey that to you properly, then I am truly sorry and ask your forgiveness.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 12:16:25 pm by incognito, Reason: spelling/grammar »

Yeshe

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2011, 12:25:47 am »
MM - in acknowledging the feedback of all others on this thread except my own. much is communicated which is consistent with previous attitudes.

As I advised, a Mod who greets a member by asking what trouble they are here to cause, and continues to be negative in actions towards that member, should really question whether percieved hostility from members isn't becoming a common theme here in your feedback.

I forgave you way back - it's not good to carry that burden as a Mod. ;)

Offline dhammaseeker51

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2011, 01:54:07 am »
Forums seem to attract people with strong opinions, and Buddhist forums are no different to others, despite the Buddhist ideals of compassion and tolerance.
I think the Freesangha mods do a good job of moderation, but that's just my opinion. You can't please all the people all the time.
Sometimes you've just got to accept that everyone will have a different take on a given topic coloured by their conditioning, and this will differ from day to day.
Keep up the good work.

with Metta

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Monkey Mind answers questions and is seeking feedback. 
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2011, 01:57:34 am »
You can't please all the people all the time.

Yes, that's very true.

Spiny

 


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