On the plus side, if there is a filter and people are actively having to put in effort to avoid it, then those people have no excuse and could actually be punished fairly.
Could staff please hold a meeting for this in a staff-only forum topic? It’s easy.
Here are some examples of what was done in a different project. Note that GM is an equivalent of moderator here, only with more power/is considered a high rank.
Preface within staff about existing rules/during 2014 ruleset rewrite (since the old ones were stupid). Starting with this because the screenshot after this one is important for moderation consistency attempts.
Talking about each rule, including removal of loopholes. This makes sure the intention of each rule is not lost/misconstrued or taken too far to an extreme. This allows for good decisions in a complex/odd situation that would require a judgement call from moderation:
Snippets of the discussion about how moderation should be approached. First post is organized and up to date. ( It’s also stickied, in a staff section):
This still leaves most approaches in the hands of the staff member, but the differences between how each staff handles cases won’t vary so wildly that players will be confused. (Some staff will invariably be recognized as more forgiving than others, but players still know what is/isn’t ok.)
[Keep in mind mutes in this example project normally start at 30-60 seconds, and reasons can be added to the mute command so that they know exactly why they were muted for 60 seconds. Meanwhile I think in PMU they start at hours/days[?], but I feel PMU could use the 60 second rule since it normally “jolts” people back to reality without them feeling like the punishment was too harsh.]
There used to be consistency issues in the example project as well. Here’s how it was changed, mostly in order:
*Moderation staff as a group came up with those guidelines by communicating their moderation styles with eachother. Harsher/more forgiving styles were also talked with the rest of staff, so that staff as a whole could agree with and justify/understand any actions taken. This prevents staff from openly disagreeing with each other through public channels, which is confusing/sloppy; they can talk directly to eachother instead, and everyone is acknowledged.
*Logic >>>> emotion. If a good point is made, it cannot be ignored. Admins had to enforce this early on when the group had less savory characters within staff, because otherwise conversations could and would derail, sometimes into insults. If there is a disagreement that doesn’t hold water when challenge, the lack of logic is pointed out and if the person bringing the point up cannot adjust to meet standards, the point is not attended to. Entertaining poor logic/no logic for too long wastes time and can result in mistakes/damage that leaks to the players. Staff that degraded into hostility or failed to cooperate mostly did not get their way, but in hindsight at least one person should have been demoted.
—Entire ranks were not punished for abuses; individuals were. When community-based groups could not handle the ban power right, the people who abused their power were removed instead of compromising an entire rank’s efficiency just because of a bad egg.
*A lot of the “moderation culture” is unwritten, in that most people have similar expectations via talking to eachother in staff chat during this time and by staff hiring similarly-minded people (in other words, the personalities in the group do not clash/have vastly different goals or ideals…or at least clashed less as time went on). This requires upper management having a mostly clear, unified vision for the game’s culture/moderation enforcement. (Management can’t give people conflicting goals when it comes to rule enforcement.)
*If somebody was too harsh/too easy, other staff are normally kind about it and give their 2 cents without vilifying the staff member they disagree with or demanding change/a revocation. There is not a “shaming” culture within staff where people have to hide from their mistakes or have a chance of getting “ganged up” on. Mistakes are just talked out with both people trying to understand the other side; Moderation staff has semi-final say but is expected to seriously consider critique (see: Logic > emotion), and admins can jump in and direct moderation culture in a specific direction if something appears to be going poorly (ex: they believe logic is being ignored by the moderation team).
*“Bloodthirsty” culture [where Moderation would entrap people to punish them or make a spectacle of punished players] was discouraged and ultimately abandoned. It is disrespectful to turn bans/mutes/behavior reform discussions into a circus. It also takes the community into a terrible direction to allow people to publicly shame others; it is terrible when staff laugh at other players openly with the community, because of how much sway a tag can have. A single tagged member calling a player something negative in a semi-serious manner (ex: annoying, trouble maker, hacker) turns a player into black sheep that can get picked on by the rest of the playerbase. Reports were made private when they were previously public. Obviously joking about it is ok, but sincerely encouraging people to “shame criminals” is not.
*Logic >>>> emotion v2: Staff are never supposed to give out clear, non-hostile answers to players, no matter how annoying they are, until they have been warned.
*Every new staff in the moderation role gets directed to there and has a “trial” period where they are put “into the wild” so to speak. Since existing staff have already unified their moderation techniques, existing staff work by example, which prevents new staff from going in a wildly different direction.
*[IMPORTANT]: Moderation was “detangled” from existing content groups. The content groups used to be able to ban/mute as well as implement maps/NPCs. This ended up holding the entire staff back, because “good hires” for content had to be passed up because they weren’t also “good hires” for moderation. This lets content focus on content as long as they don’t have a bad personality/lash out at players. This also lets content not have to delay important content projects because they have to deal with unruly players/bans/controversies. This also lets mods not be “outclassed” by content groups and be recognized as important (which they are) instead of as a stepping stone to get to other groups with.
----The example project has 2 levels of moderators, actually: one expected to help the community and foster kindness/host mini events, and a level for serious cases like bans/security.
Keep in mind that this REQUIRES upper management to care and be proactive about discussions so that they are kept moving in a healthy direction. Admins/high-influence staff (high-influence meaning whoever in staff can get people organized regardless of rank) cannot be passive/inactive/drop the ball here…But that’s true of everything in a project. This is just one example of why it is so important that upper management has their stuff together.
[/wall…I’m sure I’ll post another next week.]