Forum Moderation and its Purpose

Bein’ the Law, Just Isn’t Easy

By: Savanja

Ah yes, moderators. Those people that wander around my chosen forums, with this silly notion that we should all follow
the rules. I’ll be the first to admit that they are desperately needed. I’ve been on forums with no moderation, and trust me
it’s scary. The things people say when they get their panties in a twist, I mean, really, it’s enough to make even me blush,
and I assure you that is no easy feat!

So then, I believe that most can agree that moderation is a must have. Trouble arises when no one can agree on how much
moderation is needed, or what things should be allowed and addressed.

Rules of Conduct

Most big forums have this nifty little thing they like to call “The Rules”. And unlike the book by the same name
(which I tossed out the moment I realized the whole thing was based on the idea that chasing boys was bad), this is a must read.
This gives every poster a basic understanding of what is expected of them while they exercise the privilege of posting on the
forums. Now it’s all pretty typical stuff. Think of it as the polite way of behaving when you visit someone else’s home.
You go there for discussion and camaraderie, not to bash your own personal opinions and ideas into someone’s head. And just
as it would be rude to toss insults at your host while in their home, the same applies to forums. Be nice to the red names,
and be nice to those that hang out on their turf.

The rules are there for a reason, and it is so everyone may enjoy their posting time on the forums.
Read them, remember
them, and follow them

Judge, Jury, and Executioner

On the SOE forums we have Raijinn, king mod, and then his band of Mods in Blue. These are the enforcers of the Rules
of Conduct. These stealthy creatures roam the forums, locking, editing, and dishing out warnings as they see fit.
They rule the forums. They make the call on what’s acceptable and what’s not, and they have the power to back it up.
It’s a hard job for sure. No one wants to be the bad guy, but frequently the mods are put into that position. Posters
want their voices to be heard, even when it’s irrational spouting of gaming injustices, and no ones likes being silenced.
To be fair, I’ve seen a lot of posts get the special mod love that don’t really deserve it, but in those gray areas, it’s
sometimes a tough call to make. And no mod is going to be liked by everyone. I had a particular affection for the former EQ2 moderator, Faarwolf. Her style was relaxed, she was fair for the most part,
and at the end of the day she was simply out there to enforce the “play nice policy one post at a time”. I dig that.

Raijinn has taken a firmer stance, and perhaps rightfully so. It seems he expects the forum posters to obey ALL the rules.
It’s no secret that some of the forums stretch those rules to the fullest. The server forums can get pretty rowdy, and the
Non-gameplay Discussion (NGD) can definitely get out of line frequently. Do we deserve the extra bit of moderation?
If I were to be completely impartial, I would say, yes. It unfortunately, changes the flavor of those forums when stricter
moderation is handed out, but it’s not enough to chase away the posters. Most of us simply take our more frisky banter elsewhere.

Always the Party Pooper

The way it works is, the mods browse the forums, and read their abuse reports that are sent in via forum posters.
If they see something that steps out of appropriate forum conduct, they take action. Generally this means a lock on a
thread that really has nowhere to go, sometimes it only calls for a warning that lets the posters know that they are
walking the line, and occasionally it means a thread completely disappears.
Does this mean that SOE wants to stifle any negative thoughts from the player base? No, most certainly not.
For the most part, when people bother to state criticism in a calm and adult manner, discussion is fully encouraged.
The devs want to hear what people have to say. It’s how they know what they need to do to make the game better.
When a thread gets locked, it’s not because they do not want to hear what you have to say. It’s because you aren’t
saying it in a way that fosters mature conversation, or could be a topic that has come up so often, like another post
complaining about how Rangers suck now, that it seems a teeny bit redundant. But never think that it means that they aren’t

Along these same lines, I’ve seen a lot of posts crop up in regards to the botting issues that plague all MMO’s.
And as most people know, this is a lock worthy topic. People feel that SOE is turning a blind eye when posts on the matter
get yanked from the forums. You name someone that you believe to be a bot, and that thread will disappear quicker than you
can say, “Plat for sale!” Blacklisting is a no-no people! Even if one could provide conclusive evidence that a player was
botting, it is still the responsibility of SOE to investigate fairly and take appropriate action if necessary. Naming names
on a forum is NOT okay. You report it in game, or drop a note to the EQ2 CS. If SOE took action against every player that
has been suspected of being a bot, a lot of people would have been unjustly banned.

Then we have the things like spamming, questionable content, and the like that really does end up being a judgment call.
The NGD is packed full with spam. Not malicious spam really. Just banter that ends up carrying on back and forth a little
longer than it should. Things that likely should be taken to PMs gets posted, and while a lot of us are okay with it, because
it’s always amusing to see quirky conversations between two posters, it does technically break the rules. So perhaps “/w0rd”
is not the most useful post response. But going back to that flavor thing, it kind of makes it familiar. NGD is much like
Cheers. We’ve all become friends there, and we’ve come to be okay with each posters particular quirk. This gives poor Raijinn
the unfortunate job of cleaning up forums that not necessarily everyone agrees that needs to be cleaned up. But let’s keep
in mind that this is his job. He is required to enforce the conduct policy; it’s what he gets paid for. Sure, he could sit
back and let us run amuck all over the forums, but then I’m not thinking he’d have a job for very long. He has bosses, and
people to answer to and all that. And I think we all know how very hard it must be to work for Blackguard. I know he scares
me something fierce. (I’m kidding of course. BG is a god of mythical proportions, and a very nice guy.)

A Day in the Life of a Moderator

I don’t think people realize the sheer mass of information, e-mails, and private messages that come across Raijinn and
Blackguard’s virtual desk. These are men that everyone wants a piece of! And while I might think them to be gods, they are
truly but mere mortals that can only do so much in a day just like the rest of us. It’s impossible for them to know, when looking
at that PM box, or sifting through e-mail, what truly needs attention, and
what is just another “SOE sux” commentary. So when people bother to contact these boys privately, they truly need to be aware
that everyone else is trying to do the same thing. I actually won’t contact either one of them privately unless I really need
to. Not just because I fear the wrath of Blackguard for cluttering up his PM box, but also because I know that they are busy
people. And unless I have something to say that really needs to be said, I’ll use other means of getting my thoughts across.

Blackguard recently posted a mini FAQ. This made me giggle in a big way, because these are the things that people actually ask
them. And it’s a good example of why when people have real issues that need to be addressed, that sometimes they don’t get any
attention. They aren’t purposely ignoring you, they simply have to wade through the dozens, if not hundreds, of somewhat
unneeded appeals to get to the things that really matter.

So I would personally beg the playerbase, please, if you just want to ask them why they nerfed your class, striking it
unplayable, save it. Maybe open a thread, inviting discussion on the things that could be altered to make your chosen
class better, but cut the boys a break, and let them do their jobs without having to answer another one of those questions
with the obvious “We are not trying to make your class unplayable”. Because I promise you, several others have asked and
said the same thing, and they already know how any given class feels about the playability of their characters. Not to
mention that silly little idea that they actually play the game themselves, and pretty much already know how the classes play.
Yes, it’s true! They play the game too.

Be Gentle

So I hope that I conveyed the idea here that being the mod just isn’t easy. And I hope that when each of you goes to post
on the forums that you do so with this article in mind.
I’m not free from guilt and sin. I break the rules on a regular basis myself. But I do try my best to keep my contribution
to forum drama to a minimum. And no hard feelings when Raijinn or one of the MiB slaps a little mod love my way. I understand
that they are simply trying to do what is best for the community as a whole.

Happy posting everyone. I will see you on the forums!

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016