An answer to Lucas' allegations

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JuLieN
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An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by JuLieN » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:24 pm

An answer to Lucas' allegations

First, I'd like to apologize for this thread being off-topic in the programming forum. But this is in this forum that serious accusations were made by Lucas, which need to be answered.

Let's start with a bit of history. Two years ago, I was asked by a former moderator to run. I didn't feel specially competent for this job, so I declined. But he was very convincing. Maybe you'll remember the state of chaos that prevailed in Talkchess back then with the clone wars. I thought something had to be done, so I finally accepted to run. Three other individuals were running too : Adam Hair, Don Dailey and Miguel Ballicora.

To my surprise, I came first, and then were Miguel and Don elected as well, with Adam being the substitute. We barely knew each other, and the three of us were on very different sides of the Rybka/ICGA affair. So, given the circumstances, we were worried. Our first decision was to try to synchronize our policies and come to a compromise that would be our moderation law during our term. We debated and exchanged more than 500 emails in two or three weeks (Don was horrified, "if this goes on that way I'll never be able to continue!"). But it was worth it because we came to a synthesis that looked good enough to the three of us, the Moderation Policy Statement. In addition, we learned to know each other and were pleased to see that we actually agreed on the most important things. During this first term we developed respect and friendship.

This first term also saw us set some new policies in order to try to bring some peace and camaraderie back to this forum. If I quote our second term's candidacy statement :
We have introduced several policies that we believe have improved the CCC forum. The CCC forum is and should be the center of all things concerning computer chess. What we implemented include:

A. We have redirected threads concerning clones, which engines are clones, who is cheating, etc ..., to the Engine Origins subforum. The effect of this has been to keep the main forum uncluttered and a more civil place. In addition, this benefitted the technical discussions regarding clones because of the slower pace of EO. The feedback we have received indicates that the members generally appreciated these action.

B. Many people, from within and without, came to "believe" that the CCC was controlled by a few. Whether this “control” was true or not is irrelevant. The fact is that several important discussions were taking place in other fora. CCC is supposed to be THE PLACE for all enthusiasts and authors. All discussions belong here as long as they are civilized. For that reason, we took action by enforcing CCC's charter and keeping a neutral stance in all situations.

C. CCC was devolving into a place where people felt free to insult each other, and generally act uncivil towards each other. We actively fought this by posting warnings directly in the offending threads and sending PM's to the transgressors. Civility is necessary in a place as diverse as CCC. The lack of it nullifies the great aspects of CCC and drives away members that we should strive to keep.

D. We actively worked to curb the practice of blatant "thread hijacking". Normal conversation between groups of people tend to wind around and touch upon several subjects. However, it was becoming more common for individuals to completely disregard the thread's topic and launch into a subject (often an attack) of their own choosing. The role of this forum, besides being a place for enthusiasts and authors to interact, is to facilitate the flow of information. Thread hijacking interrupts basic interaction and it is abusive.
Those policies sometimes met strong resistance from a few, very vocal, individuals who were used to the previous anarchic state of the forum. This was sometimes very tough for us, because some people would act like we were robots, without feelings and, hidden behind their keyboard, would treat us like they would -Hopefully- never treat anybody in the street. From a personal point of view this taught me a lot, both on human behavior and on how to cope with it. We discussed and voted all of our decisions (this is still the same today btw). So this was a time consuming process but it kind of guaranteed a good quality of moderation. Those past two years, Adam, Don, Miguel and I exchanged about 3800 emails, according to my mailing program's statistics.

At the end of our first term it seemed to us that we did manage to achieve some of our goals (the clones wars stopped and some calm and civility were back). It wasn't perfect, some people had left CC because of those wars and, despite our solicitations, still didn't feel like coming back to this hobby, but all in all we were satisfied with the results.

So we started to wonder if we should run for a second term or not. Two reasons made us decide for a positive answer : first, the results were still fragile. Secondly, we had introduced some pretty heavy changes in the way the forum was moderated, so we had to give people who had elected us the possibility to either show their appreciation or, at the contrary, sanction us. There was just no way we would ran from the consequences of our choices. Also, put simply, we had developed a strong friendship and liked to moderate together. So we ran a second time, and had the pleasure to receive a strong, rewarding support. For this second term, Adam filled in for Don, who was already fighting his illness and decided to focus more strongly on Komodo, with the results we saw. But, even without voting power Don would regularly provide us with good insights and ideas, while Adam was fitting very well in the team as well.

This second term went smoothly, so we saw no reason to run a third time and told the forum about that. But we received numerous reactions, both privately and publicly, asking us to run again. After some time we decided "ok, one last time, then we've served our time!" And were re-elected. Again, this term went smoothly and we told Sam that we wouldn't run again (and we did not!). So, we searched for successors (we targeted new blood). I personally contacted five or six persons I thought would be good moderators, just like I myself was contacted a year and a half before, and Miguel did the same on his side. But, all people turned down our requests. From our point of view that was a bit disappointing. Mostly, we all had a busy planning coming fast: Miguel had to prepare some serious grant proposal writing, while I had been given a new group of students for whom I had to write a whole new set of classes. Adam was also very busy and had problems finding enough time for moderation. So we told Sam that was the end for us. And this is why, instead of opening a poll about continuing or not with the same team, like he did the two previous times, Sam had to open a full-blown electoral process and call for candidates.

But only two people self-nominated for the elections, and Sam couldn't persuade some more people to candidate. After expanding the nomination process Sam eventually decided to cancel the elections (there were not even enough candidates to form a team!) and asked us to remain moderators for a fourth term. We were a bit upset but saw no other solutions and accepted (the alternative being to refuse and leave the forum without moderators...).

Things are going better, now : we caught up with our work and have time for moderation, a task that, in all honesty, doesn't bother us and even brings good laughs at times. But this doesn't change the fact that, either we decide to run or not again, we would be happy if other people would start to think about giving time to our community by seriously considering becoming moderators.

Now that you know the context, let's take a look at Lucas' violent accusations :
lucasart wrote:Now the real problem. Regarding thread locking, deleting (or changing) messages, the current moderation team has gone too far. Way too far. And it's not the first time. Far from that. I have nothing against Adam Hair, and I think he does not abuse his moderation power, but I cannot say the same of Julien, and even Miguel.

This whole moderator thing was supposed to be a democratic process. Instead we have an oligarchy of moderators. Let me make my self very clear:
* I want them OUT.
* They will modify or delete this message, and I will repost it again, and again, ad nauseam, until they leave it uncensored. Yes, this is especially for YOU Julien.

The last 3 elections were a complete farce:

election 1: only teams were allowed, and they were the only team. voila.

election 2: Individuals were allowed. Now, if you have a choice of one team and many individual, mathematically the team has an advantage. If 75% want them out, but these 75% votes get spread across different candidates, they can still win. Admittedly there were few, almost no candidates. So I put forward two names (not myself, but people I trust): unfortunately they refused. So our moderator oligarchs were "elected" again.

election 3: Again, no one bothered to put their name forward. It's as if everyone knows already that it's a farce, not a real democracy, so there's no point in participating. One day before the expiry date, I finally decided to put myself forward, if only to force them to have an election. This was enough to push a couple of other candidates to put their name forward. So there was our moderator team + 3 other individual candidates. The election was not held. The matter was completely shushed up, and the thread locked.

What I find even more annoying is that our dear moderators make it sound like they are really so nice and brave to do this work benevolently. Really we should be thankful, and we don't want to be moderators ourselves and have to put up with all the politics, etc. That is basically their eternal excuse for justifying their oligarchic power.
For the first part, I'll quote Miguel's answer :
michiguel wrote:I am deeply disappointed. When did we delete threads that complained about us? never. We pruned them to be individual threads and make sure those never hijacked others. When did we delete post of yours? Why do you play the victim of a possible post deletion, with threads of spamming the forum if we delete the posts? why are you doing that?

We have taken a lot of abuse, and insults, but we never tolerated insults towards other members. If you criticize us, we won't delete the post, but you can be sure that it may be moved or a branch taken out of a thread.
And I will only add two things :
- firstly, I don't know why you single me out, considering that all our decision are group decisions.
- secondly, you seem to imply that I have edited some messages, something I have never done and would never do. None of us would, actually. The only exception being removing illegal links or when asked by the original poster himself.
You obviously have something personal against me, and I have no idea why.
election 1: only teams were allowed, and they were the only team. voila.
Truth: The poll asked if the forum would continue or not with the same team. (Which is BTW what Lucas propose as a "solution" in his post.)
election 2: Individuals were allowed.
Truth: No. Again, the poll asked if the forum would continue or not with the same team.
election 3: Again, no one bothered to put their name forward. It's as if everyone knows already that it's a farce, not a real democracy, so there's no point in participating. One day before the expiry date, I finally decided to put myself forward, if only to force them to have an election. This was enough to push a couple of other candidates to put their name forward. So there was our moderator team + 3 other individual candidates. The election was not held. The matter was completely shushed up, and the thread locked.
Truth: as said above, not enough candidates to even run an election. Contrary to what Lucas says, there were only two (self-nominated) candidates. I quote what Sam told us:
Sam Hull wrote:There were no new candidates in CTF and only two accepted nomination in CCC (both nominated themselves). That isn't enough for a ballot so I extended the nomination period two more days and still got no additional takers.

Unless someone has a better plan elections are cancelled this time around and current teams will serve for the next term. I will wait to hear from you guys before making any announcements.

-Sam-
As I already said, we weren't particularly happy with this, for the various reasons I presented above.
What I find even more annoying is that our dear moderators make it sound like they are really so nice and brave to do this work benevolently. Really we should be thankful, and we don't want to be moderators ourselves and have to put up with all the politics, etc.
Lucas is right, we take tremendous pleasure being insulted and calumniated.
That is basically their eternal excuse for justifying their oligarchic power.
Should I dignify this with an answer ?

Just because you don't agree with the moderators, you decide to calumniate them. But just because you're the most vocal one doesn't mean you're right, just like your virulent actions regarding the programming threads received a clear disapprobation in the poll. An overwhelming one, despite you were so arrogantly sure your personal opinion would be the majority's one. If you had observed, as we did, that the debate was so intense and involved so many people, then perhaps you would have concluded, as we did, that it could only meant it was interesting the users and that we had no right to censure it.

It is puzzling that you previously advocated for no or minimal moderation, but here you insistently wanted us to moderate others.

This matter could, and should, have been taken privately, but you decided to go public, sadly, so I'm sorry the users have to see this mess.

As I already lost much too many time with this matter, I have no special intent to dialogate with someone who was obviously ill-intended. But I thought it was important for me to right some wrongs.

/Julien
"The only good bug is a dead bug." (Don Dailey)
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hgm
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by hgm » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:37 pm

I can't believe you take Lucas seriously. He is always grumpy, and likes to dump on anything he doesn't understand. That is just his way.

Henk
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by Henk » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:03 pm

What would happen if all words were forbidden that reference 'people'. Would it for instance be possible to insult, attack 'people' ? If that would not be possible the task of 'moderators' would be easier, although things like hijacking a thread would still be possible.

mvk
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by mvk » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:18 pm

JuLieN wrote: As I already lost much too many time with this matter, I have no special intent to dialogate with someone who was obviously ill-intended. But I thought it was important for me to right some wrongs.

/Julien
Why not give that vocal minority the moderation stick for a year and let them demonstrate how it must be done?
[Account deleted]

Henk
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by Henk » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:23 pm

Henk wrote:What would happen if all words were forbidden that reference 'people'. Would it for instance be possible to insult, attack 'people' ? If that would not be possible the task of 'moderators' would be easier, although things like hijacking a thread would still be possible.
Sorry does not work. Insulting is still possible for instance:

'What a stupid thing to say !!! Idiot !'

syzygy
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by syzygy » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:34 pm

In my view the moderator team is doing an excellent job.

Regarding the programming threads, Lucas is terribly inconsistent. He has started quite a few of those himself.

In general, the ones that complain seem to be ones that have issues.

The moderator team does not have to accept more insults directed to them than directed to regular users. If anything, the threshold for what they have to accept should be lower (as long as they are acting in their capacity as moderator and not taking part in the thread being moderated, obviously).

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Rebel
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by Rebel » Sun Dec 15, 2013 7:52 pm

Sorry to see you spoil your valuable time (hours?) on this. Was no need. In my view you guys are the best mods since the existence of CCC. No surprise you can't find successors :lol:

mar
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by mar » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:05 pm

I can't imagine a better team either.

Joerg Oster
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by Joerg Oster » Sun Dec 15, 2013 8:55 pm

syzygy wrote:In my view the moderator team is doing an excellent job
+1 !!!
Jörg Oster

tvrzsky
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Re: An answer to Lucas' allegations

Post by tvrzsky » Sun Dec 15, 2013 9:05 pm

My support to moderators.

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