Moderated List

2001-1-12 11:30:00

As you know this list will soon change from a free-for-all with a teacher attempting to direct it toward the curriculum to a moderated list where there will be authority to only allow postings relative to the course of study or rules of the forum.

Far and away the greatest number of complaints I receive by private e-mail are from people who are frustrated by others making posts far off the course of study, attacking the course of study, or just posting too much unrelated material. Many newcomers have stayed a few days, become confused and left not being able to see much connection between the book and the list. Others have stayed a while and then left and are keeping abreast by reading my posts in Larry's archives. Some have told me that my posts are all they read because they are confused about the direction and motive of the other posts. Many have complained about the conflicts on the list have and pleaded with me to make this a moderated list.

Below for instance is a letter I received from a lurker who has been with us for two years but is losing patience:

"Dear JJ, what a load of rubbish was waiting for me in my emails. Why do people put up with CW at all? Most of what he writes is rubbish and the rest isn't worth reading."

One thing many forget is that Rick is the owner of the list and the ultimate approval of policy comes from him. If he decided that he was out of harmony with me as a teacher he could fire me and get someone else and there is nothing I could do about it.

If I want a change in policy I could suggest it to him, but have no power to order it.

We have realized that this unchecked posting style we have could only go on for so long before we would have to make changes. I thought the list could continue as it has been until the membership reached around 400 and this could have been the case, but the distractions of late have been too great so a change has become necessary.

How will things change?

For most of those posting nothing will change. You send in your post and it will appear as usual.

But for the handful who make posts that are attacking or driving the list off topic - these may be filtered out and not appear. Even here the writer can rewrite the post so it is on topic and have it posted. All the criteria have not been settled on, but this is the general idea.

Can members still disagree with the teacher and have it posted?

When I am teaching or responding to posts this will be no problem if the disagreement is on topic and written in a civil manner and has not already been answered. If a member has no interest in learning from the teacher (whether it be me, Benjamin, Larry or others in charge) and posts challenging posts time after time these may be eliminated as an insincere distraction. Even here I may pick some of the posts and comment on them, but not most of them as has hitherto been the case. For one thing most of the challenges have already been covered and the older members get weary of me answering the same negative questions again and again. Long time members are hoping for new material now and then.

On the other hand, other teachers will do things their way. They are free to ignore all the challenging posts if they want.

Who will object to a moderated list? It will be a minority of the list but they will fall into two categories.

(1) Sincere readers who joined for the class who believe there should be no restriction of posting because it goes against their ideal or belief.

To these people I say that I share your ideal as far as it is practical, but most of us believe this method has reached its limit and a change is needed.

(2) Readers who did not join to learn from the teacher but for some other reason. Most of these want a stream of consciousness type of exchange completely out of harmony with list objectives. Unfortunately we cannot please this group, and not all of their writings will be posted.

Trish asks several questions:
Do all of you really want "one person" to have control over what you post?

Do you want "one person" to decide if what you post is relevant?

The students do not decide the curriculum or the class rules. Most of the other forums are not set up as a classroom. This one is. You have the free will to enroll or to not enroll in the class. The student can suggest policy, but not order it. That is up to the teacher and the list owner and whoever they decide to get advice from.

We will probably wind up with three members handling the moderation process.

What happens when you post something that you see as on topic and they just can't see it?

It may be returned, but you will be able reword your post and try again. You can also ask the moderators why it was rejected if the answer is not obvious.

You must remember that what is on topic is determined by the teacher and not the student. Surely you have noticed this in over ten years of attending school.

Do we really know how the moderator is going to moderate?

I've tried to cover this, but you will not know for sure until the moderated list exists for a period of time.

Are they going to let only on topic posts through or are they going to only stop criticism, and complaints?

Some off topic posts will be allowed if they are short and interesting.

We may send some of them to Mark's Shoot the Breeze forum.

A criticism or complaint that seems to be of interest to the list as a whole may get through. That will be a judgment call.

Are all criticisms and complaints off topic? I seem to remember that JJ felt like some were appropriate.

Some will be appropriate. The complaints we have received about the list is more about the volume of words unrelated to the course rather than any sincere disagreement.

How can we really know how to vote when we do not know what this moderation is going to look like?

The vote is over

Does anyone out there want more information on this moderation thing before it is implemented? Or is it just me?

The talking has been done, the decision has been made and the dye is set. Your only decision at present is to participate or to not participate.

From the response I have received most are happy we are headed in the direction of making this a real classroom with real leaning and discussion in a real direction.

We cannot please everyone no matter what we decide, but the new course is set and we move on. If we all cooperate and write in harmony with "the better angels of our natures" the list will move forward better than ever.

Thank you for your cooperation and your patience.