The Moderator's Desk

This thread is dedicated to forum-pertinent posts.

What Does a Moderator Do?

There's been some question as to what a moderator does, and why. Here are some answers.

The role of "Moderator" was created about 2 1/2 or so years ago, when the mudslinging in the forums got so bad that one of the posters was inspired to volunteer. The forums were shut down, temporarily, and restructured. A variety of experiments were tried, and the role of the Moderator is the successful result. When more volunteers became moderators, the titles "Senior" and "Junior" were sometimes used to distinguish the chain-of-command. When there is only one moderator, there is no need for these distinctions.

First and foremost, a moderator is a peace-keeper and peace maker. CCEL brings together a variety of personalities and belief-systems, and disagreement is inevitable. Moderators facilitate conversation--they make sure fruitful discussions take place between people who sometimes passionately disagree with one another. To do this fairly, a moderator has to try and put aside his personal convictions about what is best or true, in order to facilitate the conversation. This can be very difficult--moderating is not for everyone. Some people feel that moderating itself is a compromise of the truth, but a moderator can still have passionate convictions; he or she must simply try and put them aside while sorting out what's what in a discussion. It's not a science, it's an art.

What does a moderator do, specifically? We can post. We can post our personal opinions, and we can post behavioral instructions. This can be difficult, because some people feel we are at an advantage in a conversation. Posters should not be afraid of disagreeing with a moderator--moderating is not about wielding power to silence the opposition. A good moderator can have an opinion contradicted, and accept the criticism. It's not a science. It's an art.

We can also delete and edit posts. Usually, when we edit posts that violate Forum Posting Policy, we follow up by notifying the poster and explaining our reasons. Deletions usually only occur after repeated violations of the Forum Posting Policy, unless the violation is flagrant and severe. Occasionally a post may be "unpublished" for further consideration. This is rare, but it means that the post is still present, but invisible to most CCEL members.

We can also shut down a thread--we can freeze threads that have become heated or pointless. This is almost always preceded by several warnings. Sometimes, these threads are permanently shut down and deposited in the archives, where they will languish until deletion. But usually, after a day or three, the threads will be reopened so the conversation can proceed, hopefully at a cooler temperature. As a general note, if a thread has been shut down, it is a good idea to NOT start a new thread on that same topic.

We can delete threads. This happens rarely. Usually only when we're cleaning out the forums, conversations from ages ago. But sometimes someone puts something up that's obnoxious, and we delete it.

We can look up the registration information of all members, including email addresses. This means you may be contacted by a moderator regarding a post, even if your contact information is not public.

As a tool of last resort, we can have posters banned. A banned poster is banned from the libraries, as well as the forums. This happens sometimes, more often than I would like. It is preceded by several conversations with the concerned parties, or at least attempts at communication. Banning a poster is not a light decision, and involves CCEL administration, so we only do it when it really becomes necessary.

At the time of this posting, CCEL has one moderator, and is in the process of restructuring. We may have more moderators soon, or perhaps not. But if you have any questions or concerns about the forums, you can bring them to the moderator(s)

Justin Staller (JStaller)

Justin Staller - Moderator

Search the scriptures--for in them ye think ye have eternal life:
They are they which testify of me--and ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
(John 5.39-40)