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  • Moderators have it tough.

    I am only able to get the gist of this article. Perhaps others here might appreciate the finer points more. It seems that life in the comments-lane ain't pretty. Why is there so much hate?

    From The Conversation via The Globe.

    [FONT=&quot]‘Haters Gonna Gate’ — No Consolation for Online Moderators[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]By [COLOR=blue]Jennifer Beckett[/COLOR] on 03:42 pm Dec 08, 2014[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]When trolls strike in website comment sections and across social media, we tend to look to curtail the perpetrators and help their targets. But what of the moderators — the often nameless and invisible people caught in the middle trying to police the flow of abusive, and often very offensive, material?[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Unlike for professions such as forensic investigators, there does not currently appear to be any research into the impact of all this on moderators. It’s time there was.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As someone who once enjoyed hate reading comments sections, I thought I was prepared when, in 2011, I started moderating comments on social media at the ABC.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I was so wrong. My expected post-outrage glow was instead replaced with a desire to shower in scalding water — a lot.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]This is largely because of the following:[/FONT]
    1. [FONT=&quot]you have to read all the comments – even the ones no-one else sees because they’re so bad you’ve removed them[/FONT]
    2. [FONT=&quot]you have to do that until it’s time to go home[/FONT]
    3. [FONT=&quot]you have to do that every time you go to work.[/FONT]

    [FONT=&quot]As a moderator I’ve dealt with the following: rape threats, racial slurs, hate speech against people who identify as LGBTI or are non-Christian or immigrants or refugees, and that old staple — misogyny that makes the Middle Ages look enlightened.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I’ve also been abused for not getting comments down fast enough, for deleting or hiding them, been called a left-wing ideologue, a right-wing apparatchik, a “f—ing moron” and told to (insert sexual act of choice here).[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]But it’s not like it was personal — “haters gonna hate” as the meme goes — and I should probably just get over it, right?[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It’s very easy to think that trolling is only a problem for those who are specifically targeted. We, rightly, question the impact on their victims’ mental health as in the case of Charlotte Dawson earlier this year. We talk about the personality traits of trolls and offer advice on the best ways to deal with them.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]As recent articles on sites such as Salon and Wired note, there is a toll on moderators, and it’s often high.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]In an open letter to parent company Gawker Media after months of inaction on their “rape gif problem,” staffers from feminist site Jezebel explicitly noted: “In refusing to address the problem, Gawker’s leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff […]”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]The problem is getting worse as organized groups targeting specific content get involved. When that occurs the constant river of comments can become a flash-flood.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Earlier this year, for example, a post (now deleted) on the ABC News Facebook wall was targeted by an anti-Mosque group. Within minutes of their call to arms the comments were flooded with hate speech, much of it cut-and paste.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]It was almost impossible to keep up with the flow of horribly racist, religiously intolerant rants in the comments. It was almost a week before things settled down.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]For all the moderators involved it was exhausting and dispiriting.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Recently we’ve seen heavy trolling of companies who make Halal food by anti-Muslim groups. There’s been similar targeting of posts on Gamergate, and it’s an expected feature of articles on feminist issues or climate change or asylum seekers.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Most of the suggested solutions are aimed at trying to end trolling and incivility. Admirable though this is, it’s doomed to failure. Pandora’s Box is well and truly opened on this one and that means we need to think damage control.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Tweaking the algorithms that automatically block offensive content, where you can, is a potential solution – but algorithms can be gamed. In the end, as a recent article in Mashable points out: “[…] new rules don’t necessarily mean moderators will see less awful content.”[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Steering clear of posting troll-bait items, while tempting, is self-censorship and a very slippery slope indeed. We could get rid of comments on those articles, but the jury’s still out on that tactic.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I’m sceptical about how well ending anonymity will work. That assumes people don’t do things like make fake Facebook profiles — I’m looking at you the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]We need research into the potential psychological impacts of moderation on those who do it. It’s very difficult to come up with effective strategies without it.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Platforms such as Facebook and, particularly, Twitter need to be better about responding to and acting on concerns when raised.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Employers can take a proactive approach — have regular and open conversations with moderators and take their concerns seriously. Offer support and properly resource them. Track and appropriately address the volume of comments — when and on what sites and posts they occur and how they are enabled.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Still, for all the bile, there are the diamonds — comments that reaffirm your belief in humankind and leave you floating on air. For those, on behalf of moderators past and present, thank you.[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot] Jennifer Beckett is a lecturer in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. [/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot][COLOR=blue]The Conversation[/COLOR][/FONT]

  • #2
    Originally posted by johntap View Post
    I am only able to get the gist of this article. Perhaps others here might appreciate the finer points more. It seems that life in the comments-lane ain't pretty. Why is there so much hate?

    ...
    [FONT=&amp]This is largely because of the following:[/FONT]
    1. [FONT=&amp]you have to read all the comments – even the ones no-one else sees because they’re so bad you’ve removed them[/FONT]
    2. [FONT=&amp]you have to do that until it’s time to go home[/FONT]
    3. [FONT=&amp]you have to do that every time you go to work.[/FONT]
    I disagree- being a moderator (or a doctor, or a builder, or whatever) is a choice- one doesn't "have to" do it at all if one chooses not to.
    Unless its one's paid job & there are no other jobs out there & you're starving. Or if its one's own website & you don't want all the garbage muddying your name.
    Even then it is a choice.

    Yes, I appreciate the moderation panel here & I think they do a good job.
    I am not saying Mods are worthless or anything like that- I just disagree with the "have to" parts.

    Anyone who perceives online comments from people they don't even know, have never met & are unlikely to ever meet as "hate" really should learn how to distance themselves from the trash can & move to alternative work.
    If ya can't stand the heat- don't be cooking my dinner.
    & adding to that analogy :
    Imagine a chef who had a phobia of knives, so got too stressed in the kitchen to be able to work... you'd simply ask yourself "why are they even doing this job?"
    Or a pilot who was scared of heights? Or a teacher who didn't like kids.


    I spent 10 years or more cleaning faeces , vomit- pick any body fluid, washing arses, listening to depressed people empty their souls my way to lighten their own day... I got called names, hit , kicked, bit... but I loved my job- yeah- a fresh pot full of poop is no big thrill, but its all part & parcel of the bigger picture, doing our bit for the community. I have been told by people they wouldn't do what I did for 10x the pay. I never took the violence or insults as a personal attack, I saw them as something in the other person that needed to be vented. Their angst , their negativity : their's not mine.
    Last edited by bad_azz; 08-12-14, 19:37. Reason: and another thing... lol
    Cicak Magnet

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    • #3
      Originally posted by bad_azz View Post
      :Or a teacher who didn't like kids.
      From what I've seen I think this is the anomaly in your post ... too many don't do the job because they like kids or want to teach, they are just weirdo control freaks who haven't got the guts to stand up to people their own size & I have no time for them ...... otherwise I agree .....
      Last edited by macvert; 08-12-14, 20:05.
      The answer is 42 .... any questions? .

      Comment


      • #4
        Moderating a forum like this one probably has limited similarities to moderating a commercial news source such as Jennifer Beckett describes. I assume ABC pays people to moderate comments - in that case, then, yes they do HAVE to read things because it is a job. Lots of jobs involve stress, and I'd probably be sympathetic to most of them. A paycheck doesn't necessarily make up for the grief people can get at work. There is a reason why "burn-out" is a documented phenomenon. Jennifer Beckett has all my sympathy.

        Remember that old phrase, "we do X so you don't have to"? That's what she's doing. I'm sure it does take a toll, and I appreciate that people like her have jobs and that they put up with the stress.

        As for here - modding here is voluntary; it is true that you don't "have to" be a mod (though you can't just volunteer; you have to be asked). But once you agree to do it, then yes - while you don't sign up to read everything that everyone writes (that is not practical), a good moderator does indeed "have to" delete spam, consider all post reports, put up with occasional abuse, and engage in discussion with other moderators about what to do in particular situations. If a shitstorm occurs on the forum, then yes indeed - in order to fulfill your voluntary duties, you do indeed "have to" pay attention.

        As an ex-mod, I applaud the work that moderators do, and think they deserve acknowledgment and credit. I would never dismiss their work with "well, they don't HAVE to do it," implying that they therefore never deserve any understanding or sympathy, any more than I would dismiss the contribution that selfless volunteers at an animal shelter make (including feeling bad when animals have to be put down) because, well, they don't HAVE to do it.
        Last edited by Puspawarna; 08-12-14, 20:29.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by johntap View Post
          I’ve also been abused for not getting comments down fast enough, for deleting or hiding them, been called a left-wing ideologue, a right-wing apparatchik, a “f—ing moron” and told to (insert sexual act of choice here).
          In my six years moderating I have collected a few hilarious insulting comments made by users. Among my favorite were these one:

          Originally posted by an apparently unhappy troll in an email to wm concerning me
          [COLOR=#333333]I wanted to make a complaint to the boss of your forum about one of your moderators 'Atlantis'. [/COLOR]

          [COLOR=#333333]Is Atlantis a 21 yr old uneducated expat? He gave me a lecture on page 4 of a post I made:

          (edited link to the thread)
          [/COLOR]
          [COLOR=#333333]I think the guy needs to be disciplined and sacked as a moderator of your forum. I would be happy to take his place. [/COLOR]

          [COLOR=#333333]Atlantis is a cowboy who is wasting time and needs some urgent staff training. [/COLOR]
          [COLOR=#333333]

          [/COLOR]
          Originally posted by the same unhappy troll, insisting, a few days later
          [COLOR=#333333]This person is a cowboy. Please sack him and give the job to me.[/COLOR]
          [COLOR=#333333]
          [/COLOR][COLOR=#333333]Really, when you read such comments, you just piss your pants laughing and love your "job".
          I have seriously considered using one of the two above quote in place of my "super moderator" title, but it wasn't fitting in the space allowed. Too bad.

          A few trolls have been much more nasty, especially a few years ago, but to be honest I can't remember that any of them would have affected my mood in a negative way. Anyway, even our worse trolls were not coming close to what is described in the article, at least not "attacking" in groups. Perhaps we didn't let them time also.

          Taking care of trolls, identifying them and making sure we get rid of them is undoubtedly what I prefer in the moderation routine. It would be hypocritical from me to complain about the existence of trolls. Without them, there is a long time I would have given up.

          I kind of agree with BA. Moderators have been proposed to become moderators and have chosen to be mods. It also means that they are free to stop anytime they want. Therefore moaning and whining about the "job" is a bit odd to me. If it becomes a burden, it is a sign that it is time to stop. When I'll have enough of it I'll just say good bye to my fellow mods and disappear (without even a public flounce). [/COLOR]
          Last edited by atlantis; 08-12-14, 20:59.

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          • #6
            " [COLOR=#333333]As an ex-mod, I applaud the work that moderators do, and think they deserve acknowledgment and credit. I would never dismiss their work with "well, they don't HAVE to do it," implying that they therefore never deserve any understanding or sympathy, any more than I would dismiss the contribution that selfless volunteers at an animal shelter make (including feeling bad when animals have to be put down) because, well, they don't HAVE to do it."

            [/COLOR]
            I wasn't in any way taking away from the work that moderators do, nor dismissing them, quite the opposite- I do value the work that goes into modding & I would never choose to do it, asked or not- I've spent too many years mopping up other people's effluence to want to do it in my online time ...
            However if people do choose to follow a line of work and they are surprised by the downside to it, no need to moan- they either had no idea what the job entailed or aren't totally suited to it... so in either case, change work or get on with it & learn to deal with it effectively... whinging solves nothing other than to perpetuate that horrible viral illness- self-pity.
            It is anonymous online work at the end of the day - so really it should never get personal to the extent that people carry it away from their desk (work place) its not akin working in an animal shelter (in my opinion) & feeling sad when an animal dies because one has touched and grown a real relationship with the animals in real life... Working in an animal shelter has all the good points too, if one loves animals.
            It's about the bigger picture- do the pros outweigh the cons. (& personally I don't see many pros to being a mod, other than to do as A does & laugh at the insults and threats sent by twisted plonkers online.


            I don't do sympathy (its not in my genes I guess- I can do empathy- oodles of empathy).


            & yep, I did have a rash moment with that teacher comment....
            Cicak Magnet

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            • #7
              Originally posted by bad_azz View Post
              ...
              It is anonymous online work at the end of the day - so really it should never get personal to the extent that people carry it away from their desk (work place) its not akin working in an animal shelter (in my opinion) & feeling sad when an animal dies because one has touched and grown a real relationship with the animals in real life... Working in an animal shelter has all the good points too, if one loves animals.
              It's about the bigger picture- do the pros outweigh the cons. (& personally I don't see many pros to being a mod, other than to do as A does & laugh at the insults and threats sent by twisted plonkers online.


              I don't do sympathy (its not in my genes I guess- I can do empathy- oodles of empathy).

              ...

              BA, what you say here (bolded) clearly must be to some extent wrong. People (posters if not moderators) do take it home, or seem to, at least if the offences taken and vitriol spat back are any indication. But I would grant you that we don't know exactly what these angry posters do the minute they go offline. Feet up and crack a beer? Perhaps some do. But clearly, many others are back the next day ready to fight the war of the anonymous.
              Last edited by johntap; 08-12-14, 23:11.

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              • #8
                Maybe I should have bolded the "should" part of mine, we all know they don't, but they should hey ho... such is life
                Cicak Magnet

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                • #9
                  I don't think Jennifer Becket is moaning, I think she's describing and analyzing. I also think she is referring to a phenomenon that is far, far FAR worse than anything that happens on this forum. Even if she is whining, everyone is allowed to have a bad day and to talk about the negatives of their job, surely.

                  I'd be mentally exhausted after a week-long onslaught of hate speech, too. To borrow from B_A's wording, I guess I do "do sympathy," at least to the extent that I'm sad if confronted by overwhelming evidence of human hatefulness. Of course we all know there are evil people out there, but most of us don't have to see it relentlessly shoved in our faces. It's not about taking it personally, it's just about being human.

                  To reiterate, I am *not* talking about the dynamics of this forum. I think Beckett is referring to a much, much different situation. Although I did step down as a mod, it wasn't because of the troll that referred to my "smelly vagina." That was actually quite funny!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Puspawarna View Post
                    [COLOR=#333333]I also think she is referring to a phenomenon that is far, far FAR worse than anything that happens on this forum.[/COLOR]
                    Some years ago we've had this particularly nasty user(s) trying to troll this forum to peddle hate speech against chinese. Posts were very insulting and inclusive of rather disturbing pictures of excrement, vomit...etc. He/they were logging at WIB night time and he/they was/were filling the forum with it until deletion and ban occurred. After a few attempts, we managed to put an end to it and I think that it never occurred again.

                    I don't think that what she describes is [COLOR=#333333]far worse than the above example or of what could happen on this forum. The recurrence of it however is and this is for the following reason, imho:

                    [/COLOR]- the ratio "number of mods vs number of posts submitted" of the two forum. In our forum, it would be very difficult for any nasty troll to survive more than a couple of hours considering the different time zone the active mods and admins live in. On top of it, with 7 active mods/admins for a maximum of 500 posts a day submitted, it wouldn't take long for us to scrutinize everything should we be required to.
                    - the arsenal of facilities offered by vbulletin (our forum software) for mods to control the board is far more complete than most software used by the comment sections of newspapers/websites. If you quickly browse the [COLOR=#333333]ABC News Facebook you would easily realize how hellish it is to control for any moderator. It sucks compared to what vbulletin proposes and I put it mildly.[/COLOR]
                    - the community itself. We have a small community which share common points and goals and very often act as a "neighborhood watch", greatly helping the mods' job. ABC news facebook has no community per se. Posters come and go. This makes a huge difference and trolls will quickly identify/realize it.

                    The real nasty trolls know where to log and where not to. They know where they will waste their time and won't be able to propagate their hate speech. A quick look at our forum, its community and the number of mods "patrolling" would have any troll realizing that he/she's gonna waste his/her time.
                    Last edited by atlantis; 09-12-14, 08:28.

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                    • #11
                      Agree with you atlantis, except that I'd also emphasize the sheer VOLUME of nastiness coming in to other sites (possibly; I don't have first hand experience, but I have read about the phenomenon). It's an organized activity in some cases.

                      I do remember during one of my very early visits to LIIEF finding photos of unflushed toilets with nasty turds everywhere. Is that the episode you were referring to? That was pretty gross!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Puspawarna View Post
                        Agree with you atlantis, except that I'd also emphasize the sheer VOLUME of nastiness coming in to other sites (possibly; I don't have first hand experience, but I have read about the phenomenon). It's an organized activity in some cases.
                        Though I do not deny that it can be an organized activity, it is often a single troll using multiple accounts.

                        As an example, I would point to "Bobby" (RIP), one of the nastiest troll we've had in the past. He has been a pain in the bum here, especially before 2008, when he was a well established user of this forum. He was used to create multiple accounts and stalking/harassing users he picked for whatever reason. He was the perfect definition of a troll. He was able to impersonate many different type of users, expats or Indonesian, businessman or ibu rumah tangga...etc.

                        He was pretty careless though and it wasn't that hard to sleuth who was behind the screen. He was doing so not only here, but in multiple forums at the same time. From outside, for a "normal" user, and without knowing how to out him, you may have thought that you had to deal with multiple persons. A big part of his days was dedicated to trolling.

                        It took him long time to understand that he was wasting time here and sporadically tried to create new accounts after his permaban in late 2008. However, in the same time, he has intensified his trolling in many forums I spotted him on and, some time before the end of his life, has been moving to the comment sections of JakPost (or was that the Globe?) impersonating in the same time an Indonesian male, an indonesian female and an expat male, using three accounts, until his death and obviously sudden disappearance from the comment sections.

                        I rarely read the Post and/or the Globe but was monitoring his comments there. I have often been puzzled at how gullible some of the readers (and perhaps the mods, if there are any in JakPost/JakGlobe) of the comment sections could be, not realizing that they were dealing with the same person.

                        Having to deal with him for years have made me at times briefly wondering of the Human kind but I wouldn't say that it took a toll at anytime. The guy was particularly twisted and hateful as you sure know.

                        I do remember during one of my very early visits to LIIEF finding photos of unflushed toilets with nasty turds everywhere. Is that the episode you were referring to? That was pretty gross!
                        Yes, that's one of the episode I was referring. Pictures were accompanied with death threats, insults and a few other similar mundanities.
                        Last edited by atlantis; 09-12-14, 09:22.

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                        • #13
                          Everybody should have his or her hobbies but some are somewhat twisted indeed.

                          I've even seen people who were so hateful/revengeful towards certain moderators of (scuba & watch) forums they were banned from, they started their own blog with only one aim; sarcastically commenting on new posts and ridiculing the forum and its moderators.

                          Get a life.
                          [FONT=arial black]
                          [/FONT]

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jstar View Post
                            towards certain moderators of (scuba & watch) forums
                            If you are a user of luxury watch forums especially those about Rolex or Panerai, you may have read some of "Bobby"'s posts. A real waste of space he was. He was so angry at a moderator of one these forum that he uses his real name to impersonate and ridicule him here, which is what quickly outed him in fact. Moderators of different forum communicate sometimes when they have to deal with a special client such as he was.
                            He has also tried to impersonate me in a forum but learnt that it wasn't a good idea.
                            I believe that the only way to get rid of these parasites is to come close enough to them to scare them and have them realizing that they may be held accountable, in various form, for what they have done/are doing.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by atlantis View Post
                              Though I do not deny that it can be an organized activity, it is often a single troll using multiple accounts.
                              I am referring to episodes, for example, where the membership of a skinhead or similar hate group organizes a drive to bombard a site with foul rhetoric. That does happen, and it IS an orchestrated, relentless attack of non-stop hate directed at one or more specific on-line locations. Nothing like that has ever happened here, I'm sure, and it wouldn't because LIIEF is not high-profile enough. But a major news site is another story.

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