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Ok Hotshot - So how do we adjust the moderation policy?
Brett_Tabke




msg:4143122
 5:59 pm on May 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

How can we tweak the moderation policy to allow more links - less editing - and more random user satisfaction?

How would you adjust it to fix these cases:

- competitors asking "what's wrong with this page" when they are really pointing out spam so that Matt Cutts will see it?
- people asking about "can I do X on this page" when they sell products to webmasters?
- what do you think of product x? And product X is usually a SEO tool or WebHosting or... we've had people name drop 200-300 times in the forums in whisper campaigns.
- what do we do with competitors that encourage staff to come promote at webmaster world?
- what do we do with professional forum spammers?
- what about people who come in and drop links to great stories, but do it once a day? Lets say Rand were to stop in and let people know about the latest blog post on SEOMoz? (no, he never would do that, but others have and continue to do so)
- What about moderators from competing forums that come in and share "info" links in line?
- What about this one? [webmasterworld.com...] is Major_Payne the author of that, or just referencing it? What about sites that monitor keywords and want jump all over threads and reference.

If done professionally, you won't even realize that a spammer has been in the forums.

Pleaes read the background posts (we think about this stuff alot):
pro forum spammers: [webmasterworld.com...]
community discussion on blog links: [webmasterworld.com...]


So, with that as a background, how can we update the TOS in such away that a) the members can understand it, b) the mods can get behind it, and c) it holds up to the smell test.

eg: how do we stay webmasterworld and not become any number of the spammed out forums out there. I think we all know there are alot of forums out there and some are pretty low quality.

 

thecoalman




msg:4143946
 2:58 pm on May 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

The white/black listing is a good idea.

In addition to that you could set up an internal scoring system. The member would need to reach a threshold before their links would automatically be published without moderation. You could base this scoring system on a variety of things; posts, length of membership, score the links themselves where a posted link that gets rejected or approved during moderation will add or subtract from their score.

You keep the member in the dark what the threshold is and what their score is.

sugarrae




msg:4143988
 5:42 pm on May 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

"In reading the threads about pro spammers I noticed a lot of names that used to contribute a great deal of quality information, that have not posted in a long while. DigitalGhost, WebGuerilla, Paynt, Sugarrae--- these people added a lot of content and help. What do THEY think about these questions? Surely they left for some reason."

Howdy. I can't speak for the others, but I will speak for myself ;-)

First, I never "left" webmasterworld... I haven't posted regularly in a long, long time, but I've always called myself a "webmasterworld loyalist", still do and I haven't missed a stateside PubCon, aside from one, since 2003. Webmasterworld is one of the handful of ways I earned my stripes in SEO and I will be forever grateful for that.

As a way of giving back, I modded here for quite some time. And then I got busy... I am the CEO of three Internet marketing companies now and I worked hard over the last decade to get to a position where I can travel a lot... which means when I *am* working, my focus needs to be on work... the work that pays the salaries of all my employees and partners. I do however continue to speak at the webmasterworld shows. I know a few of the other names mentioned are also busy running the businesses they've built by getting into the industry early on and being good at what they do, but again, I won't attempt to speak for them in regards to the question posed.

My lack of presence on webmasterworld (the site) these days is everything to do with me and not webmasterworld.

That said, I'm pro links... always have been :) ... but I don't have time to come up with a useful/effective system to monitor for spam... so I've stayed out of the discussion.

And for the record... I'm not a spammer these days... but I still have a "live and let live and never report" policy in regards to it.

gpilling




msg:4144387
 3:49 pm on May 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a way of giving back, I modded here for quite some time. And then I got busy... I am the CEO of three Internet marketing companies now and I worked hard over the last decade to get to a position where I can travel a lot... which means when I *am* working, my focus needs to be on work... the work that pays the salaries of all my employees and partners. I do however continue to speak at the webmasterworld shows. I know a few of the other names mentioned are also busy running the businesses they've built by getting into the industry early on and being good at what they do, but again, I won't attempt to speak for them in regards to the question posed.


Luckily we can still read about your thoughts at sugarrae.com and follow you on twitter. I liked your "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda Had Success with Affiliate Marketing" post, by the way.

Shaddows




msg:4144431
 5:45 pm on May 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

"Luckily we can still read about your thoughts..."

LOL! Exactly the type of promotion that the Mod policy should block.

Others are suggesting mechanisms for control, but I want to comment on policy for links.

1) No overt promotion (as above)
2) Absolutely no "what's wrong with this" links
3) No links to content that will definately (by intent) change. (i.e. the thread is a discussion on how to amend the page)
4) Continue to anonymise domains in dicussion about URL structure, or any other instance where the content is not material to the discussion
5) Allow exemplar keyword discussion, particularly in the SE forums. If the subject is valid, Mods should err on the side of being too open.
6) Links out should never be a shortcut for proper explanation.
7) Links should be about:
- Attribution
- Referencing
- Further resources
- Tools

In terms of nuts-and-bolts operation, I second the idea of lists of unapproved URLs. Modify the auto-link script to generate a URL list by message number, lessen the workload by having a white-list and black-list, and suppress the link until approved. Make a minimum post-count for even considering URLs, and maybe default-approve URLs after a particular number.

Bait-and-switch is a problem, of course. However, if members are encouraged to use the "Report Message" for broken or changed content, that should help. Especially if there was a vote button for a menu of problems, (broken, switched etc) which informed mods, but autodeleted after a critical nuber of complaints.

sugarrae




msg:4144456
 7:07 pm on May 31, 2010 (gmt 0)

"LOL! Exactly the type of promotion that the Mod policy should block."

Well, I'd hardly call that promotion... I don't know the above poster, he doesn't benefit from mentioning me or my site... and I have blogged maybe twice in the last year on that domain. Yet, you don't think twice about the number of posts I've done for webmasterworld that remain in the libraries... so the info I post here is worthy but information on my own site should never be mentioned here?

For me, the issue I've always had with not being able to drop links is that a lot of times they're relevant to the article or in depth message board post at hand... why explain every aspect of what I'm discussing within a post if there is already a longer and more detailed explanation of it elsewhere. And the fact that I've linked to it shows I trust the info... if you're going to trust MY explanation of something or my postings, why wouldn't you trust the links I decided to link to within them.

So, when I have something really in depth to say, I'm going to blog it, rather than post it at webmasterworld... because it's easier for me and more useful for the people who read it... that's the real danger of the current linking policy to useful and helpful information being shared here at webmasterworld.

Shaddows




msg:4144747
 7:36 am on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

sugarrae, I have read some of your threads from the relatively dim and distant past, and of course they are valuable. I'm sure your site is equally valuable- it just should not be advertised here.

The test isn't
"Is this person connected with the site being promoted"

It's
"Is a site being promoted"

The domain-dropping above added nothing to the discussion. However, if you were to post a subject in such a way as to encourage discussion, and reference a deeper resource elsewhere (including your site), personally I think that should be allowed.

The slippery slope is that there would be active pressure on writing an incomplete post, just so you could link out, decreasing the quality of the WebmasterWorld experience while sending traffic to your own site. However, depending on the Seniority and standing of the member, I would suggest that mods should be less concerned about "losing" traffic, and mostly focussed on if the on-site post is of sufficient interest and quality to other members. If so, and if the link is on-topic to further resources, then let it ride.

kaled




msg:4144816
 10:33 am on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

The test isn't
"Is this person connected with the site being promoted"

It's
"Is a site being promoted"
In the following, I am making a general point not picking an argument.

So, logically, if I were to create a great site that solves all sorts of problems, no one would be allowed to link to it in case it was seen as promotion - that's nuts!

Symbiosis - look it up. I can't tell you where to look it up, you'll have to figure that out yourself. I would tell you what to google for, but I'm not really supposed to do that either!

If a site provides a good answer to a genuine question then linking to it should be permitted - that's how the web works. I find it extraordinary that people don't get this. Even if the site in question gets some benefit - that's absolutely fine - you'd understand that if you knew what symbiosis meant, but unfortunately I can't point you in the right direction.

OK, explaining the meaning of a word is a simple problem but there are some really complex problems out there. Consider the age-old problem of a fixed navigation area...

This is generally frowned upon but is that because no one figured out how to do it right or is it because it's somehow bad for users. Personally, I think it's the former. So, if someone asks how to solve this problem, should I
a) Link out to a site that explains roughly how to do it but leaves some problems unsolved
b) Link out to my site that explains in detail how to do it and solves all but one problem. I have considered publishing my solution but haven't actually done so yet.
c) Steal content from one or more sites and post it
d) Suggest a few search terms (i.e. create a vague link)
e) Explain to the user that I'm not permitted to answer the question, even though I know how.
f) Mail a link to the user.

If a site provides answers to questions then it is entitled to some benefit. That benefit could be considered by some people to be promotion - that's fine - symbiosis - look it up (if you know where to do so).

Kaled.

Shaddows




msg:4144819
 11:04 am on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Kaled
I don't think we disagree. Cherrypicking a quote out of context is a bit unfair.

gpilling* had made a promo-type post, which added nothing to the discussion. I think these should be disallowed.

I made the point at least twice that reference-type links to deeper resources should be allowed. The sole consideration should be whether the onsite post is of sufficient value, and the link sufficiently on-topic. Then we have symbiosis.

However, parasitism is a form of symbiosys, whereby one entity benefits at the expense of another. Thus, efforts should be made to ensure post quality does not drop due to frequent off-site referencing when in-thread explanation would suffice, or be preferable

* @gpilling - I apologise for keep beating on your post. I appreciate it was sincere, and I intended only to highlight it as an example of non-essential linking that I believe would poison WebmasterWorld in the longer term.

kaled




msg:4144836
 12:02 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Shadows, I quoted you only in so far as what you said was representative of a widely-held point of view. However...

Although some definitions cite parasitism as a form of symbiosis, I would say they are wrong. Symbiosis should be defined exclusively as being mutually beneficial (otherwise another word needs to be defined for this which would be a bit crazy).

That said, if Webmaster World refuses to give benefit to sites that, one way or another, it references, then I guess Webmaster World is the parasite!

Good businesses deal with each other in ways that are mutually beneficial - right now, Webmaster World doesn't seem to have grasped this properly. In the fight against spam (which is laudable) the site is being damaged - think "baby" and "bathwater".

Kaled.

lawman




msg:4144837
 12:04 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

[en.wikipedia.org...]

tangor




msg:4144865
 1:16 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I was going to say something about swallowing dictionaries and bad use of terms for a taxonomy that does not apply, then thought better of that. As previously stated (by yours truly):

The as-need-link has always been there and mods do oblige

ken_b




msg:4144882
 1:48 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Let me quote myself

When mods are participating in a discussion, they should not also moderate that discussion.

If they think a discussion they are part of needs moderating they should ask an admin, or at least another moderator to take a look at the discussion and let the admin or "other-mod" make the decision about moderating the discussion.

[It's too easy to make your point prevail when you can delete the other position from the discussion.]

s3rndpt




msg:4144927
 2:45 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

There are a lot of ideas here about technical ways to make it easier- but what about relying on the mods/users to see and report (and in the mod's case, deal with) any violators of the "no spam" "no link spam" ilk? It's usually pretty obvious if someone is trying to link spam (and general spammers are a no-brainer) and in most cases, will get caught pretty quickly and can be removed/banned from the site. Sure, the mods can't catch everything, and shouldn't be expected to catch everything. But most regular readers of WebmasterWorld are pretty hardcore from what I can tell, and I doubt much would get by unnoticed, if at all. The technical ideas of what/where/how to allow links are good, but really may be overkill in this case.

Of course, you first need to decide in what manner/types of discussions links will be allowed, and in my mind, that's actually the hardest part.

chicagohh




msg:4145227
 9:46 pm on Jun 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

My 3-step solution:

1. bring in a few more moderators

2. Allow links by members that have a certain post count + have been members over a specified period of time. If you wanted to go social you could include reputation in the mix, but then it gets more complicated.

3. All outgoing links require moderation.


I think it's clear that there needs to be some method of linking. Just how to best implement this is not yet clear. I tossed in my $0.02.

kaled




msg:4145325
 1:00 am on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

The as-need-link has always been there and mods do oblige

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted a question, essentially looking for software to quickly solve a problem. I wrote something some years ago that is included in another product that would do the job. I checked first to see if I could find something else, but could not, so I mailed the guy a link and posted that I had done so. That post was deleted after a couple of days because it smacked of self-promotion.

Sure, some links are left in, others aren't. I've been a member for years and even I can only hazard an educated guess. Without a doubt, this is a problem. I note that no one has yet ventured an answer to my hypothetical question above!

Kaled.

gpilling




msg:4145997
 11:23 pm on Jun 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

@shaddows
gpilling* had made a promo-type post, which added nothing to the discussion. I think these should be disallowed.
Not true, look at the firestorm it created. It was a little fuel on the fire so to speak. This particular discussion was about the moderation policy.

It also got a more useful response from @sugarrae*

So, when I have something really in depth to say, I'm going to blog it, rather than post it at webmasterworld... because it's easier for me and more useful for the people who read it... that's the real danger of the current linking policy to useful and helpful information being shared here at webmasterworld.
The article I mentioned on her site is a really good one, similar in quality to the classic '26 steps'. It is detailed, thorough and useful to anyone in this field of work. But we can't even mention the title of it or link to it here, so no wonder that people take their toys and leave.

For everyone beating the 'no self promotions' drum, have you realized that @btabke has pulled a fast one on you by putting twitter links under user's names? If twitter isn't a self-promotion vehicle, I don't know what is.

It is worth noting that @tangor has a forum in which the users can disable signature links, but he expressly recommends that they don't do it. Maybe the links are different on Barsoom.
@kaled Good businesses deal with each other in ways that are mutually beneficial - right now, Webmaster World doesn't seem to have grasped this properly. In the fight against spam (which is laudable) the site is being damaged - think "baby" and "bathwater".
I agree. To use another old saying 'WebmasterWorld is cutting off its nose to spite its face'

*I have never met or corresponded with sugarrae, but have read her blog and followed her endless tweets about Tim Hortons.

Edwin




msg:4146028
 1:35 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

There is also a well known online tool that security oriented folks like me use - to display the content of any web page in plain text. It also gives the IP of that site and helps reveal if a 302 redirect has been employed on a compromised website.


Now that's a perfect example of why the link policy needs to be loosened. Sounded like an interesting and potentially useful tool, but because I'm not "already in the know" and the no-links policy I can't find out where to find it!

WW does a lot of things very well, but it's important to face up to the fact that out there amongst the billions and billions of pages, there are going to be millions of incredibly useful pages/sites that answer a question or offer a solution to a problem as a "perfect fit".

So to force somebody to regurgitate the information or to paraphrase it when it's already out there is A) redundant and B) short-sighted.

Taking a non-webmaster analogy, if I was looking for a recipe for lasagna that uses cottage cheese and can be cooked in an hour or less, I would value a link to a site that has a step by step recipe, list of ingredients, calorie count and portion calculator, plus photos, far far more than I would value somebody coming on here and paraphrasing the recipe (because to cut and paste it would be stealing copyrighted content) and without all the other useful contextual tools and information that came with the original.

Now map the above scenario to webmaster questions ("How do I", "Where can I", "What would you") and the problem becomes very clear.

A simple test should be "Does the link satisfice?" In other words, does it provide a solid, valid, better-than-adequate response to the question/issue/problem at hand. In which case, the link should stay - it doesn't matter if it's on the poster's site, the respondent's site, a competing forum or whatever. The location of the information has no connection to its value, and it's the latter that should be the yard-stick, not the former.

Let's face it, a lot of folks here run their own webmaster/web developer related blogs, sites and forums - and many will have put many long and diligent hours into assembling the most comprehensive, clear and understandable info on thousands of topics. So why handcuff them by saying "Yes, we know you're one of the world's pre-eminent authorities on webmaster niche subject X, but you're not allowed to reference your own site even though people interested in niche subject X visit it every day as the de-facto reference on the subject"

The same applies to products, tools and services. If a company is so good/popular that it has thousands or millions of SATISFIED users, then surely pointing people who haven't heard of it in the right direction is the best way to answer their question? Rather than play a lengthy game of verbal charades "Two words. First word is a kind of natural building material. Second word is made up of two parts. First is what is taken with a camera, second is where you buy things. Together, these make up the name of an excellent image/photo editing tool used by millions around the world"

Obviously I'm exaggerating for effect, but I hope you get my point!

sugarrae




msg:4146033
 1:44 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

>>>The slippery slope is that there would be active pressure on writing an incomplete post, just so you could link out, decreasing the quality of the WebmasterWorld experience while sending traffic to your own site

I can see the point there in that exact instance. However, my main concern is linking within articles as citation... I'm not going to be redundant or regurgitate information for the sake of "not linking out." If I explain something in a webmasterworld post that I actually got/learned from another site/post without referencing it, I'd feel like I'm not giving credit where credit is due. Everyone would think I'm the original source of the information and pat me on the back for it. It's not right for karma.

Additionally, take the article gpilling mentioned on my site... had I posted that at webmasterworld, it would be missing over thirty links to further information. The post is over 2000 words and is useful without them, don't get me wrong... but WITH them, the post is a game plan. One of the first articles I link to within it is to another 2000 word post I did... I'm not going to regurgitate that entire post to give back story to the new one. Given the choice to post an okay post on webmasterworld or a great post on my own site, I'm going to choose the latter every time.

And that's where the danger lies. By a blanket no linking policy, webmasterworld loses good content and webmasterworld members lose good information.

Edwin




msg:4146035
 1:46 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Given the choice to post an okay post on webmasterworld or a great post on my own site, I'm going to choose the latter every time.

And that's where the danger lies. By a blanket no linking policy, webmasterworld loses good content and webmasterworld members lose good information.


Exactly the point I was making (I think we were probably typing at the same time!)

tangor




msg:4146049
 2:44 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

It is worth noting that @tangor has a forum in which the users can disable signature links, but he expressly recommends that they don't do it. Maybe the links are different on Barsoom.


Truthfully, things are different on Barsoom. Let's not quote tangor out of context. Here's what I said on that forum. Means something different (different kind of forum, purpose, and intent). And to put it in another perspective, that forum only has 94 members, mostly geeky on a very narrow niche subject. As long as there's an option to enable/disable, I have no problems with sigs, avatars, or other bells and whistles.

Tired of seeing the same old sigs? Perhaps they are too busy or have a graphic that slows down the process of loading the messages? You have the option to disable signatures from board member messages. Go to Member Center and enter Board Options. Disable (check) signatures.

HOWEVER, this will disable ALL signatures from ALL members! You just might miss out on good info.

This is a display toggle. You can turn it on or off at any time.

gpilling




msg:4146069
 4:01 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry @tangor I didn't think I was quoting you out of context - but then I didn't realize that your forum only had 94 members. All active? Have read a fair bit of ERB myself.

gpilling




msg:4146070
 4:04 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

@Edwin you use Brick PictureStore too?

tangor




msg:4146076
 4:31 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Sorry @tangor I didn't think I was quoting you out of context - but then I didn't realize that your forum only had 94 members. All active? Have read a fair bit of ERB myself.


No worries! Most are still active... but that's not the point. Each forum (and some I manage run to 8k+ members) is different. And one of those is even more draconian than what's under discussion here.

Finding the balance between content and touchie feelie is what makes any forum FOR THEIR INTENDED MEMBERS work. My little hobby site as revealed here, is nothing like my biz sites, but even that little bitty works at doing things webmaster right, even if it is framed. :)

Edwin




msg:4146094
 5:38 am on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

@gpilling No, I'd never heard of it.

Added: Oops, the penny just dropped. I'll blame the hot weather :)

idolw




msg:4146270
 1:49 pm on Jun 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Just make URLs non-clickable.
And maybe work out a way to authorize own websites.

I mean:
if I link to my little website hardly anyone heard about - I must prove it's my site.
If I link to Reuters or CNN or TechCrunch - the link goes through.

This 55 message thread spans 2 pages: < < 55 ( 1 [2]
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