alt131 - 7:33 pm on May 27, 2010 (gmt 0)
Here's a basic person profile/ list of what I felt was occurring when mod's "got it right".
The list could go on, but few people have enough time to do the job without making it completely impossible ;)
Demonstrates the theory and practical application of:
1. Weber (The person is not the same as the position. That deals with perceived mis-use of position, inconsistency, failure to account, etc.)
2. Personal fallibility (The moderator's position is not fallible - the person in that position most certainly is. That deals with potential issues of arrogance/presumed superiority.)
3. The logic and analysis of argument (Especially the fallacies - ad homonym, calls to the majority, etc. This enables them to understand the flow of discussion, identify when/how to respond/intervene, and to not make those mistakes themselves)
4. The credibility of evidence (For example, opinion is not the same as fact. See above)
5. Compassion (The ability to see another's point of view and the willingness to do so. See above)
6. Objectivity (The ability to evaluate and take required actions without subjective or emotional involvement. See above)
7. Emotional balance and tolerance, intellectual generosity and emotional and intellectual forgiveness (And capable of acting that way when given a position of privilege. See above. This avoids the issues of mods with a downer on life, a personal band-wagon, narrow-mindedness, a long memory for a suspected slight/grievance, vendettas against members/products, etc)
8. A solid grasp of the language - or willingness to consult a dictionary (Good moderators are adept at re-stating a poorly put question, smoothing barriers created if English is not a posters first language, and inserting that "I think so-and-so really meant xyz" comment that smoothes tensions and keeps discussion on-topic. For avoidance of doubt, this does not suggest moderators should have English as a first language. It highlights the importance of being able to utilise the language to facillitate discussion. Quite a differnt thing.)
9. Interpersonal skills (The ability to adopt the tone and language that communicates moderator actions in a balanced, objective, fair, equitable and consistent fashion, and in terms easily understood and accepted by the membership - regardless of the situation.)
10 An appetitive for vigilance and micro-detail. (Lots of effort seems to go to sniping url drops, pointing newbies to TOS's, checking threads are staying on topic, etc.)
Note there is no requirement to be an expert in the field. Just competent.
Moderators moderate discussions, perform the admin to keep the forum tidy and the good ones encourage, prompt and promote really good robust discussion. The best convey an open-minded, even-handed, positive approach to life, a thirst for extending their own knowledge (enquiring mind) an appreciation for others (nuggets from newbie's), and convey this. That is rarely the same skills required to achieve expertise in the forum subject matter.
Many have both, but having moderators moderate, while experts discuss and debate is one way of ensuring moderation does not become a synonym for domination.
Reference has been made to the long, complex threads of yester-year. Yet many make amiable, although robust reading. It is noticeable the members - led by mods, acknowledged each others contributions, asked questions to prompt further discussion, clarify, etc. Mods openly told members to "cool it" when tensions get high rather than just snipping. That is they assumed members would moderate their own behaviour rather than requiring it be imposed by a third person. They would make a comment to ease conversation towards less polarised ground, and as would be expected, members followed that open, human lead by behaving as you would expect from people being treated like thinking adults: By apologising, making a joke that eased tension, "agreeing to disagree" etc.
WebmasterWorld is still alive: Look at the activity in here. Look at how positively people have responded when mods put up a thread to deal with an emerging issue - then left it to run ;) Food for thought.
... rocknbill made the mod/participant point much better - posting at the same time ;)
for spelling and to practise what I preach ;)[/edit]