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Forum Moderators: lawman
That knowledge and $2.85USD will still get you a cup of coffee and a wireless connection at most Starbucks in the US today ;-)
In alot of ways, we have become a victim of our success. There just wasn't time to get through all of the postings. After update Dominic last month -- where over 5000 messages were left -- we had to do something to increase the quality.
The problem is that the update threads were gateway threads for new members. That was their only experience of webmasterworld. Those threads were in the chat or irc style chit-chat format. The quality was simply not up to par with WebmasterWorld history. That style of low quality posting has invaded WebmasterWorld top-to-bottom.
Members were not pleased with the lowered quality standards here in the Google forum, or elsewhere on the site. Critical comment after critical comment streamed in about the Google forum for several months. It was clear that something had to be done that didn't require a mass army of moderators to handle. All that happened in the foreground, while in the background management stress escalated. Time spent dealing with problems in the Google forum went from a few a week in 2002, to several dozen per day by May 03.
Pre-Moderating the Google Forum
So, last month we took the radical step of testing premoderation in the Google Forum. Under premoderation, all new discussions will have to be moderator approved.
So far, most feedback has been very positive. There are occasional problems with the new system, but far less than the old one. Lets go through some of the reasons for the new system that point out problems with the old system:
1) Duplicate Content.
One of the hot Google Webmaster topics for the last six months has been duplicate content. We have a form of the same here, in that we get so many duplicate topic postings. It was not uncommon to see the same topic posted 5-10 times in a few days. By moving to premoderation, we are able to weed those duplicates out at the front door before they become a problem.
2) Privacy issues, promotional issues, and posts against the forum charter.
The most repetitive issue here is the dropping of promotional urls and/or keyword searches.
3) Raves, Rants, Flames, Trolls, JuJu Beans.
4) Bad thread titles.
As a optimizer, potential optimizer, or weekend webmaster, it is your mission to learn how to write a quality thread/page titles [useit.com].
We've discussed it and harped about quality titles for three years. No longer. There is a ton of quality info on the site and out on the net related to titles. Use Google to find those pages.
We are all adults here and responsible for our own learning. I've told the moderators to not even read a post if it has a poor title.
Titles must reflect the content of the post.
The biggest problem with thread titles is that people tend to feel the need to comment
Recent examples (last 4 hours):
"Puzzle me this"
"What am I doing wrong?"
Both were not approved because of low quality titles. (you expect us to do better and hold us to a higher standard - catch-22 - we expect you to do better too).
5) Personal issues with Google.
Those that fall here are the large numbers of "I've been banned" or "I got a #1 ranking" type posts that include very specific info about a site.
6) Off topic.
Messages that go off topic to the original post will be deleted. It is up to each posters to see that they stay within the confines of the original message.
We strive to have all new submissions dealt with in a timely manner. Don't be surprised if it takes a few hours for your post to show up.
In a perfect world where we had 36 hours in every day and 20 moderators for this forum, each post that was not approved would receive a email about it. Replying to everyone is not always easy to do.
Did I mind - my threads pre-moderated, not at all - I doubt I have every posted a new thread without have something important to say.
Titles - admittedly you don't get success without good, precisely what the page is about (metaphorically doesn't work online) titles.
We all promote the need of this at our own websites - sometimes we lose that thought when there are no direct implications to ourselves.
Agree 100%, the bar has been raised again at WebmasterWorld - quality control must prevail.
Setting the standard means one thing - all others mimic you. Good work Google Mods! ;)
I still think there are too many "Am I banned?" posts. Those with Google-backlash syndrome latch onto those posts and the threads end up vacillating between the twenty-question diagnosers and the Google-backlashers taking an opportunity to wrap their rant around an individual's so-called problem- which often turns out to be a brand new site that initially does well then disappears until Google has had enough time to digest it.
Of raves and rants, the blame falls on the poster's inability to frame the problem into a discussion. Perhaps even the "Am I banned?" posts fall into that category as well.
I guess at a certain point we have to come to terms that not everybody is as articulate as they should be on WW- and a certain burden inevitably falls on the mods and the senior members to educate the new recruits and tease a decent discussion from their posts.
Maybe the WebmasterWorld registration process should include a short quiz to ensure that new registrants can identify an appropriate title vs. a bad one. My own experience with TOS is that people don't read them. If you force the display during registration, people will skip down and click "Accept" without reading. People even ignore instructions on the same page where they are composing a post. A quiz might penetrate at least a few crania...
As I see it in action here, it doesn't appear to be working as intended as per goal #1. I still see many many of the same thread posted multiple times per week. That seems to have calmed down in the past week, but the week before I remember multiple, concurrent threads about IPs & hosting, and something else which escapes me right now. I'm not sure if the mods are just not aware of the duplication or they're letting them through to avoid being unfriendly to the newbies that these threads typically come from.
That brings me to my next point. I see people commenting in other threads that their new thread was not allowed...sometimes respected members wanting to share information on what seem like pertinent issues to me. On that basis, it appears that many of the newbie question threads (which again are often duplicate) are allowed while serious analysis threads are not.
I can understand why we wouldn't want to scare folks away when probably they'll receive some help here, but if the goal is to reduce noise, especially repeated noise, then I think more could be done in terms of limiting these threads.
I made a suggestion to one of the mods about a more visible and perhaps less extensive Google FAQ that might cover some of these recurring questions. I just don't think people always see or think to check the FAQ, though it has some very good information. If a new FAQ (or even the existing one) could be pinned at the top of the threads as you sometimes see on other forums, perhaps saying something like, "Google FAQ - Read Before Posting," that might reduce the number of new duplicate threads and it could be a good place to direct people to when they post duplicate threads. Also, encouraging people to try a site search and even a site:webmasterworld.com search at google on the topic before posting might help.
I'm a bit discouraged to see the more serious analysis type threads not being allowed. Many times they seem to spiral out of control, but the first 20 posts usually prove insightful. I understand when the "too early to analyze" period is in effect, but with the whole google schedule being shaken up, I'm not sure that will continue to be an issue. I hope this isn't the intended effect, but in some ways I feel like the lack of these threads is convincing me to subscribe to WW to get in on more of this in the private forum.
So, I would say premoderation is probably necessary, but could be handled better.
I am in full support of whatever must be done to re-gain the quality of WebmasterWorld. I hope these changes will increase the friendly and patient attitude which made WebmasterWorld a very special community.
Thanks to BT and the Mods for all your efforts!
Just a short comment to all those who have joined on in the last few months; It may seem that pre-moderation is an extreme step, but if it can turn back the clock to a time when almost every post was accurate and informative, I think it is worth it. Just some growing pains!
One thing ive noticed. Some of the new threads that may have been posted in google news now sometimes start in other forums, sometimes say in Y! or alltheweb forums, where google is compared to them, but the real motivation is to get something off ther chest about Google! Maybe im only seeing the tip of the iceberg here as well I suspect.
Also, in order to reduce the number of redundant posts, I'd like to suggest that you improve your search function. I'm accustomed to the vBulletin search feature, for example, which seems to provide more meaningful results. For example, vBulletin searches allow you to sort the results by a number of criteria (such as date of last post, so you can see most recent first). Also, it provides the original thread date and the username of the original post (which allows to you gauge the thread age and to estimate the equality of the post -- we all have our favorite authors). Finally, it allows you to list the results by thread title, or by individual posts, in which the search terms appear (which allows you to zero in on a particularly relevant post, very quickly).
I, for one, have used WW's search function, before posting my own questions. But, the results were usually unsatisfying. So, this is just a suggestion.
Thanks for the staff's hard work in keeping WW a great treasure for webmasters. :)
I've seen the anarchy level rising steadily since Cassandra and in my opinion this has much to do with the predominance of Google, and the high position in the serps for Webmaster World on many queries re SE problems; the price of success, Brett.
I seldom start threads, and try to keep in mind that it isn't a chat room, but WW can't write-off posts from people such as myself who don't know what has happened when their index pages disappear, and worry about duplicate content problems. In my case, WW was instrumental in my figuring out what had happened. It was a duplicate content problem caused by 3 incoming links done in a manner that had them listed as separate URL's by all the SE's. It took several attempts to penetrate the Google rants in the pertinent threads to find out, but eventually I did, and I have been able to take care of things as a result. If those threads had been locked, I wouldn't have.
Although WW will only stay as valuable as its been by maintaining some control, at the same time you have to cut some slack to people like me who need this place. If you tighten things up too much, there'll be a couple of hundred of you who will only be here to compare notes occasionally, because you already know it all, and you won't need any moderators at all.
The pre-moderation is good, sorry if the mods are overworked, but your site is famous, Brett. That's why you're getting swarmed.
If I ever have the $$, I'll subscribe and be happy to do it, and I hope some of the rest who are freeloaders like myself do it eventually too. I don't know if you want to scare too many of them away... maybe just keep it down to a dull roar.
"I've told the moderators to not even read a post if it has a poor title."
As somebody else comment further up, some of us are not English native and this is of course reflected in the post itself and even more in the title.
I have in certain ocassions expend well over an hour in writing a post only to find out that the post never made it and when this situation happens it is not at all funny
I know, or can imagine that the following would be practically impossible as would give the moderators a lot of work, but many times when a long post of mine has been deleted I wish that somehow I could first simply submit the title and a very short overview and when confirmed that the post will be allowed then I would typed in the rest of the text
On the other hand, and please dont take this as a complaint as anybody and surely me can only be thankfull of having this great forum as a resoruce...guys, moderators or site owner, what do you expect, new posts? - Do you really believe that there some many newer things that can be said about Google that have not already been said?
There are some moderators here for whom english is not their first language. That said, it seems that some non-native speakers of english would like to hear official clarification about the language issue in relation to titles.
(crud, I'm such a busybody...)
I just used the search feature, found a relevant thread for my question, tried to post my question in it, and... got a message that the thread was too old (year 2001) and, therefore, locked.
May I please ask, what's the logic behind locking old threads?
Nevetheless I tried to open 2 threads, which were really linked to GG news. These threads never appeared in the forum.
I got the bad impression that not only the content was screened, but also the member title. I am likely to think that as a new user, I have no chance to publish.
The Google forum is suffering from massive bloat of meaningless and redundant content. I agree that something needed to be done to bring it under control. There is precious little discussion and analysis. I would suggest looking for ways to screen the useless stuff.
In fact, I have been tempted to break out the credit card and see if there is more relevant information in the members section. Debt sometimes is a heavy load to carry though.
I have always been impressed by this community. I have learned an incredible amount from folks. Only a couple of times have I ventured to place fluffy posts, both times to become a "full member". (Remember, the bar was recently raised again.)
I appreciate the problem and recognize the hard work being put forth by Brett and the moderators. I would suggest a "warning" screen be displayed prior to the ability to post. I would also suggest a penalty box for those that insist on posting drivel to the detriment of those seeking answers or offering advice.
I rememeber I make a post and no moderator is available. So when it is moderated, there are already plenty pf replies to other old message so my 'new' post are being shown in end of page and in less then a few hours, it is droped to page 2.
For a real new threads I can perfectly understand the need for premoderation. However, since only a moderator can move a thread, it doesn't sound logic to me that a moved thread is put on hold.
On the other side of the coin, members old and new see WW has the font of all knowledge. Sometimes, members are stressed and in panic-mode, whizz off a post without aforethought ... and want instant answers!
It is then that the two factions clash, had Google not been going through whatever it was going through, the mods would be under less pressure, the member probably wouldn't be in panic mode ... life would be perfect!
This forum is one of good quality and those that flit from one to another would certainly distinguish that, but perhaps some don't alter their style of posting and the result could be aggressive, flippant, light hearted, confrontational, jokey, self promotional etc, etc.
I agree, we should think twice before banging that submit button and think of the recipient too.
I don't even know what's been going on with the last update because I simply don't have the time to wade through all that noise. So you could say, one of my reasons for joining was in vain (hopefully now sorted), luckily, there are other reasons to hang out.
A big up for putting these measures in place and sympathies to all those that have to filter this on our behalf, your sufferance is much appreciated.
A big up for putting these measures in place and sympathies to all those that have to filter this on our behalf, your sufferance is much appreciated.I echo that!
I earn my living marketing and appreciate that often we need to sell the sizzle, not the sausage - so the title is important. My attention span is that of brain dead tadpole so if I haven't be captured by the post very quickly ...I've gone.
Often I'll post a response to find that the thread turned a corner and if I'd have stuck with it, I would have known.
I don't think I'm alone either.
I often think that some mod, somewhere has to read that and a few hundred more too!
...is a non-issue, really. As one of the few non-native speakers among the mods I understand the extra sensitivity involved.
Writing good titles however is language independant. It's 99% a content matter. Reflect the issue of the post in the title, that's all.
Example: "WOW - amazing!" - bad. Nobody knows what the post is about. Better: "Google now indexing Flash content".
Not a language issue at all. A huge part of the membership here is from non english speaking countries, it's never been a problem.
Big Time Heini - you can instantly tell the difference between, "What did I do wrong" and "Do keywords in css hurt" and one that says, "This is not my native tongue".
>sell the sizzle, not the sausage - so the title
Its about search and scan funtionality. Titles are used by everyone in multiple locations on the site. We need to be able to tell from a title what the post is about. eg: it's one time on an seo site where Keywords are about Usability and not Optimization.
>As a concept I think premoderation is a compromise at best
I've been thinking of it as a bandaid approach.
How would you feel if we did a "voting" style of moderation? Aka: Commodore style voting moderation from circa CNET128 BBS 1987? (Which is more recently referred to as Karma style or /. style moderation)
How it would work:
Selected senior members (over 1 year of membership), mods and admins would be allowed to vote a any message from 1-to-10, and also on an entire thread from 1-to-10. Each new thread or message would default to 5 as average. Members would set an "1-to-10 interest level" on thier control panel. Any message that was avg voted under their interest level would show as "more messages beneth your interst level" and they could click to see the others.
fyi, this style of moderation is lurking in the software already, but not activated. We are considering doing a test on it in the next month. Pro's/Con's?
There would also be the morbid attraction of reading the lower-ranked posts, just to see what it was that had teed off other people to rank it low.
I've got to say I haven't liked any "karma" system I've seen in action yet, possibly due to the herd nature of it. Don't "herd" me, personalise me - amazon do a great job with it.