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Integral Forum Moderation

Last post 11-10-2006, 11:53 AM by maryw. 17 replies.
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  •  11-03-2006, 9:12 AM 13573

    Integral Forum Moderation

    Dear friends,

    Unless you've been outside of cyberspace for the last week or so, you'll probably have seen that the current situation in the Integral Naked forums isn't pretty. It's not all bad though, since a good portion of the active posters there have been lifting the discussions on spamming and related issues to a higher level. It may or may not be a coincedence, but many of these posters happen to be I-I members, and several of us have expressed interest in discussing these matters from a somewhat more detached stance, hence the location for this thread. Let's see if we can bring it to higher levels still.

    The I-I staff has now announced that they are looking at this issue, which I applaud. This doesn't mean that we couldn't have some fruitful discussions on this matter in the meantime. We don't know what they're coming up with, and it might be 'edutaining' for each of us to ask ourselves if we would be willing to take up (or continue) the role of forum moderator, just in case I-I asks us to. What would you require from I-I before making such a commitment? Also, feel free to discuss related issues. The nature and effects of spamming itself have been made sufficiently clear, I think, but people might want to fine-tune some points.

    Staff members are also explicitly invited to join the conversation, if they so desire.

    I trust that I don't have to set any boundary conditions, as I'm sure you guys can hold yourselves together. I'm looking for the Seventh Wave here.


    Peter
    "All nations should be like Amsterdam" -- Ken Wilber
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  •  11-03-2006, 1:00 PM 13603 in reply to 13573

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Attachment: four-bears.jpg

    I'll have a lot to say on this topic over time, but for now let me strongly recommend that everyone interested in this topic read

    A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy by Clay Shirky

    This was first recommended to the original old hat moderators (later called facilitators by many forum holons) by Casey Capshaw, who was the I-I liason with the Integral Naked moderators during the first wild ride around the spiral of integral moderation in these parts.  Thanks, Casey! 

    The article contains a wealth of information and useful perspectives on virtual communities, and careful reading of it may help avoid some reinventing the wheel type problems.  Although how we do things here may differ in some particulars, I would think we'd do well carefully consider a lot of the wisdom that has been hard-won by our virtual forebears.

    arthur



    IIzaadz pod - http://pods.zaadz.com/ii - combines the best of I-I and zaadz. If you're turquoise and you know it, drop on by. :)

    "You've never seen everything." - Bruce Cockburn
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  •  11-03-2006, 3:02 PM 13623 in reply to 13603

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Interesting article, I need to think about what I just read, but a couple of quick quotes from it may draw others to read it, and encourage perhaps a discussion about it.

    "The likelihood that any unmoderated group will eventually get into a flame-war about wether or not to have a moderator approaches one as time goes by."

    "As a group commits to it's existence as a group, and begins to think that the group is good or important, the chance that they will begin to call for additional structure, in order to defend themselves from themselves gets very, very high."

    These two statements stuck out to me, and I thought "Is that true?  Did this just happen on the forum?  Could it not have been avoided?, etc.

    I'll second Arthur's recommendation, and be ready to discuss when everyone else is.

    -Greg

    In a black and white picture....there's a lot of grey junk
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  •  11-04-2006, 3:02 AM 13700 in reply to 13623

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    That article seems to be spot on indeed. I think we could get far based on that, especially in combination with using Fred Kofman's work. In addition to the quotes mentioned by Vortex, I think this one deservers some attention as well (I-I staff, please take notes):

    So the group is real. It will exhibit emergent effects. It can't be ignored, and it can't be programmed, which means you have an ongoing issue. And the best pattern, or at least the pattern that's worked the most often, is to put into the hands of the group itself the responsibility for defining what value is, and defending that value, rather than trying to ascribe those things in the software upfront.

    2.) The second thing you have to accept: Members are different than users. A pattern will arise in which there is some group of users that cares more than average about the integrity and success of the group as a whole. And that becomes your core group, Art Kleiner's phrase for "the group within the group that matters most."

    The core group on Communitree was undifferentiated from the group of random users that came in. They were separate in their own minds, because they knew what they wanted to do, but they couldn't defend themselves against the other users. But in all successful online communities that I've looked at, a core group arises that cares about and gardens effectively. Gardens the environment, to keep it growing, to keep it healthy.

    Now, the software does not always allow the core group to express itself, which is why I say you have to accept this. Because if the software doesn't allow the core group to express itself, it will invent new ways of doing so.

    Emphases are mine.

    Peter
    "All nations should be like Amsterdam" -- Ken Wilber
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  •  11-04-2006, 3:18 AM 13701 in reply to 13700

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    I've done a bit of research, and the forum software supports the following options:
    • Banning users completely, including bannishment for a limited time
    • Denying access to specific forums to specific groups of users
    • Post Moderation: determines whether or not the user's posts require approval before becoming visible on the site. This can be set for individual users.

    Note that adding functionality to the software requires the cooperation of  Telligent, which is the producer, except when the desired functionality can be created by writing add-ons. This means that not all wishes can be granted by I-I on short term, even if they wanted to. We might want to focus our discussions on actions that are actually realisable.

    Peter


    "All nations should be like Amsterdam" -- Ken Wilber
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  •  11-04-2006, 5:38 AM 13711 in reply to 13701

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Great research Peter, it feels really good to know that there are long-term options to protect the community so it can keep on growing.

    It should be very apparent by now that many of us care deeply about these forums. There is simply nothing else out there to replace the dialogue and community happening here.

    This is how a feel after a few months, I can only imagine how important it must be to the long-timers.

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  •  11-04-2006, 7:28 AM 13722 in reply to 13711

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    A couple of quotes from the article I'd like to bring in:

    So these are human patterns that have shown up on the Internet, not because of the software, but because it's being used by humans. Bion has identified this possibility of groups sandbagging their sophisticated goals with these basic urges. And what he finally came to, in analyzing this tension, is that group structure is necessary. Robert's Rules of Order are necessary. Constitutions are necessary. Norms, rituals, laws, the whole list of ways that we say, out of the universe of possible behaviors, we're going to draw a relatively small circle around the acceptable ones.


    In the political realm, we would call these kinds of crises a constitutional crisis. It's what happens when the tension between the individual and the group, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups, gets so serious that something has to be done.

    ...Constitutions are a necessary component of large, long-lived, heterogenous groups.

    The Road Rules for Tranformation appear to function as our constitution.  They define why we are here and the kind of community values we want to have.  So we need to keep that document in mind as well.

    arthur




    IIzaadz pod - http://pods.zaadz.com/ii - combines the best of I-I and zaadz. If you're turquoise and you know it, drop on by. :)

    "You've never seen everything." - Bruce Cockburn
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  •  11-04-2006, 7:41 AM 13724 in reply to 13722

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    I also want to clearly point out the following: the I-I and the staff thereof own and operate the machines and the software on which these forums run - that is a basic fact underlying the existence of the forum. 

    We are a community.  But, except insofar as they participate in the forums, I-I staff are not members of the forum community.  Staff have had various degrees of involvement, but for the most part it's been minimal.

    Unless I-I staff want to get very involved in the community, to the point where they become core members, the best move on their part would be to provide effective tools - and full authorization to use them - to core members or a subset thereof, so that the emergent community can self-regulate in an effective way.  That is, if they want to have a vibrant community happening here.

    arthur



    IIzaadz pod - http://pods.zaadz.com/ii - combines the best of I-I and zaadz. If you're turquoise and you know it, drop on by. :)

    "You've never seen everything." - Bruce Cockburn
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  •  11-04-2006, 8:00 AM 13727 in reply to 13573

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Since I have a vested interest (a large percentage of my money, as well as my time and love) in this community, I strongly hope that we have the following (for everyone's sake, not just my own):

    1. An unmoderated, uncensored area designated for the most passionate and diverse and openended and nonattached discussions (where users are gently reminded that nothing that anyone else says can harm them and to speak from their highest self at whatever state, stage, and quadrant they happen to be in at the time).

    2. A place for group or individual shadow hunting, therapy, advice, conflict resolution, mediation, and so on.  Kinda like going to the principals office or maybe the school counselor.  Ideally, this place would also not be censored, but would be moderated/staffed by someone trained in Integral version of the aforementioned techniques so that everyone can benefit from the ideas and techniques being used to help others.

    3. An external technology-based (as opposed to internal consciousness-based) way for people to self-moderate/censor what they see, if they feel the need to.  (Personal white/black lists.)

    4. Educational guidance from the I-I folks about Integral everything, so that we aren't just talking amongst ourselves (and maybe getting wildly non-Integral information).  In other words, we need someone to officially model healthy Integral communication so that we can learn how to do it too :-)

    5. A set of Integral Best Practices for running the show, so to speak.  What does it look like when you have a Prime Directive of the greatest depth for the greatest span?  Also, what does unhealthy Integral (second tier) look like?  Could this community be run with a holacracy-based system in mind?  In general, why not use these communities as a testing ground for Integral theories, rather than just being yet another exercise in the typical first tier, ego-centric and ethno-centric type of forum?

    So, yeah, that's my vision for a really awesome community.

    Peace, Love, and Bicycles,
    Turtle
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  •  11-04-2006, 9:59 AM 13743 in reply to 13724

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    adastra:
    We are a community.  But, except insofar as they participate in the forums, I-I staff are not members of the forum community.  Staff have had various degrees of involvement, but for the most part it's been minimal.

    Unless I-I staff want to get very involved in the community, to the point where they become core members, the best move on their part would be to provide effective tools - and full authorization to use them - to core members or a subset thereof, so that the emergent community can self-regulate in an effective way.  That is, if they want to have a vibrant community happening here.
    I think this is crucial, complete agreement.

    Peter

    "All nations should be like Amsterdam" -- Ken Wilber
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  •  11-04-2006, 10:06 AM 13745 in reply to 13727

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Hi Turtle,

    I support your points 1 and 2; these are easy to achieve, and they could be good to have for some people. Point 3 may be more problematic, I'll share my thoughts on that later, when I have more time. Not that I'm against that one per se, by the way.

    Points 4 and 5 could be helpful, but requires more involvement from I-I staff, and maybe we could develop 5 ourselves?

    Thanks for your input,
    Peter

    "All nations should be like Amsterdam" -- Ken Wilber
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  •  11-04-2006, 11:11 AM 13754 in reply to 13745

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    There are a lot of really good points on this thread so far; I support and agree with most of them.  As with other recent discussions, this conversation has the potential to expand out to encompass other issues besides the main topic, which may deserve their own thread.  For instance, the spamming thread spawned this one, as we began to explore the issue of moderation as an approach to the problem; and now that we are discussing moderation, we see that we may need to step back and also consider what we want out of this community altogether.

    I mention this because Randomturtle's post goes in this direction (an ideal community), and my response to her is more about what we can do as a community than strictly about moderation:

    I agree with you, RT, that we should have a space here which is unmoderated and uninhibited by too many rules or expectations.  I also think an area for "shadow processing" would be very helpful.  On Integral Naked, the space for both of these things appears to be the Seventh Circle, though has not been used to its full potential yet.  On some forums, there is also often a space for settling differences -- for taking disagreements and hashing them out, sometimes in a no-holds-barred fashion.  These rooms are also frequently not moderated.

    But while I think it is important to keep some vibrant spaces open which are unmoderated, I also think there is a place for moderation -- places where individuals can go and know that they will be somewhat protected from spam and disruptive behavior.  Most forums have different rooms or areas dedicated to different topics, such as you find here: places to talk about theory, about practice, about Integral meetings, and so on.  In my vision for the Integral forums, I would like to see these spaces used more consciously, and not just on the level of content, but also of process.

    On the old Integral Naked forum, Iconasostacles proposed a new type of thread:  a proposal/consensus-oriented thread, where members join together to share in a way that is not the usual mode of "showing our wisdom" or "helping each other" but rather of "working for an agreement of understanding."  Each member would not only share hir perspective, but periodically attempt to inclusively synthesize the multiple points that have been shared by all parties.  As we discussed this idea on IN, we decided that there might also be an option for arriving at specific concrete proposals which we could seek to accomplish as a community.

    I share this here as the context for the following.  In talking about proposal/consensus-oriented threads, I suggested that we begin to use the different spaces in the forum in a more conscious, deliberate way:

    Balder:
    We might use the rooms here in a more purposeful way.  For instance, we could use the Interplay room for brainstorming, tossing out ideas, playing with possibilities and speculations.  Once we have formulated something that we would like to propose or develop in a more serious way, we could take it to the Theory Au Natural forum, where interested members would debate the merits of the proposal or theory.  If we arrive at something that we think is workable, we might then take the topic into the Embodied Practice thread, to discuss action-oriented, real world applications of the proposal.

    Obviously, not everyone will want to work here in this concentrated way; and even those who do probably wouldn't want to work in this way all the time.  But it points to a creative way that I believe this community space could be used.  And it demands, I believe, that at least some spaces, such as Theory Au Natural, be moderated in some way, to limit the amount of disruption that can arise through spamming and other issues.

    We could strive here for an organic, multi-tiered communal space here in which space and structure are equally important, each allowed to serve different purposes and nurture us in different ways...

    Best wishes,

    Balder


    May the boundless knowledge that time presents and space allows illuminate the native perspectives of your original face.

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  •  11-04-2006, 11:37 AM 13758 in reply to 13743

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    adastra:
    We are a community.  But, except insofar as they participate in the forums, I-I staff are not members of the forum community.  Staff have had various degrees of involvement, but for the most part it's been minimal.

    Unless I-I staff want to get very involved in the community, to the point where they become core members, the best move on their part would be to provide effective tools - and full authorization to use them - to core members or a subset thereof, so that the emergent community can self-regulate in an effective way.  That is, if they want to have a vibrant community happening here.


    If there is no serious involvement by the I-I team in a forum, then I don't see any difference between it and billions of free forums/communities everywhere else.  I get plenty of great dialogue about all sorts of world- and kosmo-centric theories on several other boards and lists, and I don't have to pay a memership fee to participate in those communities.  If I-I forums were just the same old same old, then there would be no point in paying money to post here, as far as I'm concerned.  The reason I've been participating here is mostly because of the involvement of Yotam, IntegralLynn and a few others who are directly involved in developing Integral practices.  If the place is going to be run by whomever happens to have the most time to spend hanging out here - the way pretty much every other community is run - then I don't see much point in investing my time and money here. 

    I'm not here to just hang out, I'm here for the good stuff that you can't get anywhere else.  If other people want to hang out that's completely fine with me.  And I got the impression that that was what the Integral Naked community was all about.  The Integral Institute, on the other hand, seemed like more of a communty for learning.  And that''s what I'm really passionate about.  Know what I mean? 

    Peace, Love, and Bicycles,
    Turtle
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  •  11-04-2006, 1:55 PM 13769 in reply to 13758

    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Oh BOY, RT!!

    I just happened to tune in and saw this dandy titled thread and just had to log on, only to find myself mentioned herein.  YZour topic is neasr and dear to my heart, not as an IN forum peep, but as someone really interested in on-line communities and the salons that are trying to find direction as well.

    Let me just tell y'all that we are going thru a very exciting but energy-depleting reorg, which will put us in the position of being far better able to serve our community than ever before.  It will take time, since we've been laying tracks as y'all have been driving the engines an inch behind and sometimes ahead of us!!

    I work full-time, plus work for I-I the rest of the time, but whether i worked for them or not, I'd be offering whatever I can offer to the effort, so long was I in the "Wilberness" that I can't stand to hear any other cries in the post-modern dark.  So if you have any questions, thoughts, things you want me to funnel to someone, just shoot 'em out.  I know that there are 2 others whose job it is full-time to monitor what's happe4ning here,b ut again, we don't want to crush free-spirited emergence.

    First for some sharing---I got caught in a year's worth of hostile email exchanges on the NYC and LIC forums that were illness-provoking for me, and no fun for the others, either paticipating or  watching.  I got my act together, and was better able to act as Integral samurai.  I also have followed the difficulties that erupted on IN, and how heart-renching it was for Casey to deal with it.  I have also been in contac with the salon leaders in several cities who want to know how best to connect with their local groups.  So I see this large perspective wherein we need to learn from one another, and I agree that Best Practices are called for, and that you also need help from I-I at times as well!

    So---how would you imagine that process/structure?? 

    I've researched on-line communities as well, and if we'd want to gather some of that material, fine.  If we want to share best practices, great.  If you need help from one of us at I-I, just holler. Thru all of this other new stuff that we are juggling right now, we are still head over heels in love with all of you, and the energy that shakes out from IN.

    Love and...uh...feathered friends,

    Lynne

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  •  11-04-2006, 3:52 PM 13788 in reply to 13758

    • maryw is not online. Last active: 01-27-2007, 5:16 PM maryw
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    Re: Integral Forum Moderation

    Hi everyone --

    I noticed that I-I has posted a couple of files on forum facilitation here. And while facilitation may be somwhat distinct from moderation, it looks like I-I is currently drafting standards and gathering volunteers to fill these roles.

    randomturtle:
    If there is no serious involvement by the I-I team in a forum, then I don't see any difference between it and billions of free forums/communities everywhere else.  I get plenty of great dialogue about all sorts of world- and kosmo-centric theories on several other boards and lists, and I don't have to pay a memership fee to participate in those communities.  If I-I forums were just the same old same old, then there would be no point in paying money to post here, as far as I'm concerned. 

    By I-I forums, do you mean just the Integral Institute forums per se, or do you also mean Integral Naked, Integral Spiritual Center, and Integral University as well? If I came here and only had access to the Integral Institute forum (and not IN and/or ISC), I wouldn't have much incentive to pay for membership here, either--beyond a desire to support I-I. But being a  member of I-I also (I think) means access to Integral Naked -- and not just the forums there, but also all its archived audio-visual material. And that's why I initially joined IN two years ago -- the place was a kind of online magazine offering wonderful interviews with and showcases of people whose ideas I find fascinating. The forum there was simply an added feature -- made available for members who wanted to discuss the ideas and art transmitted through the AV material. In other words -- I didn't (initially) join IN for the forum -- because as you point out, there are plenty of free forums out there for just hanging out and chit-chat. I didn't even peek inside the forum for several months! Eventually, though, I dipped my toe in and found a vibrant community there -- folks discussing ideas with a level of depth and creativity that I had rarely found elsewhere in cyberspace. And I became addicted! I made friends there -- and actually met several peeps face-to-face. Fell in love with them all.

    And I noticed an interesting phenomenon -- some IN members admitted that they were there mainly for the forum itself, for the interaction and online dialogues occuring within that community -- and not really for the AV material. They were still willing to pay a monthly fee, even if they weren't always enthralled by the AV material. I don't know how often that happens with other forums out there--people willing to pay for posting privileges. But it suggests that some people really valued just being able to share that space together -- enough to continue paying just to post. And it was more than just chit-chat and hanging out, although there was certainly quite a bit of that. People felt deeply invested in the kinds of interactions and conversations that occurred there, and a sense of community developed. Not trouble-free, of course -- we have certainly gone through changes and trials and tribulations. But--for me at least--it was (and is) certainly not the same old same old ...

    If the place is going to be run by whomever happens to have the most time to spend hanging out here - the way pretty much every other community is run - then I don't see much point in investing my time and money here. 

    I wouldn't want the forums to be managed by people solely on the basis of how much they hang out here, either. I would hope that they would also be compassionate, concerned, considerate, confident, integrally informed folks who have some experience with group dynamics. And I think that it is possible to have both -- i.e., compassionate, concerned, considerate, confident, integrally informed folks with group-dynamics experience who also hang out here a lot.

    The advantage in having moderators/facilitators (or regulators or whatever you'd like to call them) who hang out here a lot is that any trouble that arises (beyond glitches that the techies can work out) could be handled within a reasonable amount of time. Instead of waiting weeks or months for some wonderful but overworked and underslept I-I personnel to handle a misunderstanding or a crisis, it can be addressed right then and there.

    This was part of the rationale behind Casey's choosing a few active forum participants as volunteer facilitators for the old IN forum. (I, in addition to Arthur/adastra, Tamgoddess, Feral, and MichaelD, was one of the IN junkies who facilitated for a time ...). One of the things we learned from that experience, though, was that it's not a good idea to just spring such a big change on an active and engaged forum out of the blue. (And learning that was heart-wrenching for all involved). I believe it was IN member Tiki who pointed us to a great article (if I can find it I'll post a link) about how an engaged forum community will react with a sense of moral outrage when some change--even if it's a seemingly minor change--is introduced without prior notification to the community. Thus, it's wonderful that we are having this discussion now ...

    There are likely advantages to having moderators who are not active posters, too. People may feel that an "outsider" moderator would offer a more objective perspective (and thus make a less seemingly "biased" decision) in a touchy situation, for example. Still, though, they would have be available enough to handle problems in a timely fashion ...

    My thoughts for the moment -- gotta go. Thanks, everyone, for all these great ideas.

    Mary

    And p.s. -- I dig the idea of having both moderated and unmoderated forums.

    And p.p.s -- Just now seeing Integrallyne's post and wanting to express sympathy for her having to deal with illness-inducing e-mails!! Sad [:(] Here we are getting just a glimpse of how difficult it can be for I-I workers. Thank you for all of your hard work, Lynne -- and please do take care of yourself. We need you ... Hugs and hot soup, M.


    Let the beauty we love be what we do.
    There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

    ~Rumi
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