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I've seen it in the journals and comments at LISNews, and I've been seeing it for years at Slashdot:
"The moderators are out to get me"
"Disagree with the moderators and you're in trouble"
and so onâ€¦.
Today I will explain the great LISNews moderator conspiracy.
Tinfoil hats on:
We're out to get you. Just you, you've been singled out because we don't like you. We donâ€™t like what you say. We don't like what you do, and we don't like how you smell.
Now take your tinfoil hat off, for the truth.
LISNews, unlike Slashdot, has just several thousand visitors a day (Slashdot probably does that in an hour). LISNews, unlike Slashdot, gives almost everyone with an account the power to moderate (and I think metamoderate now) each and every day. On any given day the actual number of people who choose to moderate is rather low, but the fact remains, it can be any number of well over 3,000 people who moderate any one comment. There is no group of moderators that have the power to take you down. No moderator clique that has the power to take away all your karma. The entire LISNews community is "the moderator" and unless you've managed to anger over 3,000 people, they're not all out to get you. Chances are, if you have a comment that ended up at -1, you deserved it.
The moderation system was put in place to make good comments stand out, and to make bad comments disappear (for those who choose to ignore them.) Anything below 0 is for the most part not seen by many people, and any number above 1 is read by most everyone. At a busy site like Slashdot it's possible to browse at +5 and see the best of the best, and not worry much about missing anything (At LISNews, I'd stick with +2, or even just +1).
There are just a few simple rules to moderating. You can't comment and moderate on the same thread. You can't moderate your own comments. You're limited to just 5 points a day (one point = 1 vote). And you can't moderate more than once on a comment. That's about it. Exceptions to that rule: those of us with super-secret and exciting authors powers can moderate all we want (I've seen very little evidence of abuse, we really have better things to do most of the time).
Metamoderation allows anyone to moderate the moderations. I think I now have the code set to allow everyone metamoderation powers each day as well. When moderating, you give support to a comment, when metamoderating, you give support to a moderation. So as you metamoderate, you're simply agreeing with how someone else moderated a comment. Those who are frequently disagreed with are denied moderating powers. (note: I *think* everyone can metamoderate, can you confirm that?)
I know this is not a perfect system, especially here, we just don't have enough people participating to make it hit on all 8 cylinders, but it's a system that does a pretty good job. It's rare for a comment to make it all the way up to 5 (comments can range from -1 to +5), it's actually rare for a comment to be moderated more than 2 or 3 times (comments can be moderated a total of 10 times). There are opportunities for abuse and mischief, but for the most part it just doesn't happen. People who moderate and metamoderate do a good job, it's just that simple. They're not out to get you. We all do what we can to make it a useful and interesting site to be a part of.
So if you think "the moderators" are out to get you, you're just paranoid, and you probably need a new tinfoil hat.