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Who Are The Moderators & What Can they Do? - Thread 3
9/7/01 | Lead Moderator

Posted on 09/08/2001 4:56:20 PM PDT by Admin Moderator

That is a question many have asked - and it deserves some straight answers, removing rumor and setting the record straight about moderators, what they do, and why. This is not the expose some might hope the title promises, but it will tell you much you did not know, and much you need to know.

Up front, I’ll tell you that I am merely the first moderator to serve. Above that I am the least of the moderators in many ways, as all others serve FreeRepublic in stellar ways I could not hope to match. I serve as their trainer and support leader. Here, I am but the spokesperson and author of information I hope you will find interesting and of benefit to all who post on FreeRepublic.

A look at the history of moderators on FR, and the purposes for having them is a good place to start.


History of:

Moderators have been working on FR for about a year now, but until recently few knew they existed because they kept a fairly low profile and never directly communicated with their fellow FReepers with respect to duties. Their primary purpose was to keep the Sidebars free of lesser posts, leaving the best relevant news and editorial content possible in the limited space, but they also served in other important ways.

The job changed significantly when Jim Robinson was invited to come to the National Federation of Republican Assemblies convention in Texas to receive the Ronald Regan Freedom Award. He would be gone for two weeks, longer than any absence from maintaining the site ever before.

During the trip Jim’s son, John Robinson, and all moderators filled in for Jim in some way. This included a few posts as “Sidebar Moderator” or “Admin Moderator” on some threads, and FReepmail contacts with various users of the system. Frequent use of on-thread posting is limited for obvious reasons.

Prior to this people talked about the ‘posting police,’ but in general moderators and their activities were not common knowledge to many. But with this new visibility, in short order moderators became the subject de jure , and rumors began to fly.


New Abilities:

FreeRepublic currently enjoys an average of about 1800 new users per month. Many of these are prior disruptors who wish to harm the reputation of FR, or demean the users of it. It is not uncommon to see several of them per day - clogging up threads with posts designed to cause trouble, and posting foul messages of all kinds. Some merely have an axe to grind, some are vulgar and rude - but the worst come looking to make personal trouble for as many as possible.

Jim Robinson’s typical 16 hour day protected FReepers from the influence of such disruptors prior to his trip, so if moderators were to fill in - they needed new abilities. John Robinson wrote the software, then he and a scant few moderators manned a 24 hour day, 7 days a week effort during the trip. We quickly learned what Jim faced on a daily basis - quite an education!

Meanwhile a problem with Jim’s laptop prevented him from logging in to FreeRepublic until he got to Texas, where he told fellow FReepers he suffered from “serious withdrawal pains.” He was mostly kept from ‘freeping’ until he returned home - about which he commented recently, “...in the past whenever I took two or three days off to go to D.C. or wherever, I'd come home and it would usually take two or three days to get caught up. That was not so bad. But if you want to keep your sanity, NEVER take 14 days off. I've got unanswered email stacked to the rafters and it keeps pouring in! :) “


The Division of Tasking:

Since the number of moderators was (and will remain) quite small, and there was need to divide functional duties, the team was split into two levels - roughly along lines of experience. John named the levels Junior and Senior. That division was known only, and not explained until now, on the forum as Sidebar Moderator and Admin Moderator respectively.

Senior moderators needed to be able to do almost anything Jim could do. Junior moderators continue old tasks, yet support Seniors in new ones as well - and both needed to learn to use software still under development that continues today. Though a few mistakes were made, few noticed any major degradation due to frequent disruptor activities.

As a result, we were successful in relieving Jim of the load he carried, and permitted him to enjoy a relatively worry free and much deserved vacation, the longest he has experienced in a too many years. In addition, we hope to continue to afford him the ability to spend more leisure time with family, friends and fellow FReepers - an ability most of us enjoy, but that his unswerving dedication has denied.


Who Are We and How Many:

At the beginning, it was decided that total anonymity would be absolutely mandatory for several reasons. The obvious being that no one wanted to have their reputation on the forum compromised in any way by being known to be assisting Jim Robinson in maintenance duties.

Additional reasons for total anonymity include the desire to avoid any hint of public special relationship or status above any other user of the forum - and any activity of moderators publicly hinting of their participation would mean the end of it. All moderators are tasked with the duty to maintain their anonymity, and all must hold in strictest confidence any knowledge derived from their participation. None, for obvious reasons, have deviated from these practices. However for special circumstances my identity has been revealed to less than a handful who hold that information in confidence.

In fact, anonymity is so closely guarded that most do not even know who the other moderators are, and will not learn that information in the process of doing their assigned tasks. There are only three people who know who all are, Jim Robinson, John Robinson and myself. There is one deviation from that - Senior moderators work so closely together they have to know each other.

There are less than 10 moderators all told, split roughly in half by task and duty. Location of them across all US time zones aids in round-the-clock coverage. All of us work at the behest and oversight of Jim Robinson, and all work under a set of guidelines and practices. Each is trusted to use their judgement on close calls, and all of us are fallible human beings that make a few mistakes on occasion. Some of those mistakes are easily corrected without much ado - others have obviously become public in attempts at correction. However being public in what we do will continue to be minimal.


What we do:

As you know, there is often a need to pull posted threads that endanger FreeRepublic legally. Then there are the rather obvious and purposed planting of posts that can be used by major media to spoil the reputation and public perception of what FR is all about There are also many posted ‘articles’ (that are not articles) that are inappropriate and violate the posting guidelines of our host. There are many replies or posted comments made on threads that are inappropriate and need removal, saving otherwise constructive threads from disruption.

Incidentally - there are a few bad-apples who have abused the abuse button. These are those who goad or bait people, until they get a response in kind - and then hit the abuse button to dispense with their foes and look angelic in the process. That scam worked for a while - but we’re wise it now.
Some users flout the rules of the house, manners and the rules of civility needed to maintain order - forcing appropriate action to curtail their activities. Moderators have the ability to deal appropriately - and if we err, Jim or John can remedy error as needed. Obviously, they can over-rule any of our decisions, and have fittingly done so.

Records have to be kept, abusers need to be contacted and encouraged to alter wayward ways, and advised of the consequences for failure to do so. People with various problems ask for help - and get it. Many accidently make multiple posts, and ask that one or more be removed. Some ask that we edit their posts - but we can’t do that, and have little time for it if we could. Others have made posts in anger, and soon after repented of what they said and asked for deletion.

In short, the daily hurly-burly activities here keep us pretty busy. We cool flame wars, and fight personal attacks. We provide services to benefit not only the goals and purposes set by our host, but to hundreds of individuals who frequent these pages.


The Real Heros:

The bottom line is that moderators aren’t the real heros who do the lion’s share of maintaining order on FreeRepublic. That honor rightfully rests with those who diligently keep their eyes pealed for the problems that beset us all - and hit the abuse button to alert us to those problems when they see them. Sure, we get plenty of abuse complaints that are misplaced or are lame, requiring no action whatever.

But, all are given rather quick attention (sometimes too quick,) as many of you have seen or experienced. It should be rare that you’ll see any major abuse continue very long. But that speed is the result of efforts of many who treasure what this place has to offer, and are quick to point to the out-of-place and the unacceptable. They are the unsung heros here, not I nor those who process their complaints.

We’ve noted who the best of the best are, and appreciate their exemplary efforts without which our job would be nothing at all - compared to the contribution these people make to the betterment of what makes this the best place on the Internet of its kind. To them all FReepers owe our greatest praise, and our greatest appreciation.


The Future:

We are still learning, John is still programming and we are still shaping what we do to better meet the needs of our host and all who trust this place to remain the best there is. Our goals are to be as permissive as possible and never partial or arbitrary. We are here to do what we can for our host, and for those who care deeply about this place. Our new abilities will continue, and new programming and practices will refine them. And we believe your input is a critical part of that effort.

Needless to say, I think we have a future. It is fitting that we communicate with you, and that you do with us, and our superiors. When you need to do that you can hit the abuse button on any thread and weigh in - your comments are seen, and often responded to via FRmail - perhaps sometimes not as quickly as you might desire. Don’t be surprised if we are a bit tardy at times. As I said, I don’t want a lot of us, nor do I think you do. If things are hot, FRmail drops to the bottom of the priority list.

Bottom line - you will determine our future by your support or lack of it. Jim is not deaf nor inattentive to your comments and complaints. He is probably the most forgiving man I have ever met, but as you well know, he does not hesitate to act if needed.

That’s the end of the expose about moderators to this point, I hope you found it useful and worthy of your time.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Free Republic; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS:
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Constructive comments most welcome, particularly those aimed at improvements you think are needed.
1 posted on 09/08/2001 4:56:20 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Admin Moderator
Who Are The Moderators

I think I've discovered who you are, but I aint telling :-)

2 posted on 09/08/2001 5:01:21 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: Admin Moderator
"Constructive comments most welcome, particularly those aimed at improvements you think are needed."

Are you guys powerful enough to do automatic second thread creation when a thread reachs 150 replies or so? That would probably save some band depth or whatever it is. parsy.

Plus, are you guys powerful enough that when I do a really funny vanity post like the one I did the other day on Noah's Ark being found on Magazine Mtn., could you make some of the freepers here read it?

3 posted on 09/08/2001 5:12:13 PM PDT by parsifal
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To: Admin Moderator
Cool. I didn't know we had moderators, but I applaud the decision to not say who you guys are. I left a board last year that I had really enjoyed because the moderators, who had their status displayed for all to see under their posting alias, regularly abused their authority and lauded it over us peons.

And I'm sure that someone's mentioned this, but it's "heroes", not "heros" :)

4 posted on 09/08/2001 5:12:21 PM PDT by Hawkeye's Girl
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To: lowbridge
I think I've discovered who you are, but I aint telling :-)

...just in case I'm dead wrong. (I usually am) :^)

5 posted on 09/08/2001 5:12:22 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: lowbridge
Cheers for the Moderators, who perform useful work and keep weirdos to a minimum.
6 posted on 09/08/2001 5:13:23 PM PDT by The Kitten
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To: Admin Moderator
Who Are The Moderators & What Can they Do?

blah, blah ,blah.....Thats fine and all but do you have a recipie for a Long Island Iced Tea????????????.....:*)
7 posted on 09/08/2001 5:17:18 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: Admin Moderator
Why is this thread posted in the Breaking News column?
8 posted on 09/08/2001 5:17:18 PM PDT by Inspector Harry Callahan
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To: Admin Moderator
What precautions are in place now to ensure that the moderators are acting within established guidelines and not on their own volition or their own perceived interpretation of JR's policies and procedures?
9 posted on 09/08/2001 5:17:41 PM PDT by Scuttlebutt
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
Cause it broke?....:*)
10 posted on 09/08/2001 5:18:10 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: Admin Moderator
Thread 1
Thread 2
11 posted on 09/08/2001 5:18:22 PM PDT by 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub
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To: Admin Moderator
I know there's a lot of talent on this site. Perhaps we could have the facility to automatically bring up photos when keywords such as 'boobs' or 'J-Lo' are used in posts.

This would expedite many of our best discussions.;^)

12 posted on 09/08/2001 5:19:20 PM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: Scuttlebutt
None. They have the button. They will begin the headhunting shortly....

Count on it.

13 posted on 09/08/2001 5:19:26 PM PDT by Inspector Harry Callahan
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To: Admin Moderator
Here are links to the first two threads on this subject:

Thread 1

Thread 2

Thanks again for the information and for answering our questions.

14 posted on 09/08/2001 5:20:31 PM PDT by Silly
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

Comment #16 Removed by Moderator

Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: Admin Moderator
One suggestion if at all possible,when a thread gets long and your using a dial up connection it takes forever to refresh,any chance of an option to refresh the article with lets say the last ten responses only,just a thought.
18 posted on 09/08/2001 5:24:18 PM PDT by eastforker
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
There's always Usenet ;)
19 posted on 09/08/2001 5:24:46 PM PDT by Hawkeye's Girl
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
Why is this thread posted in the Breaking News column?

Cause they like to Lord it over us.

This is my attempt to make friends with them. Do you think I'm succeeding?

20 posted on 09/08/2001 5:26:44 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
I think it was John Robinson (might have been Jim) who said they will not allow clicques to form.

In addition, on another thread, it was noted that information pertaining to FRee Republic would be posted under Breaking News.

21 posted on 09/08/2001 5:28:32 PM PDT by JudyB1938
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To: lowbridge
Did You Send a Fruit Basket???????
22 posted on 09/08/2001 5:29:18 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: JudyB1938
Thank you for the kind explination. I was unaware of that.

Kind regards,
Callahan

23 posted on 09/08/2001 5:30:48 PM PDT by Inspector Harry Callahan
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To: cmsgop
Did You Send a Fruit Basket???????

Complete with cash.

24 posted on 09/08/2001 5:31:08 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: lowbridge
Complete with cash.

Cash is out of season......Fruit is the in thing.......
25 posted on 09/08/2001 5:34:20 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: Admin Moderator
Thanks to you all for your time and dedication to this wonderful resource!

It might make the site a little easier to navigate (and quicker to load) if you could put a drop down list of sub-catagories under each main heading. This should make it easier to locate regular articles like the word of the day, prayer links and so forth.

26 posted on 09/08/2001 5:35:28 PM PDT by Helix
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To: Admin Moderator
I have a question and a suggestion:

Will the old lost pre- '99 threads ever be returned?

My suggestion is that all articles henceforth be posted under the "whitewater" topic to make them easier to find.

27 posted on 09/08/2001 5:36:28 PM PDT by mrsmith
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To: cmsgop, lowbridge
I sent champagne.....;^)
28 posted on 09/08/2001 5:41:32 PM PDT by diotima
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To: diotima
Cristal I Hope!!!!! Not That Cheap "Dom" Stuff!!!!!
29 posted on 09/08/2001 5:45:55 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: diotima
of course "Krug" is a fine gift!
30 posted on 09/08/2001 5:47:05 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: cmsgop
Only the best for my favorite moderators...;^)
31 posted on 09/08/2001 5:47:39 PM PDT by diotima
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To: diotima
Only the best for my favorite moderators...;^)

and Posters I Hope...........:*)
32 posted on 09/08/2001 5:51:18 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
"They have the button."

I guess that answers the age-old children's query. ;^)

33 posted on 09/08/2001 5:57:20 PM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: cmsgop
Yours is in the mail......;^)
34 posted on 09/08/2001 6:03:38 PM PDT by diotima
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To: Admin Moderator
As I reread the main post, I'm beginning to hear echos and tones of "The Benedictine Rule". First and second-level acolytes wandering the virtual abbey of FreeRepublic wrestling with the most profound questions of proper behavior. LOL!
35 posted on 09/08/2001 6:03:45 PM PDT by headsonpikes
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To: Hawkeye's Girl
"There's always Usenet ;)"

I have heard this word "usenet" before. What is it? Seriously. parsy.

36 posted on 09/08/2001 6:07:14 PM PDT by parsifal
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To: cmsgopm diotima
Only the best for my favorite moderators...;^) and Posters I Hope...........:*)

And graphic artists.


37 posted on 09/08/2001 6:11:30 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: parsifal
Usenet is a discussion service that can be read through a news reader (kinda like group e-mail); it's as old as the Internet and very well used. There are thousands of groups for all kinds of topics, and you can make your own group if there isn't one on your subject already. Plus, the vast majority of groups are unmoderated, so while you may have to put up with spam and trolls, you can say whatever you want.

I've enjoyed it for 3 years now. It's a lot of fun if you find the right topic to discuss :)

38 posted on 09/08/2001 6:18:25 PM PDT by Hawkeye's Girl
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To: parsifal
http://www.usenet.org/
39 posted on 09/08/2001 6:19:00 PM PDT by lowbridge
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To: lowbridge
"I aint telling :-)"

That's wise... ;-)

40 posted on 09/08/2001 6:20:20 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: parsifal
lol - no, and no. but that 2nd one I'll work on, parsy.
41 posted on 09/08/2001 6:22:44 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: lowbridge
Thank you for the link. I went there and it looks interesting. I will revisit tomorrow and see about getting into some groups. Right now No.1 son is hollering for me to come watch the Razorbacks beat Tennessee. BTW, is there any newsgroup a freeper might find interesting? parsy.
42 posted on 09/08/2001 6:27:34 PM PDT by parsifal
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To: Admin Moderator
Were these threads really necessary, particularly during the middle of a fund raiaer? There was no reason to post this unless it's a neener-neener-boo-boo "I'm in charge now and everybody look out!" statement.
43 posted on 09/08/2001 6:32:19 PM PDT by xJones
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To: lowbridge
and graphic artist......
44 posted on 09/08/2001 6:32:21 PM PDT by diotima
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To: Hawkeye's Girl
"abused their authority and lauded it over us peons."

Thanks for the spelling lesson, HG. 8^) Did you mean 'lording it over us?'

So many mistakes, so few corrections - lol. (I appreciate yours, really)

45 posted on 09/08/2001 6:36:52 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Inspector Harry Callahan
cause that's what it is, news about FR many did not know.

and because that's where the boss wanted it (-:

46 posted on 09/08/2001 6:38:39 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: Scuttlebutt
What precautions are in place..?

The oversight and live review of all actions by Jim Robinson, John Robinson and myself - we don't miss much.

47 posted on 09/08/2001 6:40:32 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: 68-69TonkinGulfYatchClub
Thanks for those links, I'm asleep at the switch again.
48 posted on 09/08/2001 6:41:35 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
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To: lowbridge
What The Hell Is "Cool Guy" doing there..........He's just going to Throw Up All Over Everything!!!!!!!!......:*)
49 posted on 09/08/2001 6:41:49 PM PDT by cmsgop
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To: Admin Moderator
I think moderators are sort of spooky. If it is just a matter of "breaking news" categories, that is quite simple. However, I have heard some posters on some threads that they think they are self-appointed thread police. Such activity does diminish the mission statement of Jim Robinson. And if a topic is posted that is part of the dialogue of current politics, those articles should not be pulled, as some, of late, have been.
50 posted on 09/08/2001 6:42:12 PM PDT by Angelique
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