Community Moderation Overhaul

Secured
#1
The moderation team has been discussing how we should approach community moderation going forward. There are a number of important topics up for discussion, and we feel it is necessary to gather some community feedback so we can best understand what is important to the community and what direction we should take. Some of the avenues of discussion are:

- The creation of a community moderation team to handle both Reddit and Discord.
- The creation of formal moderation guidelines.
- Moderator elections.
- Mobile phone verification on Discord to prevent trolls/spam

If anyone has any opinions regarding the above or would like to raise any other issues related to moderation, this is the place to do it.
 
Secured
#2
My position on the above topics:

1. I think the creation of a cross-platform community moderation team would be a positive thing. It would help us to ensure full coverage and also to apply moderation rules uniformly. Moderators would be able to co-ordinate amongst themselves to distribute labour and it would create an identifiable group to address any high-level moderation issues.

2. I also think we should establish formal moderation guidelines. Right now moderators generally have to do whatever they think is best, which is inconsistent between different moderators. Establishing guidelines agreed upon by the community will enable us to make decisions that are backed by community consensus. It will also limit the ability of moderators to make arbitrary decisions that the community may broadly disagree with. It would create transparency.

3. I am in favour of electing moderators. There would be some overhead to this. However, I think it is an important step to ensure decentralisation. Looking at communities like /r/bitcoin, we can see that heavy handed and biased moderation has led to the suppression of free ideas. The election of moderators limits the opportunity for moderators to censor free speech that is not in violation of moderation rules.

4. I am uncertain about this one. I invite @88mph to talk about it a little bit, as he initially raised the possibility.
 
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#3
Are there other platforms that would fall into the moderation role? There is a telegram group with over 1600 members, as well as Social media channels for the protocol (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube in future). These channels are currently moderated by the marketing committee through the marketing grant.

Would the community like to give their opinion on the ownership of moderation rights for these channels as well?
 
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#5
I'd suggest moderation of this forum fall under the moderation team as well. Factomize and certain people will remain as administrators, but those same moderators can moderate against spam and be provided additional powers. Over time, those moderators who show skill and an interest can potentially be promoted to administrator.

I also agree that Telegram can come under moderation of the team if the current admin of that Telegram agree to it.

As for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, I disagree there. Those are marketing platforms that don't tend to require much moderation and the moderation team should not be expected to create marketing content. They should remain under control of the marketing committee and we need to be careful not to mix the two roles not just from a job perspective, but from a decentralization one as well.

As for phone verification for Discord, I'd strongly suggest it be implemented. There's no way to keep ambitious trolls out otherwise and it WILL become a problem in the future as the protocol becomes more popular. It's always better to be proactive rather than reactive.

And finally, I very much support moderator elections for two reasons. One, I suspect there are some people who would like to be moderators who have no place in such a role and the community should have a say. And second, the all important keyword of "decentralization".
 
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#7
My personal views are as follows -

- The creation of a community moderation team to handle both Reddit and Discord.
I would like the moderators to handle all our main channels - Discord, Factomize, Reddit. I agree the marketing channels are best left with the Marketing committee.

- The creation of formal moderation guidelines.
Yes. There's been push back from the community for being over moderated, while I've received comments regarding under moderation. Some objective rules defined by the community and voted for by the community will ensure moderation is inline with the will of the majority.

- Moderator elections.
Yes. The community should elect moderators and decide how many we need.

- Mobile phone verification on Discord to prevent trolls/spam.
I personally don't think this is necessary. I think the risk of turning down new comers outweighs the benefits.
 
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#8
As for phone verification for Discord, I'd strongly suggest it be implemented. There's no way to keep ambitious trolls out otherwise and it WILL become a problem in the future as the protocol becomes more popular. It's always better to be proactive rather than reactive.
I agree with this, and also want to point out that David has extensive experience in creating and managing online forums. This doesn't necessarily mean he's right, but when someone with extensive experience has serious concerns about potential risks, I think it's worth paying attention to.

I also support moderator elections. However I suggest we wait to hold those elections until after phone verification, if we decide to go that route. The ease of creating puppet accounts, and the very real threat of influencing the elections as a result, is a major risk imo.

For a Moderation Policy ... I created one for Slack last year. IIRC the policy was agreed upon by the other mods at that time. About half a year ago I re-posted the policy on Discord and the consensus seemed to be at that point that the policy should remain in effect.

I'll post the Mod Policy as originally written below. To be clear, this is just for reference. If we want to edit, or scrap and re-write, or leave as-is, is a question for all of us.

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Factom Foundation Slack Moderation Policy

We believe the best moderation is done with moderation.

We celebrate a diversity of opinions in this forum. Criticisms and concerns can help build “anti-fragility,” and so we welcome all who choose to participate here, regardless of specific viewpoints.

Censure and bans will be limited to users who are habitually disrespectful to other members, who attempt to disrupt conversation or spread FUD, or who attempt to promote content unrelated to Factom/FCT.

Whenever possible, we will try to issue warning/s to a user before removing a post or banning him or her.

Play nice, keep calm, and Factom!

Your Mods
 
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#9
There's been push back from the community for being over moderated, while I've received comments regarding under moderation. Some objective rules defined by the community and voted for by the community will ensure moderation is inline with the will of the majority.
Two thoughts:

1) The first is to point out that as long as there are trolls and others motivated to disrupt discussion for their own gain, there will be push-back against any form of moderation. I'm literally unaware of any ban that hasn't been met with loud protests of censorship, creating an echo-chamber, etc.

2) Just because 1) is the case doesn't necessarily mean that those concerns are illegitimate, of course. What it does mean is that we need to weigh who those concerns are coming from (a noob account with a name strikingly similar to that of someone who just got banned? a longtime Factom supporter who has worked to benefit the ecosystem?). Concerns about unfair moderation can be evidence that moderation is working well just as soon as it can be evidence of actual mod overstep or abuse.
 
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#10
- The creation of a community moderation team to handle both Reddit and Discord.
I support this in addition to other community channels that would fit in well with this, e.g. Telegram.

- The creation of formal moderation guidelines.
I support this.

- Moderator elections.
I generally support this though I worry a bit about additional overhead.


- Mobile phone verification on Discord to prevent trolls/spam
I think this is something to employ if trolling problems get significantly worse but I don't think it's really necessary right now.
 
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#11
as long as there are trolls and others motivated to disrupt discussion for their own gain
I was more referring to the difficulty in distinguishing a troll from a critic of the project. This is a very difficult line to define and as I have witnessed, everyone has a different opinion where that line sits. IMO more specific rules voted in by the community would help us better determine what the community wants and what the community will tolerate. But everyone needs to have a vote.
 
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#12
How far away are we from allowing token holders to vote on ANOs and grants?

Whenever that's set up, I think it would make sense to restrict voting in the moderator election to token holders.
That would assure that the incentives of voters are at least in part aligned with the health of the ecosystem.
 
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#13
I was more referring to the difficulty in distinguishing a troll from a critic of the project. This is a very difficult line to define and as I have witnessed, everyone has a different opinion where that line sits. IMO more specific rules voted in by the community would help us better determine what the community wants and what the community will tolerate. But everyone needs to have a vote.
The definition of a troll is well established:
a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community
There is already a rule established of "no trolling" as well as other rules that also cover what is stated above. Where the problem comes in is discerning troll from legitimate critic.

My wife works in emergency medicine and has for over a decade. She can walk into a room and know if someone is truly sick or not and often even knows if they're going to die soon or not. This is due to seeing thousands and thousands of patients over the years. When she was new to medicine, it was pretty hard.

The situation is similar with trolls believe it or not. An adept troll can be quite hard to distinguish from legitimate critic. I personally can spot trolls pretty darn quick due to my experience and also know how to beat them at their game. The same is true for any profession. A good accountant can quickly get a feeling that something isn't right with books. An experienced police officer can tell when someone is acting in a manner where they need to be contacted. And the list goes on. It's not about having proper rules, those are already in place. It's about our moderation team gaining the experience necessary to be able to sniff these people out, feeling comfortable acting in an appropriate manner, and being supported by the legitimate members of the community.

My experience also tells me that trolling within our various communication mediums will get worse and worse, especially if we don't establish phone verification. If we do it reactively, those trolls, who absolutely have an agenda, will use that decision to create negative publicity around the protocol. And they will not stop. And it will be a nightmare.

We must be proactive.
 
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#14
I am in favour of phone number verification. Yesterday the person behind the crypto_investor, andy_moto and crypto_speculator aliases was banned for the third time. Without phone verification, he will come back again and again. I am going to start banning him on sight, but it would be much easier if I did not have to.

Verifying your phone number is not a particularly onerous task. As we grow, there will be more andy_motos. Let's nip this in the bud right now.
 
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#15
I believe we do have a problem with the likes of Andy_motos on the discord. While some of their concerns are legit at times, they will more often than not have inflammatory and circular arguments about ANO/Guides/inc etc.

The #marketplace should not be the place to have lengthy inflammatory discussions. They have been advised multiple times to take these comments/arguments to the reddit/forum where a discussion could be had w/o the arguments being buried 5 minutes later to no avail.

The #marketplace discussions are often very counterproductive, there is also quite a few personal attacks going on at times. I used to spend quite some time trying to debunk them and what not but debunking their FUD takes 10-100x more time than spreading it AND you have to do it on a daily basis on discord because of the way discord works. The #marketplace is often more like a trollbox than a real price discussion.

This is very unappealing. This is why I would be in favor of adding a phone verification on Discord. If someone want to have a discussion and stay anonymous, they can take it on reddit/factomize where it won't get instantly buried .
 
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#16
It might be worth consideration to employ a professional community management team. Not saying that it cant be done within the community. But, there are obvious benefits to hiring an experienced professional community management team that a “moderation team” could work with.

- Mobile phone verification on Discord to prevent trolls/spam.
I personally don't think this is necessary. I think the risk of turning down new comers outweighs the benefits.
I tend to agree here. I personally use discord to explore other coins and observe members of their communities and If I happened to be exploring Factom for the first time and Discord asked me for my personal phone number....I would move on to the next project to research.
 
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#17
I tend to agree here. I personally use discord to explore other coins and observe members of their communities and If I happened to be exploring Factom for the first time and Discord asked me for my personal phone number....I would move on to the next project to research.
You would still be able to see everything. You just would not be able to post until verified. Does that make a difference?
 
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#19
It might be worth consideration to employ a professional community management team. Not saying that it cant be done within the community. But, there are obvious benefits to hiring an experienced professional community management team that a “moderation team” could work with.


I tend to agree here. I personally use discord to explore other coins and observe members of their communities and If I happened to be exploring Factom for the first time and Discord asked me for my personal phone number....I would move on to the next project to research.
Don't we have a community manager that could step up?


I am ambivalent about the phone registration myself. Yes I do get it is getting harder and harder. Yes I am in the market channels just like @Miguel Proulx to debunk stuff as much as possible. Yes it takes way more energy then it should be. The reason why I am against it at this point is

- Our community is tiny. We have a nice "hardcore" group that shows dedication, but we need to be as inclusive as possible at this point
- Sometime they do have good arguments, to fall back into their old habit again. Strict moderation helps with that. Currently we most of the time ban directly (at least that how it appears to the outside world). Having more warning in channels should deter some of them (no not as naive to think it will deter al ;) )
 
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#20
You would still be able to see everything. You just would not be able to post until verified. Does that make a difference?
Maybe. As someone who once got their phone number sold and received 10 or more phone calls a day from a drug company trying to sell me Viagra...It got to the point that I had to change phone numbers. I rarely give out my number. This is a personal experience.
Overall, I would recommend to make access to interact with the community as easy as possible. Trolls are a real problem. I’ve seen other discord communities handle this with prompt, professional, and an aligned message from mods. Once a tone is set by the mods...the community often helps maintain those guidelines in a polite and friendly manner. A lot of discord communities have a “venting channel” or “mindset channel” or something similar that functions as a place to direct people to that might just be voicing some frustration instead of trolling (I suggested this back in the summer during an ANO meeting). Either way...with this approach it becomes easy to spot the trolls and deal with them accordingly.
Further, professional community management teams have other fantastic tactics for dealing with trolls.
 
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#21
So considering everything that has been going on in the community and all of the different projects that are being tackled, moderation should be LOW level priority. Yes, we are seeing some spam by some frustrated users but that's not the end of the world and can be resolved with quick bans. We don't need to spend so much time and resources to "figure this out". There is nothing to figure out yet as we are tiny as a community.

We do not need community moderation, we need community communication and that's the same people who should deal with the low level of moderation tasks that are there.

Hiring a "professional team" is a complete waste at this point. We just need to set guidelines as a community and have a few moderators to apply them and the community to report any infractions. We have ~26 ANOs for a reason. It's a disgrace to have ANOs call out for hiring professional teams with all of those resources we currently have and the little amount of work that needs to be done. Set a strategy then see what, who, how much is needed and why.

Phone number for discord chatting? HELL FUCKING NO. This will create a lot of friction to grow the community. Unnecessary friction that can be currently resolved with quick bans. Please don't make this moderation thing a bigger issue than it is or spend your precious time and money "figuring this out".
 
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#22
There is barely any friction with discord right now and since this is a live environment and I don't think it is possible to IP ban someone there is nothing stopping anyone from creating a brand new account with the sole purpose of spreading FUD/spamming.

The point of adding a little bit of friction is to reduce the management of discord otherwise we somewhat need 24/7 moderation or things can get out of hand pretty quickly.

In my mind the goal is no to censor people as the forum and reddit are fairly anonymous too but to mitigate the live setting.

I still can be convinced otherwise but I use discord for other investment I have and a lot of them are requiring a phone nowadays. I don't see why we need a trollbox looking channel. If you guys wanted to be heard and to have constructive discussion about anything #market is definitively not the good medium to do so.
 
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#23
I am a long time community member and definitely feel a phone number requirement is unwarranted. At this stage in growth, adding any barriers to entry would be unwise. Consider the day the CNN UK journalist hopped on to the discord to ask some basic questions that eventually led to several important connections being made. You can't say for certain what level of friction would hinder any individual circumstance like this, but overall you want statistics in your favor and dont want to keep out someone reluctant to give their phone number. (Not an unreasonable position to have)

However, I support all of the other propositions.
 
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#26
I think perhaps a solution is to have a ‘Vent Channel’. Label it how it is. Put it at the bottom of the channel list.

My concern as someone trying to onboard clients is when people do due diligence on this tech - something totally new to them, the takeaway feeling is that it’s full of negativity, pump and dump speculation, trolling etc. Crypto veterans will understand this community vibe, but serious entities may not.

A channel alight with throwaway digs at the token, ANOs, infrastructure - when unexpectedly found without explanation - may do serious harm over time.

By labelling it as a Vent channel, at least it provides some guidance for how to view the commentary.
 
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#27
I tell you guys what. There's white hat hackers, how about you let me be a white hat troll? I'll show you just how much trouble someone with a little motivation, know-how, and an agenda can cause. Give me until after the next ANO election to fully execute the plan and then showcase why THE PROACTIVE FIRST STEP must be phone verification. I say first step as if we're truly working towards becoming a global utility, we're going to have to become far more sophisticated than just phone verification.

If there's no need for phone verification as people claim, this should be of no concern as I'll be unsuccessful with my "penetration testing" if you will. But if I'm right, you guys will understand why it's important to be proactive...
 
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#28
Where the problem comes in is discerning troll from legitimate critic.
That's the point I'm trying to make. I have no issue identifying what I believe to be a troll. It's what the wider community believes to be a troll is what I'm interested in finding out. Someone was banned yesterday for very obvious trolling, others are constantly walking a thin line (IMO). Everyone has a very different view where that line is.

While some of their concerns are legit at times, they will more often than not have inflammatory and circular arguments about ANO/Guides/inc etc.
Are the persistent circular arguments and negative sentiment trolling? Some would say they are trolling, others would call them ardent critics.
 
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#30
I am in support of phone verification.

In my mind it is rather simple:
1) For our moderation to actually have an effect a ban must be a ban or you'd see people just popping back in and continue their trolling, knowing that there are no consequences.

2) It is not like the admins or anyone else except Discord the company will get access to the phone numbers of the users... It's a built in function of the Discord application just requiring that you connect an account with a phone number.

3) My understanding is that users with an assigned role will not have this requirement; i.e we can assign a role to all the users currently in the discord and offering them "grandfather rights" (until being kicked/banned). (We already assigned all users a role 6 months ago, so we could just re-assign that role to all users.

4) It doesn't stop people from joining and reading all channels; it just limits sending messages. Phone verification takes something like 15 seconds, so my personal view is that people who wants to ask questions or contribute will make that little step. If they absolutely don't want to they can reach out on Reddit, Telegram, Twitter and the like.