[Updated – please scroll down for Addendums 1 (2013-02-08) and 2 (2013-03-20)]
Firstly: the moderators are all currently more busy than usual, so the two current sex work threads that are full of stoush/flame disruptions have both been placed into full moderation to allow for adequate scrutiny by the moderators as time allows. This is not an invitation to take those discussions to any other threads on which they would be off-topic, and malfeasants in this regard will have their comments, and any responding comments, deleted without notice.
- 1a. Since moderation matters are being discussed, some general discussion on moderation issues is on-topic for this post.
Secondly, in order to facilitate timely moderator attention to malfeasants, we have decided to emulate the brilliant Cat Valente’s “Miss Bennet Disapproves” moderator signal. The idea is that if a commentor sees a comment that appears to breach the Feministe comments policy, please reply to that comment using the special moderator signal phrase.
A few weeks ago I introduced the Fluffinator moderation mode for particularly egregious abusive comments, it includes a picture of a Disapproving Giraffe and the replacement of the original comment text with Fluffiness. The Giraffe abides, awaiting further deployment, so the code phrase I’ve chosen is this:
“We need a giraffe here”
The use of this phrase will alert moderators that something needs to be looked at (
we can search for the phrase when we log in comments including that phrase will trigger the moderation filter, so that they are placed in the moderation queue and the blog will send a notification to the moderation team). The moderators might not agree with the reporter that the actual Giraffe i.e. a full Fluffination is needed, but it will alert us to problematic threads/subthreads so that we can decide what approach to the disruption is best. The moderators will add a thank-you note to each Giraffe Alert comment so it can be seen that the reported comment has been inspected (and will also let us see at a glance in the back-end which reports are still outstanding).
It will also alert us, inevitably, to those who decide to misuse this reporting technique vexatiously. Welcome to permanent moderation status for all your comments if you vex the moderators, mmkay?
The moderators are currently discussing a few more moderation innovations. We will let you know when they have been decided upon.
Addendum 1 (in response to question in comments):The Giraffe has different modes: Fluffinator is the most extreme, and will not always be needed. It is perfectly acceptable to call The Giraffe for an inspection without the expectation of Fluffination.
There will be a Caution mode: a reminder that The Giraffe Abides, with a link to this post, to inform newbies and the forgetful that xe is watching. Caution mode might involve comment redaction to remove unacceptable content, up to disemvoweling for the particularly clueless/recalcitrant. Repeat offenders’ details will be added to the automoderation filter.
There will also be a Freeze mode: a thread that is getting overheated will be frozen (closed to comments altogether) overnight or for 24 hours, to give people a cooling-off period from anger and/or a recuperation period from defending against hurt. (During the closure period the mods will be looking to see whether any comments require redaction or whether any commentors involved should be deemed as deserving addition to the automoderation filter for a time.)
The role of the code phrase is as much a de-escalator as it is an alert: it is definitely not a cue for a cliquish pile-on of in-jokes about giraffes. Once a giraffe alert has been issued other commentors should not respond to it in-thread, or to the comment which has been reported, directly – please have patience and trust that a moderator will attend to it ASAP.
The one exception to the pile-on rule is when The Giraffe deploys in full Fluffinator mode: in these cases the abuse has been egregious and the free venting of mockery is entirely acceptable.
Addendum #2 (some fine-tuning of Giraffe Alerts will work)
: the Moderation Team has decided that we need to be notified by email when a giraffe alert is sent. In order to use WordPress’ own features to do this, this means that the trigger phrase “we need a giraffe here” has now been added to our automoderation filter, so that any comment including it will be sent to the moderation-pending queue which will generate a notification email to the Moderation Team.
This means that Giraffe Alerts will not be seen by other commentors, because they will be sitting in the moderation queue. We suggest a quick subsequent comment along the lines of “I just sent a Giraffe Alert” should be sufficient inform other commentors that somebody has taken steps to let the Mod Team know. Duplicate alerts are fine if for whatever reason one feels the need, particularly if a response seems to be taking too long, but the Mod Team will only publish the first Giraffe Alert with an attached Moderator Note to indicate that we have seen it – subsequent Giraffe Alerts will be deleted.