FanPost

The pains of moderating an internet community


Seeing that there were events last night that led to a site wide close down of comments, I just had a couple of thoughts I thought I might share in the form of a hastily typed out and thoroughly uninteresting Fanpost.

I've not been around all that long, but I am a big fan of The Liverpool Offside. The SB Nation model lends itself to outstanding quality content, simply because it's driven by fans. While I typically have no interest in the vast majority of analysts and pundits out there, I'll happily listen to any fan argue his or her point, anywhere anytime and under any level of alcohol induced incoherence. Ultimately, fans are the ones who watch every minute, who pay attention, who make the effort of understanding their team in depth. An analyst, even a thorough one, can only do so much. He has to study every team in the league, and perhaps teams in other leagues. He is limited, simply in the amount of time he can spend on a particular team. He cannot have the same depth of understanding over the squad as a whole, as a true fan. Thus, even with a high football IQ, his opinions are coloured by a lack of information.

This is why I always go to the SB nation websites of other teams to learn about them, as opposed to watching analysts or reading the reporters on the back pages of newspapers. I learn more from real fans, from the comment sections and intelligent, well researched debates. Particularly when I myself am a fan of a club, as with Liverpool. This site is now a haven, a learning ground, an outstanding opportunity to be myself and share my absurd and seemingly one directional love affair with LFC with other fanatics. The cheesiest line of the day, but the obvious one, here Liverpool fans don't have to walk alone. The writers and commenters here alike, form an incredible community, of which is a privilege to be part

I have an easy job here, I am a commenter and member of a community. I come and go when my schedule suits me. I say what I am thinking, when it pleases me to say it. I respond when I see something to which I have an opinion Else I move on with my life, happy in the knowledge that behind the scenes there are people who manage the show. Publishing articles several times a day, researching interesting features and compiling a 3XI view of the squad when it's barely 1XI deep. These same people also moderate the discussions and spare us form the pain of the wider internet. The world of "First Post"' and "You're Stupid". Many other worst things are outside these walls, venture with caution.

I can say from personal experience that moderating an intelligent community, like this one, is a challenge. Not in dealing with the trolls, those are easy enough to ban for life. No, the challenge here is in keeping the discussion between intelligent, contributing, valuable members of a community engaged and involved. Keeping the comment sections constructive, without offending members of what is almost a family. Families fight, argue, quarrel. It is the responsibility of those tasked with managing this site to maintain relationships without letting an entire thread boil over into one long argument that helps no one and distracts from the content.

Again, from personal experience, this is something that is easy to get wrong. It is easy to go too far, not far enough. To step in to early and break up an intelligent debate. To step in to late when tender emotions are already bubbling at the surface. It's a challenge, and my guess (only a guess, I am purely an outsider after all) is that the moderators here are learning all the time as well.

if any of you actually read all the way down to the end of this, (first off wow, thanks), I humbly propose as a fellow community member that going forward please don't argue with the mods in the threads. Their contact details should be available in the masthead, send them an email. We all have leadership positions in our lives, and when we get things wrong I imagine we'd be happy to discuss and learn from incidents, but we would not be happy to be undermined in public. Simply because being undermined makes it harder to do your job, any job, especially here when the job is keeping internet comment sections respectful. When we make the mods lives hard, this place starts to resemble the world of the Sky Sports and Yahoo forums. Nobody deserves that. Lets not do that to ourselves.

Please make any posts here geared towards creating discussion. Any works that are copied and pasted from other sites will be deleted. This isn't a place to advertise services or your blog, it's an extension of our site. Please treat it as such.

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