Administration & Moderation is not designed to be an exercise in tyranny...

Discussion in 'FAQ & Rules' started by Semper Fidelis, Oct 12, 2008.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I hope I get a pretty wide readership of this post. In light of many recent frustrations over decisions made on this board and things said or implied about the moderators of this board, I thought it might be good to give some insight about the back end of this discussion board. As the nature of the case goes, I don't expect criticism to disappear because some people can never be convinced of good intent. For those that can, at least I can help you to understand how things work in case you ever run afoul of the processes put in place here.

    First, some statistics. In the last year, the Puritanboard has had 859,355 visits, 5,750,275 page views, with 364,504 unique visitors. The board has 37,629 threads, 464,620 Posts, 1,985 Members, and 636 Active Members. In the last year alone there have been 164,500 posts. I am a senior Marine Officer with more than a few responsibilities, I have a beautiful wife and four kids including two that are home-schooled, and a house that has a lot of stuff that needs to be put away at the time of writing this post. Many of the moderators are ministers or elders or leaders in their respective Churches with many responsibilities as well. I mention these statistics that you might get a sense of the scope of activity that occurs here.

    When I began Administration of the board back in 2006, we had 40 Banned Users. This was a status I didn't really care for. It implies an irreconcilable process and puts a label on an individual's username. It's not that I disagree that the member ought to have been removed from the board but I also believe that some of these members might decide they can abide by the rules and be returned in status. In fact, a few that were previously banned contacted me via the contact form and were restored.

    As for suspension, there was a somewhat informal process for a while. We had some folks that would flagrantly violate some aspect of the Confession and/or decided that posting within its bounds was not for them. For me, however, this board became a huge time sink and I couldn't manage the work here and reasonably be faithful to my primary duties to the home (I repeat, this board is not on the top list of my priorities and that will help if you understand this). The process of suspension used to be far too personal and especially made it difficult for moderators to blow a whistle while keeping a particular member from making it in to a personal matter.

    Herein lies part of the dilemma here. I've been in leadership at various levels for over 20 years. One thing you learn about leadership at some point is that things are never how they appear when you are not the person in leadership. Prior to assuming leadership of a 1300 Marine/Sailor command a number of years ago I had always wondered "why did they make that decision". I even thought they were out of touch or dictatorial. I've served next to the leaders of 30,000+ Marine organizations and seen the complexity of leadership problems. I even work closely with leaders who make decisions that affect the entire Marine Corps. These decisions are considered carefully but, at some point, decisions are made after consultation. And, guess what? Not everybody agrees with those decisions: Leaders are just idiots who don't understand what life is really like, after all for the little guy.

    In fact, more recently, when I was in a position in a local Church forced upon me by necessity, I learned how gossip and other things work to tear down leadership within a Church. It is very subtle and often times done with good intent. But what one sees from the collective "center" of it all is that all these small, seemingly harmless "why does he do it this way", end up tearing down the Church. Enough small chunks taken down at once erode the unity of the entire Body. Given the difficulty of ministry, I have a fresh appreciation for what ministers do and I am much less apt to even suggest things to ministers than I used to be. I'm also left wondering, given how difficult leadership is, that some ministers are so quick to criticize others whose shoes they don't find themselves within.

    Something I've learned to appreciate about leadership as well is that there are many different successful approaches that reflect the personality of the person in leadership. Some are more charismatic, others less so, some are more hands on, some delegate more, some are very gruff, while others always inspire. As one of my Commanding Officers once reversed (or vacated) the punishment for a particular sailor who had been busted down in rank by the previous Commanding Officer, he explained that he didn't question the propiety of the decision made. I liked how he put it using a football analogy: we just run a different offense here. You can win the game with many different strategies.

    Look, I realize that many might run the board differently and maybe even better than the Admins and Mods do here. I've even resolved, in my own career as a Marine, that there are people that execute on things much better than I. I'm not really as much of a people person as others are. Do I succeed? In the main but I'm not so arrogant as to assume that others don't execute better than I in many areas. In this case, theory is beside the point and I'm in a position of leadership here. It's not like the Mods get paid anything but if I didn't provide some sort of atmosphere that made them want to stay then they know very well they have far more important things to do. On that note, what bugs me most about the criticism of decisions when the Mod team is referenced in general is when my other Mods are criticized with a broad brush as if the men and women therein can be so easily characterized.

    Let me just make something clear: unlike some places on the net who only allow comments and participation from sycophants, the Mods at the Puritanboard are top notch. We don't yell at each other in back channel or call each other idiots but clear disagreements arise at times. Every moderating decision is seen by every Mod and questionable calls are evaluated. If anybody is challenged it is usually me. I don't like "Yes men". I want counselors around me who are true friends and, I have to tell you, I've got the best. The ministers on the team are among those I would love to sit under and I'm privileged to call them all friends. The others are exceptional in their own right with an even temper and theological insight.

    If you haven't taken a look at the infraction system then check it out in the upper left corner on most pages. Most of you have never even had to think about it. Of the 2000 members of the board (that number is up from about 1000 since 2006), we've only had to suspend about 40 members in the last 2 years. When an infraction is levied, however, that infraction is vetted with the entire moderating team to ensure no abuse of the system is occurring. No correspondence occurs with a member unless it is out in the open with all the Mods and Admins. No unilateral actions occur where tyranny by a single person rules the day.

    Here's the thing, though. When it comes to the Moderators, the first rule of leadership is that you back your folks up. This job is not easy and we simply don't have the time to sink into every person that demands a full Church discipline process. I'm sorry we just don't. Some people treat being moderated as if the most wicked thing that could ever happen has just happened to them because somebody else viewed what they wrote as not tactful or inappropriate.

    Keep this in mind: we are not your judges before the Lord but we will give our opinions about the propriety of your comments at times and may even give our opinions about whether or not we think your approach is sinful. The members who are willing to accept criticism, even if they don't agree with it, and move on do just fine. Nobody says you have to agree with our view of the situation or how we enforce what we believe is appropriate conduct. Others might have different standards but we set the standards here.

    It doesn't mean that we believe you are not saved or cast out of the Church if you can't color within the lines that we've set for this board. In fact, a policy of this board is that it doesn't engage in tearing down those it has suspended or infracted. We do not discuss the details of the infraction/suspension for the reason that we protect the person involved. That has not stopped several former members from leaving while telling me or others that they are absolutely convinced we're not saved or that we're wicked men. We don't respond in kind to blog articles or forum posts that call us a bunch of dictators. In fact, the next time you see a few people having a party trashing the moderation of this board, you might want to ask yourself: "I wonder why this place allows that kind of uncharitable behavior and the mods at the PB give no answer?"

    As to me, personally, am I a jerk? Am I a tyrant? Do I need to grow up? Do I have a big head? Sometimes. Could somebody else do better? I'm sure there are plenty of people. I am a wretched sinner and have repented for things I post here or even times when I've been too rough in my Administration here. But I do not have a list of people that I've suspended that I bear ill will toward. In truth, I'd love to see them all return under the right circumstances but some of those circumstances are beyond my control. One thing I am comfortable with is that I'm blessed to have true friends who are faithful to wound me by telling me when I have sinned. I'm also blessed to have a tender conscience that gives me no peace when I'm being obtuse or sinful in a given situation. If you believe I have offended you in a given situation then I'm never above the need to seek forgiveness. Please just don't presume that the standards or decisions were designed to personally offend you.

    To those who are moderated at times: even as we need to be careful to leave our egos at the door as mods, usually what amplifies a moderating decision is the indignation of those that ought to be a little more self-deprecating. We don't wantonly give the opinion that we believe a particular attitude or post is sinful and it might be good to just take a deep breath (especially during the 24 hour appeal process for an infraction) and examine your heart about why somebody telling you that you've sinned is so obnoxious. Spend that time reading the Sermon on the Mount before you put your flame throwers on. You can be sure that the other moderators and admins are throwing water on any fires that are raging in any of the moderators' hearts that are too close to a situation. I hope you have people around you that are willing to be honest with you about your own heart and not simply flatterers.

    I'm not certain if this will help any in the final analysis but I leave this out here to help those that might not understand the reasons why things are done nor may they ever agree with particular decisions. I simply want to remind all that things are never as easy as they appear from the outside. Remember that and pray earnestly for your ministers in your local Church - you are duty bound to make their arduous task a joy and not a burden. Here, the consequences are not so dire as we're just talking about the right to post on a discussion board. Even if we part ways on the PB, that's no reason to assume we're not still one in Christ.
     
  2. Theognome

    Theognome Burrito Bill

    Yep, that's the Rich I know- Firm, yet just and caring. Though I'm very new here, I know you and can greatly appreciate the wisdom and care that you bring to any endeavor you engage in. May the Lord bless you work, this forum, and the work across the internet in bringing the lost to the truth.

    Theognome
     
  3. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Awesome, Rich. I appreciate your leadership, as well the leadership of other administrators and moderators. I respect them all and consider a number of them my friends. Do I always agree with everything that is done? Not always, but I respect your decisions.

    The Puritan Board is a unique place on the Internet. There is nothing even close to it. I'm glad I'm here. I know I have benefited from the teaching and fellowship here.

    God bless you Rich and everyone else on this place on the Internet.
     
  4. Honor

    Honor de-cool

    I have been a mod on two different boards... it is a hard and often times thankless job. You do a great job and have a great team.. may God bless you and all your work here.
     
  5. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Thanks for all you and the moderators do!
     
  6. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The PB lets me banter even from afar - what a cool place! One question on the PB can save me 2 hours of research when the links pop up or the Librarian gives me resources.
     
  7. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    WHAT!? There are OTHER boards?
     
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I can add a little to what Rich has said. Not only is he usually the one being challenged, but he takes being challenged like a man -a gentle, humble, Christian man.
     
  9. Quickened

    Quickened Puritan Board Senior

    Ivan nailed it. This place is unique. Its been a huge blessing to me as a Christian. I've learned alot in my time here and will continue to do so as time moves forward as the Lord permits.

    I appreciate the time you have taken to write this post.
     
  10. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    :ditto:
     
  11. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I think you're all aweful...

    ...just like the rest of us humans. :p

    God love you though, you run a clean ship. Thanks for all your work!
     
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    We appreciate greatly your firm but kind hand.

    Discipline is necessary here, as it is in the church, as it is in the home to protect everyone, most of all the name of our Lord.
     
  13. KMK

    KMK Moderator Staff Member

    I appreciate all the moderators/administrators/owners! I can never understand the attitude by some that membership here is a right and not a privilege.
     
  14. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Appreciate the warm response to my post. I'm sure there are going to be times in the future when I'll have to remind myself of what I wrote here or even point people that think I'm a class A jerk to this post. I just really needed to put words to keyboard so I could give folks a sense of things. I think some people assume we just don't care about them because we're not willing to invest the time to really clear the air to everybody's satisfaction.

    The problem is that sometimes some of these moderating discussions sap up a tremendous amount of time as a brother (it's usually never a woman) spins into ever increasing frustration over our moderating decision. Seriously, sometimes it's just a difference of opinion - you call it in, we call it out. That doesn't satisfy some but if we spent hours on each person we would run out of hours in a year to do other things on the board and in our life. Thus, things get cut kind of tersely at times, which makes it seem uncaring but we just have to face realities of life.
     
  15. Presbyterian Deacon

    Presbyterian Deacon Puritan Board Graduate

    Rich:

    As one who usually is "on the right page, but occaionally colors outside the lines," I have only profitted from the administration and moderation offered by your team. Keep up the great work!
     
  16. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    I've only been here 6 months, but I've really benefited tremendously from the interaction on here and have learned a great deal from the people who are more knowledgeable and mature than I am (which is most people on the PB).

    Rich, you and the mods do a great job. Thank you for your leadership and your dedication to this board. Know that you have impacted many lives through this site, as thankless as the work seems at time...
     
  17. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Rich, many thanks for the post - I think we do need to re-focus at times on what makes the mechanics of this board work as well as they do. A large part of it is the moderators and administrators. What's a church without elders?

    Thanks again.
     
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I don't think it is helpful to compare the board to a church or the mods to elders. Am I wrong or wouldn't this give us MORE reason to fight instead of less (viewing the board as a church)?

    As it is, it is a privately owned board and so more issues can be relegated to opinion and not "Thus saith the Lord"- if we mistakenly think that the decision of the board is akin to an ecclesiastical body or a church council then we WOULD get bent out of shape. As Rich says, sometimes we call things in, and they call things out.... which should not be the case for a hot church debate but sure helps people get along on the board --- and praise God that both Bapties and Presbies, TRs and BRs can join in the discussion within limitsand be mutually blessed.... So I am glad that this board is a place that does not force a monolithic view of what it means to be reformed, even at the same time as advancing a glorious truths of the reformation.


    ..does that even remotely make sense?
     
  19. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    Well - as a "frequent offender" :D - I can truthfully say that while I have "bumped heads" with Rich and a couple of other Mod\Admins, grace has always been extended when requested...even when it seemed irreconcilable to me at the time.

    The experience has helped me understand that we can agree to disagree, but the disagreement resolution will invariably fall to the board rulers...and I am OK with that.

    Ya'll keep up the good work :up:
     
  20. ManleyBeasley

    ManleyBeasley Puritan Board Junior

    I can definitely say that I appreciate all of the administrators and moderators here. It is the best forum I've found. I consider it to be an absolute privilege to be allowed to be a member here. Thanks for everything you guys. God bless you.
     
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I think all Kvanlaan means is all groups need leadership. But yes; this is just a club; no power of the keys of discipline or doctrine.

    Job well done Rich; the last two years' leap forward are your doing. Thanks much.:cheers:

     
  22. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Yep. It helps the day-to-day mechanics flow more smoothly. I'm certainly NOT implying that they could impose church discipline upon a certain someone for stirring the pot one time too many... But then you'd have no idea who I'm talking about, would you Pergs? :lol:
     
  23. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritanboard Softy

    Well stated, Rich. I greatly appreciate your post. Too few people understand leadership and the process that goes into doing it well. Keep up the good work.
     
  24. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Ha, ME stir the pot? NEVER! ;)


    Seriously, this board helps me fellowship in the English language across many nations and help keeps me connected despite not always having access to astute English theologians.

    Sometimes I see people posting and stating that they need to take a "PB Fast"or lay off the PB so much.....and I always wonder how you can get too much of a good thing like the PB! I am on every chance I get and leave the page up as I do other work so I can catch the debates.

    And yes, I concur that the leadership do a real good job of keeping the frequent peers out of the pool and are forgiving for the occasional leakage.
     
  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    PB has been a blessing to me, and the time and effort put forth by the admins and mods is greatly appreciated. You folks are really ministering to the family of God by providing this place of refuge and wisdom on the internet, and for that we should all be very grateful.

    As one who has avoided like the plague most forms of leadership, and yet find myself not so good at following either, your post was very helpful, Rich.
    Thanks, brother.
     
  26. panta dokimazete

    panta dokimazete Panting Donkey Machete

    :lol:
     
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Ha, yes Peers are a lot different than Pee-ers aren't they!
     
  28. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    While I agree with the sentiments in this thread I am willing to be the contrarian and say that the O.P. is all well and good as long as when a Moderator or Administrator oversteps his bounds and acts in a sinful manner towards a brother or sister that the apology be made public and comes with an explanation as would be expected of any leader.
     
  29. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Benjamin, and that has happened. One of the things that allows me to remain a moderator is the character of the other moderators. We've been able to communicate with each other and help another brother see when he may have sinned or erred. In turn an apology is offered in open forum (if that is where the offense was made) or in PM (if it was made there).
     
  30. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Can you point me to a place where a Moderator has publically apologized for an offense made in a public forum?

    I personally can vouch for an apology made to myself via PM so I am not doubting your sincerity or vitality. My concern is for transparency in all levels of communication.
     
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