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Confessions of a Moderator
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Charles
Moderator
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Joined: 23 Jun 2003
Posts: 6759
Location: Oxford

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:52 pm    Post subject: Confessions of a Moderator Reply with quote

Before I start, I thought it appropriate to mention that I've been an owner of an ALPINA for the best part of 8 years and a member of this forum for virtually all of that time. As such, I'm extremely loyal to the brand and I want other owners to get the best out of their cars. However, for some strange reason, I'm also a Moderator on the forum and this brings with it a different persona when I'm posting.

Some of you have had the pleasure (not) of my interventions but these are generally few and far between because the members of this forum are a class above many other car forums out there. Politeness, a desire to share & help and a mutual interest in something that is difficult to describe and express at the best of times (I'm talking about the intangible aspects of ALPINA ownership) are all factors that reflect well in this forum.

So I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the things that I get up to whilst moderating so that you don't just think that I am the devil incarnate and that my sole purpose in life is to chastise anyone who steps out of line from what I believe is the "right" way for the forum to operate.

In general terms, I tend to let things flow unless something/someone steps over a commonly recognised line. I respond to complaints from members by checking the basis and then drawing a conclusion which I explain fully to all concerned. Sometimes this might not sit comfortably with members but I try to be consistent with my interventions.

But that's just a small part of the job. The majority of my time I read posts as a member first and a moderator second, but I do find myself having to step in to deal with stuff quite regularly which you probably have no awareness of at all. So what do I get up to and what gets my back up:

Spelling & Punctuation
Unfortunately the forum, in its current shape, doesn't have a spel chack facility. This might help some people but please don't think that I am the spelling fuhrer - I leave that to Chas. To be honest, I don't give a hoot about spelling apart from the fact that it makes it difficult to read posts quickly and sometimes it affects interpretation. Where this is the case, I might step in and edit a post to aid understanding, but this isn't too often. What I do try and do is whenever I write something myself, I will always re-read it before posting to check for clarity and understanding and this is something that members might consider - apart from Jim who has an automatic exemption based on time of the night and how many glasses of fine Australian red wine he might have been sampling Wink

So, don't worry too much about spelling and punctuation but please try and check what you post before hitting "submit".

CAPITAL LETTERS
You may not be aware but internet etiquette is such that the use of capital letters suggests "SHOUTING". If it is appropriate - particularly in a rant - then that's fine, but indiscriminate use makes it difficult to read and also affects the mood of the reader. I accept that you might want to emphasise a particular point but there are other ways to do this. A quick check at the top of the posting box will reveal various editing tools such as bold, italics , underlining , colour and larger or smaller fonts which are just as effective.

Try and think about the reader and structure your posts accordingly.

Smilies
Bit of a tricky one here as we all know that expressing emotion is difficult online. A simple rule is that "less is probably better than more". If you are happy about something then a single Very Happy works, extremely happy then Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy might be more appropriate, but think about the effect of this. Regular use of multiple smilies removes the impact of the point you want to make and does elicit annoyance from the members

Have I made myself clear Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad

Quotes
This is perhaps the biggest area of involvement as it is quite tricky to get right. When replying to posts and wanting to include a quote, please think about what you are referring to. It may be a single word or phrase or a specific sentence but many people will quote an entire passage. Not only does this take up space, it also loses the impact of the point you are trying to make.

However, editing a quote is a nightmare at the best of times and I completely understand when it goes wrong. This is where I quietly step in and try and repair posts so that the quote works properly - but it isn't always possible and/or I might miss it when reading the posts.

I'm not going to give you a master class in HTML editing but next time you are quoting someone, have a look at the codes used in the text box - things like [quo~te] to start the quote and [/quo~te] to end it (please note that I have had to mis-spell these for this paragraph to work). These are actually quite logical and if you can highlight and delete parts that you don't need then the quote will carry far greater appeal and impact.

Generally members who have tried this and "failed" have done so because they have deleted one of the box brackets - so as with spelling, a careful read through might help. Don't get me wrong, though, as it took me quite a while to work out how to use these things and I don't mind tidying things up as required.

Just make sure you only quote the important piece of someone else's post.


Tangents
We are all capable of this - including me Exclamation - and it can be annoying for readers (particularly the OP - Original Poster). By nature, this forum is a conversation online and as is the case down at the pub on a Friday night, we all head off in different directions with our chat because something said has led to a different train of thought.

Nothing wrong with this at all as we are all only human, but I would ask members to be aware when a thread has begun to deviate and try to start a new one or get back on track. That said, some of the best threads here have been ones that have diverted in a full-on Monty Pythonesque way and I have roared with laughter as they have developed.

My challenge is one of "Air Traffic Control". In simple terms I tend to let threads develop naturally but where I feel we will never get back to a serious point then I will intervene and try and encourage (gently) for this to happen. The structure of the forum helps this too as we have clearly marked sections which allow for serious or general questions and answers.

So, try and be sensitive to the original posting in a thread and respond accordingly.

Choosing a section
Sometimes I have been unable to choose which section to start a thread and so I have gone with what feels best. There's no major issue here as we are able to move stuff about quite easily - three clicks actually - but it helps everyone if new topics are placed in the right section.

It is, of course, based on personal interpretation and I accept that there are probably certain sections that should exist but which don't, but a moment's thought makes life easier for all concerned.

Images
Like quotes, this area is fraught with problems. I'm not going to explain how to upload an image but I would like to ask one favour when it comes to images.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE can you make sure that there is a line space between posted images - otherwise the forum spreads as far to the right as it needs to on-screen.

I spend quite a bit of time editing posts to deal with this and it is something - when you see your new shiny post on the screen - that you can deal with yourself to tidy things up and help the readers to follow your contribution.

For each and every one of your own posts, there is the option in the top right hand corner of the published post (when you are logged on) to "edit" your post. Clicking on this link will bring up the text box and you can then look and see whether you have a gap between [/img] and [img]. By placing your cursor between the two and hitting <Return> on the keyboard, you are guaranteed to have tidied up the post.

Seemple Very Happy


I could go on, but I don't want to bore you. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes to keep this forum the way it is for you guys and I know that you all get value from the way we (there is actually a group of us that moderate and manage the forum) try and keep things ticking along.

Perhaps the most important thing, however, is for you to know that we do this FOR you and any comments, questions and complaints are much appreciated. Please feel free to PM me with anything about the forum - the way it works, the way a particular member behaves or even how to do something - and I will always investigate and respond. If I do have to speak to someone, then there will always be a valid reason and I would ask that that person responds in kind. We all hate being told off but, for the benefit of the whole forum, sometimes I do need to step in and slap some wrists.

I hope that this has been of use and of interest to you. You make the forum what it is and I get great pleasure from being part of a great community that is more interested in helping others than being seen to be big and clever. There is much warmth and camaraderie here and I work hard to maintain that - but this is only possible because of you lovely people ...

... exits stage right in floods of tears
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Charles
Teacher of Chemistry and driver of ALPINAs - not necessarily in that order Wink
B3S Touring (49/116) - been to the moon and now on the way back!
Renault Grand Espace - not mine but the wife's!


Last edited by Charles on Sat Mar 19, 2011 2:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ade and liz flint
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trying....hard........not .....to.....post....lines...........of....smilies Exclamation

Thanks for the useful and informative posting. Can now see where we've been going wrong Shocked
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Last edited by ade and liz flint on Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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vblanche
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

can I reply by:

Read and agreed !
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chrisbin
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Cool Wink
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Charles
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Joined: 23 Jun 2003
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Location: Oxford

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

chrisbin wrote:
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

Cool Wink

I'm watching you! Wink
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Charles
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B3S Touring (49/116) - been to the moon and now on the way back!
Renault Grand Espace - not mine but the wife's!
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Charles
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone spotted the deliberate mistake?
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Charles
Teacher of Chemistry and driver of ALPINAs - not necessarily in that order Wink
B3S Touring (49/116) - been to the moon and now on the way back!
Renault Grand Espace - not mine but the wife's!
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vblanche
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles wrote:
Anyone spotted the deliberate mistake?


spel chack facility

or the tangent that your thread is taking? Smile
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ade and liz flint
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles wrote:
Anyone spotted the deliberate mistake?


Well, you did misspell 'describe' Laughing
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blacky
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My spelling & setting out of text is shocking I admit that but this iPod is helping with the spelling bit

Put a car in front of me & I can strip it & rebuild it easy
Ask me to setout text on a web site & I get totally lost & normally end up with one big block of text so sorry I know it's hard to read

This is one of two forums I use a lot as they are both frequented by like minded people with small select group of cars & both are well moderated Very Happy
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Kyle
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2011 11:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Charles, for your friendly insights and tips. Its good to know there are mods out there like you. Smile
From my personal experience, moderating and developing online communities is a dark art. I've had a fair bit of exposure over the years and often end up feeling its easier just being a contributor... not a mod.

So you got me thinking... perhaps your tips could be compressed in to a few bullets or a cheatsheet, and displayed in key locations in the forums to serve as a reminder to members? i.e. The posting boiler plate?

Something I utilise to help with my online contributions, is text to speech. This is built in to most recent operating systems and I think its a fairly under-utilised tool. If I'm typing something complex or if I just want to hear how it sounds. I have a keystroke set up which speaks my highlighted selection:
⇧⌃⌥+S

I'd be happy to give back to the community by donating my web mastery skills and experience. Some of the issues you have mentioned can be mitigated with technical solutions.

For example, having a live preview (seeing your post as you type) of what your posting can have a huge impact on the overall quality of contributions. A great example of this in action can be seen on the stack exchange network of sites:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/ask

Embedded media support is also an area where lots of solutions are out there.

This is one of my fav cartoons! I hope can relate to it. Smile


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Charles
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kyle wrote:

That's the one Very Happy
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Chas
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 1:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Confessions of a Moderator Reply with quote

Charles wrote:
please don't think that I am the spelling fuhrer - I leave that to Chas.

An unjustified reputation methinks; English was my worst subject at school! (Btw, Führer should be spelt with the umlaut, or as "Fuerher" if your keyboard doesn't facilitate such regional nuances Wink )

I do have a general concern about poor use of grammer and syntax through mediums based on the written word, such as the internet and SMS. However, a forum isn't the place to be anal about it. Tone is generally absent from such communication, which makes it far more susceptible to misintepretation. Corporate email is the worst offender. Smileys can help to reflect tone but their multiple use is akin to a poor comedian laughing at his own jokes. Geddit? Eh? Eh? Nudge-nudge! Geddit?

Communication isn't an art; it's a sophisticated tool, and it's the primary driver of our evolution, without which we'd have been lucky to progress from the stone age. A number of car-based forums I've seen are clearly stuck in that time-frame but this isn't one of them. It's only through the background efforts of my namesake and others that this particular forum gets the balance spot-on. Well done chaps Cool
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Peter&Janet
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As ever a good blog Charles. But I thought the spall checker would be running satisfactory for most users on this site.

I'm using a Mac at home and use windows on the ship but both come with the spell checkers operating on this forum and have not had to add software to make it work.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Succinct and to the point as usual, Charles Very Happy

Yew shud bee teechin engerlis Laughing
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rcshott
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter&Janet wrote:
As ever a good blog Charles. But I thought the spall checker would be running satisfactory for most users on this site.

I'm using a Mac at home and use windows on the ship but both come with the spell checkers operating on this forum and have not had to add software to make it work.

Ditto the Mac "Peter&Janet". I brought this very subject up not long after I joined, the 'Mods' fixed it quickly, it certainly helps.

Well said Charles Exclamation Appreciate the "mention". Improvements abound. But your well laid out post is excellent for ease of reading, especially speed reading. Leaving school at age 13 has had it's academic problems, but I've taught myself through my business' and Army time, (and the numerous life-learning experiences) to improve my writing skills to the point of having written two books (one semi-tech, the other a novel) with a autobiography planned.

Kyles suggestion of a 'cheatsheet' (or the colloquialism cheat sheet?) is a good idea. As a 'Sticky', maybe? But I have no problem with writing a draft and Previewing it prior to Submission. In that way the subject can be concentrated on, rather than mistakes, which can be addressed later.

Text-to-speech has a way to go, IMHO! Great idea, though. I've purchased an electronic language converter to learn new languages. These are great for learning CORRECT word pronunciation by a native, plus general speech of a particular language, in a formal sense. Even for learning correct English! I'm not one for change for the sake of it, as we are constantly reminded in everyday life, but, our language is constantly changing.... not always for the better. I'm glad I don't live in New Guinea where even one village often can not understand the next. About 3,000 dialects I think!

PM'ing (Oops, just confused spellcheck... or should that be "spell check"!) Rolling Eyes
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