A Conversation for Ask h2g2

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A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 1

Alyson Larholm

For those of you who don't know me, my name's Aly. I'm one of the new co-owners of h2g2.

I spend a lot of time reading all about what goes on here, and I also spend a lot of time behind the scenes, h2g2 is a team effort. Whether that's those of you who use the site and help to make it the amazing place it is, or those of you working incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure that the site runs smoothly both technically, and emotionally. To say I'm proud of everyone for their joint and individual accomplishments so far would be an understatement! Who would have thought that since October last year, we'd have come this far? Every single person should give themselves a pat on the back.

Can I take this opportunity to congratulate the team that got pliny live and also everyone who works quietly in the background. Our volunteer teams are incredible. You have no idea how lucky we are to have them all!

I'd also like to take a moment to say a really big thank you to the mods and the CE team. They are often under appreciated and work incredibly hard to keep things calm around here.

I'd like to take a moment to share with you my own experiences of moderation over the years in the hope that it can help you all understand how it feels to be a mod. I've done moderation for many years - this year will actually be my 13th year! The job of a moderator is both rewarding and frustrating. At times it's thankless and more often than not, at times when things are stressful, it used to leave me wondering why I bother. Then, when I least expected it, someone would say thank you. Tell me I'm valued and remind me why I volunteered to help out in that way. So today, I'd like to extend that hand of thanks to ALL moderators, CE's and those people who work so hard behind the scenes for all of us. Without them, this site would crash and burn and I think it's worth remembering that, even when some of their decisions don't always make sense to you.

On that note, I've been reading a lot of threads recently which have left me rather concerned. Some comments are being made by some individuals whom don't always know the full picture, appear to be twisting words of mods, and in some cases, implying things that are simply not true. I'd ask you to keep your thoughts to yourselves. These open thoughts, often unsubstantiated leave a bitter taste in many a mouth. I'd encourage you all to pay no attention to these few people and say that if you have an issue with a mod decision to firstly consider if you have all the facts. If you do, then raise it with the mod team, not in public where it can bring the whole site down. Innocent people get pulled into these discussions when they don't really know what they are being drawn into. I'd also like to encourage those who are commenting at the moment on them, not to either - consider that you too may not know all the facts and you're only being told one side of a story. Due to the nature of the confidentiality mods are asked to adhere too, it's unfair to raise these publicly as they are simply not allowed to defend themselves. So, with this in mind, I'd say if you have an issue with a policy, take it direct to their teams. From today, ALL posts criticizing moderation decisions will be edited or deleted. It's not fair to incite unrest on a website where those standing accused can not defend themselves.

Any and all are of course allowed to challenge a decision, but ultimately, know that the original decisions may be upheld and constant barrage of emails may eventually be ignored.

In the real world, things don't always happen in the way we like or we'd hope, but we just get on with it. We accept other people's choices, and decisions and ultimately either ignore things we don't agree with, or fight our own corner. I'd like to remind you all that in the real world, the best resolutions come from constructive discussion rather than childish responses.

So, from now on, constructive feedback only please smiley - smiley

Finally, I'd like to invite any of you who feel that you can do better to stand up and join the team. You need to be willing to be validated and work as a team member. We are always looking for enthusiastic people who can bring something new. If you want to become a moderator, you can find out how here: http://www.h2g2.com/entry/A87706740 or for more information about the volunteers in general, that can be found here: http://www.h2g2.com/entry/A87706704

Once again, thank you to all the volunteers here on h2g2, and to all of you reading this. Without you, this site simply wouldn't exist.


A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 2

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

smiley - erm
Well said.
smiley - applause

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 3

~ jwf ~ scribblo ergo sum

smiley - mod
So who's first to publish the behind the scenes book,
a Tell-All that reveals the true story behind the name

Not that anybody has mentioned it in ASK yet, but
it might be worth some discussion. One speculates
about the decision making process.

And One still wonders whether the allusion is to
Pliny the Elder smiley - hero or Pliny the Younger smiley - jester .

smiley - scientist
Or both.

If I have missed something please provide a link.

smiley - ta

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 4

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

This is a major change to h2g2 culture. We have always had the freedom to discuss moderation onsite, and for the most part this has been a healthy and positive aspect of the community.

Aly, are we still allowed to discuss the moderation system itself?

>>You need to be willing to be validated and work as a team member

I think that needs a bit of clarification. From what I understand, people wanting to volunteer must be willing to provide their real life identity via an online validation service. Details of RL IDs will be held by the owners of h2g2. Did I get that right?

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 5

Witty Moniker

-->I think that needs a bit of clarification. From what I understand, people wanting to volunteer must be willing to provide their real life identity via an online validation service. Details of RL IDs will be held by the owners of h2g2. Did I get that right?

Yes, that is correct.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 6


Kea, Aly is referring to mod decisions not the mod system itself. There's a difference between discussing an individual mod decision, and discussing mod policies in general.

We as mods can discuss mod policies, and are happy for constructive feedback, but we can't discuss individual decisions. O

Any yes you are correct if you wish to mod you do need to be willing to verify your name and address, as it says on the mod pages. this takes about 10 mins for most people.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 7

kea ~ Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded but very well read blue and white website

Thanks you two smiley - smiley

As an aside, despite my work on the Help Pages last year, I wouldn't know how to find the Mod page currently. I hope in time that those essential things can be made more easily accessible.


I will say why I disagree with this decision. In the time with the bbc, we also did not have access to all the relevant information about individual moddings. There was a lot of confusion about moderation, esp when the modding were inconsistent. This stemmed from too many researchers not understanding how moderation worked (eg the difference between the mods and the h2g2 Eds). Talking about the decisions did actually help clarify what was going on, and where the tone was for certain kinds of moddings. I certainly found it helpful in understanding some of the limits around moderation that weren't explicit in the HRs, and IME it also helped people deal with moderations that were hard to understand from this side of the fence.

I can appreciate that we are not using the bbc moderation model any more and so things have changed. However, we do know that moderation is still causing confusion onsite; that individual moddings sometimes appear inconsistent as they did in the past; and researchers are still trying to figure out where the boundaries are with regards to the HRs.

Things have changed alot since we moved. Not being able to talk about specific instances of moderation will IMO cause more confusion.

It's also a big change in terms of the general open ethos of the community. That makes me sad.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 8


"As an aside, despite my work on the Help Pages last year, I wouldn't know how to find the Mod page currently. I hope in time that those essential things can be made more easily accessible."

There was a link- or a two-link "trail", so to speak, via the Front Page (it was at least very accessible in Goo, anyway smiley - winkeye), but I can't locate it via the Front Page in Pliny at the moment. I will address that- because I agree the link should be easy to find.

I have a link in my PS intro: http://www.h2g2.com/entry/A87706704 .

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 9


No idea why that link does not work, actually. Off to submit a BR. smiley - sadface

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 10


When you click on the link, what appears in the URL is:


rather than what your actually link says. If you strip out the "dna/h2g2/" it works. This seems to happen with a lot of links at the moment. Possibly something to do with going from an old skin (in my case brunel) to Pliny or vice versa?

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 11


No idea- I'm using strictly Pliny at the moment. On a positive note, the A number is there in the link so anyone who knows how to link to conversations can use the A number to find it.

I still agree that a FP link in each skin would be useful.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 12

Milla, h2g2 Operations

Links with only the Anumber or Unumber are normally translated correctly, so you shouldn't have to list the whole url.

smiley - towel

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 13

I'm not really here

*h2g2* not H2G2!

Here on h2g2 we've been asking the same thing for over a decade as well, and it doesn't work.

That you are now stating you will be deleting or editing any message that queries a moderation decision is ridiculous. If that sort of thing would bring the site down, then it would have disappeared a long time ago when moderation was first brought in! Mods have never been allowed to defend themselves, that was always down to the Community Team.

You'll just cause more unrest if people now cannot even discuss things onsite - that's something we've been through before as well. If a post breaks the house rules, that's fair enough, but this is the reason I disagreed strongly that members of the site also moderate it. Yes it hurts! I've been on the receiving end too. You just have to realise it comes with the job. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the solarium.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 14



Firstly yes, it's h2g2.

Secondly. No one is saying you can't discuss mod policy just not individual mod decisions. I can't remember if this was the case or not under the bbc, for some reason I thought that it was you will remember that.

Secondly if we didn't have community moderators we wouldn't have a site. Being entirely volunteer run has been what has saved us, we have no paid staff at all. I have been on other sites where all mods are community members, and it seems to work.
But the ethos their always seems to be that people are pleased that mods help out.

I wonder if it was ok to be rude about paid mods, who took the abuse as part of their job, and were representing a big faceless corporation? Because it was never 'ok' on h2g2 to be rude about scouts and sub eds.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 15

Alyson Larholm

Thank you for all your comments. They are appreciated and listened to.

To answer a few questions. We don't hold personal details. The only thing we want to know is your real name, and the area you live. We want to know that you've formally identified yourself with NetIDme. NetIDme do not provide your address or anything like that to me however by doing this, we know that you are in fact real and should anything illegal happen, I know where to point the police smiley - winkeye

I think it needs to be clarified that things are different from how they used to be, and therefore our responses to them need to be different too.

I have no issues with people discussing the moderation policies, however individual cases simply cause unrest as it is very rare that anyone other than those involved know the full extent of what has happened. In addition, those involved won't always tell the full story either. I was once told that there are always three sides to a story. One, the other and then somewhere in the middle, the truth. Everyone sees events from their own perspective.

Since we are dealing with a moderation model which is different, we have to grow, and adjust to it. If things are discussed in a constructive way, then I see no big issue with it. However, when things are done in the way they have been recently, that's simply unacceptable.

If you want to see change in the processes, then get involved - it's easy to criticise when you're watching smiley - smiley We'd welcome you and let's be honest, sitting here moaning or trying to "catch people out" with inconsistencies doesn't really get anyone anywhere - does it?


A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 16


Hear-Hear! smiley - hug

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 17

I'm not really here

No, it was never okay to be rude to or about mods or staff, or even any Researcher. Breaks the house rules you see!

The STAFF wouldn't discuss moderation decisions on site. There was never a ban on RESEARCHERS discussing individual decisions, as long as they didn't repeat the 'offence'.

The difference with other sites is probably they never had any paid mods to start with - there is an adjustment period for people here, and as they were paid there's a decade of, shall we call it 'disappointment' in moderation that Researchers have with the mods. The BBC had a certain set of rules, based on laws, that many other websites have never enforced. I know. I've tried to get my content posted under other people's names removed for copyright and it just doesn't happen. People don't care about defamation or discussing illegal activities. Many of those rules, the new team have kept.

I haven't seen the threads that are referred to in the initial post, so as the thread says, without the full facts I can't comment, but if people are within the rules, they should be able to discuss moderation and moderation decisions.

Removing posts just gives people EVEN MORE to get upset about, not helping the situation at all!

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 18

I'm not really here

I'm not trying to catch anyone out, but if you can't even get the name of the site right when it's plastered all over the place, what else are you missing!?

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 19

I'm not really here

As for easy to criticise when watching, I do speak from experience having been in the thick of things for over five years. The reason I didn't volunteer again was because I thought the new site team needed to find their own way without someone from the past butting in all the time telling them how it used to be, and how it should be.

A Message from Alyson Larholm

Post 20


Mina, i know you speak from experience. You're spot on about the decade of disappointment which people have kept, and the period of transition away from Paid mods. Copyright violation is important to the site, bug probably not to all the users.

When I asked on another site about whether people would want paid mods they were outraged: 'Why would we want that, we deal with modding our own!'

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