backchannel: moderating abbreviators

From this thread:

[redacted] didn't get banned or anything like that he just got put on moderation. he can still post but now his posts must get approved. least we not PMing him back and forth trying to get definitions out of him. [He] could have avoided all of this at anytime in the last few months, all he had to do was define his abbreviations, he flat out refused. he was warned and warned and warned and warned and warned, still he refused. we had no choice.

What kind of forum mods can’t figure out what abbreviations mean and have to ask OP?  I had zero problems figuring out abbreviations from context and I’m not a mod.  I’m not even particularly bright.

If the mod’s motives were what they say then there were several choices:

  1. edit the posts to insert definitions where the mod finds clarification useful - some extra work required, but the mods are already doing extra work to moderate his every comment.

  2. add a link to abbreviation definitions in the mod’s signature

  3. add a link to abbreviation definitions in a sidebar, sticky, or forum header

  4. add a link to abbreviation definitions to the poster’s signature through mod access

a priori

Let’s assume the mod is self-aware and expressing his intent accurately.  Here are some reasons undefined abbreviations might be undesirable:

  • the information might not be useful to new folks.  If the mods wanted to enforce usefulness they would also have to moderate those who post misinformation, conspiracy theories, “funny” comments to real questions, and general foolishness.  I block them in the forum Ignore Users function, but it still leaves the info out there for the gullible to see.

  • the information might not be usable to new folks.  i.e, the content may be good but the presentation reduces the ability of readers to understand it.  If the mods wanted to enforce usability they would also have to moderate those who post walls-of-text, run-on sentences, bizarre spelling, nonstandard syntax and/or style, etc.

a matter of style

The moderated forum member and I have the same goal:  provide high quality information without having to type it all out every  single time.   Typing it out everytime leads to burnout.

His approach, as I understand it, is to maintain a storehouse of curated text that can be pasted in where applicable, and write transitional material as needed.  This has the advantage of providing the information wherever it is needed;  the readers can stay on the page.  The transitional material is where abbreviations are most often found.

My approach has been to write RVwiki articles then link to them in context, being as brief as possible.   Part of this is because on many topics the RVwiki isn’t complete/finished/accurate yet, and linking to the article allows me to refine the information over time.  The advantage is that the user can get the most corrected information available in that article no matter when they click on.  A real disadvantage of my approach is some of the greener newbies don’t realize that the links are links.    Part of this due to the webmaster’s decision to forgot the normal underlined style for clickable links.

the deep issue

IMO the deep issue is over time the mod took a dislike to the poster’s style, and is now (unconsciously or otherwise) using the abbreviations issue as a bludgeon against him.  The forum owner prefers warm fuzzy posts over informational-but-aloof posts and the mod is selectively enforcing it.

I will point out, perhaps unkindly, that the mod’s own posts are not models of clarity.  And the mod is as guilty of blunt language and imperative posts (“You should…”) as anyone else on the forum.