The role of the moderator in a Scholarly Discussion Group (SDG)

Zane L. Berge

This is a presentation by Zane L. Berge made on the IPCT-L discussion list and the ensuing discussion taken from the following IPCT-L logs, archived at listserv@listserv.georgetown.edu: IPCT LOG9210D, IPCT LOG9210E, IPCT LOG9212B
=========================================================================
Date:         Tue, 27 Oct 1992 15:18:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      The role of the moderator in a Scholarly Discussion Group (SDG)

From: "Zane Berge, Ph.D." 

The recent posts regarding censorship and academic freedom have
rekindled my thoughts concerning the role of the moderator in
scholarly discussion group (SDG) such as IPCT-L.

A SDG can be characterized as a community of persons with a similar
**scholarly** interest (e.g., Greek Literature; Interpersonal
Computing; Reference Librarianship).  Additionally, SDGs here
refer to a computer conference used for what Harnad (1990)
describes as the interactions at the pilot stage of inquiry (e.g.,
brainstorming, participation in research symposia, circulation of
preprints for peer criticism before formal submission to a journal),
and simply for discussion of relevant issues and the finding of
"kindred spirits"--(e.g., persons who often choose to correspond
through email offline from the SDG, yet who found out of their common
interest(s) through the contributions of an SDG).

There are many SDGs that are moderated, including IPCT-L.
Within those SDGs, the moderators may take on various roles including:

- FACILATATOR (keeps list "on track"; group leader)
- MANAGER (administrator, archiving, deleting/adding subscribers)
- FILTER (deciding upon on-topic posts; increasing signal/noise
  ratio; deletes libelous posts; may delete jokes)
- EXPERT (answering Frequently Asked Questions; expert in the
 list's field, for example a manufacturer's representative)
- EDITOR (text editor, digest posts, format posts)
- PROMOTER (asks questions of the list subscribers to promote
   discussion)
- MARKETER (promotes/explains list to potential subscribers)
- HELPER  (helps people with needs -- more general than expert)
- FIREMAN (takes "flames" or ad hominem attacks offline)

It is hard to imagine a moderated SDG in which the moderator does
not do some "filtering."  Listowners make explicit, to varying
degrees, the topics that are and are not the focus of a particular SDG.
Regardless of that level of explicitness, eventually there is judgment used
by the moderator in determining what is "on-topic" and what is not.  At
times, some subscribers object ot having "off-topic postings" rejected
by the moderator.  As Kovacs (1991) stated, the claim of "censoring"
is leveled by these subscribers at what the moderator is doing.

I think it would be useful to define the terms editing, censoring,
and moderating and the relationship among those concepts with regard
to SDGs.  This is not directed as an attempt to change IPCT-L policy, but
rather to more narrowly define what **users** of SDGs believe, in general,
the role of a moderator should be, and how that function(s) might be
operationalized.

Zane Berge, IPCT-L listowner        mauri collins, IPCT-L Moderator

BERGE@GUVAX.GEORGETOWN.EDU
_______________________

			References.

Harnad, Stevan. (1990). _Scholarly skywriting and the
prepublication continuum of scientific inquiry_.
PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE. v1, n6 pp. 342-344.

Kovacs, Diane K. (1991). _Censorship versus Moderation_.
Electronic message sent to ARACHNET@UOTTAWA.BITNET.
Wednesday, July 17.
=========================================================================

Date:         Thu, 29 Oct 1992 10:34:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in SDGs

From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET

Zane Berge has posted his view of the role of the moderator.  I awoke to
find 171 messages in my box, most from unmoderated networks.  If we do not
control this flood, we will all perish from a glut of nonsense.  Let us
examine Dr. Berge's major points.

>
>- FACILATATOR (keeps list "on track"; group leader)

GMP: Networks are often distracted by people who have an ax to grind.
GMP: It often gets out of hand and destroys the original purpose of
GMP: the network.  this role is critical.

>- MANAGER (administrator, archiving, deleting/adding subscribers)

GMP: It's a dirty job (it is) but someone has to do it.

>- FILTER (deciding upon on-topic posts; increasing signal/noise
>          ratio; deletes libelous posts; may delete jokes)

GMP: The libel issue will become more important as time goes on.
GMP: There are already some major fusses from transactions on the
GMP: political network.  This role is the "stitch in time."

>- EXPERT (answering Frequently Asked Questions; expert in the
>         list's field, for example a manufacturer's representative)

GMP: An optional role, but very useful.

>- EDITOR (text editor, digest posts, format posts)

GMP: I wish we would do more of this.  There are so many first draft,
GMP: spontaneous posters who account for most of the nonsense.  A good
GMP: and diligent editor can be very important.  No one has a right
GMP: to promulgate intellectual garbage at the expense of the time of
GMP: the readers who expect information on a defined topic.  I love
GMP: autocratic editors.  To be perfectly frank, this is now my only
GMP: network, large because Zane Berge exercises control.  He has
GMP: rejected four of my notes this month alone.  More power to him.
GMP: None of us are immune to stupidity and it is the editor's job
GMP: to protect us.

>- PROMOTER (asks questions of the list subscribers to promote
>           discussion)

GMP: Another optional but useful role.

>- MARKETER (promotes/explains list to potential subscribers)

GMP: Promoting the list is important. The list that does not grow, dies.

>- HELPER  (helps people with needs -- more general than expert)

GMP: Private talk between subscribers and moderator can be very valuable
GMP: in defining appropriate roles.

>- FIREMAN (takes "flames" or ad hominem attacks offline)

GMP: It goes without saying!  See comment on libel.

>
>Zane Berge, IPCT-L listowner        mauri collins, IPCT-L Moderator
>
>BERGE@GUVAX.GEORGETOWN.EDU
>_______________________
>
>                       References.
>
>Harnad, Stevan. (1990). _Scholarly skywriting and the
>     prepublication continuum of scientific inquiry_.
>     PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE. v1, n6 pp. 342-344.
>

GMP: Harnad may well disagree with Berge.  I believe he favors open
GMP: discourse. On the other hand, his own list, PSYCOLOQUY is the
GMP: most rigidly moderated I know.

>Kovacs, Diane K. (1991). _Censorship versus Moderation_.
>     Electronic message sent to ARACHNET@UOTTAWA.BITNET.
>     Wednesday, July 17.

GMP:
I think we need to face the issue of control of ideas directly in the
eye. I do not think all ideas are of equal merit.  I do think there are
limits on the extent to which these facilities can be used.  I think
Zane Berge's list of roles is the most sensible I have seen.  And I
am prepared to do battle on this one.  And I AM a forty year member of
ACLU


GMP@PSUVM
Gerald M. Phillips (Professor Emeritus), Speech Communication
Editor, IPCT: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century
ISSN 1064-4326.  Send submissions to GMP3 at PSUVM
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
Manuscripts are being accepted for the January, 1993 issue
=========================================================================
Date:         Thu, 29 Oct 1992 16:58:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in SDGs

From: Eric Crump 

on Thu, 29 Oct 1992 10:34:00 EST Interpersonal Computing and Technology said:
>From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET
>
>Zane Berge has posted his view of the role of the moderator.  I awoke to
>find 171 messages in my box, most from unmoderated networks.  If we do not
>control this flood, we will all perish from a glut of nonsense.

Not all of us will perish, Gerald. Some of us are more interested
in learning to surf, riding the waves of sense and nonsense, rather
than building futile dikes intended to stifle the welling tide of
human expression unleashed by these lists. I'm on 25-30 lists (I
can never remember exactly how many) and get 150-200 msgs day.
Perhaps most of those messages are what you would consider
drivel, but I'm interested in watching and participating in
the messy process of open conversation. It's a much richer learning
environment that a neat and moderated list, where gatekeeping
(with all the best intentions) can drain the life out of the
conversation in the interest of orderliness and control.
I like what Richard Rorty says in _Philosophy and the Mirror
of Nature_: His edifying philosophy prefers "to keep the conversation
going rather than to find objective truth.... The danger which
edifying discourse tries to avert is that some given vocabulary,
some way in which people might come to think of themselves, will
deceive them into thinking that from now on all discourse could be,
or should be, normal discourse" (377, quoted here from Landow's
_Hypertext_ p. 70).

I suppose you could argue that the conversation can be kept going
just fine without the stuff you would consider dross, that it
would actually be a better conversation. That's assuming that
efficiency is the measure of quality, or that topical categories
are sacred and best kept pure. And that's assuming that control
and focus are worth the price of what's lost in the culling
process: often the diversity of voices and perspectives that
flourish in an unmoderated environment.

>>ZB:- FACILATATOR (keeps list "on track"; group leader)
>
>GMP: Networks are often distracted by people who have an ax to grind.
>GMP: It often gets out of hand and destroys the original purpose of
>GMP: the network.  this role is critical.
>
Hmmm. How inviolable should the original purpose be? I manage a list
that now only rarely touches on topic it was originally supposed to
talk about. So? The conversation is shaped by the community's
current and compelling interests. The original topic re-emerges
when someone needs to talk about it, when it has some kind of
immediate relevance to someone's life. Fine with me.

>>ZB: - EDITOR (text editor, digest posts, format posts)
>
>GMP: I wish we would do more of this.  There are so many first draft,
>GMP: spontaneous posters who account for most of the nonsense.  A good
>GMP: and diligent editor can be very important.  No one has a right
>GMP: to promulgate intellectual garbage at the expense of the time of
>GMP: the readers who expect information on a defined topic.

I can't help but think, Gerald, that you would really like to see
electronic environments become hi-tech version of the book, where
a diligent editor is integral to the process. Determining what is
and what isn't intellectual garbage from a single privileged
perspective is no longer necessary. You gave the reason yourself.
You said you signed off all lists but IPCT-L because no one
was at the helm of the others, ensuring "high quality" posts
were the only ones allowed to see the light of day. In other
words, you had the power to choose the e-community you wished
to be part of and to chuck the rest. But if the standards you
prefer are applied generally, that choice evaporates. Those who
*want* to wriggle in the discursive mud (some of us do) are
left out. This is my main objection to moderated lists: the
number of choices and the possibilities (which are vast) for
creating new communities, makes unnecessary this purification
process. If anyone doesn't like a list (be it for its chaos or
for its control) they can up and leave in a twinkling of the keys.

>
>GMP:
>     I think we need to face the issue of control of ideas directly in the
>     eye. I do not think all ideas are of equal merit.  I do think there are
>     limits on the extent to which these facilities can be used.  I think
>     Zane Berge's list of roles is the most sensible I have seen.  And I
>     am prepared to do battle on this one.  And I AM a forty year member of
>     ACLU
>
I'd be willing to grant that not all ideas are of equal merit to
everyone, but I resist the notion that gatekeepers are required
to make decisions of merit for us. These environments are not
limitless, but it doesn't make sense to impose the limits of
print on them. This techology offers the opportunity to go past
the boundaries inherent in print techology. New boundaries will
assert, and new problems, but trying to maintain the familiar
stability of print filtering systems seems to me unnecessary.
Why try to eliminate the advantages of new technology?

--Eric Crump
=========================================================================
Date:         Thu, 29 Oct 1992 21:03:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: The role of the moderator in SDGs

From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET

Eric Crump comments that he likes to search for truffles on the dung heap
of the daily messages we get in our Email boxes.

He is clearly young.  I do not have the time any more.

GMP
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 06:16:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in a Scholarly Discussion Group

From: "Zane Berge, Ph.D." 

Earlier, Eric Crump responded to Gerald Phillips:
>From: Eric Crump 

>>on Thu, 29 Oct 1992 10:34:00 EST Interpersonal Computing and Technology said:
>>From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET
>>
>>Zane Berge has posted his view of the role of the moderator.  I awoke to
>>find 171 messages in my box, most from unmoderated networks.  If we do not
>>control this flood, we will all perish from a glut of nonsense.

>Not all of us will perish, Gerald. Some of us are more interested
>in learning to surf, riding the waves of sense and nonsense, rather
>than building futile dikes intended to stifle the welling tide of
>human expression unleashed by these lists. I'm on 25-30 lists (I
>can never remember exactly how many) and get 150-200 msgs day.
>Perhaps most of those messages are what you would consider
>drivel, but I'm interested in watching and participating in
>the messy process of open conversation. It's a much richer learning
>environment that a neat and moderated list, where gatekeeping
>(with all the best intentions) can drain the life out of the
>conversation in the interest of orderliness and control.


While this debate is reasonable, I think it misses the main point of my
original post on the role of the moderator in a SDG.  Whether or not a
list SHOULD be moderated is not what I was driving at.

There is a continuum in face-to-face interaction on scholarly topics
ranging from more or less idle chatter around the coffee pot, to
presentations at professional conferences, to publication in scholarly
journals.  Similarly, there are analoguous CMC interactions.  There
appears to be a role for BOTH moderated and unmoderated lists, for
peer-refereed journals, and for everything in-between--that is to say,
a continuum.

To debate whether or not ALL discussion groups should be moderated or
not may not be the right question.  Certainly, we can discuss the role
of each type of SDG.  However, that shifts the focus from my original
question.

I am asking, *GIVEN* a moderated discussion group, what is the
relationship among editing, censoring and moderating within that
context?  What *should* be the role of the moderator (assuming a
moderated list)?

Zane Berge
BERGE@GUVAX.GEORGETOWN.EDU
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 10:00:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in SDGs

From: Gerry Santoro - CAC/PSU 814-863-7896 

>From: Eric Crump 

**(lots of interesting stuff deleted)***

>Why try to eliminate the advantages of new technology?

I suppose its a matter of what one considers to be an advantage.  The current
technical setup of LISTSERV-based groups is the way it is because of
design -- not because of technical constraints.  In this  design one can
create groups that are public/private, moderated/unmoderated, etc.  The
degree of control is up to the creator of the group.

Frankly, I also prefer unmoderated groups because I simply scan the
subject lines and discard those that I do not  think would interest
me.  However, I have seen less of the 'coming forward of diverse opinions'
and more of inidividual fillibusters  and posters with an obvious ax to
grind.  Many of the latter degenerate into personal attacks on other
conference members.  This is what netters refer to as 'flaming' and I
would argue that this has an inhibitory effect on posting of diverse
opinions rather than an encouraging effect.

As for moderating -- despite my personal preference for unmoderated groups
I *have* heard *many* faculty complain that they have no time, and will
invest no time, into joining LISTSERV groups that are unmoderated because they
*want* someone to filter out the 'junk.'   I may not agree with their point
of view, but if I really want to encourage the use of this technology
I must be sensitive to this reaction.

As was mentioned earlier, one can always leave any conference where one does
not agree with the groundrules.  I am/have been a member of dozens of
LISTSERV conferences of every flavor -- am moderator for a few, and am on the
steering committees of others.  In every case where the role of the
modetaror has come into question I have not  seen attempts at purposeful
demagogery or censorship -- rather I have seen responsible people trying to
objectively (and fairly) apply the groundrules.

Indeed, this is a emerging and evolving technology.  A little sensitivity
on  all sides will be most beneficial.  Aside from the medium employed, the
issues are no different from those of in-person academic conferences.

gerry santoro
academic computing/speech communication
penn state university

"All things in moderation"
		    - supposedly said by the Buddah
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 10:04:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in SDGs

From: Richard Tuerk 

I don't know about truffles and dungheaps, but I too prefer my lists to be
edited.  Usually, when I join a list, I do so because I am interested in the
announced topic.  When the list starts to stray too far from that topic, I
lose my reason for participating.  Sometimes, I'll agree, the connections to
the topic may not be obvious, but they may still be there.  An example, I feel,
is the very useful discussion of academic freedom on this list.  Still, I
agree with GMP that a good editor is very useful.

Richard Tuerk    TUERK@ETSUACAD
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 11:06:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in Scholarly Discussion Groups

From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET

I call your attention to CRTNET, a newsletter very carefully moderated.  It
comes with a table of contents three to five times a week. Submissions are
carefully culled to represent the topic of the list.  It is neatly formatted
and coded so that issues can be saved.  It is also formally archived.

The flood of random notes, many of which are off the topic, ill considered,
and often inflammatory and excessively personalized simply take too much time
to process.  Conclusion: without control, these lists lose whatever educational
value they might have had.


GMP@PSUVM
Gerald M. Phillips (Professor Emeritus), Speech Communication
Editor, IPCT: An Electronic Journal for the 21st Century
ISSN 1064-4326.  Send submissions to GMP3 at PSUVM
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802
Manuscripts are being accepted for the January, 1993 issue
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 15:02:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in Scholarly Discussion Groups

From: Eric Crump 

Zane & Gerry: point taken. I realized as soon as I hit the old SEND
key that I'd probably come across too strongly again moderation,
when what I meant to argue against was Gerald's assertion (as I
understood it) that moderation for all would be a good thing.

If we start from moderation as a given, that does change the
parameters of the conversation (and I note the effect of the
moderator here: Zane diplomatically reminds me what the stated
topic was and I am reeled back into line). And I should note
that Zane and Mauri are doing a great job here. What's more
important than the answers to mthe questions they've posed
regarding the role of moderators is the fact that they've asked.

They are successful moderators because they continue to negotiate
their roles with the community they serve. That's the single
most important characteristic of a moderator. Consultation with
the list at least mitigates the stifling/narrowing effect I
fear moderation can create. A bad moderator would be someone
who established roles and guidelines without consultation or
who enforced those rules too strictly, which would have a
chilling effect on the community.

On Fri, 30 Oct 1992 11:06:00 EST Interpersonal Computing and Technology said:
>From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET
>
>I call your attention to CRTNET, a newsletter very carefully moderated.  It
>comes with a table of contents three to five times a week. Submissions are
>carefully culled to represent the topic of the list.  It is neatly formatted
>and coded so that issues can be saved.  It is also formally archived.
>
It is a very stately list. Very valuable. I was on it for about a year
before my tolerance for tidiness ebbed and I had to leave. :)
The reason I stick with IPCT is that its moderators do not impede
what is often a rather jaunty exchange.

>The flood of random notes, many of which are off the topic, ill considered,
>and often inflammatory and excessively personalized simply take too much time
>to process.  Conclusion: without control, these lists lose whatever educational
>value they might have had.
>
Here's that generalization again, the assumption that control and order
are intrinsic to education, to quality. As Gerry Santoro notes,
moderation and order are necessary and fit best with the sensibilities
of some people, but it's dangerous to assume that education should
be rigidly controlled. Or am I confusing education with learning
again? I do that sometimes.

--Eric Crump
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 21:02:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in Scholarly Discussion Groups

From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET

>From: Eric Crump 
>
>Here's that generalization again, the assumption that control and order
>are intrinsic to education, to quality. As Gerry Santoro notes,
>moderation and order are necessary and fit best with the sensibilities
>of some people, but it's dangerous to assume that education should
>be rigidly controlled. Or am I confusing education with learning
>again? I do that sometimes.
>
>--Eric Crump

>From GMP...

I've been an "educator" for 43 years, Eric.  I have had my good moments.
When I was disorganized and believed that everyone and everything had a right
to be heard, favored free expression, and wore a peace medal, I was a terrible
educator, a miserable teacher, and a lamentably bad scholar.  I was, however,
very popular and this got very heady and corrupting.  After a two year flir-
tation with anarchy, I returned to the classical education under which I had
suffered, including declining Latin verbs and reading the philosophers in
their own tongues, and applied some of that discipline to myself and to my
students.  I can point to tangible outcomes from that period.  I directed
successful Ph.D.s and I wrote well and published.  I still got high teacher
ratings.  Students are notoriously unable to discriminate quality from agri-
cultural byproduct and give any teacher who can tell a joke and doesn't grade
too harshly a high rating.

Given triage, that is, an inevitable limitation of what gets transmitted on
these lists and networks, my naturally inclination is that the orderly is
more useful. Flaming is quite unproductive, incidentally, because there is
no real audience for your witty ripostes, japes, and bon mots.

No, I will stand with elitism, comment our moderators (as you did), and urge
the displacement of anarchic, hence unproductive networks with carefully
moderated and modulated lists.  I would even welcome editing of these exchanges
of notes.  With a little care, they can become quite useful.  I have just sent
off the second book co-authored via Email to the publisher. The first just
came out today.  I am well aware of the productive power of this medium and
would hate to sacrifice on the mantle of intellectual chaos.

Gerald M. Phillips
=========================================================================
Date:         Fri, 30 Oct 1992 21:04:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in Scholarly Discussion Groups

From: INCI BOWMAN 

I thought Zane Berge's list of descriptors defining the
various functions of a moderator was very useful.  It made
me reflect on my role as a moderator and prepare my own
checklist.  While I agree with most of the definitions,
I wonder whether the last three roles as MARKETER, HELPER and
FIREMAN may not be already covered by the other descriptors.
In particular, the functions of a MARKETER (explains list to
potential subscribers) and a HELPER (helps people with needs)
are part of the responsibilities of a MANAGER (administrator,
deleting and adding subscribers).  Also, the moderator who
serves as a FIREMAN (takes "flames" offline) is already
filtering the postings.  If you agree, then the list could be
reduced to the six descriptors: FACILITATOR, MANAGER, FILTER,
EXPERT, EDITOR, and PROMOTER.

I would also like to see a discussion of our role as a
PROMOTER.  What are some of the things a moderator can do to
promote discussion?  How do we get the reluctant members to
participate?  Or, should we?  In the past, I have raised
issues and answered questions when no response was received.
And, that is probably not enough.

Inci Bowman, Moderator
CADUCEUS--History of Medicine Collections Forum
 or 
The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
=========================================================================
Date:         Sat, 31 Oct 1992 07:12:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in Scholarly Discussion Groups

From: seraphim@ais.org (Henry Hardy)

>
> From: GMP@PSUVM.BITNET

(stuff deleted)

> came out today.  I am well aware of the productive power of this medium and
> would hate to sacrifice on the mantle of intellectual chaos.
>
> Gerald M. Phillips
>

Interesting malopropism. Presumably a mixation of "wear the mantle" and
"sacrifice on the altar of?" :-)


I hope Prof. Phillips will not taste the whole worm by allowing his wine
to further maunder :-)

--seraphim@ais.org

"These plunderers of the earth, are now invading the seas because, having
devastated everything, they now have no more land. If their enemy is
wealthy, they are greedy; if he is poor, they will be after glory --
they whom neither east nor west have satiated. Alone among peoples, they
have looked with equal greed upon rich and poor alike. Stealing, murdering
and plundering they call government; and where they create a desert they
call it peace."
			 --Prince Calgacus, c. 84 AD
=========================================================================
Date:         Sat, 31 Oct 1992 13:31:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: Role of the moderator in a Scholarly Discussion Group

From: James Shimabukuro 

Zane Berge asks what the role of moderator should be.

I agree with GMP.  Whatever Zane and Mauri are doing seems to be working.
I've had messages returned because they were inappropriate for the general
audience.  And they were.  Usually, they were messages directed at
specific individuals, with content of little or no interest to anyone
else.  This isn't censoring.  This is part of the moderator's function.
I'm on many lists, and I find too many messages that are really personal
exchanges, meaningful to the receiver and sender.  These are meaningless
and cryptic to anyone else.  When I'm faced with a long string of these,
usually one- or two-liners, I'm irritated.

Another moderator function is to keep the messages relevant to the goals
and purposes of the list.  This means rejecting messages that clearly
belong in other forums or conferences.  Again, this is not censoring.

Moderating's a tough job.  No one enjoys a rejection, and no one enjoys
messages that really don't belong in the public area.  It's a no-win
situation, sometimes.

Jim S.
=========================================================================
Date:         Tue, 10 Nov 1992 21:20:00 EST
Reply-To:     Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Sender:       Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
From:         Interpersonal Computing and Technology 
Subject:      Re: The Role of the Moderator in a Scholarly Discussion Group

From: "Zane Berge, Ph.D." 

On October 30th, INCI BOWMAN  posted the
following regarding the role of the moderator on a scholarly
discussion group:

>I thought Zane Berge's list of descriptors defining the
>various functions of a moderator was very useful.  It made
>me reflect on my role as a moderator and prepare my own
>checklist.  While I agree with most of the definitions,
>I wonder whether the last three roles as MARKETER, HELPER and
>FIREMAN may not be already covered by the other descriptors.
>In particular, the functions of a MARKETER (explains list to
>potential subscribers) and a HELPER (helps people with needs)
>are part of the responsibilities of a MANAGER (administrator,
>deleting and adding subscribers).  Also, the moderator who
>serves as a FIREMAN (takes "flames" offline) is already
>filtering the postings.  If you agree, then the list could be
>reduced to the six descriptors: FACILITATOR, MANAGER, FILTER,
>EXPERT, EDITOR, and PROMOTER.


The list was rather arbitrarily devised.  However, I have been using
it to code a survey collins and I recently conducted of list owners
and moderators.  I am not finished coding the surveys.  Yet as I have
worked with the descriptors, I have made some modifications:

FACILITATOR   - keeps group focused (i.e., group leader); referees
	   interpersonal matters
ADMINISTRATOR - helps with technical problems; archiving;
	   deleting/adding subscribers; etc.
FILTER        - forwards only appropriate (i.e., within list charter)
	   posts; increases signal/noise ratio; rejects other
	   off-topic contributions such as advertisements,
	   libelous statements, jokes etc.
EXPERT        - answers questions (FAQ); expert in the field that the
	   list serves (e.g., manufacturer's representative)
EDITOR        - text editor, digests; otherwise formats posts
PROMOTER      - generates useful discussion
MARKETER      - promotes/explains the list to potential members
HELPER        - helps people with needs (more general then 'expert'
	   above)
FIREMAN/WOMAN - takes "flames," or ad hominem attacks off-line

I think a case could be made that PROMOTER could be collapsed into
FACILITATOR; MARKETER into ADMINISTRATOR; HELPER into EXPERT or
FACILITATOR; and FIREMAN clearly could be collapsed into FACILITATOR.
(FIREMAN/WOMAN was mentioned often by persons completing the survey;
therefore it is convenient for coding to keep it separate.)

So, this list could just as easily be FACILITATOR, ADMINISTRATOR,
FILTER, EXPERT, and EDITOR.

Zane Berge
BERGE@GUVAX.GEORGETOWN.EDU
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