• Question about locked threads?

  • General discussion about the RAILROAD.NET site, forums, or content ONLY. Please do not post your general railroading questions, please choose an appropriate forum. For help using the site, please post in the Help Using RAILROAD.NET Forum.
General discussion about the RAILROAD.NET site, forums, or content ONLY. Please do not post your general railroading questions, please choose an appropriate forum. For help using the site, please post in the Help Using RAILROAD.NET Forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by 3rdrail
I agree with everything that has been said here mostly, and I have already expressed my abhorrence to the term "Nazi" due to the mental images that that word conjures up. Having said that, I have to say that there might be two types of persons who use that word as a slur to another. The first one, the most despicable, but also the rarest is the one who clearly understands all the connotations that that name carries with it, who is one who lived during the period or is educated enough to have studied it. This is the individual that you want to not only lock their thread, but throw them the hell off the site because they are a cancer to us all. The second variety, which I believe to be in the majority of those who would use that word, is the dumb ass who is as ignorant as the day is long. I don't take them as seriously as I know that they probably have a vague idea only of the venom that they spew, too engrossed in Snooki's antics on "Jersey Shore" to look it up in a book. (Oh, excuse me, I forgot - they are functionally illiterate.)
  by Tommy Meehan
For me the problem is the uneveness of the moderation. One forum is tightly controlled. Another forum is all over the place.

Recently I checked on a thread I've been following about some new equipment. I found the most recent post was about ordering Chinese food in a restaurant where the waiter didn't speak English. WTH?

Then I went to another forum and checked a thread I'd been following about some old equipment. The most recent message there was from the moderator hinting the thread might soon be on el locko status because it wasn't interesting enough. Huh?

3rdrail wrote:I can honestly tell you that in the time that I have been a member, I have only seen two instances where I thought that a cut-off was necessary (outside of spam).
At first when I read Paul's comment I was somewhat taken aback. Then I started thinking, maybe he's right. In fact Paul you probably are.

What I always wonder is, wouldn't deleting an inane message be more effective than locking everyone out of the thread?

I think someone said they get the feeling some people deliberately post nonsense to try and get threads locked. I think they do, I don't there's any question about it.

But anyway I enjoy the forums, I've been here since inception and I appreciate all the hard work that must go into keeping the thing running. Any comments I make are meant constructively.

  by Jeff Smith
Indeed, the forums are moderated differently. I wouldn't use unevenly, but I won't dispute the characterization. While I technically am only a moderator on Amtrak, as the site admin, I keep on eye across the forums and moderate as needed; some forums need more attention than others, some moderators aren't on as often, etc. Time constraints keep me from watching all of them all of the time, naturally. Slowly, I'm revamping the forums, moderators, and moderation styles.

I would say, though, that the moderation is often based on the character of a forum, or should I say "characters". Some are more serious than others; I would say that's based on the people who frequent that forum. I would not argue that the NJT forum should be moderated like the MNRR forum or the Amtrak forum. You might prefer the style of the MNRR forum over that of the NJT or Amtrak, but others might not. The idea is to elicit the best exchange of information with a minimum of disruption. Sometimes, it takes tolerating some disruption to get the information out.
  by Tommy Meehan
Recently a thread was locked in the MNR forum based on a complaint from at least one member. The comments from one person was that he didn't like what was being posted and there was certain information and photo links he wanted to be provided with and wasn't.

I moderate some Yahoo groups and as I often do when someone I'm not familiar with complains I looked up some of this person's messages to get some sense of who they are.

I discovered that one of his recent threads was to ask for costs of highway widening versus a rail line upgrade. He wasn't especially interested in this topic but he needed the information for a college term paper he is writing. He didn't have time to find it for himself so he asked if someone could find it for him.

That struck me as a tad cheeky so maybe this poster has some issues too.

At any rate, I was following (and enjoying) the thread in question and was disappointed to see it get locked. I saw little that was objectionable (to my eyes anyway) and suspect it was primarily because of one person.

If that was the case, again I ask, if the problem is mostly one person it seems rather drastic to punish everyone by locking an entire thread. Wouldn't it be fairer (and more sensible) to take action against the offender? By putting him on moderation or, if he's considered so clueless that moderation would be a waste of time, why not just ban them and get it over with?

Does it occur to anyone that some of these people may actually be trying to get the thread locked in the first place?

I helped moderate one Yahoo Group which was continously getting sidetracked to the point the owner was about ready to close it. He took one last shot. One thing we found quite effective in controlling trolls was to simply put them on moderation and then hold their messages for 12-24 hours before releasing them. This was surprisingly effective. People who like to stir up trouble seem to want to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. You hold the message and let the discussion move on a bit.

The owner was squeamish about banning people and I had no desire to act as a censor. So if the message was really inflammatory we'd hold it for over 24 hours. This was very frustrating to the flamers or trolls (or whatever you want to call them) and one by one they lost interest and drifted away from the list.

A list that was so out-of-control it was on the verge of being shutdown improved dramatically. To the point a special interest group (we shared a common topic) actually asked if they could affiliate with us. Have us become their official group message board. The owner was very happy to say yes and the list membership increased about 50%.

Looking back it was a very small group of people --like maybe five or six out of hundreds -- that were killing all rational discussions. We resisted taking any action that would punish the good along with the bad and while it took some patience, it worked.


[edited for typo]
  by Greg Moore
Wow a lot to digest, I'll see what I can get in this post. (might take more than one).

Where to begin. I to am often displeased with the locking of threads, especially in the Amtrak forums. I will agree that overall it has gotten better. And as past and current moderators are aware, I'll make no bones about complaining if I feel the desire to. But I prefer generally to do it privately so we can air our differences in private.

That said, Jeff is absolutely right. There are no 1st Amendment rights here, whether we like it or not. If you don't like it, you really have two choices, try to change it, or leave. I've done both. (I'd like to think my leaving for I think 9 months left several forums bereft of my infinite wisdom, but I somehow doubt it. :-)

As for name calling, I can appreciate the desire to keep that to a minimum, yet I see it too being handled unevenly. Why, in this very thread a (former?) moderator calls people who complain "crybabies". Now if that is a mature reaction?

Two final thoughts (for now :-):
As I've privately said to Jeff, I'm not a fan of some of his thread renamings and mergings. I disagree for two basic reasons:
1) It may go against the intent of the original poster.
2) I do NOT think it aids in searches. The truth is, I find phpBB's search mechanism to be "not so great" (mostly just too slow). I've been known to use google to search within various forums including railroad.net's. If one follows the example of gmail for example, Google basically encourages search over categorization.

I honestly think it would serve everyone better if the moderators took the time in those cases to get input from the original (or perhaps in some obvious cases, the key contributors) poster. I believe in at least one case a moderator (it may have been Jeff) did contact me before making a change and I appreciated it. I felt like my thoughts on the matter were important and not merely ignored.

I also think in some cases a better explanation WHY would greatly help. I recall several threads "locked for review" that were never re-opened and as far as I know, never reviewed.

Finally, on thread-drift. That's a hard one. Personally, I encourage it, to a point. I'm not sure where that point is, but it's much further than the moderators appear to believe in. In the sci.space.history hierarchy on usenet (remember those days? :-) we had a classic thread drift into the bailout procedures for the Sperry ball-gun turret. Yeah, it was a quite a drift but very interesting and people enjoyed it and talked about it years later.

For those who don't like thread drift, I suggest don't continue reading the thread. Generally I enjoy them, if only to gain even more knowledge and insight. Heck, sometimes it can be useful to get to know some of the posters even better.

So to conclude my soapbox (thanks Jeff): No, I'm not always happy with the moderation, I have no problems making my views known to the moderators (hopefully in a polite and mature manner, if not, I apologize). But in the long run, it's not my site, so I can play by the rules and do my best to influence them when I feel the desire to. Or I can ultimately pick up my ball and go home.
  by Jeff Smith
Greg, we appreciate your thoughts. I realize your post was obviously brought on by some recent controversy, which I hope has been answered. I realize the answer may not be to your satisfaction; that's why we always encourage input (and the politeness is appreciated). Sometimes, we'll just disagree.
  by Patrick Boylan
Jeff, I don't believe you ALWAYS encourage input. A while ago I got a private message from a moderator that told me to stop discussing 2 things in the gone but missed Official NJT Fantasy (Nonsense) thread. Well I did stop, in fact I left for about a month or so. Did anybody happen to notice? Just as with Greg, I took pity on the rest of you and am once again providing everybody with my infinite wisdom, for which I'm sure there is great rejoicing.
  by Patrick Boylan
Recently someone suggested to Jeff that he close a thread because it had run its course. He subsequently posted in it a few more times with what I feel is new info, with no acknowledgment of his prior request to shut things down. In case anybody hasn't figured it out, I don't like closing or locking threads because I don't want somebody else deciding what I'm allowed to read, and nobody's forcing anyone, as far as I can tell, to read anything.
  by talltim
Otto Vondrak wrote:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 36&t=68179" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The moderator asked that the topic not be discussed, and he also requested people with questions to contact him directly. Did you?
How do you do that? There appears to be no links working on the moderators info
  by scottychaos
talltim wrote:
Otto Vondrak wrote:

http://www.railroad.net/forums/viewtopi ... 36&t=68179" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The moderator asked that the topic not be discussed, and he also requested people with questions to contact him directly. Did you?
How do you do that? There appears to be no links working on the moderators info
The last post in that thread (from 4 years ago) is:
UPRR engineer wrote:Feel free to PM me if you have any questions why i locked this topic.
And yes, the link for "UPRR engineer" is no longer working..
I would assume that is because he has left the forum..
but up at the top of that post you will see:

Rail freight crossing international borders
Moderators: charlie6017, Robert Paniagua

And the links to contact the two moderators *are* both working..
just click on their names, and you can PM them..

  by talltim
I missed an apostrophe from moderator's :-D
To tell the truth, if there was something I really wanted to add or ask that was in locked thread, especially an old one, I would probably open a new thread (on any forum, not just this one) This does of course lead to duplicates.
  by Tommy Meehan
If the recent example cited is the one I'm aware of, I thought the post (and one followup) should've been removed. I agree the discussions should be free ranging but there have to be some limits and there are limits. They're just not always enforced.

The main thrust of the post I'm referring to was to criticize the media. It wasn't about railroads and it certainly wasn't about the commuter railroad whose forum the message was posted in. The person who made the post had previously made the same point in the thread. I think he found not everyone saw this issue the way he does. I belong to a bulletin board sponsored by the JREF Foundation. We have many lively political discussions and the way the media covers events is often a topic. I have discovered most of the really strident critics of the media are coming from a particular political view. On the JREF political forum I expect this discussion; on Railroad.Net I don't.

If you've ever moderated a message board you know there is a danger in allowing anything. There are a lot of people who are eager to expound on their opinions. If you don't limit content you risk having the board eventually become overrun with political rants and flame wars. That's the reality.