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.
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