Subject: Forum Moderator
Message: UTC +01:00 - 23 years old
Time(s) of the day you can commit to moderating:
From 13:00 to 01:00, it can change during 2016 and it can also be prolonged depending on my real life situation.
Which boards you frequent most (reading/posting).
I frequent Casual Discussions, Current Events and Series discussions.
What you feel is an appropriate amount of time to spend moderating (daily/weekly).
For a site as large as MyAnimeList, every hour is the most appropriate time you can spend moderating. To be realistic, every hour with pauses of a few hour lengths, for meals, work and other real life shenanigans.
-- why you think you are qualified for this position;
I have been part of the MyAnimeList community for a whole 3 years and I have been a regular poster ever since, meaning that I know the community like the back of my hand, this gives me an edge when communicating with other regulars because I can relate and immediately help in whatever inquiry the users have. Even if they're not a prerequisite, my English skills are top notch, so communication will never be an issue, as for my attitude towards the community, it has always been an attitude of change towards what is more beneficial to the site and the community itself. I've always pushed suggestions for better boards, rules and moderation, to promote discussion, fairness and intellectual stimulus.
My knowledge of the rules is impeccable, for I have been part of several suggestions in their reform, and I have also advised moderators on their usage of the rules. Being a rule breaker yourself also kind of teaches you the rules, because you need it to be able to not get banned the next time you're trying anything, really. Also, it's easier to see loopholes when your purpose is to live as long as possible without getting prohibited access to the site.
If patience is a need, you don't need to look any further, I'm a Casual Discussion/Current Events regular that wastes his time away while debating all types of topics, from scientific, to philosophical, to the most inane and controversial topics that even the gods can't survive through, Nietszche was right when saying "God is dead, Immahnoob killed him", he died browsing my MAL posts. I'm great at argumentation, so I can see a lot of meaning in language, making ban inquiries, topic locking/deleting, bans, warnings and reports a breeze through. It's almost impossible to "rustle" me with "angry complaints" or anything of the sorts, I've dealt with far worse on other sites and having been a professional flamer myself, I am completely impervious to any flames coming from any flame war, flamethrower or attempt to flame or abuse me.
I am also an individual that has utmost impartiality. I base my decisions on objective criteria and reason. I don't favor some people over others, so I am completely incorruptible, for there really isn't anything that anyone can give me to bribe or sway me towards committing the false or prohibited. I believe that personal reasons should be discarded when engaging in moderating any type of community. So I'll be completely serious, fair and diligent when engaging in this job, and I'll give it my all.
While my decision making is based on the above, my personality is usually a lot more lax and despite what everyone says, I am actually a friendly person... My friendships don't tend to last on MAL because we usually end up with nothing much to talk about. Some are turned off by my overall personality, that's because I tend to be harsh with the truth, emotionally cold, snarky, principle driven, lazy in situations that involve real life, a narcissist, and my likes and dislikes can sometimes weird people out too, so it's all about compatibility really.
-- what you feel you will bring to the team and community;
I feel that I will be a bit of fresh air for the team, I've been told that now there's a prevalent lack of time because of real life situations, policy and site changes. Being able to work fast and efficient, I will take a lot of work off the shoulders of the other moderators. I believe that I'll be able to bring change in the policies in ways that the team will be able to efficiently do their jobs while the community will be able to discuss a wider array of topics.
As for the community, I mentioned before that I would be pretty useful in the public relations department, for the community knows me and while they'll probably think I will set the forums ablaze with my newfound godlike powers, they're mistaken, they'll be fine with me in no time. They'll probably love me as an addition after a while.
I really have nothing much to say in this category for I have already expressed my capabilities in the previous category. If my application is accepted, I will just be a competent forum moderator that will constantly engage with the community, for that is my place on these forums.
-- what you feel the existing team and community is currently lacking;
The team currently lacks active members, but it's not only about time, rather it's also about decision making. I have been told that the community wants more active moderators rather than moderators that take better decisions. Well, I believe both are necessary, but I'd ask for better decisions. The way I see things, the rules being broken in most cases will neither damage the site or the community in such a perceptible manner in a more than short amount of time, therefore if I'd choose between reacting immediately but sloppy and reacting slower and thinking things through, I'd choose the latter, for there are almost never cases in which extremes are happening, like posts with gore or pornography.
Some decisions tend to be taken before there are any rules being broken, meaning, outside the guidelines. Topics will not always have the same posters or arguments, posters also have different moods, meaning that a topic that (e.g.) involves religion cannot possibly always be taken down before it even starts, with the reason that it'll "devolve in a flame war". This stifles a lot of discussions, which in the end, are the purpose of a forum.
The community acts like most communities on the Internet. They want regulations but also normal freedoms, like freedom of expression. On a forums that's even more possible with little to no disadvantage, at the contrary, it would mean that you'd be one of the few giving such opportunities to users, as a lot of popular sites of lately, like Reddit, are trying to destroy what little freedom of speech there still is.
So after all, I propose a change in the guidelines. That is what I believe there to be lacking, clear-cut guidelines that are reasonable and promote discussion/debate/argument. Both the team and community are suffering because of this. Accusations of unfairness, thought policing, etc are prevalent and it's not the moderators or communities fault, but discussing this matter has to wait for the last category.
The moderation should also work on giving realistic reasons and be consistent with how they apply the rules. Also, while it is true that the history of a user should be taken into consideration. Too much delving into that and we have an issue of locking threads that would have promoted discussions because of what seemed to be a "troll in action".
-- what you would do if one of your friends was reported and/or you viewed them breaking the guidelines;
The rules are equal for everyone, that includes the moderation. If the moderators are to break the rules, they will also be punished for it, the same goes for everyone else, regardless of their relationship to me, the team or to anyone else.
I will obviously use our current ban system to decide how to take care of the situation, either warning or banning this/these individuals. Because I know them, I'll try and give them advice so in the future me or other mods won't need to ban or warn them in the first place. Talk it through with them...
Now, because of how the moderation on MAL works, it might be that it is possible for me to just talk with my friend/s about the situation and persuade them without even needing to warn or ban them, for there have been cases, even personal, where I have broken the rules and the moderation did not warn or ban me, rather they spoke to me and that's it, but I'd still advise against, as I just spoke about clear cut guidelines a category above. I might also let another moderator do it for me, although there really is no reason for me to give extra work to a colleague when I can easily do it myself without any issue on bias.
-- how you might improve/moderate specific boards you frequent now;
I believe this is also a category which can be summarized in the last one. But if it's directly related to the boards. Instead of having both Casual Discussions and Current Events, it would be better to merge them together in something like, I don't know... General Discussions? That would be a fitting name. For Current Events lacks posters and Casual Discussions lacks serious topics, they would both benefit from both of these characteristics. Now, for the lazy ones, it will be easy to just go on "General Discussions" and post on whatever topic they see fit, without having to browse too much.
Now, before I stop being serious, that I believe would solve a lot of issues we have on both boards, as I stated above. One lacks participation while the other lacks stuff to participate in. Merging them together would fix both of these issues. And the rules of both those boards are not incompatible at all. This will also fit in with the suggestion I will write in the latest category, that of a "tag" rule. If something is "NEWS" material it should be tagged as such, differentiating it from other topics.
We have issues like topics that aren't really spawning any discussions, because of a lack of a Spam board, they all get dumped on Casual Discussions instead.
So it's CD + Spam, but spam is not accepted on CD, thus, the topics are either not moderated OR are severely moderated (creating inconsistency again). CE is a lot slower than CD for no reason other than being the smaller and more serious brother of CD (also, it's because of the lack of a community behind the board, it's CD without the "fun").
-- any other (non-code) improvements you would like see made; for example, to MAL policies.
Oh yes, I talked earlier about how I'd like to change the rules so both the community and the moderation will be happy. First of, we should change rule 6, rather than prohibiting sexual subjects altogether, we should be able to tag threads accordingly (thus, adding a new rule, "tags") with a [+18] and with a rule that proclaims that sexually explicit (as most 18+ threads are sexually explicit) titles are prohibited.
Of course, what is NSFW/+18 material inside the threads will also be spoilered accordingly, including text that is sexually explicit in nature.
That way there are no more conflicts. The community will be able to discuss topics like these, while the moderation needs to focus on other rules. As we've been told in my suggestion thread about rule 6, it is because the moderators lack time that they have completely banned rule 6, limiting discussions in the process. So if I will be an addition to the team, I will see to it that the "tag" rules and "rule 6" will be properly used myself.
The idea that we can have outside of the guidelines rules is also something that should be changed. The whole "The administrators and forum moderators reserve the right to make exceptions to any of these rules whenever they feel it is necessary to do so to maintain proper decorum." should no longer be possible. For if there is a situation in which the "proper decorum" is not "maintained", then the rules have been broken in one way or another. If not, that means the moderation should be fine with whatever is going on. Otherwise these creates personal reasons (e.g. "X is offensive, annoys me, thus ban him/her") for bans and the ban system and other rules become useless even if the "exceptions" are discussed as a team.
If Spam is re-added (I know that this says "non-code suggestions", but still), problems like locking topics that seem to not produce any discussions is no longer an issue, making moderation easier and faster. Instead of angering the community that X thread about most famous user has been banned or remained on Casual Discussions even without it following the rules, you have it moved to Spam and people can discuss it there. That is why we have other functions, like "Watched Topics", if "Spam" for example becomes as fast as it was during the earlier days. With this, the listing threads rule will no longer be an issue, as people will have a space for them to post whatever listing threads they want.
I also believe that we should become a bit more lax when it comes to moderator criticism and private discussions. Instead of barring the community completely from a discussion that has to do with the site (e.g. profile changes, bans, changes in the rules, etc), we could promote open discussions. If there's criticism towards the moderation, it should not be ignored or locked/deleted/banned, unless it breaks other rules (abuse/trolling/harassment). While it might seem like this would provide new problems, it also solves older ones. Instead of having a constant "this is unfair", "this is thought policing", "this is etc" stream of comments every time MALers are angry, the moderation can answer accordingly and completely defuse situations like these if the posters are in the wrong without putting more napalm on the fire (through completely denying discussion). So I propose a change in how ban discussions work. I'd take an idea from Reddit and have open ban discussion logs. It's more beneficial this way, as there's no way to either frame the moderator anymore through false alarms and there's also no way for a user to have the same happened to him.
Another topic I wish to speak about is the "Trolling" section which speaks about "Baiting". Often I myself have been told that some of my actions are "low level baiting" or "baiting" at all, when I would engage into debating. Sometimes being told that insulting one's ideas is "baiting". This means that the definition that is given for "trolling" and "baiting" specifically either aren't clear or too broad. For there is clear information on insulting one's ideas, and it is not against the rules. "Trolling" as of now is basically defined as "Starting arguments or upsetting users by posting extraneous and inflammatory material for the purpose of getting an emotional response.", with a note added saying "We take into consideration the users history when deciding intent.".
Trolling is just a mix of spam and abuse but with added intent. The issue here is that we shouldn't really look at "intent", because if there's "inflammatory" and "off-topic" involved, it already breaks rules. The "intent" just makes it harder for the moderator to take a decision and it makes it easier for the user to use this against the moderator.
Intent really isn't possible to completely define without information being given from the offender, so the "emotional response" part can be taken out, just "inflammatory material" + "off-topic" is enough, making it just a harsher case of the two combined. Emotional response is pretty irrelevant, after all, it all depends on the subject. Offence is taken, not given, so someone like me might be focused by off-topic and inflammatory remarks, but I will not answer with the emotional response expected, making it look like I have no issue whatsoever with what is going on, therefore also making the "emotional response" factor in the rule really irrelevant to me. Being "hurt" or not shouldn't really matter unless there are other factors (e.g. friends jabbing at each other).
The "duplicate" rule should also be abolished or changed. Instead of having topics locked or deleted, they are either to be merged, or left as is. Just because something was discussed in the past, that doesn't mean it can't be discussed even now. Our perception as older users does not trump the perception of the newer users.
While the policy of "killing flame wars before they start" should not ever be a thing. Unless there's rule breaking, a thread should never be locked, deleted or banned. No topic can be said to "become a flame war" at random, it must first become one to be one. So there should no longer be anymore "future arguments" when talking about locked/banned/deleted topics.
Another issue I have seen when there's moderation involved is the "offensive" factor. Again, I will repeat myself, but as long as the topics promote discussion, do not directly target users and just ambiguously attack some groups that can or not be the users (for example, "gold digging" women, it might be a generalization and it is quite offensive, discussion is possible), then the topic should be left alone. "Offense" is taken, not given, and if we'd focus on weeding out what is offensive, you are then weeding out pretty much what is a personal dislike and you are no longer promoting a space for intellectual discussion, but a kindergarten instead.
Some might argue that "insults" should also be taken in this way as well. I disagree, insults are either red herrings or ad hominem, both are illogical occurrences and tend to be useless, I am torn apart here for both sides for a normal conversation will have jabbing and stabbing, either friendly or not that friendly, but it's not really possible to have your cake and eat it too, so "insults" should be taken as they currently are. My stance on this matter is that the offended is at fault, for they are the ones manipulating the discussions. The emotional response is their own, so it's controlled by themselves. Asking for censorship of such ideas is really non-beneficial, but there's nothing that can be done in this case, so e.g. offensive comedy will continue to be stifled.
To add, I am also going to make a case against "Baiting". Currently it is not clearly defined by the rules, and the only likely cause is because it is part of the "Trolling" category. But as I previously explained, the "trolling" rule is highly arbitrary and interpretable, it's easier to just either change these or not have them at all, because other rules already cover these.