In praise of… Moderation

I know I promised I’d shut up for the rest of the year, but after I finished yesterday’s round up I realised I’d forgotten to thank probably the most important members of Slugger online, ie the moderators.

Thanks to Brian the team has expanded considerably over the last year which has spread the burden of keeping the conversations here both convivial and (largely) on topic. They’re an amazing bunch.

The job they do cannot be underestimated. Almost every online conversation site encounters the problem of trolling, or in the case of Elon Musk is owned by someone who imposes rules arbitrarily.

Moderation matters. Where it doesn’t exist things go to seed very quickly.  There are now vast numbers of people who have been Twitter habitués for many years now shipping wholesale onto other sites.

And moderation matters more than just in online life, it also matters in how we conduct our politics, which in many ways is an extension of how we make democratic decisions that hopeful improve life.

The whole US constitution was put together by what we might call a secular presbyterian mindset to protect future generations of US citizens from the tyranny of one man, one faction and/or their egos.

Without it, the entropy problem arises. Ben Ansell in the first of his Reith Lectures explains:

…if we stop caring, if we stop voting, then entropy sets in. Old norms of behaviour are lost, we forget how we resolved our previous quarrels and we see our disagreements on the street or online as irresolvable, as an inevitable, unstoppable and tragic polarisation, and polarisation is democracy’s second enemy.

Housing crises, anti semitism and hard to solve overseas conflicts don’t get salved by getting angry with someone you really don’t know online. All wicked problems need patience, attention and conviviality.

On Slugger we don’t compete for scale with the behemoths, but we do compete well for conviviality. You cannot scale a village they say, but even villages can go rancid without a modicum of civic expectations.

We have just one golden rule (play the ball and not the man) but as the moderators will tell you there are a thousand different ways to interpret it in a myriad of different context and personalities.

So, thank you moderators. Thanks for the effort the thought and consideration you put into every decision. And thanks for the conviviality that means Slugger still flows sluggishly after all these years.

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