Hotrodders Bulletin Board
This is the Hotrodders Bulletin Board Moderator Guide.
To suggest amendments or additions to this guide, please post in the Hotrodders Moderators forum.
This guide is divided into the following seven sections:
I. General Summary of Moderating Principles
II. Deciding When to Edit Posts
III. Deciding When to Moderate Threads
IV. Moderating and Disciplining Individual Members
V. Step-by-Step Guide to Moderating Posts and Threads
VI. Using the Moderator Control Panel
VII. Miscellaneous Moderator Information
I. General Summary of Moderating Principles
A. As Little Government as Possible
Ideally, we wouldn't need any moderation or government of this community. Large groups of people would gather here to peacefully share information and communicate openly without any conflicts.
Realistically, it doesn't work out that way.
We're here to collect and organize knowledge that is spread out over a large group of people. To do this, we need an agreed-upon code of mutual respect that is conducive to group exchanges of information.
People naturally don't like to be governed or otherwise told what to do. However, they will usually sacrifice a small amount of their personal freedom if they feel that it's for the greater good of their community.
The less we have to moderate, the better. Dumping or locking a thread only takes a few seconds. Explaining to thousands of people why you decided to intervene can take hours and hours of your time.
Skilled moderators understand that most moderating is done with reputation, rather than with constant action.
B. Behavioral Environment on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board
We regulate this community to the general equivalent of a "PG" movie rating. What this means is that, for the most part, the discussions here are civilized, professional, and appropriate for all ages. However, every once in a while, there may be posts or discussions that are geared towards adults.
Our board members seem to feel most comfortable sharing knowledge in this type of environment, and it generally provides a working balance between personal freedom and mutual respect.
C. The Dump
We very rarely delete entire posts. Usually, we'll only delete posts if a member accidentally double-posted the same message twice in a row, or if it's a spam or blatant advertising post.
If discussions get out of hand, and stretch beyond our "PG" environment, then we edit them appropriately, and/or move them to The Dump, a special forum on the board for discarded discussions. Typically, entire threads are moved to "The Dump", however, single posts can be separated out of threads and "Dumped".
Once a thread is moved to The Dump, members may view it, but they may no longer post in it. Discussions in The Dump are not visible to unregistered members.
The Dump is periodically emptied out of old discussions, usually once per month.
"Dumping" threads, rather than deleting them, offers several advantages:
--Members feel more comfortable with the understanding that their posts will not just disappear out of the blue.
--Members can view Dumped discussions to understand what type of communication lies outside of our guidelines.
--The Dump can be used as a holding-grounds for a thread that is pending moderation.
Essentially, Dumping a thread is like locking it, with the understanding that, in a month or so, it will be deleted.
D. Debates vs. Personal Attacks
Part of the natural process of exchanging information is debate. In knowledge-based online communities such as this one, ideas are commonly debated among individual members and within small groups.
Encouraging debates is beneficial, as it tends to result in the discovery of additional knowledge.
A debate may end in a shared consensus among members, or it may have a clear winner or loser.
However, no one wins a fight.
When a debate degrades into a fight, it may need to be moderated. Typically, debates degrade when members begin to attack each other personally. People should argue ideas, not each other.
E. Non-Discrimination Policy
On Hotrodders.com, we are privileged enough to have members from all over the world, of many nationalities and ethnicities, across a wide range of cultural, socio-economic, and political backgrounds.
We want to keep it that way.
A "melting pot" of ideas and knowledge can only come from a wide and varying group of people.
F. Moderator Impartiality
Obviously, it's impossible for a person to be perfectly impartial all of the time.
Nevertheless, we try to apply moderating principles equally to everyone. This means that all moderators must "leave their attitude at the door", and try to handle all situations fairly.
The key to moderating is to be "moderate" while others are not. Communicate rationally and calmly, not emotionally. The best post while you are angry is none.
G. Actual Moderation Tasks
Post and thread moderation tasks are performed via a "moderator menu" that will appear on your screen when you are logged in to the board.
Additionally, other moderation tasks may be performed via a special "moderator control panel", at this link: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/modcp .
Both the moderator menu and the moderator control panel are discussed in detail, later in this guide.
While moderators are responsible for the basic day-to-day moderation tasks on the board, their more important role is to assist in decisions that affect the governing of this community. We'll typically have discussions in the Hotrodders Moderators forum that cover board administration, moderation, and new development. This is where your knowledge and experience will be most valued.
II. Deciding When to Edit Posts
A. When to Edit for Profanity
We don't allow "profanity" on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Obviously, the definition of "profanity" is different everywhere.
We maintain a list of words that are automatically edited by the board software. When these words are detected in posts, the board software will remove them, and substitute asterisk characters in place of each letter in an offending word.
If you see a new word that you feel should be added to our automatic profanity filter, post about it in the Hotrodders Moderators forum.
Despite the automatic profanity filter, people will still occasionally use profanity on the board.
People may sometimes attempt to override the profanity filter by changing one or more characters in a profane word such that the filter does not detect it, and the bulk of the word is still readable. We don't allow this.
In such cases, the offending post will have to be manually edited for profanity.
To edit a post for profanity, remove the profane words, and substitute asterisks for them.
B. When to Edit for Advertising
We don't allow "advertising" on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board. Obviously, the definition of "advertising" is different everywhere.
We want business owners to be able to discuss and mention their products and their companies. However, we don't want them to advertise their wares. We also want to encourage an environment where people feel free to discuss their favorite parts sources and websites. But we don't want people promoting their personal financial interests on the board.
Members will often post about a specific product, company, or website. The vast majority of the time, posts like this are useful and helpful. However, once in a while, someone will exploit this ability to promote their own financial interests. This small percentage of advertising in posts has to actively policed, or it grows.
When you see a post that includes a link to a website, or contains phone, email, or physical address contact details for a business, first determine if the linked or posted resource is considered informational, or commercial. Then, determine if the poster gains financially from posting the resource.
Informational resources (links to articles, tech specs, knowledge websites, how-tos, etc.) can be freely posted by anyone. People can post links to their favorite websites, webmasters of other sites can post links to articles on their sites, administrators of other forums can post links to their forums, etc.
Commercial contact information (addresses of companies, links to parts websites) can be freely posted by anyone who doesn't gain financially from posting the resource.
This generally extends to business owners and employees. They can mention their businesses, their business activities, and their business name, but we don't allow them to put specific business contact details (phone numbers, business email addresses, physical addresses, and website urls) in the text of posts, images/attachments to posts, avatars, or custom user titles.
We do allow people to put their company url in their user profile. Then, they are free to say: "check out my profile for a link to my site".
If people aren't affiliated with a business or a website, they may discuss it as often as they like, and post links, addresses, etc.
We also don't allow "aggressive" business promotion in posts. This is a more subjective issue, so you will have to use your best judgement. Sometimes business owners will push their products without actually mentioning their specific business contact details -- we don't allow this. Usually, the following are signs of "aggressive" business promotion: mentioning specific product pricing, discussing specific transactions with board members, or repeated and continuous posting about products or services.
Links to business websites posted by business owners/employees are explicitly forbidden, both for reasons of blatant advertising, and for reasons of "link spamming", the boost that websites get by posting links to their sites on other sites. For more information on link spamming, see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forum_spam .
Usually, it's fairly obvious whether a specific website is commercial, or knowledge-based. If you can't make the distinction, just post in the Hotrodders Moderators forum to see what other mods think.
For more details on our exact business posting policy, see this link: http://www.hotrodders.com/help/board/business.html .
When Dumping a thread that contains advertising, be sure to first edit out any advertising. This renders the advertisement completely ineffective, even for those members who may be viewing the Dumped thread.
C. When to Edit for Copy-Pasting
We don't allow large chunks of text (more than a few sentences) to be copy-pasted on to the board. It's bad netiquette, it's inefficient, it's unoriginal, and it's usually violative of copyright law.
Our full copy-pasting policy can be viewed at this link: http://www.hotrodders.com/help/board/copy-pasting.html .
When you see a post with a chunk of copy-pasted text, it will need to be edited.
D. When to Edit for Reprinting Private Messages
We don't allow people to reprint private messages on the public forums. If you see someone reprinting a verbatim private message in an unfriendly manner, during a conflict, it will need to be edited out.
III. Deciding When to Moderate Threads
A. When to Move a Legitimate Thread
Occasionally, moderators will need to move a thread from one forum to another.
If a thread has been mis-posted in the wrong technical forum, then it needs to be moved to the proper one. For example, if a user posts a question about brakes, but posts the question in the Engine forum, then, obviously, the thread should be moved to the Suspension-Brakes-Steering forum. However, some mis-posts of technical questions will not be so clearly defined. There are unavoidable "overlaps" in any categorization of technical questions. For example, threads pertaining to engine electrical issues may reasonably be posted in either the Engine or Electrical forums. In such situations, just use your best judgement. If a thread has some relevance in a certain forum, leave it alone. If it's an obvious mis-post, move it to the proper forum.
Threads that focus on basic or beginner technical issues should be moved to the Hotrodding Basics forum. The Hotrodding Basics forum covers all technical automotive categories (Engine, Suspension-Brakes-Steering, Transmission-Rearend, etc.). Obviously, the determination as to what qualifies as "Basic" is subjective. Use your best judgement, and communicate with your fellow moderators to establish a working definition of "Basic" in your forum. Stick to your definition. Don't let a "How do I rebuild my 350 Chevy for the first time?" question sit in the Engine forum un-moved. If a technical forum gets overrun with beginner discussions, then we will lose the interest of our more experienced and knowledgeable members.
If a thread is not focused on a technical issue, but it does pertain to automobiles, then it belongs in the Hotrodders' Lounge. This includes casual automotive chat, automotive news, and automotive opinion. Users may occasionally post chatty automotive threads in technical forums, because they are accustomed to posting in those technical forums. Such threads belong in the Hotrodders' Lounge. We encourage these types of discussions, because they foster a casual, automotive-based discussion environment. However, if we allow them to continue in tech forums, then the tech-centered purpose of these forums will become diluted.
If a thread has nothing whatsoever to do with automobiles, tools, engineering, or any related areas of discussion, then it belongs in the Off-Topic forum. This typically includes discussions about politics, religion, music, etc. We prefer not to "forbid" discussions of politics or personal issues on this board, because we tend to lean in favor of free speech. However, we've noticed that allowing these types of discussions to integrate with our automotive discussions swiftly leads to a degradation of the quality and quantity of the automotive knowledge that we aggregate. If there is some justification for allowing a thread to remain in the Lounge, then leave it there. For example, in the past, we've had political discussions pertaining to automotive legislation, discussions about music related to hotrodding, and even discussions about hot rod themed religions. All of those discussions can fit comfortably in the Hotrodders' Lounge.
When moving a thread, you will have three different options: "Move thread to destination forum", "Move thread and leave redirect in previous forum", and "Copy thread to destination forum". The second option ("Move thread and leave redirect in previous forum") is the default selection. When moving a thread with this option, a link to the moved thread will remain in the original forum. This allows users to find the thread after it has been moved. It's especially useful for threads that you think may have been accidentally mis-posted, perhaps by new users. Occasionally, you may want to move a thread without leaving the redirect link in its previous forum. This is useful for Dumped threads. Use your best judgement as to whether it makes sense to leave a redirect link or not. Keep in mind that, when you don't leave a redirect link, users will occasionally complain that the thread has been "deleted", at which point you will have to explain that it has merely been moved to the proper forum. The "Copy thread to destination forum" option is rarely used. It copies a thread into another forum, while leaving the original thread intact.
B. When to Dump a Thread
Entire threads are generally Dumped when they have degraded beyond the point of civil discussion, without any reasonable hope of bringing them back.
If a thread is mostly composed of blatant spam, then it's usually just deleted, rather than Dumped.
If a thread has degraded beyond civility, but it contains valuable tech information, then it's usually locked, rather than Dumped. This preserves the technical knowledge in the thread.
If the bulk of a thread contains posts with reasonable, helpful technical discussion, but the thread has degraded due to a small amount of posts, then those specific posts can be split out into a separate thread, in The Dump.
C. When to Split a Thread
Individual threads can be dissected post-by-post, and split into two different threads. The best use for this is in technical discussions that include sporadic conflicts between members. For example, there may be a high-quality technical discussion that is being spoiled by a handful of uncivilized posts. In this case, you can split the undesirable posts out to a separate thread in The Dump. This preserves the original discussion, and prevents you from having to deal with backlash for "deleting" posts. It also allows members to review the Dumped posts, to gain an understanding of what's considered acceptable in a forum discussion.
D. When to Stick or Unstick a Thread
"Sticking" a thread moves it to the top of the list in any forum. This is helpful for threads that pertain to common questions or issues. Our current rules for sticking threads are as follows:
- Every forum (with the exception of the moderator forums and The Dump) has two locked, permanent stickies containing the forum guidelines and a tutorial for posting pictures and videos.
- Every forum (with the exception of the moderator forums and The Dump) can have one permanent sticky with links to highlighted threads from that forum.
- Moderators can stick one additional thread of their choosing, for a maximum period of one month. After this time period elapses, the thread must be unstuck, and, if desired, a link to the thread can be added to the permanent sticky mentioned in #2 above.
E. When to Lock a Thread
In addition to Dumping and splitting threads, you also have the option of locking threads. Locking a thread prevents anyone from posting in it. Although, you can unlock a thread as easily as you locked it.
If a technical thread contains an extended conflict that you don't think you can solve by diplomatic intervention, splitting out offensive posts, or editing, then you should consider locking it. Threads are typically locked when they contain valuable tech information that shouldn't be removed from the board, but when they have degraded beyond the point of civility.
Lock threads sparingly. Locking threads is typically a one-hour procedure. 5 seconds to select the "Lock" command -- and 59 minutes and 55 seconds writing posts explaining your decision to lock the thread.
IV. Moderating and Disciplining Individual Members
A. Summary of Member Disciplining
Just as individual posts and threads occasionally need to be moderated, individual members will need similar moderation and disciplining.
As with intervention in discussions, intervention among individual members should be kept to a bare minimum. We want to impose the least possible amount of government.
Despite this desire, there will occasionally be certain members who disrupt the exchange of knowledge so much that they must be individually disciplined. This includes regular members who occasionally break our established code of conduct, and users who join with the specific intent of disrupting a community.
"Troll" is the label applied to someone who posts offensive messages on the internet in an attempt to disrupt a discussion. For a detailed explanation of internet trolls, see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll .
Be certain to understand the difference between a troll and a spammer. A spammer posts for financial gain. A troll posts for the joy of disruption.
Also, be sure not to confuse a misbehaving regular member with a troll. When established members repeatedly break our rules of conduct, they may need minor disciplining. Trolls do not respond favorably to disciplinary measures.
Blaming a troll for his or her conduct, while it may be accurate, is generally useless. It's similar to blaming bugs or rodents that make their way into your home. Yelling at a mouse will not cause a mouse to leave. It's your responsibility to patch up any holes, and to establish a reliable system for reducing future occurrences. However, no matter what you do, occasionally a bee will fly into your living room, or a mouse will make its way into your walls.
C. Multiple Memberships
We don't allow people to have multiple memberships in this community. A single person should have a single username.
Occasionally, some people may have registered multiple memberships, either because they forgot their password, got a new email address, or some other innocuous reason. We typically don't pursue such situations, as the multiple registrations are generally an honest mistake.
However, sometimes a person will intentionally register and use multiple usernames. This is typically done for purposes of disruption, or advertising. When a person intentionally uses multiple memberships on the board to pretend to be multiple people, then we intervene.
In such a situation, the first logical step is to determine that a single person is indeed using multiple registrations. Before confronting a person about using multiple registrations, we must be certain that we are correct. To gain this certainty, there are several areas we examine: posts, profile, IP addresses, and user agents.
A single user posting under multiple usernames will generally post with a similar linguistic style. When trying to determine if two different users are indeed the same person, look to the way that they compose their posts. Are certain words always misspelled? Is the punctuation style identical? Try to get a feel for the way that users communicate.
When investigating potential multiple-registration situations, examine the user profiles of the usernames in question. A person using multiple registrations will often make the error of putting in identical profile characteristics (location, email address, etc.) in each of his different user profiles.
Beyond the obvious identical qualities of posts and profiles, the most useful tool for identifying users with multiple registrations is an examination of IP addresses and user agents.
D. Understanding IP Addresses and User Agents
A complete understanding of IP addresses is not possible without background knowledge of computer networking.
In this section, we'll try to reasonably explain IP addresses in non-techy language, so that moderators can understand how they apply to investigating multiple memberships on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board.
In the context of the Hotrodders Bulletin Board, an IP address is a unique address that a user's computer uses to access the board. For a more detailed explanation of IP addresses, see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address .
We can consider an IP address to be analogous to a physical mailing address. However, instead of "123 Main Street, Sacramento, California, USA", it appears more like this: 126.96.36.199.
However, due to the dynamic way that IP addresses are assigned, they're not nearly as reliable as physical mailing addresses. Two different people, on opposite ends of the globe, may be inadvertently assigned the same IP address. Also, the same person, visiting the board on two different occasions, from the same location, may have widely varying IP addresses.
In the context of the Hotrodders Bulletin Board, a user agent is the computer operating system and browser that a particular user uses when using the Hotrodders Bulletin Board. For a more detailed explanation of user agents, see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_agent .
Each time a user makes a post on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board, their IP address and user agent are recorded. To view the IP address and user agent associated with a post, simply click the computer icon that accompanies each post, as indicated in the screenshot below.
Upon clicking the computer icon, you'll be presented with three sets of information: IP and host address, alternate IP and host address, and user agent, as indicated in the screenshot below.
The IP and host address is the identifying information tied to each post. If two usernames have the exact same IP address, and they are both making offensive posts on the board, then that should be a big red flag that they are more than likely the same user.
The alt IP and host address are additional identifying pieces of information, typically useful when users are attempting to conceal or mask their IP addresses. Lacking an in-depth knowledge of IP addresses, people will typically fall prey to the promises of online "anonymizing" services, or "anonymous proxies". Thinking that their identities are safely concealed, they will then proceed to use multiple registrations on websites. In such situations, the "alt IP address" field can be used to demonstrate the underlying IP address of the user. If a user is trying to conceal their identity by using anonymizing software, or an anonymous proxy, look at the alt IP address field. There are more sophisticated ways to successfully conceal one's IP address, but users of our board are generally unfamiliar with such methods.
The user agent field will typically show a string of information that contains details on the user's computer operating system (Windows, Macintosh, etc.), and the browser that the user is using. Since many users have the same types of operating systems and browsers, this information alone is not a very reliable source of identification. However, it is useful as additional verification. Also, if certain users are reporting a problem with the board, it may be helpful to look at their user agents. You may discover a certain board error or bug that only occurs with specific operating systems or browsers.
Additionally, you may perform IP address searches via your moderator control panel. You can enter an IP address to see all of the users associated with that address, or you can enter a username to see all of the IP addresses used by that user. This process is explained in detail in the "Using the Moderator Control Panel" section of this guide.
E. Handling Trolls
Our philosophy is that antagonizing trolls perpetuates their existence. Bear in mind that the term "Troll" is used not only to signify an impish, wicked creature, but also is etymologically connected to the fishing technique known as "trolling". Trolls desire an emotional reaction to their posts, and they excel at "baiting" people to reply to them. The more attention given to them, the longer they will maintain their presence in a community. The best defense against trolls is generally thought to be ignoring them. This is well-communicated in the common internet saying: "Don't feed the trolls".
F. Disciplining Established Members
When established members break our guidelines, they generally only need to be reminded of the rules. Occasionally, a member will have to be warned that his conduct is out of line, and may result in disciplinary action. Very rarely, a member will need to be more actively disciplined. This is typically done by removal of posting privileges ("suspension"). In such a situation, a member will have his posting abilities removed for a predetermined period of time, but he will still be able to send PMs to other members.
In a community of tens of thousands of members, there will always be a portion of the membership that is being disciplined. We want to keep this portion as small as possible, while maintaining an overall civil environment on the board.
Removal of posting privileges is typically done after public and private admonishment has failed. We don't want our members to think that they can be suddenly cut off from the board population for violating a rule. This type of environment perpetuates paranoia among members, similar to what happens when posts are deleted "out of the blue".
By the time a member is having his posting privileges removed, it should come as no surprise to the rest of the board, because everyone has seen this member violate the guidelines, and been publicly warned.
First offenses are generally handled with a two week or month suspension of posting privileges. Additional offenses are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Suspension of established members is a carefully enacted process. It typically starts with a single person posting in the Hotrodders Moderators forum, listing the reasons that they think a certain member should be suspended. If there is a general consensus among moderators, then the suspension is applied by an administrator, a post describing the suspension is made in the Hotrodders' Lounge, and the suspension is lifted by the administrator when the predetermined period of suspension has elapsed.
Keep in mind that suspending people is not a fix-all solution. Suspensions often result in trolling or future disciplinary action.
Online communities are best kept peaceful by forming codes of conduct that are agreed-upon and fairly enforced, rather than by constantly suspending those who fall out of line. The fewer people we suspend, the fewer people we will have to suspend.
V. Step-by-Step Guide to Moderating Posts and Threads
A. Editing Posts
Posts will typically have to be edited if they contain profanity, advertisement, or copy-pasting.
To edit a post, click the "Edit" button that accompanies each post, as pictured in the screenshot below.
The post editing interface will then load in your screen.
First, remove the offensive text inside the posting box. Remove the smallest amount of text possible, replacing it with asterisks, as indicated in the screenshot below. You may also occasionally need to similarly edit the title of the post.
Then, select the reason for your edit from the "Reason for Editing" dropdown menu, as indicated in the screenshot below.
To edit a post with excessive copy-pasted text, remove the bulk of the copy-pasted text, but leave a small snippet of text intact. Usually, you can leave the first few sentences of the copy-pasted text. Then, insert a link to a place where someone can find the remainder of the copy-pasted text. If you're not sure where to find the original text, just use Google to search for it. Choose a unique sentence from the text, and perform a Google search for that text. Be certain to enclose the text in double-quote characters. This should result in several pages where the original text is printed. For more information on this, see our copy-pasting policy at: http://www.hotrodders.com/help/board/copy-pasting.html .
Regardless of why you are editing a post, don't insert your comments in the user's posting screen. This can often result in confusion -- it's difficult for readers to understand which text was the original post, and which was the moderator comment. Use asterisk characters (*) to indicate edited text. If you need to personally confront a member, or warn them about their conduct, do it via PM. Edit the post, not the member.
B. Deleting Single Posts
We typically only delete posts if they are accidental double-posts, or if they are blatant, obvious spam posts. Even in such cases, we only "soft-delete" posts. This means that the posts become invisible to regular members, but moderators and administrators will still be able to see them.
By Dumping or editing posts rather than deleting them, we eliminate the paranoia that arises from members thinking that their posts can be wiped out at any time. People understand that offensive posts get separated out into The Dump, or edited. This way, each moderated post serves as an example to our members; people have an opportunity to see exactly the type of conduct that is not acceptable.
By soft-deleting posts, we can quickly remove them from general viewing, while still leaving a visible record of the post for moderators and administrators to see.
To soft-delete a post, click the "Edit" button that accompanies the post you wish to delete. On the resulting screen, click the "Delete Message" radio button, and enter your reason for deletion in the "Reason for Deletion" text box, as indicated in the screenshot below.
Typical reasons for deletion include: "Spam" or "Duplicate". When you're done, just click the "Delete this Message" button.
C. Using the Moderator Menu
Most thread moderating tasks are performed via a special moderation menu that only appears for moderators when they are logged into the board. In most cases, this menu will appear in the "Thread Tools" menu towards the top of your screen, as indicated in the screenshot below.
However, on certain browsers and operating systems, the same moderating tasks are accessed via a menu on the bottom of your screen, as indicated in the screenshot below.
Regardless of which menu appears on your system, they both have the exact same functionality.
D. Closing and Opening Threads
Threads are typically closed (or "locked") when they have degraded beyond the point of civil discussion, but they contain valuable technical information that should not be sent to The Dump.
To close a thread, simply select "Close Thread" from the moderator menu. Nobody will be able to post in the thread after it is locked. Additionally, a padlock icon will appear next to the thread, indicating its locked status to users.
If a thread has already been closed, you can use the moderator menu to open it. Simply select the "Open Thread" option from the moderator menu. The thread will be returned to standard open status.
E. Moving Threads
Threads will need to be moved when they have been placed in the wrong forum, or when they are being Dumped.
To move a thread, simply select "Move/Copy Thread" from the moderator menu. On the resulting screen, you may choose a new title for the thread, select the destination forum to which to move it, and choose a redirect option. Press the "Move/Copy Thread" button when complete.
F. Sticking and Unsticking Threads
Threads are stuck to the top of forums to draw greater attention to them. To stick a thread, simply select "Stick Thread" from the moderator menu.
If a thread is already stuck, you can unstick it by selecting "Unstick Thread" from the moderator menu.
G. Editing Threads
The process of "Editing" a thread generally refers to editing the attributes of the entire thread, rather than editing the text of the posts within the thread. To access the editing interface for a thread, select "Edit Thread" from the moderator menu.
The first option available in the thread editing interface is a text box for editing the title of a thread. This can be done for advertising or profanity, but it's most useful for editing thread titles that aren't sufficiently descriptive. For example, a thread titled: "need help" can be edited to: "troubleshooting backfiring problem", etc.
You can also use the thread editing interface to add moderator-only notes to a thread, or to adjust the open/closed and sticky/un-sticky attributes of a thread.
H. Deleting Threads
Entire threads are typically only deleted when they are blatant spam. To delete a thread, select the "Delete Thread" option from the moderator menu. On the resulting screen, select the "Soft Delete" radio button, enter a reason for deleting the thread in the "Reason for Deletion" box, and click the "Delete Thread" button.
The deleted thread will still be visible to moderators and administrators, but not to the general board population.
I. Deleting Multiple Posts in a Thread
The "Delete Posts" option is generally only useful for removing blatant spam posts from an otherwise valuable, civilized discussion.
To delete specific posts from a thread, select the "Delete Posts" option from the moderator menu. From there, adjust the checkboxes accompanying each post. Posts with a checked checkbox will be deleted. Once you have checked the offensive post(s), click the "Delete Posts" button at the bottom of your screen.
J. Merging Threads
Threads are rarely merged. However, once in a while it's helpful to combine two threads together.
Two threads are merged when they cover the exact same topic, and there is confusion as to which thread is which. When threads are merged, the posts in both threads are combined into one thread, with all of the posts appearing in standard chronological order.
To merge two threads, first select "Merge Threads" from the moderator menu. On the resulting screen, simply enter a title for the new thread, and enter the url of the thread with which you wish to merge the current thread.
After merging two threads, you may have to make a short post in the merged thread, alerting users to the fact that this thread is the result of two previous threads which have now been merged into one.
K. Splitting Threads
"Splitting" a thread is the opposite of merging a thread. When splitting a thread, you can select certain posts that will be separated out of the thread, and moved into a new thread. Posts in the new thread will appear in chronological order.
Threads are typically split when a civilized, valuable tech discussion gets out of hand. Rather than sending the entire thread to The Dump, if you think you can restore civility to the discussion by sending only a few posts to The Dump, then try splitting it.
To split a thread, first select "Split Thread" from the moderator menu. On the resulting screen, enter a title for the new thread (or leave the title untouched), and select a destination forum from the dropdown menu (this will usually be "The Dump"). Then, scroll down and make sure that only the posts you wish to split have their accompanying checkboxes checked.
Once you're certain that only the desired posts are checked, click the "Split Thread" button at the bottom of your screen.
L. Removing Redirects
When you move a thread from forum into another, you have the option of leaving a "redirect" link in the original forum.
If you choose to leave a redirect link in the original forum, but then wish to remove the redirect link, you can do so with the "Remove Redirects" option.
Simply select "Remove Redirects" from the moderator menu, and the redirect link will be removed.
M. Thread Moderation Flowchart
Here's a flowchart to help you understand how to moderate threads.
To follow the flowchart, just start at the top. Yellow shapes indicate decisions, and green shapes indicate actions. When you reach a red shape, you're done.
Here's a link to the flowchart: Thread Moderation Flowchart
VI. Using the Moderator Control Panel
A. Summary of the Moderator Control Panel
The moderator control panel offers access to a variety of moderator-only privileges for effective moderation of threads and members.
The moderator control panel is typically used to search for user IP addresses, to ban users, and to rate new moderator applications.
To access the moderator control panel, visit the following link: http://www.hotrodders.com/forum/modcp, and enter your board username and password.
B. Searching for User IP Addresses
To search IP addresses, click the "Search IP Addresses" link on the left-hand side of your moderator control panel screen. The IP address search interface will load on the right-hand side of your screen. Using the IP address search interface, you can enter either an IP address in the topmost box, or a username in the middle box. Then, click the "Find" button. Be patient, the search may take a while to complete.
Once the search is complete, you'll be presented with a list of IP addresses. You can click on each IP address to see the host address associated with that IP address. Or, you can click on the "Find More Users with this IP Address" link that accompanies each IP address, to get a list of all the users that have used that particular IP address.
C. Banning Users
User bans are typically only applied to obvious trolls or spammers.
To ban a spammer, select the "Ban User" link on the left-hand side of your moderator control panel screen. The user banning interface will load on the right-hand side of your screen. Simply enter the desired username in the top box, select "Suspended Users" from the middle dropdown menu, then select "Permanent - Never Lift Ban" from the bottom dropdown menu, and click the "Ban User" button on the bottom.
When disciplining members who are not spammers, any moderator can instantly assign a temporary ban period of up to 2 weeks. To temporarily ban a member, select the "Ban User" link on the left-hand side of your moderator control panel screen. After the user banning interface loads, enter the desired username in the top box, select "Temporary Suspension" from the middle dropdown menu, and then select the proper period of time (up to 2 weeks) from the bottom dropdown menu. Finally, click the "Ban User" button on the bottom.
After you have temporarily banned a user, please send that user a PM explaining why they were banned, and how long their ban period will be.
To ban a member for a period of longer than 2 weeks, please start a poll in the moderator forum.
D. Rating Moderator Applications
New moderators are chosen from among the general member population. To become a moderator on the Hotrodders Bulletin Board, members must fill out a moderator application form. All application forms are viewable via your moderator control panel. You can comment on moderator applicants, and assign a 1-10 numerical rating for each application. New moderators are chosen primarily based on comments and ratings from current moderators.
Other moderators will be able to see the average ratings for each applicant, and the number of moderators that rated the application. Only administrators can see the specific comments made on each application, and the specific numeric rating assigned by each moderator.
When a new application is submitted, you will see an automated thread placed in the Hotrodders Moderators forum, with a link to your moderator control panel so that you can rate and review the new applicant.
To rate new moderator applications, click the "Rate New Applications" link on the left-hand side of your moderator control panel screen. The moderator application rating interface will load on the right-hand side of your screen. You will see an alphabetized list of member applicants, with the average rating and number of ratings for each applicant. To the right of your screen, you will see a "rate it" link accompanying each applicant username. To rate that user's application, simply click the "rate it" link. From there, you'll be able to read each complete application, and then add your own numerical rating and comments. Click the "Save" button at the bottom of your screen when you've finished rating and commenting on the application.
When rating new applicants, be sure to consider all facets of the applicant and the application. While tech knowledge is important, so are diplomacy and overall "moderate" character.
E. Moderating Spam Posts
If a user has less than 5 posts on the board, his posts will automatically be scanned for spam keywords prior to appearing on the board. This helps to prevent automated spamming of the board. Unfortunately, this also generates some "false positives" -- posts made by legitimate users, that were tagged as spam because they contained certain words, such as "free", "pharmacy", etc.
All posts that were tagged as spam are put into a "moderation queue". You will have to manually approve them before they will appear on the board. To approve posts in your moderation queue, simply click the "Moderate Posts" link on the left-hand side of your moderator control panel. From there, you can choose to Delete or Validate any potentially spammy posts.
VII. Miscellaneous Moderator Information
It is assumed that moderators will have a general presence on the board. This typically involves monitoring the board, and posting, at least a couple of times per week. This is intended to be a casual, mostly-fun experience, rather than a tedious commitment.
If you're going to be absent for more than a week, it's considered courteous to just put a quick post in the moderator forum, letting everyone know that you won't be around.
Moderators are allowed signatures. Signatures ("sigs") are small amounts of text that are automatically added to every post you make. Feel free to place whatever you want in your sig. Sigs typically include favorite quotations, or links to webpages. Linking to your project journal, another favorite website, or a chosen webpage, is perfectly acceptable. You may even include multiple links in your sig, as well as links to other knowledge-based websites with which you are affiliated. The only thing we don't allow is putting links to businesses with which you are affiliated in your sig.
You can adjust your signature by clicking on "User CP" at the top-left of any board page, and then clicking on "Edit Signature" on the resulting page.
C. Urban Legends
Bear in mind that users may occasionally post information that qualifies as "urban legend".
Nobody is informationally-perfect. As humans, a portion of the information that we exchange with each other will be incorrect. Those with greater informational skills and experience will typically have much higher percentages of accurate information exchanges. Those with less experience may occasionally share information that simply isn't aligned with the truth. However, even the smartest and most savvy people will occasionally post something that turns out to be incorrect.
The web is a treasure trove of knowledge, with more information than all of the world's libraries combined. However, there is a great deal of inaccurate, poorly verified, and simply untrue information. Learn to distinguish.
Forums are breeding grounds for urban legends. Most of them can be verified at common urban legend websites, such as Snopes.com, Purportal.com or TruthOrFiction.com . Posts that contain inflammatory political "believe it or not" copy-pasted text are often urban legends.
Beyond obvious "urban legends", learn basic skills to critically analyze webpages. Here's a good resource with basic techniques for analyzing the accuracy of information presented on the web: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html .
D. Member Privacy
Privacy is a big issue on the web. We want to be able to communicate freely, and make use of what is said to be the most open communication medium in history. However, we also want to be able to maintain the privacy and respect that typically accompanies person-to-person communication.
On the board, users have two basic ways of communicating amongst themselves: by posting, and by sending "private messages" (PMs). Obviously, posting is a very public form of communication. Anyone (even unregistered members) can read public posts, and anyone who posts understands this.
However, we want our users to also be able to communicate privately, safe in the knowledge that nobody is looking over their shoulder, reading their private thoughts or personal communications.
Members will occasionally send PMs to moderators which pertain to issues on the board. As this is often done in confidence, we have a strict policy of not reprinting member PMs without specific member permission. This includes the text of PMs sent to you by members, as well as any additional PMs from another member that may have been forwarded to you. These PMs are not to be reprinted in public board forums, in the moderator forum, or forwarded to other members, moderators, or administrators without member permission.
In certain situations, it's considered acceptable to summarize PMs sent to you by members. For example, you may say: "I just received a PM from such-and-such member. He's angry over the recent editing of his post in the Engine forum". If you need to copy-paste a PM from a member into the moderator forum, or forward a PM to an administrator, you will need to obtain permission from that member. Simply ask the member privately, in a PM: "May I have your permission to reprint the text of your PM in the moderator forum?", or "May I forward your PM to an administrator?". The vast majority of the time, the member will say "yes".
Additionally, we make efforts to respect the "offline" lives and identities of our members. In rare cases, such as when a member is repeatedly terrorizing the board with frequent postings and fake memberships, we will analyze the information at hand, and try to intervene in any way possible. Beyond these extremely rare situations, we try to ensure that members' personal lives remain personal.
E. Closing Polls
When a new post is made in a thread, the thread is "bumped" back to the top of the list of threads. Similarly, when a new vote is made in a poll, the poll is bumped back to the top, whether or not someone posted in the thread.
This is occasionally an annoyance. To prevent this, please feel free to close polls when they have reached the end of their usefulness. To do this, click the "Edit Poll" link at the right-hand side of the poll title. On the resulting screen, scroll down and you will see a checkbox that says: "To close this poll, check this box.". Simply check the box, and click the "Save Changes" button to close the poll.
F. Deleting Classified Ads
As a moderator, you also have the ability to delete ads in the Hotrodders Classifieds. If you encounter an ad that violates our Classifieds Guidelines, please delete it. If you're unsure as to whether an ad violates our guidelines, please feel free to ask about it in the Hotrodders Moderators forum.
To delete an ad in the Hotrodders Classifieds, simply click the "Delete Ad" checkbox towards the bottom of the ad, and then press the "Submit" button. The ad will be deleted, and the member who placed the ad will receive an email notifying them that their ad has been deleted. The automated email also includes a link to our Classifieds Guidelines.