Moderators are people who are attentive to detail and fair-minded by nature, whose judgement I trust. Mods watch teams that are not their own and whom they do not have a rivalry with, and the team assignments are changed every cycle to keep things neutral and fair. Mod duties consist of:
- Check the weekly links (full-duty teams) and team threads (all teams) to make sure everyone is meeting commitments and that everything seems to be constructive in nature. Don’t worry about making different teams work the same way as each other as long as they’re all happy within the individual team. Be a neutral point of contact in case of dispute.
- Answer questions or nudge participation in any “good cop” way they feel comfortable, or pass on anything they do not feel comfortable handling. You can do this on any team, no matter who the assigned mod is. The only purpose of assigning mods is to make sure distribution is even and no one gets overlooked. We all get busy with real life and have each other’s backs if the assigned mod is away.
- Draw everyone’s attention to any volatile situations immediately, and provide a group of neutral, fair observers to weigh in on the appropriate course of action in volatile situations.
- Assess the participation and attitude of members. Add to the records to help spot endemic problems. You don’t need to read every crit or post; spot checking is fine. What’s important is that you have a general sense of whether or not everyone is happy. Report in the team threads on your assigned teams at least twice per cycle. Continue using the same thread per team over time even as mods switch. Report in the member spreadsheet on individuals after any conflict (including parties not in the wrong, so we don’t misremember someone as “always getting into conflicts” when they merely happened to witness a conflict and answer our questions about it.) and otherwise as needed.
- Please make sure everyone is in the loop when there is an issue–notify the other mods and the team captain. If you are jumping in to cover another mod, please notify everyone so we don’t accidentally all message the same person at once.
- Anyone is welcome and encouraged to flag any member for a known conflict of personality, with themselves or others, at any time. This is NOT punitive and just a way to avoid bad pairings. A flagged member can still be in good standing, be a captain, or be a mod. We are all human and it is okay to not get along perfectly with everyone. Mods are welcome and encouraged to express bias for or against someone in a juried case; it is a single vote. No one will be punished or given impunity on the basis of a single vote, but it is valid to consider how someone being judged treats everyone, including mods.
- Please freely suggest any policy you think should be modified, changed, created, discarded, whatever, and please weigh in on any discussions about similar subjects. You’re all here because I trust you to generally be level-headed, fair, and sane, and that you understand the main point of the Ubergroup. For the most part, communicate the shit out of everything and make sure everyone is working as hard as promised and being friendly, and it’s all good.
Dispute resolution policy:
If any member has a complaint about another member, or you observe possible tension, please create a thread for the issue in the mod group (title with names, team names, and cycle) and link the individual case thread in the stickied “Juried Issues” to call for a jury. A minimum of three mods who are not involved in the situation must volunteer to serve as jury (All mods please subscribe to notifications for “Juried Issues” to see requests for jury) but more than three are welcome to join if there is time and interest.
The point of contact mod collects all relevant information: the perspectives of all members involved (and their witnessing teammates as appropriate) and all relevant crits, discussion posts, and pm records and posts it to the individual case thread. The mod jury reads all relevant material and together decides the best course of action. Mods who are involved in the situation may testify to their own perspective, but not vote on their own case.
The guiding principles by which decisions should be made are:
- Can we resolve this non-punitively? 90% of disagreements are due to miscommunication and mismatched expectations, and can be resolved with a little bit of explaining on both sides and sometimes a team-swap to pair them with better-suited members.
- How can we make this constructive for as many people as possible? The Ubergroup is fundamentally an exchange of effort for effort. No one is being paid to be a one-way writing tutor or emotional counsellor. Every member must be a net positive in contribution to the Ubergroup as a whole, able to provide benefit to others in some way, through critique, discussion, mediation, leadership, or morale.
- How is their attitude? Mistakes are forgivable, as is temper. Spite and selfishness are not. Do they care about the success of their teammates? Are they willing to take correction? Do they attempt to prioritize their obligations and to communicate well? Do they uphold the basic principles of work ethic, communication, and helping each other succeed?
There are three steps of interaction with any member in an issue:
- Gather information; offer to be their advocate. No matter what complaints have been raised or how their behaviour in thread/crit seems, give the benefit of the doubt that there may be some extenuating circumstance. Ask as a friend and advocate if everything is okay and what their side of the story is. No judgement may proceed until all sides of all stories have been heard.
- Gentle correction. After all information has been gathered and evaluated by the jury, explain to all parties as needed what everyone is being asked to do to correct the situation. Use a “good cop” tone.
- Removal. As a last resort, if a member is repeatedly unwilling or unable to modify their behaviour as requested, and thus have become a net loss to the constructiveness of the Ubergroup, the member will be removed. Final warnings and removals are issued only by me.
For new member reference: The majority of “disputes” are actually minor miscommunications that are easily resolved by a few PMs between mods. Only five people have ever been removed under Step 3 from the Ubergroup over the last three years. It’s hard to get kicked out; you really have to try to be a dick and totally ignore multiple attempts to work with you.
“Removed” does not count people who have left voluntarily; many people for whom writing is a hobby just don’t have enough time for our pace. About 30% of members drop out of their own accord after a few cycles if the system doesn’t mesh with their life. I periodically clean out inactive members to keep our roster accurate, but such members are welcome to re-apply at any time and will be welcome to bid for team openings during week 5 with “veteran member” priority.
Team mods rotate every cycle to keep a fresh perspective. There are permanent mods for single-cycle workshops (not all workshops run every cycle) and other ongoing functions where the applicable members rotate.