Puritan Board Member and Moderator Rules of Behavior

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Members, as well as moderators and administrators (hereafter moderators), often get keenly involved in topics that cross some predetermined lines of conduct for the board. This is simply our human nature, but rather than simply have loose moderating or a free for all that simply allows indiscreet, contentious and unedifying conduct to go on, the PB evolved to and has been for some years a tightly moderated confessional (review this) discussion board. That is the goal, however imperfectly performed.

In light of a couple of recent discussions which got out of hand the moderators would like to remind all members to review the rules for behavior for the board (link). In addition, the moderators have refreshed themselves on the rules drafted over the years as far as their own behavior in moderating discussions in the various forums of the board. While members need not know all these rules or see themselves as the watchdog per se of moderator behavior, the moderators believe it would be useful for members to know or be reminded of the moderator role when a discussion gets out of hand. That way we all, member and moderator alike, can be accountable.

Behavior. Again, members should review the rules that govern their conduct at all times on the board. Moderators are also bound by these rules, but in addition, in any discussion where moderators participate, while they have as much a right to a point of view as members, they are always to have in view the general edification of the board and not just their own particular position on a subject.

Misbehavior. When a member is seen as crossing general or board specific rules of behavior, members should use the report post function to notify moderators. A moderator will act on that report and will “own that thread” from that point. This will also limit to an extent his participation on the thread. If moderators are already involved in the discussion, one that isn’t or less so will moderate, or in doing so will lessen his involvement, and all other moderators are to defer to his efforts until the issue is resolved. The moderator will determine if the report is justified and act to edit, remove, warn, etc. If he determines the report was premature, the reporting member should not take offense. It is simply a difference of opinion and no judgment on the member. If a member thinks a moderator’s posts are the ones that are out of line on a thread, wait before reporting the post to see if a moderator online acts. If more than sufficient time (a few hours) has elapsed then report the post. Again, if the reviewing moderators disagree this is not a slam against the member’s judgment.

When it is You. If a moderator has stepped in to moderate and has given a general directive, and if a member disregards it intentionally or inadvertently, he will receive a private warning and a post may also go on the thread depending on the nature of the case (moderator discretion). Or a member may receive a specific warning as to his behavior. The member should take no offense as the moderators are simply trying to run the board. But if a member thinks the action was so wrong that he must object, he may contact the moderators to review the action through the report system (do not use the conversation system to contact a specific moderator; this simply delays matters). Any contact should be temperate and prudent if the member wants his case to be heard, and in borderline cases good behavior will give the member a good deal of benefit of the doubt. A tirade or exercise of venting will likely simply get a member suspended.

Below is a summary of some of the moderator rules of behavior so members can know what to expect from them.

Moderators are the referees on the playing field here at PB. They are not often all online (so acting in conference is rare) and the goal when moderating is to act expeditiously. Mistakes will happen or a member may feel a lighter hand should have been taken. No offense should be taken; it is not personal. For severe disagreement (if you feel so aggrieved that live and let live is insufficient), use the report feature noted above. Please review this.

The moderators know they are always seen as a moderator by others no matter what they are posting. While members should not perceive a moderator’s personal view as the board’s official view, moderators understand that potential and try to conduct themselves accordingly.

PRIME DIRECTIVE. Members should know if it is not apparent, that avoiding ninth commandment violations (review this and this) is a moderator's prime directive. Accordingly, moderators try to steer discussions toward topics and away from individuals and making things personal. Otherwise discussions often devolve into charges and counter charges. This is a mere discussion board; it is not a church (see this), and we don't conduct ecclesiastical trials. The moderators cannot be looked upon as functioning as some kind of court of review to determine an individual’s orthodoxy.

Moderator rules of behavior include the following which members may also benefit from observing:
When venturing into the forums go through the following sort of pilot checklist before you weigh in:

1. Will it edify or significantly inform a useful conversation (Mark 12:29–31; 1 Cor. 14:26)?

2. Will it be easily misunderstood (John 13:7; 16:12)?

3. Will it reach the right audience (Mark 4:9)?

4. Will it help your evangelism (Col. 1:28–29)?

5. Will it bring about unnecessary and unhelpful controversy (Titus 3:9)?

6. Will it embarrass or offend (1 Cor. 12:21–26)?

7. Will it convey care (1 Cor. 12:21–26)?

8. Will it make people better appreciate someone else (1 Cor. 12:21–26)?

9. Is it boasting (Prov. 27:2)?

10. Is the tone appropriate (2 John 1, 12; Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:29; 2 Tim. 2:24–25)?

11. Is it wrong to say nothing (Rom. 1:14)?

12. What do others advise (Prov. 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)?
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