Moderation note: do you see a need for a giraffe?

[Updated – please scroll down for Addendums 1 (2013-02-08) and 2 (2013-03-20)]

Firstly: the moderators are all currently more busy than usual, so the two current sex work threads that are full of stoush/flame disruptions have both been placed into full moderation to allow for adequate scrutiny by the moderators as time allows.  This is not an invitation to take those discussions to any other threads on which they would be off-topic, and malfeasants in this regard will have their comments, and any responding comments, deleted without notice.

    Addit:

  • 1a. Since moderation matters are being discussed, some general discussion on moderation issues is on-topic for this post.

Secondly, in order to facilitate timely moderator attention to malfeasants, we have decided to emulate the brilliant Cat Valente’s “Miss Bennet Disapproves” moderator signal.  The idea is that if a commentor sees a comment that appears to breach the Feministe comments policy, please reply to that comment using the special moderator signal phrase.

the head of a giraffe against a bright blue sky: its mouth is pursed sidewaysA few weeks ago I introduced the Fluffinator moderation mode for particularly egregious abusive comments, it includes a picture of a Disapproving Giraffe and the replacement of the original comment text with Fluffiness.  The Giraffe abides, awaiting further deployment, so the code phrase I’ve chosen is this:

“We need a giraffe here”

The use of this phrase will alert moderators that something needs to be looked at (we can search for the phrase when we log in comments including that phrase will trigger the moderation filter, so that they are placed in the moderation queue and the blog will send a notification to the moderation team).  The moderators might not agree with the reporter that the actual Giraffe i.e. a full Fluffination is needed, but it will alert us to problematic threads/subthreads so that we can decide what approach to the disruption is best.  The moderators will add a thank-you note to each Giraffe Alert comment so it can be seen that the reported comment has been inspected (and will also let us see at a glance in the back-end which reports are still outstanding).

It will also alert us, inevitably, to those who decide to misuse this reporting technique vexatiously.  Welcome to permanent moderation status for all your comments if you vex the moderators, mmkay?

The moderators are currently discussing a few more moderation innovations.  We will let you know when they have been decided upon.


Addendum 1 (in response to question in comments):The Giraffe has different modes: Fluffinator is the most extreme, and will not always be needed. It is perfectly acceptable to call The Giraffe for an inspection without the expectation of Fluffination.

There will be a Caution mode: a reminder that The Giraffe Abides, with a link to this post, to inform newbies and the forgetful that xe is watching. Caution mode might involve comment redaction to remove unacceptable content, up to disemvoweling for the particularly clueless/recalcitrant. Repeat offenders’ details will be added to the automoderation filter.

There will also be a Freeze mode: a thread that is getting overheated will be frozen (closed to comments altogether) overnight or for 24 hours, to give people a cooling-off period from anger and/or a recuperation period from defending against hurt. (During the closure period the mods will be looking to see whether any comments require redaction or whether any commentors involved should be deemed as deserving addition to the automoderation filter for a time.)

The role of the code phrase is as much a de-escalator as it is an alert: it is definitely not a cue for a cliquish pile-on of in-jokes about giraffes. Once a giraffe alert has been issued other commentors should not respond to it in-thread, or to the comment which has been reported, directly – please have patience and trust that a moderator will attend to it ASAP.

The one exception to the pile-on rule is when The Giraffe deploys in full Fluffinator mode: in these cases the abuse has been egregious and the free venting of mockery is entirely acceptable.


Addendum #2 (some fine-tuning of Giraffe Alerts will work): the Moderation Team has decided that we need to be notified by email when a giraffe alert is sent. In order to use WordPress’ own features to do this, this means that the trigger phrase “we need a giraffe here” has now been added to our automoderation filter, so that any comment including it will be sent to the moderation-pending queue which will generate a notification email to the Moderation Team.

This means that Giraffe Alerts will not be seen by other commentors, because they will be sitting in the moderation queue. We suggest a quick subsequent comment along the lines of “I just sent a Giraffe Alert” should be sufficient inform other commentors that somebody has taken steps to let the Mod Team know. Duplicate alerts are fine if for whatever reason one feels the need, particularly if a response seems to be taking too long, but the Mod Team will only publish the first Giraffe Alert with an attached Moderator Note to indicate that we have seen it – subsequent Giraffe Alerts will be deleted.


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About tigtog

tigtog blogs a lot elsewhere, but here on Feministe she mostly does the tech support and feeds the giraffe. tigtog tweets in irregular flurries @vivsmythe.
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32 Responses to Moderation note: do you see a need for a giraffe?

  1. Bloody awesome! Thank you ♥

  2. LEAVE THE GIRAFFES ALONE!!!11!!!1!!1

  3. Donna L says:

    Thank you so much! I had suggested a “report bad comment” button, but this serves the same purpose!

    I really, really appreciate this!

  4. jemima101 says:

    The world needs more fluffiness!

    Seriously mods do awesome jobs, and thank you :)

  5. Fat Steve says:

    An all around fantastic idea, except…

    What should I say if I actually need a giraffe?

  6. BabyRaptor says:

    I approve of this…Creative and funny. Cookies to whoever thought it up!

  7. ChariD says:

    I’m SO searching for Giraffe Alerts now!!

  8. Minerva says:

    Okay, you win +3 internets!

    1. just the idea of a moderation trigger is brilliant
    2. who doesn’t love giraffes? (even the word giraffe is delightful!)
    3. use of the word ‘vexatiously’ (Miss Bennet would totes approve!)

  9. karak says:

    Question:

    do we only giraffe for blatantly phobic behavior, or we can ask for a giraffe on annoying trolling-type comments?

    And, can we ask for a giraffe to moderate a genuine conversation where people are getting angry/hurt?

    I don’t want to call wolf (with a giraffe).

    • tigtog says:

      karak, that’s a very good question. The Giraffe has different modes: Fluffinator is the most extreme, and will not always be needed. (eta: It is perfectly acceptable to call The Giraffe for an inspection without the expectation of Fluffination.)

      There will be a Caution mode: a reminder that The Giraffe Abides, with a link to this post, to inform newbies and the forgetful that xe is watching. Caution mode might involve comment redaction to remove unacceptable content, up to disemvoweling for the particularly clueless/recalcitrant. Repeat offenders’ details will be added to the automoderation filter.

      There will also be a Freeze mode: a thread that is getting overheated will be frozen (closed to comments altogether) overnight or for 24 hours, to give people a cooling-off period from anger and/or a recuperation period from defending against hurt. (During the closure period the mods will be looking to see whether any comments require redaction or whether any commentors involved should be deemed as deserving addition to the automoderation filter for a time.)

      The role of the code phrase is as much a de-escalator as it is an alert: it is definitely not a cue for a cliquish pile-on of in-jokes about giraffes. Once a giraffe alert has been issued other commentors should not respond to it in-thread, or to the comment which has been reported, directly – please have patience and trust that a moderator will attend to it ASAP.

      The one exception to the pile-on rule is when the Giraffe deploys in full Fluffinator mode: in these cases the abuse has been egregious and the free venting of mockery is entirely acceptable.

      • There will also be a Freeze mode: a thread that is getting overheated will be frozen (closed to comments altogether) overnight or for 24 hours, to give people a cooling-off period from anger and/or a recuperation period from defending against hurt.

        Thank you, tigtog. I’m guilty of escalation myself, as Ismone pointed out yesterday (and now I’ve calmed down I can see it, though I’m still pissed off at the situation itself), and while I’m going to be trying very hard to be civil (or just not engage) in the future, I appreciate this as a measure from both sides. Fuck knows there’s been some epic homophobia/racism/classism here that’s gotten wildly out of hand and hurt me really badly.

      • karak says:

        Macavitykitsune:

        You are so often a thoughtful, insightful addition to the commentariat here, by virtue of you being the one saying something, I believes it deserves further thought and perusal on my part. In my mind, you have so much “decent person credit” that slightly escalating a single thread merely marks you as human, with emotional responses to a charged discussion.

        Don’t leave feministe over some bumpy times–if it’s getting to you, don’t read the comments or leave a comment and walk away from the thread.

      • Karak: thank you SO MUCH and right back at you! I’ve always liked your much calmer style of doing things; I’m aware I’m an angry person, but I’m trying to fix that lol. And no, I’m not walking away. I was going to, but the mod changes look promising and I’m currently compiling a Do Not Interact list in my head so hopefully I won’t be escalating threads again anytime soon.

      • tigtog says:

        I’ve pasted my response to karak into the body of the OP as an update. I fully expect the role of the Giraffe Alerts to evolve as time goes along, in response to feedback and novel circumstances.

    • Donna L says:

      it is definitely not a cue for a cliquish pile-on of in-jokes about giraffes

      Thank you. Because none of this is funny, especially for people who belong to whatever group of people is being attacked.

      • tigtog says:

        Exactly, Donna L. Cute as the giraffe conceit may be, the cuteness has been chosen to act as a circuit-breaker, not as an invitation to trivialisation.

        For the old-skool USENettians amongst us, please consider it as a form of Doe Snot.

  10. Past my expiration date says:

    I like the giraffe, I like the Fluffinator, and I like the proposed solution.

  11. tigtog says:

    Another addition to the OP: Since moderation matters are being discussed, some general discussion on moderation issues is on-topic for this post.

  12. tigtog says:

    Last night I published a post on Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog || Cyberbullies 101: Part 2 – The Art & Science of Moderation – Free Speech vs Free Audience . It’s a big-picture state-of-the-blogosphere post summarising Bora’s excellent post at A Blog Around The Clock from a few weeks ago, with some added thoughts of my own about managing comments on blogs in general.

    The first comment was an accusatory reference to the recent sex work threads here at Feministe, and I’ve ruled that further discussion of moderation at Feministe belongs on this thread rather than on the FF101 thread. So this is a heads-up that there may be some incoming commentary here resulting from the post there, although my aim is to keep the streams uncrossed so far as it is possible.

    • Donna L says:

      FYI, a quick google search shows that the person who made that comment is a regular commenter at gendertrender, which is one of the more repulsively vicious and delusional anti-trans blogs. So of course by “males” she meant the trans women who commented. In fact, since most of the people commenting on that thread were cis women, it’s safe to say that like many people of her views, she takes the position that any cis woman who’s trans friendly should be assumed to be a trans woman (i.e., a “male”) until proven otherwise. And she deliberately lies, as always, so that anyone defending trans women against viciousness is accused of trashing, bashing, and threatening violence. The techniques people like that use online to present themselves as persecuted victims are identical to those of the Christian right.

      • tigtog says:

        Yes, her second comment that I redacted validated my initial spidey-sense about her first comment. She’s now left a third comment there specifically relating to those threads here, despite my ruling that comments about Feministe belong here. So she’s now triggered the 3-comment rule, and no further benefit of any doubt will be extended to her.

      • EG says:

        Oh, jesus. It never stops, does it?

      • Also, even without knowing the person in question, most of the really heated comments on the threads were all-woman afaik, amblingalong’s odd comment here and there excepted. So I can’t assume even a tiny bit of good faith. Unless they’re also saying that any non-explicitly-gendered name is male in addition to considering trans women as men…. but no, really, there’s no transphobic interpretation.

      • tigtog says:

        It was generous of her to provide a perfect example of the sort of commentor who needs to be made an example of by a moderator though.

      • Fat Steve says:

        [Moderator note: Comment content deleted as off-topic. Your question, while well-meaning and expressed supportively, is buying into the discussion I refused to let happen over at FF101. I’m not going to host a discussion framed by the rhetoric of TERFs on this thread, either.]

  13. Giraffe says:

    Uh oh

  14. Nahida says:

    That giraffe looks like a flower.

  15. tigtog says:

    Have just added a new addendum to this post:

    Addendum #2 (some fine-tuning of Giraffe Alerts will work): the Moderation Team has decided that we need to be notified by email when a giraffe alert is sent. In order to use WordPress’ own features to do this, this means that the trigger phrase “we need a giraffe here” has now been added to our automoderation filter, so that any comment including it will be sent to the moderation-pending queue which will generate a notification email to the Moderation Team.

    This means that Giraffe Alerts will not be seen by other commentors, because they will be sitting in the moderation queue. We suggest a quick subsequent comment along the lines of “I just sent a Giraffe Alert” should be sufficient to inform other commentors that somebody has taken steps to let the Mod Team know. Duplicate alerts are fine if for whatever reason one feels the need, particularly if a response seems to be taking too long, but the Mod Team will only publish the first Giraffe Alert with an attached Moderator Note to indicate that we have seen it – subsequent Giraffe Alerts will be deleted.

Comments are closed.