Jerry Katz
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Highlights #803

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NDS Moderator

The judgement of moderation in NDS; obvious VS hidden issues

As moderator of NDS, I wish to present a revealing of my deeper
thoughts concerning the various aspects and properties of the
processes used to arrive at useful judgement.

The obvious:

_1 A mailing list with rules ('moderated') has by design, built-in
penalties for those who do not follow the rules. The moderator may at
discretion, modify the privileges of any list-member, or even
outright BAN repeated or unrepentant violators.

This is the simple version of moderation; either play fair, or be
dealt with by the moderator. That is, If the moderator is paying
attention, and actually cares for the quality of experience of each
and every list-member, and the survival of the list as it was
designed to be.

_2 Topicality of subjects posted: Moderators generally give a lot of
latitude to posters, when assessing the appropriateness of posted
subject matter. It is usually permissible to diverge from the
central topic, as defined by the 'mission statement' of the list. The
human mind works by association, and many associations may occur in
the ongoing stream of postings. Anecdotes, references to peripheral
matters, etc, are all to be expected.

The role of moderation in maintaining topicality

Topicality becomes an issue if the majority of postings begin to
center around what is peripheral to the 'mission statement' of the
list. It is at this point that someone usually begins to complain of
'off-topic posts'. It is the job of the moderator to bring the
discussion back to center on the pre-defined topic of the list, as
defined by the mission-statement of the list. Failure to do so, will
lead to frustration on the part of those members whose actual
intention it is, to be fulfilled by participating in the list 'as
advertised'. Inevitably, members will unsubscribe, or simply cease
giving credence to the list as a whole.

Obviously, another event which will lead to dissatisfaction of
participants, is the failure of the moderator to effectively deal
with disruptive members. Regardless of whatever ideal may be set
forth to govern, there will come a person to whom disruption carries
more value, than cooperation. Once such behaviour has been exhibited
by a participant, be on the alert for further signs and symptoms; if
a pattern forms, and becomes predictable, you are not the only one
who is noticing.

Moderation: The hidden issues


Try as we may, we will probably never really know with certainty, the
motives of other people. Indeed, it is difficult for a person to know
one's own motives, let alone those of others.

The issue of motives is central to moderation. Everyone seems to have
an opinion, expressed or not, about what the motives of others may
be. And each person who is concerned with the behaviour of another,
who acts on those concerns, will do so based on assumptions of motive.

"He just wants attention" "It's that she has low self-esteem" "He
wants to take control of the list"
"He was abused by his father" "She is getting old, and is insecure
about her ability to snag a man"
"He is just on a power trip" "She is of another generation" "He
does not care about the feelings of others"... and the list goes on.

While it is fine to consider motive, ultimately, moderation should
depend upon judgment delivered in regard to adherence to established
and published guidelines, or terms of service (TOS). If a list member
becomes disruptive, and a predictable pattern can be discerned, some
form of intervention is called for.

* Impartial moderation necessary for health of list

It should be made clear from the onset, that the health of the list
is the issue, and that moderation is not designed to 'teach someone a
lesson'. We cannot control the behaviour of others, but we can limit
their access to a moderated list. It is that simple, and it should be
kept that simple.

Moderation should not be conducted as 'punishment', but instead as a
means of creating and maintaining the space for expressions which are
not only topical to the mission of the list, but which also exhibit
tolerance for others. A topical expression which is delivered in a
manner which is _generally interpreted_ to be punishing, intolerant,
or designed to cause another person anxiety, anguish, or fear, is an
indicator that the moderator should begin keeping close tabs on the
list-member in question.

* Is impartial moderation possible?

Moderation should be evenly administered and impartial; personal
feelings and friendships should not sway the intent of moderation.
Moderators are still human (generally speaking), and are capable of
bias and error. That is why every dedicated moderator must consider
deeply, any actions taken, and every action NOT taken. Try to first
weed out of yourself, those disruptive elements of personality,
before you embark on weeding the disruptive elements from your
moderated list.

* Importance of power invested in moderator

Only the list owner and the moderator(s) have the power to perform
the various administrative functions of the list. Fair or not, biased
or not, empathic or not, the moderator has the power to alter the
status of any list member, or ban outright. This power comes with the
territory; the one who originally establishes a list, has the power
of moderation. This power may be shared, or not, as the moderator
chooses, but power it is, and every list moderator will eventually
experience a direct challenge to that power, as inconsequential as
that power actually may be.

An interesting aspect of the common power-struggle, is that the
conversations on the list will eventually become 'about (the
disruptive one)'. The list named 'Betty's flower arranging' will
become 'why that big bully Betty is out to get me', if the moderator
(Betty) is not careful. Moderator-baiting is seen by some, as great
sport, and the thrill of 'walking the thin line' between constructive
criticism and blatant disruption, is known to be an attractive
stimulation for some people.

* Power struggles and moderation

At a certain point of time, when the topic has shifted to highlight
the 'dilemma' of the disruptive member, and when the list members are
(perhaps against their own better judgement) taking sides and are
also very busy interpreting motives, the moderator will realize that
somehow, the attention of the list has been shifted, from the stated
mission of the list, to center on the drama created by a disruptive

This does happen. Someone has showed up, and somehow, has 'stolen the
show' by attracting attention to what is usually defined as an unfair
disparity. Upon close examination, the tactic of 'divide and conquer'
is usually what is going on. Accusations follow upon the heels of
unrequited protests; soon, members who have been holding back their
own feelings on the matter (whatever it is) will be taking sides on
the issues. The verbal equivalent of violence can certainly occur in
this stage of disruption, and in many cases, that is the goal of the
one who is disruptive.

After distracting attention from the stated topic of the list through
creation of an inter-human drama, the disruptive one will then accuse
the moderator of being ineffectual. "If you are supposed to be a good
moderator, how could you let this (major drama, with members
unsubbing, etc) happen?"

Fortunately, the majority of list-members can easily see though such
manipulative tactics. Members who may only occasionally read, or who
read very selectively of only certain other members writings, are
more susceptible to falling for the tactics of a disruptive person.
Once there has begun a dramatic, gut-wrenching scene, with people
taking sides, launching accusations, etc, anyone who drops in for a
look will be impressed by the immediate behaviour of members, and
will then perhaps decide that such verbal mayhem is distasteful and
to be avoided. Unless one has been alerted to the fracas from the
beginning, and has been carefully tracking the developments as they
occur, chances are good that judgement will yield to the manipulative
tactics of the disruptive one.

By now, it should be clear that moderation can be approached on a
pro-active basis, so as to work to prevent scenes such as portrayed
above. One of the most valuable tactics of moderation, is to work
openly onlist, rather than using 'back-channel' private
communications. Keeping the list members appraised of what is going
on, gives everyone (who consistently reads the list) the heads-up
needed to be able to use fair judgement, in their own considerations.

* Dealing with accusations and worse, threats

I find it astounding that a person would be so determined, in the
venue of a mailing list, as to resort to making threats. Yet, in my
years online, this has been observed time and time again. What is it,
that prompts a person to take such a stand, that must be defended so?
What is there to lose, or gain? Why do people put so much at stake,
when as is often said, 'it is only words on a screen'?

Patterns of disruption, once seen, should be dealt with effectively,
lest disruption escalate into violent verbal brawling. Some people
seek out such conflict, and if it is not to be found, will go to any
length to create it. That is why the referee needs to be in and
remain in a balanced stance; either veritable perspicacity, or years
of experience, or both, are needed to resist the urge to become just
another pub-brawler.

Woe be unto the moderator who can be legitimately criticised for
taking sides, playing favorities, or being asleep at the wheel. If
accusations are made and are actually accurate, there is no
legitimate defense to be made; and the next step, is to realize that
once the moderator has made an error, that banning a disruptive
member who has _also_ leveled an accurate accusation, could be seen
as simple defense against embarrassment.

Indeed, such is a common tactic; if a disruptive person can succeed
in devaluing the status of the moderator, the survival of the list is
put into jeopardy. Will other list members be able to trust the
judgement of the moderator? Who will be the next to be afflicted by
the moderator's 'biased judgement'?

For these and similar reasons, the moderator must remain alert. The
ability to recognize a willful saboteur before any real damage has
been done, is a talent that every moderator wishes to develop. But
such talents may be hard-won, only after exercising genuinely bad
judgement (as a list member first, then as a moderator of one's own
list). The need is to learn from experience, rather than to futilely
try again and again to make work an idealistic formula composed of

* The archetypes of human social interaction

Finally, beneath the level of conscious thought, there lurketh
certain archetypal forms, chief among which is the 'hierarchy'. It is
speculated that our primate forebears have bequeathed to us, this
unconscious rally-round the top monkey; but whatever the reality may
be, the desire to be 'in charge' and to be 'in the charge of' seem to
be constant values in the human social venue.

Whenever someone is perceived to be in charge, it is inevitable that
someone else will make a challenge to that status, either to occupy
or simply to topple. And this event is one which the moderator must
be aware of and be prepared for, in these times when it is as easy to
migrate from one social group to another, as the click of a

With all of this in mind, I offer the following definitions, for your

I would point out what a valuable service disruption can be, to
cement the moderator into an irrevocable station of authority. As
unwelcome as it is, willful disruption, if moderated properly, is
good for the survival and health of our mailing-list.

==Gene Poole==

Moderator, NDS


Scapegoat \Scape"goat`\, n. [Scape (for escape) + goat.]
1. (Jewish Antiq.) A goat upon whose head were symbolically
placed the sins of the people, after which he was suffered
to escape into the wilderness. --Lev. xvi. 10.

2. Hence, a person or thing that is made to bear blame for
others. --Tennyson.


Foil \Foil\, n. [OE. foil leaf, OF. foil, fuil, fueil, foille,
fueille, F. feuille, fr. L. folium, pl. folia; akin to Gr. ?,
and perh. to E. blade. Cf. {Foliage}, {Folio}.]
1. A leaf or very thin sheet of metal; as, brass foil; tin
foil; gold foil.

2. (Jewelry) A thin leaf of sheet copper silvered and
burnished, and afterwards coated with transparent colors
mixed with isinglass; -- employed by jewelers to give
color or brilliancy to pastes and inferior stones. --Ure.

3. Anything that serves by contrast of color or quality to
adorn or set off another thing to advantage.

As she a black silk cap on him began To set, for
foil of his milk-white to serve. --Sir P.

Hector has a foil to set him off. --Broome.

4. A thin coat of tin, with quicksilver, laid on the back of
a looking-glass, to cause reflection.

5. (Arch.) The space between the cusps in Gothic
architecture; a rounded or leaflike ornament, in windows,
niches, etc. A group of foils is called trefoil,
quatrefoil, quinquefoil, etc., according to the number of
arcs of which it is composed.

{Foil stone}, an imitation of a jewel or precious stone.


Foil \Foil\, v. t. [See 6th {File}.]
To defile; to soil. [Obs.]


Foil \Foil\, n.
1. Failure of success when on the point of attainment;
defeat; frustration; miscarriage. --Milton.

Nor e'er was fate so near a foil. --Dryden.

2. A blunt weapon used in fencing, resembling a smallsword in
the main, but usually lighter and having a button at the

Blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit, but hurt
not. --Shak.

Isocrates contended with a foil against Demosthenes
with a word. --Mitford.

3. The track or trail of an animal.

{To run a foil},to lead astray; to puzzle; -- alluding to the
habits of some animals of running back over the same track
to mislead their pursuers. --Brewer.


Foil \Foil\ (foil), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Foiled} (foild); p. pr.
& vb. n. {Foiling}.] [F. fouler to tread or trample under
one's feet, to press, oppress. See {Full}, v. t.]
1. To tread under foot; to trample.

King Richard . . . caused the ensigns of Leopold to
be pulled down and foiled under foot. --Knoless.

Whom he did all to pieces breake and foyle, In
filthy durt, and left so in the loathely soyle.

2. To render (an effort or attempt) vain or nugatory; to
baffle; to outwit; to balk; to frustrate; to defeat.

And by ? mortal man at length am foiled. --Dryden.

Her long locks that foil the painter's power.

3. To blunt; to dull; to spoil; as, to foil the scent in
chase. --Addison.


Nugatory \Nu"ga*to*ry\, a. [L. nugatorius, fr. nugari to trifle,
nugae jests, trifles.]
1. Trifling; vain; futile; insignificant.

2. Of no force; inoperative; ineffectual.

If all are pardoned, and pardoned as a mere act of
clemency, the very substance of government is made
nugatory. --I. Taylor.


Ed wrote:

"Once it is realized that every word, phrase, and thought, and that to which they refer, is a reflection
and manifestation of the infinite, then no words in themselves can be seen to be harmful.

That being understood, any 'reaction' to those words which are less than transcendent, is the
responsibility of the reader and should be dealt with accordingly."

Nice example of conceptual nonduality. Logic following the reasoning. Nonduality is not that. Nor is it not
not that. Nonduality includes the notion that words can be harmful indeed, that nothing is understood,
could care less about manifestations of some conceptual infinite and nonduality is perfectly fine without
transcendence of any sort.
Nonduality is total embrace, and embraces every new concept, in order to remain nondual. This is
sometimes referred to as love as well.

Loving you accordingly,


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