Why are members of Community being shown with "mod" against their user name,
when they definitely do not appear to be moderators?
On at least two or three occasions I have noticed posts here from members marked as "mod", but who are asking really basic questions - certainly ones any moderator should know the answer to. Their profiles are not indicating they are moderators (they are shown just as "members"), so how are they appearing with this confusing (and almost certainly incorrect) detail against them?
@Paul W - As a theory, I think that some moderators may be being brought on board because of skills they have in a certain area that the community needs. Me, for example. I am here for the community, but I'm new to FamilySearch.
Does that help?3
I'm currently a moderator on 2 other platforms, and I have been a moderator on additional platforms in the past. I can't speak for FamilySearch, but I've NEVER received any training or vetting of my qualifications on any of the platforms where I've been designated a mod/admin.3
@Paul W - I've invited @PiperWilson to assist with the community. We did start with one level, but the role is evolving to better align with and support the community as it develops. There are multiple functions under the moderator term, and will be a segmentation of responsibilities in the near future.2
@PiperWilson and @Áine Ni Donnghaile
Thank you for your responses. We had previously been led to believe that all moderators had to undergo training before being designated as such.
As a matter of interest, I wonder if either / both of you could advise how you applied to become moderators - or, perhaps, were you provided with that designation without any personal application?
You see, I (and I'm sure others) am now confused by any "hierarchy" that operates within Community. I'm sure many of us previously saw just one "level" of moderator - who was not only capable of answering at least the more straightforward questions from other members (often by providing links to Help articles), but who could also edit and delete posts, especially if their content was deemed to be inappropriate.0
From Marion Webster Dictionary:
mod·er·a·tor | \ ˈmä-də-ˌrā-tər
Definition of moderator
1 : one who presides over an assembly, meeting, or discussion: such as
a : the chairman of a discussion group
b : the nonpartisan presiding officer of a town meeting
c : the presiding officer of a Presbyterian governing body
2 : one who arbitrates : mediator
3 : a substance (such as graphite) used for slowing neutrons in a nuclear reactor
Based on the actual definition of the word, a moderator doesn't actually need to know or answer anything but rather is just a go-between for the actual parties involved in a discussion. Looking at some recent discussions on this board, definition number 3 seems very fitting.
I would assume all moderators get training on how to run Communities and I know they have specific training to the effect that their main job in answering questions is to point people to the Help Center. But I doubt they get much specific training on the minutiae and subtle nuances of the FamilySearch website and Family Tree. That comes only by long experience. Which many moderators probably have but some apparently don't.2
But the responses I received above indicate that training is not necessarily provided. I have four examples (that I would not wish to provide here) of members who are labelled as "mod" but have asked questions so basic to anyone who had spent more than a few weeks using Family Tree and/or FamilySearch as a whole.
I'm still interested to know how you become a moderator. I guess you have to be "LDS" to qualify, but do all "mods" really have the same moderating rights: to edit/delete the posts of others, etc.
As a secondary point, I must say some FamilySearch phraseology / word meaning seems quite unique to the site. "Guest", "moderator", etc. Even "decendancy" isn't found in dictionaries published in the UK, as far as I have found!1
Shall I start rumors? I know someone who knows a moderator who was told by the people training her to post a basic question that would be good for people to know something about so that another moderator could post an answer containing a Help Center article regarding that topic so that when users searched communities for that topic, which I doubt anyone ever does, that post would come up and the user could just go to the Help Center article rather than post a new question.1
Hello @Paul W.
Most of the moderators in the community today are associated with FamilySearch on a formal volunteer basis, but not all, and this is not a requirement to be a moderator. Neither is being LDS.
We do not yet have a formal process around community members moving into a moderator role, but this topic is something we are actively discussing and something we would like to offer in the near future. In the meantime, would you please direct message @PiperWilson or I with links to a post/comment that are concerning?
I will sent you a private message, as suggested. Thank you.1
Hi all. Thank you for your comments so far. I am one of those recently trained Moderators with limited experience in Family Search, Family Tree and even less in Community. I became one by applying to serve a part time Service Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, specifically in the area of Community Support. As an MIT (Missionary in Training) I began an intense six-week training course which comprised fifteen training modules and fifteen training reviews. The training modules typically lasted for two-and-a-half hours and the reviews approximately one hour. That was my personal experience. I know several other missionaries from our church who have also gone through a similar training experience. Our role as Moderators is only part of the work we do. The following describes our role(s):-
“Guests come to the Community to find accurate and effective information. As Missionaries we need to help guests obtain high quality information that is accurate and helpful.
Moderator: A user who presides over an online forum discussion. They are responsible for keeping users on topic and keeping the group or discussion thread free of personal insults and derogatory comments. All missionaries will complete tasks on a regular basis to monitor questions and discussions presented by guests.” This is only my personal experience but I hope it gives some perspective to the various views expressed.6
Thank you for your input, John - it goes further into answering my query. I had assumed the title "moderator" was only given to those who had fully undertaken the required training, not being in the process, so your comments make things a bit clearer.
As expressed elsewhere (on a number of occasions, by me!) I am not keen of some of the FamilySearch terminology and do not like the term "guest", although I make no personal criticism of your using it here. To me, it tends to make Community rather divisive - especially as those of us who have been around for about ten years tend to feel rather established here by now, instead of still being regarded as guests. No matter, I'm sure some of my expressions must prove to be annoying, too!
I wish you well in your mission and hope you won't be too disappointed to find that not all "guests" will necessarily be pleased at your responses, even when you have gained much more experience. I often misunderstand the precise issue that has been raised and feel rather foolish when it "clicks" what the poster has really meant in their comment, and that I have addressed a completely different matter to that raised!0
I think FamilySearch raises expectations which are not met in practice.
The bottom of the Main Page, before you are signed in, says "We provide free guidance and resources to help you make more family history discoveries" "Community Experts" then there is a button "Connect with an Expert" which clicks through to the Community.
Note the We [FamilySearch] which I have made bold.
In my mind this definitely sets up an expectation that the FamilySearch responses will be by Experts. I have certainly seen responses by some moderators which seem to indicate expert knowledge, however there are plenty which indicate basic lack of knowledge, where the responses are incorrect, and I think it is wrong to have such people replying to peoples's questions. I think it wrong to have such people allocated the title moderator, which in other Forums generally indicates a person with experience on the Forum who is knowledgeable.
It also annoys me immensely to receive a Personal Message from a Moderator saying they disagree with something I have said and inviting me to remove my comments, when in fact they are wrong, as I pointed out, and they were the one to remove their comments. To me this indicates an egotistical, closed attitude to the knowledge that other people may have, which I consider an undesirable trait for a designated FamilySearch Expert. I also consider that if I have made a post in an open Forum, if a person disagrees, they should post in the same open Forum, and let other viewers make up their own minds.5
Been there, too, @MaureenE123 - received a private message from a Mod suggesting that I should be sure of my facts before posting. I was, and my reply was 100% correct while the Mod's comment in the same thread was inaccurate.3
One of the recent inexperienced moderators went so far as to send me a "you have been warned" message, saying he/she had edited one of my comments to remove a part he/she considered offensive. I haven't been able to track down what he/she actually did, because there is no link or full quote provided, but as near as I can tell, the offending item was my advice to ignore the mod. Given the timing, I don't think it was the same mod, but I don't know for certain.
It was, however, definitely the same recent inexperienced moderator who posted a question wherein he/she appears unable to tell a Family Tree profile apart from an index detail page.
I get the impression that mod training has some sort of checklist: post a question. post a comment. send a private message. warn a user. ...2
All good points. I'll take the "Connect with an expert" back for some internal discussions on how we can better communicate the offerings of the community. Regarding the private messages - if you (or anyone else) have concerns about private messages from moderators, please let me know so I can follow up on them. We should not be making recommendations on editing comments (with a few exceptions) - this is a public forum where folks should be freely open to discussions and sharing information with each other.
Hello @Áine Ni Donnghaile,
Please feel free to message me directly, should this issue come up again.
Hello @Julia Szent-Gyö@Julia Szent-Györgyi,
I'll send you a direct message to discuss in further detail.
I really appreciate the discussion on this topic, and for your feedback. I'm sorry for the confusion or issues this may have caused or is causing.
There are many different perspective around moderation, and we've not been great at communicating specifics. We're working on several adjustments to moderation activities, and plan on being better at communicating this information out to the community. We're taking direct action on many issues noted here today, and will be rolling out a series of adjustments in early 2022.
I found my offending comment (https://community.familysearch.org/en/discussion/comment/414047#Comment_414047), but I have no way of retrieving the mod-deleted part. I restored the basic idea of it, from memory, but it's a case that has to boil down to specific words, because the warning and reference to the Code of Conduct's "kind and constructive" clause makes absolutely no sense to me. What do those words mean to the mods? If I'm remembering my original comment anywhere near correctly, then they appear to be using a totally different interpretation than I am.
(I'm curious what that comment looks like to other users: it has a pink banner across it, for me.)
The lesson that I'm hoping to point out to FS here is that allowing mods (inexperienced or otherwise) to irreversibly modify posts is not a good way to convey the mod's interpretation of the rules.2
@Julia Szent-Györgyi no pink banner for me.0
Hello @Julia Szent-Györgyi,
Appreciate the feedback, and I can appreciate your perspective. Words can be very subjective and interpreted in a variety of ways that may not always be agreed upon. I've sent you a direct message with more info if you'd like to discuss this specific comment in further detail.
I have found this thread of comments quite sad. While those who mentioned working with someone designated as a "mod" as an unpleasant experience because of unkind interpretations of their comments, others have indicated that working with a "mod" was unpleasant because they expected an expert to be commenting. I guess I have a different interpretation of what working in a Community means, and at one point, individuals who were volunteers were given moderator status as part of Community changes. No one said they were experts, and no one said they didn't have a right to share their opinions of what others post.
I have understood that being in a Community of any kind means accepting the opinions of others while not being afraid to share your own.
Being in a Community means finding positive ways to interact with one another.
Being in a Community means sharing concerns while also understanding that processes change. Changes affect everyone who is part of the Community, and while changes can be frustrating they are going to continue to happen. Simply voicing the negative when changes come without balancing comments from a positive perspective does not uplift others. In my opinion, uplifting others while trying to resolve issues and share opinions should be one of our goals in the FamilySearch Community.
I see many of the same individuals sharing their ideas and opinions, and I am thankful for their diligence in researching the problems described by other guests and providing their best answers and remarks.
I do hope that "moderator" training will be forthcoming for everyone who is given that status in the Community. Whether you become a moderator as a serious guest in the Community, or as a person who has expertise in one area or another, we all need to understand how to help support each other so that our Community is a pleasant experience instead of an unpleasant experience.6
In the beginning I too thought that the designation of MOD implied a level of competence with Family Tree. I understand that is not the case universally, but IMO should be.2
One really positive role of the moderator (and one not open to others, whatever their experience) involves their being able to escalate issues for the attention of a specialist group, to which the rest of us have no access.
Here lies the weakness of the "Suggest an Idea" section of Community, where moderators appear not to be "allocated", it being left to chance that someone employed in one of these specialist teams ( Indexing, Family Tree, etc.) will happen to pick-up on a new idea (or current bug) and evaluate whether the poster's comment / report needs to be addressed.
That is why I'm grateful to those moderators who don't say certain items should be re-posted at "Suggest an Idea", but are helpful enough to escalate the issue (to the relevant team) themselves.1
Going along with what Paul W remarks above. I think New Ideas should flow & be grown naturally from discussions started in the various categories where the history, background and vetting of the issue has already started. The “Suggest an Idea” category often starts without that process.1
Also no pink banner for me. However the interesting think for me is that the wording which @Áine Ni Donnghaile sees and appears in the screen shot "Please ignore the mod's advice. It shows a failure to properly comprehend the problem" does NOT APPEAR IN WHAT I SEE.
This indicates that different people are presented with different or edited content. Could more information about this be provided please. @Mark McLemore1
@MaureenE123 it's gone for me now too.0
@cdburk - I'm in full agreement with your expressed views. Obviously FamilySearch Community is not perfect and its members' views reflect that but it is a community as you rightly point out, and surely we can all comply with the Code of Conduct and be less confrontational with each other. It will be Christmas Day in a few more sleeps, the season of "...peace, good will toward men" so let's try to be a bit more harmonious and respectful of each other and our views, and the opportunities Family Tree, FamilySearch, and FamilySearch Community provide us to gather our families around us. Simply attacking the system, or those who give voluntary service to it is not helpful and may discourage positive contributions and dialogue from those who could add much that is positive and praiseworthy in the future. We are a community, we're not in a contest with each other, we're actually here to help each other. I am the least qualified of you all and I appreciate every helpful comment I have read.4
A mod re-edited my post, that's why the text is missing again.
This one at least sent a private message quoting the full deleted text, and included a link to the thread, so I'm not in quite as much of the dark as the inexperienced mod left me, but I still haven't a clue what part of my statement conflicts with what part of the rules. I must speak a completely different variety of English, or maybe I'm oblivious to emotional baggage attached to some of the words (no clue which ones), or something.
I wonder if it would help to not even mention the role of moderator, and just refer to "the previous comment's advice"? I really do think it's necessary to steer the asker away from that bad advice, but I'm afraid to re-re-edit my post and trigger some sort of ban.1
I originally raised this topic in a genuine belief that straightforward "members" of Community (note, I refuse to use that dreadful term "guest") were being incorrectly shown with a "mod" label against their names.
Through posts made here (and communications with Mark McLemore) I have accepted that all those who are labelled as such, are correctly designated as moderators.
I have no argument that inexperienced volunteers have been allowed to come here to gain "working experience" as "mods", with one proviso. I would hope that they would only address problems on which they feel fully confident in their ability to answer the issue correctly.
I gave up on phoning Support several years ago, mainly because the volunteers insisted on being just "too helpful". On occasions, I spent around 45 minutes speaking to someone who did not have a clue about the issue I was ringing about, but persisted in trying to get to the bottom of my query instead of escalating to a more experienced volunteer, or a specialist team who could have been of help.
Likewise with emails: many of us have had the experience of a "copy / paste" reply that was so generic as to be of no help whatsoever.
So, please, moderators: be prepared to accept you don't have to attempt to answer every query on the section(s) of Community in which you are active. There are plenty of "ordinary" members of Community who have expertise in answering the questions of FamilySearch newbies and old-hands alike, so don't feel you are failing in your duties in any way by steering well clear of subjects of which you are uncertain.
Having said that, I'm sure I will quite possibly get hold of the "wrong end of the stick" with the next issue I attempt to address - either due to the ambiguity of the question, or just having a "senior moment" whilst evaluating the query! Making errors is all part of the learning process, so don't get too hung-up about misunderstanding a problem. But, please leave a topic alone if you genuinely don't think you have the positive answer the poster requires. That's the position I find myself in with at least 80% of the queries raised in Community, even after ten years working in FamilySearch and Family Tree and participating here, and in the now defunct GetSatisafaction.com forum, over that period.
Best wishes to all Community participants for a happy and harmonious New Year!