The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Moderation Challenges

Back on April 16 (2007), the previous Ethics in Recruiting group had surpassed rowdy, outrageous, and embarrassing. The "rusing" discussion post had wound itself up to more than 60 responses. There was shouting. There were insults and name calling. There was boasting and being bombastic. Those who were not too embarrassed (or frightened) to speak merely passed by to see what else had occurred. Attempts at moderation were futile. Compounding that was the fact that each time a moderation post was made, it was deleted by a back office person. But the members of the group (especially those who dared not speak) were wondering why there was no moderation happening and also wondering what the outcome of the riot would be.

Questions were asked of the moderator. But the answers did not come. Why? Because they kept being deleted. The explanation was that the words were deemed "messages that are distracting and of no relevance to others in the community." In a final attempt to close the hottest issue for recruiters discussion, acknowledge the efforts of those who summarized our understandings, congratulate those who participated in an online mediation, and just generally bring us to closure in order to move to a new subject, the following words were posted to the group. None of the group members are aware of these words. Perhaps they will come here and read this case study on moderation and thereby learn what happened, why there was total silence.

While sanity and professionalism was restored, they were short-lived. Order cannot survive when it is constantly subverted and support for restoring orderliness does not exist. Ask any administrator, instructor, manager, or any other person who leads a group. If there is no support from the top for positive initiatives, no matter how valiant they are, they are doomed and chaos will reign.

When management fails to support bringing order and maintaining it, the question that needs to be asked and answered is "Why do you want disorder and support it?" So this is a case study of how to bring failure to one small part of an organization. When this happens, the remainder of the structure will slowly but surely follow. But this is part of the missing conversation and closure of the "rusing" thread:

Posted April 16 at approximately 9:00 PM

Now that my blood pressure is down, I've been able to read the new posts to the "rusing" thread. It was good that a more careful reading was done before speaking aloud.

Yes, we did go silent for a time. That was the time when I privately asked Laura to do a summary of the new elements that came out of the discussion and to start a new thread where those concepts could reside. But Laura has a day job and it takes precedence over an ERE discussion board. But I did put the group on notice that the summary was coming.

What also happened during that lull was Tony, Steve, Letourneau and Albucker and I had a private conversation. In striving to protect privacy of all the parties, only three of the men were included in the lengthy exchanges that occurred, as Albucker pointed out. I asked these men to do a summary of what had been concluded but forgot to assign a specific person to do so.

It looks like when the four men had time, three of them not only did an excellent job of summarizing but also openly expressed their ability to see the others' perspectives and to come to conciliation on many levels.

For all of this I am very glad. What needed to happen was to allow people to express theirselves without the extras we were initially getting. It appears we all have grown from this experience and are on good ground for having talks.

Tony points a finger and says I revived the rusing thread. It seems he forgot about the various conversations and the requests for summaries. I do not have access to the moderation tools; Brendan [a back office employee] does.

At the moment, perhaps that's a good thing because when I saw all the posts being made after I requested that the thread be closed, I would have deleted without reading. There would have been a loss, as I now see after having an opportunity to read the words. But perhaps the tools need to be returned to me because it seems Brendan already has quite a bit on his hands.

The requested summaries were done. They were excellent. The expressions of conciliation were made publicly and accepted. We achieved harmony and camaraderie (maybe that's a bit much, but we all agreed to work together). That was healthy. Thank you.

Now. About those phoney resumes. Let's deal with those another day and in another thread.

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