From: "Terry H.  Vibbert" <terry@evansvillescholasticchess.org>
To:  Chessoffice@aol.com
Cc: Joel@channingcorporation.com, CHESSJOEL@aol.com,  
Paultruong@aol.com, SusanPolgar@aol.com
Date:  Tue, 18 Sep 2007 15:54:00 +0000

September 18, 2007

Bill Hall
Executive  Director
United  States Chess Federation
P.O.  Box 3967
Crossville, TN 38557-3967


Dear Bill:

We are ready to take big steps to make the forum project better for all. As  
a result, this is to confirm our resignation from our positions on the Forum  
Oversight Committee (FOC) effective immediately.

As you have previously indicated this is a project that is in its infancy
and must undergo an evolutionary process. Growth is a difficult and painful  
process and the forums must go through this to reach a more sophisticated and  
mature place. The implementation of the new forum software is indicative of  
another positive step forward. There is now opportunity to further evolve the  
forums towards a new structure to be more member centric and to streamline the  
layers of oversight/bureaucracy.  

As communicated before, for months now, the FOC has not been able to  work
effectively.  Wayne has developed an opinion piece which outlines the need
for change in the current process. It can be found at
http://www.betteruscf.org/bbs.htm . We strongly urge
you to consider empowering the moderators with strong moderation powers
backed by a revamped AUG.  We honestly believe that this is the future.

With that challenge in mind we have drafted a new proposed acceptable use  
guidelines shell for consideration which can be found at
http://www.betteruscf.org/newaug.htm . The key
aspect of the new structure is that it focuses on a simplified set of rules
that should not be further parsed below each bullet or complete thought. Under
such a system the moderators are completely empowered to moderate the forums
without the need for interpretative intervention by System Administrators,
FOC or Executive Board (EB) members. Under this system the FOC can be better  
focused by the following charter:

The  purpose of the FOC is to hear appeals on forum ban sanctions on behalf
of  the Executive  Director (ED)  and to render Forum  opinions  which are
written decisions authored by the committee members explaining how  they resolved
a particular forum sanction appeal and explaining their  reasoning. Appeals
should only be granted on findings of improper procedure or moderation bias.
The FOC Chair will be appointed by the ED to facilitate the committee on his
behalf.  

If you feel that the ability to implement ban sanctions unilaterally would
be  problematic for moderators then you could consider all ban actions to be  
automatically appealed to the FOC, understanding that such a process would  
necessitate placing a user in a moderation queue while an appeal is processed.  

We  wish both you and everyone involved with the forum project well and would
like  to thank you in particular for having us as part of the team. We want
you to know if a new structure as described above becomes a reality, Terry  
would be glad to serve as a moderator  .

Sincerely,

Terry  Vibbert  and Wayne Praeder

____________________________________

Subj: The Need for a Chief Moderator/Administrator

Date: 9/23/2007 9:15:56 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

From: WPraeder

To: bh...@uschess.org

 

Bill,

 

We know your current plans are to provide a disconnect between the

Moderators and the FOC. The Moderator's would be empowered with full

moderating authority and sanctioning capability and the FOC would

become a body for hearing sanction appeals. We hope this will

eventually foster a more constructive environment where members can

interact with their leadership and discuss difficult issues.

 

Terry and I left the FOC to create an opportunity to rapidly

transition to this new structure and to give the Moderators some

unhindered practice at guiding the forums. We strongly urged you to

continue along the line of empowering the Moderators with strong

moderation powers backed by a revamped AUG.The key aspect of this

new structure is that it will focus on a simplified set of rules that

should not be further parsed below each complete thought. Under such a

system the Moderators are completely empowered to moderate the forums

without the need for interpretative intervention from outsiders. We

still believe we need to empower a Moderator like a sports referee. We

hope that by moving to a simpler system based on a proven and more

open model will improve our speed, consistency, and the enjoyment of

our guests. It is important to note that the USCF President has also

agreed with the suggestion that the Moderators be allowed to make

decisions and issue sanctions, with the FOC available to hear appeals

to these sanctions.

 

It is critically important that if someone is violating the AUG in his

or her forum conduct, it should be reported privately to the

Moderators, and the Moderators should act quietly, discretely, and

swiftly.The focus is to stop inappropriate use of forum resources

rather than trying to punish members. We can find no other successful

forum that uses the concept of the FOC with a committee structure to

interpret rules, debate sanctions, and publicly embarrass violators.

 

To be effective with this new structure it will be important not to

model the Moderators and their process like the FOC. Since not all

moderators will be experienced in forum administration and cyber law,

as any tricky situations arise where the Moderators can't agree on how

to handle it in a timely manner, you need an experienced Chief

Moderator/Administrator that can always step in to break the deadlock

and provide necessary guidance to both protect the organization while

enhancing the enjoyment of the forum guests. This supervision will

also serve to keep Moderator bias in check more effectively than just

relying on appeals to the FOC.

 

We need to think of our Moderators as forum hosts rather than

sheriffs. I hope we have learned from our previous experience and thus

I would strongly recommend we move to a referee model system rather

than a committee model system for moderation under the supervision of

a seasoned Chief Moderator/Administrator.

 

Regards,

Wayne Praeder

 

____________________________________

 

 

From: wpraeder@aol.com
To:
bhall@uschess.org
Sent: Fri, 8 May 2009 3:29 am
Subject: Fwd: Towards an Improved Online Community

Bill,

You may find this reference useful:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/forums/moderator_form.html

Regards,
Wayne Praeder


-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick O'Keefe, iFroggy Network <
patrick@ifroggy.com>
To:
wpraeder@aol.com
Sent: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 11:59 am
Subject: RE: Towards an Improved Online Community

Hello Mr. Praeder,

 

Thanks for the note. Patrick is fine. J Itís nice to meet up.

 

I really appreciate the kind words and, wow, thanks for buying a dozen copies! Thatís greatly appreciated.

 

Iíd be glad to offer some quick feedback, if given the opportunity or to work with them in a more official role, consulting, where I could dedicate more time. Iíd encourage their staff to join CommunityAdmins.com, where they can share their experiences and benefit from the experiences of others (including mine), and to read ManagingCommunities.com, where I regularly blog about community management issues.

 

Thanks again,

 

Patrick

 

Patrick O'Keefe

Owner, iFroggy Network - http://www.ifroggy.com

Author, "Managing Online Forums" - http://www.managingonlineforums.com

 

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/iFroggy

Skype: patrick_okeefe

 

From: wpraeder@aol.com [mailto:wpraeder@aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 10:26 AM
To:
patrick@ifroggy.com
Subject: Re: Towards an Improved Online Community

 

Mr. O'Keefe,

Thank you for your response. Your book is very practical, employing well proven principles and should be helpful to the USCF's forum experiment. I enjoyed reading your book and I hope Mr. Hall can make good use of the dozen copies (one for each forum staff member) I sent him as we are struggling to reinvent this wheel. If there is interest I would desire the USCF to find a way to engage you to help them set up or even just review their proposed staff and situation guidelines.

Regards,
Wayne Praeder


-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick O'Keefe, iFroggy Network <
patrick@ifroggy.com>
To:
wpraeder@aol.com
Sent: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 9:24 am
Subject: RE: Towards an Improved Online Community

Dear Mr. Praeder,

 

Thanks so much for your support of the book. I am glad that you found it a valuable resource to share with Mr. Hall and I hope that it helps.

 

Thanks,

 

Patrick

 

Patrick O'Keefe

Owner, iFroggy Network - http://www.ifroggy.com

Author, "Managing Online Forums" - http://www.managingonlineforums.com

 

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/iFroggy

Skype: patrick_okeefe

 

From: wpraeder@aol.com [mailto:wpraeder@aol.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2009 7:40 AM
To:
patrick@ifroggy.com
Subject: Fwd: Towards an Improved Online Community

 

FYI


-----Original Message-----
From:
wpraeder@aol.com
To:
bhall@uschess.org
Sent: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 7:04 am
Subject: Re: Towards an Improved Online Community

Bill,

 

You are welcome. Even though the forums are evolving slowly, I understand we all are at the mercy of a non standard system designed and often empowered by your board. Many who participate in the USCF issues forum appear to not have a good understanding of polite discourse as personal attacks are all too common.

 

In my view the defining problem is that those who have been given the responsibility as forum staff often have set the wrong example in their own postings and messages while having the ability to judge others in this respect. As a result only the most extreme examples of personal attacks are addressed which appears as very arbitrary and inconsistent to others.

 

The results are many heated or unproductive arguments about moderation or sanctions on the forum. When I was on the FOC this translated to behind the scenes activities complaining about or finding reasons to ban those (who were not board or forum staff members) that were being critical. Today current or former forum staff combatively tries to shut down such discussions by using personal attacks. Improving organizational behavior must start at the top. Thus the USCF must have those who represent it to lead by example. To do so the forum staff and our delegates must truly learn to be more respectful of the forum community and its members. Small moves will eventually get us there.

 

No single staff member can clean up this situation Ė but can of course make it worse; however, you as the Executive Director can provide direction, guidelines, and standards that the staff will generally follow. Perhaps you can task the MOC and FOC to draft a set of moderation guidelines consistent with the books themes (that are coming your way) that they will all sign up to follow. This would also allow us to use Patrick OíKeefe as an independent resource for our efforts. I believe Bill Goichberg would support you in this regard without micromanaging the result. Those staff members who would no longer volunteer if they have restrictions on their behavior or could not openly attack others maybe should volunteer to help the organization in other ways. I know you are swamped with more pressing short term impacting operational and financial matters. My time is also very limited but let me know how I can better assist you in this matter.

 

Regards,

Wayne Praeder

 




-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Hall <
bhall@uschess.org>
To:
wpraeder@aol.com
Sent: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 7:14 pm
Subject: RE: Towards an Improved Online Community

Thank you Wayne. I appreciate your input and I look forward to the information.

 

Regards,

 

 

Bill Hall
Executive Director
United States Chess Federation
P.O. Box 3967
Crossville, TN 38557-3967
Phone: (931) 787-1234
Fax: (931) 787-1200


From: wpr aeder@aol.com [mailto:wpraeder@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 1:54 AM
To:
bhall@uschess.org
Subject: Towards an Improved Online Community

 

Bill,

 

I know you are extremely busy and therefore must leave the running of the USCF forums to the forum staff. As you have previously indicated the forums are a project that is in its infancy and must undergo an evolutionary process. Growth is a difficult and painful process and the forums must go through this to reach a more sophisticated and mature place.

 

The focus of moderation should be to provide a pleasant and informative environment for the forum guests and to consistently stop inappropriate use of forum resources. Since not all moderators will be experienced in forum administration and cyber law, as any tricky situations arise where the Moderators can't agree on how to handle issues in a timely manner, you usually need an experienced Chief Moderator/Administrator that can always step in to break the deadlock and provide necessary guidance to both protect the organization while enhancing the enjoyment of the forum guests. This type supervision will also serve to keep moderation bias in check more effectively than just relying on appeals to the FOC. Additionally education and rules for inexperienced moderators on managing online communities will help set the tone of how to better serve the organization as well as interpret and enforce forum guidelines consistently in a laissez faire manner This of course can create problems if new forum staff may be attracted to service with the idea they can be more free to post what they feel under a mantle of protection. Unfortunately volunteering and serving our chess community can be hard but rewarding work and should not be considered any type of a perk.

 

Lately in the forums I have witnessed a type of combative mentality on the part of the staff that I have not witnessed since the forums very beginning. The staff has been dominating the discussion and is not only fighting with the guests but with each other which hardly provides a good example of decorum. It is unclear how much of this is due to intermediation on the part of board members concerning the proper running of the forums.

 

I would suggest it is useful that all involved be working from the same playbook regarding the successful running of the forums rather than allowing individual act ions and interpretation to prevail. To this end I am shipping you some reference material that you can use and distribute to forum staff as you see fit. Information about this material can be found at http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ . Due to ordering time it may take a month or so for the material to reach you but I wanted you to know it was in process.

 

Best wishes to you for the continued successful advancement of chess in the USA.

 

Regards,

Wayne Praeder

 

____________________________________

 

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