PLEASE STOP TRYING TO BE MINI-MODS.
What is a mini-mod? A mini-mod is a regular user who takes it upon themselves to act like a moderator, or even just to assert some non-existent level of authority over other users.
The actions of a mini-mod may not be readily apparent or even detrimental, but they are recognizable. These actions might include a user trying to police a thread, answering users’ queries on behalf of moderators, responding to a user’s questions about their band submission having been rejected/deleted/accepted, or even just demanding that a moderator do something about some outrageous person or horrible thread.
In short, when a regular user interferes with a topic or a situation that calls for a moderator’s input, advice or assistance – by acting like a moderator or authority figure – they are being mini-mods. This behaviour is discouraged! It may seem helpful, but it isn’t that helpful.
Let me explain why.
MA is run primarily by a certain set of administrators and moderators. These staff members have a very intrinsic knowledge of how MA operates, what its rules and guidelines say, and what is and isn’t appropriate for the site and for the forums. Collectively, we do not often wholly agree on every action that every moderator does, but we respect that each moderator has authority, knowledge, and experience doing what every other moderator does. It works well. We get along. We understand where each other is coming from. And when push comes to shove, moderators often work with other moderators towards consensus, or agreement, or a basic understanding as to the policies and procedures we follow. In short, as moderators we are accountable to each other, to the guidelines and rules set out by MA’s founders, and to whatever dedication we have for MA.
There are many users who have worked on MA, and are incredibly hard-working individuals dedicated to improving MA. There are others who are just starting out. Some completely understand how MA works and operates, while others don’t care or only have an incomplete understanding. MA appreciates and respects such users, regardless of who they are or how much work they’ve put into the site. Without you MA would be a shell of what it is today.
With that said, however, we kindly ask that you refrain from acting like moderators, or acting as though you have authority over other users. As a regular user, you are not accountable to MA. You do not necessarily know every policy or stance on an issue that moderators follow, you do not have the enforcement mechanisms to back up what you say, you do not represent MA, the mods or our actions, and you can’t change or rewrite MA by disagreeing or contravening us.
The moderators and administrators all respect the fact that you may simply want to help out the staff here at MA, or that you feel it's your (collective) duty to enforce your own self-perceived notions of dominance or attention. We also understand that many of the questions addressed to us by users can be common sense, and answered quite quickly. We realize that regular users can also pick up on threads that should be closed, or users that ought to be banned. We even recognize that there are hard-working, long-term users who know the ropes and can regurgitate the finer details of MA's rules and guidelines like the best of us. But more often than not by interfering you end up causing more harm than good! It takes longer for us to correct any misperceptions inferred, threads derailed, or users deterred from your attempts to mini-mod, than it does for us to have dealt with the issue on our own in the first place. What might have been a simple issue resolved in moments gets drawn out in back-and-forth replies between moderators and users over misconceptions and frustrations (as is evident in many threads in this forum).
However, that doesn’t mean that you should refrain from helping users when it seems reasonable to do so. Linking a newbie to a thread that they're seeking or should seek is warranted, but then again, making snide comments about how 'idiotic' they are for not knowing better or doing so when that newbie is specifically requesting a moderator's feedback is not warranted. Letting a user politely know where to find MA’s guidelines and rules is fine, but then again, providing your personal opinion about those rules, or making up rules of your own as you try to help that user is not cool. There are many situations which exemplify how to deal with users and how to avoid being a mini-mod. Take for example the following “Good Idea, Bad Idea” situations:
- GOOD IDEA: Giving a user, who created a thread on their band's rejection, a link to the appropriate thread on band rejections. This is the only case where you may reply to a user asking a question about band submissions. Leave it to the mods to deal with.
- BAD IDEA: Answering the user's question by providing them with your own opinion as to why their band is or is not metal, clearly with no idea as to why it was rejected (since you are not a mod and not the one who rejected the band). If you are not a mod, do not answer. No exceptions.
- GOOD IDEA: Ignoring a piss-poor attempt by a user to incite conflict within any given thread or to raise the err of a number of metalheads (knowing full well that a mod will eventually get to it).
- BAD IDEA: Posting in that thread with a rebuttal along the lines of "This thread should be closed," "you're gonna get banned," "Get Out," or even "That was funny! You should do more /s." If you do this, you will likely get banned. You either fed the troll or you derailed a thread, and neither are useful whatsoever. If you want to help us, help keep the trolling threads at 0 replies, and ignore the trolling posts. Just move on.
- GOOD IDEA: Seeing that there is a thread in the forum requesting assistance, input, or advice from a moderator, or asking a question about the rules or guidelines, you decide to ignore it and let a moderator deal with it.
- BAD IDEA: You're just itchin' for a thread from a user asking for assistance, and upon seeing it, you jump right in with your own perceptions as to what the correct answer is. Meanwhile, you have left that user assuming that you're an authority on the topic (eg. a moderator) and that any subsequent posts by a moderator disagreeing with your viewpoint represents a disjointed or schizophrenic way of doing things at MA. User is confused and possibly frustrated. If you want to be a moderator so bad then contribute to the site (and/or the forums if that is what you care about). Maybe, just maybe, one day a moderator will vet for you when an opening is available.
- GOOD IDEA: You enter a forum to find that there are threads you've definitely seen done before, and quite frankly you are sick and tired of them. But you are also sensible, and recognize that the mods probably feel the same way and will deal with such threads when they can get around to it.
- BAD IDEA: You get irritated and decide to police the forum yourself. Annoying duplicate threads? Bitch at the user for not search for the “original” thread. Spam? May as well post in the thread about how it should be closed! Another done-to-death question about how MA works? Answer it on behalf of the mods. Clearly the mods appreciate it if you regurgitate MA's guidelines and rules so that they don't have to. No, we really don't. You are not a policeman. You are a vigilante. As a vigilante you make MA look worse and more draconian then it is, and make our jobs more messy when you charge in like a guardsman on 'roids. Step back. Observe the chaos. You really shouldn't want to be responsible for being MA's next top janitor.
- GOOD IDEA: You notice a topic that clearly should be deleted, because in the title it says "FUCK YOU NAPERO, YOU HORRIBLE FINNISH REVIEW-MUNCHING MONSTER" or something totally inflammatory. You recognize that a moderator hasn't checked it in a few days. You politely and casually report the thread to a moderator (preferably one that is active on that forum).
- BAD IDEA: You figure you have the opportunity of being the law-abiding, hard-working citizen of MA you consider yourself. So what do you do? You enter the IRC chatroom, or send an email or PM to a moderator demanding that something be done with the thread right away this second. No questions asked. Uh, wrong assumption you have there. Demanding will get you nowhere, no respect, and an increasing unwillingness from us for doing what you demand us to do right at that moment. As a moderator we don't want you to do our jobs for us, we want to do them ourselves. We don't mind a head's up once and a while, but we don't take kindly to coercion nor do we respect it. It is rude.
- GOOD IDEA: A moderator has replied to a question by a user, whether it is regarding a band submission, a concern with MA's rules or guidelines, or even a simple suggestion to improve MA. You decide to accept the moderator's words as the final say, and move on.
- BAD IDEA: Following the moderator's response, you may disagree with them or feel that they haven't elaborated on the issue enough for your liking, so you decide to reply to the user with your perspectives on the issue. This is not even close to being a good idea. You may mean well, and want to elaborate a bit more on the procedures for doing something when a moderator hasn't. Fine. But what you're doing is a symbolic act of authority. You are essentially signaling to the user that asked the question that you are a moderator, and that your word is final. This is especially troublesome when it's a band rejection, and your opinions on the requirements for acceptance don't match MA's rules and guidelines.
These examples represent only a short list of what could exist for situations where being a mini-mod is discouraged and downright detrimental. We’ve had cases where users have rampaged through certain threads spouting off incorrect responses to users, leading to moderators having to step in and correct each and every misconception. We’ve had instances where one’s personal opinions on metal or MA come out in their responses to users. We’ve had threads reach three pages comprised almost entirely of “This thread should be deleted.” We’ve had users treat other users as though they have the power to ban them. On the other hand, we’ve had users do us the favor of letting users know where to go, or what to do. And, despite the negativity evident in this post, many users do provide other users with good, positive responses.
But even with those good responses, many of the mini-mods who provide them often do so without the tact needed to deal with those users. It’s OK to guide the user in the right direction, but please avoid putting on the moderator cap and treating them in that way.
I suppose the only other thing I want to address is that, for certain threads, it is best to leave the responses to users to the moderators entirely. In fact, one thread in particular
should be comprised almost solely of questions from users and responses from mods. When a user asks about a rejected band, an accepted band that they believe should be removed, or a band that was deleted, it’s best that you don’t chime in with your opinion as to how and why it was dealt with by the moderator that dealt with it. It’s best not to intervene and tell the user why you agree with them, or why you disagree with them. Leave it to the mods to deal with those. This extends to any thread that asks for moderator feedback specifically, even if it’s a duplicate thread. If you’re wavering towards acting like a moderator, just don’t do it.