GLEP:38
Title:Status of forum moderators in the Gentoo project
Version:1.3
Last-Modified:2005/07/06 16:07:25
Author:Christian Hartmann <christian.hartmann at email.de>, Wernfried Haas <w.haas at xover.htu.tuwien.ac.at>, Tom Knight <tomk at gentoo.org>.
Status:Accepted
Type:Informational
Content-Type:text/x-rst
Created:06-May-2005
Post-History:17-Jun-2005, 28-Jun-2005

Contents

Abstract

Global moderators and site admins should also go through the mentoring process and become official Gentoo staff.

Motivation

At the time of writing the forums are apart from the recruiting process and people helping out there are not made an official part of Gentoo. This GLEP aims on creating and establishing a recruitment and mentoring process for moderators and site admins of forums.gentoo.org. By doing this we hopefully achieve a (even) better moderation quality and stop the complaints about moderators not being staff. Moderators and site admins do not need cvs access.

Moderators and site admins are doing a hard job for the community as well as all the other projects do but they get no voice in the gentoo internals. Recent events such as the election of trustees or the new metastructure poll are effectively affecting the forums, so the wish to be part of the decision as an equal member is present among the moderators.

Moderators are often a contact person between users and developers, so we should try to improve the communication between these two groups of people. As moderators are pretty much exposed to the public (forums users, but also used as contact person for requests that should go to the PR department or the trustees) they need to have some knowledge about Gentoo's internal structure as well as contact to the other developers.

The current training process for new moderators works pretty well even though there are no official guidelines how to do it. As part of this proposal a more detailed procedure for the training process will be established to make it more reproducable. It also gives us the possibility to document the things happening already today in the current training process.

The status of the Gentoo Forums has been undefined for quite some time. Since it is using the gentoo.org domain it should be considered an official project. People working on an official project should be developers or staff following Gentoo's general policy. At the moment the persons with direct access to the database are developers. Being moderator could be considered an improved forums rank that does not have impact on Gentoo's infrastructure, but since moderators and administrators are able to delete, move and edit posts on the forum willingly, their level of access should be considered developer like. Many users may not be aware of the difference between moderators and developers, so the actions of a moderator may represent Gentoo Linux to them anyway.

Specification

To obtain a certain kind of quality assurance and to (create and) ensure that upcoming moderators know about the forums guidelines a document and processes will have to be created and established that the recruits need to follow. This document (called Moderators handbook/FAQ [1]) will include the moderation guidelines as they are currently available in the moderators forum plus a FAQ that was created as a possible candidate for a forums-quiz. The guidelines and the FAQ should help the moderator to get some general information about how to moderate the forums.

Suggested procedure for becoming global moderator: Existing moderators can suggest a user to become a moderator. The ability of the new moderator to deal with people in a kind way and to detect misplaced posts, etc usually also has been reviewed by the other moderators already since they can read their previous posts and suggestions in the forums feedback threads. If they accept, they will become moderator on the forums. A bug will be filed on b.g.o containing information about the new moderator. Afterwards they must answer the staff quiz that will be revisited by devrel. The quiz then will be sent to recruiters@g.o for revision. Becoming staff member is not optional, but mandatory.

The first month is supposed to be a test period, if the moderator does not do anything in that time or messes up in another way, they will be restored to their old user status. The mentor(s) and everyone of the forums team are encouraged to help the new moderator if they are unsure how to deal with a situation.

Rationale

The process of aquiring new developers seems to work for the rest of Gentoo Linux quite well. A mentoring system has been chosen since new moderators were mentored unofficially by the other moderators anyway. This means more or less writing down things that have been done already. It was discussed to add a forums-specific quiz to the process of aquiring new moderators. Devrel's standing on that is that it is up to the moderators how a new moderator is chosen. Since the old process worked fine so far and some people among the moderators didn't exactly like the idea of a quiz, we chose not to make one. A document containing the questions collected for the quiz in form of a FAQ together with the moderation guidelines seems to be a more feasible approach. The new moderators are supposed to read the FAQ as well as they had to take a quiz, so they will learn the information given in this document.

Backwards Compatibility

Moderators who are currently inactive (Bodhisattva status) should be considered akin to retired developers and will have to take the staff quiz if they return to moderation activities. New moderators should have to go through the mentoring process in any case as stated above.

Moderators in national forums: In our internal discussion it turned out that not all moderators in the national forums are able to speak english well, which would be a requirement to become a staff member. We decided that it would counter productive to make it mandatory for them. Becoming a staff member is optional for these moderators.

As a side effect of the discussion about the glep among the moderators as well as in discussions with other developers and devrel, it turned out that the forums have never been assigned to a toplevel project in the general organization of the Gentoo project. Forums don't really seem to fit into one of the current categories as they are related to the infrastructure and the documentation project. We suggest putting it in the other category or making a separate one for the forums.

Reference Implementation

References

[1](1, 2) http://curtis119.no-ip.org/forum-guide.xml
[2]http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/devrel/handbook/handbook.xml?part=1&chap=2
[3]http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/devrel/quiz/staff-quiz.txt
[4]http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.linux.gentoo.devel/28985