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Institute for Jedi Realist Studies - What I've learned through moderating a Jedi forum - Institute for Jedi Realist Studies

What I've learned through moderating a Jedi forum

  • Anirac Morgan
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Anirac Morgan created the topic: What I've learned through moderating a Jedi forum

What I have learned moderating at a Jedi forum

Jax asked me to post this here, so here it is.

Being a moderator is definitely a challenging task. Part of that challenge comes from new members who don’t know the rules, and some of it comes from other factors. I joined my main forum in late 2012, became a moderator early 2014. I loved the idea of what the this place was. Part of the challenge this last past year, and part of what I’ve learned through moderating, has been accepting change. I remember a conversation between me and one of the old admins in the early days of my moderating there, how he mused about how the forum would inevitably change, and my stubborn reassurances that it would not. We would keep it as it was, and it would always be what it was because we could make it so. I was enthusiastic and fresh, and very naïve. The only constant is change; everything is fleeting, everything is lines in the sand. This last year there has been some changes, and some of these have been difficult to accept. I had to learn to let go of what was, so I could effectively work with what is. It isn’t exactly the same as it was when I first joined, when I first began moderating there. New faces, new ways of doing things and with that it has changed. It is not so far from where it was, but far enough so I have struggled keeping up the work I’ve been doing there. Learning acceptance is vital in most things, particularly when it comes to our attachments which come in many forms.

Another lesson I have had to face through my moderating has been accepting reality instead of adhering to ideals and judging others accordingly. I have had an idealized view of what a moderator is, what he or she does. I will hold myself and my fellow moderators to a much higher standard than I would anyone else. Almost unfairly so! This last year there has been some disappointments. Because of my somewhat unfair view of who we should be as admin and moderators, sometimes people fall short. Sometimes I fall short. This particularly applies when these people are Jedi Knights and Masters. I put them on a pedestal and expect them to sit comfortably there. I wasn’t aware before how much I do this, and how it cause disappointments for myself when people fail to live up to the ideal I turn them into. When I first joined the this forum I was a fresh youngling, hence it was not all that hard to impress me or earn my respect. Some of my issue this last past year, particularly in moderating, has been experiencing other sides of people I respect and has been looking up to. You sit in the back room, you get a different view. You have to accept that these people are people and hence have their own struggles to fight, their own weaknesses. It’s easy to feel disappointed and fail to understand. To me, a moderator puts the community first, above your own individual desires and needs. You act as a diplomat with respect for others, communicate well and do what is in the best interest of the community as a whole, as well as protect individuals if they are being harassed or wrongly treated. I’ve seen some things I consider wrongdoings, and I’ve seen things been covered up that should have earned a disciplinary reaction. I’ve been faced with having to either rock the boat and cause a disturbance or having to step aside and simply accept because there’s not much to do about the issue. I’ve had to tread carefully in the waters and really pick my battles wisely. Some battles have been necessary and been resolved, others have simply caused trouble and I’ve had to readjust.

Lately people have been bending a few rules. Where they should act as moderators, as Jedi, I see people acting based on their own personal agenda. People who have failed to remain objective and act according to their moderator responsibilities, and I have judged it rather harshly. I’ve had to avoid falling into cynicism, to think that it won’t matter regardless what effort is put into something. And I’ve had to take a closer look at myself and the demands I sit with. I still hold to my ideals, but I’ve definitely had to take a more realistic approach to things. Learned to be more understanding, less harsh in my judgments. More gracious in how I view people. Also, I really detest conflict. Part of my interest in moderating has been my liking for making things peaceful, for settling things. Giving a service in the shape of helping to keep an environment good and comfortable for people. Sometimes, unfortunately, in order to do that you have to take up an issue and deal with it. You can’t run away from every confrontation, and there will be confrontations when you moderate. The key is how you handle it, but even when I’ve been as diplomatic as I know how to be, picked my words like I was writing some kind of master’s degree, even then sometimes things have spiralled. I’ve had to learn to accept that sometimes delivery and intention isn’t enough, sometimes you can’t reach people even if you really want to. Sometimes people have to learn and accept things for themselves, and part of being a moderator means being stern when you need to be.

Which is where my insecurity issues have at times been a problem, as I’ve been hesitant to press an issue if someone I consider more experienced has a different view. However, we can all make mistakes. Youngling or master, what I’ve learned in my moderating is that everyone makes mistakes; everyone steps outside the line at times. And people can react in a volatile manner despite whatever words you use; you cannot always predict how someone will react. Being a moderator means sometimes fighting the uncomfortable battles, being honest when you see something that’s problematic and that can be far more difficult than it sounds like. I had to raise an issue against someone well-respected and protected and that was a very intimidating thing to do. On this I was given support by other mods and admins eventually, so I was reassured I was in the right, but it was still very daunting. Personally I’d rather have avoided the situation, but as it had consequences for our members, many of which were new and vulnerable, I felt the only right thing to do was to step up and press the issue. It was difficult, and I felt that self-doubt for days afterwards, but the situation was dealt with and handled.

However, despite accepting that things won't always flow with the current, one particular lesson I think is vital, is how much is in the choice of words. How you chose to present something can make all the difference. I have seen a thread turning to chaos, experienced making it peaceful again with a few well-chosen words, and then had someone cause it to spiral out of control with a thoughtless remark. I’ve had to fight my own resentment at seeing a topic dealt with suddenly turn sour because so many are so careless about how they choose to phrase their messages. I’ve sat there and though; “Geez, how can it be so bloody hard to just treat people with respect and care?!” Those times I have had to take a break to calm myself before getting back to the moderating. Some days it has felt like some people just want to aggravate others so they have an excuse to punish them. People have their weaknesses, and pushing buttons in order to expose these weaknesses instead of treating them with a bit of care, maybe help them learn something seems to be the preferred option. Like the easy way of provoking people is simply favoured over consideration and care, and that people aren't willing to take the difficult route of guiding over the easy way that is pushing people away.

Being a moderator has helped with my confidence and it has made me view things more realistically. It has helped me see a bigger picture of the reality of things. It has definitely helped me grow on the Jedi path. It’s made me aware of some of my own weaknesses and strengths, as well as helped me see others better. It has been an exercise in diplomacy and decision making the entire way. I have learned a lot about my own nature, maybe particularly my shadow side. How easily I can get frustrated with people, and how I can get very judgmental when it comes down to it. Because I do expect a lot from some people, and far less from others, and I can be equally as harsh as I can be forgiving. Awareness is the first step towards change. It’s when we are pressed that we find a better understanding of our own nature.

Qui-Gon Jinn: "There's always a bigger fish."
The following user(s) said Thank You: Kol Drake, Atticus, Jax

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