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It has to be said: chat moderation is a mess. Various questions about exactly how to moderate chat have been asked before, and have got some answer - but for moderators, there's very little solid guidance on how to moderate chat beyond the standard FAQ, especially compared to the excellent guidance we're given about main site moderation.

I'd like to both clarify and standardise the standards for moderating chat. Currently, many rooms have different cultures regarding topics such as expletives, and that makes it hard for moderators to consistently correctly apply actions.

Could we have a document, possibly part of the mod help zone, that lays out more clearly what is and isn't acceptable in chat, and provides guides on what actions to take? Preferably, this document would be constructed with feedback from moderators and chat regulars, and would provide some basis for telling people clearly "that's not acceptable, here or anywhere", without them being able to say "but they get away with it [here](link to noncompliant chatroom)!"

I'm looking for something perhaps a bit like how the NEW new Be Nice policy was constructed - feedback from everyone on how they want it to be, and some guidelines constructed.

(And yes, I know in theory the Be Nice policy governs chat too, but policies and rules are often more lax in chat, and this has lead to confusion about moderation.)

  • Why are policies and rules more lax in chat when they're hosted by the same company? Is it suddenly Woodstock? – random Oct 4 '15 at 21:29
  • @random It's just the nature of chat, being more informal and friendly - we still expect people to treat each other with respect, but everywhere interprets that differently and there's no central policy like the Be Nice that standardises it. – ArtOfCode Oct 4 '15 at 21:30
  • Expanding the meaning of this then chat.stackexchange.com/faq#nice – random Oct 4 '15 at 21:31
  • @random That section is part of my problem. How do you interpret "with respect?" How should we define "inappropriate", or "offensive"? People see different things as offensive, and what's OK in one room might be completely inappropriate in another, or even encouraged in a third. – ArtOfCode Oct 4 '15 at 21:34
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    Precisely. The chat rooms have been around long enough so that each has its own culture. I don't think it's possible, or desirable, to try and enforce a one-size-fits-all policy. For example, the AU chat doesn't like profanity while the ELU one has no issues with it whatsoever. Trying to change one or the other would not go down well. – terdon Oct 4 '15 at 21:36
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    @terdon I recognise that. I'm trying to strike a balance between keeping those cultures alive, and enabling moderators to moderate, without constantly being challenged that what they're saying doesn't apply here or here or here. – ArtOfCode Oct 4 '15 at 21:39
  • Somewhat relevant: How do I moderate my own chatroom? – Diminutive Colossus Oct 4 '15 at 22:11
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    So related: Allow chat rooms to define their own rules within limits. In fact, I feel like this question is the inverse (converse?) of the other...where this one asks for things to be more standard, the other asks for more freedom. – Bob Oct 5 '15 at 9:41
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    @Bob My feature request is not actually asking for more freedom, but it is acknowledging the existing differences in chat moderation. There are probably more aspect that are universal than those that differ on a per-room basis, but those per-room differences tend to cause drama because flags are global. These two feature requests are not mutually exclusive. – Mad Scientist Oct 5 '15 at 14:41
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Bluefeet put together A guide to moderating chat

The guide is divided into three sections:

Each section builds on the last by attempting to describe both the available tooling and present the goals and guidelines for their use. The guide is structured as a wiki - feel free to make corrections or additions as long as they are in keeping with the overall philosophy, which is discussed separately and now summarized in a little "welcome" pop-up shown once to every user:

...where the "flag it" text links back to the guide for regular users.

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    The flag confirmation dialogue still says "spam, inappropriate, or offensive" rather than "makes me uneasy"? Is that going to be changed as well? – Matt Giltaji Mar 7 '16 at 16:49
  • There are two types of flags, @Matt. The guide explains the use of both – Shog9 Mar 7 '16 at 16:54
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    Step 1: "See something that makes you uneasy? Don't hesitate to flag it." - the popup everyone will see Step 2: "Remember: Only flag things that are truly inappropriate or offensive." - the guide no one will read Step 3: People get suspended. – Slacklord the Terrible Mar 7 '16 at 23:35
  • Yeah, yeah, doom and gloom @Axelrod. To borrow from the gun nuts, if we restrict flags only to the offended, then only the offended will use flags. Let's aim to nip problems in the bud instead of constantly lopping off branches. Who knows, it might work better than the tit-for-tat stuff that y'all have been complaining about. – Shog9 Mar 7 '16 at 23:39
  • As with the gun debate, I offer a third option. Just put the reminder on that popup / allow mental health records to be accessible to -- you know what? Tacos. First half of the sentence will do. – Slacklord the Terrible Mar 7 '16 at 23:44

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