So, I want to address a concern of mine that I've been mentally calling the "Content-Moderation Time Gap" (hereafter "the Mod Gap" for short).
The Mod Gap is the several months between when it is projected content creators will be able to post content, tagging it for future moderation, and when it is projected moderator elections will take place subsequently allowing mods to perform their duties.
December - Content Creator Uploading
March - Moderator Elections/Moderation begins
From what I've seen, aside from development timelines, the Mod Gap is purposeful, intended to allow potential moderators to build up reputation in order to be eligible to become mods in accordance with the democratic principles of Narrative in the first place.
I have some concerns about this gap, and I am hoping to get some thoughts from the community and staff about it.
Reputation Building Prior to Election
Requiring a build up of reputation prior to being elected moderator, presumes user behavior not yet in evidence. It may be that the best, fairest, most dedicated mods prefer engaging in moderation actions upon recruitment. Looking to the future, when hopefully the whole world is using Narrative or a Narrative descendant as one of their primary social and content tools, mod candidates can organically emerge (hopefully well before then ). But the reputation requirement might not be flexible enough regarding user behavior for this time when we're just getting off the ground.
Missing Recruitment Opportunity
One of my worries is that we're missing months worth of recruitment opportunities.
I've been looking closely at reddit moderation. What are the duties of reddit moderators? How active are they? And so forth.
My impression is that moderators there, especially for the larger subreddits are dedicated, hardworking, underpaid and abused. They do the work for the joy of moderating and engaging in the topic. Some of them do the equivalent of a full time job's worth of work! With NO PAY.
Certain subreddits even require college degrees in order to moderate them. Again though... with no pay.
Recruiting mods from reddit seems an obvious priority, particularly as we try to expand the community and get the pieces in place for widespread adoption sometime in 2019-2020. Every year the idea of paying reddit moderators is floated and is shot down/mocked. As a former union organizer for graduate student teachers, another group that had to fight (and still has to fight actually) to be recognized as contributing workers, this annoys me. But it doesn't annoy me enough to approach them at the non-ideal time, in the non-ideal way.
It will be much, much easier to recruit these people once there is something for them to actually do, and if they can jump in without having to engage in behaviors strictly for the purpose of acquiring reputation.
Re-recruiting is a pain and a falloff point
It is obviously possible to recruit in the absence of the ability to perform moderation functions, as we've recently seen. However, anybody recruited now who signs up and gets off the waitlist will have to be recontacted and essentially re-recruited. This creates another recruitment falloff point (and more work for e.g. owners.)
Current Moderator Falloff Points
1 User interested but fails to get on wait list
2 User gets on wait list but fail to register
3 User registers but fails to self-nominate
4 User self-nominates but fails to show up after election
Each falloff point above needs followup action from owners/Narrative in this building period. The more time between falloff points the more likely it is that someone will need nudging at the next point. The Mod Gap is, currently, the longest gap we have, and it leads right into Beta. I'm not sure that's a great setup.
I haven't listed all my concerns here, just a few I think really warrant discussion and that can be naturally grouped together. I don't know what the solution is either. Waive reputation for the first election? After all, the reality is most currently nominated mods are likely niche owners. Maybe waive the rep requirement upon recommendation of several current users? Inherit Reddit rep based on an algorithm for a limited time? Push content to March so content and modding can roll out/be alpha tested together?
In any case, I'd like to hear thoughts of other folks.