Author Topic: Army.ca Staff Reset  (Read 7516 times)

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Offline Mike Bobbitt

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Army.ca Staff Reset
« on: April 19, 2017, 20:32:50 »
Folks,

Effective immediately, Staff privileges have been removed from all accounts.

There are a lot of motivations behind this change, but primarily I feel we have stagnated. Army.ca is a community that was built on a spirit of cooperation and helpful volunteerism. However we have reached a point where for some, the Staff title is a burden. It constrains participation and seems to have become synonymous with "enforcement" instead of "encouragement."

Worse, I have seen a growing feeling of "us and them" from Staff and users alike. As if, somehow, the Staff have become the enemy instead of the guardians. Let me be clear: There is no "them," we are part of the same community, all of us.

With this move, I am cleaning the slate. Anyone who is interested - including previous Staff - must PM me with a request to volunteer as Staff moving forward. I have created some highlights of what is expected of any new Staff volunteers:

  • You are here to serve and assist the site and it's members. Staff have special powers, and these must be used exclusively to provide assistance and maintain order on the site.
  • You must be impartial. Part of our existing issue was real and perceived partiality. And it went both ways, with some users targeting some Staff on a regular basis.
  • You must be reliable. As Staff you will have access to personal information (email addresses, details of complaints against other members, etc.). We must never mishandle this information it or abuse the trust afforded us.
  • You should be knowledgeable. You need not have served, however you should bring some experience, insight or capability to the table.
  • You must not bring drama and politics into the Staff world. If you already have a history of this type of thing on the site, you're probably not what we need.
  • The amount of time you can volunteer is not important. Some will have a great deal of time to give, others very little. It is the intent behind the volunteerism that matters.

If you feel strongly about being "part of the solution" moving forward, please PM me. Keep it short, why you think you can help us set a new direction. I intend to be fairly open to new offers, possibly trimming back in time if we grow too fast or some Staff just don't work out.

No Staff will be added for at least a week. In that time, the site will be unmoderated, save myself. This is not carte blanche to run wild. Please respect that I will have very limited availability to respond, but will tackle high priority items as soon as I can. In addition to my family and three jobs (no joke), I am preparing the server rebuild so my time will be very limited. I'm sure by the end of the week, there will be a renewed appreciation for the Staff's "behind the scenes" work.

Don't kid yourself, this will be no small task. The Staff have put in literally thousands of hours of often tedious, stressful work. Occasionally there is thanks, but more often you will find folks eager to armchair quarterback your decisions and file complaints about what you did wile volunteering your Saturday night.

Finally, I would like to thank all of the Staff that have helped us get here. Your volunteered time built Army.ca into what it is today, and I am deeply honoured to have worked with you. This new direction does not denigrate the countless hours, the emergency sessions, the timely advice that nobody else was privy to, and so much more. I count you all as friends and I hope you remain active here in whatever capacity you choose. Please know that this action is not personal, nor directed at any one individual or situation. I suspect most Staff, if they make an honest assessment, will realize that "it was time."

I look forward to facing the challenges ahead together, as a community focused on making things better.


Cheers
Mike

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2017, 22:38:28 »
 :salute:

dileas

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Offline LunchMeat

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 02:52:30 »
Wow, I was expecting a different kind of bomb drop today... And certainly not from Army.ca.

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Offline Baden Guy

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 07:44:52 »
Mike I greatly value this site that you have created. Any changes that you make to improve the site have my support and appreciation.  :)  :salute:
 

Offline Bass ackwards

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 09:56:46 »

This

The Staff have put in literally thousands of hours of often tedious, stressful work.

+ this

Your volunteered time...

+ this

...the countless hours, the emergency sessions, the timely advice that nobody else was privy to, and so much more.



I thought these were worth repeating. A very few people put in a lot of their own time to try and keep this a first-class site.

Thank you and BZ to those who did.

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2017, 10:07:51 »
Mike I greatly value this site that you have created. Any changes that you make to improve the site have my support and appreciation.  :)  :salute:
What he said  :salute:
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Offline Lumber

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 10:34:21 »
This site has ruined the rest of the internet for me.

Now I can't read/peruse other forums without grinding my teeth at every spelling, grammar, or formatting mistake/omission.

I get legitimately upset when people on other sites (comment sections, forums, etc) use profanity, personal attacks, low-brow slang, poor logic, speak outside their lanes, etc., and that's what 95% of the internet is!

Damn you Army.ca Milnet.ca for holding me to a higher standard and making me appreciate receiving it in kind! Damn you...

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Offline Mike Bobbitt

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2017, 11:31:22 »
Thanks for the support all, I am cautiously optimistic that the reset will ultimately be positive for the site.

As an addendum, all existing warnings have also been lifted (except bans).

Offline ModlrMike

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2017, 13:54:22 »
Perhaps in future we can take moderation in a slightly different direction. In stead of "staff" having blanket authority, we narrow the focus to specific boards. For example one or two boards per person, and one or two staff per board, depending on the size. That way, one would only be able to act as moderator in a relatively narrow focus. This may be challenging to do from a programming sense, but perhaps not if the moderators were chosen carefully.

I agree with Lumber, this site is a breath of fresh air compared to most other forums I've read.
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Offline Flavus101

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2017, 14:08:13 »
I would also like to join those above me in thanking the moderators for their contributions and time committed to making this place the success that it is.

Offline Mike Bobbitt

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2017, 14:35:33 »
Perhaps in future we can take moderation in a slightly different direction. In stead of "staff" having blanket authority, we narrow the focus to specific boards. For example one or two boards per person, and one or two staff per board, depending on the size. That way, one would only be able to act as moderator in a relatively narrow focus. This may be challenging to do from a programming sense, but perhaps not if the moderators were chosen carefully.

This is already available in the forum software, so easy to implement from a technology side. The hard part is E.G. when there the only "staff" online is moderator for the Artillery boards and someone drops spam in a Navy board. All they can do is sit and watch, or escalate to someone else and hope they get the message. The old global system was designed to specifically foster a "pitch in" attitude in that regard.

Still worthy of thought though, and maybe we take on some moderators for specific areas (to leverage their SMEness) and others as global moderators to keep things flowing smoothly.


Cheers
Mike

Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2017, 15:20:24 »
Firstly Mike,

Army.ca is a great site, there isn't any other place on the web with the comprehensive amount of data that is readily accessible with a community willing to help people out.  It also provides a great forum for folks to have discussions concerning the CAF in an anonymous forum that they wouldn't otherwise be allowed to have.  This being said, I'm a member of a couple of other forums and one of the things that separates them from here is the discussions the moderators insert their own opinions in to, for better or for worse.  Not a knock against anyone in particular, just an observation.

I think if you are going to revisit how the moderator operates and what their role is, they first and foremost need to be impartial at all times, regardless of what their personal opinion on a given subject is.  The only thing that should matter is if the post conforms to the site guidelines.  Moderators are free to participate in discussions; however, they should restrict themselves to posting facts and not trying to sway the court of public opinion.     

Offline Cloud Cover

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2017, 15:45:46 »
I've been a site member since 2004. For all of those years, the DS have done a great job on their own time and likely to their own distress at times.  A thankless job, but BZ to all of you and good luck with the new format MB!
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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2017, 15:57:22 »
Perhaps in future we can take moderation in a slightly different direction. In stead of "staff" having blanket authority, we narrow the focus to specific boards. For example one or two boards per person, and one or two staff per board, depending on the size. That way, one would only be able to act as moderator in a relatively narrow focus. This may be challenging to do from a programming sense, but perhaps not if the moderators were chosen carefully.

I agree with Lumber, this site is a breath of fresh air compared to most other forums I've read.

We tried this in the early days. Problems arose of availability, subject knowledge, etc. It was a good idea, and we tried to make it work. In the end it became overly cumbersome. Everything is good for a second look though.


Still worthy of thought though, and maybe we take on some moderators for specific areas (to leverage their SMEness) and others as global moderators to keep things flowing smoothly.

Cheers
Mike

That might work though.


I think if you are going to revisit how the moderator operates and what their role is, they first and foremost need to be impartial at all times, regardless of what their personal opinion on a given subject is.  The only thing that should matter is if the post conforms to the site guidelines.  Moderators are free to participate in discussions; however, they should restrict themselves to posting facts and not trying to sway the court of public opinion.     

So, the Moderators just moderate. They are not allowed to participate and offer an opinion like a member, which they are? While I agree they shouldn't moderate a subject they are involved in, I see no harm in them participating like everyone else, so long as it's identified they are posting as a member and not a moderator and they don't moderate that thread. Or am I missing your point? I don't know a single person that would be happy joining the board strictly as a sheriff and not being able to participate as a member. Given they would be restricted to just facts when posting, would the same be said for non moderators? Even when people site sources, others challenge with yells of 'fake news'. I think, it might get pretty boring to read, if every post is a simple, one sentence statement of fact accompanied by a link. I must be missing something. :dunno:
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 16:15:19 by recceguy »
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Offline recceguy

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2017, 16:30:59 »
This is good. I'm all for the reset, Now, we're having well thought out suggestions on a way forward, to grow and expand. I'm glad Mike did this. It was needed.

Don't believe for a minute I'm shying away from accepting responsibility for some of the things that went on here. I was in the thick for some and no doubt started others. Everyone is different, with their own personalities. I apologise to all I offended and those I may have mistreated through the years. Most was not intentional, but alas, some likely was. No excuses, I'm not everyone's cup of tea. I just do what I can.

Please have patience when the 'newbs' ;) come on board. This job is not easy, and there's going to be a lot of questions they might not know how to answer or it might take things a little longer than usual for a request to be dealt with. It's going to be a steep learning curve they face. Be kind to them. :nod:


We've got a good thing going here folks. Hopefully, whatever Mike rolls out will grow to be the bigger, better Milnet.ca 2.0
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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2017, 17:08:48 »
In case you missed it, Mike's intent is to enhance your experience which requires financial support:

https://army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,125516.0.html

Quote
Re: Server Hosting 2017
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2017, 13:28:33 »
Folks, after quite a bit of review, I have decided that Option #4 is probably the best choice. It is a fair bit more effort for slightly more performance/less cost, but it moves us in the right direction. It will certainly introduce a bit more pain in the short term while all the kinks are worked out, however long-term it will provide the most efficient and cost effective option.

Starting next weekend, I will begin building the replacement server alongside this one. I expect it will take a week to get ready and is planned to come online around the first of May.

We currently have 60 active subscribers (thanks!) for $1,800 per year in subscription funds. The server hosting cost is about $300 / month, so we are half way there already.
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Offline Humphrey Bogart

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2017, 17:09:57 »
We tried this in the early days. Problems arose of availability, subject knowledge, etc. It was a good idea, and we tried to make it work. In the end it became overly cumbersome. Everything is good for a second look though.

That might work though.

So, the Moderators just moderate. They are not allowed to participate and offer an opinion like a member, which they are? While I agree they shouldn't moderate a subject they are involved in, I see no harm in them participating like everyone else, so long as it's identified they are posting as a member and not a moderator and they don't moderate that thread. Or am I missing your point? I don't know a single person that would be happy joining the board strictly as a sheriff and not being able to participate as a member. Given they would be restricted to just facts when posting, would the same be said for non moderators? Even when people site sources, others challenge with yells of 'fake news'. I think, it might get pretty boring to read, if every post is a simple, one sentence statement of fact accompanied by a link. I must be missing something. :dunno:

It might be a challenge for some but it comes down to who polices the police?  In a sense I see moderators almost like
 court judges, they apply the law as it is written and don't bring personal opinion in to their rendering of decisions.


Offline Ayrsayle

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2017, 19:45:53 »
Perhaps in future we can take moderation in a slightly different direction. In stead of "staff" having blanket authority, we narrow the focus to specific boards. For example one or two boards per person, and one or two staff per board, depending on the size. That way, one would only be able to act as moderator in a relatively narrow focus. This may be challenging to do from a programming sense, but perhaps not if the moderators were chosen carefully.

I agree with Lumber, this site is a breath of fresh air compared to most other forums I've read.

I think this might be an effective way going forward - rather then a blanket authority of "staff" simply referring to them as Moderators who curate and streamline particular boards and keep to the general site guidelines.  You'll have a number of people who might be willing to take one a slice of the responsibility (so to speak) where they might not consider themselves as definitive experts on everything, but can likely know quite a bit in their respective lanes, etc.

I've nothing but respect and appreciation for the Staff who have devoted their time to creating an environment of useful knowledge on the internet.  This site was an amazing resource when I was first trying to apply to the military and it has remained so many years later thanks to their efforts.

Hopefully the change will be effective moving forward.
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Offline George Wallace

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2017, 19:58:58 »
I think this might be an effective way going forward - rather then a blanket authority of "staff" simply referring to them as Moderators who curate and streamline particular boards and keep to the general site guidelines.  You'll have a number of people who might be willing to take one a slice of the responsibility (so to speak) where they might not consider themselves as definitive experts on everything, but can likely know quite a bit in their respective lanes, etc.

We have (had) one person, who is an actual CF Recruiter, Moderating the Recruiting Threads for the past couple months, after our dedicated forum for CAF Recruiters was terminated.  This person was able to give the latest and best advice to the threads in the Recruiting Forums; but as one person, with limited time away from their day job, they were unable to be on the site to Moderate and answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (24 and 7.)  If that person was not on the site for long periods, it would be left to other Moderators, Mentors, or even site members to chip in.  So, like Communism, a great idea on paper, but not so good in reality.
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Offline Ayrsayle

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2017, 20:06:40 »
We have (had) one person, who is an actual CF Recruiter, Moderating the Recruiting Threads for the past couple months, after our dedicated forum for CAF Recruiters was terminated.  This person was able to give the latest and best advice to the threads in the Recruiting Forums; but as one person, with limited time away from their day job, they were unable to be on the site to Moderate and answer questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (24 and 7.)  If that person was not on the site for long periods, it would be left to other Moderators, Mentors, or even site members to chip in.  So, like Communism, a great idea on paper, but not so good in reality.

Entirely fair and I don't have the benefit of the previous examples to draw from.  I'll admit a bit of personal bias as "new" members like myself could assist in a limited capacity, but would likely shy away from the workload I assume is part of trying to moderate everything that comes up across all the threads.  The Hybrid model of some monitoring specific boards and others being the overarching moderators could likely work then, as some have more time and others less.

The alternative appeared to be a few committed Staff trying to do all the workload, which may have resulted in the frictions Mike is alluding to.
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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2017, 20:20:26 »
Don't forget, we still have volunteers who act as MENTORS, who do monitor the site threads and answering questions, etc.; but do not have all the 'powers' of the Moderators.
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Offline recceguy

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2017, 01:21:48 »
It might be a challenge for some but it comes down to who polices the police?  In a sense I see moderators almost like
 court judges, they apply the law as it is written and don't bring personal opinion in to their rendering of decisions.

Forgive me if I keep missing your point.

You're saying a Moderator has no right to a say or opinion unless they are moderating a conflict?  And then only in the capacity of a mediator on that particular disagreement? The hardest working people on this site don't get to participate? You're proposing Moderators not participate at all until they have to impose the rules? Is that what you're saying? If it is, I think you just made Mike's job of finding new mods quite a bit more difficult. If he accepts your premise.

Now, if you want to pay someone, I don't know $20,000-$30,000 to just sit by and say nothing except to moderate, recruitment might be easier. Volunteer for that? Not so much.

Not being an ***, but if that's what your suggestion is, I don't think it'll work. Just my opinion though YMMV.

 :salute:
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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2017, 01:30:47 »
Forgive me if I keep missing your point.

You're saying a Moderator has no right to a say or opinion unless they are moderating a conflict?  And then only in the capacity of a mediator on that particular disagreement? The hardest working people on this site don't get to participate? You're proposing Moderators not participate at all until they have to impose the rules? Is that what you're saying? If it is, I think you just made Mike's job of finding new mods quite a bit more difficult. If he accepts your premise.

Now, if you want to pay someone, I don't know $20,000-$30,000 to just sit by and say nothing except to moderate, recruitment might be easier. Volunteer for that? Not so much.

Not being an ***, but if that's what your suggestion is, I don't think it'll work. Just my opinion though YMMV.

 :salute:

Well said.

This may be a Canadian Military themed site, but it is not run by the Government.  Moderators are volunteers, whose duty is to make the site run in the theme Mike Bobbitt wants.  It is not some sterile wikipedia forum, as we already have that if you wish to paticipate there.

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2017, 08:31:11 »
Forgive me if I keep missing your point.

You're saying a Moderator has no right to a say or opinion unless they are moderating a conflict?  And then only in the capacity of a mediator on that particular disagreement? The hardest working people on this site don't get to participate? You're proposing Moderators not participate at all until they have to impose the rules? Is that what you're saying? If it is, I think you just made Mike's job of finding new mods quite a bit more difficult. If he accepts your premise.

Now, if you want to pay someone, I don't know $20,000-$30,000 to just sit by and say nothing except to moderate, recruitment might be easier. Volunteer for that? Not so much.

Not being an ***, but if that's what your suggestion is, I don't think it'll work. Just my opinion though YMMV.

 :salute:

Not exactly, I'm thinking in particular of the politics, policy, marijuana threads on this site.  IMO moderators should not engage in flame wars on those threads.  I myself have been caught up in flaming on those threads at times and have been warned appropriately (damn autospell).  Hindsight, I should have just bitten my tongue. 

The thing about policy, politics, controversial subjects, etc... is there really isn't a right or wrong answer to something.  If a moderator does engage in debating these subjects than impartiality goes out the window.  The old proverb "you can't have your cake and eat it too" comes to mind. 

A way to get around this is how posts are framed.  For instance, instead of saying "my opinion on xx is the following" you would say "have you though about xx". 

In any case, as you and Tess have aptly pointed out, this is Mike's site and he is free to do as he wishes with it.  One thing I wouldn't mind seeing is a blog tied to this site, sort of like this:  http://ruxted.ca where members could submit articles on anything pertaining to Defence or Military Issues.  It could be anything from book reviews, opinion papers, etc... that would be of interest to the Canadian Military.  An example of an articles you could see would be "opinion piece:  use of medicinal marijuana by veterans and serving members" or book review "'The Chopper Boys:  Helicopter Warfare in Africa' and lessons for future Canadian Peace Support Operations in Africa".  Outside of the talking heads we see on the news, there is a dearth of actual commentary on military affairs from serving members of the CAF".  Outside of guys like Ian Hope and Bernd Horn, I can't remember the last time I actually read something of value from a senior officer in the military.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 11:10:50 by Humphrey Bogart »

Offline Mike Bobbitt

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Re: Army.ca Staff Reset
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2017, 08:50:31 »
One thing I wouldn't mind seeing is a blog tied to this site, sort of like this:  http://ruxted.ca where members could submit articles on anything pertaining to Defence or Military Issues...

Love it. As you likely know, Ruxed.ca was born and raised here, built from the ground up by an open group of contributors that used Army.ca to hammer out drafts and draw in expertise when needed. Ruxted is actually hosted right here, on the same server as Army.ca. :) However it has been dormant for a few years now, with interest and free time having tapered off for the key contributors. Maybe part of the fresh start will include a renewed interest in it, or a similar project...?