We Are Family
Army.ca, like many Web 2.0 initiatives, is more than a website, it is a community. As an online community, we depend on the involvement and interaction of members not only to ‘create content’, but also to collectively set the tone for the online experience that Army.ca delivers. The responsibility for that experience, for old and new members alike, is shared by all of us.
Some choose to see the DS as the gatekeepers, but that is far from the truth. Quite often, if you are finding that the Staff approach conflicts with your personal expectations of the Army.ca experience, it is less a DS problem than it is a collective problem in which we (the all-encompassing “we”) have failed to maintain a widely acceptable spirit of participation.
It may be easy to sit back and say “the DS should have locked that thread up”, “the DS locked that thread too soon”, or “the DS shouldn’t be both members and DS in the same thread.” But each time you do, it’s an abdication of your own share of the responsibility to help manage the boards. We’ve all seen the comments to new posters along the lines of “wait out, a DS will be along soon to help you out”, and as often the complaint about the DS multi-coloured standard response to unresearched simple questions. We’ve also seen attempts by DS to gently manage new posters with carefully targeted responses leading to the search page and guidance on how to use it, and seen it completely ignored as well.
How often, by the time a DS arrives, is a thread already a puddle of crap, when the simple voluntary participation of the first experienced member might have diverted a mess. Sometimes what appears to be DS heavy-handedness is nothing more than an attempt to clean up after all the bystanders ignored the situation. Notably, we’ve never once seen criticism of those who had the opportunity to step in and didn’t, not like we’ve seen jabs at the staff for trying to restore order. Order that didn’t have to be lost in the first place.
We all share a responsibility to keep Army.ca running on an even keel.
When a ‘newbie’ jumps in, any member can step in and offer advice, such as:
- We can’t discuss that here, it is an Operational Security (OPSEC) issue
- Your question is poorly worded, but I think you mean [this], and therefore your answer is [this]
- Please don’t use MSN speak, it reflects poorly on the professional communications skills we prefer and encourage at Army.ca. For now, the information you are looking for can be found [here].
- Your answer can be found in [this] FAQ [here]
- Your question has been asked before; you should start your reading with [this thread].
- You can find answers to these questions using the [search page], try a search using [these terms]
- The best person on the forums to answer your particular question is [this person], try contacting him by PM or wait a few days for him to find the thread
- Sorry, but you can’t just join as a [sniper / JTF 2 / etc.], please start with the [Recruiting FAQ] and with [searches] on these terms ...
Notably, none of these responses need DS/Moderator powers to post. They can all be non-confrontational and all start with an assumption that the poster just didn’t know how to post here, or what questions to ask.
Similarly, with experienced members, sometimes the best person to intervene is a peer (by rank or experience). Tossing out a gentle caution that perhaps their message is coming across poorly can be made in open forum, or by PM, whichever is best suited to the situation. Either way, something needs to be posted (or edited) in the thread so that the next person doesn’t have a bad reaction. We don’t need to create controversy, but all too often by the time a DS arrives on the scene, the misunderstanding is well out of control and the context of a solution in progress is lost on the staff trying to catch up.
We have all participated equally in building Army.ca and the very unique information storehouse it has become. Now we all have to accept that we equally share a responsibility to maintain a smoothly running forum. It isn’t, nor should it be, just a DS responsibility.
Try it some time.
You won't go wrong.