Author Topic: Army.ca: Setting proper expectations  (Read 17959 times)

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Offline Mike Bobbitt

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Army.ca: Setting proper expectations
« on: July 16, 2007, 17:37:59 »
Folks,

I have not waded in here because I've been traveling, but I was dismayed with a large proportion of the posts in the recent "Tone and Content" split.
 
The complaint that Army.ca suffers from an apparent "heavy-handedness" is largely misplaced, I believe. I think what we're really seeing here is a mismatch of expectations and the context surrounding them.

As was pointed out, other similar sites are either unmoderated or viciously moderated. In the former case, it is nearly impossible to find useful information so the discussions degenerate into drivel and people looking for real answers go elsewhere. In the latter case, the "target audience" is someone who has years of operational experience and is an SME in their area (such as weapons and equipment). In that environment, "newbies" are cast aside with such vigour that they simply never return.

So that leaves us with a large pool of sites where experts can have their own very private discussions and other sites where the rabble can daydream about, but little in terms of providing good, solid information to the masses.

Army.ca attempts to fill this gap. We strive - at great personal expense to the Staff - to provide answers and guidance to everyone with an interest in the CF. That's a tall order, made taller by the fact that there are few alternatives in the search for useful, organized information on the CF. This means that Army.ca is one of - if not "the" - preferred source for information on the Canadian Military, and is often mistaken for the official CF website.

All this means that our visitors come here with certain expectations.

They expect to be treated courteously. They expect to find the answers to the questions they have. They expect that Army.ca will be there for them. These are all reasonable expectations, but sometimes the context of their expectations causes problems.

Sometimes they expect to be treated courteously when they don't take the time to become familiar with our rules, conventions and culture. Sometimes they expect to find answers without having to search or do some independent digging. Sometimes they expect that Army.ca will be there for them even long after they have outstayed their welcome.

It is times like this - when a user has what might appear on the surface to have "reasonable expectations" - that the Staff must take action to protect the way of life we have made here. Our information is valued by so many because it's easy to find. It's not cluttered by repeated or off topic posts. Our users and Staff are (generally) courteous because we know that if we are not, our collective benefits will be diminished. We expect that Army.ca will continue to exist and serve us in this way, and we become defensive when we believe that is put at risk.

It's also important to note that our ability to meet these expectations varies. As pointed out, we are a group of volunteers running a private site. There will be times when no-one is available to answer a user's question. There will be times when a member of the Staff is fed up and walks away. The important thing to realize is that many users expect that they will receive a consistent level of service, when the reality is that it's currently more of a "best effort" approach.

So, after a bit of rambling, I'll conclude in point form:

  • We have a good thing going here, but we need to work together to keep it that way. That is, users working with users to help when a repeat question is asked. It's users working with the Staff to help identify potential problems, and it's Staff working with users to help provide the best experience we can. If we cooperate, quite simply, we'll all benefit. If we spend our time taking pot shots and making abrasive comments, we degrade that benefit quite rapidly.
  • There is never a need to be rude. If you have a request or if you have a job to do, you can accomplish your task - arguably with greater effect - if you do it politely. If you're letting emotion get the better of you, back off until you can compose a message without saying "There!" when you hit post.
  • Yes, it is rude to show up and presume you don't need to follow our well established procedures!
  • If you're going to complain about the quality of work performed by a team of dedicated volunteers, chose your words carefully.
  • We are a military at war. What we need to do now is to work together to continue to improve the services we offer. Infighting and nit picking - even if it's "only here" - distracts us from that aim.

Thanks to everyone who read this far, I look forward to working together to continue to improve our community.


Cheers
Mike
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 05:06:15 by Mike Bobbitt »

Offline smitty66

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 17:54:47 »
Bravo!!!

Offline Mr.Newf

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 17:55:32 »
Great post Mike! Thanks.
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Offline BulletMagnet

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 18:43:01 »
I avoided that thread like the plague.

Mike makes excellent points and some that I think, as a user and not a MOD, I wish to expand on. I hope the owner and the DS do not mind.

I have been a member, and am currently a subscribing member, for a few years now. And I can honestly say I have never found a website or a community as strong as this. Yes, this site is less of a web site; rather it is more an online community in the very real sense of the word.

Army.ca (Milnet.ca:  I am old school this will always be Army.ca for me) is a place where not just those without CF experience can come to and query those with experience, but it is also a place where those of us with years of experience can come and query those subjects we have less then total knowledge about. I, myself, have come here with questions regarding numerous things and have had the answers, with PAM references, long before I could search out my answer using the CF PAM library or any other online reference tool.

I have seen civilians come here with open and honest intentions, asking a question that the serving members have happily answered. If the answer was not readily available, those members have gone and found the answer for that person. On the flip side, I have seen CF members come here and think that, by virtue of wearing the uniform, they were above everyone else and some also held expectations that were less than realistic in what this site could or would provide and tolerate.

On the topic of community, what can I say? My personal experience has been that the members and DS of this site are a cut above anyone else I have met. When I was injured overseas the site owner came to my bedside with concern; not just for a person he knew, but also for soldiers serving their country. I have never made serious mention of this because I was sure Mr. Bobbit did not need, nor did he want, recognition for his efforts.

Mr. Bobbit came to the hospital with shirts for all the wounded to have (and we were very much in need of fresh clothing!), magazines for us to read, and some beverages that went down well (while the doctors weren't looking). That alone would have made this place very special to me BUT then there were the PM's to my then-wife showing emotional concern, not just for my physical health, but for her emotional health as well. DS members of this site who had been in similar situations offered expert advice on what was needed at the time, and, of course, there were cards from DS and site members making sure I was doing well.

I say all of this not as some sort of need to out-pour, but because I think it might make the points made by Mike Bobbit more poignant. If you come here and stay within the site rules of this COMMUNITY, it will be there for you in ways that you can not imagine. If you come here with expectations that fall outside of those rules then you have only yourself to blame for whatever befalls you here; whether it's site members jumping on you or the DS running you down the ramp to freefall. Really it is your own fault.

Take responsibility for your own actions and posts. You can come here and point fingers at the staff or members for being this and that, but, in the end, it is a reaction to how you come off in your own posts and then again in your replies.

In conclusion, the rules exist for everyone; play nice or don't play at all. Understand that if you play and ignore the rules, then you have the consequences of that choice and the ramifications of it on your own head. Don't pass your shortcomings off on the DS as their responsibility.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2007, 19:20:45 by HitorMiss »
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Offline PikaChe

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 19:47:41 »
I'd like to reiterate couple of points that always needs to get mentioned again whenever there is a thread about DS being rude or abusing privileges or whatnot.

This board is special in that all the DS have had prior mil experience, or are current serving members and we all believe in providing a medium where anyone can discusses topics in open fashion (as long as it does not violate rules of conduct or OPSEC/PERSEC). This is, for many of us the best way continue to support the mission of CF, and we want to do this in the most professional manner, because that's how our experience in the military taught us.

The DS wear the Staff hat only when it becomes necessary to intervene because a DS attention is necessary. But for most part, we are just members of the board and you'll see us sharing banters or partake in discussions just like regular members of the board. We want to be part of a relaxed atmosphere in this community, because the community will not grow if everything is restrained and poisonous atmosphere is prevalent. So don't be surprised if some DS do take part in discussions

Of course, the DS are only humans and humans make mistakes. We also have our own personalities and our own way of dealing with problems.
But we also have a system where the DS can mutually check each other's actions (mostly through discussions in mods only part of the forum) and that system works. Any user can appeal a DS decision to moderators or even to Mike Bobbitt, and we all ensure that those PMs and emails do get answered and be reconsidered. We've also had DS be dismissed because they were not what the site required.
The moderating system on this site works.

But for most part, DS presence is rarely required, and also in comparison to amount of traffic and posts are made daily. It is only a minority that causes repeated problems and for most members, this does not affect them.

I think that this site continues to grow every day in number of members and amount of traffic (so much that Mike B has to invest in new server every yr!) speaks volume to the quality of this site, and I truly do believe that we really do have a good thing going here.

Again I will say, feel free to contact a DS if you have any concerns or problems with the site. :)

Offline Beadwindow 7

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 20:18:12 »
Like HoM, I tend to avoid the beat the mods threads...while some people have valid concerns (real or perceived), it generally degrades.

This site is much more to me than just an online forum. It is an online (and offline) community. The nature of my current position with the military has me on the road, a LOT. And just about every location I've travelled to, I've had members (some of them mods) of the site to show me around, maybe have a couple of wobblypops with. Believe me, this helps a lot when, say, you're on a tasking to London, On, the only military member on said tasking, and you don't know anyone.

I've met some great people, and some have become family, not only through our brotherhood of arms, but because of events, discussions, debates, and situations we've shared.

It tears me up to see people ripping at the site. Many of the members here decry Jack Layton and the NDP for using horrible events to our brothers in Afghanistan to stand on the soapbox and try to preach. Isn't it a tad hypocritical to see it here as well?

I don't always agree with the mods. Just like I don't always agree with those appointed over me. But guess what? One thing I have learned in life, and especially in the military, is, you don't have to like it, but you have to do it. Don't agree with what's being said by a mod, or a member? Bring it up the so-called CoC here. I've done it, and as long as you aren't aggressive or obnoxious, you may get answers.

As far as the dogpiling on new people, asking what some of us who have been in longer see as a dumb question. I will admit I'm the kind of person who doesn't suffer fools lightly. I've definitely lost my nerve when someone asked a question that seemed so lacking in common-sense, that was insulting, and they didn't even realize. I think we all have. But I also remember looking at new recruits and asking myself, was I that dumb when I was a recruit? And the answer is yes. It's a question of experience. This is something I've especially learned since I got back from Afghanistan. People ask questions that they don't realize are senseless (this from both Military and Civilians). You try to explain things to them. Try to keep in that in mind when people post questions here.

Personally, I appreciate what the mods here do. Not only do they have lives of their own, careers, families, but they do this of their own free will, and a lot of the mods I've met are genuine fun people. But they also have to deal with a lot of people on this site that aren't interested in giving back to this community. A lot of people want to take, or to disrupt.

So to Mike and the mods, personally, from me, I give you a BZ, and ask that you not get discouraged by what sometimes seems like a lack of appreciation or understanding, and keep it up.
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Offline Flip

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 10:45:36 »
I would like to thank Mike and the staff.

I was very surprised to find such a professional and thoughtful bunch online.

As an outsider, I have been able to learn and appreciate current
events and what you people who wear the uniform do for us all.

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Offline D Squared

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2007, 14:43:42 »
Mike, 

thank you for the post and thank you for Army.ca.

I very much appreciated reading what HitorMiss, Highland Fusilier and Sig_Des wrote.  These are fine people that obviously hold you in high esteem, and deservedly so.
I, an "outsider" like Flip, am also very grateful for all the work that yourself and the DS put in.  It is a wonderful community that I feel very priviledged to be a part of.   

Keep up the good work!

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Offline CdnArtyWife

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2007, 15:30:07 »
I echo the sentiments here, and agree with HoM 100%. We all trip over our own feet every now and then, if we didn't we wouldn't be human. But it is that much more important to watch where we tread so as not to stumble again.

I'd like to heartily thank the DS and Mike B. and all the rest of the "residents of our community" for making my experience with Army.ca (Milnet.ca: I, too, am old school) such a welcoming and educating one.

And thanks to all those who've lent their support to me in one form or another over the past couple of weeks. It was Army.ca (oops, Milnet.ca) that got me (and the hubster) through some tough times lately.

Cheers,

CAW
"For do not forget the soldiers that make up this military are solidly built characters hand hewn from everyday Canadian values: grace, integrity, physical and moral courage, and loyalty." ~ Maj Scott Lang

Offline Careet

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Re: Milnet.ca: Setting proper expectations
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2007, 05:47:38 »
 Mike, your response is nothing less than what I would expect from any of the staff on this site...since joining, I have been able to round out my general knowledge and gain a deeper understanding for our military community and all they and their families are going through right now...professional~knowledgeable~compassionate...three adjectives that I think very clearly defines those running this site...and, might I add...patient. Many thanks from a newbie.
Just when you think you've got it figured out...Wham!...Life let's you know you're not as smart as you think you are. Been there, done that...old enough to know better.

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