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Joined: April 29, 2002
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United Front
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Posted on Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:04 pm
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Hey folks, now that we can use this forum again, I'd like to discuss a rather more serious matter, the board's relationship with the members.

In the last year, we've had several unfortunate incidents where different admins ended up wrangling in public over admin decisions. Now, it's natural that we won't all agree with each other sometimes, or even most of the time, given the number of admins we have, but I think we need to make our problems our own, not those of the membership.

Here's the thing. On a discussion board, there's no body language. Any of us can misunderstand the emotional overtones (or lack thereof) of a text message, and the natural response when one feels insulted, ignored, or misunderstood is to react emotionally. The problem is, a tiny emotional inflection in a text message can be magnified by the same forces that caused the original misunderstanding. We've all seen flame wars that began as reasoned discussions that others jumped into because they misperceived the tenor of the exchange.

When two admins disagree in the open fora, others jump into the fray, and the content of multiple responses can become conflated into a massive emotional backlash, even where neither of the original two intended anything but a rational exchange.

I believe that in the future, if an admin takes an action one or more other admins disagree with, we need to be more formal in our pursuit of the decision review process mentioned in our charter. If we hash things out without allowing the members to jump into the discussion, we can present a united front to the membership.

I don't want to hide our disagreements at all, just keep the number of possible participants small (so that issues don't get blown out of proportion), and be sure that things aren't carried out in the middle of threads about other things.

I also believe we need to review our policies as regards off-topic posting in the fora, as we seem to have at least three different viewpoints in play, and the 'gray areas' seem to be the source of a great deal of contention.


"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."

George Bernard Shaw
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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:54 am
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This is something I think is very important and something I'd like to see.

I've seen it happen several times, sometimes with me as the target, and I've always seen it as very disrespectful to presume one admin's decision trumps another's.

It's somewhat of a weak line of reasoning, that whoever acts first gets to acts right away, and if someone else wants to change that they have to bring it up for review, but, I don't see any other way.

The most recent incident was a mere misunderstanding. For anyone who hates drama and wants a recap:

1) Legba stickied a thread. It was an announcement kind of thing.
2) A few weeks later, I unstickied it when the event the thread was centered on, had passed. Not to undo her actions, just 'cause I thought it was time.
3) Legba almost immediately restickied it, not to undo my actions, but because she didn't know it was the same thread, and didn't know it was unstickied because I'd just done that. She thought it hadn't ever been stickied and that it should be, because she was asked to do so by a couple members. There were several similar threads in different rooms with similar purposes, so, confusion over it was reasoable.

Though, I don't think anyone said much about it in public. We talked about it in PM. There was disagreement and confusion about moving the thread, but that was discussed in public.

One of the difficulties involved in this, is there's no way to track admin decisions. Suppose I wanted to message the admin who originally stickied a thread, to see if they thought it was time to let it drop. Just because, y'know, they'd stickied it in the first place, maybe drop a quick message to them and see, so they don't think I'm stepping on their toes. How would I know who or how?

Generally, I don't think mods would be possessive about their actions. That is, if I stickied a thread I wouldn't consider it "mine", and then necessarily hold myself accountable to making sure I keep up on it and come back to unsticky it if needed. If I thought it needed stickying, I'd do so. If I then ignore MAIL for a few months or am busy with other stuff or just don't feel like putting on the mod hat, or that thread bores me and I don't look at it again, I'd expect other mods, if they saw it needed other action, to feel free to take it. Two separate actions.

I've been thinking about this for years, but, there's not really any easy solution. The best I can come up with, is to have a thread here just for the purposes of tracking mod actions.

Ex) "Cynake - Jan 30, 2008 - *link*, locked topic - turned into flame war."

But even then, important things are things like "I told that user they should post in a different thread", or, *shrug*.. there are private things too. We don't have a private forum for admin stuff, so... not sure how that'd work out.

Food for thought. I think any time you want to outright undo an admin's actions, you owe them, at the very least:

1) A message, telling them why you disagree, and asking them what they think about it an why the acted that way in the first place.

2) If not convinced, an admin thread, to discuss it.

Generally, moderating decisions should be so minor and non-controversial and clearcut as to not warrant serious debate, but, I suppose, by observation that's not always the case.

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:42 am
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There's more to it than just a process, though. I've seen some exchanges between admins where one talked down to another, to the point of being insulting, and others where one was openly disrespectful of another. That just can't happen!

If we get into something here in the admin forum, and it gets heated, that's one thing, but we just can't have that kind of behaviour out in the open forums.


"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."

George Bernard Shaw
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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:56 am
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Well I'm kinda fuming right now.

Cynake wants me to ask him everytime I do something, this Cynake, you said in a PM but you can do something like unsticky a thread I stickied without saying anything. Hummm double standards or what? Either I'm an admin the same as you or I'm not an admin at all.

I was going to post this in Chat, in the birthday club thread which is where I'm quoting from:

Whoa! I have to say something here.

Cynake wrote:


No one's angry. Jeepers.

I don't have a problem with anyone or what they did. It's not like I said "Oh my god, I can't believe you dared post this in the Knitting Circle. What's wrong with you? Can't you read? I am going to lock your account if you post another thread in the wrong forum. ARGGG." ... I saw a thread and thought "Hrm, this is probably more useful to be in, and belongs in the Chat area more than the Knitting Circle, I think I'll suggest it be moved." That's it. I'm not upset with anyone. People getting all upset about me moving a thread are blowing things way out of proportion and I think taking them personally.

Like I said, a reasonable response to a thread being unstickied or moved should've been something as minimal as "Okay" or, "Hrm, I disagree, what's your reasoning?", not what happened here.



This is NOT how you sounded in your PMs to me. You accused me of undermining you authority.


Quote:
Though, in terms of overruling another mod, as in, "I think you made the wrong choice", yes, definitely. Discussion required. It's quite disrespectful to say "Oh well, I disagree, and I'm a mod too, so, I'll just undo that." That didn't happen here though. There's a thread in the admin forum about that right now.


It didn't? Why the accusation then?

I'm sorry I stickied a thread that you unstickied without asking you (even though I was asked by two members). Are you sorry you did the same in reverse or doesn't it matter because it was you?


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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:19 am
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Legba3 wrote:
Well I'm kinda fuming right now.


Hrm, try to calm down. Nothing has changed since, I thought, we were in agreement that no harm had been done.

I... am more confused than ever now. We discussed all of this yesterday, and we talked about all these things, and I thought settled them? All I just did here in this thread, was summarize that. Why so upset?

Quote:
Cynake wants me to ask him everytime I do something,


Please don't exaggerate. I said or implied nothing of the sort. I asked that if you wanted to overrule a decision I made, that I would appreciate being asked about why I made it in the first place and such.

Hardly "everytime you do something", I never said anything so ridiculous or pushy.

Quote:
Hummm double standards or what?


No. There is no double standard. I would do the same to you or any other admin, and have never done otherwise.

Quote:
This is NOT how you sounded in your PMs to me. You accused me of undermining you authority. [...] It didn't? Why the accusation then?


Hrm. Let me try to be clearer. You did in fact, reverse a decision I made, moments after I made it, because you disagreed, without asking me. I don't think I accused you of undermining my authority, I don't much care about my authority, I just thought it was a bit rude to say "Oh, I disagree, so, I'm going to just undo his actions right away". When followed by your comments callously dismissing me, I was, I think reasonably, upset, and contacted you privately about it.

But, no matter. The reason you reverted my actions was because you didn't know that I had unstickied it. You thought it had never been stickied in the first place. So, like I said just above... no problem. And like I said when you said sorry, there was no need to apologize, no big deal. If you got confused or didn't read a couple posts earlier when I said that I had unstickied it.. no fault committed.

.... Also, I presumed Druid Queen's comments were referring to presuming I was mad at Gawthfrawg or Alcomene for posting in the wrong thread, which I wasn't upset about at all. Druid Queen seemed to be trying to blame herself for it being in the wrong forum, but.. there's no one to blame. I thought it was okay, to bend the rules a bit for a little while and post in the KC since it was a time-sensitive issue. I'm not upset, and I don't think anyone else is upset at either of them for doing that. So, the part I wrote there that you quoted, referred to that, not you at all.

Quote:
Are you sorry you did the same in reverse or doesn't it matter because it was you?


No, I am not sorry because there was two and a half weeks between when you originally stickied it (who I didn't know was you, and didn't know who to contact, and the admin forums were down), and when I unstickied it.

The difference isn't that I think it's okay for me to commit the same fault as you. The difference is that when I unstickied it, it was because I saw that the purpose for it being stickied had been fulfilled. It was an announcement in the Knitting Circle to point people to a thread in the Chat forum.. posted so that those that normally ignore the Chat room would see the Birthday Club in time to sign up. I thought the reason there was a post in the wrong forum about it, was because there was a timeliness issue. That people had to be paired up based on birthdays *this year*, and the people organizing it wanted to get it started so anyone who's birthday happened earlier in January didn't get left out. But, once several weeks had passed, the signup had occurred, and the organizers had paired everyone up, I thought the thread's purpose had passed, so I unstickied it.

I didn't unsticky it to undo your actions, or because I disagreed with them. I unstickied it the same as I would any other sticky thread who's time had passed. I figured I just got to it before any other mod did.

So, there you go.

I'm still confused. We went over all this earlier, quite amicably, did we not?

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Oi...
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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:31 am
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Okay, in terms of 'admin same as'... I tend to look at myself as more an Admin here by nessecity (for access to code crap) than an Admin here to make decisions that affect the masses... (Though, I'll end up being the one who makes the biggest changes in an odd twist of fate, but I digress...) Therefore I weight my own opinion slightly below most of you guys.

In the time I've been part of this community, whether on the outside peeking in years ago, taking and not giving back... Or in the past year or so since I've taken a more active role...

But I've watched this spiral a little out of control, in about thirty seconds flat... Between admins actively attacking others in the open, and mods and members being on an even more uneven footing than the TRLf...


Now I know... People are going to disagree, it's human nature, and in a collective of this size where everyone is on an 'even footing' there's bound to be a few scraps where people will 'choose sides' on an issue.

To this end, (remember what I said about taking my suggestions with a grain of salt... At the end of the day, I'm just here to code for you, not attempt to steer anything...) might I suggest actively closing the admin forum to user-views... Or perhaps opening a new forum...
I know this is a little against the spirit you were trying to convey, but it would at least give a place where we could hash out disagreements without having to resort to PM's... And discuss problem threads without havign to worry about hurting peoples feelings if they stumble across the thread... Peer moderated, naturally.
It just removes a little of the 'he said she said' nature of PM's... Brings everything out in the open... Can be quite healthy.


I don't know... I guess I just think part of a 'United Front' involves smiles facing forward, regardless of what's going on behind the scenes... And letting everyone peek behind the scenes seems a little... defeatest...

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:18 pm
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Cynake this is a direct quote from the PM you sent me:

Quote:
Before you jumped to overrule me, I would've appreciated some communication, like, asking why. At the point where I'd overrule another mod, I'd be damned sure I knew it was just a mistake. Not presuming my opinion trumps theirs. If I want to overrule, I discuss it first, and generally err on the side of leaving things be, to support my fellow mods.


You didn't ask/tell me about unstickying the thread! That would have saved a lot of confusion and it's what you're saying I should have done!

A quote from your post above:

Quote:
The difference isn't that I think it's okay for me to commit the same fault as you. The difference is that when I unstickied it, it was because I saw that the purpose for it being stickied had been fulfilled.


Yes and I had a reason to sticky it, I was asked by several members to do so, why is that not worthy?

I'm angry because once again (despite the fact that I too thought we had worked this out) you are saying that your opinion stands and therefore on one elses opinion make any difference.


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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:09 pm
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Legba3 wrote:
You didn't ask/tell me about unstickying the thread! That would have saved a lot of confusion and it's what you're saying I should have done!


I'm saying you should have done it (if you noticed, which you didn't, so that's okay), when you overruled me. As in, had you seen I made one action, and then immediately noticed you disagreed and wanted a different action taken.. so you just went ahead and did it.

What I did to you, was not overrule you or because I disagreed with you. It was two and a half weeks later. A different decision. I wasn't saying "This should never have been stickied here, I am going to undo that", I said "Okay, the reason this was stickied, has come and gone. I'll just unsticky it."

If anyone had done the same to me, I wouldn't've had a problem with it. In fact, pretty sure I have stickied threads and then walked away, and come back much later after not having kept up on them to find them unstickied. Great. That's why we have many moderators with passive duties.

Quote:
Yes and I had a reason to sticky it, I was asked by several members to do so, why is that not worthy?


I didn't say it wasn't worthy. It's certainly cause for discussion. I said that, at that point, what we had was a disagreement. You'd seen (okay, you hadn't seen, but when I wrote to you I presumed you had, as I said it was me and said what I did two posts and a few hours earlier) what I did, been asked by two members, and disagreed. At that point, I would've expected you to contact me, rather than just saying "Oh well, I'll do as I please because I'm a mod too." It was this combined with your callous dismissal of me, that I thought was inappropriate.

What we had when I unstickied it, wasn't disagreement. Much time had passed, and I thought the temporary reason it was stickied had come and gone, since the Birthday Club's signup had officially finished, people knew about it, and partners had been assigned.

Quote:
I'm angry because once again (despite the fact that I too thought we had worked this out) you are saying that your opinion stands and therefore on one elses opinion make any difference.


That is not at all, in the slightest, anything I have said.

...

All I did was summarize the events and our discussion. I do not see at all where I've said anything at all along the lines that you're claiming. I don't understand at all where this is coming from. Quote something I've said here along those lines please. You must be misinterpreting something I've said somehow.

You or anyone else even. Help me out here. I think I'm being fair, unbiased, objective, consistent, and humble. I don't know where this angst and arrogance you're claiming, is coming from. I think you're making my words out to be far far worse than they are.

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:01 pm
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Cynake wrote:

Quote:
I'm angry because once again (despite the fact that I too thought we had worked this out) you are saying that your opinion stands and therefore on one elses opinion make any difference.


That is not at all, in the slightest, anything I have said.

...

All I did was summarize the events and our discussion. I do not see at all where I've said anything at all along the lines that you're claiming. I don't understand at all where this is coming from. Quote something I've said here along those lines please. You must be misinterpreting something I've said somehow.

You or anyone else even. Help me out here. I think I'm being fair, unbiased, objective, consistent, and humble. I don't know where this angst and arrogance you're claiming, is coming from. I think you're making my words out to be far far worse than they are.


You asked me in the PMs if there was anything you could change about how you interact with the members. I said I thought there was that you should remember that anything you say (even if you state it's personal and not as a mod) will be taken as coming from a mod. This you kinda just brushed off.
I also said that publicly calling out a member for (in the case I mentioned) posting a pointless post was all very well but it was done in such a rude way that you shouldn't do that. Or at least you should try to be more diplomatic about it because it doesn't stop it from happening it just upsets the member.
This you also seemed to just brush off saying that you thought it helped stop pointless posts.
So even though you asked me what could be done to improve things, you still have no intention of changing your behaviour towards the members.

I don't think that's humble.

I also think the way you have spoken (posted) in the Birthday club thread is neither fair, unbiased or consistent.

That's my opinion and you can't change my opinion by arguing about it anymore than I change your opinion.


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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:38 pm
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Sheesh. I think you guys are taking this wayyy too seriously.

Do we, as admins of a chainmaille website and forum, have something that drastically changes the world every time we use it? Maybe you guys do, but I don't. Tromp all over me all you want. I really don't care, because, when I'm done approving a few gallery submissions, and maybe saying "Good job" to someone, I log out, push the keyboard back in, and get back to REAL LIFE.

I don't think we're here on MAIL to alter the history of the world. We're here for the art and industry of chainmaille. If MAIL disappears, I'll keep making chainmaille. I'm not here to defend my "honor", nor am I here to raise any issues or talk about anything other than chainmaille. I'm here to help a few other people learn about, or advance their encyclopedic knowledge of....chainmaille!

Admin duties, or appearance of admin "power", or any other ego trip can go to Hades! I'm here to help. Since I'm given responsibilities, I'll place myself aside, and perform them. I'll do my part. I'll vastly exceed that if I'm asked to. I really don't care what you guys think of me or what you do to me anymore because it's not about ME or YOU. It's about US....and chainmaille.

I think if you really want a United Front, then just button up right now and stop defending yourselves from something that doesn't even exist. Just drop it. Stop talking about it. Forget about it. I know it seems like submission or weakness to not defend one's self in a situation like this, and it also feels like ONE person will become a dictator if submission is issued, but that won't happen. No one's going to initiate God Powers and just take control, it can't happen. If your ego hurts, get over it.

Please remember why we're here in the first place. Please.

I'll step off my crate of cleaning product now...

~Mical~ Coif Smiley

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 4:58 pm || Last edited by Cynake on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Legba3 wrote:
This you kinda just brushed off.


I did not brush it off. I considered it, and adjusted accordingly.

Quote:
I don't think that's humble. I also think the way you have spoken (posted) in the Birthday club thread is neither fair, unbiased or consistent. That's my opinion and you can't change my opinion by arguing about it anymore than I change your opinion.


You can certainly change my opinion. It's easy. Point out examples and what they mean. If you think I have been unfair, biased, and inconsistent, show me where each of those occur. I pride myself in my objectivity. I feel like I'm a broken record, having repeated the same thing 6 times, to various people insisting there's some hidden meaning behind what I said, and apparently it's sounding like I'm changing my story every time?

What you can't do is convince me that I meant something I didn't. If you want to call me a liar, okay. I know what I meant, and I know why I did things.

...

Also, thanks for the additional criticism for me, even if it's offtopic and hijacked another thread, but, none of that at all answers any of the questions I asked. Like why this was settled and suddenly you're furious about me summarizing it, what I did wrong, how your opinion suddenly changed between when we agreed and now, how I'm being disrespectful to you, etc. All this could've been sent privately, but.. whatever, since I'm on trial again publicly, do it here.

You said this: "I'm angry because once again (despite the fact that I too thought we had worked this out) you are saying that your opinion stands and therefore on one elses opinion make any difference."

And I asked what I did here in this thread that suddenly enraged you and would make you say such slanderous things about me, because, I can say with certainty that that is *not* my stance and I'd like to address whatever made you think that.

This has come up before. It will occur repeatedly again, without end, until I can see where I have gone wrong and what I should do differently. You haven't shown me that, so, okay, other than venting and getting it off your chest, it's accomplished nothing.

I'm still bewildered where all this angst came from. I give up. Am I crazy and alone in this, or can someone point me to where I've said or implied anything even remotely as arrogant as I'm being made out to have said? *I* know I didn't mean anything close to how I'm being interpreted, and I need to know what to change in how I speak to be clearer.

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:03 pm
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Ok, time for me to weigh in here with a few thoughts.

I agree, we all do need to present a united front as far as managerial issues are concerned. To me this means that if it's a matter of policy, even if on an individual level we don't agree with it, we still need to enact and enforce the policy. However, I do not feel this means that I or any other mod should blindly back the actions of any other mod when it's not a policy issue in the interest of appearing "united".

For example, the issue of the locked tumbler thread in the KC. I felt that Cynake was unnecessarily rude to a member very publicly, in effect rubbing this members nose in what he personally considered to be a garbage post. That is an action I won't back, and not because it was his action; I would have reacted the same way that I did had it been any other mod. Put yourself in the members shoes; I think if any one of us had logged on here after posting something to find that an admin had publicly berated us, we'd be upset, hurt, and confused, and I dare say a little humiliated. I also disagreed with Legba locking the thread with absolutely no communication to the member that she'd done it or why it had been done. Frankly, until she posted about it I too assumed Cynake had done it. Yes, I publicly questioned both mods actions, because both mods acted in a public manner, and also because neither action was a matter of policy and neither action did anything to engender a sense of community; if anything both actions (especially put together) created a sense of alienation for not only the member who originally posted the thread, but for other members stumbling upon it as well. There was no "flame war", and I resent inferences to the contrary. Yes, in instances like this, I will continue to speak my mind, because all though it's important to present a "united front", it's also important (I dare say more so) to squash feelings of "us against them" in regards to the admins and the regular membership.

That being said, a couple of days later I made a snarky comment directed at Cynake in the Birthday Club thread. That was wrong of me and I apologize Cynake. My post was not helpful, constructive, or professional, and it was out of line.

I'd like to chime in as well on the current issue with the Birthday Club thread; to wit, this "sticky" issue (catch the pun? hehe). Personally, moving the thread and un-stickying it without so much as a hey howdy hey was an inconsiderate and high handed move. There was nothing wrong with leaving it where it was and how it was. It is maille related, I feel it belonged in KC. This is a project the membership put together and is excited about, I feel it should have stayed pinned. Obviously there was a mod working in conjunction with a member on that thread, and since you didn't know who pinned it in the first place Cynake it wasn't you. If you objected to where it was and how it was, that's your business. But if you wanted to do something about it, what is so bad about taking the diplomatic approach? Here are two different things you could have done that would have avoided so much needless drama: A) a short post in the thread to the effect of "hey, looks like sign ups are pretty well done, anyone think maybe it's time to move this topic or maybe un-pin it?" or B) a pm to the creator of the thread, asking if they knew which mod had pinned it, at which point you could have either gone to Legba and discussed it privately or continued to speak with the thread creator, suggesting that maybe it was time to un-pin the thread and/or move it.

Instead of a diplomatic approach to what I personally consider a non-issue there's a two page argument in that thread. Also, two members have also commented in that same thread that while they sometimes find Cynake very knowledgeable, when they see posts like the ones he's put in the Birthday Club thread they wonder why they even come here. I'm sorry, but I can't get behind a mods actions and be "united" in this case either. When a mod acts in a manner that makes members feel like never coming back, that's just wrong and I won't support it.

I still do not understand why this action was taken; the only thing I can come up with is that it was a purely aesthetic preference. If that's the case, then, that's just silly and petty.

On the issue of "un-doing" another mods actions....isn't that what happened here? I mean, isn't that just exactly what happened here? One mod had preformed an action, i.e. pinning a thread in (which I feel) was the appropriate forum. Another mod came and un-did that action, which is simply second guessing that mods judgment and in effect saying they are un-important and incapable of doing their job. That is not presenting a united front by any means.

I'd also real quick like to touch on the issue of seniority; I don't feel it matters. Sorry, but I don't. If I have a question about something of course the first thing I'm going to do is go to an admin who's been here longer than me and ask for their opinion or guidance, but I'm not going to blindly defer to what another admin wants to do or says I should do simply because and for no other reason than they've been an admin longer. We're either equals or we're not. If we're not, than someone please tell me now; if my voice or actions count second to someone who has been an admin longer than I have, than I have been operating under a serious mis-apprehension.

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:04 pm
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I want to do what Mical is saying we should do but...

Cynake if you really need me to point out where you've been less than diplomatic then just go back to the Birthday thread and re-read what you've posted.

Deirdre I would like to point out that that I did publicly apologize to both you and the member involved over the locked thread issue.


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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:16 pm
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I'm sorry Legba, yes, you did, and I should have mentioned it. I only brought that up as an example to illustrate that I'm NOT singling out Cynake as he seems to think I do. I wasn't trying to call your actions to light for debate, nor his, but rather trying to explain why I won't blindly back something for unities sake. My appologies.

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Posted on Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:25 pm
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That's ok D, it was fair enough.


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