Member Rara Avis
The ordinary members here have no responsibility or obligation to report possibly inappropriate threads, in the same way that people have no responsibility to report people dropping trash in the street.
That's accurate, Grinch, only to the extent that no one here has any responsibility or obligation to do squat. Not the Members, not the Moderators, not even me. The benefits when someone assumes some responsibility, however, accrue to everyone. One corollary to that is that the more people willing to assume responsibility, the more benefits accrue to everyone. Another corollary is that you get to take and take and take and will never be asked, let alone forced, to give anything in return.
It would be nice if they did but it’s no big deal if they don’t, if it were Ron would make it a condition of membership and then tie himself and the Mods in knots trying to enforce it.
It's a very big deal. If it weren't, it wouldn't be there. Your logic is flawed, Grinch, perhaps colored by your experience with government. Generally, I try to avoid making rules at all and I definitely try to steer clear of rules that can't be enforced. You'll find there are no rules stating you have to use the Submit button, no mandates that require clicking on the Edit icon every day, and indeed no stipulations on most of the tools provided in hopes of making this a more comfortable place. We operate under as assumption that people generally get out of something in relative proportion to what they put it into it. I don't have to try to enforce that one, either; the universe seems to do a pretty good job without my help.
The button doesn’t work because when people click it the threads they’re reporting don’t go away ...
Wrong again. The button actually works pretty well, just like those fire hydrants along the street work fairly well . . . even if you personally don't see them in action very often. Fortunately for all of us, those who need to use them know how they work.
What you're missing, Grinch, is that the people who are usually willing to report Inappropriate Content are almost always the same people willing to devote some of their personal time to dealing with it. They get to see not just the start of the story, where not much happens, but also the middle and the end. Deputy Moderators volunteer to spend two weeks working in a forum of their choice and helping with the unpleasantries in that forum. Most of them don't just go away when their two weeks are over, and none of them stop being Deputy Moderators. They still have access to the private DM forums and, far more importantly, they still have the skills and knowledge set that represent the culture of pipTalk staff. We only have a few hands on deck at any given time (usually far too few), but we have lots and lots of eyes out there telling those hands where they are needed. Without their help, this place would long ago have turned into your metaphorical trash-filled street.
Our DM Program, as far as I know, is unique. I've seen no other on-line Community utilizing anything even remotely similar. We've had close to 200 people participate since 2001, and I think in almost every possible respect it's been a tremendous success. To me, our Moderating staff is the heart and soul of pipTalk, and frankly, if everyone else went away I believe we would still have a thriving community, a very real circle of friends. It would just be smaller and probably a whole lot calmer.
I don't expect you to fully understand it, Grinch. You've made several comments, like suggesting Balladeer should delete posts in a forum where he's not a Moderator, that demonstrate you don't quite get it. And that's perfectly okay. Most of us never have to know what makes the fire hydrant work, we just need to trust that it will. I'd like to think that most of our Community trusts that someone is back there trying to keep things running smoothly, even if they never get to see the fevered bursts of activity spurred when someone reports a potential problem.
Or perhaps you could just log a blank comment on the DM thread with the members details, that would show you how many people found the thread offensive without causing a loss of focus.
That assumes we should care how many people found something offensive? If we're talking about a majority of the community, I might be amenable to a democratic vote. If we're talking a handful of vocal dissenters, I couldn't care less about their numbers.
Once Staff is aware of a thread, the Inappropriate Content link has served its purpose. If people want to make their voices heard they should use a different tool to do so.