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Mentor's Powers


#1

I know I seem to go on about the role of the mentors and often disagree with their comments/views but I was surprised to read recently that they have the powers to close a discussion thread if either asked or they decide to. Is this correct?


#2

That’s right.

Like a kind of voluntary community tidy-upping, so the paid staff can get on with other things. I’m spectacularly slow off the mark in this department :no_mouth:


#3

Dangerous if true, like those voluntary community police officers do you mean?


#4

I see absolutely no issue with this.


#5

I don’t know. Do you mean PCSOs or special constables? I’m not very clued up on the ins and outs of non-police policing I’m afraid.

But if you suspect that a mentor is misusing their power to close threads, be sure to go straight to @laura - she’s the boss.


#6

All forums have to have some degree of moderation otherwise anarchy tends to reign. I have visited many forums over the years that I have rapidly departed never to return. There are only two forums that I have stuck with, this one and a book reading and writing one, both of which have a sensible, reasonable level of self-policing, the rest have been filled with too much trolling, bad language, and general unpleasantness. Without some degree of censorship forums end up being ruled by those who shout loudest.

Censorship of any kind gets a very bad press and it would be a wonderful world if we didn’t need it. However just take a look at the demands being made on the like of Facebook now to closedown and ban the most undesirable posters. At least some censorship is a necessary evil to control the more excessive uses of freedom of speech.

One of the great benefits of the internet is that it gives everyone the freedom to express their views and be heard by anyone who cares to read them but that, sadly, is a double edged sword and I, for one, will never stay long around an unmoderated forum.


#7

Do you mean Community Officers (PCSOs)? Different powers, different kit, different job from police officers?

Or Specials? Same powers, same kit, same job? Those members of the community that decide to give up their free time to support the dwindling numbers of regular officers and ensure that your wine collection remains in your cellar rather than the back of a dodgy transit?

Not sure either of these, or for that matter the forum mentors, really count as “dangerous”…


#8

Look before this gets out of hand and goes all “oh not him again”. I was surprised to say the least to know that mentors, who I have never really ‘got’ the need for, have powers I didn’t appreciate they had. So just what can a ‘mentor’ do and not do then?


#9

No, it’s fine - it’s good to have clarity on this. But I’m making lunch for six at the moment, then it’s a children’s party, so I’ll have to come back with more detail later.

But for a quick summary, this is on the list of badges:


#10

Off-hand I can only think of two reasons threads have been closed. One is that the reference period has ended; e.g. weekend or mid-week drinking a few days afterwards. The other is that the topic already exists.

I haven’t yet detected the heavy hand of censorship as far as I can remember. I suppose it’s possible, but so are many things that I don’ t waste time worrying about.


#11

I’ve only seen them merge threads if it’s a duplicate or close threads when asked too.

Handy maintenance tasks I’m sure we can all appreciate and thank them for.


#12

Well I’m also not sure any threads have ever been ended, other those you mention. But individual posts have on rare occasions been deleted, quite rightly in my opinion, when those posts started becoming too personal and insulting. And it’s quite right and important that this is done.

And, as @Herbster, points out anyone unhappy with that can always take it up with @Laura.

I’m not sure I classify any of the mentors ‘powers’ (I’d call them duties rather than powers personally) as ‘dangerous’. but that said ‘dangerous’ is sometimes needed. Soldiers and police are carefully trained to be dangerous. What’s important is how they use their powers. A sharp knife is ‘dangerous’ but I don’t want my kitchen knifes to be blunt and ineffective.

I fully understand any concerns about the dangers of uncontrolled forum moderation but they don’t go on behind closed doors and so there’s lots of ‘oversight’ as well as the opportunity to appeal.


#13

Okay, thanks for all these replies, sorry to disrupt Sunday’s goings-on. I guess I’m just not very comfortable with unofficial policing and mentoring or badges etc. It all strikes me as a bit of a faff and serves to segregate some members from others. Like the committee of the local Parish Council etc. Hey ho! Enjoy your day!


#14

I do understand your concerns and such things always, rightly, make me nervous as well. I think the key thing is to watch how they actually behave and make your judgements on that.

I was here when the mentors were first instigated and I have never been in the least unhappy with any of their actions. There are far more members of the forums now, back then there probably weren’t enough to justify such roles, but now though, bearing in mind what is, I believe, their primary role of going out of their way to assist people struggling with how to do stuff on the forum, they are much more necessary.

And they also do change and anyone can apply to do the role. It’s a somewhat onerous volunteer job and I for one am frankly too lazy to do it myself and am forever in debt to those who voluntarily do it for me and help maintain a great, enjoyable place for wine related discussion. :clinking_glasses::clap:


#15

Those of us with long memories may recall the infamous Mark Squires Wine Advocate forum where both the behaviour of some of the members and the moderation could be held up as examples of how not to do things. It seems to me this forum is pretty much at the right level in terms of both posters and moderation.


#16

Yes

The mentors have only ever really acted to keep the forum courteous and on-topic. I don’t see a problem with that: this is not a community that anyone is forced to be a member of, and a bit of member-led self moderation is overwhelmingly in the common good.


#17

Sorry @AnaGramWords, I think my last post was a little curt and it wasn’t meant to be. I wanted to explain why I wasn’t able to give a more detailed answer at that moment but it came across a bit grumpy…! :zipper_mouth_face:

Anyway … yes, a mentor can edit posts and threads but can also close/merge threads, split some posts off to a new (or more relevant) thread, plus more obscure things like setting timers on topics to close at a later date, archiving, stuff like that. My understanding is that there’s an audit trail for all such activity. :+1:

There’s also some more information about the role in these two threads:

Hope this helps!


#18

Generally the Community is populated by individuals of above average intellect and an ability to conduct themselves online as though they were dealing with others in person. (Cause or effect from drinking wine?)

I’m delighted that mentors give their time freely to help it all roll along smoothly. It’s done with a very light touch.

The mentors are all from our ranks and identifiable, so I see them as " of the people, by the people,for the people" to steal from the Gettysburg Address.
Cheers, mine’s a large glass of red.:clap:


#19

as with all aspects of volunteering, it is how the volunteer approaches the task; is it to help others or massage an ego.

I’ve only ever seen help from the mentors on here - help towards the TWS in running the community and help towards members.

There is big difference in your comparisons:
PCSO - they are paid employees.
Specials - are volunteers with legal powers the same as a regular Officer.
Councillors - are voted for


#20

Powers? Some say Mentors have the ability to travel through time… I’m hoping one of them can pick me up some 1982 Bordeaux at original prices :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:.