[Air-l] Impact of Moderation

Ben Davidson bendavidson at totalise.co.uk
Thu Mar 7 16:43:49 PST 2002

And where a moderator is prepared to spend a significant amount of time boot
strapping discourse, was there any interesting data?

I'm interested as a group analyst.

Anecdotally, my experience suggests discourse is quashed when dominated by
the conductor, however helpful s/he tries to be.  And often, the helpfulness
belies intense maternal anxiety or an expression of narcissistic needs (or
both), either of which can be experienced as suffocating.  In these
circumstances, short discussions in very small sub-groups/pairs predominate,
usually pivoting on the leader.

I also have an idea that in these circumstances the person of the
leader/moderator comes to attract greater extremes of idealisation and
denigration from members (reflecting the schizoid splits that complement
this immersion in narcissism).  The person of the leader/moderator also
plays a significantly greater role in shaping the culture of the group (ie
to a much greater extent, the culture comes to reflect their person).


----- Original Message -----
From: "Quentin (Gad) Jones" <qgjones at acm.org>
To: <air-l at aoir.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 9:14 PM
Subject: Re: [Air-l] Impact of Moderation

> Steve Jones wrote:
> > In any event, my strong feeling has always been that the best lists
> > are self-organizing and self-sustaining.
> I recently published research in a conference paper on Usenet discourse
> dynamics (Jones et. al. (2002) "An Empirical Exploration of Mass
> Interaction System Dynamics: Individual Information Overload and Usenet
> Discourse." In: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Hawaii International
> Conference on System Sciences, IEEE, Big Island, Hawaii.) and just sent
> off a paper today to a journal that examined and compared Usenet and
> Listserv discourse dynamics. I looked at over 1000 discussion spaces and
> 3.5 million messages.
> Moderation appears to impact negatively on the chances of messages
> getting a reply, on discourse being sustained, and on the average word
> length of messages (moderated discussions appear to have on average
> longer messages).  Obviously there are a variety of reasons for this but
> I think the evidence speaks against moderation unless 1) a moderator is
> prepared to spend a significant amount of time boot strapping discourse
> or 2) the discourse is so politically sensitive that it is required.
> Quentin
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