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Active Now

Devil's Advocate
Randy D
welcome to the pleasuredome


What Does the Mug Stand For?

  • I was recently having a discussion with the original creator of answerMug. We’re good friends and were basically shooting the sh*t, when he mentioned he had been moderated for cursing here on the site. I don’t remember his exact words, but he conveyed a bit of surprise and said that he’d forgotten we changed the policies. I basically said, “Goof, we changed the policies when you owned the site because members requested it. Do you remember that?” He lamented that he remembered how, when he first set up the site, that his hope was to have it totally unmoderated, though he learned quickly that some people don’t police themselves, and that some moderation would always be necessary. We moved on with our discussion and life went on.

    Only, my discussion with him about the moderation on the site isn’t the only discussion I’ve had about moderation lately. I’ve had a lot of those talks. Many go much the same, with an “Oh yeah, I forgot,” sort of tone, and we move on. Even still, something is building, and I think it would be remiss for me not to acknowledge that.

    The thing that I have always loved about answerMug is that anyone is welcome. It’s a chance to learn and grow. It’s a chance to expand our horizons, meet new people, and maybe even try to see the world through the eyes of someone very different from ourselves. To me, that’s the magic. I love the knowledge for sure, but it’s the people- it’s you- who make this site worthwhile. I don’t value any member more than the next, whether we agree or disagree. And, like you all, I do mourn the losses when people leave, and not as a site owner, but as a person who genuinely cares about each of you. At the same time, I also feel that these things are often inevitable. People grow. People change. Some find they’re not a good fit. I accept that. We each have our own path and journey and we need to be true to ourselves. When someone decides their time is up here, I do feel the loss, but I don’t regret anything.

    I struggle with a way to provide transparency without alienating members. I want you all to know what we’re doing and why. I want you to feel involved in the course of the site. You’re here and your opinion matters. But, again, there isn’t one person whose rights are “worth more” than another’s. Just as you’re entitled to answers, another person is entitled to privacy and respect. And, so, it becomes a matter of balancing- diplomacy. How much transparency can I offer without impacting the rights of someone else? Because, I really think, that if you guys saw things through the same lens as the moderators, most of your fears and concerns would be put to rest.

    Mug Moderation By the Numbers

    We have three volunteer moderators- myself, My2Cents, and Goat Jumper. We are here when our schedules allow, but none of us has specific hours we’re here. M2C and GJ have specifically been asked not to make this a job because I don’t want the site to feel like work to them. They’re site members first and they help out when they see something. I think they do an amazing job. We disagree a lot, but I think that, together, we represent the interests of the diverse membership here well and we do a fair job of making sure each person is fulfilling their duties honestly, fairly, and equitably. Not one of us have a horse in the race, so to speak. We’re not friends. I respect the heck out of both of them because their loyalty is to you and to the site- not to me, not to each other. Each day when they log on, they are here for you. They are here representing you. They are looking out for your interests. And, they get a lot of flack for it too. I expect to catch crap, but these people- to volunteer their time- to speak up when they see something wrong- to challenge me when they think I’m wrong- to challenge each other when they think the other is wrong- and to do so in a respectful manner, day in and day out. I’m not even kidding- I am teary-eyed writing this. Those two are amazing. You may not think so now, if you’ve been on the receiving end of a letter, but I hope you will by the end of this.


    Each line/row on the chart above represents a different member. The dates are the dates we contacted the person about the event. The color represents the moderator who removed the content. This does not include the single removal we’ve had since 3/1 that was overturned.


    I ask that you not use the data to speculate who was contacted for what and when, but, rather, see where you fit in the mix. You know which dates you were contacted, if you have been contacted by a moderator. Are you being unfairly targeted? Or, are you one of 10-20 people who got messages? You and only you (aside from the mods) can identify who you are on this list. I cannot possibly be more transparent than this. We’ve removed 36 pieces of content from the site since 3/1. Our biggest “offenders” have received two removals and only two people received letters about doing the same thing twice.

    You guys can take what you want to out of this, and I’m glad to hear your comments, but you know what I see? I see a whole lot of people doing the right thing. We’ve only contacted 27 people since 3/1 and MOST of them chose not to do whatever got removed again. We have one mod who is out there kicking butt and has removed nearly twice what I have- and there’s a huge variance in who is getting stuff removed and why. You may think you’re being targeted, but these numbers don’t lie. You are not. Anyone who breaks a policy is. Kudos to her for making this site a better place to be and for upholding the policies evenly. If any one of you feels like you have been misrepresented in this chart- and you can verify your own data- please PM me and I will update it. I do not want it done publicly because I don’t want these matched up with the individuals and I will remove any comments that clarify who any member is to ensure the privacy of the group.

    Is there Biased/ Unequal Moderation?

    I have seen this theory creep up a few times- that we’re not moderating equally. I think that the chart above mostly blows that theory out of the water, but I know that some of you have concerns over what’s left on the site. Indeed, that could well be a sticking point. Are we leaving content up that shouldn’t be up? More importantly, are we doing it intentionally?

    I had a discussion with two members recently about this. In one case, a member approached me after they saw a large amount of a specific type of content get deleted. Again, I’m not going to say who contacted me or whose content got removed- you both know who you are. In this case, if you choose to out yourself, that’s fine, but please do not out the other person. Respect their privacy. The person who contacted me said, (paraphrasing) “JA, did you delete all that because I complained about it in a question?” I responded, “You complained about it in a question?!? Nobody reported it. I just saw it while I was out.” There was a whole thread dedicated to how I was ignoring that group of content. You guys made up your minds that I was being biased and didn’t even consider that I might not have seen it. No reports. Nothing. Now, I have spoken with that member since, and we’re on the same page now, but this is a perfect example of someone wrongly assuming there’s some kind of bias. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am not omnipotent. I have no magic juju that takes me to TOS-violating stuff. If I don’t see it and the mods don’t see it, we can’t remove it. We rely on YOU to report it.

    I personally look at every report that comes in. If it violates our policies, the content goes. If it doesn’t, I delete the report and move on. If something you report is not removed, by all means, email me and ask me why or add a note on your report that says you want me to follow up with you. IF I don’t remove something you’ve reported and I cannot tell you why I didn’t, then by all means, call me biased. Then, you will have your proof. Until then, it’s misinformed speculation.

    Are We Conservative or Liberal?

    I can’t count the number of times I have heard complaints one way or the other. Whether we’re conservative or liberal depends entirely on your personal point of view. However, without ousting anyone, I can say in the past 30 days, my inbox has received two letters saying the site’s policies are too lax and two letters calling for tighter moderation. Like it or not, you guys are split. We have a diverse group and our very liberal and very conservative members will likely never be happy with the level of moderation on the site. While I’d like everyone to be happy, I’m ok with that. To me, that means everyone is welcome and every group is represented. That’s where I want us to be.

    Closing Remarks

    As long as there are people here, answerMug will always be imperfect. However, it is these imperfections, these growing pains, these hard discussions, that make it beautiful. Yes, it stings when people make accusations that we aren’t being fair, but, at the same time, I recognize that each of you is crusading for your own brand of justice. That, too, is beautiful. You didn’t have the full information to make some of the judgments you have, but I believe you do now. I am proud of this site. I am honored to have the mods we do. I am deeply touched that so many of you are here. Whether we agree or not, that’s what this site is about. From this experience, same as any other, we can learn and grow. So, while I humbly disagree with so much of what has been written, I also am glad that each of you is here to disagree and that, regardless of where we stand, you each have felt comfortable expressing your view- without fear of censorship or retaliation.

    Got a plan to make the Mug better? Let’s focus on the actionable things we can do to improve it. My inbox is always open.