As an example, Pete posted about having a “beat reporter” for Discourse (job still open!) and most of the thread is about using annotation tools (Hypothesis, etc.). People interested in annotation tools, which could be very useful to OGM, would never thing to look in the beat reporter thread!
Should we start doing some light thread splitting / thread merging? It is one of Discourse’s strengths, but the community needs to be aware and expect it, otherwise you are like “what just happened???”
I would like to see more curation/moderation, but I believe it would have to be a little formalized – certain people would do it, those folks would have regular discussions about how to do it, there would be some written guidelines and patterns, etc.
FWIW, thread splitting / merging is fancier than another thing I’ve been wanting which is just to put topics in the right (“right”) category. Particularly from Uncategorized, but probably others, too. Which then begs the question, how will we / who will do category curation?
Level 0: there are good “right” places
Level 1: putting topics in the right place
Level 2: splitting / merging threads
or something like that.
Luckily, Rob and I have a meeting in a few hours to discuss synchronously…
To answer the question in the title of this topic, could it be useful if we describe, first what practices define “curation,” “moderation,” and “facilitation”? Those terms are frequently used synonymously but they are interchangeable. As we shape our language, the language is shaping our thinking.
For example, “moderation” comes from making our conversations more civil, less extreme, intense, or violent. If we have a well-crafted and honored community covenant, then this may be less needed than facilitation, defined as follows.
“The definition of facilitating [in some context] is “to make easy” or “ease a process.” What a facilitator does is plan, guide and manage a group event to ensure that the group’s objectives are met effectively, with clear thinking, good participation and full buy-in from everyone who is involved.” Source Mindtools.
“Curation” on the other hand, refers to the process of selecting, organizing, and presenting online content (typically using professional or expert knowledge), with the intention of adding value, by exercising, for example, idea emergence and/or idea looming processes.
Facilitation and curation are more art than science. Each of them would deserve its own topic because they have rich sets of known principles worth honoring and practices worth replicating.
There are dozens of books and 1000s of articles about them, as well as, training courses. In fact, OGM’s @NancyW taught one of them already in 1998 or 1999 at our (virtual) Knowledge Ecology University.
I’ve been facilitating online communities and communities of online facilitators since the mid-'80s where these and related issues were frequently discussed and documented. I offer to bring my advice to the “moderation” team if that’s the term that you will settle on using, but there are also other experienced facilitators among OGMers, who would most likely be willing to give a hand.
Since curation / moderation / facilitation are already meta topics, and I (for better or worse) love meta-ness, I like that we have a meta-meta discussion on curation / moderation / facilitation!
I also throw a bit of a caution flag; OGM Forum is starting to get big and complex enough that it is getting a little messy; a little light-handed, practical gardening will go a long way, and @RobOK and @anderbill will get to dig into that soon, with a soupçon of structure, while avoiding paralysis by analysis.
Indeed! One of OGM’s superpowers as it continues to grow is its strong bench in facilitation.
And thank you for the offer of advice. I, too, have offered to advise the moderation team, and I think so will Jerry, but I also note that there’s some pretty obvious stuff that can be done, and I want to honor and trust the people who will be actually working on moderation. I’m sure the moderation team will have a set of topics where they interact with the rest of the forum members; that might be a good place for advice (and brickbats and bouquets).
George, thanks also for the definitions; I, too, have those fairly precise technical definitions, and it’s good to make sure we all are talking about the same things, and not conflating terms that are often conflated.
I will note that “moderation” has a technical meaning within forum software, which can encompass community management, conversation facilitation, curation of information, information architecture design, etc.
So it may be that we call it “the Moderation Team,” using “moderation” as a technically-precise term from forum technology. (Even baked into the Discourse data model, there are roles, Admin, and Moderator.)
Or, the team of Moderators may choose another name, we’ll see.
We can call it whatever we want to; the more important is to develop and maintain a clarity of the differentiated distinctions that you mentioned. Not for the sake of some academic pedantry but for nurturing the evolution of our community through enabling the differentiation of functions essential to its emergent knowledge ecology, collective intelligence, and community coherence.
I probably should have named my topic better! I think my example speaks better than the title, that is:
Helping to keep like topics together through splitting off a side bar conversation and merging threads that have same discussion. This is probably best called Thread Maintenance.
One important principle is that everyone in the community expects that it will happen so there are no surprises. I have never done this role in a forum but am willing to give it a go!
@peterkaminski has some good ideas on having the Moderators (forum role) communicate with each other and with the forum sponsors (Jerry, Peter, others) to keep things consistent and overall helpful.
My thought is this should be done with a light touch, especially at first.
EDIT: @Technoshaman I appreciate your three definitions. What I am proposing does not fit in any of your three definitions (or if you think it is one of the three let me know). I guess Facilitation is closest, but your definition puts it in the context of an event.