The Moderator is In

by Kara Wild


The Evil Elfinator types in her name and her log-in, a smirk playing across her lips. "Who shall I humiliate today?" she wonders. "Who will I get to threaten, silence, destroy??"

She scans the messages, licking her lips with anticipation. Suddenly her eyes light up. "Ah HA!" The Elfinator positions her mouse on the delete button, preparing to nuke the offending message, all the while laughing with abandon. MwahahahaHAAAAAAA!!!

Yeah, right.

If there's one thing I want to make clear from the get-go, it's that I don't go on the Message Boards preparing to flex my Moderator muscles. I go to goof off and escape from my hideous, twisted life. When I see a so-called "offending" message, my thoughts run more along the lines of, "Oh brother," than "Mwahahahaaaaaa!" I reluctantly wonder if I should do something about it, or just leave it and hope its subject matter fizzles and dies.

In many ways, I've been fortunate. "Daria" people are generally considerate of one another, and you usually stay on topic. A Jalotta (or whatever her name was) hasn't jumped on the board, spewing hate in order to get us riled up, for quite some time. And on the Paperpusher Message Board my job's been a cinch. I've never resorted to using my most extreme powers (Delete thread/user), and there's not much chance that I ever will. So why even be a moderator on one board, let alone two?

Because I seek build an unshakable foundation of power within Dariadom. See, using my Moderator status, I can control the flow of discourse so that every post, every thread conforms to my point of view. 'Shippers? What are 'shippers? Haters of Quinn? Be gone! Loyalists of Season One? Gone, gone, gone. I mean, that's the only reason I would even want this job, right?


My real reasons are slightly less vindictive. ; > Back when Paperpusher started his board, I, being a friend, offered to help out. He made me a Moderator, and I've led a fairly quiet life ever since; when I lift a finger, it's usually to axe a duplicate message. As for the Outpost Daria Message Board: when I first heard that Martin was created an MB, I thought, "That, too??" He was doing weekly updates then, and the idea that he would heap even more responsibility on himself boggled my mind. Thus, I suggested early on that he get a few moderators to do the dirty work. I would go on to make that suggestion again, then again, before Martin finally heeded it. ; >

Besides feeling pity for an overworked webkeeper, I chose to be a Moderator because it seemed like one of the few ways I could "give back" to the community. I don't have a niche website or loads of time to read and critique fanfics; but I can keep people's disagreements from turning into heated battles fraught with personal insults. (I mean come ON, you guys: is it really worth it to call someone a f***ker just because he/she criticizes your favorite fill-in-the-blank??) And I can keep the board from being all OT with just a little bit of "Daria" thrown in. That way, the stage is set for really interesting, meaty discussions about the show -- in an atmosphere where we can freely state our beliefs without being abused.

With that goal in mind, there's no way I would use this position for personal gain. And frankly, how could I? The Message Board may not be a perfect democracy (as we are technically just guests in the webkeeper's house), but it's considered enough of a democracy that different points of view have a right to be displayed. If I just went ahead and deleted posts that I didn't like, a la the Thought Police, wouldn't it become pretty obvious to everyone? And wouldn't people then complain? And wouldn't the webmaster take these complaints into consideration and revoke my powers? So as I said, there's no way I would consider abusing my position that way.

And with that said, let me make some other clarifications about where I stand as a moderator:

1) I am not part of a vast conspiracy. Meaning, on the Paperpusher MB, where there is more than one moderator, I do not constantly act in sync with the other moderators. Therefore, if someone deletes a thread, the other moderators may not learn about it until after the fact. I'm just letting you know for clarification, and because I assume at some point, there will be more moderators at OD.

2) Just because I'm a moderator doesn't mean that I am against free discussion. I love a good discussion, even an OT one. In fact, as long as people respect one another's rights to disagree, I have trouble deleting threads that concern feelings about hot topics like religion. Martin, on the other hand, might feel differently. ; >

3) I understand that it's easy for an on-topic thread to veer off topic. I won't nuke a thread just because it does so a little. If it does so a lot, so that its messages chew up nearly a page or so, then I'll take the thread more carefully into consideration. See #5 for more details.

4) I don't play favorites, or at least try not to. I don't view the board as a landscape of "good" and "bad" people. Everyone is required to play by the same rules, including myself.

5) I don't hold grudges against any of the board members. So when I warn that something is off-topic, DON'T take it personally. And when I delete a thread, also don't take it personally. The most common reason for the latter will be that the thread is hostile in manner, that two or more board denizens just couldn't keep their disagreements from becoming personal. In the case of off-topic threads that are not hostile, I will at least warn people that they are OT as a first step. And if the conversation doesn't fizzle out after that, then... it's still touch and go.

Determining which threads are OT and which aren't has got to be the hardest part about being a moderator. Figuring out how not to be too strict or too much of a slacker, whether to delete the short, innocuous threads that announce a new Sailor Moon fic or that it's someone's birthday. I can pretty much say that I will not delete those kinds of threads, unless they grow to ridiculously large proportions. Martin or another moderator, on the other hand, might respond differently.

6) Also, I am not an ever-hovering presence on the board. I do have my own life, you know, and sometimes I won't even have time to wade through all the messages that pile up so quickly . So put to rest those assumptions that I'm always there ready to clean up the mess or to warn people when they've strayed too far off-topic.

7) I'm always learning. Which means that I don't consider myself to be oh-so-infallible. If you think I may have erred in saying a topic was OT, or that I didn't react swiftly enough, or that I was being unfairly harsh, let me know. But please not in a way that knocks my intelligence, okay?

8) I'm a softie. Which means I'll probably be more of a slacker moderator than a dominatrix. It's just too time-consuming to be hyper-vigilant, and I don't want everyone on the board to hate me. ; > I only want to keep the board from degenerating into a flame zone or into the de-facto Sailor Moon/Animal Rights/Dawson's Creek/'90's Music/you-name-it message board.

In conclusion, I don't know how long I'll be Outpost Daria's Elfinator. Probably for a long time if things stay relatively peaceful. But if stress of responsibility overwhelms my enjoyment of the Message Board; if my decisions are constantly criticized (as opposed to being called into question now and then); if my work is insulted as a round-about way of getting back at me; if I get a lot of flame messages or e-mails; or if it seems as though no one appreciates what I'm doing, then I won't hesitate to hang up the pointy ears.

But hopefully, that won't happen. I have a lot of respect for people on this Message Board, and I assume I won't need to use my "elf" powers too often to keep things calm. So now that you know that the Moderator is in, don't get hung up about it. Just have fun. ; >

April 23, 2000