locked Announcement Only: This Moderator's Expectations of Group Members #adminnotice


I have actually been shocked at what has occurred over the last day.  When it comes to membership in a group, and in specific regard to group rules, there are the written ones that get sent out to all new members, there are clarifications and sometimes additions in the form of Admin Notices, and there are actually "unwritten rules" that are a part of the culture of any online community (or real life community, for that matter).  Those who are new to a place really cannot have as yet absorbed that last category, so they do get some slack, but "old timers" really do not and should not.  If you've been around for even a single episode like the one that just occurred, and several participants in same have been, then you clearly know what's coming, why it's going to come, and why you deserve to be called-out for what you've done.  No owner or moderator should ever have to apologize for applying group rules and conventions as evenhandedly as they can.  Sometimes that actually means focusing on something that's been "allowed to slide for too long."  It doesn't matter if administration has been lax, which I can't imagine most ever accusing me of, if they decide that they want to "tighten things up."  That's a legitimate part of their role.

What follows are a set of expectations I have of members anywhere I moderate.  Seeing as I have been a moderator for many years now, and in many venues, I have plenty of real life experience and evidence that not a single one of these is an unreasonable expectation.  And none of them have anything to do with the fact that I can see, or someone else can't.  While certain among them may be more challenging for a screen reader user than someone like myself who is fully sighted, they are far from impossible.  Most are not even difficult.

Here are the things I expect from members of any online community, and every one I moderate, in the year 2021:

1.        You remember that everyone who is a member of the group is here by their own choice, and that help provided is on a volunteer basis.  That means that there could be a significant time delay between when a question is asked and when it may be answered.  It also may not be answered, this happens.  When a question is not answered, it’s because no one knows the answer, not because it wasn’t seen.  Please don’t ask again hours later or the next day.  If it hasn’t been answered after two days, you can bump the message, one time.

2.       If you receive a message/see a post that is not applicable to you the moment you encounter it, but that you know will be applicable to you in the near future, e.g., messages about how to tweak Windows 10 settings back to “classic” when Microsoft changes something, that you will file them where you can find them later.  You are supposed to be paying attention to all information shared, and being proactive about your own needs.  Things asked and answered once should not need to be asked and answered again in short order.  While many topics tend to reappear after long spans of time, they shouldn’t reappear very quickly.

3.       You are capable of doing a web search and/or a group archive search and will do so if you did not file information you know you’ve seen previously.

4.      You will have done a web search and/or group archive search before posting almost any question, because the vast majority of questions relevant to online communities have been answered, repeatedly.  It is rude to impose upon the time of hundreds to thousands of people regarding questions that have answers that can be found independently with very little effort and basic skills.

5.       If you are told, “There’s this thing called a web search,” or, “Google is your friend,” or similar that you realize you deserve it.  I have yet to see this response to anything that does not warrant it.  If you ask something that indicates you didn’t follow the practices outlined in items 2 thru 4, before asking online and imposing on the time of others when that’s completely unnecessary, this is a perfectly legitimate response to that.  You’ve been lazy and rude; don’t repeat that mistake.

6.      If you receive a reaction such as those in #5 above, the appropriate response is NEVER to argue back.  The one and only response that is appropriate, if you actually do not have the skills to do your own searching, is to ask for assistance in acquiring same, period.  Believe it or not, those who gave that reaction to you will very often be your best assistants in acquiring the skills you need.  That reaction is meant as a nudge to you to acquire them.

7.       When you ask a question, you think carefully about what you put as your subject/topic title.  These should give a clear, very clear, indication about the nature of the question or questions about to be asked.  And if it happens to be one of those occasions where it’s a “laundry list” of questions then indicate such in your subject/topic title.

8.      You will not post the exact same question to multiple groups or forums at the same time.  A very great many members of any one tech community are members of many others, and they don’t need or want to see the same question in twenty places.  Ask sequentially, if you don’t get a message after asking in one place, and waiting a few hours to a day, at a minimum, before asking elsewhere.  If you want to know why a very great many in the cyber world do not consider multi/cross posting to be at all acceptable, then read:  On Posting to More Than One Online Support Forum for the Same Issue – AKA Forum Cross Posting.  The principles apply whether it’s online forums or email lists or both involved.

9.      That you read, absorb, and accept the following:

It is impossible to help individuals who will not listen to advice unless they like that advice. Being a good assistant is not about making the person assisted "feel good," but about both asking the right (and sometimes hard) questions as well as giving the information necessary to achieve the desired result. Getting help is a two-way street, and those asking for help have work they must do, too, when asked. They also need to be ready to let go of what they'd like to do, and instead do what's been asked for by the person offering assistance.

               Those receiving assistance are free to reject advice, you are also entitled to ask for clarification, but if you don’t want to do what your assistant is asking, then state that so that you can both can move along.  Assistants have every right to assist as they see fit, and those being assisted to either follow or reject the option(s) presented.  An assistant is within their rights to withdraw support at any time, for any reason.

10.    That a group owner’s role, and the moderator’s role, is to enforce whatever group rules are in place at any given time.  You do not have to like the rules, and you have every right to present a case for a change in rules via the correct channel, which is not in public, but whatever those are at the given moment in time apply to you and to everyone else.

11.      That if you cannot accept all of the above, and act accordingly, you withdraw from the community or communities where that’s the case.  No one forced you to join, no one can force you to stay, and no owner or moderator wants to constantly have to deal with behaviors that violate the rules of their community.  We’re all adults, and should behave as such.


Please bear all of those in mind.  Please also don't ask that I include them in the Welcome Message or Monthly Notice, as those messages are long already, and core rules would get buried even further.

Not everything has to be in the rule list sent out when you join a group, just core rules.  Other things, like the above, when clearly stated by someone in an administrative role, hold equal weight, and are a legitimate part of moderation decisions.

Since this message is an announcement, it is now locked.  If you wish to take up anything about it, the correct mechanism for doing so is to send a message to the NVDA Group Owner Address, nvda+owner@nvda.groups.io, and to make your case.  Messages that are rants, and all of you here know what actually constitutes a rant, are not making a cogent case about something, and will be ignored, at least by me.

Brian - Windows 10 Pro, 64-Bit, Version 20H2, Build 19042  

The depths of denial one can be pushed to by outside forces of disapproval can make you not even recognize yourself to yourself.

       ~ Brian Vogel


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