Lately, there's been some debate about the purpose of the Diaries section, and the quality of content that should be allowed. In particular, some new members have been posting topics there because they didn't have the points to do so on the forum. I have a pretty low point total, but I have lurked around here for a few years now, and I felt like I should put my two cents in about what should be done.
Personally, I've always envisioned the Diaries as mini-blogs - places for insightful users to provide in-depth, long-format supporting content. A place for original articles and commentary - the best user contributions highlighted and emphasized, one step above the forum and one step below the actual blog posts. To really enforce that distinction, some kind of moderation is needed.
There are four basic options when it comes to moderation:
- Post count. It doesn't require active moderation, and it effectively blocks invading trolls and stupid newbies. On the other hand, quantity doesn't imply quality.
- Moderator post approval. As long as the right mods are chosen, only quality content gets through - but on a large site, it's dificult to keep up with the traffic.
- Manually assigning privileges. This requires a lot less work from the moderators, but is highly arbitrary on its own, and depends on the users actually being noticed by the mods - which, again, becomes a traffic issue.
- Mob rule, i.e. basic majority vote. This definitely has a certain populist appeal. Unfortunately, it can get out of hand quickly (negbangs, anyone?) and requires a lot of participation to actually be effective. It's also very vulnerable to hacking.
Obviously all the moderation options have drawbacks, but there's another option: a combination of them, which I'm going to call the "Audition System
To qualify for an audition, a user will be required to have a certain number of MGoPoints - maybe 20, maybe 50, who knows. MGoPoints are a combination of post count and voting, so they're a good first filter - anyone auditioning will have had at least some time on the forum, with some positive responses to his posts. This keeps mods from having to reject stupid newbie auditions all day.
Once a user hits that minimum point total, their link for posting diaries becomes active. But instead of anything they post being directly published, it instead goes to moderators for approval. This is the "audition" part of the process - where the moderators look for proof that the user is good enough to be published. If the submitted diary is worth posting, the moderator approves it, and it shows up on the main page. The audition setup keeps good writers from being missed or ignored, because they're actively submitting articles for approval, and are doing so out of a much smaller set of users. It also helps create a stronger distinction between quality and quantity, and it ensures that the user is capable of writing something more meaningful than fat jokes about Charlie Weis.
After a certain number of approved diaries - say, five or so - the user is said to have "passed" the audition. The system automatically marks his account as privileged, and his diaries are automatically approved and published. Moderators can still move the posts to the forum or revoke the privilege if it's abused, but they don't have to read through every single post anymore. This again takes burden off the moderators, and rewards good users with more leeway.
Obviously this system is a little more complex than your average moderation setup, but I think it'd work much better than what most sites use. The forum users and the moderators both have a say in who gets elevated, the burden on the moderators is significantly reduced, and only people that have proven themselves worthy get to post in diary format.
And yes, I am aware of the irony of a relative newbie posting this as a diary, but it seemed like the most appropriate place.
So what do my fellow MGoBlog readers think? Would this be a good system? Are there flaws I'm not considering? Improvements that could be made?