I'm sure we can manage both.
As someone who has been chief cook and bottle washer at my own collaborative portal for two years now, I can speak to both roles. Frankly, setting out to convene an environment of professionals has only led to one occasion where moderation was required. A tone of mutual courtesy, despite diverse opinions seems to hold a space for all exchanges of viewpoints without recourse to flaming thus far, and certainly we have left of left and right of right participants in the membership. Im a firm believer in chaordic principles entitling participants to take ownership of the environment which seems to induce a degree of self moderation.
Firm relationships have evolved from this network, to the extent that we have formed a new consultancy consisting of members who have used VOIP to create 'stronger ties' through verbal exchange. Therese Weel has been a formidable agent in supporting and delivering value to the platform, so it is she who subsumed the role of facilitator to a greater extent too and it helps to people who rise to the capability with skill and commitment.
Wearing my 'facilitator' hat to inspire and incite postings and exchanges means I am required to daily manage the portal with new content (usually things that are relevant to collaboration for individual or organisational interest) or just things that interest me and where I m seeking response from the readers. I frequently 'matchmake' between members if I see there is a direct relationship that deserves a mutual introduction and this has helped create real value for our members.
I think amongst my colleagues, we have commonly agreed that new communities demand people who perform these roles without which a group engagement is generally doomed. It's demanding but fruitful to see a community start to bond and prosper from the engagement, going from virtual to realtime.
Frankly, setting out to convene an environment of professionals has only led to one occasion where moderation was required. A tone of mutual courtesy, despite diverse opinions seems to hold a space for all exchanges of viewpoints without recourse to flaming thus far, and certainly we have left of left and right of right participants in the membership. Im a firm believer in chaordic principles entitling participants to take ownership of the environment which seems to induce a degree of self moderation.
I've moderated both groups of students who are using discussion boards as part of their course - so far (several years, but small cohorts) we've not had any thing that required moderation. However, I am also a moderator on a discussion board for computer support, and on a mail list for collectors of old school stories. We have had (quite major at times) issues of flaming etc. Both groups are quite different - the computer discussion board users are, in the main, younger and male, where as the book list people are more mixed in age, but almost exculsively female. Clearly, therefore, it doesn't seem to be a gender or age related issue, however, I wonder if when you have a class based course, students worry that their grades could be affected by their behaviour - hence they are on their best behaviour. Alternatively, on could argue, with a hobby based board, people are almost evangelical about their interests, and so take any percieved criticism much more personally than if they are studying a subject that they might not be so passionate about.
(Troll Talk by cmason on 02 March 2007 05:57:00:)
inviting participation, managing synch and asynch discussions, nurturing communities of interest, differences and sameness between a moderator and a facilitator, differences and samesness between facilitating verbal discussions vs text based, installing forum/conference software, comparisons of open-source/proprietary/ASP(as Application Service Provider, not Active Server Pages) applications, value of posting rating systems, etc & etc.
I agree, it would be useful (to me, at any rate) to talk about these issues. In the forefront of my mind at present, is how to get a community going. I am helping to set up a discussion board at VSO, primarily to support volunteers in the field with issues surrounding their work. We have a range of issues, not least the fact that many volunteers are working in areas that have limited Internet capacity - so, we have to look not only at encouraging users to use the boards (we have moderators in place, so hopefully questions are answered in a timely manner) - but as well as using the boards, effective techniques for limited connectivity, IT awareness - given that volunteers can range in age from early 20s to early 70s - massive range of work areas. In fact the only thing that they have in common is that they're working in projects in the majority world.
So, thanks for raising the question, Christie.
I'm hoping we will have those conversations too, although this seminar is more about sharing our experiences of what we've learned from/about online facilitation, where it is now and where we see it headed, rather than problem solving.
Hope you will post your stories in the thread that was started for that conversation.