Friday, February 13, 2009

Should those who represent the USCF be held to a higher standard?

Should those who represent the USCF be held to a higher standard and subject to a higher degree of criticism merely because of their position, as opposed to their alleged wrongdoing? Putting it another way, if both a USCF representative and a USCF member were accused of the same infraction, should both be subject to an identical amount of coverage, commentary and scrutiny? USCF officials have expressed that USCF members should be held to the same or higher standards as our USCF representatives and leaders. Many others feel those in a position of leadership or authority should be held to a higher standard of conduct than the USCF membership.

Further we often hear from those who have authority over us “I am not a paid employee of the USCF - I am a volunteer.” Some people feel that giving volunteers that serve us a break for not doing a good job should be the standard. We are told we ought to recognize their volunteer status and be more lenient. Our volunteers often argue this largess should apply to them. When a poor job is done we usually hear a litany of rationalizations as well as all the effort, hard work, time and money the individual provides for chess as if this mitigates poor behavior or results. We are always reminded since they receive no money for their service they should not be held to higher standards or even a simple professional standard of care.

Those in authority might argue at best they should be treated no differently than anyone else. However, in the view of many, it is thought those in a position of authority over us should have a duty to set an example. Like it or not, they can be viewed as role models and, as such, these people have a special responsibility to the membership. People who we delegate authority to are accountable to a special degree, ex officio - merely because of their position. What is usually forgotten is these individuals have been given positions of authority and with extra authority comes extra responsibility. Even though we very much appreciate the work of our volunteers, a bottom line argument is if people don't want responsibility or to be accountable for their actions they should not volunteer to serve a tax exempt organization.

1 comment:

  1. From: wpraeder@xxx
    To: bhall@xxx
    Sent: Wed, 18 Feb 2009 2:54 am
    Subject: Towards an Improved Online Community

    I know you are extremely busy and therefore must leave the running of the USCF forums to the forum staff. As you have previously indicated the forums are a project that is in its infancy and must undergo an evolutionary process. Growth is a difficult and painful process and the forums must go through this to reach a more sophisticated and mature place.

    The focus of moderation should be to provide a pleasant and informative environment for the forum guests and to consistently stop inappropriate use of forum resources. Since not all moderators will be experienced in forum administration and cyber law, as any tricky situations arise where the Moderators can't agree on how to handle issues in a timely manner, you usually need an experienced Chief Moderator/Administrator that can always step in to break the deadlock and provide necessary guidance to both protect the organization while enhancing the enjoyment of the forum guests. This type supervision will also serve to keep moderation bias in check more effectively than just relying on appeals to the FOC. Additionally education and rules for inexperienced moderators on managing online communities will help set the tone of how to better serve the organization as well as interpret and enforce forum guidelines consistently in a laissez faire manner This of course can create problems if new forum staff may be attracted to service with the idea they can be more free to post what they feel under a mantle of protection. Unfortunately volunteering and serving our chess community can be hard but rewarding work and should not be considered any type of a perk.

    Lately in the forums I have witnessed a type of combative mentality on the part of the staff that I have not witnessed since the forums very beginning. The staff has been dominating the discussion and is not only fighting with the guests but with each other which hardly provides a good example of decorum. It is unclear how much of this is due to intermediation on the part of board members concerning the proper running of the forums.

    I would suggest it is useful that all involved be working from the same playbook regarding the successful running of the forums rather than allowing individual actions and interpretation to prevail. To this end I am shipping you some reference material that you can use and distribute to forum staff as you see fit. Information about this material can be found at . Due to ordering time it may take a month or so for the material to reach you but I wanted you to know it was in process.

    Best wishes to you for the continued successful advancement of chess in the USA.

    Wayne Praeder