Bias is defined as a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question. Such bias can cause partiality (positive or negative) towards a particular person. Such a preference or an inclination can inhibit impartial judgment.
We see this displayed in forum moderation through the closing or pulling of threads for no stated or obvious reason. Posts can also be deleted for no stated or obvious reason. This can be against a person or an idea. In the worst case sanctions can be applied to certain individuals in an arbitrary or inconsistent manner. We rarely see traditional bias demonstrated against race, disability, or affiliation but it is often demonstrated through the provision of much greater scrutiny of the posts of those we dislike while allowing the benefit of the doubt for those in their own group or in positions of authority. This type of inconsistency is what we most often refer to as moderator bias.
When I was on the USCF FOC other than regulating SPAM, moderation bias was of great concern and in my opinion regularly permitted. I took great pains to not post on the forums while also on the FOC to preclude the appearance of bias in that I was debating issues with those I had the power to suggest sanctions against. In reviewing the forum archives one could see the generation of this bias from the earliest days of the forum where the team saw something they did not like an then parsed the AUG to try to find a reason to remove the post or sanction the involved individual. Sanctions were often stacked up or parts of the same posts were used as a justification to pile on certain individuals. Topics on the issue of moderation practices were particularly scrutinized as there appeared to be too much concern that members might defy the FOC’s authority (which the FOC considered disrespectful of themselves) rather than making efforts to improve respectful speech between individual members.
Below is a current example of an ongoing struggle against inconsistent USCF Forum moderation practices. I will leave it up to the readers to determine if any bias is involved with this endeavor.
please explain #2
Sent at: Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:25 am
To: Ron Suarez WPraeder tsawmiller Brian Mottershead BrianLafferty rharing Moderator Committee
Tim - As you were kind enough to answer my previous question about Ron's offer, perhaps you could explain what was inappropriate about Ron's post, which follows. Suggested changes to bring it into conformance with the law of the AUG in your opinion would be appreciated, too.
----[Start Ron Suarez post]
First off, I need to remind the moderators that this forum is part of the USCF and its operation is certainly an USCF Issue.
Secondly, I need to remind the moderators that I am not writing anything in this post about any one particular person or groups of persons. Therefore, I am not attacking, disparaging, etc. anyone or any group of people.
Therefore you must allow this post and thread to remain, by the law of the AUG.
OK, so I am writing to all of the forum members that feel they have either personally been wronged or know of anyone that has been wronged by the system that administers and moderates this forum.
Please do not post your complaints of the system on the forum as you will then be exposed to the moderative wrath of this forum.
I repeat, do not post your complaints here.
What you need to do is send me a PM with your complaint and any and all details of the complaint you can provide.
I am now compiling a file that I will present to Bill Hall at a future time. My presentation will show problems and of course solutions to those problems. Understand that when I speak of problems I am talking of structural and strategic problems. By improving the structure of this forum operation, we can and will have a better discussion forum for the USCF and all its matters.
Thank you all.[End Ron Suarez post]
Please note: Although I am a partner in Chess Magnet School and perform consulting for USCF and others, nothing I post here represents the opinions of my clients or partners unless stated otherwise.