What’s a Moderator?


Our moderators are here to help us maintain the civil tone that’s Ricochet’s raison d’être. They’re hosts and hostesses, go-betweens, ruffled-feather-soothers, and first responders in the case of the occasional argument.

Yes, of course arguments happen on Ricochet. We try to avoid it, but we’re human beings. Passionate ones, too. And we’re talking about politics. On the Internet. It’s inevitable that there will be misunderstandings.

Though passion may strain Ricochet, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Ricochet Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. …

And those angels? They would be the moderators.

We asked the mods to help us when we realized that our small team of editors couldn’t keep up anymore with all of the threads going on at any given time. We looked for longtime members of the Ricochet who were trusted as honest brokers, and we specifically sought mods whose own political opinions were as varied as those of our members. The trio that’s now helping to keep the conversation elevated includes James of England, Midget Faded Rattlesnake, and Mike Rapkoch; you can recognize them by the “M” badge that appears on their avatars.

As our dear, departed Editor-in-Chief Troy Senik (PBUH) explained:

The moderators are a bit like the friends at a party who help the hostess serve the food, keep the drinks going, and ensure that the good cheer keeps flowing. They’re here to ensure a hospitable environment. They won’t be doing any Code of Conduct redactions or the like, just trying to keep all the conversations here on track. And they’ll be applying a light touch — because we all agree that Ricochet works best when it’s self-regulating. Please note, however, that, on occasions when they do have to step in, they will do so with the full backing of the editorial team.

They’re also here to help you — so you can feel free to let them know if you have a problem or concern. Please be judicious in calling upon them, however. All three of these individuals are volunteering their time because of their love of this community and we don’t want to overburden them.

Another way to think of the moderators is like this: The National Park Service, as Midget Faded Rattlesnake pointed out, has rangers and camp hosts. Ricochet’s editors are the rangers. Moderators are more like camp hosts:

Hosts are often thought of as the “eyes and ears” of campgrounds. They provide supervisors and rangers with information regarding campground facilities, visitor use, wildlife sightings, and safety concerns, but do not take direct action involving law enforcement situations.

The mods bring threads that might be problematic to the editors’ attention. They help the editors to understand the context of comments that might require editorial intervention. They may even drop you a note on occasion asking if you’d be willing to rephrase a comment that might be misunderstood.

But they’re not editors. They do not have the ability to edit or redact comments or posts. If you disagree with an editorial decision, please take it out on us, not them. The editors are always happy to have your thoughts about how we’re doing. (We live for praise, frankly. But we accept construction criticism with a stiff upper lip). We would feel awful if a mod caught flak for one of our mistakes. It would be terribly unfair to him or her. Editorial mistakes are always, entirely and 100 percent our fault, so please, please, don’t blame the mods! The editors’ doors are always open, 24/7, if ever you’ve got concerns or suggestions.

But if you’ve got a question or a concern that doesn’t require editorial intervention — say you’d like guidance about the Code of Conduct, or say you think someone else might need it, or say you just find, generally, that something about a conversation isn’t meeting Ricochet’s standards — the mods are there to help you out. They’ve been around forever and they know everyone here. They know which editor is on call at any given time, and they how to reach him or her quickly. They’re hugely skilled at mediating if there’s been any kind of misunderstanding. And they’re very discreet: What’s said to a mod stays with the mod.

Members should see the mods as go-betweens when they have concerns about another member or the editors. Please do send a private message to a mod, or email them collectively at [email protected], before losing your temper — and especially before posting any kind of personal criticism. The mods are there tactfully to sort out misunderstandings before they become a big, hairy deal.

And usually, they can. They’re angels.



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