This is a very interesting article about the long-term sustainability of the Fediverse for moderators, administrators, and developers. We’ve already had two of our lovely Beehaw admins take breaks to take care of themselves as they experience the burnout associated with maintaining a community, and I think for a lot of use we already know how exhausting it can be to take a center stage position in an online community.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great starting points for what to do, but at least talking about it is a start.

  • John Colagioia
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    810 months ago

    Granted, I don’t run instances of anything yet, but speaking as someone who has been on the Internet for a while, including in moderation capacities…

    • Yes, obviously make mental health treatment more accessible, but if it has gotten to the point where it’s needed (as opposed to the equivalent of checkups and maintenance), then things have already gotten out of hand.
    • Moderation needs to happen as a team or community, because you can’t take a break if it’s all on you. At that point, problems grow while you try to heal, and you come back to a worse situation than you started with.
    • While we should pay moderators for their time, because their time is valuable, that’s also not a solution, just basic respect. People with high-paying jobs burn out, too.
    • Long term, though I obviously have no authority or sway in these matters, the idea of “moderation” should probably be replaced by “governance,” because governance carries the connotation of distributed responsibility. The person who decides whether to discipline in a given case isn’t the same person who metes out the discipline. Neither of them decide appeals on the decision, and none of them work without oversight. Also, the expansion of the Fediverse is largely a shift away from feudal governance to more-but-not-totally-democratic governance, which I think is more comprehensible to most people than “the owner of your server (who you’ve never really considered as a person) can’t put up with your crap anymore and is pulling the plug.”

    That’s unfortunately not complete or a useful policy proposal, but hopefully those off-the-cuff ideas will spur something more worthwhile.

    • Lionir [he/him]
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      710 months ago

      Yes, obviously make mental health treatment more accessible, but if it has gotten to the point where it’s needed (as opposed to the equivalent of checkups and maintenance), then things have already gotten out of hand.

      While I agree with this on principle - at this moment in time - I don’t know any admin of any of the big instances which does not struggle with balancing their admin responsibilities and living.

      While we should pay moderators for their time, because their time is valuable, that’s also not a solution, just basic respect. People with high-paying jobs burn out, too.

      When it is a job, people can quit. When it is a labour of love, that is a lot more difficult. As the model doesn’t give nearly enough money for people to be financially compensated, the only ones who can stay are those doing it as a labour of love. These people probably need to work because they need to live. This makes self-control of the time invested a lot harder, I think. People are more likely to drive themselves to burn out with these conditions in place.

      • John Colagioia
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        110 months ago

        On the former, yes, I’m definitely thinking about sustainability in the long term, not the current crisis. It might be too late to fix the current situation, at least in the sense of making it so that current large-instance owners can continue to manage everything alone.

        And on the latter, kind of. When it’s a job, then people also rely on the income. One of the big problems with most economies in general is that, if someone feels bad about your current job - overwhelmed, depressed, or otherwise stressed - then they’re not in a good position to find the next opportunity. They don’t want to take more hours out of the day, and that stress shows through on job applications. And someone might want to solve that by paying them less, so that they have other jobs, but that throws it back into the “labor of love” column.

        That’s why I make a big deal about distributing the work across a group or community. Paid or not (but ideally paid), it’s far easier to walk away if the “bus factor” is high enough that the job can afford to lose an individual or two for a few weeks and replace them if they leave permanently.