E-Moderation in Public Discussion Forums

E-Moderation in Public Discussion Forums

Lyn Carson (University of Sydney, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-947-2.ch256
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Abstract

Very little has been written about the crucial role of the moderator in public discussion forums or discursive communities. Group theory tends to draw upon group experiences from non-moderated groups such as criminal juries or groups convened for the purpose of observation. Therefore group theory is concerned with group members’ behaviour that is not affected by intervention by someone with the overall process in mind. Practicing moderators and process designers understand the importance of this role in face-to-face consultation. The translation of these skills into an online environment is the subject of this article. Unfortunately those who write about e-democracy rarely mention this important function, focusing instead on the technology, even though the moderator role is increasingly employed, for example in online collaboration or decision-making. The role of the e-moderator or e-convenor has attracted some attention, both in public deliberation circles (for example, National Issues Forums in the U.S.) and tertiary education (Salmon, 2002). Understanding e-moderation requires an appreciation of moderation per se. This article draws on input from a network of professional facilitators (in Australia, Canada, the United States, and the UK) who were asked by the author (in November 2004) to describe the qualities of an effective facilitator/moderator in a face-to-face (F2F) environment. Their combined responses, previously unpublished data, are used in this article. This primary data is combined with the author’s own critical reflections based on 20 years of experience as a group facilitator and is integrated with the writings of theorists and practitioners.

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