I applied an asynchronous interview.
I have been a member of the forum since 2005 so was familiar with the type of personality of its users. It is a forum used by people wishing to migrate to New Zealand. Please refer back to my blog for details. The person I chose to interview was ‘Mother Bear’ we all have alter egos on the forum. Mine is hotpots being from Lancashire. I hadn’t been online for a while, after all the forum had served its purpose as I am now a permanent resident of New Zealand. Remember the Gesellschaft versus Gemeinschaft discussion way back in August? Anyway my Gesellschaft days were over and I hadn’t quite moved to the Gemeinschaft mode, not on this forum.
I contacted ‘Mother Bear’ to ask the following questions:
1. Please give your own definition of a:
2. When might the role of a moderator undermine the role of a facilitator?
3. When might the role of a facilitator undermine the role of a teacher or moderator?
4. What are the skills required to carry out the different roles?
5. Do you think that the forum would benefit from facilitation services?
The focus of the response was on the role of moderation as a policing role on the forum. Monitoring the activities and ensuring that the participants maintain netiquette. The role of facilitator was defined as the owner of the forum and the person of authority. This is quite different to my perceptions of moderation and facilitation. Once these definitions had been set the other responses were predictable in that the hierarchical relationship between the owner (facilitator), moderator and the participants.
The skills required for the roles aligned with many noted in our online discussion; tact, patience, ethical behaviour and an ability to deal with difficult or sensitive situations. Mother bear said that she didn’t see the need for facilitation services on such as small forum.
It is worth noting that this (small) forum has 27,165 Threads; 326,815 Posts, and 9,660 Members!
I have uploaded the original email and response to googledocs for your information should you wish to read the full response.
I also did the same for two other forums but did not receive a reply, I was going to be all studious and triangulate the responses. The jewel in the crown was to be someone who had taken over a forum but they when I went online to post my case, the forum was down again, still not up and running yet.