With the appointment of moderators, I think it is important to examine what exactly they will be using as the basis for their decisions. And that is the "Rules and Code of Conduct."
I've decided to look at the document (specifically the Code of Conduct Policy section) and offer my opinions on the thing. My background? I write policy documents as part of my job, which involves a lot of establishing required behaviors on behalf of users for IT services with a primary focus on maintaining the security of information systems.
The CoC is a policy document. It establishes requirements and expectations of individual behavior. Policies should be concise, consistent, and easy to read. It should use simple language, brief sentences, and choose words that reduce ambiguity (must/will/prohibited/required vs. should/should not/shall/may, etc). It should be consistent, not conflict with other policies, and not rely on volatile information that is subject to frequent change.
Now, on with the show:
These are the official site-wide moderation policies for DebateArt.com. These policies cover a wide range of topics, and you are advised to familiarize yourself within them.
"you are advised" is right out. The Code of Conduct is the primary basis on which users are permitted to use the site. They are expected to follow these rules while here and failure to follow these rules is grounds for banning. While sites such as these are generally not held accountable for the actions of their users, it is advised that web site owners and administrators close any and all loopholes for potential liability.
Recommendation: Change to "Users are required to read and understand these policies."
A moderator (mod) is a person granted authority by the site owners to enforce the rules of the site, primarily, the voting policy and the code of conduct policy. Moderation actions are any actions taken by the mods to enforce the rules of the site. Moderators have complete discretion in the enforcement and interpretation of the site rules.
Short. Sweet. To the point. It establishes what the mods are and defines the scope of their responsibilities.
A. Moderation StructureThere is one chief moderator and one deputy moderator. The chief moderator has the power to appoint (as needed) various assistant moderators beneath the deputy moderator to assist with various tasks. The chief moderator has the power to overrule the deputy moderator. The chief and deputy moderators are vested with the power, by the site owner, to take moderation actions at their discretion, with all exceptions to this power stated in these terms. Assistant moderators must receive prior approval from the chief moderator or deputy moderation to take moderation actions, and this approval must be granted explicitly for every action taken by the assistant moderator.
"The chief and deputy moderators are vested with the power, by the site owner, to take moderation actions at their discretion, with all exceptions to this power stated in these terms." This is redundant with the power of discretion already granted to them in the previous section.
Recommendation: Delete. Move reference to any exceptions to the previous section.
"Assistant moderators must receive prior approval from the chief moderator or deputy moderation to take moderation actions, and this approval must be granted explicitly for every action taken by the assistant moderator."
Good. Strongly worded. However, as a policy it doesn't make sense. If the assistant moderator must obtain approval for each and every action, then what are they good for? I don't see how this lightens the workload for the moderators themselves.
B. Moderation RemitModeration is guaranteed a high degree of autonomy from site ownership, and may exercise their discretion in moderation decisions. Moderators can take action regarding any conduct which they believe threatens the health of the site or the wellbeing of any site user. The code of conduct policy and voting policy are not to be interpreted as defining the complete scope of moderator authority. Moderators’ decisions are final and not subject to appeal, except to the moderators themselves
A more verbose explanation of moderator discretion. Completely unnecessary and redundant. Stating that moderators have "complete discretion in the enforcement and interpretation of the site rules" pretty much covers everything.
Recommendation: Delete entire section. Move lack of appeal to first section. First section should now read:
"Moderators have complete discretion in the enforcement and interpretation of the site rules, with all exceptions stated in these terms. Moderator decisions are final and not subject to appeal."
C. RecusalModerators may recuse themselves in a particular situation if they deem it necessary, passing their duties in that situation off to another mod or to a trusted third-party (such a third-party must not have a track record of poor conduct on the site). Moderators must recuse themselves from moderating votes on their own debates and from moderating their own votes on others’ debates.
The first sentence is redundant given the power of discretion already vested in them.
Recommendation: "Moderators must recuse themselves from performing any moderation actions involving situations which they have participated in as a user (not in their official capacity as a moderator). In such a case, the responsibility of moderation will be deferred to the other moderator. In the event all such moderators are involved in the situation as users, moderation responsibility will fall to the Site Owner."
Second sentence is good.