Personally I don't see the need for an Ombudsman on the forum, but maybe that is just because I do not have a problem addressing an issue to a person that is in a position of authority directly or to an individual in question. I realize that some people may not do things the same as I do.
The Moderators and Administrators of this forum are very accessible and will (have) explain(ed) their actions when asked. I am also sure that they talk behind the scenes before they take an action that may come across as heavy handed or cause a controversy. What they don't put up with, and shouldn't, is a direct challenge or putdown of the Mod Team in an open discussion. It is my understanding that they are much more likely to listen to a polite query in a PM than a demand in an open discussion.
I have not seen them go overboard to an extent that would require a third party intervention from someone with no authority. To me that just adds another layer of bureaucracy to a forum that is a community.
In my former life I had many occasions to work with people that were adamant in their point of view and did not want to see or hear anything that did not fit with their view. In these cases it did not matter how many other folks tried to explain or interpret what was happening they refused to change, I don't see how adding an Ombudsman will overcome that nature.
If there is an Ombudsman will direct contact to Moderators and Admins be cut off? If not, what is the point of the Ombudsman? If so, why do we need Moderators?
This thread proves that any member can bring forward an issue for discussion and be taken seriously by the Moderation and Adminstrator Team.
Very well put and I tend to agree with all you said.
I believe (and correct me if I am wrong D2) that the reason this has come up is because there is are some individuals on the forum who do not feel they can bring issues to the mods, either in public or in private, without fear of reprisals.
It is really unfortunate that they feel this way, because anything could be farther from the truth. However, in situations like this, perception is reality. So even if having a go-thru contact that they do trust is the right way to go, then that wouldn't be so bad.
If that were to happen, IMO it would not be the only way of contact between the forum and the mod team. In fact, if that were the setup, I would be completely opposed to the idea. Anyone, at anytime, could contact any moderator they felt comfortable with.
Let me add, we all do get contacted often by the forum too. So we do know this is not a universal feeling among the membership as a whole.
I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say that we are all very approachable and willing to listen to someone's thoughts or feelings. As you said, we are not very receptive to public forum comments that read more like attacks, or make issues personal. However, we have no problem with issues brought to us in PM, or even polite threads in public (such as this roundtable).
So I would urge people not to be afraid of us either. We carry a title of moderator, but we are really just members of this forum as all of you are, and our interest is for the betterment of the forum. Everyone is open to ideas, and willing to listen and discuss. Nobody is going to hold a grudge, or make reprisals because of it. In fact, we would often like to hear more from the forum on how we are doing, what they would like to see, etc. It is everyone's forum, and things work best when the membership at large assumes more ownership!