A couple weeks ago, Jagex mentioned that they aimed to increase the size of their Player Moderator team. As Mod MMG described in this FAQ, "There are about 2,000 in the community at the moment and I think the team want to grow that to about 10,000." That's right, Jagex aims to quintuple the size of their Player Moderator team, potentially adding eight thousand new moderators to the game. What is not completely well-defined are the questions of whom Jagex will grant these privileges and how they will find those people.
Mod MMG did elaborate further that the ones likely to be chosen were the ones that helped grow the community by hosting events or helping people. That's all very nice ideology, but the question remains: how will Jagex identify these people? Perhaps there are a few people that lead regular events at Castle Wars, and a few that go on revenant hunts. Unfortunately, this tally seems to fall well short of the projected thousands that is Jagex's target.
Even calling people who lead a community that engages in a specific activity or event worthy of potentially being moderators may be the result of looking at the situation through a strongly tinted pair of rose-colored glasses. Someone had to create that famous clan around your favorite activity, after all, but how? I'm sure we would all like to believe that a tight group of friends started off one day to be the best. I would like to think they talked to people on an individual basis and connected on a human level, gradually expanding through camaraderie and friendship until they became what one sees today.
Although this may have happened for a few of these communities, and kudos to the players for set them up, the vast majority of the time it is simply not the case. Instead, they use a mechanism many of us love to hate but fall for anyway: advertising through not-quite-legitimate methods. Autotypers or people spamming by typing the name of a friends chat repeatedly in a short period of time run rampant in many locations. Despite the obvious conflict with the rules, they can remain for days. When they are removed, the spammer's main account suffers no infraction and they resume advertising with a fresh one.
You can sit back in your chair, recline, scratch your chin and sigh. You can tell me "That's just the way it is." Except that it isn't. No one autotyped Tip.It a billion times in our faces, yet here I am and here you are. If Jagex's idea is to make all these players within these subcommunites moderators, they should consider carefully what they are endorsing. Would it not be absurd to have players earn the right to enforce the rules by, in effect, breaking them?
In addition, players are infamously assured that Player Moderators do not enjoy in-game advantages. While it is quite clear that they are not getting free money or membership from Jagex, there are more subtle distinctions. For example, in crowded areas, it is not uncommon for a player to turn their public chat to "off" so that other messages can be seen. Yet chat from Player Moderators cuts through this, giving PMod leaders of such groups a marked advantage, should they choose to advertise themselves.
The behavior of the people in some of these groups is not exactly what I would nominate for ambassadors either. Back when I was training Runecrafting, there was a group that attempted to impose a monopoly on service of "assisting" at the air altar. Nominally, this entailed a lower-levelled player "borrowing" the skills of a high level player to make cash, and through one system or another, the higher-level player received experience.
Anyway, at that time, a clan was loosely organized through a friends chat (recall there was no "official" listing like one has for today's clans). One can only be in one friends chat at a time, and I wanted to be in a different one. As a result, I was often crashed and even people associated with the group were crashed by each other. Even when I followed the group's protocol, they often crashed because I was not in their chat. Certain Player Moderators also routinely showed up to crash during popular times which yielded higher experience rates, with more people running (keep in mind the additional bonus of people preferring a Player Moderator, for various reasons). In building their own community, they had effectively turned a friendly runecrafting altar assist system into an all-out political power struggle for xp.
Moving on to the function of PMods, Mod MMG also mentioned that he was "always conscious that I didn’t want RuneScape to be a nanny state" and that he wanted to take it beyond just "this kid said ass." It is true that we don't want players running after each other every time someone uses the slightest bit of profanity, and those kind of players are not the kind anyone wants to see made moderators. Yet, with all due respect to Mod MMG, it often goes much further than that, and there is profanity or flaming that should be dealt with. The report function is clearly inadequate. Yes, people used to be muted or banned when reported for this kind of activity, but at the moment it is piled under a blizzard of reports and reviewed too late to implement a punishment. This behavior does not require a J-Mod to make the call.
Consider your own chats, i.e. the "Mod [JMod name]" friends chat. Those chats do not go unmoderated for hours because it would reflect poorly on Jagex. In fact, there is a sufficient staff of players with ranks who have the ability to kick and ban players who are being a nuisance from the chat. The chat's rules are more stringent that for the general RuneScape world. Is it not possible to find people to enforce the less lax set of rules in other chats? A 48-hour mute may be more severe than a kick, but it would certainly get the message across quickly.
Several of my friends were harassed, on a not particularly famous or crowded world, for just walking into the Grand Exchange. I was with them. (They harassed other players routinely as well, so apparently it was nothing personal with me.) On no occasion was there was no Player Moderator there. In fact, on that world, which happens to be my homeworld, I have not spotted a Player Moderator for nearly a year (aside from calls to mute adbots), and I hang out there a reasonable amount. The problem with focusing exclusively on community is that they tend to cluster in places and leave vacancies in others. I should be able to walk with a friend into a world confident people won't harass my friends, shouldn't I?
I hope Jagex doesn't take their magic pen and uniformly make, essentially, famous people Player Moderators. Perhaps what they ought to do is stroll around on their true account, unbeknownst to their fellow players, and have a look around. Of course there is not time to find thousand of people this way, but you never know what insight you might gain.