Which brings up another issue that us non-mod plebes don't have the answer to unless a mod tells us: how much of the modding is complaint-driven and how much is proactive?
I ask because if it's mostly complaint-driven then all that happens is - much like with local bylaw enforcement - the squeaky wheel gets the grease and those of us whose first recourse on seeing something annoying is not the "report" button* end up on the short end. Proactive - i.e. modding not based on complaints - is much fairer.
* - I grew up in a culture that very much frowned on tattletales and try my best not to be one myself, it's just not how I roll. I can't remember the last time I reported a post (other than spam) if ever, though I might have at some point.
The question of "fair" doesn't really enter into it though. Again, the point isn't to say who's right or wrong, nor is it to punish or change behavior particularly.
The whole point of moderation is to keep people talking and keep the peace. So, yes, "the squeaky wheel" most definitely gets the grease. Of course it does. If a post gathers fifteen reports, (picking a random number), I'd suspect that that poster is going to run foul of Red Text far faster than a post that gets no reports. Note, the whole point of the "squeaky wheel" thing is that it would be one (or a small number of) people making noise.
However, since reporting isn't anonymous, it would become very clear, very quickly if someone (or a group of someones) was trying to game the system in order to shut down conversation. We've both on the boards long enough to know that that doesn't happen. And, frankly, we've both been on the boards long enough to know when someone is trying to commit suicide by moderation. It's usually pretty clear (even when I'm on the receiving end).
Do I always agree with the mods? Of course not. But, overall? Yeah, not going to get too bent out of shape about it. The trolls eventually get smacked down and sent back under their bridges, inevitably.
I have to admit though, I'm much faster now than I used to be to hit that report button. It's just good sense. That and hitting that ignore button helps too. And, probably the biggest thing that I should do more often, is hitting that unsubscribe button to threads. I'm soooo guilty of not doing that.