Is censorship in forums useful or detrimental?

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upnorth

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Rules on a private owned forum suddenly became censorship. :sleep:

I only see less then a handful people complain when being told either in the open or with warnings. It's seriously not an issue, and is something that the staff here on MT can and will handle more then well enough. Btw, I strongly urge members to use the Report option. That will help alert the staff on any possible " problems ".

Don't feed the trolls! :coffee:
 

mlnevese

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Moderation is not censorship... if there was no moderation in these forums soon, we would see nothing but people offending each other and those who want to keep a serious conversation would just move away.

Censorship is when you have a valid opinion, for instance "SuperAntiSpyware is better than Kaspersky" and your post is deleted. Notice that an opinion doesn't need to be right but nobody has the right to offend you for it.

We would have a proliferation of trolls and people who want to be controversial just to cause flame wars. People will often enjoy net anonymity to offend others and propagate racist/sexist ideas or just fake news. If you think I'm exaggeratiing I've see this happen in other forums where all the regulars just went away when trolls overtook the forum that was closed soon after.

People have the right to say whatever they want. They also must be ready for the consequences of what they say. Minimum rules of conduct should not only exist but be enforced as well. A forum is not a public space, it's private and owners/maintainers have all the right to set the posting rules and enforce it. Even if it was a public space you must be ready to suffer the consequences for what you say, even legal consequences depending on what you said.
 

blackice

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Technically following rules would be self censorship by definition. I have zero problem with the forum rules by the way. You agree to the rules when you sign up, if you don’t like them you are free to not sign up. I created the topic so conversation could be moved here. Someone else seemed to have an axe to grind about censorship on the internet. It was ruining the other thread. Now the trolls have an outlet.
 

MacDefender

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I've participated as a moderator and then administrator of a very large forum (over a quarter million active users) back when I was younger and had more free time....

Unfortunately, moderation and rules are very much necessary to keeping a community a welcome environment aligned with the original goals. Without that, a number of recurring patterns come up:
  • A small handful of "bad eggs" can ruin the sense of community. I, like a lot of others, come to these kinds of forums in my spare time looking for a break from my normal day. I love debating intellectually, but if I feel like I'm defending myself from personal attacks, it is no longer fun, and I'm not as likely to come back to that community. It does not take much for that to happen, unfortunately.
  • Herd mentality could take over, where a group of people think the same way. For example (totally made up example), we could end up with the "WD is the only product you need" mentality and if you agree with it, you get upvoted, if you disagree, your voice is unheard. That might be a legitimate opinion, but if that crowd starts stating that opinion on every thread about every AV, the community stops having the diversity of opinion needed to be a community.

It definitely helps to have some well-written explicit rules. In my experience, the best combination has these components:
  1. A top level mission statement, generic. This really just states in vague terms what the goal of the community is.
  2. A generic mission statement is open to a lot of interpretation, so you need explicit rules too for what kind of behaviors are allowed vs not allowed. One very important provision though is staff judgement -- always allow your staff to have some judgement for when a new kind of behavior not covered by the rules arises.
  3. A concrete outline of consequences as well as appeals. Utilizing a warnings/infractions system is often a good idea, with certain points adding to temporary bans, read-only mode, and so on. Having an appeal process is great too. We used one where members can post one appeal to an area where everyone can read but only the staff, OP, and a "jury" can comment. Because this was a large community, we selected a jury of peers (representing senior members of the community, and a variety of voices that we thought represents subsets of the community). I think that might be overkill here.

It also helps to create a read-only area or thread, and to move borderline inflammatory comments over to there. That way the content isn't censored (removed entirely), but it prevents others from replying to that comment which could start an argument.... and while everyone can read the comment, everyone also understands the context that the staff deemed the comment borderline inappropriate.


Overall though I find this community to be very well run as a whole, and that is thanks to everyone who participates here, not just the staff. While freedom of expression is important, I often find the community thrives when the overall tone is welcoming, and ideally that arises 99% because its members try to do that on their own, and 1% because of staff intervention.
 

blackice

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I've participated as a moderator and then administrator of a very large forum (over a quarter million active users) back when I was younger and had more free time....

Unfortunately, moderation and rules are very much necessary to keeping a community a welcome environment aligned with the original goals. Without that, a number of recurring patterns come up:
  • A small handful of "bad eggs" can ruin the sense of community. I, like a lot of others, come to these kinds of forums in my spare time looking for a break from my normal day. I love debating intellectually, but if I feel like I'm defending myself from personal attacks, it is no longer fun, and I'm not as likely to come back to that community. It does not take much for that to happen, unfortunately.
  • Herd mentality could take over, where a group of people think the same way. For example (totally made up example), we could end up with the "WD is the only product you need" mentality and if you agree with it, you get upvoted, if you disagree, your voice is unheard. That might be a legitimate opinion, but if that crowd starts stating that opinion on every thread about every AV, the community stops having the diversity of opinion needed to be a community.

It definitely helps to have some well-written explicit rules. In my experience, the best combination has these components:
  1. A top level mission statement, generic. This really just states in vague terms what the goal of the community is.
  2. A generic mission statement is open to a lot of interpretation, so you need explicit rules too for what kind of behaviors are allowed vs not allowed. One very important provision though is staff judgement -- always allow your staff to have some judgement for when a new kind of behavior not covered by the rules arises.
  3. A concrete outline of consequences as well as appeals. Utilizing a warnings/infractions system is often a good idea, with certain points adding to temporary bans, read-only mode, and so on. Having an appeal process is great too. We used one where members can post one appeal to an area where everyone can read but only the staff, OP, and a "jury" can comment. Because this was a large community, we selected a jury of peers (representing senior members of the community, and a variety of voices that we thought represents subsets of the community). I think that might be overkill here.

It also helps to create a read-only area or thread, and to move borderline inflammatory comments over to there. That way the content isn't censored (removed entirely), but it prevents others from replying to that comment which could start an argument.... and while everyone can read the comment, everyone also understands the context that the staff deemed the comment borderline inappropriate.


Overall though I find this community to be very well run as a whole, and that is thanks to everyone who participates here, not just the staff. While freedom of expression is important, I often find the community thrives when the overall tone is welcoming, and ideally that arises 99% because its members try to do that on their own, and 1% because of staff intervention.
I believe the person complaining didn't actually feel like their ideas were being censored, at least in that moment, but implied any sort of censure (for language, harassment, toxic behavior) was negative. Despite the fact that said person was not using such language or aggressive expression. So, I'm not sure of their goal. I feel the rules are laid out plainly here and are enforced fairly and with much slack given before the ban hammer falls. I agree, it is good to have an agreed upon structure. Just like any other part of society there is a social contract, and in this case it is not only implied but written and agreed to. It is very helpful. Always glad to hear your well constructed thoughts @MacDefender .
 

MacDefender

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I believe the person complaining didn't actually feel like their ideas were being censored, at least in that moment, but implied any sort of censure (for language, harassment, toxic behavior) was negative. Despite the fact that said person was not using such language or aggressive expression. So, I'm not sure of their goal. I feel the rules are laid out plainly here and are enforced fairly and with much slack given before the ban hammer falls. I agree, it is good to have an agreed upon structure. Just like any other part of society there is a social contract, and in this case it is not only implied but written and agreed to. It is very helpful. Always glad to hear your well constructed thoughts @MacDefender .

Thanks! I think the community is functioning well as-is, which is always a good thing. These meta-discussions are always better to have when things are going well versus when the community is imploding (been there done that a few times, admittedly...). As you said, the agreed-upon structure is very important, and having rules written down to describe the social contract is always a good thing.

A friend was telling me about work life at a silicon valley company. They had snacks for the office, and one day he saw someone empty an entire bucket of cashews into a gallon ziploc bag. The person just shrugged and said "they're free..." :D . What's common sense / assumed for one person is not necessarily the same for everyone.
 

mlnevese

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Thanks! I think the community is functioning well as-is, which is always a good thing. These meta-discussions are always better to have when things are going well versus when the community is imploding (been there done that a few times, admittedly...). As you said, the agreed-upon structure is very important, and having rules written down to describe the social contract is always a good thing.

A friend was telling me about work life at a silicon valley company. They had snacks for the office, and one day he saw someone empty an entire bucket of cashews into a gallon ziploc bag. The person just shrugged and said "they're free..." :D . What's common sense / assumed for one person is not necessarily the same for everyone.

If my experience on the web taught me anything is that common sense is a rare trait. Just look at all those videos and challenges going around...
 
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plat

Level 29
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Sep 13, 2018
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Well, I think this individual's rather extreme position was: the purity of each person's opinion should be preserved, without any intervention. Anything resulting in a post's being modified in any way whatsoever I believe he/she considered censorship. I think there was another incident where a member (who I respect greatly) became enraged because he couldn't use certain profane words without getting moderated and this was adding flavor to the complaint of impure posts as a result of moderator "interference."

I can understand. But it's also a form of anarchy to disallow moderation. Don't know historically if anarchy was ever self-sustaining or viable of itself. But it would often be a catalyst for general change.

Censorship is poison. Moderation is necessary. My opinion.
 

MacDefender

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If my experience on the web taught me anything is that common sense is a rare trait. Just look all those videos and challenges going around...

Yeah there's simply too many variables. There's a lot of brilliant computer geeks who are somewhere on the autism spectrum, so "common sense" may not be a reasonable expectation but they still have a lot of value to add to the community. Other times it's simply a cultural disconnect. Here we all type in English and without an accent, so we forget how diverse this community is. Cultural misunderstandings are bound to happen.


Well, I think this individual's rather extreme position was: the purity of each person's opinion should be preserved, without any intervention. Anything resulting in a post's being modified in any way whatsoever I believe he/she considered censorship. I think there was another incident where a member (who I respect greatly) became enraged because he couldn't use certain profane words without getting moderated and this was adding flavor to the complaint of impure posts as a result of moderator "interference."

I can understand. But it's also a form of anarchy to disallow moderation. Don't know historically if anarchy was ever self-sustaining or viable of itself. But it would often be a catalyst for general change.

Censorship is poison. Moderation is necessary. My opinion.

Yes, that's very true. It's tricky to balance editing someone's post vs deleting it altogether. Usually when I did the former it was only if the post was well separated into two distinct thoughts -- one that was permissible and one that was against the rules. Otherwise, it's better to just remove it altogether (or if it was something borderline like a lot of profanity, sending a polite message to the user asking if they'd be willing to revise the wording)
 
F

ForgottenSeer 72227

For me part of the problem is there are slightly different views on what censorship means. Sometimes it does get into a grey area, to be honest. For me censorship is more about stopping someone from expressing their opinion. Now where the grey area comes in (for me that is), is HOW you express your opinion. To me that's where the forum rules come into play. Can they be viewed as a form of censorship?? Sure I guess, but in all honesty they are really there to keep the peace or so to speak. They are there to ALLOW people to express their opinions one way, or another, but to be respectful about it. Really that's the end all be all, state your opinion, but be respectful about it. If you think about it, that's how most societies work in the real world. People will always have differing opinions on this, or that, it's just the nature of things. However, I was always raised that if you are going to say something, be respectful about it.

I think that's where the key difference is IMHO. It's not about being able to express your opinion one way, or another, it's about HOW you express your opinion. Do emotions get tied into this, sure they do. However, my view is that emotions run on both sides, it's not just one sided, even though some like to paint it that way. Whether your are reporting a post because you don't like it, or are crying foul and saying your censoring me, it's still emotion. Most of the time all that triggers this is for someone to come along (moderator, or forum member) and say play nice. To me this is not censorship, their post is still there, it wasn't deleted in many cases, all that was said was be nice and respect one another. Which translates to, say what ever you want, but phrase it in a way that is respectful.

I think the admins and mods here to a fantastic job! I think they allow way more than many forums would, but as with many things, sometimes things do need to be pulled back in every once and while. The whole point of this forum is to be as welcoming as possible, for all walks of life, so in that regard, yes, rules have to be in place to allow this.

Another part of the problem is that it's very difficult to ascertain meaning when reading words vs speaking in person, so sometimes it takes a little more effort to express the meaning behind it. Not to mention we are all from different cultures, backgrounds, parts of the world. This forum like many others, is written in English. For many, it's not their first language, even then meanings behind words/phrases may be interpreted differently, or mean something else to someone in another part of the world.

All in all your free to express your opinion, one way or another, however just be mindful on how you say it, that's really all that matters IMHO.:emoji_beer::)
 
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Exterminator

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I guess a moderator could be called a censor. Censorship is an easy word to throw around when some do not like the rules or just like to incite trouble.
This thread was created because one member decided to hijack another thread and go totally off topic.
We all agree to the forum rules,I did when I joined.They are there for a reason,most importantly to respect your fellow members and staff members.
There are people here from all over the world,of different ethnicity,religions,backgrounds and gender.Rules are necessary for the greater good and discipline for those who fail to show their fellow members the same respect that they demand.
This thread is closed because sooner or later this is going to go off track.
 
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