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Silent Moderation on websites

We’ve all seen it. You are on a forum.  A thread starts getting out of hand.  Suddenly, the next time you log in, the whole thing is gone. Sometimes hundreds of good posts vanish because of a few bad ones.  Almost always, by website policy, no explanation is given. The thread is just gone.  And even discussing it further is verboten.

Once in a while, a thread will disappear for reasons nobody can figure out.  I’ve seen cases where I and the other main participants have PMed each other, and asked why the heck the thread, which none of us thought contained rules violations or rude posts, was deleted or locked.  No explanation has been given so we are all at a loss.  In these cases, inquiries to the higher ups are either met with silence, or with a canned response such as, “By website policy we do not discuss locked or deleted threads.”

Just recently, this happened at another site.  I won’t name the site, but it’s a social type of a site like Photobucket where you can share and discuss user-created content.  On the site you can make up your own social group, sort of like a sub-forum.  Other site members can join the group and discuss the topic, kind of the way Yahoo! groups works.  These groups are public (I don’t think there’s a way to make them private, actually). Anyone can sign up and post. The group creator is the administrator but the administration tools are pretty simplistic.

Anyway, in this group, which had existed for many years, I had occasionally noticed things going on that probably violated the overall site rules. For example, links to certain policed domains are blocked on this website, and people have regularly done things to get around the block. For example, imagine if the site doesn’t allow discussion of MMOs and “guildportal.com” is a blocked domain.  People would post links to say this guild’s site as “****portal.com/shadowfire” where *** = guild.”  Clearly this is a deliberate attempt to get around the domain block.  Yet these things have been allowed to go on for years, so people kept doing it.

Then there was the posting of content, where the rules clearly state you can only post your own content, not copy other people’s content and upload it as your own.  So imagine a site like Sourceforge where you upload someone else’s (copyrighted) computer code into your own repository.  Again this is a no-no.

As I say, I have seen these things going on for at least a couple of years, and always in the back of my head I have wondered if those posts would get deleted.  They never were. Occasionally users got banned (their posts would suddenly be listed as having no author, etc), but the social forum continued unscathed.

Until last night.
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A fresh start

Today, I begin a fresh start on this, a new blog here at WordPress. Now, I am not completely new to the internet, nor to blogging. I have spent many years playing online games and reading their forums, and making long, opinionated, blog-like posts at such places as the City of Heroes forums, the SWG forums, and so forth. I have also run a website dedicated to roleplaying games (RPGs) and that site has a “blog” section where I have written many rants, raves, etc.

However, every site of which I am a member has some sort of a “theme” to it — roleplaying games in general, or some individual game in particular, or something along those lines. As a result, I haven’t really had the freedom to blog about whatever I darn well please at any of those sites (doing so would violate the rules of the site). Even at the gaming site I run, the rules (which I wrote myself, and thus it would be hypocritical to violate) clearly state that the subject matter of all content must relate, at least indirectly, to roleplaying games.

And so, I decided it was time to get my own “blogging” site. There are a few of these around, but I and I initially tried starting this up at blogger.com (you can see this post and a few others here). But after puttering around with Blogger, LiveJournal, and WordPress, I’ve decided that I like the WordPress features the best. I also really like a few of the themes here, much better than the ones I have found at those other sites. (Yes, I know I could make my own theme but I’d rather write my blog entries than spend hours on CSS).

Now that I have my own blog site, I am going to use it to continue commenting on the things of interest to me, but this time I can make the topic about whatever I choose. Today it might be an online roleplaying game; tomorrow it might be on an environmental issue.

One decision I had to make right away of course, was to come up with a name, so I will explain a little bit about that here. I wanted a name that would be unique, and would describe me in a few short letters. I am, by profession, a biologist, and by hobby, an RPG gamer. I thus combined elements of the two things (Biology + an RPG wizard, or mage) and came up with “BioMage.” The picture is of Shogun Suzerain, a character I played for a while in City of Villains (he was a Ninja Mastermind). It’s a fictional character and so, of course, looks absolutely nothing like me.

That’s all I’m going to post for now… Later on today or in the days ahead, I will use this spot to post my thoughts on a wide variety of topics, including games of all sorts (both computer and non-computer, roleplaying and non-roleplaying), entertainment (movies, books, TV shows, etc), photography (another hobby of mine), science, the environment, politics, you name it.

I welcome comments and feedback about whatever my thoughts are. For now I will let just anyone post comments and I will not moderate. As long as comments remain civil, post away. However, I will moderate any comments that contain anything I consider offensive. Since this is my blog I won’t bother to define it in detail. If there are any problems I will restrict comments in a more aggressive manner but I trust (and hope) that I won’t have to do this.

And with that… welcome to my blog. Enjoy!

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