Posts Tagged ‘moderation’

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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