Do we need moderation (except votes and adverts)?
|Voting Style:||Open||Point System:||7 Point|
|Updated:||7 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
|Viewed:||177 times||Debate No:||93447|
Thanks for posting this argument, and I look forward to a good debate!
I think it's important to define some of the terms that will be under contention in this debate, so I'll lay out a few, which my opponent can then respond to in the next round if there is any disagreement.
Moderator: In online forums and other online discussion spaces the moderator has the authority to block messages deemed inappropriate or break the rules of that discussion space. Moderators generally try to keep users on topic and keep the discussion thread or chat room free of personal insults and derogatory comments. (1)
Bullying: a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. (2)
Harass: to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct (3)
Serious: a) not easily answered or solved <serious objections>; b) having important or dangerous possible consequences <a serious injury> (3)
Due to the similarity of definitions between bullying and harassment, I argue that they are functionally the same bad behavior for the purposes of this argument. Both are (in this case) aggressive or offensive words that cause discomfort or fear to the victims.
Con's opening argument appears to state that online moderation of Debate.org is not necessary except in cases of advertisement or incorrect voting. Con states that banning opinions/polls and deleting threads is unnecessary. Con further argues that online bullying is not a serious problem and does not result in serious offline harm.
Deleting of Posts/Threads/Polls
Without specific instances of deleted content from Con, this argument is currently limited to generalizations.
Debate.org's Code of Content (4) contains several instances of inappropriate behavior in which moderation would be necessary beyond advertising/voting. For instance, it is against the Code to share content that "exceed[es] the scope of your rights to use such Content," such as sharing the text of an article that is behind a paid subscription wall. In this case, Debate.org must be prepared to moderate & remove such content. The Code also prohibits posting viruses or other malicious software/links to the site, and moderators must be prepared to handle these situations in order to protect other members. Other potential situations requiring moderators include members impersonating other members/staff and members sharing personal/account information publically. If any of these behaviors is observed in a post or poll on the site, moderators must be on hand to remove these posts.
Debate.org also stresses that members are not allowed to attack another member or that member's personal opinions, use racial or other biased derogatory slurs, or otherwise attack/harass fellow members. Since Debate.org is a private organization, rather than a government entity, there is no expectation of free speech - Debate.org is free to require its members to adhere to a certain standard while on its site. Under these guidelines, moderators will need to delete posts/polls when the opinions expressed are directly contradictory to the Code of Conduct.
Online Bullying - Problem or Not?
According to the social responsibility organization Nobullying.com (5), as of 2014 "over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyber bullied." According to the Pew Research Center (6), 40% of internet users have experienced internet harassment, and of those, "45% (or 18% of all internet users) have fallen victim to any of the 'more severe' kinds of harassment" such as threats, stalking, sustained harassment, or sexual harassment. This means that almost 2 in 10 internet users have experienced some form of severe internet harassment, a statistically significant number.
According to Pew, a "significant minority, 27%, found the experience [of online harassment] extremely or very upsetting." Thus, online harassment can have a significant psychological impact on people, which in turn can translate to real world problems and harm, such as inability to focus on tasks, poor job performance, and damage to interpersonal relationships. For those who already have anxiety or other mental health issues, online harassment can push them into a full blown panic attack.
And the fallout isn't strictly psychological. Take Caroline Criado-Perez (7), who blogged in support of adding more women to the UK's bank notes. She was blasted with rape & death threats, and a man ended up being arrested over the situation. Anita Sarkeesian (8) also ran afoul of internet harassment, and not only had her home address posted online (and received rape & death threats), but also had a speaking engagement cancelled after the organizers received threats of a mass shooting if Sarkeesian was allowed to speak.
These facts directly contradict Con's assertion that "Bullying is not a serious problem, especially on the internet." People are in fact told to kill themselves (or told that they will be killed) with alarming regularity.
To return this argument to the moderation of Debate.org specifically, this website functions as a platform for people to air opinions specifically for the purpose of drawing argument/disagreement. Without some form of moderation to control the worst impulses of its users, Debate.org could quickly be overrun with exactly the type of harassment/bullying that makes other unmoderated platforms (such as Twitter) a breeding ground for hostile attacks. Debate.org has a stated goal to maintain an atmosphere that allows "intellectual and thought-provoking conversation." In order to do this, it must make the site a non-hostile space for all members to express opinions, and the nature of people in general dictates that someone must be on hand to moderate those who are unwilling to or incapable of moderating their own behavior.
Online bullying and other forums of poor behavior are rampant on the internet - any website that does not wish to be overrun by harassment, argument, spam, and other problematic content, Debate.org included, must have moderators in order to limit these problems.
Moderator on DDO has the authority not to block but delete messages.
Bully- No physical contact on the internet, its called cyber-bullying.
Viruses count as adverts, for the link needs to always have a opening message to grab the attention of users. And deleting adverts is okay.
Code of content
Why is there such a code of content at all? Why do we need moderators?
Members sharing account information- They can easily use pms, and it is their own responsibility to not give out their password. Moderation is not responsible for that.
Impersonating staff members- Just how is this possible? Even if you create a ditto account, people can easily see the debates do not match with the account they know, or can see how the pattern of words is different.
Ad hoc attacks- Once again I say so, online bullying is not a problem.
Since it is not mandatory to put your address or physical address on DDO, physical harassment is out of the question. Furthermore, those who get affected by online death threats have low psychological integrity, and are weaklings(I lost this debate as well). We still have the block option, we can use that to stop a user. And furthermore, moderation can't do anything about pms. I could easily send death/suicide threats in mass-pms to all. I don't see the problem here. If I can do that in pms, why can't I do that in forums/threads/opinions/polls?
Spam often includes adverts as well, and why could have a vote system to remove such content, such as if 15 people reported it the content will be removed.
Con states that viruses count as advertisements for the purpose of this argument, since they need some sort of "advertisement-like" message in order to induce users to click on them. However, given that many users on this site post legitimate links to documents or source websites, this is not the case at all - someone could easily disguise a malicious link as a source or other relevant document and trick people into clicking on it, and this would not register as an advertisement.
Code of Conduct
Con questions why the site needs a code of conduct in the first place - I argue that this is outside the scope of the original statements (that we do not need moderation). However, as to why a code of conduct is needed, please refer to the arguments already given as to the negative psychological and real-world effects of online harassment, as well as the potential for illegal activity to take place on a website. Any public space on the internet needs guidelines in order to keep it within the scope of its original purpose.
Personal Information Sharing
Members do have a responsibility not to share personal information - mostly because of the code of conduct we all agreed to when signing up for the site (without the code of conduct there would be no personal member responsibility). However, people are not always responsible and do not always do what they have a personal obligation to do - this is why moderators are needed to begin with, and yes, moderation is responsible for exactly that type of situation when it occurs in a public setting (such as a forum). Moderators are there to moderate the behavior of those who cannot or will not control themselves.
Yes, members still have the opportunity to release personal information via private messaging. You cannot completely protect people from themselves in many instances. However, the release of this information via private channels, while still dangerous, doesn't have quite the same level of immediate widespread vulnerability that posting the information in a public forum for absolutely anyone to find has.
Impersonating Staff Members
A long-term member might indeed be able to determine if a particular individual is a genuine staff member, but new members to a site are not going to be able to determine this in the same way, and they will be particularly vulnerable to those pretending to be staff in order to intimidate or to gain personal information. Thus, it's important to have moderators on guard to protect new/inexperienced users in these situations.
"Once again I say so, online bullying is not a problem"
My sources explaining the consequences, both psychological and physical, of online harassment state otherwise.
Con has stated that since adding a physical address to DDO is not mandatory, physical harassment is out of the question. However, as I have discussed already in this round, members do have the potential to share this information of their own accord, thus opening up the potential for physical harassment. Therefore, this point reinforces the necessity of moderators to prevent exactly this type of scenario from happening. In addition, harassers can use other seemingly more innocuous information gained on the site (names, ages, schools, usernames, etc.) to track down a user's information on another social networking site (such as Facebook) to perpetuate offline harassment. Thus, it's important to have alert moderators who can monitor for signs of this potential behavior developing and put a stop to it early.
Con also states that "those who get affected by online death threats have low psychological integrity, and are weaklings." Even if this were the case, it does not mean that we should not take steps to protect these users - if someone were drowning, for instance, we wouldn't stand around on the beach and criticize them for having weak arm muscles. However, as I have already demonstrated, online harassment can quickly get carried over into real life harassment, up to and including credible death threats. Therefore, being wary of online threats is not necessarily a sign of psychological weakness, but rather is often a reasonable fear of further invasion of privacy and potential harm.
Regarding Con's point about sending threats through PMs - I have never tried to mass harass users through the Debate.org PM system, but I would venture that, like most other online systems, there are flags in place that would alert DDO in cases of mass PMs (spam), certain words and phrases, etc. Additionally, some form of moderation does cover PMs/individual users. Currently, if you receive inappropriate/threatening PMs from a user, you have the option to report that user, and the report goes to a moderator (or an admin serving in a moderator function) for review.
Vote System for Content
Vote systems to remove content in forums are easily abused and can in fact turn into another form of harassment. Users can attack a particular member and downvote all of his/her comments, for example, or a group can mass downvote an unpopular but allowable opinion, thus stifling any dissent. The best case function for these systems is having a downvoted comment sent to - you guessed it - a moderator for review.
Pro has demonstrated that online harassment does occur and does affect a significant portion of internet users, the need for control of online harassment to prevent potentially serious psychological and physical consequences, and the need for DDO to maintain moderators in some form to control harassment and other violations of DDO's Code of Conduct. Con has thus far provided no sources or evidence to counter Pro's assertions.
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