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Freedom of Speech and related concerns

Renegader
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4/10/2015 2:05:53 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
It must be in the greatest urgency to call for a new era of internet freedom.

I would like to use this post to rally support behind this cause.
I am certainly not the first DDO user to notice hefty poll and comment moderation, and not nearly the first to voice explicit concern with such a expectation. Alas, it appears nothing has changed. There are potentially ominous implications for holding this policy as a norm, but before I express such implications, I will expose some common impediments to a stronger community, and hopefully confront some of your skepticism towards my position.

SECTION ONE
Issues which many have expressed concern:
I will offer revisions to these policies in the following section

1.) Poll moderation: Poll moderation is often conducted at random, and lacks guidelines to determine which polls are comparatively dangerous. Many users including myself have had harmless polls seized for moderation, with which contain no trace of profanity or "inflammatory rhetoric." These polls almost always disappear, hence, are never posted, almost as if by magic. This is contrary to how a website founded on principles of good debate should be run. The internet is a clear symbol of the common man's voice. This policy of seizure creates a disconnect between members and moderators (DDO elite), and often allows users to harbor resentment. I am not calling for the nullification of moderator powers, simply that they are fairly checked, which I will explain shortly.

2.) Comment moderation: Even more disturbing than poll moderation is the censorship of comments, which I believe runs on a system of profanity scanning. While I disagree with the policy of censoring profanity, insults, and flame wars, I do understand that this is a website inclusive of all ages. I also believe a compromise can be achieved on this issue.

SECTION 2
Possible solutions to these injustices.

1.) Regarding poll moderation

The best route to bring DDO users together would be to implement a policy of grammar moderation. If a poll has grammar errors or is a duplicate, it is essential that moderators catch this and remove such polls.

2.) Regarding profanity in comments and polls

The best solution to this problem would be to create a profanity switch, similar to a self-censorship button. If a user feels as though they do not wish to view obscene material, they would have the option to hide such material, or at least blur out profanity. This would bring DDO into the future and both sides would win.

3.) Regarding "Inflammatory Content"

One must recognize that polls and debates which offend people are the cornerstones of good debate and discussion. If we pretend that these issues do not exist or that opposition opinions do not exist, we fail as a community to encourage healthy discussion. Why would we even debate each other if we never are "offended?" (See Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)

SECTION 3 (Last Section)
Common opposition counter-points and my refutation

1.) "Oh no, but trolls..." (Most common cry from the weak)

While we have all seen trolls on this website, I am shocked by the lack of knowledge regarding how to defeat trolls, specifically on DDO. Apparently, a common method of "defeating" trolls here is this classic, banhammer -> troll resurfaces -> rinse and repeat. People here also seem to be easily trolled and left furious at troll polls and such. I typically laugh hysterically at the foolishness of some members in engaging these trolls. The best method for defeating these trolls is simply ignoring them. Dropping to their level and banning them only makes the situation far worse, as history on DDO has supported. Do not even answer their comments and they will eventually go away. Like I said, banning trolls not only exacerbates the problem, but is also contradictory towards internet freedom. I summarize; Trolling is not illegal. Treat them as immature children. BANNING THEM IS FEEDING THEM

2.) "My poor poor heart cannot take such offensive material."

Why the hell are you even on the internet? Were you born under a rock? Please answer those questions with ink and a quill and mail them by horseback to my plantation, because that is the time period you are living in.

Thank you for listening to my dumb rant.
Death to the DDO elite
"It's now very common to hear people say, 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fvcking what." - Stephen Fry
airmax1227
Posts: 13,241
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4/10/2015 4:05:44 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
You make some good points in this post, and I also find it particularly fascinating because in many ways it reflects what I refer to as the compartmentalized social structure of DDO across the various sections and subsections of the site. Due to that I'll do my best to reply and to clear up some misunderstandings.

At 4/10/2015 2:05:53 AM, Renegader wrote:
It must be in the greatest urgency to call for a new era of internet freedom.

I would like to use this post to rally support behind this cause.
I am certainly not the first DDO user to notice hefty poll and comment moderation, and not nearly the first to voice explicit concern with such a expectation. Alas, it appears nothing has changed. There are potentially ominous implications for holding this policy as a norm, but before I express such implications, I will expose some common impediments to a stronger community, and hopefully confront some of your skepticism towards my position.

SECTION ONE
Issues which many have expressed concern:
I will offer revisions to these policies in the following section

1.) Poll moderation: Poll moderation is often conducted at random, and lacks guidelines to determine which polls are comparatively dangerous.

The automated filter is often a finicky system. The majority of rejected polls are rejected through this system, and while it's often helpful in maintaining some filter to the section, it can also lack feedback and clarity for why a poll was rejected. The most common reason is "too many misspelled words".

Many users including myself have had harmless polls seized for moderation, with which contain no trace of profanity or "inflammatory rhetoric." These polls almost always disappear, hence, are never posted, almost as if by magic.

That "magic" is actually the automated filter. Again, that system isn't perfect, and sometimes it's unclear why a poll has been submitted for moderation. Certainly it needs work, but there isn't anything devious going on. It's simply intended to minimize human involvement for content that's fairly basic. If you provide me with an example of a poll, I can check for you why it was rejected and provide some feedback in some cases.

This is contrary to how a website founded on principles of good debate should be run.

While I agree the poll filter can be alienating, I also don't think you are looking at the actual portion of the site intended for "good debate". The polls section of the site has always been intended to be distinct and separate from the "Debates" section, and provide a supplementary aspect to it. More members are now utilizing the polls section as an add-on to forum and debates (and I hope more will do so), but as a stand-alone feature, the polls section doesn't facilitate formal debate in a more meaningful way than basic comments, and choose between A or B (and C, D, E, F, G etc.).

The internet is a clear symbol of the common man's voice. This policy of seizure creates a disconnect between members and moderators (DDO elite), and often allows users to harbor resentment.

There is no "policy of seizure". There is an automated filter that can be less than perfect in filtering out unnecessary or inappropriate content, and to this extent we agree entirely. The filter needs improvement because it fails to filter out enough spam, allows too much inappropriate material, and often will reject otherwise benign polls.

How this creates a disconnect between members and moderators isn't something that I entirely understand, aside from a lack of understanding for how moderation in that section takes place, among members who use that section almost exclusively. This is partially reflected by you using a mostly satirical term, "the DDO elite", to refer specifically to me. I find this particularly interesting because the term "DDO Elite" has taken on a life of its own, meaning something different to different people. For many in the forums, it's just an ongoing joke. For some it does point to something real, but is more often meant as satire. For others it could reflect an animosity towards "the powers that be" that are keeping them down - as often used in common society to refer to the exploiters of the proletariat. In any case, we could have an interesting discussion on that itself, but it's interesting to see that you, and perhaps the polls section has its own take on it, and it seems to be the "censor happy mods" that you are directing it towards. I'd like to clarify though that there are no censor happy mods in the polls section, as least no more so than in the rest of the site.

If this makes users resent me or the filter though, I think it's hard to get overly worked up about that because its resentment that should be directed elsewhere. In the polls section, I suppose it might make sense to refer the the automated filter as the shady, censor happy cabal, getting in the way of maximal enjoyment - or "the DDO Polls section Elite" - if we want to assign class warfare intended terminology to nonsentient website programs.

I am not calling for the nullification of moderator powers, simply that they are fairly checked, which I will explain shortly.

No one is abusing moderation powers in the polls section. Things are pretty lax from a human moderation aspect. Again, it's the filter that is the issue and something that I'll be the first to admit needs to be worked on. I think it's clear from your post so far that there is a misunderstanding for how moderation works in that section at all.

I think overall there is a valid point that the filter needs tweaking, but the focus should remain on that.
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airmax1227
Posts: 13,241
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4/10/2015 4:06:03 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 2:05:53 AM, Renegader wrote:
2.) Comment moderation: Even more disturbing than poll moderation is the censorship of comments, which I believe runs on a system of profanity scanning. While I disagree with the policy of censoring profanity, insults, and flame wars, I do understand that this is a website inclusive of all ages. I also believe a compromise can be achieved on this issue.

This is again mostly the automated filter, though I do remove comments that contain too much profanity or are verbally abusive.

SECTION 2
Possible solutions to these injustices.

1.) Regarding poll moderation

The best route to bring DDO users together would be to implement a policy of grammar moderation. If a poll has grammar errors or is a duplicate, it is essential that moderators catch this and remove such polls.


I don't understand how grammar moderation will bring DDO users together, but as I said above, the most common reason given by the automated filter for poll rejection is "Too many mispelled words".

I agree on the duplication thing, and I personally remove polls that are too similar to another recent poll.

2.) Regarding profanity in comments and polls

The best solution to this problem would be to create a profanity switch, similar to a self-censorship button. If a user feels as though they do not wish to view obscene material, they would have the option to hide such material, or at least blur out profanity. This would bring DDO into the future and both sides would win.


This isn't practical, and it's hard to imagine it would be worth spending the time implementing this feature.

3.) Regarding "Inflammatory Content"

One must recognize that polls and debates which offend people are the cornerstones of good debate and discussion. If we pretend that these issues do not exist or that opposition opinions do not exist, we fail as a community to encourage healthy discussion. Why would we even debate each other if we never are "offended?" (See Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)


Most offensive debates are not removed. Censorship regarding debates is rare except with regards to spam or extreme cases (like very graphic images). There are plenty of examples of "offensive" debates on this site and unless the perception has changed (so others should correct me if I'm wrong), I don't believe many feel the site is over-censored with regards to the debates and forums.

As for the polls, it's a different animal. The automated filter is once again, the issue at hand.

SECTION 3 (Last Section)
Common opposition counter-points and my refutation

1.) "Oh no, but trolls..." (Most common cry from the weak)

While we have all seen trolls on this website, I am shocked by the lack of knowledge regarding how to defeat trolls, specifically on DDO. Apparently, a common method of "defeating" trolls here is this classic, banhammer -> troll resurfaces -> rinse and repeat.

This method is actually pretty rare. For the most part, the benign trolls are hardly a problem. They use the site for a few days and get bored and are gone. What you are thinking of is one exceptional example of one particularly pathetic individual who keeps being banned and coming back to troll the polls section.

People here also seem to be easily trolled and left furious at troll polls and such. I typically laugh hysterically at the foolishness of some members in engaging these trolls.

I agree that members should just ignore them, but "just ignore them", isn't a reasonable moderation policy.

The best method for defeating these trolls is simply ignoring them.

Again, good advice for members, but not for moderation.

Dropping to their level and banning them only makes the situation far worse, as history on DDO has supported.

This actually isn't supported by DDO history. You are pointing to one example where a particular troll is a constant problem. While I've approached this particular troll problem by just ignoring him and allowing him to make ridiculous polls, the member eventually spams the section and harasses other members to the extent that banning them is the only reasonable option. Ignoring this particular troll is not an option.

Do not even answer their comments and they will eventually go away.

While I would hope members would take this advice, unless you are suggesting that I ban people who reply to this troll, it's not a reasonable moderation approach.

Like I said, banning trolls not only exacerbates the problem,

Not true. In almost every case banning them takes care of the problem. Once a troll has proven to be constantly abusive and a constant detriment to the site, they are banned and that is the end of them. There is one exception to this in the forums/debates section of the site, and there is one exception in the polls section. Otherwise, these trolls are easily dealt with and don't come back.

but is also contradictory towards internet freedom.

Abusing a privately owned website and its membership through harassment and spam, is a type of internet freedom I don't think you should be proud to champion.

I summarize; Trolling is not illegal. Treat them as immature children. BANNING THEM IS FEEDING THEM

Trolling to the extent we are talking about (which is an important distinction from members who might do so sometimes or otherwise contribute something to the site aside from spamming, harrassment, derailing debates etc) is against the rules of the site... In that sense its "illegal" here, though I don't think they will serve any jail time for that.

While they are immature children in almost every case, simply banning them is completely effective 99% of the time.

2.) "My poor poor heart cannot take such offensive material."

Why the hell are you even on the internet? Were you born under a rock? Please answer those questions with ink and a quill and mail them by horseback to my plantation, because that is the time period you are living in.


I don't think that most believe this website is over-censored. If I'm wrong about that I hope that others will opine. There are issues with the poll section, but that section is intended for a different purpose than the rest of the site, and I'm happy to have a separate discussion about that. Regardless, the site has standards which I don't believe are too difficult to comply with regarding content. This site isn't 4chan, it's debate.org, we can allow a very permissive atmosphere to discuss things, without being a free for all for things that aren't necessary to facilitate that. I understand it might seem like that if your perception is only from the polls section, but I assure you that isn't reflective of the entire site, where the approach is necessarily different.

Thank you for listening to my dumb rant.

I appreciate your thoughts and hope to have a continued discussion on general site censorship.

Death to the DDO elite

Who is/are the DDO elite?
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Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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4/10/2015 4:35:30 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 4/10/2015 4:06:03 AM, airmax1227 wrote:
Who is/are the DDO elite?

They don't exist, airmax our master told me to say that.
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12