[LINK] Moderator Censorship - volunteers should write a charter
rene.ln at libertus.net
Mon Mar 28 13:06:50 EST 2011
On Mon, 28 Mar 2011 00:57:52 +1100, Robin Whittle wrote:
> Those who criticise my attempt to do so should firstly check their
In an attempt to clear up some apparent misunderstandings (and with serious
attempt not to further inflame this debate)...
Firstly I have not said or even implied that RW was attempting to stop TK
from expressing his opinions about nuclear/radiation etc. I am quite
certain that RW was not.
I have also not said that the list should be "completely" "unmoderated".
What I have objected to is what appeared, at the time I first posted, to be
a change to the pre-existing list management policy and without prior
notice to list subscribers. Moreover, that it appeared that the new policy
was (and still is in the view of at least one list maintainer) one that
would extend the pre-existing criteria for moderation (e.g. prevention of
spam) to include criteria that constitutes a highly subjective judgement on
the part of a "moderator" that the *manner* in which a person has expressed
their opinion is not appropriate on this list.
So far, probably the clearest statement of intention as to criteria that
I've seen is (quoting RW 27 Mar 2011 00:29:58 +1100):
> As one of the Amigos, its my view that if you want to use a mailing
> list to discourage other people from expressing their opinions - or to
> characterise what other people write in such negative terms
> ("claptrap") without sufficiently detailed supporting arguments - then
> you should not use the Link list for this purpose.
(Note: The term "claptrap" was used in referring to contents of a
moderation note, not in connection with the nuclear/radiation debate).
I consider the above type of moderation criteria to be entirely
inappropriate for Link because:
a) the criteria is so subjective, broad and vague, that it is impossible
for posters to know with any surety what types of expressions of opinion
will or won't result in a reprimand from a person wearing the mantle of
moderator. That will, in my view, discourage posts - chill freedom of
expression of opinions.
b) the criteria is so subjective that it will most certainly result in
other list posters, who perceive what was said by the reprimanded person to
have had a different motive or intention than that perceived/alleged by a
moderator, and/or consider that the particular expression of opinion was
not inappropriate for Link, to criticise/complain about the moderation.
That will result in even more inflamation than what was originally said.
c) sometimes it is just not possible to provide "supporting arguments" for
an expression of opinion, and in any case, imo people should not have to do
so. As I've said before, imo the vast majority of Linkers are perfectly
capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to pay any attention to
someone else's opinion, including whether or not it might have been more
likely to be persuasive if supporting arguments had been included.
d) such subjective, vague and broad criteria is almost certainly unable to
be applied consistently and without an appearance of bias as to what is or
is not an appropriate manner of expressing an opinion. Inconsistency and/or
an appearance of bias will certainly result in even more inflamation than
what was originally said.
In relation to (d), there is imo already "evidence" that that is case. I
refrained from entering this moderation policy debate until my concerns
were exacerbated by the observation that expressing the opinion that what
someone said in a particular post was "claptrap", without detailed
supporting arguments, does result in a reprimand from a moderator, but
expressing the opinion that someone who posts to this list is "a bit of a
kook", without detailed supporting arguments, does not. The latter just
results in a response which starts off with "Sure. I have no intention of
discouraging kooks from writing to Link". I am of the opinion that
referring to any Linker as a "kook" is even more likely to discourage some
people from posting than is merely opining that what someone said in one
particular post is "claptrap".
The task of language police is indeed difficult.
I have no intention of writing a proposed list charter, because I am of the
opinion that the pre-existing light-handed list management policy has
worked well for well over a decade. Therefore I am of the view that anyone
who opines that a more heavy handed policy is necessary or desirable, and
especially one based on highly subjective, vague and broad criteria, should
provide supporting arguments for that opinion, including examples of any
instances in the past where the pre-existing list management policy is
opined to have inadequate. Who knows, maybe someone could convince me and
others that such a change is necessary or even desirable However,
repetition of things the same as or substantially similar to what has
already been said will not change my opinion.
Furthermore, Robin, I would appreciate your advice as to your intention
concerning how you, and/or the other list moderators, would intend to deal
with a poster's failure to comply with a moderator's judgement that the
manner of expression of particular opinion was inappropriate. To be
precise, if a poster continues to express their opinions in the same or
similar manner, will the poster be banned from the list?
If not, then I suppose I probably don't really care much about whether or
not you continue posting moderation notes of the recent type. Reprimanded
posters could choose whether or not to 'voluntarily' comply with a
moderator's subjective judgement and almost certainly some other posters
will speak up when they disagree with a moderator's judgement. So, the list
would continue in largely the same way as it always has.
As you Robin remarked in February:
> Making the corrective suggestions on list...has the
> disadvantage of potentially inflaming the on-list trouble, and casting
> public aspersions on the motivation and judgement of individuals who
> are doing their best.
(Ref: [LINK] Maintaining the link list - changes in policy?
The former has been proven true, and with regard to the latter, *if* you
have somehow acquired the impression that I have been casting aspersions on
the motivation and judgement of individuals who are doing their best, then
I am sorry that that impression has been perceivable. That was certainly
not my intent and I have absolutely no doubt that you have been doing and
advocating for what you genuinely believe is best in relation to list
management policy. I have been expressing my opinion that I disagree with
More information about the Link