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Internet Dissent and Forum Moderation

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posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:22 AM
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First off, this is NOT a rant, but rather a true story. I share this with you to provide food for thought...

I see an increasing number of posts here on ATS from people who get their widdle feewings hurt about one thing or other and want increased moderation (by the Mods) to clamp down on dissenting views. For the record, I think the mods here do a pretty dang good job, all things considered. I don't always agree with everything they do (and this is to be expected), but overall I think they do an excellent job. This post is about the other side of the coin, moderation of ALL dissenting views and its result. As noted, it is also (sadly) a true story.

I was a member of a forum (which shall remain nameless) once which had a good theme, but I quickly realized the moderation mantra was everyone had to agree with everyone else and be sticky-sweet nice no matter how ridiculous the subject. It was downright SCARY! To give an example; here was one exchange prior to my leaving (forever). The theme of this particular forum was living off the land and self sufficiency, and they had a sub-forum about hobby livestock (goats, sheep, etc.).

Some sappy woman posted that her goat had 'prolapsed' while giving birth (she didn't know the medical term, but described the result...essentially expelled it's lower intestine through it's rectum from the straining giving birth). She then wrote this long whining post about how she basically just left it alone and "hoped" it would get better. She went on, ad-nauseum, about what a hardship is was to her to go check on it every few hours.

She was too stupid and selfish to realize her poor goat was suffering and dying a horrible death. Well, the poor momma goat suffered like this for something like 3 days...and eventually it did die. Of course I went ballistic on her from day one, telling her she needed to get "immediate professional help" (in the form of a vet) for her goat or it would die. She whined and came up with every excuse imaginable about why she wouldn't (not couldn't, but wouldn't) do this. After the poor goat died it left it's newborn with no mother...which was ALSO a great hardship to this pathetic piece of excrement excuse for a human being.

Unbelievably, this woman neglected the newborn kid (baby goat) and it too died. She wrote sobbing post after sobbing post pleading for sympathy (and she got plenty from the Orwellian members). I repeatedly admonished this woman to do the right thing, but she refused and gave endless excuses. I eventually stated she was solely responsible for the death of her goat and the kid, and she should be ashamed as should any other member who offered this pathetic woman sympathy. I pointed out how irresponsible she was and that she should never be allowed to own livestock again EVER in her life!

At every step along the way of this story I was repeatedly given demerits by the moderator staff of this forum. My posts were repeatedly deleted, edited, toned down and criticized by the staff. I had no sympathy and was being cruel they said. Really? The true cruelty was right there for all to see, and it wasn't me, but rather this woman who was so incomprehensibly selfish that she willingly let a living creature, which she could have helped, die a slow and agonizing death. And then she let the newborn die! Unbelievable! She was responsible for the care of those innocent little animals, but was so consumed by her own selfishness and narcissism she let them die from neglect. Rather than lift a finger to save these poor creatures, she instead just posted on the internet about the hardship this caused her, her grief and how "unfair" life was, baiting for people to feel sorry for her. It was terrible to read, but what's worse was the absolute wall of denial, excuses and repeated admonitions by the forum staff to just be "nice" and "have some sympathy". I vehemently refused and called a spade a spade.

By this point I had been given so many demerits my point total on the forum had dropped to near zero. Unbelievably, the owner of the forum then wrote me this hostile personal email threatening me with a permanent ban and giving me a time out (for like a week or something). Well, by this point I was furious and wanted no part of a place which would condone such behavior, which would moderate dissent to the point of permitting cruelty to another living creature like that...and I responded with as much. The forum was replete with these types of discussion. Even the slightest disagreement, the tiniest thing, was met with "BE NICE!!" and locked, deleted or squashed. It was unreal, surreal almost.

So, in closing, as the old adage goes... "Watch out what you wish for...it might just come true"

Dissent and criticism is one of the roots of learning itself. Without it...well, you see what you get.



edit on 5/13/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:32 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Nope.

I disagree because, reasons.




posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:32 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Thanks for sharing - that woman sounds completely unfit to care for a goldfish or a hamster, nonetheless livestock. How sickening.

Another issue that runs parallel with the one you described is people asking for "More laws!", and "More government regulation!", it's the same damn thing. People want to react to things that make them upset, instead of responding in an appropriate way. "Let's have the government MAKE A NEW LAW that says...." instead of "What can WE do in this situation to minimize the negative impact it might have on others"

Thank you for sharing. I'm glad you found your way to ATS where the Mods get it and we are allowed to challenge each other as long as we are respectful.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:37 AM
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a reply to: TerryDon79

Before anyone has a hissy fit, the only reason I disagreed was to to disagree. Kind of the point of the op

edit on 1352016 by TerryDon79 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:42 AM
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a reply to: TerryDon79

Yeah, I got it!






posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:53 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

So basically, you spent a considerable amount of time online trying to upset someone who was posting a story.

Regardless of the contents of the story, this would be considered bullying. After several warnings by the moderators you were finally banned.

You are now complaining that some people complain about other people complaining.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 07:53 AM
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Echo Chamber

I was part of an online community where neocons ran off any dissenting opinion. That online community died the death of disinterest after that.

Participation there drove me more firmly here. I hate the echo chamber. And I hate "yes men". So much so that ill often disagree just to try to provide an unrepresented viewpoint as a devils advocate.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:03 AM
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a reply to: SudoNim

On the contrary, this person wasn't telling a story; they were posting a "saga" which didn't need to happen, and baiting for people to feel sorry for them.

If looking out for the well being of creatures who depend on you, and who you willingly accept custodianship for, is considered "bullying"...then I readily admit to being a bully!

I am not complaining at all. In fact, quite the opposite. Re-read the OP. I am merely pointing out the down side of over-moderation of dissenting views.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:10 AM
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A couple footnotes are probably warranted here:

1.) I have owned horses and raised livestock (cattle) for the better part of 53 years. For this reason I felt more than a little qualified to weigh in on the topic in question. I am responsible for my livestock and animals, and I act accordingly, no matter the hardship to me personally. Their well being is nearly 100% my responsibility, and I proudly accept this responsibility. Else I shouldn't have them to begin with.

2.) In addition to receiving the flame-o-gram hate mail from the (other) site owner, I also received a number of emails from members who applauded my posts, but dared not post similar (or even agree with mine) publically for fear of the same retaliation from the staff as I received for my dissent. Rather ironic I thought.


edit on 5/13/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:23 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

As a member and moderator of an animal forum, one thing I have learned is that you can TRY to help people all you want, but you cannot force them to treat their animals the way you would - or think they should. Your behavior is your responsibility. Her behavior is hers. You said you went "ballistic", you "admonished" her. You were warned "at every step" to discontinue your forum behavior, and you didn't stop...

What did you expect? This doesn't sound like a simple "disagreement". I'd like to see your posts to see if I would moderate them on my forum. If you were going ballistic, and admonishing another member, and wouldn't stop with repeated warnings, you likely would be banned on ANY forum.

There's a HUGE difference between telling someone that they should get their pet to a vet immediately, and harassing them with repeated admonitions and criticisms, which is what it sounds like you were doing.

I TOTALLY agree that disagreement, debate and dissent are what makes forum discussions great and educational, but when it becomes harassment, bullying, and/or personal attacks, most moderators anywhere would consider that crossing a line. Mods don't generally clamp down on dissenting views, but step in when a line is crossed, concerning the other members.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:23 AM
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a reply to: bigfatfurrytexan

Balance is key to any discussion, in my humble opinion.

I am similar in many respects; I will always offer up the opposing viewpoint, play the devil's advocate, if for no other reason than to ensure all points have been considered.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:29 AM
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originally posted by: Benevolent Heretic
As a member and moderator of an animal forum...


Do you find yourself moderating dog's posts more than cat's posts or vice versa?



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:33 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

Heh, point well taken. "Ballistic" was probably a bit strong, perhaps 'strongly suggested' might be more appropriate. The memory of that moment makes me want to go "ballistic" even now.

There is a HUGE difference between care and neglect! As a moderator of such a forum you should be acutely aware of this! If you are not then I would question your ability to effectively moderate such a forum.

There was no harassment, only repeated attempts to illustrate the irresponsibility of inaction in this case...as...it...happened... (for all to see in horror)!

I have exactly ZERO sympathy whatsoever for cruelty, whether through intent or inaction. There is no excuse for it...ever! Period.

If this means calling out an individual personally then so be it. Decorum only goes so far, and frankly when the well being of an innocent animal is at stake I could give a #t if someone's feelings get hurt!

Trust I would do the same on your forum...and you would ban me. Who won?


ETA: BTW, I never was actually "banned", I was given a timeout and left. I find more than a little irony contained in the fact that, after 5 years they still send me the automated emails saying "Come back, we haven't seen you in a while!" LOL!! I seriously doubt they are intentional.


edit on 5/13/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 08:54 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

That's an interesting story.

Unfortunately, my guess is that you're actually going to see more and more of this type behavior on the internet forums, perhaps not ATS, but so many people blindly accept the propaganda pumped at them that they've come to believe that any dissent from the accepted and promoted agenda must be born of hateful hostility. We're seeing this big time on the University campuses.

The result of course is the stifling of any meaningful debate or discourse, there's no exchange of ideas and the forums become self-congratulatory and self affirming echo chambers. The HuffPost comments sections are probably the worst example of that.

Its amazing to me the extent to which these people are embracing PC authoritarianism. It reminds me of the Borg!



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 09:54 AM
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Was it sort of like.......



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 09:56 AM
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originally posted by: AugustusMasonicus
Do you find yourself moderating dog's posts more than cat's posts or vice versa?


Sorry, it's a DOG board. People sometimes post about their cats, snakes, hamsters, goats or horses, though. Most posts that are moderated are because of things said to or about other members, though - the animal type doesn't matter.


originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

The memory of that moment makes me want to go "ballistic" even now.


Believe me, I have had plenty of those same moments. I take extremely good care of my animals and I can't stand to see people neglect or mistreat theirs... But I understand that my influence can only go so far. If you suspect someone is involved in cruelty and want to do more, call the ASPCA in their area.

Moderating a forum has nothing to do with moderating or regulating how a member treats their animals. We're not the ASPCA. We can suggest, inform, and help, but ONLY if the person is open to it.



I would question your ability to effectively moderate such a forum.


I would question your knowledge of a moderators' job. Again, we are not the ASPCA, any more than the ATS moderators are the FBI.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 10:41 AM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

My point about moderation was simply that willful neglect to the point of grave harm trumps decorum. Always.

There is a UNIVERSE of difference between leaving your dog unattended in the garage on a cold day vs. knowingly leaving your dog (or goat in this case) unattended with 3 feet of it's intestines hanging out of it's rectum!

The first is a preference for a level of care... the 2nd is a criminal offense! ASPCA, ha....County Sheriff is more like it. No decorum required. And yes, "we" ALL have a responsibility to intervene, moderators and citizens alike...decorum be damned!

Failure to recognize this not so subtle difference and moderate in the interests of decorum over wanton criminal acts (or similar blind adherence) is indeed a credible basis for questioning qualifications.

Frankly, it is this sort of notion which is the whole point here.

Oh, and just you know, I did offer to contact folks who could have helped (even though she was in Maine and I in CO), but this was met with more excuses and ignorance.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 11:05 AM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
My point about moderation was simply that willful neglect to the point of grave harm trumps decorum. Always.


Maybe in real life. If this were real life and not the internet, I would have likely taken action, by calling the law, a vet or even abducting the animal to get proper care. But this is the internet. A forum moderator's job is to moderate the discussion, not to make sure all members treat their animals right.



There is a UNIVERSE of difference between leaving your dog unattended in the garage on a cold day vs. knowingly leaving your dog (or goat in this case) unattended with 3 feet of it's intestines hanging out of it's rectum!


I know that. But an internet discussion board doesn't have the authority or responsibility to do anything about the treatment of animals.


the 2nd is a criminal offense!


Then call the law. If I saw something I suspected to be illegal here, I would contact the mods and let them handle it. That's what you should have done, instead of taking it into you own hands and trying to coerce this woman to take care of her goat. Continuing to ignore repeated warnings and engage this sympathy-sucking person does no good at all.



Failure to recognize this not so subtle difference and moderate in the interests of decorum over wanton criminal acts (or similar blind adherence) is indeed a credible basis for questioning qualifications.


I completely recognize the difference, I just disagree that it's your job, or a moderator's job to pester this goat-herder on the internet to treat her animals humanely. It's just not your place or the forum's place. The proper authorities should have been notified. And I really don't care if you question my qualifications.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 12:29 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

Fair enough, I believe we've gotten our respective points across.

I'm not really questioning your qualifications. I'm sure you are a fine moderator.

The real point here is sometimes less is more, and this is one of those times. This thread was intended to be food for thought about moderation in general, and in many ways a compliment to the staff here at ATS for their often thankless efforts on a wide variety of topics. I cited an example of what I feel is the other side of the coin for the purposes of illustration. Again, sometimes less is more.



posted on May, 13 2016 @ 01:40 PM
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I've seen either extreme kill a forum. I've had my own forum, and I've been a mod on another, and keeping a balance is very hard. If you don't moderate at all, it becomes a free for all flame fest of 12 year olds until they run out of posters to troll, if you moderate too much you slowly lose everyone anyway (or you get a tight group of 6-8 people that no one else wants to intrude upon , nor read their stupid goopy exchanges).

I don't want to judge the experience you are describing because I wasn't there, I did not see it.

But though it sounds your basic message was legit and needed to be said, I find myself wondering how you said it...

I find myself thinking of a guy that was on a (horse) forum, who seemed to be extremely experienced and knowledgeable, but his way of writing to (at) people was so arrogant and hostile sounding all the time that people just instantly lock up and be unable to take in his advice!

My god, I even tried to ignore his awful personality and just listen to the information he was trying to give me, but it just was impossible! Some part of me went into a defense mode that seemed to scramble my mind and make intellectual comprehension blocked. He would call me names, slip in offensive insults here and there, find the most subtle but powerful emotional buttons. I told him I am sorry, you may have great knowledge but I guess I am just biologically programmed not to trust people who do not have my best interest in mind.

I kept thinking, it was too bad... perfectly good knowledge just being wasted because the guy had a problem with humans!
I have no idea if his way of talking worked better in person... perhaps he had body language which neutralized some of the hostility and hatred in the words?

I don't know, but I still think a different way of verbalizing is necessary for this mode of communication, where we can't hear the voice or see the person!

ETA- wait, I want to be clear that I have never witnessed you acting as this person did, it was an extreme example and I didn't mean to relate it to any behavior I have ever seen on your part.
edit on 13-5-2016 by Bluesma because: (no reason given)



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