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dannyc's avatar

What is the point of moderating answers as that may stifle freeform expression?

Asked by dannyc (5213 points ) July 19th, 2011

The very essence of fluther is to answer. The fact that there are moderators seems the antithesis of Fluther’s goals..what am I missing? Even “flaming” answers can elucidate learning so what is the point of control? Control stifles answers, thus is at odds with the stated principles of the site. In my opinion we are smart enough to filter silliness, and it also can create awareness of a mind in seeing it’s uninhibited viewpoint. Political correctness destroys ingenuity in my opinion.

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27 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Forgive me but if I remember correctly, the downfall of wis.dm itself was because, eventually, people lead the place to self-destruction w/o moderation, imo. Everything becomes flame-y and personal and hurtful. I’ve been there, it was ugly. UGLY. Then again, I don’t see moderation as political correctness or as censorship. Oh, and you especially..you are able to communicate freely and I’ve never seen you stoop to use insults and weak arguments.

dannyc's avatar

I have been sporadically here, so perhaps it needs reminding. I am not critical but questioning.
Others have asked me, so I thought I would follow up.

thorninmud's avatar

There have been times when I’ve gone to answer a question, only to find a raging flame war in progress. There’s no point in trying to wedge my calm, reasoned answer in between the flaming missiles. At that point, no one even cares about the original question because the attention is now on the conflict rather than the question. It has the effect of stifling discussion rather than promoting it.

marinelife's avatar

Look, if you have been here long enough to rack up almost 5,000 lurve points, then you know what Fluther is about. You question strikes me as disingenuous.

Moderation is what makes Fluther the site that is.

If you want freeform discussion, you can go elsewhere.

Here, there are no trolls, no personal attacks, and everything is pretty well written.

bob_'s avatar

Shit gets crazy if people aren’t kept in line.

dannyc's avatar

@marinelife . Actually, I never ask a question that is disingenuous. I had a response and answer taken off the site, thus I asked the question. A person asked me about same. Since I have never before had such a thing happen, I decided to ask, I hope you do not take it personally. Not sure if you are a moderator or not. if you are or not, I ask my questions with courage and conviction, not disingenuity. But I understand your point and may be naive in what may go on behind the scenes. That makes me learn. I might suggest that lurve points do not make one smart or not.

Porifera's avatar

IMO the problem is not whether there should be moderation or not. The actual problem is the criteria they use to moderate. By trying to avoid personal confrontation, some answers that do not aim to confront but to clarify and get to the bottom of an issue in a serious matter-of-fact way, get chopped off just because the mods want to prevent ugly stuff from happening. Sadly, in the process, they take a valid rule and take it to the extreme yet some pretty nasty stuff seem to go above their heads.

But all in all, it serves the purpose of restraining some funny characters and basket cases (MWD)* from going crazy and let their true nature shine through.

*MWD= My word of the day.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I’m not fond of trolls or flamers. Fluther takes care of both swiftly. Thankfully no one here tolerates txt spk!

dannyc's avatar

@SpatzieLover . Another good reason! Thanks.

erichw1504's avatar

Removed by Fluther moderators.

syz's avatar

@Porifera Actually, we’re pretty conservative about the “personal attack” moderation. We get flags constantly from users wanting us to remove posts that they perceive as attack, when what the posts are actually doing is disagreeing with them. For example, a comment like “Only someone who doesn’t know any better would say something like that” would not be removed, whereas “You idiot, you’re wrong” would be. Generalizations are very different than using words like “stupid”, “asshole”, etc directed at a specific poster.

As far as flame wars go, we’ve seen it (over and over again) not only derail a thread, but then spill over to multiple threads as one disgruntled user follows another around, with the intention of berating them or attacking them. And then there are the PM wars. Sheesh. It is the moderation team’s firm belief that as intelligent adults, we can disagree without being disagreeable, that diverse points can be argued without rudeness or personal attacks.

Think of it from the point of view of a brand new user, someone who just joined up. Would you be likely to chime in, to post questions, or to interact if there was nastiness and read rude comments all about?

It’s true, Fluther seems to have attracted a majority of liberal leaning, atheist prone (maybe?) users, but that doesn’t mean that differing views are not welcome. I’ve seen wildly divergent views discussed intelligently, thoughtfully, even heatedly, and come away impressed with the quality of discourse. I’ve also seen things turn ugly. And personal. The intent of the moderation team is to have more of the former, less of the latter.

And periodically, there are cries of censorship. Of stifled creativity. Of being against free speech. That’s not what’s happening at all. What is happening is an attempt to maintain a certain atmosphere, a “feel” to this site, that attracts individuals who enjoy that atmosphere and want to stay, regardless of their political, racial, sexual, or religious orientation.

And @dannyc, all decisions made by an individual moderator are open to discussion. Any time you feel that a question or post deserves a second look, feel free to contact the moderation team. We all see what everyone else does, and we discuss issues as a group as they arise. The group may decide to uphold the original moderation, but you will hopefully be able to concede that the action was based on Fluther guidelines if it’s agreed upon by the group. Now, if you don’t like the guidelines, then that’s a whole other matter. Lord knows, there are plenty sites out there that are pretty much a free-for-all. Personally, I think the guidelines are pretty effective at keeping things smart, civil, and interesting.

Climbing back down off the soapbox now.

cockswain's avatar

The moderation is key to keeping this site functioning as close to its intended goal as possible. Without it, things would deteriorate to idiotic, causing the valuable contributors to lose interest as they’d no longer have a place for intelligent discourse. Or as @bob says.

I’ve noticed a lot of “moderation” themed threads lately. Personally I don’t get the problem. I’ve been modded plenty of times, and I think out of the dozens and dozens of times it happened, I felt only once it was unjustified. Once. Out of thousands of posts. It’s just nothing to get that butt hurt about. The mods do an excellent job overall.

syz's avatar

@dannyc Looking at your history, I don’t see that any of your last 30 questions have ever been rejected, and I only see one quip moderated for being off-topic in General (granted, I did not look at all 960+ quips, just the first page). Surely all of this angst has not been brought about by one moderation? It’s been strongly suggested by one moderator that the ‘question in question’ would be more appropriate for the social section, in which case the quip would be restored. Would you like us to move it to the Social section? (Normally we would ask this in a private pm, but it seems pertinent to the discussion.)

marinelife's avatar

@dannyc Sorry if I misjudged you. Every one of us has been moderated at one time or another.

You can ask the moderating team why a particular answer or question was moderated. They will be happy to talk to you about it.

I stand by my answer as far as the benefits of moderation.

laureth's avatar

I’ve seen plenty of “freeform creative expression” on other sites with seemingly no moderation, such as Yahoo! Answers, or the comments on YouTube videos. While some of the responses are arguably “flaming,” I have seen very little “reasoned discourse” there. People are allowed to yell and scream all they want, but it’s about as effective as yelling and screaming at brick walls, and I would not consider them to be sites that elucidate learning, by any stretch. That is why I prefer Fluther.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@syz As far as flame wars go, we’ve seen it (over and over again) not only derail a thread, but then spill over to multiple threads as one disgruntled user follows another around, with the intention of berating them or attacking them. And then there are the PM wars. Sheesh. That could be construed as bullying, at least by some who are no longer here for just such things and those who almost left. I think that is the real beauty of moderation is to traffic direct civility and the interaction between responders, questioners, etc.

On to the answer
I think there are no real flame questions unless a person just uses the question to hurl an insult, I believe with as many PhDs and geniuses here on the site the difference can be detected. To hobble or stifle a question because 51+% of the Fluther population will get hot under the collar by the subject or context of the question or answer is de facto censorship. If someone do not like the question they can use their PhD, or genius thinking to debunk it, in a civil, calm manner. Can you imagine a presidential debate working this way? Having the moderator say ”Ooo, sorry we cannot ask any question on Katrina, because the GOP in the audience will get upset”, or “sorry, we can’t speak of any adultery or sex in the Oval office and cigars”. You would have less information that the little that trickles out anyhow.

dannyc's avatar

I understand the points made by all. Clears it up well. It will assist me in digesting the nature of fluther’s specific moderation style and thus I hope to provide better feedback in future with this in mind. Quite an interesting site it continues to be. Very unique.

Symbeline's avatar

All that I ever see get modded are insults, spam or going off topic in the general section. I’ve seen more than enough weird ass topics and discussions being shown to light and allowed to live, to know that Fluther doesn’t step on freedom of speech.
Guidelines are there for a reason, and we do need them. They’re very simple too, and if they go against freedom of speech, they do so very marginally. Not enough to prevent one from getting his or her idea cross the board. Just gotta handle it a bit differently.
I find that if you respect them rules, you could probably talk about fucking a corpse if you wanted, people would still hear you out and your material would be left intact. People’s reactions to that is another thing, but my point is, the moderation exists, as far as I can see, to stifle flaming, spam and such, not to forbid one to speak their mind.
As far as an answer removed for shit spelling though, it would be kinda cool to get a second chance to fix it, as one may do with a question. :/

There’s also the matter of the law. Fluther is pretty fucking slack I’d say, I remember participating in a question on here about how to get rid of dead bodies. But such things must also be considered, and even if it goes against freedom of speech, if it graces the illegal a little too much, the site does what it feels best regarding this. Not my call.

Mostly, again, all I see that gets modded is the general internet fanfare deal. Fights, spam, other types of crap. You can find that anywhere online, if you really want it.

ucme's avatar

Coz it silences pinheads, a deserving fate no doubt.

cockswain's avatar

bucket of liver?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Wait! Wait! Doesn’t it say in the guidelines somewhere that “No questions shall be asked about the moderation practices on Fluther unless we know that @JilltheTooth is currently online and available to comment immediately”? Now I’m too late to really get into the thick of it.
Don’t do that again, please. It distresses me.
I just spent 24 hours with my mother and my brain fell out.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@SpatzieLover : I love it! Now let’s go one step further and imagine that that is the tooth of the bug that bit us…;-)

Symbeline's avatar

@augustlan Lol and I was just sorta makin a joke. Proves my point. :D

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@augustlan Goodness. That link was just… disturbing…

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