T Nation

Forum Censorship

To anyone that’s ever raised questions about censorship on the forums, check out the Think Tank Dialogs.

There’s an interesting discussion going on between TC, Chris and some of the writers regarding the topic of censorship. It’s called “To Mod or Not To Mod.”

[center]Censorship vs. Moderation?[/center]

Moderation vs. Censorship

As I stated before on another thread, I been called everything from a “shill” to a “Biotest Bitch” in the past as this topic has come to the forefront more than once as it concerns “Testosterone”. It’s even been rumored and gossiped on other sites that I was actually TC or Chris, as I’ve come to the defense of this most controversial of the “T-Nation” policies.

I realize what a small community we really are of those SERIOUS about discussions on resistance training, nutrition and supplementation…and word gets around easily among this community. So I just wanted to extend to all of you my personal feelings on the topic of “Moderation vs. Censoship”…and why I feel that often on the Internet, the two are not synonymous terms.

It’s been proven over and over again on the Internet that a Board and/or Forum that is not aggressively moderated either morphs into something unrecognizable from it’s original intent or becomes a personal messenger/ Chat room full of useless blabber, “Smile’s”, and pics of nude men and women, penises/vaginas, farm animals and babies.

One of several things usually characterizes what is a certain recipe for that eventual inevitability:

  1. A slow morphing into this strange mix of psuedo-sexual/pseudo-political/fetish and hate riddled/wasteland of adolescent fantasies, pedophilia, political propaganda and whatever deep seated, unresolved issue that someone can’t express in their real life. This isn’t fantasy…it’s the reality of the Internet.

  2. Even if a Board or Forum has enough sense to not allow the above to happen, it slowly becomes a place dominated by a select group of “experts” who dominate the discussion, squelch any useful input from anyone else with flames, “assasination by abstracts”, and pure “hatin’”…eventually making a Website their personal playground for their own mental masturbation.

  3. IF A Board or Forum survives 1 and 2, then it has to weather that group of individuals who either:

a) became disenchanted with the original goals, and become bitter and vindictive

b) never supported those goals in the FIRST place, and were always just “waiting in the wings” for a lame excuse to begin their all-out assault on that Board or Forums or

c) deal with the almost impossible task of pleasing a larger and more diverse group of individuals.

Make no mistake about it…an Internet Website, ESPECIALLY one that supports Forums, PMs, registration, posting, editing, etc. etc. is an EXPENSIVE process…and an absolute pain to maintain in terms of not only its PHYSICAL maintenance…but also it’s quality.

You can also rest assured that ANY Board or Forum that expends that type of financial and emotional capital, regardless as to how “pure” you may feel their intent may be, has an Agenda or goal…either personal, financial and/or both. And the only way to remain focused on that goal is with aggressive moderation.

THAT is what I support…NOT “censorship”.

If there is someone willing to put up the money, and sacrifice their time, to put up a Board that I don’t have to pay a damn penny for, then moderation is not only their right…but also a necessity in the Wasteland of the Internet.

If you want Anarchy…then start a CHAT room…or go to either Afghanistan or Iraq…

So…when does Moderation becomes Censorship? That’s a question that neither me nor anyone else can easily answer in the “Wild West” of the World Wide Web. As the old saying goes “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure…”

It probably all boils down to which side of the Moderators mouse clicker you end up on…

Peace…
Mufasa

I’m not going to be as eloquent as Mufasa, but I think this is a big issue. Not as in being a problem, but as in being important.

I don’t think it qualifies as censorship when an organization decides to exercise editorial control over its own publication. If you get offline, you have absolutely no ability to participate in traditional media. This is not deemed censorship.

These forums could be T-Nation and contributors only – in their entirety, and that would not be considered censorship at all.

To me, it is about what makes this site valuable. The value isn’t that we all get to whine and cry about everything under the sun, though of course we do get to do so. The value is in the fact that the information we need is here. It’s easy to find. Others will help you out and make it easier to reach your goals.

When posts aren’t contributing to that, it doesn’t matter if they are deleted. The fact that any are kept, which allows us to communicate and entertain ourselves, is simply a bonus.

Finally, going in a different direction, the rules are pretty damned simple around here. You can say almost anything you wish to say, as long as you exercise a small amount of tact. It isn’t censorship to require a modicum of respect or skill in the crafting of your messages! Umm, okay, yes, some of my posts didn’t pass muster either.

If you feel you are censored, take a look and see if you were actually contributing anything of value, other than the satisfaction of mouthing off about something. Nothing says this site has to be here for you to crap on other people, write illegibly, promote other companies sites and products or generally make bodybuilders and athletes look like retards.

Quality is important. I think Mufasa is right about where things go when you let them sink to the lowest common denominator.

If you want to get on your soapbox and spread your anti-subject message, then set up your owned damned web site. This web site doesn’t have to host your message – and that doesn’t mean it is censorship either.

Hi, I don’t post often, but I have some opinions on this (whether you want to hear them or not, har!)

  1. I definitely think there should be moderation of some sort. As a reader, I like being able to trust both the articles and the posts, and as somewhat of a newbie, it’s sometimes hard to discern what’s intelligent training and what is not. Few things are less appealing to a forum than having to slog through useless chaff.

It all really boils down to credibility, I think. Even as a newbie, it’s usually not too hard to distinguish great information from utterly worthless stuff (like the recent “Elements” article…I know far less than Poliquin, but I always though elemental body treatment went the way of bloodletting…). If I go to a site and find a lot of bad information, even if there is good stuff, then I’m less likely to hang around, and less likely to believe some of the murkier info which I have no intuition about.

  1. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to slashdot.org, but I think the way they moderate is particularly effective. I don’t post there much either, but my understanding is that they have “meta moderation” in that moderators give “points” to people who are known to be knowledgable and courteous. Each post is given an initial point value (usually 0), and when a person with mod points spots a particularly good one, he is allowed to moderate the post up or down (to a maximum of +5 and min of -1, which is the lowest I’ve seen). Readers can then opt to read only high scoring posts (such as +4 and above), which means that stupid posts are generally never seen at all.

I should also add that in “meta-moderation,” you get additional moderation points when one of your posts is modded positively (insightful/interesting/informative/whatever). In a way, you’re “rewarded” for posting good information. I probably haven’t thoroughly described this, but if you want more info, you can always go to slashdot.org yourself and check the FAQ.

Of course, this would require a big change in forum structure. A simpler way of doing this would be for the moderators to do this themselves (scoring posts). They don’t even have to score in a range. They could, for example, opt to denote each post they read as “unmoderated” or “moderated,” and readers could choose whether or not to see unmoderated posts.

Train Hard.
FW

There should be mods.

One complaint about them however is when they tell me to call customer service even though I want to have the question addressed on the forum.

Mods are needed…what is being done now is a huge improvement over…what was being done previously.

Personally, I think you guys do a great job.

With exception of that interracial lesbian orgy pic I posted the other day, anytime that something of mine didn’t get posted, it deserved not to be.

Not sure if this exists, but is there a spot where I can see the exact rules? At least make it clear what types of things don’t get posted so as that the mod process remains transparent.

Moderation is necessary, or else the IQ of the forum will surely plummet through the floor.

Incidentally, I like the site’s updated, more compact store layout.

[quote]Soco wrote:
Not sure if this exists, but is there a spot where I can see the exact rules? At least make it clear what types of things don’t get posted so as that the mod process remains transparent.

[/quote]

Exactly.

Proceed to Ban Votes, when necessary. And, of course, erase threads initiated by the banned people.

Simple as that.

Of course, this has to be swift, otherwise the bad people will gang up rather quickly and scrap the voting system.

That way everybody gets a chance to post. But only the worthy ones remain.

[quote]Christ Shugart said:
To me, the articles should be reserved for Q and A, interaction with the author, and intelligent debate. If it doesn’t fit into those categories, delete the post. This can loosen up with an Atomic Dog style article of course, because those are usually all about rabblerousing and opinion and fun. But the diet and training articles need more strict modding in my opinion.[/quote]

  • from the Think Tank. I’d fully agree with this one, even if the comments are OK. I’d like to see all replies to articles relevant to the article. If someone wants to start something related, let them start a new thread in the forums. But usually, I look at the replies to an article to clarify points - e.g. “Can I eat this at this time” or “Do you have to superset Blah and Blah if you’re already doing other training?” - things like that. I don’t want to see anything else.

I’ve been reading T-Nation for a few years now and I trust the producers. I trust TC, I trust Tim Patterson, I trust Chris Shugart (I keep typing “Christ” instead of “Chris” but that’s another story) and I trust them to talk to the right people. As a company, I trust Biotest. Why then would I not trust them to keep this site honest?

If a friend of mine says something’s crap, I tend to weigh that heavily before I try it or not. If something gets moderated, I think that 99% of the time I’ll be happy with the decision and better off. “What about the other 1% of the time?” I hear the free-speech radicals yell. Frankly, I don’t care. This site is not my only view on the world and as such, I think I’ll catch something I want to catch from somewhere else. Meanwhile, the vast amount of information I glean from here is well-presented and relevant, and unbelievably valuable to me every day. I hope it continues to stay that way and as such, I say “Continue moderating”.

Additionally, I read Slashdot regularly and really like the system. It works because there are enough people on the site that care.

However, I have started reading the forums here regularly now and I already have a list of names in my head of people whose posts I admire, and those whose posts I tend to ignore.I’m my own best moderator at the end of the day.

It’s the golden rule. He who has the gold, rules.

I am a firm believer in Mods (you guys do a great job!). This article/thread is proof that this is not over-moderated.

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=584534&pageNo=1

This is exactly what Chris and TC are talking about. This column is full of snide remarks, that add nothing to the topic at hand. Alot of them are personal attacks on a well respected coach. But then again perhaps some would see comments such as "this is bunk, this is crap and "I can’t wait for “Training by your Astrological Sign” as contructive and on-topic.

Mufasa hits it right on the head.

At one time I would go to a great board and we discussed political/current events in an educated adult way. The board was great fun for 2 years. I traveled across the country to meet members and still have many friends from this board.

But all good things come to an end.

The children/trolls showed up and the board became a flame festival.

Those moderating the board didnt do their job. The discussions went from a freindly backkyard fence neighbors chatting about the news to name calling with intentions of hurting a posters feelings.

What I like about T-Nation is the moderation.

WE are not swamped with posts from porn sites or other advertisers. T-Nation and Biotest are the only advertisors and we respect this. If someone likes a product from another manufacturer the moderators have no problems with this and we discuss it.

Do the discussions get a little heated? Sure! Do idiots expose themselves and deserve a good slap-down? You bet!

I wouldnt change anything. Keep the moderators. They allow alot to go on and alot of language. They do a great job reading the hoards of posts we send in.

Links:

One question in a different category is what do you consider reasonable posting of links? Or what links would you not consider reasonable to be posted?

–A source for piracetam?
–other web sites with nutritional information e.g. Udo erasmus?
–a source for cheap supps which might sell competitors products?

I post a decent amount of “non training/diet ect.” related dribble here. That being said I’ve been censored a few times as a result of that and other reasons. Overall I like this board and if I did/do find that the whole “mod” thing screws this board up I’ve got a simple solution. I won’t come here anymore. This isn’t a threat of any sort it’s just a simple answer. Like any “relationship” if I find it to suck more then I enjoy it eventually it will end. In the meantime I’m happy…now if you’d only spoon me a little more and tell me how beautiful I am, I’d be in heaven :wink:

[center]Websites and Free Speech[/center]

There is probably no greater advocate of Free Speech than myself. However, when someone wishes to apply this most Fundamental Principal to Websites…they are, (in my opinion), way off base. Let me explain.

As regulation of the Internet is being debated… from Committees in Congress to classrooms to Blogs…one thing is coming through loud and clear…

Websites are not being viewed as Free Speech Zones…let me say it again…websites are not being viewed as free speech Zones…

Instead they are being viewed more as private businesses and even residences. I always use Wal-Mart as a good anology…(And for the trolls? Analogies will always fall short in some area…but they are useful in order to help us understand a debate).

What You Can Do at Wal-Mart

You can go in there 100 times a day if you want to. You can go in there with smelly underwear and spandex, with mud on your shoes. You can shop with whatever “issues” you may be dealing with. You can touch the merchandise, look it over, and in some cases try it out.

You can buy mechandise…or not…

You can even unload on a poor clerk, sometimes even more than once, and you will most likely still be allowed to shop there. Hell…you can even steal merchadise then “RETURN” it for a “refund” and won’t be asked a lot of questions!

In other words, you are as “free” to shop (and even steal!) more than people probably should be allowed to.

What You CAN’T Do at Wal-Mart

Steal (even though it’s done).

Use their Information Systems to promote, advertise and administer your own personal business.

You can’t set up a bin in the middle of the store and start selling and advertising your product and business.

You can’t go in the middle of their store, get on a box, and start urinating and defacating on the merchandise and the floor.

You can’t yell through their audio system about what sluts, fags and whores all their employees are…or tell shoppers that you can get better quality and cheaper products at Target.

You get the point.

When one looks at a business like Wal-Mart…which has a “physical” presence and facilities that we can readily touch and feel…it isn’t hard to understand why the above “freedoms” would not be allowed.

However…for some strange reason, people will look at a Web Based Business (like The Nation) and feel as though their “freedoms” are restricted if not allowed to do the very things that any reasonably thinking person would deem reprehensible in a “physical” business like Wal-Mart ( OR within the confines of their home).

It’s not a question of “Freedom of Speech” folks…its a question of civility, respect and common sense… and the right that a person or persons have to operate their business freely, without undue harrassment and slander, within the confines of their defined business plan.

Mufasa

[quote]provy07 wrote:
There should be mods.

One complaint about them however is when they tell me to call customer service even though I want to have the question addressed on the forum.[/quote]

I hate when they do that!