Hurrah! We can all now have absolute faith in the moderation at CiF because Matt Seaton says that it looks like its broken - but it will not be mended. So there.
18 Mar 2010, 7:07PM
Sorry for delay; thanks for your patience. I'm not going to give immediate gratification here, because you referred me to this post:
13 Mar 2010, 12:50PM
As for moderation on fem threads, well, i've had more deletions than hot dinners, most of them overtly partisan. In one post (notable only because they actually explained the deletion to me) i spoke of how elements of feminism care little for "equality" but rather special pleading and rights grabbing for women, to elevate women to superiority without any regard to equality at all. I made the effort to make clear it was elements of feminism i was speaking about, not the whole movement, i cant remember the thread but in the context of the debate it was very measured.
So shocked was I by the deletion of my effort that i emailed for explanation, and got a rare response.
"The comment was removed as the implication that feminists are predominantly concerned with women's superiority over men was considered offensive." (quoted from their email)
Thats political censorship, no ifs and buts. There was no abuse in the comment, nothing off topic, nothing ad-hom, nothing but a view on a political (and very diverse) movement. And they deleted it. Not only is this political, partisan censorship (not "moderation", its censorship) but they actually admitted as much.
Imagine being deleted for implying conservatism was for the rich, or Labour for the rich, or secularism being concerned with X, or liberalism being concerned with Y. Thats political censorship.
There is no other political ideology/movement that is deemed so sacrosanct that non abusive criticism is "offensive".
I have also spent two spells in premod for discussing moderation. Question our censorship and we'll put you in premod. Nice.
The way JayReilly presents it, and makes his counter-argument against the mod's explanation, any impartial reader taking his account at face value would have to agree that the deletion decision looks dubious at best.
But, not that I don't trust JayReilly, but he is the polemicist's polemicist, as we all well know, so I'd need the full picture before pronouncing on the case and finding for or against. I'd need a link to the deletion referred to; to look at the precise content of that deleted comment; to examine the thread context; to discover whether, as the mod who corresponded with JR implies, there were independent abuse reports that led to a modding decision to delete; to see the full explanation from the mod, if JR is quoting only part of it.
Also, JR says his tone was beyond reproach, but he may not be the best judge of that: a reasonable argument can be interpreted as offensive if its language and tone are hostile and angry. Further, threads where the debate is about feminism/equality often have an edge of male anger against perceived feminist bossiness and self-righteousness that many female users find off-putting and borderline misogynist. I'm not suggesting that JR was guilty of that or a perpetrator in that regard; but it is part of the context in which mods have to judge what is offensive or abusive.
I am aware that this may just look like just so much obfuscation and flannelling on my part. But I'm not trying to duck the issue or be defensive. If you or JR will send me the link I need so I can locate that specific thread and deletion, I will follow through. And I don't rule out the possibility that our modding was trigger-happy on this occasion. I would never say it never happens, so if I'm directed to a specific instance where we got it wrong, then I'll hold up my hand and admit it.
But please understand that one such admission would not amount to a concession that the entire system is biased, arbitrary and effectively broken. That's not where we're headed with this, so please don't imagine otherwise.
19 Mar 2010, 11:12AM
Matt Seaton said:
But please understand that one such admission would not amount to a concession that the entire system is biased, arbitrary and effectively broken. That's not where we're headed with this, so please don't imagine otherwise
I'm a bit confused by this.
if we look at what has happened it's all started as many, many posters say they are unhappy with the moderation policy.
Matt S believes fundamentally that everything is in order. He agrees to review one case.
Superficially looking at the case it appears to be censorship by the moderators due to their own political beliefs.
Matt acknowledges it looks bad but says he needs more details - fair enough.
However, he then says even if it's proven to be censorship it's just a one-off because everything is wonderful. QED
Matt - seriously. How do you want posters to say to you that the moderation policy is being affected by political censorship? You refuse to investigate in case you find you have an issue. Considering the importance of this - it's to the core of free speech - I think the majority of people have been polite and calm.
So, what exactly would you like posters to do ?
It would seem that the problem might be that CiF is so used to deleting things which it just doesn't like and censoring opinions which do not match the ideology of the site that it never crossed the collective mind, throbbing in CiF Towers, that once this can of worms was spilled over the pages for all to see, it could not just be made to disappear as if by magic.
Still, no doubt the line of defence trotted out by Seaton will be accepted by everyone in the end:
You have proved that moderation on The Guardian's flagship internet site, CiF may be arbitrary, malicious, ideologically and politically motivated, completely disconnected from the stated community guidelines and possibly employed by moderators to pursue their own personal agendas - but we can promise that we are not going to do anything about it whatsoever.
Three cheers for Seaton for once again showing the brainlessness which seems to be a condition of employment by CiF and the monumental disregard and contempt CiF has for all those BTL who provide daily deluges of free content, without which Guardian Media Group would be losing even more money.