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Moderators - Censorship or not?

Moderation or censorship?  

6 members have voted

  1. 1. If a site is set up with the option of moderators viewing posts before allowing - or rejecting - the posts to be viewed on the site; is this moderation or censorship?

    • Yes, this is censorship.
    • No, this is moderating.
    • It depends on the purpose of the site.
    • It depends on the content of the post.
    • Unsure.
    • Unsure - but leaning towards moderation.
    • Unsure - but leaning towards censorship.
    • A little of both...

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I must admit, this is bothering me.

I've recently started a community on LiveJournal called, The Writers' Group.

It's a place for writers - fan-fiction and original - to gather. Our goal is to provide a fun place for trading advice, supporting our fellow writers, learning, sharing experiences, submitting stories for pleasure and review/criticism, and in general improving and learning more about our trade.

At the moment, since I'm still getting the community together, I am using a moderator and myself - we do screen entries. That is not to say that we intend to allow only a select few, because I would love for anyone to join and hopefully enjoy the experience. It's just, that as I start this, I would like to keep unsavory things from happening.

I accept the inevitable; that something will go awry, but I'd like to hold it off for as long as I can.

Anyone who wishes to join will be allowed to do so, without question. The only thing we're screening will be the posts themselves. As it is a place for writers I feel it is important that people take the time to actually write with thought, that they are respectful of others and themselves, and that they edit their posts/writing. (LiveJournal offers a spell-checker. It takes all of five seconds for the words to be highlighted, and it offers the corrections...)

I don't expect everything to be perfect, but I also don't want to see the page cluttered with things like;

Kagome smirked. "C U l8tr, I gtg b4 mom gets mad." She walked away w/o w8ting for Inuyasha to replie.

Personally, I think it's insulting. It's one thing if you have bad grammar and spelling - which the community is there for, to help you improve - but it's another thing entirely to expect others to just ignore the fact that you didn't really try to write.

Text speak/chat is not writing. If it is in a story for a purpose - perhaps a conversation over IM between characters, or a text message - that is acceptable. However as the entire writing style of a work? No.

This is what I would be moderating against. I intend to send a private reply to explain why the post is being refused - to each and every person, because I feel I owe them that, at the least - and give an invitation to try again after they've had time to edit.


Thank you very much for wanting to post to the community.

I regret to inform you, however, that it has been decided that for this work 'Title such and such' to be accepted and made public, it needs to be edited first. As explained in the Rules and Behavior post, all works must be written out and edited. Text speak/chat is unfortunately not considered a work that is written in a proper fashion.

If you would like to edit the story, however, we would be more than happy to post it.

Thank you very much for your time,

'Moderator So-n-so'

If it has spelling mistakes I will still allow it to be posted - but I will also understand if they get criticism for it when others review. (I have no intentions of being the 'Oh gods, one word out of place, refuse it!' kind of moderator.)

So, to wrap up this winded thing, what do you think?

Is my approach acceptable? Is it horrific and unfair? Is this a case of moderation or censorship? I'd like to know what you think.

(Shameless plug: You're all welcome at The Writers' Group!) <3

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Change your font please, it is painful to read.

As for moderation... well I personally believe in the free exchange of ideas. Let people talk about whatever they want. So what if a flame war erupts, if it does, it's becaue the people wanted it.

I mean really, is surpessing human nature by the moderators going to solve anything? Fuck no. Let humans be human, let them flame, let them have bad grammar let them show you their true nature.

But you are in a precarious position yourself. It's human nature to abuse one's power so I expect you will do so at some point or another.

Anyway, don't be the next, they are worthless grammar nazis. Let anything be posted. If it sucks it will pay the price. This is just like natural selection, only the strong will survive. If you interfere it will just be fake.

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Screening something, be it literature, music, physical art, or anything, really, and keeping it from the public due to content is by definition, censorship. This doesn't mean that there isn't a responsible reason, but censorship sucks. I think that humans should be mature enough to decide what they can handle and what they, personally, won't like, but others might. However, most of us are childish and need someone to hold our hands, to tell us what to read (just look at Oprah's book list), watch, or listen to. People who have the power to censor seem to think that certain content is inappropriate and will end up destroying society as we know it. In something like a website, they have the right to do it because they paid for it and they own it. However, the site shouldn't have reign over personal material, so I don't think it's right for them to do it. It goes back to the violent television debate. Adults should have the right to read whatever they want and make the decision of what they will like and if there is something inappropriate out there, it isn't the site moderator's responsibility to make sure the kids don't see it, it's the parents'. The ideal of a village raising the kids is a nice one, but it isn't true.

There is no such thing as something so innapropriate that the entire public should not have to read it, but there is very little you can do to force a site moderator to take something that they don't approve of. You also have to respect their right of refusal. For example, I respect Jack Chick's right to print his religious comics, but there is no way in hell I would want it on a website that I owned and managed. I guess I'm on the fence on the issue. I hate censorship with a burning passion, but I get how companies like and livejournal have the right to do it. It's when an entire content matter (like homosexuality for example) becomes socially unaccessable on all media that censorship becomes evil. So, I hate it, but I understand it. Think of it this way, even if livejournal refuses to post your rants, you can go to other sites, even if it is irritating. Personally, I think this screening does impact on the freedom of speech thing, but there really isn't any way around it when it's against a company like that.

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I've found that with some unmoderated sites, (some Usenet groups as one example) what happens is an unofficial form of moderation emerges after a while, usually led by the most mouthy regulars. Or else the site gets filled up with spambots and everyone else leaves - sure freedom of speech is being exercised but no-one is reading any more.

This is your group and you want to have ground rules. That's fine. Is yours the only site of its kind in the world? No. So you're only denying the 'freedom' to publish one-sentence chapters full of txt-spk on your little corner of the internet. Best make it clear from the start that a story that hasn't even had a cursory run through of the spellchecker isn't likely to be published, and you won't get too much whingeing when you reject something. Who knows, some of them might come back with something better after a while.

I'd watch out for one thing, though. I've noticed a lot of self-appointed literature critics on Livejournal in particular (eg some of the sporkers). When you read some of their own fiction it's clear that they are blind to their own weaknesses. They are wasting enormous amounts of energy on critiquing bad writing - whether as betas or via bitching - when they could be honing their own writing. I fell into this trap too when critiquing someone else - it is good for a while but it's a massive time sink.

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I would have a list of rules to be obeyed by all members.

Lets say for example set of rules.

1. Please be polite. In all things including flame wars that may come up.

2. Please no chatspeak. No C U l8tr posts. We will moderate all users at first. If we see a chatspeak post, that poster will be asked to repost their post without the chatspeak after it is changed to be proper speech, the person's post shall go through till the person no longer does their posts in chatspeak.

3. Please state the title, author(your name), summary, author's notes, and a disclaimer to your original or fanfiction stories. It helps keep everyone honest about their work.

4. Golden rule, treat others like you want to be treated.

5. Have fun.

6. Those people who will not obey the rules, will be removed.

That usually is all the rules you basically need up and people will respect those rules. Most of the time, the trolls will love to wrangle everyone's nerves.


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