A few months ago, I found myself in the difficult situation of needing to moderate comments. As the founder of a communication platform for home owners and as someone who is always encouraging his clients to let people say what they want even those who bark. My platform is not without moderation either and I allow the option for the just in case and last May, I had to press the moderation button for the first time after 7 years.
What brought me to take such a decision was of course the abusive language used by this person and the problems that he was causing and could have been causing. Equally as someone involved deeply in that task and conversation that required some order. It did not take long before some other members, mainly supporters of the banned user to starting to calling me a dictator and so on. The resulting line, is I removed the banned and the let subject make a fool of himself, under the expression of “freedom of speech” but for becomes an extended duration of time where I have to put up with the consequences and answering of irrelevant comments.
So, where can one draw this line of moderation? In the Comment & Analysis section of Financial Times (Weekend Issue of 3-4 August 2013) there is an article by Helen Lewis titled “The Internet is often vile, but we can make it civilised.” The article is about the misuse or abuse of the internet and social media by those who wish to voice their opinion but fail to do it in a respectable manner, because they disagree with an opinion or dislike a person. While Helen suggests that “Every new communication technology is disruptive and requires a period of adjustment.” However a later article in the Financial Times (24-25 May 2014) titled “No comment?” suggests that many organizations and magazines are simply removing comment lines while others are only allowing verified users or logged in users. Still even a logged in user, does not mean much. All it requires is a fake gmail or Hotmail account and Voila.
Moderation is certainly not an easy thing, but even FT suggests that its financial blog “Alphavile” requires some moderation to make sure that comments are relative to the subject and not abusive or aggressive.
I hope that this can remain the case for all that is required of moderation and that the comments line stay open and communication improves.