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Subject: Censorship by Geeklist originators rss

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Sue Hemberger

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Since we're in the midst of a broader discussion of community norms, I'm wondering whether there's a consensus (and, if so, what it is) re when it's inappropriate for a geeklist owner to delete comments s/he disagrees with. I'm assuming (but would like to hear dissent if I'm wrong) that vicious personal attacks are considered deletable (though, arguably, sometimes it makes sense to let 'em stand and have the attacker damned by his/her own words). I also get the sense (but am less sure) that it's considered ok to delete entries/comments that are clearly non-germane given the explicit parameters of the list. But what about comments you just dislike or discussions you just don't want to have to engage in but are unwilling to let stand unremarked upon?

Philosophically, this probably goes to the whole communal vs. corporate model of the website. Is the list originator the list's "owner" and therefore entitled to the kind of control over his/her property that ownership entails. Or is s/he a person who starts a discussion in a public forum and should not be able unilaterally to edit that discussion in order to produce the results s/he desires. Should unilateral deletion be an option even if unilateral edits aren't? [I recognize that the existing configuration of the site gives list owners both powers but don't know whether that was a conscious site-specific decision or just a default of the software.]
 
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L Myrick
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I rather like it the way it's set up now. Geeklists are different from forum threads, and leaving the editing/deleting power in the hands of the list originator seems okay to me.
 
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Jim Cote
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I think lists are personal things that just happen to allow public input. I think people should be allowed to control the content of their lists. That being said, when I create a list with games having a particular property and someone adds an entry that I feel doesn't fit, I will simply make a comment to that affect. If a discussion/debate follows, so much the better. We all benefit.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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ekted wrote:
I think lists are personal things that just happen to allow public input.


I thought that the listowner had the choice between whether to allow public input and what kind (items vs. comments). My take is that if you opt to allow comments, you shouldn't be able to selectively delete them unless they're obviously out of line. Otherwise you get somewhat staged discussions masquerading as free exchange (when the power of deletion is abused). I guess I'd be more ok with the deletions if (a) the list automatically inserted a message that one had been made and (b) the poster got to keep a copy of the post after deletion. (Right now they disappear from the comments section of My Geek, so there's no publicly available record of what was actually said -- usually just the censor's account of what happened and why. Even if you think that the owner gets to control what's on the list, shouldn't the writer get to retain what was written (and, arguably, be able to make it available in a different context?))

Quote:
If a discussion/debate follows, so much the better. We all benefit.


Hearty agreement on this front!
 
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THE MAVERICK
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smithhemb wrote:
Since we're in the midst of a broader discussion of community norms, I'm wondering whether there's a consensus (and, if so, what it is) re when it's inappropriate for a geeklist owner to delete comments s/he disagrees with.


Whenever he wants to... the privilege of Geeklist ownership.
 
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Jim Cote
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smithhemb wrote:
Even if you think that the owner gets to control what's on the list, shouldn't the writer get to retain what was written (and, arguably, be able to make it available in a different context.))


With you on that one, Sue. If I write something I think is good/useful/whatever, it's ok for the list owner to delete it, but then it's gone. Even if it showed up in your profile as a geeklist comment, it's so out of context. This is a tough one...
 
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Joe Grundy
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ekted wrote:
smithhemb wrote:
Even if you think that the owner gets to control what's on the list, shouldn't the writer get to retain what was written (and, arguably, be able to make it available in a different context.))

With you on that one, Sue. If I write something I think is good/useful/whatever, it's ok for the list owner to delete it, but then it's gone. Even if it showed up in your profile as a geeklist comment, it's so out of context. This is a tough one...

I agree this is a tough point.

I've deleted entries or comments on my own geeklists in these circumstances:
1) A couple of times I've warned up front that a particular list will be more tightly controlled than most.
2) One time I put up a list with a description which caused much misunderstanding and a brief flamewar which cluttered the list. I corrected the list heading, noted/thanked the input and discussion and deleted the argument and personal comments that had arisen from the misunderstanding. I wanted the list to remain accessible regarding its original topic.
3) I have deleted one comment merely because it was blatantly inflamatory with no content.

I've created a fair few geeklists the last couple of months, and I've exercised my ownership and occassionally deleted things. I really hesitate though, not because I think people should be able to necessarily say whatever they want on my list but because I realise that when I delete it it's gone.

If I post to a list I respect the list owner's right to shape the flavour of the list. I've only ever seen this done to keep the list on topic or polite... I haven't yet observed anyone doing it just because a comment disagreed with their own ideas.
 
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Fraser
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The Maverick wrote:
smithhemb wrote:
Since we're in the midst of a broader discussion of community norms, I'm wondering whether there's a consensus (and, if so, what it is) re when it's inappropriate for a geeklist owner to delete comments s/he disagrees with.


Whenever he wants to... the privilege of Geeklist ownership.


I agree with Joe.

The only time I have ever deleted comments is when I actually removed entries of mine from a GeekList (it was a list of games on our wishlist which we had since bought) and then added new entries later on and the previously orphaned comments came back attached to the new entry and were entirely out of context and meaningless.

Theoretically when I am making a very long list and adding items there may be a window of opportunity for someone else to add stuff the list which I will then fully reserve the right to remove since the finished list will not allow items to be added by members of the public.

I have yet to remove a comment or item from a list for other than the first reason mentioned above, but that doesn't mean that I won't at some stage in the future.

I have yet to notice a case of someone blasting comments or items from their list(s). If that did happen I think they would find pretty quickly that the general populace stops bothering to r4ead, comment or add to their GeekLists and thus the problem would pretty much go away by itself.
 
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Burke Glover
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I like the ability of geeklist authors to prune their own geeklists. In fact I occasionally find myself pointing out to geeklist authors that they have this authority. So often people are just looking to get a cheap laugh or worse, trolling for flames. It only takes one poorly thought out comment to ruin a geeklist, or for that matter a forum thread. Personally I'd prefer if you could remove comments in your own forum threads as well.

99% of comments aren't worth deleting. For that 1%, I'm glad the ability is there. At least in Geeklists.

nuclear
 
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Chris Shaffer
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I have mixed feelings on this topic. My personal preference is that nothing should be deleted, unless it explicitly violates a stated rule of the site, or violates the law. Thus, for example, I agree that there should be a BGG policy prohibiting "not-safe-for-work" pictures. The BGG posting policy should be prominently published and linked from all submission pages. If the policy is violated, I don't have any problem with the moderators deleting the post.

If GeekLists are owned by their creators, then this could be extended to allow GeekList creators to state their own policies on content submissions when they create their GeekLists, and posters should follow those additional policies as well.

On the other hand, I feel pretty strongly that deleting messages/content that are not in violation of published policies is censorship, and should be avoided if at all possible. If there is an issue of clutter, the content could be masked, such that it doesn't appear directly on the particular page, but it's easy for users to see the masking and view the content if they choose (i.e. instead of displaying the content, provide a link to toggle it on/off, much like the links in GeekMail which open/close messages).

In the case of flamewars and other problematic postings, I don't have any problems with moderators locking threads, suggesting that people count to ten and cool down, etc.

In all cases, if content must be deleted, the original poster should be informed, with an explicit statement of what was deleted (usually a copy of the deleted content in GeekMail will suffice), the reason it was deleted, and a link to the policies regarding content deletion. There should also be a mechanism for people to request a review when their content is deleted.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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One of the things I see people saying is that "the community is good." However, as many of us have experienced, communities grow and change. Who expected Hasborg to eat Avalon Hill, TSR and all the other game publishers we used to rely upon? Some of us remember when rec.games.board used to be a small community of like-minded people, and mostly flame-war-free. It grew, that changed, and it got a reputation for being a very hostile environment.

When we're thinking about issues of community and the ways in which we interact as a community, we need to think to the future. If a feature is abusable, you can bet that eventually it will, in fact, be abused.
 
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Jim K.
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Quote:
I have yet to notice a case of someone blasting comments or items from their list(s).


It's happened to me, for what I think was a very innocuous, humorous comment I added to a humorous list authored by a prominent game designer. I guess he didn't want a little fun poked at himself, so he deleted my comment (without any notice or explanation to me). Fine, that's his perogative - perhaps he was just in a bad mood. But now I won't be buying any of his games as a result, either.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Karlsen wrote:
I have yet to notice a case of someone blasting comments or items from their list(s). If that did happen I think they would find pretty quickly that the general populace stops bothering to r4ead, comment or add to their GeekLists and thus the problem would pretty much go away by itself.


Had it happen to me today. Did you notice? I certainly wouldn't have --if it hadn't been me. Which leads me to believe it's not always obvious. Especially when stuff disappears quickly.

This is why I gravitate to the idea that maybe the way to balance the competing concerns/interests is to implement a protocol where the act of deletion inherently triggers a notice that a deletion has been made. That way it would be obvious which Geeks (if any) routinely delete and I suspect that that would lead to the outcome you suggest -- if it didn't deter some deletions in the first place. FWIW, I'd be cool with including the name of the poster whose remarks where deleted in such an auto-generated message. That might provide a little insight into whether the problem was likely a thin-skinned list owner vs. a generally inflammatory poster.
 
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Pat T
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I agree that there should be notification that a deletion was made. Not only to point to Geeklist owners who delete a lot, but to make forum threads more comprehensible. When there are comments farther down a thread that has a deletion it is sometimes quite difficult to track.

I know what list you got deleted from today, and I have noticed that this user does make liberal use of the delete button in his/her/its forum posts as well.
 
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Chris Shaffer
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ejamer wrote:
Remember to keep perspective. We are here to talk about and enjoy games, and if occasional comments do go missing it's not the end of the world. (Of course, you don't have to immediately forgive and forget the list owner in such a case... People tend to reap what they sow.)


But often you won't even know you've been censored under the current system. With no notification of deletions, all sorts of abuses are possible.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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ejamer wrote:
I believe that Geeklist owners should maintain full ownership over the content they provide to BGG, and should also be able to delete ANY and ALL content that they feel is inappropriate from their lists.


But in what sense are other people's posts content that the Geeklist owner/originator provided? Why don't authors "own" posts?

I agree about keeping perspective, but don't see why that argues *for* rather than *against* deletions. One could just as easily say, "so someone posted something that pissed you off -- get over it; life goes on" as "so someone deleted something you wrote -- get over it; life goes on."

I have no idea whether BGG admins have (easy) access to deleted posts. The posts disappear from both the Geeklist and from the author's MyGeek profile. Do they remain somewhere only admins can see? Personally, I'd rather have automatic solutions (e.g. public notice) and/or communal norms rather than saddle the admins with such a thankless job as mediating disputes like this. And, in the interests of keeping perspective, I can't really imagine taking such a dispute to the admins.
 
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Jeff Smith
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Geeklist moderation by list owners can also include much simpler management - not just "censorship" matters. For example, I deleted an entry on my geeklist two days ago... because it was a double post. Sometimes servers do hiccup like this and so I had two identical list entries. It was nice to be able to clean it myself - I can't imagine everyone asking the admins for that sort of stuff every time...
 
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Fraser
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smithhemb wrote:
But in what sense are other people's posts content that the Geeklist owner/originator provided? Why don't authors "own" posts?


If you want own your own post, post it in a journal or in your own GeekList. GeekList owners are the masters/mistresses of their own domain.
 
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Robert Wesley
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[size=11]I'd agree with the folks who desire the FORUMs to have this degree of "deletions" as well. I've kindly 'asked' some to DELETE their comments where it wasn't 'appropriate'-of which they did NOT, while I even implored upon some "Admins" about this as well, with NO such 'action' taking place upon the matter. It doesn't take a "Rocket Scientist" to SEE that I wasn't being too unreasonable about such. Yet, I've done likewise for my OWN from time to time as well. Then there's SOME like "dakarp" who took it upon himself to 'relocate' such topics, while 'stating' "from the start..." that HE had 'seen' where so-and-so WAS 'going' in the first place-yeah right! So we'll leave this up to YOU to bring about the SAME considerations as what those insipid "Geeklists" already HAVE, in these regards. Maybe then they'll listen to YOU, but I would wager "dollars to doughnuts" that they'll just ignore YOU and hope you'll go away as well eh?
surprise
 
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Recently I did a Geeklist on games that explored the history of the Italian Renaissance. It was a serious list that I went to a great deal of effort to include information on the historical background behind many of the titles. After I posted the list someone went and added Busen Memo to it.

Don't get me wrong, I like a running joke as much as the next guy and while a dumb game Busen Memo doesn't offend me. However the addition in this case was not very funny nor fitting on the list. So I deleted it. I liked that I had a chance to delete what was not a fitting addition to what I thought was a very good list that I put a lot of effort into. I don't see it as censorship but editing for proper content.
 
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Steve K
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I think that on balance the current rights of geeklist originators is about right, and it works for most situations.

I'm aware of one or two people who would rather delete a politely disagreeing comment than discuss the points raised, but I accept that they aren't looking for a discussion, and move on.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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mrbeankc wrote:
Don't get me wrong, I like a running joke as much as the next guy and while a dumb game Busen Memo doesn't offend me. However the addition in this case was not very funny nor fitting on the list. So I deleted it. I liked that I had a chance to delete what was not a fitting addition to what I thought was a very good list that I put a lot of effort into. I don't see it as censorship but editing for proper content.


Totally agree -- for me, that falls under the obviously non-germane category. Also agree about deleting double posts. I don't think that all deletions are objectionable. I'm just trying to get a sense of where (whether) people draw the line. And the sense I'm getting is that most people, as listowners, draw the line where I would, but that they also think that it's a personal decision of each listowner.

FWIW, I disagree with Fraser's point about the ephemerality of lists. Actually, what's likely to be ephemeral is the recognition of the censorship. You notice if you're watching in real time, but it can be invisible after the fact -- both immediately after the fact and when you access things from the archive. I still think that the "keep perspective" imperative applies and perspective remains that an author could make a point s/he felt was important somewhere else. On the other hand, my perspective also includes a desire for real give-and-take and to read both sides of certain discussions, so I'd prefer to see some incentive not to delete simply because you disagree. And I guess my perspective also includes a desire to participate in dialogues rather than to exchange monologues.
 
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Philip Thomas
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I think Geeklist Owners should be able to remove content as they please. It isn't Censorship, unless they are the Federal Government acting as the Federal Government (somewhat unlikely in context!).

If you are saying something very important, make a copy of it...
 
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Chris Shaffer
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If it's OK for GeekList owners to delete content on their GeekLists, then there should be a system in place for automatic notification. The thing that really bothers me is the secret and silent nature of the deletions. I think automatic notification should be built into the system. Hit the delete button, off goes a GeekMail to the poster whose content was deleted.

I would prefer if GeekList owners could "hide" content on their GeekLists. This would allow them to keep their GeekLists "clean" or "on topic" or whatever they want, while allowing users to view the hidden content if they desire.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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Philip Thomas wrote:
If you are saying something very important, make a copy of it...


Actually, my stake in this particular discussion is more as a reader than as a writer. I mentioned that it happened to me as a writer only because that's what alerted me to how under-the-radar this kind of stuff could be (and because, like Fraser, prior to this experience, I would have assumed that such behavior was obvious). After this experience, I started wondering what other content had been disappearing and thinking that it was interesting that while people object when the site admins delete content without articulating standards in advance, deletions by non-admins seem comparatively uncontroversial.
 
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