moderation (2)

Pros and Cons of an Open Forum


Anyone can read it without being approved or pay a fee


Any post has the potential of silencing others from expressing their opinion


If everyone can read what is posted even non-members can learn information and can take action from the ideas shared on the forum


Sometimes you don't want the "outsiders" to know what you are talking about, or is this a "Pro"?


It can be a melting pot from a wide variety of opinions


You can't speak your mind without possibly getting in trouble with some vested interest

The first popular online open forum in our business was the NAIA forum which was a very dynamic forum until a few obstreperous people continually derailed the discussions and the group voted to make it members only. This really slowed down the discussion and participation dwindled.

In the beginning of AFI all different kinds of people joined and I was pretty clueless about managing it. It was pretty interesting to watch my friends and many strangers show up and debate the questions of the day. People could post anonymously and there were (to my mind) some fists flying. People joined and resigned and rejoined. Many sent  me emails wondering why I was letting such uncivilized behavior occur. At one point there was a mass defection. We changed the rules about anonymous posting, set up a vetting process to allow members into the site, and rewrote our Code of Conduct. Early on some show directors joined and they were attacked and they left, silencing their voices here.

Some of these early voices determined who was on the site and who was not and set the tone.

One thing I have learned is that every comment has the possibility of encouraging someone else to speak and someone else to be silenced. I've heard "well, if they can't interact on an Internet forum how can they expect to prosper at the fairs?" You've got to know the purpose of this site is not to toughen people up.

I don't pay attention to the statistics of the readership or the "hits" and am often surprised when I'm at a show to have someone I know say they read the site regularly and their name isn't even on the membership list. It makes me wonder who is reading the site besides the people who post and comment and what function AFI has for them. My hope is that open discussions can influence people's behavior at the shows and in running the shows.

I can edit everything on the site. I have banned people from the site who came into the forum only to attack others and who never had a constructive point to add and who were just plain mean and rude. I have removed a few that were deliberately attacking another person in a personal way, but probably not often enough.

Many comments and posts have disappeared from the site (including a very recent discussion) because when a person resigns from the site all of their content (comments, discussions, blog posts) disappears with them. I have no control over that.

I've allowed others to stay because sometimes they are very good and sometimes they are very bad and I like to believe the good they contribute outweighs the other. Mostly its a pleasure to get up in the morning to see what is going to happen here today, as there is a solid amount of useful content and I am surprised by the generosity of many of you, but let me tell you folks sometimes it keeps me up at night.

Looking for your input ... is this a fair place to post your views? Got any suggestions on making this a better place for all?

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Moderation and Censorship

Life gets lonely in the studio, or sitting here at the glowing screen of my computer. This website has become a place where like-minded people can hang out, learn some new skills, make some new friends, pick up some tips and make plans for the future. There is a constant inflow of new people and information. But I've got a problem today and am asking for your input.

It has repeatedly been brought to my attention that some members' remarks make others uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that they leave the site and/or won't participate in the discussions any more. We have banned some members from the site and others have not been banned even though they appear to be breaking our "code of conduct." Most of the time, in the middle of some of the "rants", there are some excellent ideas and things to think about. Not always. In order to have an interesting community it is necessary to talk about things besides what kind of tent to buy and should I take credit cards. Right?

I do not read everything that appears on the site and often don't know if something is happening unless I see lots of comments on a topic. I do not want to moderate other adults' conversations. I want to keep this site alive and full of helpful information and entertaining discussion and I want you here.

The question is about censorship and moderation. 

What is true censorship?

  1. Moderation that expects everyone to "be nice" and is enforced, or
  2. a site where members can say what they want and effectively silence others.

And, just in case you think this is something new here, visit this link from a year ago:

I am interested in your comments. Comment on the site or here.

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