Goodbye to photo.net!

Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by david_nebenzahl, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. I've sent an email to lots of folks here, "friend and foe" alike,
    telling them that I'll no longer be contributing to this site. This is
    in response to the recent spate of censorship activity on the site. I
    find this odious and strangely at odds with the whole idea of the
    "marketplace of ideas" that this site supposedly promotes.

    The loss is more theirs than mine.

    I urge others who feel strongly as I do to do likewise, and to let the
    administrators of the site know how you feel.

    I realize that photo.net is under no legal obligation whatsoever not
    to censor anything. This isn't a legal issue; it's a moral one.

    Now I'll be curious to see how long this posting survives!
     
  2. Well, for this as well as other reasons I may not leave... However i have been considering becomming a "paid member". This event, not so much censorship in general but rather posts on censorship are being censored will certainly affect my decision to support the site monentarly(sp?)
     
  3. I'll give it a day or so.
    I'm sorry to see anyone leave, but it's entirely their option. Often they reconsider and come back when they realize just how valuable this website is and just how well, on the whole, it is run. Moderation on this website is pretty light. You have to behave pretty badly (usually over an extended period) before any action is taken, and even then users get a second, and often a third, chance. Perhaps that's the problem. If moderation were stricter, things wouldn't come to a boil before action is taken.
    We don't "censor" anything that's appropriate for the website, i.e. that is of a photographic nature. We don't care if you shoot Nikon or Canon, Large Format or sub-miniature, film or digital, slides or prints. We don't care if you like or hate the work of Ansel Adams or Robert Mapplethorpe and express that view in a reasonable manner and you're respectful of other users who make take opposite opinions to yours. We don't even care if you use a Mac or a PC, Windows or Linux! Again, as long as you are not abusive to other users you can hold and express whatever opinion you want to. We'll censor political diatribes if that's what you call "censorship", but we'll censor them from both the right and left (and center). We'll "censor" obscene language, we'll "censor" users making personal attacks on other users and we'll "censor" SPAM and other advertising.
    There's a VERY key phrase in the terms of use agreement. It says:
    "You agree not to post or transmit any defamatory, abusive, obscene, threatening or illegal material, or any other material that infringes on the ability of others to enjoy the Site"
    We take that quite seriously.
     
  4. Bob- David's post, as well as others post on the topic of censorship, have been lifted.

    I certainly do not disagree that abusive posts and posters should be "censored".

    But posts on censorship being censored?
     
  5. Anno

    It's not so much that we don't want to talk about site moderation policy and user sanctions. It's more that threads that start out with an aggressive stance on "CENSORSHIP" (all caps, shouted loudly) tend to degenerate pretty fast into exactly the type of name calling threads that we DO moderate! So we end up "censoring" the censorship thread. Not because of the subject but more because of the nature and character of the postings it attracts.

    We don't do much moderation. I moderate the EOS forum and the Nature forum and I don't even remember the last time I had to remove a post and I don't recall EVER suspending a user from either of those forums. I have suspended a couple of users in other forums, but as best I recall there have only been two or three incidents in the last 5 years. I've thrown off a couple of SPAM posters who simply signed up and posted commercial ads in the forums on the same day, but that doesn't really count!

    Also, there is the fact that moderators simply cannot permit their every action to be debated in their forum. It would create chaos and make their job even more difficult. Moderators decisions are final. If you think they are WAY out of line you can complain to "the management", but 99 times out of 100 the moderators will be turn out to have acted appropriately. Most forums have an "on topic" policy and complaining about the moderators is rarely "on topic" for any forum.
     
  6. Hmmm. Well call me a cynic if you like, but who said that the owners of a site don't have a right to control what appears on it. Doing that isn't immoral. I can accept a paying member being indignant if their postings vanish, but David's not one. Want to say your own thing ? There's plenty of places on the web you can go.
    The "All censorship is wrong" / "I have a right to freedom of speech" view point is all fine and dandy; but when you realise that the right of one is a duty on others it turns into "The people who run this site have a duty to let me propagate any view I please", which looks faintly ridiculous. It's actually every bit as bad saying "I think this picture or post should be censored", because it is calling on the people whose site it is to use your judgement not theirs.
     
  7. I'd point out that user status (Hero, Patron) plays no part whatsoever in any decisions regarding moderation or suspension. Even paying users don't pay for the right to behave badly!
     
  8. 2 months on the site and he feels his leaving merits a public announcement.

    Goodbye.
     
  9. David -

    To give your message any credence, it would help greatly if you would cite specific examples of where you think censorship action has been taken where it shouldn't. In my experience, the folks who run the joint have been pretty reasonable, and without any particular evidence, we cannot be sure why you are disappointed, and we cannot be motivated to leave the site or support you.

    I wish you well, but I feel no loss on behalf of the site.
     
  10. The "censorship" issue keeps coming up because people feel that photo.net is like a public square, and the actions of moderators in deleting or editing posts or banning people, are like government censorship of free speech.

    That isn't the right analogy. photo.net is like a private party that we are throwing on the internet. Everybody in the world is invited, and we don't have people at the door preventing anybody from getting in. You don't even have to pay. The organizers of the party want everybody to have a good time. That means that a certain amount of raucous behaviour is fine. To some degree it adds to the fun, at least for many people. It is a pretty free-wheeling place, and if you don't enjoy that you might like to go somewhere more sedate. On the other hand, if somebody starts a fight or starts insulting people, or insists on selling stuff, or wants to set up his own speaker system and play his own music loudly, we have bouncers who will chuck him out.

    It doesn't happen very often, but considering that there are 80,000 posts of various types on this site every month, it happens often enough that most people have seen the moderators step in at one time or another. Actually, there are probably many more people who leave the site because we don't edit and delete posts they find objectionable, than people who leave protesting "censorship".

    So, you can call it censorship if you want to, and many people persist in seeing it that way, but that isn't how we see it, and by now we have thick enough skins about it that the cries of censorship aren't going to change the way we operate the site at all.
     
  11. Censorship activity on this site? Never seen it but for that thread that had no idea to discuss. Over at the FD forum we all just say what we want and I think the moderators leave us alone, written off as harmless wanderers looking for the next bargain. BTW David, I don't understand how you could let a few deleted posts make you want to leave?
     
  12. All I can offer is that having been a forum maintainer/moderator for several weeks has given me another perspective. 'Nuff said.
     
  13. Being a moderator isn't an experience I'm sure id want for an extended period of time but it's something that would be interesting to have tried.
     
  14. Society needs to have some rules. This is a private board; and the moderators do have guidelines on the content. I welcome selective pruning of idiots who get into low ball name calling; or where the same question is asked on 6 threads at once. There is a legal obligation to censor photos that are not allowed legally on the internet. <BR><BR>There has been no censorship of "ideas" on photo.net . There has been on rare occasions removal of threads that were very slanderous; childlike; and photos that were extremely graphic; or were copyrighted; and not owned by the "photographer" showing them on photo.net .<BR><BR>The administrators are doing a good job.
     
  15. What about my "You're so full of bologna we should call you Oscar Mayer" post deletions??....heheh. I thought was some goodtime fun.

    Can't forget the song here. Trollin trollin trollin, keep those posts a trollin.... RAW-HIDE!
     
  16. David: Take a cooling off break and then come back. For the most part, Photo.net is a really nice place to hang your coat. And it's about the best place I've found for getting answers to my photography questions.

    I've put myself on Photo.net "restriction" for two to seven days at a time just so I can clear my head and my computer cache. It really does help. But when I take my breaks, I leave for the opposite reason as you.

    I truly hate flaming arguments and name calling. For this reason, I welcome Photo.net's "censorship" decisions. PN may not be able to teach manners, but I'm glad they don't let the bullies rule the roost. If I was looking to step into a situation where stress, arguments, finger pointing, threats and name-calling prevail, I'd stay at work a couple extra hours, go back to USENET's photo boards or take up watching soap operas.

    Seriously...take a break...and then come back. You'll be glad you did.
     
  17. "The loss is more theirs than mine."

    I don't think so, because you share ZERO photos in your portfolio.
     
  18. seee ya
     
  19. Mike Johnson can use this site for a political diatribe but you dare not answer him. That is sensorship of the most odious sort.
     
  20. I the the most odious form of sensorship were the first-generation canon eye-control
    sensors.


    ...just trying to keep it to photography.
     
  21. Sorry David and anno, I'm firmly with Bob and the others on this one. I think the moderators do a fantastic job here and have given us a wonderful resource. Lets stop wasting so much time abusing it and get on with taking photos and sharing our images and knowledge.
     
  22. neil-

    did you read either of my posts? i was complaining about posts on censorship being censored, not censorship itself. even this I feel bob gave a fairly good reason for. obviously unruley posts need be removed to keep good order...
     
  23. Bob, I'm not so sure you take those words seriously if the attacks come from the Left. I've been called a bastard, a bigot, a "f--cking jerk," and even had one guy ask people to pay me a visit and "beat the crap" out of me. I can't say these abuses daunt me particularly, but their persistence throws into question whether personal attacks are evenhandedly discouraged.
     
  24. It is censorship in my mind when a moderator gives a thread only a day or two. Or when a moderator moves a thread to another forum because he felt that it was better served there; regardless that the original forum is where the debate mattered. Or they delete one thread dealing with a on topic post, yet let another stand. It is a matter of fairness and consistency.

    A moderator should be invisible to the forum members IMO. A good example of such stewardship is Tony R. of the Leica Forum. His hand is seldom seen, and we exist in Peace. There are dust ups, but they tend to be forgotten not long after.
     
  25. <<A moderator should be invisible....>>

    I agree. He has to make certain moves behind the scenes; but in the public area, he should be unseen and unheard except on narrowly photographic matters.
     
  26. Another exception, of course, is blantant hate-mongering, Byrd. That's why your "bike" thread got dropped from the Leica forum.
     
  27. Gary, you are right IMO. The issue is that moderators here don't always follow that....
     
  28. Chip L, you can interpret 'censorship' however you want, but the definition used by the rest of the world isn't going to change just because you have a different definition of it.
    There's a purpose behind almost all forums, and that usually contains social, educational, and other aspects. There's been a lot of research in the 'online' forums since the 1970's with the rise of USENET and the Well and such, You might find Clay Shirky's A group is it's own worst enemy interesting reading, as he clearly describes what has been happening in most online "communities".
    In this situation, there are some who feel that any moderation is bad--or define 'bad moderation' as anything they dislike. That's an amusing exercise in blood pressure control, but it's not going to change the facts. The moderators are moderating, and they're using the methods provided to help keep the forum on-track -- on-track as THEY determine to be appropriate for the forum, not how every single invidivual user wants. (Even when one person posts, posts, posts, and reposts on the same topic without adding any value beyond the initial "I'm unhappy" point.)
     
  29. Kevin, there is also an issue of fairness that out weighs censorship.And that is where I draw a distinction. While I will look at the re you stated; it does appear that it deals with USNET, and not the hybreds of Photo Net. Photo Net is both a free system and a subscription system. Until otherwise stated both those that pay and don't should have an equal say in the way the system responds to their users.

    As a subscription service Photo net appears to be trying to a profit service. Unlike USENET that is a "free" service, and managed by users and in some cases moderators; Photo Net should respond in a positive manner to their users. If they wish to create a two tier system of us "free-users" verses the "subscribers"; then they need to state that goal up front.

    Unlike other websites I have visited, Photo Net portrays themselves as a for profit entity. If they weren't then they could possibly seek 501C or 503C status. I'll repeat myself; but if profit is the FINAl motive, then the moderators need to look at this site being "owned" by others, and not something that they have TOTAL and FINAL say over. (By profit motives, I mean also where the moderators seek finical compensation for their efforts and time. IMO the only person that should be compensated is the programmer, and that only to the level that the code can't be shared with others that wish to use the software.)

    I come this conclusion because I worked as the primary moderator for SAIN in the DC area back in the 90's. For me and any moderator it should a labor of love; unless it is a profit motive. Back then I worked 40+ hours in my day job, and 30+ hours in what I called my labor of "love".

    I personally have offered on a number of occasions to assist in moderation duties. Never heard back on these offers. I offered not to support any personal agenda. I made the offer since the moderators have continually indicated that there were not enough bodies to support the Photo Net that so many of us desire.

    Just so you understand, I will be the first to apologize if after reading your link for my misconceptions.
     
  30. The "group as own worst enemy" dynamic, to which Kevin referred, is aptly demonstrated in the Leni Riefenstahl thread which has, in response to Bob's request to stay on topic, instead spiraled determinedly downward to the point I see no point in continuing to participate in that thread. However I believe the thread merits being saved.

    I do wonder whether it's a good time to consider modifying photo.net's software to allow forum maintainers/moderators to lock out further commentary after a certain period of time. Allow folks enough time to contribute their thoughts, weed out those remarks that blatantly violate policy, preserve as much as possible in context and lock the thread to prevent further deterioration that leads to the temptation for moderators to simply shrug, hit the delete button and be done with it all.
     
  31. " A group is it's own worst enemy" doesn't distinguish between USENET, the Well, GEnie's old forums, Compuserve's old forums, AOL's forums--it talks about how online forums have a very distinct pattern of behavior, and how it's been repeated for over 30 years.<p>
    This thread is an example: merely complaining about how "the system" works tends to MAKE the system not work unless careful feedback and monitoring is performed.<p>
    I, too, have spent time moderating: a 5+ year stint of running a home-based internationally used BBS, a few years as a GEnie "topic leader", and a handful of web-based forums. While I probably wouldn't agree with 100% of the decisions made by Photo.net's moderators, I absolutely do support their overall approach. It's been keeping the forum from turning into the worst of USENET while retaining the vast majority of the advantages a large-audience forum can have.
     
  32. First of all, Brian, I hope you'll consider keeping this thread in perpetuity to represent not merely David's "goodbye" but all such occurrences.
    I've seen it happen on other sites and it really does reflect a specific type of behavior that occurs frequently. Many of us do go from honeymoon bliss to an occupational attitude toward being wedded to a particular forum/website to thoughts of divorce (whether we ever follow through) and most, like myself, have gone through a few brief trial separations.
    And, of course, some take the Vegas! route and go straight from Honeymoon to Divorce.
    Second, the link provided by Kevin Connery should be on the reading list, if not for all website members/participants, at least for administrators, moderators/maintainers, etc. It really does help to put things into perspective. Because it's the text of a speech and not a formal essay it's a quick and easy read.
    While I can't distill the text to a single quote perhaps this will do, regarding the various models that have been tried to facilitate online dynamics:
    "It took a long time to figure out that people talking to one another, instead of simply uploading badly-scanned photos of their cats, would be a useful pattern."
    I seldom actually laugh aloud even when I use the familiar LOL abbreviation, but that quote did it for me.
    Thanks for the link, Kevin. Well worth the read!
     
  33. Goodbye everyone...

    regards,
     
  34. gib

    gib

    Kevin, read it. Squirmed. And has put me in a different way of thinking about all of this. Thanks for posting that link.
     

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