Teresa Nielsen Hayden Demonstrates How *Not* To Moderate an Internet Forum
As Teresa Nielsen Hayden once noted on her web site, moderation isn’t rocket science. In fact, I’d recommend a nice rule of thumb — watch what ever Hayden does, and then do the exact opposite.
I thought I’d seen everything on Boing! Boing!’s discussion forums until I read this thread. Nielsen herself shows up halfway through the conversation and replies to a number of posters, including to a user nicknamed Coldspell who apparently posted that Democrats and Republicans are equally inane. Nielsen writes,
Coldspell @25, I just lost my patience with unthinking assertions of parity. I’ve been running a center-by-center-left sometimes-political weblog for seven years now, and what you’re saying simply isn’t true. I don’t think a day has gone by here at Boing Boing for weeks now when I haven’t seen one or two dozen lazy assertions that things are the same on both sides.
Did you catch Antinous, some while back, explaining that we’re not enforcing a party line at Boing Boing, and it’s not our fault that worst of the fuggheads almost all come from the same end of the political spectrum? The far right has been cultivating the dumb-and-resentful segments of the population for many years now. I honestly feel sorry for the intelligent, thoughtful conservatives whose political neighborhoods have filled up with yahoos.
Interesting. I wanted to see exactly what Coldspell had written that touched off such a nerve, but I think you can guess what’s coming next . . .
That’s right, the post was interesting enough for Nielsen to write a 137-word reply to it, but apparently enough of a threat to the tenor of discourse at Boing! Boing! to warrant being disemvoweled!
And, to go to the heart of Nielsen’s claim in her post, it is easy to live in an echo chamber when you can deface the words of someone you disagree with while then posting your own, unadulterated to said defaced post for all to see.
Nielsen’s the Dave Winer of forum moderation — forever seeing bad acts and malicious intent in anything that deviates from her point of view (and quickly disemvoweling such threats).
Finally, Nielsen and others keep claiming that Boing! Boing! is not biased in its posts for or against Democrats or Republicans. As she puts it, it just happens to be the truth that Republicans are the party of “fuggheads.” However, it is interesting that in September Boing! Boing! featured posts about Cintra Wilson twice, but couldn’t once be bothered to mention Wilson’s bizarre rant in Salon about Sarah Palin.
Again, if all you ever feature are Republican idiots, of course you are going to conclude that it is simply the case that the only idiots are Republicans. It is called selection bias.