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Virtual Moderation; Scalpel or Shotgun?

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On 3/25/2021 at 11:34 PM, Paul Hexem said:

When you moderate or see someone else moderate a virtual space, like groups or land in SL, or forums or online communities, do you prefer very specific moderation with specific reasons for each, or massive actions that get everyone and anyone that might be even remotely involved?

If a discussion can serve the public interest by providing new insights, then, imho, it would be nice if a scalpel was used to surgically excise just the inflammatory parts.

If it's some frivolous thread that escalates, then I'm totally fine if the thing gets closed or completely deleted. A forum like this is private property. The owner of the serverspace/forum can do whatever they want as long as it's not subject to racial, age or identity exclusion, or pose a economic or health threat to others. In the end, the internet is big enough for all of us to exert our freedom of expression anywhere.

Edited by Arduenn Schwartzman
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I think there are two principles of justice that have widely applied throughout the ages, and not always in just liberal societies, that ought to apply on forums and virtual communities.

Sure, you can argue that Linden Lab and its products are a private company and therefore not bound by any domestic or international human rights law. We get all that.

Even so, LL is more enlightened than most game companies. As you know, on most game forums you cannot mention the company at all. You cannot criticize it at all. You cannot make mention the name of any company or person in a negative context. The threshold is very low and policing harsh -- and this is not the case on the Second Life forums.

In fact, LL permits criticism of its company and practices of all sorts, whether made rashly in a moment of anger over a crashed sim, or coming from deep and long thought about how seriously, oh, the game engine is outdated (not my issue, but it is for some).

Also, In theory, LL does not allow for the posting of criticism of resident businesses, or negative comments about them, but sometimes by leaving a thread out for days on end, it tacitly permits such negative commentary.

In some respects, LL has improved its moderation of the forums over the years.

So it's not unreasonable to propose two universal principles of justice to be applied here. 

1) The first is "the right to face your accusers".

That means that anyone who abuse reports you must be made known to you and then of course you can choose to publicize it or not. That way several things become clear at once:

o the status of that abuse reporter as a fanboy or "friend of the Lindens" who may enjoy impunity

o the status of an abuse reporter as a constant reporter, ARing all and sundry for all kinds of real and imagined infractions -- i.e., the "hall monitor" personality.

o a vested interest in ARing another who might be a business rival or some other perceived rival.

While on the one hand, some may see a technical barrier in the rule that you cannot re-post speech made in private from one person to room chat or to another inside the virtual world or on LL's servers, making an accusation takes you out of the realm of a private dispute into a public claim that you should back up with at least your virtual identity.

If these identities (avatar identities, not real life identities) were publicized, I think we'd see a lot less of this AR activity, which sometimes "makes the Lindens come running" because especially when their friends or persons whose interests they feel they must defend are involved, they feel they "must act" or face charges of "doing nothing". 

In real life, in a court of law, the identity of people who have provided testimony against a suspect are made known. It would only be highly unusual cases of national security, let's say, where they would not be.

So the idea that this "leads to revenge" doesn't hold in RL, where persons are accountable for their accusations, and there is no reason why "fear of retribution" should be invoked to remove the accountability of police informants, as it were -- because police exist to maintain law and order. In a place like Russia, fingering a mafiosi might mean you wind up in cement shoes, and even in some US cities, but by and large civil society holds in the sense that most countries do not live in a state of constant blood feuds. And remember, we're talking about *speech offenses,* not business disputes involving real money, property damage etc. -- it's a virtual world. 

Obviously, the Lindens have a record of all speech and all actions in the virtual world and can easily discipline or terminate someone who sought revenge on another who reported them for a forums offense later publicized. So that acts as a deterrent. And again, the main benefit of providing this level of justice means that a lot of frivolous suits and subjective whining disappear in the face of public scrutiny. You then develop a sense of what really is an offense against the community that really is serious, i.e. racism or misogyny and not because somebody's feelings were hurt when they got an abrupt pushback to their bad idea.

The Lindens of course moderate on their own, but since there is so much content, and it constantly changes, they rely on abuse reports. So transparency there would really improve that area and serve as a curb on the hall monitor personality and the board battler to settle scores.

2) The second principle is to "know the charges against you". So that means instead of removing content, and telling you to "read the TOS," which, of course, is vague and overbroad, or merely giving you a link to a thread that might have hundreds of responses in it, you are given the precise text of the charge

If a Linden can remove a text, they can copy and paste the "offensive speech" in question and paste it into a notification -- it's not extra work.

Here, too, once you had the precise charges -- and they were publicized -- you would rapidly see two points:

o the speech that bothers hall monitors with thin skin over things that really do not rise to the occasion of action, but which harried Lindens felt they had to "deal with".

o the Linden staff who are too quick with handcuffs over speech that also doesn't really meet the test of the TOS violation.

If the Lindens are confident in their board moderation, this publication of the charges to the defendant shouldn't be a problem. If you can see it, you can cut and paste it, and obviously you saw it in order to close a thread or even remove a post. 

Again, no one needs to tell me that this is a private company and they can "do what they want" and they "do not have to provide First Amendment services" blah blah -- I've lived  under this regime longer than nearly all of you.

So if nothing else, you could contemplate your soul and ask yourself why you do so much ARing and summoning of the Lindens "to act". I almost never AR anybody for anything, even the most egregious offenses, because it's a pernicious system.


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can remember over the street when the forum owner shotgunned (closed) a whole thread

they posted: I go to bed. Have a good night's sleep. I get up bright and happy looking forward to a pleasant day. I come on the board, and there are 20+ pages on this topic which were not here when I went to bed. I started to fulfil my duty as a moderator. I only got half-way thru the first page and my eyes started bleeding. And I thought bleepity bleep bleep you people and I nuked the whole thing without reading any further, so bleep to the lot of you

which I thought was pretty funny


surgical precision:

i made a comment on here a little while ago about something that I thought that Linden had done

Oz Linden came on and posted a correction as to what Linden actually did, without quoting me. And I was like wooo! that is way cruel!. I better press Thanks before he comes back and cuts me again!



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4 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

So if nothing else, you could contemplate your soul and ask yourself why you do so much ARing and summoning of the Lindens "to act". I almost never AR anybody for anything, even the most egregious offenses, because it's a pernicious system.

Because when you don't shut it down when the first jackholes come in, it makes a welcoming environment for more of them. Internet basics. Shut it down before it becomes too big a problem. 

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Hello Everyone,

I am sure this comes as no surprise, but this thread is being closed for the unfortunate reason that it went into the direction of discussing the decisions of the moderators here on our forums. I am sure the original poster had no intention of it going in this direction, nor any intention of this thread turning into exactly that discussion, but it has. Also, before anyone asks, the reason threads don't just get cleaned up and left open, is that it has been our experience that more often than not, even if we clean them up, people will come along and do the exact same thing again.

In addition, and I am sure most of you don't need this reminder, our community guidelines clearly state that posts questioning a moderator's decision, are not allowed. If you however feel you have been wrongly actioned by a moderator, you are always welcome to submit an abuse appeal via our ticketing system, and it will be reviewed for a second opinion.

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