Thursday, 4 December 2008

Debating moderation

. A couple of sites (Liberal Democrat Voice and Liberal Conspiracy) have now picked-up on the article on kottke.org which discusses applying the 'broken window' theory to comment moderation on blogs. It is based on a report in The Economist which says that tests have shown the theory may be correct; that signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave.

However, can you apply this to online 'trolling'? Kottke feels that it does;

"The appearance of one troll encourages others. Undeleted hateful or ad hominem comments are an indication that that sort of thing is allowable behavior and encourages more of the same. Those commenter's who are normally respectable participants are emboldened by the uptick in bad behavior and misbehave themselves. More likely, they're discouraged from helping with the community moderation process of keeping their peers in line with social pressure. Or they stop visiting the site altogether."

Unchecked comment spam signals;

"that the owner/moderator of the forum or blog isn't paying attention, stimulating further improper conduct. Anonymity provides commenter's with immunity from being associated with their speech and actions, making the whole situation worse..."

Of course, it fails to mention that anonymity can provide protection. The recent thread on Nick Clegg's gaffe on Liberal Democrat Voice allowed one commenter ('Not Impressed') to vent their true feelings where as their position would have meant in public they would have had to 'defend Clegg'. I don't think that comment moderation has to be in place as long as a blog owner is 'paying attention' and moves quickly against trolling and doesn't allow it to spread it won't become a problem. Of course, trolling isn't putting an alternative view but rather putting one that is nonsensical or that is clearly just meant as general abuse. It is like anything; careful husbandry allows certain privileges, like anonymity and free-flowing comments, to remain in place for the benefit of the reader.

8 comments:

asquith said...

The broken window theory is one I find intetresting IRL. I can see the point of confronting litter louts, cigarette butt droppers, & other causers of public nuisance.

I was once reprimanded by a member of the public for swearing on her bus & I took her point. I would have preferred to continue shooting my mouth off, but it was a valid concern to raise given that I was in public in front of children.

Peter Hitchens makes similar points, & I almost half agree with him. He is a bit excessive, but I understand where he is coming from.

The community should put its foot down against anti-social behaviour, whilst encouraging non-coerced cooperation, & then there won't be a need for such heavy-handed behaviour by the state as we've seen. (This was why I disagreed with the "legendary" Charlotte Gore article, The Granny State, on LDV).

Funny, this seems to be leading inexorably towards BoJo's drinking ban... which I was against & still am, just as I support a much more liberal approach to drugs than there currently is (not quite sure how liberal, but more so than under Brown).

I don't think that is inconsistent. Behaviour which harms others should be challenged, by members of the public, behaviour which does not should be allowed.

If people voluntarily restrain themselves (from violence, etc) we will have a more liberal society...

Right, off to read this kottke link :)

asquith said...

*swearing on a bus

It wasn't hers. Just a typo :)

Darrell G said...

Asquith,

Kind of; its one of these things that I look at and think 'ye i can see a kind of truth in that' but its not the entire truth. You cant reasonably say somebody who, for example, doesnt put their cig out in the right place will automatically go on and be a kingpin of crime because that is determainistic.

I agree about encouraging non-coerced behaviour...i am also against the drinking ban and i agree about a more liberal approach to drugs...

asquith said...

No, I don't think people who litter etc will go on to worse. But they are coarsening society in doing so. If these problems were nipped in the bid, we might well see less serious crime.

I would repeal idiotic laws as, then, worthwhile laws would command more respect if they were properly & decently enforced with public consent.

I think you know what I am trying to get at. I have been working too hard, so I may not be wholly clear, but it is in keeping with my thought. :)

Darrell G said...

Asquith,

I agree but as a slight aside in the case of smokers society wrongly coarsens them. Having said that it is not really relevant to this debate and I agree. I think things like graffeti can be very artistic but it can also be properly provided space (and I think it should be)...what we really need to is look at each form of behaviour and say right how do we address this while allowing expression (like a graffeti wall, for example) and providing answers to why these problems arise and like you say encourage solutions founded on a co-operative basis...

I do ye :)..got an interview tomorrow...

asquith said...

Ahoy. I can indeed see the point of things like graffiti walls, as much as they have some spitting blood they can be useful. I was just saying that incivility is something that a society should try to avoid. Plus, litter is bad in itself. Anyway...

What's it an interview for? :)

It's funny, I don't talk about what I do. My managers can read what I write (though they probably don't bother), so I utterly avoid mention of it. I only talk about jobs once I have safely left them, like my Citizens' Advice work.

Darrell G said...

Asquith :),

Tis indeed....

Its for a hotel. I generally dont talk in detail about a job im in though I did aeons ago when I used to work at a cinema lol....

asquith said...

I'll be going to a hotel (in Edinburgh) quite soon. You'd better improve standards in the trade before I do :)