Jeff Attwood on Censorship v Free Speech

@kirkion thanks for clarifying. I was confused because I took your post to be making specific comments about the need for moderation on this thread, whereas I think you are explaining how you think the moderation issues highlighted in the OP should be handled in general.

I’m sorry for getting mixed up :-). Carry on!


[quote=“russell, post:2, topic:1935”] [quote] This is your house, with your rules, and your community.
[/quote] [/quote]

This is an extremely important point. But it begs a question, whose house is it? Is it my house? Is it your house? Is it private space, public space or something that doesn’t fit into that binary set?

I tend to think of this as dedicated space. Its not public per se, we have limitations on the topics and things that we prioritize over others. But its not private space, no one person has the right (even though obviously the mods and admins have the power), to dictate a comprehensive set of rules.

In the Introduction, this place was described as a place for the community to ask questions. That is this is not the house of a private person, its a clubhouse.

Then the relevant question to my mind is, what are the requirements for joining the club, what are its goals?
My understanding is that the point is to learn about and support MAID SAFE. Thats a goal that doesn’t require beliefs from a certain political/religious/cultural viewpoint. Because you can come from a variety of viewpoints and support that goal, this community should on the one hand, not block behavior which doesn’t contradict that goal, but also keep things focused on that goal.

Not to say that this can’t change, but that if it does, it should be explicit, so that people understand the expectations that are placed on them and can make an upfront choice to either conform or go elsewhere.

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There are people who would like to make subjecting society to total surveilance and total enclosure a profitable endeavor. Its a business model. It seems like ProjectSAFE would be going in the opposite direction. To me if it works it undermines any business model that takes us in that direction.

The issue I think on many of these social media platforms is that the lack of scarcity makes it trivial to spout off…

In a real dialog in real life, one will not get very far if they just talk continuously make the same points over and over and over again. A chain of bickering. There is only so much time, and there is only so much patience before the crowd walks out or shouts you down.

In the social media world, It seems that If people are not interested, they just don’t read it. Scroll wheel is easy to operate.

People can sit through a structured academic debate pretty easily. It is an interesting show… If you have two parties debate an interesting topic, often it can fill a auditorium You rarely see spectators watching a riot-like street protest and it’s counter-protest. That is more about the spectacle than the content. I would suggest that that is the analogy for social media forums too.

I would suggest if we introduced scarcity back into our social media conversations they would be a lot more productive – You have x minutes or x number of words - to make your point. If your view is appreciated, and the audience wants more, they can donate more time to you… If not, you have said your piece, and will have to wait for next time.


If I have a really big house and lots of people like to congregate there that doesn’t make it a public space, it’s still my house. If I own a field and a crowd has a party there its still my land. Facebook is NOT public space, it’s private space, it’s a bloody corporation and like it or not they have the legal right to do whatever the hell they want with their digital “land.” Your argument is that if I own large portions of space and the majority like to use it then somehow they obtain rights to dictate how that space is used via free speech. I want to be clear here, I support and advocate free speech, but you can’t have it both ways. You are in essence advocating for a form of possession property wherein if a large enough percentage of the populus occupy and use the space they gain title to it and rights to express freely within it.

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Sure. I think you might be misunderstanding the point, though.

They’re perceived as public spaces because their corporate goal and financial motive is to include everyone. It’s not a forum for a small, specific group. It’s a space specifically meant to target everyone. So when they do censor things, they get a torrent of criticism because of the precedent they set. But as you say, they are still a private company.

But what happens when you present yourselves a certain way? When you set a precedent like they do? Same way in some states in the US, if you go around saying you’re married, if you share assets, etc, then under the law you are legally married. Or if I steal something of yours, I go around saying LOOK AT THIS THING ITS MINE, and you don’t say anything to defend yourself, the courts can actually rule that it’s mine, due to the precedent you set by not saying anything.

So Facebook and Twitter are curveballs.

I’m saying that if the precedent is set by the people in control of the community that the space is public, then it’s public. If it’s made clear that the discussion therein follow a certain line of rules, then that’s that. And in forums, it’s pretty dang clear, what with these ongoing written records happening.

People should want to be inclusive and interested in hearing alternate views on things, and discuss expansive, interesting aspects of the topics set by the forum. But there shouldn’t be laws in place to force it. There should be laws that prevent the exclusion of races, minorities, etc. But if someone starts yammering on about something that the group thinks is irrelevant, the community should be allowed to tell them they’re wrong and if it continues, escort them out. .01% of the time, that loudmouth might be a genius not being heard, which is why he’s afforded the opportunity to go start a new community.

But usually, he’s just a loudmouth who can’t get it his thick skull that he’s just plain wrong.

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Have we lost some functionality somehow in this forum…maybe I’m dreaming, but I thought originally you could see who replied to who…right across the thread

Current behaviour is such that we can only see whom replied to us. Maybe the new Admin could look into this…as it’s confusing right now…unless we quote when replying.

If quoting when replying, or at the least, commencing with the @username then maybe we should try and encourage that protocol?

You talking to me? You talking to me?

You talking to me?


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@jreighley Artificial scarcity like twitter? The injection of scarcity always seems like a scam to set up unnecessary profits, an enclosure tactic. Effectiveness and efficiency are not made through impoverishment. Economy, however is still appreciated.

I don’t know that it is really an artificial scarcity. More of a simulated scarcity. In the internet world we lose our sense of the time constraint - but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Online there is little feel for when you have exceeded the attention span of your audience. This is why it is a good idea to have agendas and schedules in real world meetings too. That too is an "artificial scarcity’ to one degree or another.

The aim of the "injected scarcity’ would be to make efficiency in our communication necessary, not optional, so that the audience gets a feel for the ideas in the marketplace without having to wade through a massive list of bickering and long blustering essay or endless repetition… "Agendas and schedules’ can be adjusted if need be - by unanimous consent or yielding of time from one participant to the others.

Sometimes I see comments on the media sites where there are THOUSANDS of comments. Did the commentators really read through the previous 3000 comments before throwing in their opinion which has already been expressed 1500 ways? Probably not. It is a waste of energy for everyone. Sometimes comment number 1872 of 5000 is really well thought out and well explained. The author probably spent 30 minutes writing it – Chances are really good nobody ever saw it, because there is a very real constraint that is not apparent or simulated in the internet version of reality.

I think good search can help solve this issue. Good search is probably half of what is needed to finally make planed economies work, it takes at least half the function of the market in distribution.

What do you mean by good search? Is this a technical term?

I think Watson demonstrates good search with its debater. But more that that, honest search that has no ads or sponsorship allowed or their influence in anyway. Also privacy protected, no selling data. Besides the Watson type tech to empower the front end it may also rely, as is common today, on trending for successful searches. It may also weed out spam based on community input and smart software where the spam weeding is aimed more at organizations and businesses than individuals. IBM stated that better search does not have to be power or resource intensive. I suspect today that translates into the idea that good search can be done without massive data centers and their power bills.

I’m curious @Warren who pays for these “honest” searches you keep mentioning? Who pays for the servers, the ISPs, the electric bills, etc, etc. Who pays for maintaining them, providing technical support when something breaks down, for developing them and so on? Where does their income come from? Perhaps this is a topic all it’s own but I’m still curious.

Weve talked about it before. It can be a DAO on SAFE, or it can be part of an honest but global bundle. It could even be done by universities or public libraries but there is more of a political firewall issue there. I think SAFE in its distributed element run on end user devices and end user ad hoc networking really opens it up. Current search as it is increasingly sponsored is an increasingly damaging sinking ship that has to go. Also the who pays for question is a bit like asking who pays for solar? Given the necessity and the distributed means, Google will pay with loss of marketshare, followed by collapse. I do believe this could quickly kill Googles search business and that this would be a very good thing. Also that this is a service that should run at cost and not involve profit as that would be a useless hook-in-the-ass overhead that would just invite degradation. Want to use it? Then you have to let it make use of some of your private compute resources.

Since this thread proved so much more lively than I expected, he’s another post also initiated by a Jeff Atwood blog!

It’s about Community Moderation :slight_smile:

Public libraries and universities are funded via taxation. Taxation = coercion. So until SAFE is developed and unless people using it I’m not sure how your business model would work without relying on coercive taxes. Yes some public libraries rely on donations and others are subscriber based but again one enters into the classic problems of runnning a private enterprise. A DOA does not mean one does not generate an income but rather it simply means ownership is removed, or rather distributed, throughout the network.

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If @warren and @Blindsite2k want to carry on this direction I’ll move your posts - just letting you know it seems to be veering off the OP.

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Then let me explain to you how it’s on topic. @jreighley was talking in his post about artificial and simulated scarcity and how when you have tons of comments many may be overlooked and go totally unread, even if they are of high quality. @Warren pointed out that this could be solved by a “good search engine” and I asked how that was defined and how that would be paid for which is relevant if it is to be applied to the problem @jreighley posed.

I can agree with this to some extent however we also have the advent of the book, which incidently predates the internet. People could always write an essay or a book and the reader could pick it up and read it, set it down again at their leisure and pick it up again or not. So your proposal doesn’t entirely hold that much weight because as you say there is that lovely scroll wheel. The digital world is partially a live conversation however it is also partially a literary medium that incorporates the static elements of written works. I think I would find it very disturbing to be told that I could only express myself within a certain number of words or within a given time period. Perhaps as a literary exercise but not in a debate on a forum where anyone can come and go as they please. I can see your proposal working in a live context but not where people are coming and going at different times. As @Warren says that is what search is for, be it “good” or not, and it seems to me more expedient to search through those 3,000 comments for the good comments that are relevent or took 30 minutes to write than to limit one’s time to self express. In fact an alternative might be both self tagging of posts and community tagging. Say you wrote a post about poltics, economics and society. And you tagged it (in blue) with politics, economics and #society. All those 3 tags would appear blue because you tagged your post with them. Now readers could come along and tag your post in red with things like #good #insightful #long #please_proof_read and so forth. And in this way your writing develops reputation. Now I’d say that red tags might need a limited lifespan to avoid getting handed an undeserved tag and being stuck with it. For example the proof reading thing: once an author did that the tag should be allowed to die. Also various members of the community might disagree about how to label a post or comment. So if you’ve got one person labeling it “good” one day and 3 labeling it “bad” for 3 days then I suppose the bad tag sticks but if the reverse becomes true it would be labeled good. Of course there are obvious problems with this kind of community and self labeling however it’s pretty much what people do with comments and reputation anyway and it would be easier to search for. One could choose to search only blue tags (self labeling) or only red tags (community labeling) or both.

We should tag the ideas not the people and not get too caught up in the integrity of threads. Search can overcome conflation of threads, especially with idea tagging. The point of the forums should not be a PR effort for MaidSAFE as much an idea generator and a way for the founders to understand the thoughts of those most willing to dedicate attention to their work.

Sorry to quote the above twice but I think its a critical point. Reputations attached to people are too often in the way of communities considering good ideas. While it may be that certain people are very clear and great consultants and sources of illumination, but the point is good ideas and we don’t care if they came from the least likely source or too much about the accrediting that comes along with it. What we really care most about is the promotion of good ideas. It is the idea that gets flagged and gets the reputation, just as focus in reputations should be on organizations (dynamic ones as organizations quickly shift in their make up and don’t necessarily announce ideological shifts.)

An individual temporarily (its always temporary) associated with great ideas will inevitably gets recognition but reputing individuals shouldn’t take up much community energy or even be a focus if the contributions are honest. By the same token individuals are not served by having external labels imposed on them, nor are they served by having inaccurate labels attached to organizations. Fame and self aggrandizement have to take a backseat.

Exactly, how to promote a fair characterization of ideas vice associated personalities.

You’ve explained what the discussion is in those posts but not how it is on topic. I’ll wait to see how it develops. Please @warren and @Blindsite2k try not to go off into other subjects on this thread (e.g. coersion, spammed attention etc.) as these are IMO off-topic, and can of course be discussed elsewhere with those who want that debate.