The right to freedom of expression – online forums


A personal view on forum moderation.

While most forums have rules and some are actively moderated and others arent, the general consensus has always been that you generally stay on topic of the thread, refrain from abuse and swearing and generally enjoy the discourse and exchange of information.

I have been an active member of the Fuji Talk Forum @ Dpreview, which of late has undergone some changes, including active moderation, something I personally was hoping wouldn’t come to pass.

I recognise that there are always some troll/bully types on forums, some of which in the past have been quite vitriolic. This is brought about by such things as a clash of personalities, differing viewpoints and cultures, as well as varying degrees of photographic experience.

Coupled with this is a very impassioned viewpoint from various Fuji camera owners, and we Fuji owners are certainly passionate about our photography as well as our cameras.

I for one certainly don’t subscribe to the view that my experience is any better than someone else, however the purpose of this blog was to give me a larger stage from which to share the information I have amassed from using Fuji cameras and photography in general. This is because a forum is very much a meeting place of many people and ideas and its not always possible to demonstrate ones own ideas.

There are some very smart people on these forums and like some of them I’m not overly happy with rule #2. Forum Rules

And heres why. In most democratic societies, freedom of expression is encouraged. If you don’t like something  – say so. If you do like something – say so, or remain mute, the choice is entirely yours.

In regards to forums, a certain amount of moderation may well be warranted, but the right to discuss the actions of said moderators isn’t tolerated, and rule #2 states just that. The danger in allowing this type of arbitrary action is that the user/ citizen may wish to add a comment that references the action of a moderator, and may well challenge the moderators actions ( deleting a comment/thread), in regards to the topic and subject of the thread. Many may see a moderators actions as unfair or fair or unwarranted or any number of other situations.

In democratic societies we are able to challenge the actions of the moderators (police for eg), in an effort to understand or challenge the validity of certain actions. The removal of any sort of discussion possibilities as a member of society ( forum member)  smacks of a certain type of Facisim that we really don’t need to see in a simple forum.

This may sound extreme and perhaps it is, but vetoing any ability to reference or challenge authorities is generally seen as very dictatorial. The result has been an almost neutering of the forum, that now has little energy or interest for a lot of long time users, and yes while a number of forum members left because things got somewhat wild west-ish in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean that the vibrancy and active nature of the forum needed to be so badly quashed.

For the interim I will continue to stop in occasionally, but as there isn’t a great deal of genuine interest ( for me at least ) and so I will take a small sabbatical until something really interesting pops up from Fuji in the Future.

 

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2 Replies to “The right to freedom of expression – online forums”

  1. It’s a forum, not a government, so there is no fascism. Nor is there censorship. DPR is private property and the owners can do what they want. You are free to leave and speak with your absence. Market forces will determine if DPR is doing the right thing.

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    1. Its true it is a forum, however its also true that a government is another form of forum with a political frame of reference.

      Facisim is as I said perhaps a overly negative comment, however you are wrong to think that there is no censorship. If there was no censorship then it stands to reason that the “Moderators” who now play and active role in curtailing peoples rights to express a view can’t be seen as anything other than Censorship.

      As a member of said forum I will indeed come and go as I please.

      Market forces have little to do with how and what makes a forum work. The only thing that brings many to a forum such as DPR’s, is that they were an early adopter of the notion that a forum was a good idea as a platform to further their business interests. The sharing of technical and practical experience is secondary. Their primary role has always been as reviewers of camera equipment for camera manufactures.

      There are many examples of this, just as there are many private forums run by a myriad of clubs, groups and societies.
      My assertion still remains, there has been a significant ” Neutering” of the forums vitality and interest level.

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