Thursday, January 04, 2007

Racist remarks in comments

This post at Lost Remote links to an appalling story about racist comments at the Sun-Sentinel newspaper's site. Some of the comments that follow it are well worth your attention, as well.

Managing this kind of abuse is clearly a moving target for news companies, as many of you have discovered. Yet manage it we do, and must. In the main, I'm a proponent of the approach Steve Yelvington suggests in his reponse, and in his further musing at his own blog, here.

And I like this approach to thinking about the issue, which came from Taylor Walsh's comment at Yelvington's site:

Gradually I though of the spaces we were providing for these conversations similar to a saloon, with a collection of tables where people gathered to talk about whatever. We were the proprietor of the space -- a private proprietor of commercial space -- and welcomed the public, and pointed to the sign on the wall that read: "No spitting, fighting, or flamewars." We reserved the right to toss out anyone who was ruining the experience for everyone else ...
–Howard Weaver

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate the saloon analogy, but it is more than just anachronistic in the computer age.

    I've never understood the resistance to using automation to help moderate such issues.

    Assuming users must register to post comments (something reasonable):

    If a user finds a comment offensive, click on a button that alerts management. The comment immediately disappears -- for that user.

    Allow the user to blacklist all comments by a particular author.

    Management reviews "offensive" reports and removes those posts violating the site's TOS.

    The management monitoring can be prioritized so that comments that generate multiple "offensive" tags are moderated first.

    An additional "reputation" factor can be added to all authors. People are asked whether a comment was helpful. That rating can be applied to both the author and the comment. The cumulative comment ratings become the author's reputation.

    With reputation for all authors available, visitors can be allowed to set the level they wish to see. I want to see only the best commentators. I want to see all but the most offensive. I don't want any censorship. Customer choice.

    None of this is new. is the model for my ideas.