Monday, January 17, 2011

Removing Comments: Insufficient Remedy

It is my view that removing anonymous, offensive comments after they have been posted is an inadequate way to create a genuine community forum in part because it fails remedy the harm and offense caused to community members who see them before they have been removed.

Last night I was reading Stephen Elliott's The Adderall Diaries and he make a similar point about nasty comments that his father posted to his book pages:
He says he took down the most recent reviews he left on my books on Amazon but I tell him I'd rather he left them up. Once I've read them it doesn't matter whether they're up or down; I've already integrated his words into my life.
The context is slightly different but the point is the same - removing offensive content may limit the number of people exposed to it but it does little for people who read it - like family members of victims of crime or tragedy - before it was taken down.

1 comment:

  1. Funny. In his daily email from The Rumpus today, Stephen Elliott addressed his website's comment policy:

    The Rumpus is a community, but it's not public. You might think that because I talk about tolerance we wouldn't moderate comments that we think are abusive. But you'd be wrong. Sometimes commenters post something and then respond with a different name, agreeing with themselves. Sometimes they even disagree with themselves. Everybody thinks they're reasonable, that what they say is justified by what they're responding to. Sometimes we ban commenters because we don't think they have good filters; we cease to believe in a person's ability for civil discourse. We might make the wrong decision, we might be unfair, but it's our decision to make.