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Re: (redmist) Re: 2 (redmist) Re: New Power Proposal

by jonadab (Parson)
on May 05, 2004 at 00:06 UTC ( #350637=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to (redmist) Re: 2 (redmist) Re: New Power Proposal
in thread New Power Proposal

I spent a couple minutes thinking about how I would feel if someone registered and posted with the nick "redmistIsaBozo", and I can't say I wouldn't be really pissed off. I would. But I wouldn't want to delete the account (unless it was inactive). Same thing if there was a negative post about me. It would make me mad, but I just don't see censorship as an option.

I guess I have a thick skin in this regard; if a user registered on Perlmonks as JonadabIsABigFatLoser, I'd figure they were trying to be funny. As for a negative post about me, I'd just be annoyed that it was gratuitously and uselessly off-topic and uninteresting (as opposed to this thread, which is off-topic but not entirely uselessly so and not altogether uninteresting). I wouldn't be any more upset about it than I would be if someone were using Perlmonks to discuss, say, professional football team rankings, and in either case I'd be more inclined to look for another thread than to downvote. (If anything, I'd be more likely to downvote the football, since I'd figure someone else would downvote the personal attack.)

It would make me mad, but I just don't see censorship as an option

We're going further off-topic here, but censorship of one kind or another is absolutely necessary and unavoidable. It has always been and will always be true on this Earth that publishing resources are outstripped by the vast seething mass of content that various people would like to have published. (If you're familiar to ecconomics, this is a special case of the Fundamental Ecconomic Problem.) Every publishing institution practices one form or another of censorship. Every newspaper turns down some things that some readers would like to have printed. Every book publisher turns down books because there aren't resources to print all the ones people write. They make some attempt to turn down the ones that would be least worthwhile for them to publish, based on their goals (in most cases, money), but in the end they just have to turn down most of the available materiel because they only have the capacity to publish so many. Authors don't like this, but that's too bad; if they can afford to foot the bill themselves, they can hire a printing shop to print the books and then sell them from a booth on the street. If not, that's not the publisher's problem. Every website also turns down things that some people want to have published. I get spam every week asking me to add links to my personal website (such as it is), linking to things that are totally unrelated to the content of my site. I seldom even look at the sites they're asking me to link to; I have other things to do with my time. Also every single day I silently turn down numerous requests, people (spammers mostly) asking me to send various things by email. Chain forwards are in this category -- someone somewhere wants you to send them out to everyone you know; if you don't, you're practicing a form of censorship, determining what you will and will not publish with your resources (time, bandwidth, reputation, contact list, ...). Censorship is not only the right of the publisher, it's his responsibility and a vital function.

Now, third-party censorship (wherein someone ELSE tells you what you are ALLOWED to publish) is more arguable, but that's not what we're talking about.

TBH, there is a point when I think I would censor. For example, if my mom killed herself, and someone posted something mocking her death, the lines would blur between my emotions and my beliefs and I would do whatever I could to censor it. I can't explain this flaw in my belief system...yet.

Strong emotion isn't the only reason for censorship. (In fact, what you're talking about is dangerously close to third-party censorship, since you're proposing to unilaterally decide what (which is not your site) should publish. Though in fairness I doubt any of the gods would raise an objection in that circumstance, since it would be really hard to argue that such a post contributes anything beneficial to the site.)

Sometimes, however, there are important practical concerns that dictate a need for censorship, even if we're totally dispassionate and level-headed about the matter. The publishing mechanism has to be protected from excessive unwanted content, or else it becomes worthless and ultimately non-functional. As an extreme example, consider what we would do if an advertiser (say, a major car dealership in the Silicon Valley area) wrote a bot that continuously registered accounts on perlmonks and posted replies to every new node, with an advertisement as the entire body of every reply. Nobody would have any question about whether that's the sort of content exists to publish, would they? It's not a question of whether should practice censorship or not; it's only a question of where to draw the lines and how to enforce them. (The car dealership is a completely fictious example, BTW. Substitute an abortion rights activist if you prefer, posting automated replies to every node, talking about abortion rights.)

Bringing it back to topic... I don't think it's necessary for vroom to solicit help from a group of other monks in censoring objectionable monikers. As others have pointed out, never-once-used monk accounts seem to be a larger issue, and it ought to be possible to deal with those easily with a quick one-off script whenever the gods decide that it is necessary. The reason community help was enlisted for nodes is because there are a lot more nodes than monks, and it could be hard for one person to keep up with even looking at all of them.

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