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Thread: Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

  1. #1

    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    A recent poster commented that moderators were "tightening things up." He said (below) he felt this was a good thing. That poster was speaking in context of posters not being encouraged to use the forum as a vehicle by which to buy or sell equipment indirectly.

    http://largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/505133.html

    I observe that the thread's original question seemed quite innocent and sincere. Further, the thread was not "killed." This was a judgement call by the moderators and, demonstrates to me how "gray" (versus black or white) their function must be at times. I applaud here!!

    There have been a few angry contributors who have wanted to press their "right" to say what they thought in whatever "language" they wanted to say it.

    Questions:

    Is it true that literal (Constitutional) rights to Free Speech do not truly apply to this forum by virtue of its stated by-laws? (Private Club kind of thing.) I mean, the vast majority of us seem to value civility. But could an individual (hypothetically), intent on having his nasty say, challenge (on Constitutinal grounds) his being blocked, say, from access to the forum by arguing that he had the free speech "right" to say to his fellow forum poster, "#@&* you!?"

    (BTW, civility seems part of what may separate us from the apes! How do moderators communicate "No Ape-like Behavior Allowed?" Or do they just kill the worst threads and hope for the best from potential challengers?)

    Regards

  2. #2

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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    Unless the forum is run by a government agency (or funded by one, with strings on the money), or is subject to a specific statute protecting the free speech rights of the members, it is not subject to free speech law. As far as I know, there are no laws providing such protection for internet forum members. Moderators can censor posts, or kick off posters, or make them read only, as they choose. About the only way for a moderator to get into trouble would be race based censoring, or making defamatory comments about why someone was censored.

  3. #3

    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    The questions arising from the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights has been an on going process since they were written.

    For my degree it was a required to take Communications Law, not that makes me a First Amendment lawyer.

    In my view the "gray" zone for the internet is who "owns" the forum.

    Just as one might write a letter to the editor of a newspaper with the words "#@&* you" doesn't mean the paper will publish those words. The newspaper has the constitutional right to edit.

    As well as in a public place, such as a school or town council meeting, one might yell or say "#@&* you" but that doesn't mean you won't be asked to leave the location.

    The public airways, TV and radio, does not allow this form of speech.

    In my opinion so goes the internet.

    If a member of this forum wishes to write "#@&* you" on his or her own personal web site or web blog, they are free to do so. But since this forum does not belong to any one individual, we must submit to the collective set of rules of this forum before joining; thus we lose the absolute freedom of speech when posting here.

    My two cents.

    Anyway, there are plenty of wonderful words to use in a spirited argument that's doesn't include the "George Carlin" words. Let's use a little more imagination when writing. We're all creative people - we're photographers!

  4. #4
    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    "But since this
    forum does not belong to any one individual,"

    essentially, I thought it did - Tuan?
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

  5. #5
    Scott Rosenberg's Avatar
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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    robert, while not advancing this thread at all, i figured i should still contribute as i was the one who cautioned jaz about the chances of his thread getting nixed. i only mentioned the possibility as a courtesy to him as a first-time poster. in the off-chance that the thread was nixed, i figured my post would clue him in as to the reason.

  6. #6
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    We all have an element of "ownership" in the demeanor of the forum, and we all "own" our own posts (see copyright section of the FAQ). Additionally, we collectively make the forum what it is. However, the forum is technically owned by Tuan, and is, as noted above, subject to whatever policies he chooses to establish. There are no First Amendment protections, even though we all love and respect it.

    That said, the FAQ/Guidelines page (link at the top of the display) is pretty clear that lively discussion is encouraged, as long as it doesn't get out of hand or slump into personal attacks. We moderators try to stay on top of things, within the spirit of the guidelines. Sometimes, that results in gray areas that we try to deal with in a reasonably consistent and rational manner. [Note that some of use are more accustomed to gray than others. ;-) ] We won't always be right in doing so, but we're happy to do our best because Tuan pays us so well and is such a nice guy. ;-)

  7. #7
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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    See faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/410/410lect08.htm for info on US law of free speech.

    ...people who want to protest or express their views do NOT have a constitutional right to do so whenever, wherever, and however they please.
    Toward the end of the doc there is a good overview of what's protected & when, also some stuff on "forum analysis". This place would fall under Quasi-Public area, so the LF Forum useage guidelines spell out what's permissible and what isn't.

  8. #8

    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    Clarification to choice of words regarding "ownership."

    Yes Tuan owns the show, but I was referring more to the "collective intellectual ownership" each and everyone of us has in the forum as contributors.

    It's in the spirit of the "collective" that the forum belongs to no one individual because Tuan can't tell us what to write, such as a newspaper editor telling an employee to write a particular story.

  9. #9

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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    "There have been a few angry contributors who have wanted to press their "right" to say what they thought in whatever "language" they wanted to say it."

    No one is prohibited from saying whatever they want, to whomever they want, in whatever language they want, as long as they do it in a private email, and NOT in this forum, which has a set of agreed-upon rules regarding civility. You are free to disagree with those agreed-upon rules and leave the forum. You could start your own completely unmoderated forum. You could organize a public demonstration against the agreed-upon rules of this forum and even to take up your cause with various human rights organizations.

    If you break the rules of civility and behaviour in my local pub, you may be asked to leave or, depending on how far you push it, you may be thrown out on your arse, where, on the street, you will be free to explore further the limits of free speech.

  10. #10
    unexposed darr's Avatar
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    Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

    "[Note that some of use are more accustomed to gray than others. ;-) ] We won't always be right in doing so, but we're happy to do our best because Tuan pays us so well and is such a nice guy. ;-)"

    Your hard work does not go unnoticed from this end of the screen. Thank you for keeping it a civil and friendly place for amateurs and professionals alike. Even though I shot professionally for many years, I am still learning and it is through this forum I find about everything I need help with about LF. I am hoping when the new forum launches it will give us that choose to, the ability to financially contribute in some way, be it through personal galleries, classifieds, etc.

    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda, photoscapes.com

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