View Full Version : Forum moderators must make tough judgement calls

Robert McClure
27-Feb-2006, 10:01
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.


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.


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?)


Ed Richards
27-Feb-2006, 10:31
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.

Walt Calahan
27-Feb-2006, 10:41
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!

tim atherton
27-Feb-2006, 10:44
"But since this
forum does not belong to any one individual,"

essentially, I thought it did - Tuan?

Scott Rosenberg
27-Feb-2006, 11:02
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.

Ralph Barker
27-Feb-2006, 11:18
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. ;-)

Tom Westbrook
27-Feb-2006, 11:31
See faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/410/410lect08.htm (http://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.

Walt Calahan
27-Feb-2006, 11:32
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.

Don Wallace
27-Feb-2006, 11:40
"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.

27-Feb-2006, 11:40
"[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.

Robert Skeoch
27-Feb-2006, 11:51
I think free speech is an American right. This is on the world wide web. I wouldn't think you could force American laws to govern the world.
The moderators are there to edit.... they should be allowed to do so.
I for one would prefer if the language was kept civil.
-Rob Skeoch

27-Feb-2006, 12:01
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!

Come on, Walt, give the man some credit! I have his calendar, one of those with a select, shall we say comment for each day ;), sitting on my desk and in 58 days so far, not once have I come across one of "those" words. And believe me, he does get his message accross anyway!

Unlike some of the posters here, one of them in particular, George knows exactly when, why and how to use those words to achieve the best effect. He uses them to make a point. The posters we are refering to here used them to kill the point of the discussion. And it is precisely this difference that also separates creativity and imagination from plain old rudeness. Rudness, I believe, we can all live without and still be free.


27-Feb-2006, 12:14
"Rudeness, I believe, we can all live without and still be free. "

It does not matter what your chosen profession is for this to apply and for some of us we learned it from our upbringing or from plain old common sense, but if one does not apply the proper people skills (i.e., politeness, civility, honesty, etc.), one will not acquire the networking that is necessary to advance in your chosen field, be it art or not. The folks that go around carrying a bad attitude or simply go around bullying others fail to see the connection. I usually laugh when I realize they think they are going to make it on their own.

Robert McClure
27-Feb-2006, 13:30

Yes, it was obvious that you were being both informative and supportive to jaz in your comments! Makes me feel pride in the forum and the quality of its participants' remarks.

I think we've all seen where a first-timer, contrariwise, will ask a question and then be bludgeoned. That embarrasses me.


Thanks for helpful, insightful remarks!


Kirk Gittings
27-Feb-2006, 13:34

Having gotten that off my chest. I think there are many ways to express feelings without being offensive or rude. The forum has been quite civil of late and as a result I think we are seeing broader participation (just my perception-I may be wrong), which is good. Thanks to the moderators for stepping up to the plate. Ralph Barker to be sure. Thanks.

I also sense some hesitation as people feel out the newly reaffirmed boundaries. There is nothing quite as invigorating as a good old fashioned argument (or taking a great image!), but I think we can do that and still be civil.

Alan Davenport
27-Feb-2006, 15:07
I'm sure we all have the right to say whatever we choose, to whomever we choose, in whatever style we choose. However, the guy paying the bills here (Tuan) has the right to decide whether or not his money is used to repeat what we say.

In terms of free speech, we all have the right to purchase our own domains, to pay for hosting and to write or purchase software for our own forums, on which we can post all the vitriol we can think of.

We all have the right to stand on a soapbox in the town square, but there's nothing that says Tuan has to let us use his soapbox...

Dave Henry
27-Feb-2006, 15:25
The US constitution guarantees the right to US citizens to certain free speach. It doesn't guarantee the right to have it heard (read). Now, let's go lock and load... film holders and make a few photos.

27-Feb-2006, 16:00
WOuldn't that be load and then lock. Having tried to load a locked film holder, I can definately say it does not work. :)

QT Luong
27-Feb-2006, 16:26
The right to speak doen't equal a right to being published. All the web forums and printed media operate on that premise, although I am wondering what is the legal status of moderated usenet groups.
While just technically I "own" the site (someone has to do it), all decisions about the Forum are made in a collegial way, and no rights at all are claimed on the contents.

Frank Petronio
27-Feb-2006, 17:47
You know, one of the signs of a society in decline is self-absorbtion and navel gazing. How about a hearty thank you to QT and company and we move on to talking about LF before we get into a fight?

John Berry ( Roadkill )
28-Feb-2006, 00:30
I enjoy a site that is frequented mostly by grownups.

mark anderson
28-Feb-2006, 04:47
in the begining of the adress you will see "www" it is basicaly open to people all over the world, why dose our (i am a usa resident) have to follow our constitution...and why would the same govern the board??

Walt Calahan
28-Feb-2006, 06:13

Marko, you're an amazing defender of George Carlin. Grin.

I own his original record (not CD), and have been a long time admirer of his comedy.

That's why I gave him credit by using "'George Carlin' words" as a reference. My usage was an easy cultural way of saying the "rude words" without writing them.

In no way was I saying the man, George Carlin, was behaving with the rudeness of some who post on this forum. The genious of Carlin is, by using these select words in comedy, he took way the negative power associated with these words.

The way to react to forum postings that are rude or use bad language is to use Carlin's technique. Laugh at the rudeness, or at least ignore it by not reacting at all. A bully wants to get a reaction so the bully can feel powerful. By not reacting to rude behavior, we defeat the bully.

28-Feb-2006, 11:21
Walt, if he really needed defending, he wouldn't deserve it. And he definitely wouldn't be having shows and selling records... I got your point perfectly, it was just too good an opportunity to make a point of my own to miss it. :)

But seriously, the real genius of people like him is their ability to evoke a clear mental image in their listeners using just a few "select" words. Or should I say "provoke"? It's the picture part that makes a photographer in me admire them. I also envy them because their images often seem clearer than mine.


Terence Spross
28-Feb-2006, 12:20
suggestion to those who become grammatically impaired when they are impassioned: email direct comments to a contributor friend (who is thick skinned - as jj used to say everybody should be -- based on his ravings), the friend can then translate for the rest of us and post. [The moderators don't have time to individually edit - they only remove]

I am not particularly "thick-skinned" (I always wear protective gloves around the Dektol) myself and do appreciate Tuan's teams efforts and the positive contributions from everybody. Thanks

2-Mar-2006, 17:45
"Forum moderators must make tough judgment calls" ... Hopefully they will not kick the heck out of themselves in the process...