For the past five months I’ve been trying to get my head around how on earth my Comment is Free account was flagged for ‘pre-moderation’ screening after I had made a grand total of four comments.
Actually, to be entirely accurate, I was ‘identified as a risk, based on a pattern of behaviour (e.g. spam, trolling, repeated/frequent borderline abuse)’ after making a grand total of two entirely innocuous, polite and on topic contributions.
The articles I responded to were by Laura Bates of #everydaysexism fame and seemingly CiF moderators don’t take kindly to anyone criticism of the Guardian’s very own poster girl for fourth wave feminism.
Apparently this sort of treatment is far from unique and fellow tweeters suggested that the moderators probably acted after someone reported my comments based on options that include ‘personal abuse’, ‘hate speech’ and ‘spam‘ etc.
It sounds like the type of behaviour an eight year old would stoop to but apparently if you don’t like someone’s opinion it’s a handy way of getting them bounced out of the conversation.
I did try and have an adult discussion with the moderators but didn’t really get anywhere. They describe ‘pre moderation’ as ‘a temporary measure applied to a very small handful of people (1% of users apparently) based entirely on patterns of actual behaviour.’ Mind you, as the weeks have turned to months I’ve become increasingly unconvinced, on either count.
Natalie Hanman – CIF Editor provided a succinct sketch of the supposed process during a panel debate in 2010:
Fair enough as far as it’s fair enough, as they say, your perception is your reality but other participants in the same debate seemed to be experiencing an all together different reality…
A cursory Schofield style scooby search shows that evidently this is the same sort of reality that quite a few other CiF users have experienced…
Take Geoff Chambers, who was barred for life after finding himself on the wrong side of the Guardian Editorial policy in a debate about climate change:
Or to put it more simply:
Another CIF regular banned for life prompted a lengthy conversation trail on the subject with various observations ringing true to my own experience.
This one even mirrored my own hilarious post moderation censorship experience when trying to comment on an article titled: ‘The fastest way to spread extremism is with the censor’s boot.’
So is the Guardian a bit man hatey? Research conducted last year by Redit user Marcruise: certainly appears to support to this theory.
Marcruise estimated that, on average, the level of moderation intervention stood at 2% to 3% for most Guardian articles. Even potential hot potato topics like Israel and Gaza or Islam and racism only average about 8% intervention.
Yet after auditing articles tagged to the Gender section he identified 31 articles published over an eight month period with moderation rates of higher than 10%.
The highest level of censorship identified for any article was a whopping 24% for an editorial piece to mark ‘International Women’s Day.
Although as others pointed out:
Apparently there actually are laws against this sort of carry on but I’ve yet to see any evidence that anyone in GMG remotely gives a monkeys. I guess they must have got George Carlin’s memo…