General Moderation Topic

Indeed, it’s an attempt to weaponize the community’s tools against the community itself.


True. but some low-volume topics may have offending posts that are missed. The thing is, this is rare. That’s very different than combing through a users posts looking for any excuse to hide posts (nominally with spam or off-topic flags).

Off-topic flags seem to be the favourite weaponized flag type at this point, which I need to have a think on. There’s a big difference between some mutants going off on a tangent that ends up split into its’ own topic, and users who specifically use derailing tactics like “Just asking questions” or “whataboutism” in an attempt to derail a conversation or dilute the discussion.

The important effect of this kind of activity is that the system remembers - users who choose to flag maliciously very quickly lose any weight to their flags once reviewed - they very quickly become meaningless placebo buttons. In this case though, the problem was a whole lot of flags thrown in mere minutes - before they could even be reviewed.

Problem is, we don’t want to rate-limit flagging! Too many times during election season we had bad actors come onto the BBS and attempt to derail a whole bunch of topics, and we want to empower you folks to be able to flag and put a stop to them quickly.


I’ve come to see “expecting to be understood” as a form of privilege-and this community gives me ample opportunity to examine that privilege.


Thank you for the clarification. It is good to know that the system is largely working as intended.

Conversations naturally go off in all sorts of directions, so it can be tough to tell whether the topic has been derailed or just expanded into something broader. It’s especially hard to tell without looking at the context of previous posts in a thread. I can imagine that seeing an “off-topic” flag from some long forgotten thread must make your job harder.


“I am entitled to control other people’s perceptions of me”


In my experience here, some tr0lls used this tactic deliberately. One of the worst would constantly claim to be misinterpreted, and when it was demonstrated after a long de-rail that it wasn’t so would say it was a “learning error” and offer an oily apology, only to repeat the behaviour again and again. Others would fall back on claims that “English isn’t my first language” or “cultural differences”, despite it being obvious that the person was fluent in English and that he (always a he) knew full well that his sexist or racist point was not acceptable under the rules.

Unfortunately, this is likely to continue through the coming years. Right-wing populists/fascists, white supremacists, and their allies are not happy that their insurrection failed. They will no doubt continue to attack liberal- and progressive-leaning spaces on-line and off-line to get revenge or to destroy or attempt to hijack them.



I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt when they explain what they themselves intended to say (as long as they can explain in a way that makes some kind of sense).

If they are uninterested in listening to an explanation about how their statement could possibly be interpreted differently, or the original statement was just phrased in a way that practically begs for different interpretations, that’s when it becomes just noise. Fortunately, people like that don’t seem to last too long here.

Edit (Added): And people who are actively learning a language should, as a general rule, be very open to hearing how native speakers are interpreting their statements. I love seeing people from non-English-speaking countries give their two cents, and I know that most of them are genuine and sincere when it comes to misunderstandings.


In my time as moderator here, I’ve seen first-hand how often people bristle at being misinterpreted or taken out of context. It really sets off people - but even more than that, it seems that they attribute it to malicious intent - that the reader is intentionally misunderstanding them, which I think is rarely the case.

I feel like online discourse could be substantially improved everywhere if the reaction to being taken out of context / misinterpreted were instead to clarify rather than get defensive. But I think you truly do have to fight human nature to be able to do that consistently.


And I see it less here than, for example in the NYT comments, but sometimes the seeming lack of reading comprehension can be very frustrating. Like, when people are commenting on an article or another comment, but missed some clear fact written there. Sometimes pointing that out can come across as defensiveness even when it’s not intended that way.
I’ve had comments disappeared because someone reacted negatively to something like that. And that’s 100% worth it to have this community be like it is. Thanks for helping keep it awesome.


Well one way to have your views misunderstood is to begin:

I haven’t read the article yet, but [expresses derailing opion]”

I just don’t get this, but it seems to happen pretty regularly. I suppose its nice they are being honest, but also it is frightfully arrogant & douchebaggy to barge in and express a strong opinion in the middle of a conversation where you KNOW and ADMIT you don’t have the context, IRL as well as on BBS


Why not both? Attribution bias leads people to think that their understanding of an issue is deeper than their opponents. Heaping on more “context” can be seen as digging the hole deeper. “If you’d seen the things I’ve seen, you wouldn’t think I was a bigot” seems to be the intention.

On the rare occasions when I can let it go without feeling bent out of shape, it feels something like traveling in another country/neighborhood/dialect region. “Setting the record straight” sounds like the ugly american who wants everyone to speak english the same way he does.

Unless the goal is just to score points on someone.There’s always a way to make fun of someone who sees the world differently.

I think part of the defensiveness is due to the fact that intentional, malicious mischaracterization also does exist. It is rare in this community, thankfully, but you kind of have to expect it in online communities that are not as vigorously moderated.

Clarification, if done right, is about more than just adding context. It is about removing all ambiguity so that everyone has the opportunity to understand what you are trying to say (whether they do or not is ultimately up to them). Edit for Clarity: Of course, removing all ambiguity is impossible, but, like fairness, it is still something that we can strive for in the interests of promoting intelligent and meaningful conversation. Also, ambiguity is fine as long as nobody is offended, but I think that one should be prepared to clarify with sincerity if challenged.

When it comes to outright sexism or bigotry, though, no amount of clarification or context will ever succeed in “smoothing things over.” But honest misunderstandings about how something was worded do happen, and those arguments can get just as nasty.


User Pradaldi given a timeout for reposting a deleted message instructing us what to post on Boing Boing.


I’m curious what it was about my post that drew a flag. The vague “go read the rules” didn’t help much.

That, my friend, is a mystery for the ages, like the Nazca Lines, the afterlife and disco. As a wise man once said, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”


Not so much:


I don’t know specifics, but there were a lot of people who were speculating about people’s mental state in the last couple of days, and falsely equating general assholery with mental illness. That’s going to get your post flagged, hidden, and removed pretty fast.


Only kitty/puppy pics are immune. :cat: :dog:


Believe it or not, I’ve even had a post in Unicorn Chasers get modded.

Again, those are the terms that we each agreed to when we signed up to comment…