Moderating the internet is traumatic

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I used to be the webmaster of one of the larger paintball forums in the early 2000s. We tried to keep it PG-13 because kids. And then you would have people like somethingawful make any direct linked images be a HUGE pic of a freshly cummed cock… and that was just people NOT meaning to be jerks.

Let’s all hug the luck dragon. I think he does a bitchin’ job.


My friend works as a mod for a bingo website. Her thousand yard stare when you ask her what it’s like is quite impressive. On the upside, she doesn’t have to get out of bed to go to work, but still.


I wonder how often they feel compelled to turn videos over to “authorities.”


I sure as shit would’ve with the video described in Rob’s write up.


Bingo? People post horribleness to a bingo forum? I didn’t even know there were bingo forums.


That’s covered in the article. I suggest you read it, it’s very good.
Also, there’s a link within it to one published in Wired a couple years ago that is also good.
And by good, I mean good reporting, but makes one sad for humanity.
I certainly don’t seek out content that would make me ill, but I have seen a couple that were widely distributed with regards to things that happened during the Iraq war and war on terror early days that fit the category - “can’t be unseen”.
I can’t imagine having a job where you HAD to see at least bits of things such as that.
Fucking people, man.


I moderated for a site with millions of accounts (literally) for no pay, just for the “love.” When I was younger in more ways than one. I’m not sure how much an NDA counts for when you weren’t paid for the position so I won’t get too specific.

It was almost a thankless job. And it was dangerous to my mental health. My experiences were rarely as bad as the ones described for YouTube but the tools were woefully inadequate to the task, the queue was overwhelming, and I’ve seen horror and gore that still makes me sick to my stomach.

It was definitely a job despite the lack of pay. And it’s not a job that I would do again.

I have a lot of fond feelings (?) for those who see the worst that humanity “offers” every day.


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Yes, that was covered elsewhere at some length.

I do think it’s worth mentioning that world scale companies like Facebook and YouTube have a very different mandate, where they “must” include everyone because they are building a platform that, in theory, is supposed to work for every human being on the planet. It’s a part of their Corporate Directive.

If you are not building a site that must be inclusive to “everyone” – no matter how hateful or full of bile – but a clubhouse for “cool people” or “happy mutants”, then you don’t need to contort your rules to support the free speech of people who are being jerks.

Free speech is a government-level right, so any platforms overly concerned with this indirectly think of themselves as a form of government, to wit:

So platforms like Facebook think of themselves as so global that they can’t show anyone “the door” unless they are literally criminals.


I kind of wonder what weird random things trigger moderators more than the rest of the population, like they’re just going about their normal day and then see an image with a pterodactyl or a smurf, and it’s just too much. Cheers to all the Internet proctologists!


I still remember when I saw tubgirl the first time. That was … not a good day. I have successfully avoided some of the other more “popular” shock images.

I wonder if the recent advances in GPUs and deep learning image classification would help outsource some of this awful job to bots? That’d be nice!


I used to run a lot of mail servers.

I learned quickly not to look at the images people were emailing each other. Some things you can’t unsee.

Actually was pretty traumatic before m4 preprocessing came along, too.


Once I heard that people send dick pics in word games on phones, I realized that the world is really just full of a ton of horrifying people doing horrifying things in the worst contexts imaginable.


The semi-early days of Slashdot where the GNAA goons would work diligently to hide shock photos in links were traumatizing. After the first goatse I got way more careful about clicking any links.


From the days when moderating comments was somehow a controversial idea:

###Angry/negative people can be bad for your brain

And there’s this one we hear most often, especially in reference to comment moderation–“if you can’t say whatever the hell you want to express your anger, you can’t be authentic and honest.” While that may be true, here’s what the psychologists say:

"Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation.


This gets into the “tone policing” quagmire where you can be as angry as you want if you are on the “right” (usually the victim) side of the equation.

I think anger is fine, but personal attacks should never be allowed, no matter how just and noble the cause.


She could have written “abusive” rather than “angry,” I guess.

Mostly “Moderating the internet is traumatic” reminded me of “Angry people are bad for your brain.”

How comments should be moderated is a separate question from how does the process affect the people who have to do it …

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For me, it’s PETA. Sorry for any vegetarians who like PETA (not interested in arguing about PETA’s other flaws) but PETA trolls were at an “interesting” juxtaposition of extremely common and extremely likely to post epic amounts of graphically disturbing material.

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Pssshhh… Moderators. What a bunch of crybabies. “OH, LOOK AT ME! I’M A MODERATOR! WAAHHH!”