Community: Freedom of Speech Online?

Kathy

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jan 1, 2004
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Kathy submitted a new Article:

Community: Freedom of Speech Online?

Freedom of Speech in Your Community Online?

While I've been online as a forum owner and administrator, I've had the occassion, as all forum administrators have, to be accused of not allowing the members of my community their rights of "freedom of speech."

Censorship vs Freedom of the Member

These few members are generally horrified that I have edited sexually explicit content from their posts. They are furious that we use a censoring system within our message board software to filter out profanity. They are angry that I don't allow them to post advertisements with their affiliate links. In their rage they shake their fist at me with words simliar to this:

"I have rights! You are denying me freedom of speech!"


My first reaction is to point to the TOS (Terms of Service) that all members agreed to during registration which is very specific about the conduct and activities allowed in our community. I remind them that they agreed to the guidelines during registration and those are the rules.

"My House Rules"


I usually make an analogy for them that explains: It's like visiting my house with rules on the front door. "Enter and enjoy conversation. The word "slobbo" is not allowed in my house. If you say the word "slobbo" you will have to leave my house."

They might enter the house, chat for a while and then say the dreaded word: "slobbo". They are escorted to the door and are forced to leave my house.

Usually, most disgruntled members will tone it down, muttering something about their poor eyesight and not remembering that they read the guidelines during registration. They then enjoy their membership without further problems.

However on a rare occasion after I point to the guidelines with my clever analogy of "my house rules", a member refuses to turn on their brain cells of understanding and they begin a rant.

Freedom of Speech!


Their rant usually scrapes the universe with their limited understanding of their rights contained in the U.S. Constitution. Their anger is spewed in emails and in posts (that are quickly swept away and archived) that I would have the audacity to not allow them to pursue life, liberty and happiness on my forums, guaranteeing their freedom of speech and rights to say whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want.

The U.S. Constitution:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or...

Read more about this article here...
 
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jilly

Fan
Joined
Jan 14, 2004
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excellent article!!

Kathy, wonderful articla, and very well put!

I get the same sort of reaction too, with cries of "Censorship!" and "Freedom of Speech!" - I have also been known to tell members in exasperation that they have the 'freedom' to take their 'speech' elsewhere - LOL

My TOS are similar, and we edit out profanity as well as terms that are offensive or upsetting to the majority of my members - and some people don't like it, and I tell them they are free to go and create their own website on the 'net, and run it however they like - that's the great thing about the net - you dont like how a site is run, you can always go and start your own somewhere else!

Mostly we have problems with new members, who havent read the TOS or board rules at all, and get upset and frustrated - but if they decide to stick around, which most do, they end up calming down, and actually appreciating the environment that the rules create.
 

Olate

Aspirant
Joined
Feb 13, 2004
Messages
18
Yes, I liked that article. I shall have to draw up something for my site, but more specific to the UK/Europe.
 

Kathy

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jan 1, 2004
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9,030
Thanks. Its fresh on my mind because I had a run in with a member this week. :yup:

I just emailed you Olate. ;) I didn't realize you were a member here (I'm now embarassed I didn't know!) I'm hoping that you might share some of your articles here with our members (retaining your copyright of course and with a link back to your site)
 

Olate

Aspirant
Joined
Feb 13, 2004
Messages
18
Kathy said:
I just emailed you Olate. ;) I didn't realize you were a member here (I'm now embarassed I didn't know!) I'm hoping that you might share some of your articles here with our members (retaining your copyright of course and with a link back to your site)

And my content magcially appears :cgleam:
 

Patrick

Adherent
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
404
Very good article.

I heard a real good one the other day. Some guy said that because a website is in a UN member country (like the US), they have to allow him to say whatever it is that he wants.

:lol:
 

Chuckwk

Aspirant
Joined
Feb 11, 2004
Messages
24
I say as far as my forum goes .. "I'm Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" My site, my rules.
 

Cromm Cruac

Adherent
Joined
Apr 6, 2004
Messages
354
Very, very good Kathy!
It has happened more than a few times when someone has waved the "Freedom of Speech" stick at me :cookoo: . The thing is with my website is that it is British and we have no written constitution, so I say what is and what isn't allowed as it is my website and I pay the bills for it. If I had guests coming to my house and they started swearing at every given opportunity I'd sling them out. There is no difference with a forum.
 

Syn

Dance Maniac
Joined
Jan 31, 2004
Messages
406
This is an excellent article and one that I really should show the admins of a few music video game forums that I know of and have been a part of. I know we all want to be as free as possible, but I can definitely understand people wanting to keep their houses, and their forums clean.

It's just one of the hardest things to do, and this article will definitely prepare me for the future, thanks Kathy.
 

sifuhall

Kung Fu Webmaster
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
388
Thank you for this wonderful article.

I have a couple of twits on my forum that are completely shocked that we moderate the posts.

One even went so far as to change his signature to the definition of fascism.

But twits will be twits.

:dizzy:
 
Joined
Mar 7, 2004
Messages
560
Chuckwk said:
I say as far as my forum goes .. "I'm Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end" My site, my rules.

I thought you sold your site to someone named, "Sean"?
 
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