This is an independent website which appears to be run essentially as a hobby. It's not a corporation.
We haven't spent time there, but from a quick inspection the site appears to have exactly one ad slot on it, and the ad that's there right now is for a tool directly relevant to the community's needs.
From our experience with small websites that have large audiences, the owner is almost certainly paying out more than they take in every month. There's no way they'd be doing it if it were not a passion project.
If we're wrong about some of these assumptions, then we're wrong, but we wanted to state them clearly because we think it's really important to understand *who* we're talking about when discussing this moderation decision.
If the site were run by a megacorp, or even by a small business, we'd be saying entirely different things - things about how it's tragic that so much socialization these days happens in spaces run by corporations, for a profit.
Anyway, basically what we want to say is that online communities need to be *intentional* communities to a much larger degree than offline ones don't.
The phrase "intentional community" normally refers to communes, but in its plain meaning it's applicable here. You can't make a website about game modding without making some form of decision about who belongs there and who doesn't.
There has to be human intention behind it.
That's because if you have *no* intention, everything gets drowned out by spam. If you say, okay, no spam, but no other rules... then everything gets drowned out by arguments about politics.
It's actually worse than that: The structure of those arguments will be a shouting match, because if you don't have site owners step in, shouting will be highly effective.
In particular, "shouty" conversation formats favor the most radical positions. Typically they skew towards the hate-driven positions, for reasons that others have explained better than we could.
(We saw a *really good* essay with an interactive simulation of how bigotry drives minorities out of communities, a while back. We can't find it right now. If anyone knows what it was, link it and we'll share!)
So when you're running any sort of online social space, you have no choice but to actively run it.
You have to make choices about who it's for, and *what* it's for.
In the case of a site focused on allowing users to share creative works of some sort, it makes sense to prioritize, you know, sharing those works... over outside considerations.
This is not the same thing as saying that a site about gaming should be politically neutral. Of *course* it shouldn't. But there's another constraint...
The constraint is that moderating a website takes a lot of time. For a site that's run as a passion project, site owners certainly will put in lots of time, but everyone has day jobs too.
Not only does it take time, but the more nuance moderators try to apply, the more time it takes. Because as a moderator, if your rule is, say, no low-effort posts... now you are committed to reading every single post and determining how much effort it required.
We actually think that this is how more sites SHOULD be run - as personal things run by people who are part of the communities that frequent them. The web was a much friendlier place in the 90s when that was the norm, before the corporations moved in.
There was bad stuff even back then, but it was overall much friendlier. We remember, we were there.
So in particular, we would NOT want anyone's take-away from this to be: Independent sites are bad, we need corporations to save us because they have the money to hire full-time moderator staff. Fuck that.
On the contrary, independent sites are our ideal model.
As part of making independent sites work, it would be helpful for the political discourse to understand that moderators have to do triage. Both on who they want in their community, and on the types of decisions they have the capacity to personally make.
With that understanding, we can ask more helpful questions, like: Where are the spaces for people to advocate political views to their friends, online? How do we make sure there's places where that can happen? How do we keep Facebook's corporate greed from driving everything?
We won't try to answer any of those questions in this thread, our goal is for you all to come away thinking about them. We hope the background we're giving gives you ideas!
We also hope you found it interesting. Thanks for reading. :)
You can follow @ireneista.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.

Latest Threads Unrolled: