/ NEW ARTICLE - UKClimbing.com and Censorship
So argues Alan James in his short FAQ about moderating on UKClimbing.
Read more - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=713
Like the photo... ;-)
Hang on, what happened there?
Have the mods ****** my freedom of sp**ch??
That is certainly true and any consumer complaint thread is not likely to last long. UKC can not be the consumer watchdog for the outdoor industry. Most specific complaints are far better off dealt with in direct with the retailer/manufacturer.
Most of the company critical posts that attract attention are the ones where people are commenting on general service and their own experience. We do watch these very closely though since they are not always free from dubious shenanigans.
> That is certainly true and any consumer complaint thread is not likely to last long. UKC can not be the consumer watchdog for the outdoor industry. Most specific complaints are far better off dealt with in direct with the retailer/manufacturer.
I do like the threads that generate discussion when people have tried dealing direct and have failed. UKC can get the message out that there are problems and so prevent others falling into the same situation.
Possibly, but we are on dangerous ground without any real facts to fall back on.
In one recent example we had someone making a serious accusation about a climbing wall and its level of safety. We couldn't possibly leave the thread up since we had no experience of the situation and no resources to check it out, however, they could have been right.
In the end the decision in this case was made easy by the fact that it was posted anonymously probably indicating that there was nothing much behind it. Had it not been posted anon, I am still pretty sure we would have had to remove it.
As your readership and range increases, you're inevitably going to stray further into these questions of commercial interest, and also defamation and contempt which will further complicate your lives, just like any other specialist press.
Successful blogs and forums like this one are living on borrowed time in that respect.
This a website; it has a popular forum, lots of articles, photos, gear reviews, the logbooks, daily news reports and we are successfully navigating the balance of editorial and advertising - all which are open to comment from anyone.
Companies are well aware of the challenges we face as regards this and support us. The benefits for both readers and advertisers outweigh the negative.
As long as we keep evolving, and with everyone elses help (we get a lot) keep an eye on things I see no problems.
My point wasn't that this forum was doomed - simply that tighter moderation and restrictions on what you can and can't leave up are inevitable in the longer term. I'm sure you have an excellent relationship with advertisers and partners, as you can let them understand the fairly unusual characteristics that make the forum work.
I'm just waiting for the day when someone in the UK institutes libel proceedings over a slagging they've had on an internet blog or a forum. I don't see the material published on this site as any different in status to other branches of the specialist press (printed) that, as a matter of course, need access to lawyers because of the various threats they get during the course of a year.
I think that the moderating is quite lenient - it trends towards free speech much more than the stifiling of it.
It's a bit of a nonsense to suggest that it should be a free for all.
One very significant difference is that potentially libellous slaggings can be removed very quickly and apologies posted very quickly. This is enough to sort out most problems and is very different from something printed in a newspaper that has a 2 million circulation.
I think yours is a good point. It is inevitable that someone somewhere along the line is going to sue...
mind you, you have to have a good reputation to tarnish.
Has this not happened already? I thought that there was a case of this a year or two ago, but I can't remember the details.
There you go - that nice man Don King was involved.
> I think yours is a good point. It is inevitable that someone somewhere along the line is going to sue...
I believe that has happened at UKC.
One safeguard is to disallow anonymous postings. Screen names and pseudonyms linked to a profile, as we have at UKC, take away anonymity as usually the person can be traced - and has a posting history.
> I believe that has happened at UKC.
or at least threatened to.....
The moderating and censorship is one of the highlights of the site. It makes it a brighter, happier place!
You could make it a term of joining up that a poster will indemnify you against all claims arising out of their posts - just in case something slips through the net. It may have a practicle as well as a deterrent affect.
I think for the man in the street defamation proceedings are a bit out of reach - although they are there to be exploited by the compensation companies. It wouldn;t surprise me if they do - they need a new cash cow.
> I believe that has happened at UKC.
> One safeguard is to disallow anonymous postings. Screen names and pseudonyms linked to a profile, as we have at UKC, take away anonymity as usually the person can be traced - and has a posting history.
I don't believe that knowing who the poster is offers you much protection at all. Norrie is just as capable of defaming someone as a complete unknown.
Alan is right that the 'worst' kind of libel as a journalist is the newspaper libel, because of its permanence, but your ability to pull a defamatory thread only mitigates the damage, in the same sense that a defamation on telly is still a defamation even though the moment of broadcast is long gone.
One interesting question is whether the internet still has some licence because readers don't take everything they read online as the truth, particularly on forums.
This is an interesting thread from right now, BTW, and not one that would get past my news editor's eye unchallenged. There is an clear innuendo of improper activity here. You've published it. How would you defend it?
Tricky one, innit? I don't think that genuine consumer complaints would place you at risk, although you might have your own reasons for keeping them off.
It's when it strays into allegations of dodgy practice or criminal action that the red flags start flying.
A classic example for this forum would be alleging that so-and-so hadn't actually done the new routes he was claiming...
But it's a problem for any forums, and getting the lawyers in to advise generally would mean pulling the plug on these threads simply to cover arse.
Until people start getting screwed over for forum defamations, you won't know where the threshold is.
> You could make it a term of joining up that a poster will indemnify you against all claims arising out of their posts - just in case something slips through the net. It may have a practicle as well as a deterrent affect.
I don't know if this has been tested in court, but it could I suppose be claimed that a poster, not a forum host, was the "publisher" of the material in question. But I reckon there would have to be zero moderation for that argument to stand any chance of success.
UKC's action against the poster is not in defamation it is in contract. If a successful action is brought against UKC in defamation, the poster is contractually obliged to cough up.
> Unenforceable under law, I'm afraid.
> I don't know if this has been tested in court, but it could I suppose be claimed that a poster, not a forum host, was the "publisher" of the material in question.
It has. Do a seach for Internet and libel, several of cases, both UK and USA.
Such actions in the outdoor world have been rare enough even in the printed media over the years. I think we are a very long way from a situation where simply removing the offending post/text doesn't completely solve the problem.
You're probably right on that score - it's a rich man's sport (libel, not climbing), and requires a rich target to make it worthwhile. Internet publishing, with hundreds of smaller enterprises, is one way to kill off the libel industry.
Norrie is just as capable of defaming someone as a complete unknown.
Yes, I can be capable of defaming someone, but I refrain from doing so. A little tip, try and post about a subject you know about for a change.
I'm glad you agree with me, Norrie.
> It has. Do a seach for Internet and libel, several of cases, both UK and USA.
It's interesting, sounds like plaintiffs can take their pick of the poster, the website or even the ISP in some circumstances.
> Such actions in the outdoor world have been rare enough even in the printed media over the years. I think we are a very long way from a situation where simply removing the offending post/text doesn't completely solve the problem.
If the website takes prompt action in deleteing the post after being informed, then they are abinding with the law in the UK. I will check the legislation when I get home. Quoting the relevant legislation has worked in the past with another website.
People will be getting stopped in the streets in a few years from now by people saying "excuse me, has someone slagged you off on the internet" just like you used to get "suffered an injury in the last three years".
Not sure it's that straightforward, although I'd be interested to see your precedents. Pragmatically Alan is correct that it would be very rare in the climbing community for anyone to have the funds or motivation to pursue a case for damages once the offending post or text is down.
I think that all depends on what was said.
The severtiy of the comment even if it is taken down quickly could result in a claim over £5000.00 - there was a guy a few years back who got £15k for being called a cheat at a pub quiz on a website - and when that happens you'll have solicitors happy to do it on a Conditional Fee Arrangement. Being a man of straw may not preclude people from bringing action - all it is going to take is someone with the inclination to market it.
Replying to Norrie there. I have no idea how the minds of no-win-no-fee types work....
I think you should be careful in the contracts with your sponsors, especially as UKC has currently some reviews on its site.
I wouldn't like to see that bad reviews would not be placed on the site, just because the reviewed product is made by a sponsor... if something is shite, then I would like to read that.
It can be good to be a critical site (I think), because if a shop gets praised here, it usually means it IS really good- just see threads about Needlesports and Alpkit...
> I think you should be careful in the contracts with your sponsors, especially as UKC has currently some reviews on its site.
> I wouldn't like to see that bad reviews would not be placed on the site, just because the reviewed product is made by a sponsor... if something is shite, then I would like to read that.
Good points. We have trimmed the gear reviewers and they are under strict instructions to give an honest appraisal and if a product is lacking to say so.
Climbing manufacturers also want good critical reviews as it helps them improve their products and sell more. They also like to know when they have got it right.
One very important factor to consider is that all gear reviews, news reports and articles at UKClimbing.com are linked to the forums so that all can comment. If someone is bullshitting or hyping something up they soon get found out and the error of their ways is explained to them.
PLUS...those comments attached to each gear review are also part of the review. This is the strength of this media.
If Jackie reviewer writes a review of a Spiderman Waterproof shell, you can bet that others who have also used the Spiderman Waterproof shell will comment on the associated forum thread to the review.
Consider how this differs from gear reviews in the print media.
Read my first gear review on a pair of rock shoes I bought. http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=544 It appears now that over 1500 have read it, and anyone googling that specific model gets the review first: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=%22Mad+Rock+Frenzy+Lace%22&btnG=Google+Search&met... As the reviewer I feel almost bad, but that was my honest experience - I bought the shoes (full price) and within days they started to come apart.
Eventually the shop replaced them and the new ones appear to be doing better, but I have only done a limited number of routes in them so far - I guess it will need to wait until the spring until I can say if their longevity is more normal.
But anyways, UKC put up the review immediately and didn't change a word.
"UKC has many advertisers who are the life-blood of the site, yet if we allow criticism of these companies on UKC then we could be putting our own funding in danger"
I would consider the visitors/contributors to the site as "the life blood" and the companies as the oil that greases the machine.
There is a careful balance to strike but please don't loose sight of the user community in the future.
That is absolutely right Andrew. Without the contributors and readers UKClimbing.com is nothing.
Everyone who works at UKClimbing.com believes that.
Do you let on to the person who got the thread pulled or just the OP?
It is hard to moderate ones behaviour when one isnt sure if one has transgressed
I admit it must e difficult sometimes to strike a balance and of course anybody who judges me by their standards might be in for a shock if I judge them by mine!
I had a quick look at that thread and although I didnít censor it I think it ticks most of the boxes for censorship. Although much of the post seems to be relatively benign we have had lots of problems with threads like that getting out of control. I guess you could argue that it was fairly harmless but our view would be that the chances were that we would have a highly inappropriate uncensored thread by Sunday morning.
We have to draw the line somewhere and we may not always be consistent. If in doubt we air on the save side.
A nice and well thought article/faq...
But especially the second paragraph bugs me, as that certainly isn't the truth. I know several well functional and popular BBs that have no censorship (or very limited, mainly removing stuff that spambots post). They have been going for ages, and continue the thrive.
Yet, by reading some of the posts here, I can certainly understand the position the UKC has taken (I haven't notice any censorship, but then again I also have other, more important, things to do, than just read UKC).
And after all, the matter of fact is, this is UKC and the guys run this as a business (more or less), so it's their house and their rules. Don't like 'em, then don't come here.
> A nice and well thought article/faq...
> But especially the second paragraph bugs me, as that certainly isn't the truth. I know several well functional and popular BBs that have no censorship (or very limited, mainly removing stuff that spambots post). They have been going for ages, and continue the thrive.
You mean this paragraph:
"For example, we could operate an 'anything goes' policy and allow everything to be posted - rampant commercial plugs, links to porn sites, racist propaganda and libellous slander about fellow users. If we did that then it is fairly obvious that it wouldn't take long for the Forums to become a place where no-one wanted to be, where there would be no threads since the users would leave in droves, and the Forums would implode to nothing."
Good to bare in mind that this is a climbing website with a forum, not just some random BB message board. It is open to all climbers, from climbing children and families to gnarly old dudes - we really don't want the forums filled with porn links and people using it to express their sexual frustration.
Yes, I was bemused about the sudden disappearance of my big knickers...*grin* but reading this thread I am even more amazed that the X Factor Christmas song thread stayed!
> Good to bare in mind that this is a climbing website with a forum, not just some random BB message board. It is open to all climbers, from climbing children and families to gnarly old dudes - we really don't want the forums filled with porn links and people using it to express their sexual frustration.
Well, so is one prime example I regularly visit... The BB is just a part of the firm (actually, the BB is just an endless hole for money, away from the firms main business). But as I pointed out, this is your place and hence your rules.
But nope, you can also have well working BBs with minimal censorship (ie. removing spam from spambots).
> But as I pointed out, this is your place and hence your rules.
There are guidelines, but as as I keep pointing out, this is a climbing community place on the internet. These guidelines are there for the greater good. We want an inclusive and healthy climbing forum - hence like all the best forums, there is moderation.
They do have to set a standard and I admit that my standards are fairly low and I often fail to achieve them
It would be easier to appreciate your point with a link to the BB in question.
> These guidelines are there for the greater good.
That is your opinion (and I also presume more or less the "official" view of UKC), I might not agree to it. But as this is "your" its also your rules, and I do respect that.
Still, non moderated BBs can function well (or even better than UKC?). Haven't seen that many, but the ones I have (and frequently visit) are highly functional "communities". Just as is UKC.
Moderation & censorship can lead to unwanted results. One skiing related US site comes to mind, that has more or less evicted all new members with their retarded moderation/business model...
Luckily it doesn't seem to be the trend here (as that would be a REAL SHAME).
But claiming that ones way is the only correct way is bollocks. From times it might work or be the most reasonable way. But there are also other options, that will produce the same results (not saying that different moderation model should be used here).
All in all, just trying to point that out that there are often numerous ways to the top of the crag ;-).
> Luckily it doesn't seem to be the trend here (as that would be a REAL SHAME).
> But claiming that ones way is the only correct way is bollocks. From times it might work or be the most reasonable way. But there are also other options, that will produce the same results (not saying that different moderation model should be used here).
The answer to both these points is in the article -
The difficulty for us as moderators is getting the balance right between these two extremes. Sometimes this means removing posts that many users are okay with, and other times it means allowing things that may cause offense to some. We don't always get it right, but we are also open to feedback and will respond every time to emails questioning removed posts.
From what I can tell it is Registered Users only (UKC isn't) and appears to claim to be moderated. It is also a good bit smaller than UKC.
It doesn't really matter though since I can also assure you that we remove plenty of threads in the categories I mentioned in the article every week, and would remove more if we didn't actively ban the spammers and block certain entire countries from posting. Maybe the forum you quote hasn't shown up on the spammers radars yet, but when it does, it won't survive without moderation.
Smaller, haven't checked the specs but possible. Also, just like here, you do need to register to post, but not the read threads.
And the moderation is really limited (ie. removing stuff from spambots, just like here). Also, I do remember a few occations that some really nasty/vulgar pics were edited out from threads and a few peeps have been banned (ie. those that constantly thrunt* threads with vulgar pics).
Yes, they do remove spambot and ban certain IPs etc. But actual thread censorship/moderation can be counted with the fingers of a few blokes during the whole uptime of the BB.
Moderating stuff from spambots, is fine by me. But editing/removing posts from real members since they might not be politically correct or something like that. Well, it will give a clean image of the BB and create a lot of work for the moderators.
So, that community more or less is self moderating. So if some one steps over the limits too many times, he'll get schooled.
Though, it seems I'm wrong here (you can post in UKC without registering).
But to be honest, what does registering really mean... You just need a working email addy you can access (once) and that's it.
Helps with spambots though.
> So, that community more or less is self moderating. So if some one steps over the limits too many times, he'll get schooled.
So a bit like this one then! I would say that over half the threads we remove are because users have alerted us to them. It sounds to me like the site you are quoting is just a well moderated site.
On the registering point; allowing un-registered posters makes a big difference since that is where an awful lot of the trouble comes from. Also, you can't stop un-registered posters but there are ways of making life pretty difficult for registered posters who cause trouble. Believe me, the single thing we could do to make UKC moderating easier and less work for us, would be to stop un-registered posters. We are quite close to doing that but we still want to remain open to occasional and first-time visitors so we haven't done it yet. We are slowly limiting the forums open to un-registered posters though.
Yes and no... Here they alert you guys... there, they publish the perps real name, addy, email and phone# (if the perp was stupid enough to leave a trace.... so just your average forum posters d this, not the admins) and unleash all hell... Or mock them, until they leave.
As for 1st time posters, well I don't think registering would be that much of a hassle (ie. fill out a form with your email-addy, board nick and press send, get an activation email and after clicking it you're good to go). And lets face it, if that is too much "work", mebbe climbing or sports in general ain't that persons bag of tricks ;-).
While I respect the right of UKC to moderate the forums, and protect itself from offensive content, at least for non registered members, I was a little surprised to find my thread:
moved from the Winter Climbing Forum to the chat room, presumably because of the word Sh**e in the title?
I was trying to make a serious and important point to winter climbers, but the discussion is now burried and died. I did not see the "s" word as anything to cause alarm or offence, unlike swearwords relating to procriative acts or organs. I would rather have had the mildly offending word disguised than the whole tread moved
Try a better thread title then. It was your fault that it got moved.
Thread titles are like an advert. We don't tolerate profanities or bad language in thread titles.
Use your nouse.
My acute senses tell me, that there has been some editing on this thread... either by the original posters, or by the mods...
I think he rubbed out The Untalented Mr Riply, Im sure hes not the only one tempted to do that
I deleted no posts. Someone else did.
I'm busy with advertising that funds your posting.
In reply to Will Hunt:
> As expected my other thread was deleted without good cause.
Things happen so fast around here. Which one are you on about?
Cut the "as expected"...that's a lazy catch all for making you look superior....I always reply.
Word from the wise whovever you are...cut the homophobic shit.
Mick, I think it might be a cultural issue, I don't think the term 'fairy' is used to mean gay these days, I think its meaning has changed, as Tom and Will are pointing out, to mean 'wet' or possibly 'effete'.
And if you're going to start censoring all homophobic references on here you really will have your work cut out for you!
> Mick, I think it might be a cultural issue, I don't think the term 'fairy' is used to mean gay these days
Yes it is, and then it isn't. You can use it intending one meaning but people's interpretation varies - you have no control over that. The general use of fairy = homosexual. The use of words like that propogates homophobia, whatever your intention.
That is true. It is a huge education project - beyond here. But please don't forget, angry words and labels, the hateful framing of race, tribe, football team and sexual preference using language ends up in violence and often death....many thousands of lives have been lost because of such 'tribal' violence, even in moderm times.
> The general use of fairy = homosexual.
No it doesn't. it means wet, pathetic, lilly livered ect. NOT BUFTY!
The use of words like that propogates homophobia, whatever your intention.
If we are going to do this round and round in cirles everyone interprets things differentley rubbish, then we better shut the forums down quick. As I'm sure somebody somewhere will interprete every single poast as offencive.
Please don't interpret this the wrong way. It is meant to be tounge in cheek!
> No it doesn't. it means wet, pathetic, lilly livered ect. NOT BUFTY!
Please Tom do a bit of research before you spew BS.
Fairy, Puff, Gay, Fag, Poof, Poofta, Queer, Nancy Boy, Queen, Pansy, Fruit, Faggot, Dyke, Pederast, Homo and Sodomite etc are all used to describe the effeminate gay man.......or the stereotype of a gay man.
Tell that to the Republican party in the USA who spent millions of dollars 'Framing" the Democrat party as a bunch of green, nigger-wettback-loving, unpatriotic, UN loving, global warming alarmist, tax increasin' limp-wristed gay marriage advocates.
Swift Boat Veterans against Kerry - you probably hadn't heard of that; it was all about words!
Uh....the Republicans won the election because of that framing using words...Hmmm I wonder how many people have died as a result of that - in Iraq.
The Soviet Union used words, Hitler used words, words were used in the Balkans to instil Hate, Hate, Hate.....and ultimately muder.
Hmmm... good post. You're right. :-)
> Hmmm... good post. You're right. :-)
Agreed. This moderating lark, must be complete ballache, glad I'm not in your shoes!
Right on Mick, and I certainly wouldn't want your job
I'll try and find some examples where s*i*te resulted in similar injustices, in the meantime keep up the great work
All the best
but! I felt Mick Ryan would have argued black was white tonight rather than concede any point
I dont mind censorship/repression too much, keeps the subversive amongst us sharp
I removed the posts about fairies since I felt it was in danger of taking the thread down a side issue which, although important, has little to do with what this thread is about. With this being an important thread attached to an FAQ, I don't think it should go off on a tangent since the general discussion on it has been good and will be referred to for a long time to come.
That was all it was, nothing sinister. If you want to discuss homosexual terminology and phobias then please start another thread since the subject matter itself isn't a problem.
I disagree. This thread is about censorship.
"One accusation that sometimes gets leveled at the moderators is that we 'censor' people's free speech; that by removing certain threads and replies, we are infringing on people's freedom to say what they think."
Now you concentrated on commercial posts, people and companies posting commercial messages.
But the subject of thread titles has been brought up:
from the UKC guidelines,
"Please don't use even mild bad language in thread titles or starter posts"
For example Kevin Stephen's thread "Like flies on rotton shite" which was moved to the Chat room.
This is a valid thread about people rushing to Wales because of potential good winter conditions. Kevin's opinion is valid, hold off a bit don't go rushing and ruining all the enbryionic ice. It is open to discussion but a valid point nonetheless.
All Kevin needs to do is give it a good clean title like "Lemmings Rush In to Ruin Early Season Welsh Ice" and he could actually use the quote, "Like flies on rotton shite", in the post. Added advantage is that viewers can actually understand what the thread is about.
Similary with this posting guideline:
"Please don't use rude, abusive or politically offensive language"
People need to have it explained to them that UKC does not want to encourage or have the reputation of being racist, homophobic or sexist.....and they need to know why!
Climbing and mountaineering are grown up sports, and this forum treats us like grown ups. I think a lot of other forums could learn a lot.
You mean threads about knickers? You call that subversive.
That is a very funny photo, but Alan...
those itsy bitsy screens aint gonna do your eyesight much
good in the long term.
I relied on small screens for years......
and you can see what I'm forced to use now
ET phone home. phone the optometrist more like.
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