Jeff Attwood on Censorship v Free Speech


Well, I think there is a difference between things which the community takes a position on, and things which the community per se does not take a position on.

For example, this community is built around the idea of MAID SAFE. If you disagree with the idea that MAID SAFE is desirable, and you constantly come around pushing that idea, and derailing profitable discussions, then you are a troll and should be banned.

But when get for example, into the tricky idea of what motivates peoples to believe that MAID SAFE is desirable, then you are getting into personal motivations. A community does not have personal motivations, its experience is nothing more and nothing less than the aggregate of the experience of its members. At that point it becomes really difficult to say which experiences are more or less valid without running into the problems that @Blindsite2k is concerned about. There is a fundamental difference between saying I believe X (even if X implies that Y is wrong) and saying X is true, therefore you are NOT PERMITTED to believe Y.

The point of this community is to support the SAFE network and to develop the associated ideas. If someone wants to attack those goals, then the community can and should stop them. But if people want to voice personal opinions particularly about their reasons for supporting the SAFE network, that should be encouraged, even if it makes certain others uncomfortable. Because see if someone says I support the SAFE network because I believe X, and the other person says, I support the SAFE network because I believe Y, great. Both parties are united in their support of the goal of this particular community.

But if someone says, I support SAFE because I believe X, and therefore you can’t support SAFE and believe Y, you are undercutting the other persons reasons for supporting SAFE. That sort of behavior impinges on the goals of the community and should be pushed back on. And if the people’s behavior is totally off-topic, well thats why Off-Topic exists.


@kirkion both as moderator and OP I’d like to understand where your comments are directed, but I can’t tell without you being explicit about who you are referring to, which of their posts or which particular words they’ve written.



I didn’t have a particular comment in mind, I haven’t been on the forum long and nothing like that has ever been directed at me.

My point was more to think about the ideas that we are talking about, and advocate the role that I think the Mods should take. If people want to get in a fight about what they can and can’t believe in the abstract, banishing that to Off-Topic seems enough to me.

Having people talk and even fight about unrelated things, in a section devoted to unrelated things, does not, in my experience cause a problem for the community.

What does cause a problem is when the mods, either do to little that is, in the name of free speech allow things which harm the goals of the community to go on. Or do to much, “this mindset, or values” are not allowed, which is really just the scenario I suggested above, but done by a mod.

I think that the mods should, in general, restrict their actions to things which harm the goals of the community. If you are attacking the goals of the community, either directly, or by imposing a political correctness which says “the only valid way to reach this conclusions is by this means” and thus removing otherwise valuable members of the community then the mods should take action.

Thats not to say that the mods here don’t do this, in fact in my, admittedly limited, experience they have. But when we are talking abut the theoretical basis for when action should or should not be taken, I think that the mods should try to confine themselves to enforcing the explicit norms of the community, that is its stated purpose or goal, not some amorphous standard of “acceptable” conduct.


Sort of a goofy way to word that, but yeah, that’s almost definitely true. In my home, you’re welcome to say things I disagree with, and I’m welcome to ask you to leave.

EDIT: When we’re talking about “kingdoms” and you’re referring to it as “mine,” I’m assuming you’re talking about MY space. Governments shouldn’t be kingdoms. My home is a kingdom.

This is why there are no hard lines. There’s no binary answer to anything, and everything is fluid. You can’t “implement code” for these sort of things because they’re constantly in flux. They need constant re-evaluation. It sounds like you want a simple black-and-white answer. You’ll never get one because that’s exactly what society isn’t.

IMO, Your government depends on the government type imposed on you. Ideally, governments are just a representation of the will of the people, so ideally they’re completely transparent and public to begin with. Ideally. Ideally.

Public spaces are where the majority congregate. Facebook seems to be majority. Twitter. Main Street. The local park. My house is not public. My sandwich shop is revolving door, but private.

I think he’s saying that muting posts isn’t a solution. It’s a bandaid, not a solution. Society is a mixture of how we see ourselves as well as how others see us. As much as many people hattteee this idea here, we SHOULD be influenced by other people. It’s the base of culture. I do something, people tell me I shouldn’t do it, eventually I realize that I’m being problematic.

To quote My So-Called Life’s Angela:

It’s such a lie that you should do what’s in your heart. If we all did what was in our hearts, the world would grind to a halt.


@kirkion thanks for clarifying. I was confused because I took your post to be making specific comments about the need for moderation on this thread, whereas I think you are explaining how you think the moderation issues highlighted in the OP should be handled in general.

I’m sorry for getting mixed up :-). Carry on!



[quote=“russell, post:2, topic:1935”] [quote] This is your house, with your rules, and your community.
[/quote] [/quote]

This is an extremely important point. But it begs a question, whose house is it? Is it my house? Is it your house? Is it private space, public space or something that doesn’t fit into that binary set?

I tend to think of this as dedicated space. Its not public per se, we have limitations on the topics and things that we prioritize over others. But its not private space, no one person has the right (even though obviously the mods and admins have the power), to dictate a comprehensive set of rules.

In the Introduction, this place was described as a place for the community to ask questions. That is this is not the house of a private person, its a clubhouse.

Then the relevant question to my mind is, what are the requirements for joining the club, what are its goals?
My understanding is that the point is to learn about and support MAID SAFE. Thats a goal that doesn’t require beliefs from a certain political/religious/cultural viewpoint. Because you can come from a variety of viewpoints and support that goal, this community should on the one hand, not block behavior which doesn’t contradict that goal, but also keep things focused on that goal.

Not to say that this can’t change, but that if it does, it should be explicit, so that people understand the expectations that are placed on them and can make an upfront choice to either conform or go elsewhere.


There are people who would like to make subjecting society to total surveilance and total enclosure a profitable endeavor. Its a business model. It seems like ProjectSAFE would be going in the opposite direction. To me if it works it undermines any business model that takes us in that direction.


The issue I think on many of these social media platforms is that the lack of scarcity makes it trivial to spout off…

In a real dialog in real life, one will not get very far if they just talk continuously make the same points over and over and over again. A chain of bickering. There is only so much time, and there is only so much patience before the crowd walks out or shouts you down.

In the social media world, It seems that If people are not interested, they just don’t read it. Scroll wheel is easy to operate.

People can sit through a structured academic debate pretty easily. It is an interesting show… If you have two parties debate an interesting topic, often it can fill a auditorium You rarely see spectators watching a riot-like street protest and it’s counter-protest. That is more about the spectacle than the content. I would suggest that that is the analogy for social media forums too.

I would suggest if we introduced scarcity back into our social media conversations they would be a lot more productive – You have x minutes or x number of words - to make your point. If your view is appreciated, and the audience wants more, they can donate more time to you… If not, you have said your piece, and will have to wait for next time.


If I have a really big house and lots of people like to congregate there that doesn’t make it a public space, it’s still my house. If I own a field and a crowd has a party there its still my land. Facebook is NOT public space, it’s private space, it’s a bloody corporation and like it or not they have the legal right to do whatever the hell they want with their digital “land.” Your argument is that if I own large portions of space and the majority like to use it then somehow they obtain rights to dictate how that space is used via free speech. I want to be clear here, I support and advocate free speech, but you can’t have it both ways. You are in essence advocating for a form of possession property wherein if a large enough percentage of the populus occupy and use the space they gain title to it and rights to express freely within it.


Sure. I think you might be misunderstanding the point, though.

They’re perceived as public spaces because their corporate goal and financial motive is to include everyone. It’s not a forum for a small, specific group. It’s a space specifically meant to target everyone. So when they do censor things, they get a torrent of criticism because of the precedent they set. But as you say, they are still a private company.

But what happens when you present yourselves a certain way? When you set a precedent like they do? Same way in some states in the US, if you go around saying you’re married, if you share assets, etc, then under the law you are legally married. Or if I steal something of yours, I go around saying LOOK AT THIS THING ITS MINE, and you don’t say anything to defend yourself, the courts can actually rule that it’s mine, due to the precedent you set by not saying anything.

So Facebook and Twitter are curveballs.

I’m saying that if the precedent is set by the people in control of the community that the space is public, then it’s public. If it’s made clear that the discussion therein follow a certain line of rules, then that’s that. And in forums, it’s pretty dang clear, what with these ongoing written records happening.

People should want to be inclusive and interested in hearing alternate views on things, and discuss expansive, interesting aspects of the topics set by the forum. But there shouldn’t be laws in place to force it. There should be laws that prevent the exclusion of races, minorities, etc. But if someone starts yammering on about something that the group thinks is irrelevant, the community should be allowed to tell them they’re wrong and if it continues, escort them out. .01% of the time, that loudmouth might be a genius not being heard, which is why he’s afforded the opportunity to go start a new community.

But usually, he’s just a loudmouth who can’t get it his thick skull that he’s just plain wrong.


Have we lost some functionality somehow in this forum…maybe I’m dreaming, but I thought originally you could see who replied to who…right across the thread

Current behaviour is such that we can only see whom replied to us. Maybe the new Admin could look into this…as it’s confusing right now…unless we quote when replying.

If quoting when replying, or at the least, commencing with the @username then maybe we should try and encourage that protocol?

You talking to me? You talking to me?

You talking to me?



@jreighley Artificial scarcity like twitter? The injection of scarcity always seems like a scam to set up unnecessary profits, an enclosure tactic. Effectiveness and efficiency are not made through impoverishment. Economy, however is still appreciated.


I don’t know that it is really an artificial scarcity. More of a simulated scarcity. In the internet world we lose our sense of the time constraint - but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Online there is little feel for when you have exceeded the attention span of your audience. This is why it is a good idea to have agendas and schedules in real world meetings too. That too is an "artificial scarcity’ to one degree or another.

The aim of the "injected scarcity’ would be to make efficiency in our communication necessary, not optional, so that the audience gets a feel for the ideas in the marketplace without having to wade through a massive list of bickering and long blustering essay or endless repetition… "Agendas and schedules’ can be adjusted if need be - by unanimous consent or yielding of time from one participant to the others.

Sometimes I see comments on the media sites where there are THOUSANDS of comments. Did the commentators really read through the previous 3000 comments before throwing in their opinion which has already been expressed 1500 ways? Probably not. It is a waste of energy for everyone. Sometimes comment number 1872 of 5000 is really well thought out and well explained. The author probably spent 30 minutes writing it – Chances are really good nobody ever saw it, because there is a very real constraint that is not apparent or simulated in the internet version of reality.


I think good search can help solve this issue. Good search is probably half of what is needed to finally make planed economies work, it takes at least half the function of the market in distribution.


What do you mean by good search? Is this a technical term?


I think Watson demonstrates good search with its debater. But more that that, honest search that has no ads or sponsorship allowed or their influence in anyway. Also privacy protected, no selling data. Besides the Watson type tech to empower the front end it may also rely, as is common today, on trending for successful searches. It may also weed out spam based on community input and smart software where the spam weeding is aimed more at organizations and businesses than individuals. IBM stated that better search does not have to be power or resource intensive. I suspect today that translates into the idea that good search can be done without massive data centers and their power bills.


I’m curious @Warren who pays for these “honest” searches you keep mentioning? Who pays for the servers, the ISPs, the electric bills, etc, etc. Who pays for maintaining them, providing technical support when something breaks down, for developing them and so on? Where does their income come from? Perhaps this is a topic all it’s own but I’m still curious.


Weve talked about it before. It can be a DAO on SAFE, or it can be part of an honest but global bundle. It could even be done by universities or public libraries but there is more of a political firewall issue there. I think SAFE in its distributed element run on end user devices and end user ad hoc networking really opens it up. Current search as it is increasingly sponsored is an increasingly damaging sinking ship that has to go. Also the who pays for question is a bit like asking who pays for solar? Given the necessity and the distributed means, Google will pay with loss of marketshare, followed by collapse. I do believe this could quickly kill Googles search business and that this would be a very good thing. Also that this is a service that should run at cost and not involve profit as that would be a useless hook-in-the-ass overhead that would just invite degradation. Want to use it? Then you have to let it make use of some of your private compute resources.

Jeff Atwood on Community Moderation

Since this thread proved so much more lively than I expected, he’s another post also initiated by a Jeff Atwood blog!

It’s about Community Moderation :slight_smile:


Public libraries and universities are funded via taxation. Taxation = coercion. So until SAFE is developed and unless people using it I’m not sure how your business model would work without relying on coercive taxes. Yes some public libraries rely on donations and others are subscriber based but again one enters into the classic problems of runnning a private enterprise. A DOA does not mean one does not generate an income but rather it simply means ownership is removed, or rather distributed, throughout the network.