Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Moderators sometimes abuse their powers

Let me say up front that I think a certain minimal amount of moderation of comments on the net is essential.  People threaten each other, or perhaps post something that is totally off-topic, or post links to sites that have nothing to do with the topic under discussion, etc.  Unfortunately, it seems moderation comes at a price; namely that often dissenting opinions are silenced, especially if the dissenting opinions are forthright and/or combative.

My own experiences very much reflect this problem as often I find my comments under various articles on the net are deleted, or indeed never appear in the first place should all the comments be moderated.  I'm also sometimes kicked out of Facebook groups.

For example, I submitted a comment on an article dismissing the paranormal. I reproduced my comment here. When another person became aware that this comment from me had been deleted (that she hadn't seen or read) and queried it, the author of the original article claimed I had been harassing him.  Of course, one could see I had done nothing of the sort if they only had access to my comment!  Not only that, even when months later I tried to make further comments on that article, I find they are simply not appearing.

And in Facebook groups too sometimes I am kicked out of the group.  The other day I posted a message in a group called "Philosophical Atheism (insiders)". I asked the following question:

Does anyone have the capacity to advance any reasons to suppose an afterlife is unlikely? 

I got many replies from many people, but only one person who actually addressed the question.  He mentioned the fact that our mentality is inextricably bound up with the brain, hence it is highly unreasonable to suppose that there could be disembodied minds.  OK, that's a good reasonable response -- although ultimately unconvincing as I explain here.  But, every other reply was simply irrelevant.  Probably most of the responses claimed that if I believe in an afterlife, then I must present the evidence. These responses implicitly suppose that the no afterlife hypothesis is the more reasonable one and if it is to be jettisoned then compelling evidence needs to be presented for an afterlife.  But it is this very presumption that I was questioning, that I wanted them to somehow justify.  Pointing all this out to them was futile though; I may as well have been addressing a brick wall.

Apparently, I constantly attack straw men, I constantly beg the question, oh yes, and one individual -- a moderator --  kept warning me in the various sub-threads that I am being "intellectually dishonest".  All these accusations bear not the slightest resemblance to reality.  But, it is being called dishonest that I particularly took umbrage with as I am generally loathe to lie about anything.  I'm not even sure what intellectual dishonesty means.  At a guess, that in reality I'm convinced that the arguments against an afterlife are compelling, but am pretending otherwise? And what arguments might these be anyway, they never gave any!  Of course, this accusation is preposterous.  I tried to ignore it, but then another moderator repeated the same accusation.  At this point, I said that if anyone else accuses me of being dishonest, I will be blocking them.  Then I was bounced from the group.

I mentioned at the beginning that it is correct to prohibit links to sites that have no relevance.  But often I link to my blog to a post that has direct relevance, and either my comment doesn't appear at all, or I get a message saying a moderator needs to check it.  But, even in the latter case, so far as I can recollect, my post never appears.  This is silly since my post is directly relevant to the issue, and there are no advertisments on my blog.

I tend to post on sites that hold contrary views to my own, and to be honest I feel that this is the most relevant factor here.  Frequently my comments are  deleted, comments linking to my blog where I explain in more careful detail never appear, or I get bounced from groups/forums etc.

So this is the downside to moderation.  Peoples' views that are consonant with the prevailing view of the group/forum/newspaper in question will rarely get their views censored.  What I find interesting is the question of why moderators find it so difficult to be objective and dispassionate.

16/05/2020  Edited to add:  Having more problems as I outline here.  

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