Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Mandate is from the Corporation

Here is an interesting exchange I had with Rob S. from the Huffington Post. I've put his comment about users vs. the corporation in bold. I think its an interesting point of view for a supposedly progressive site.:

=== Begin Email Thread ===
from Community
date Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 9:28 AM
subject Re: Moderation Concerns
Apr 13 (2 days ago)

We understand all of these difficulties extremely well. & again, I believe it's a frustrating experience for some users.

We have a mandate to moderate. We have a fixed amount of money & a fixed amount of support--and so we meet that mandate as best we can with a limited budget.

Not everyone is as frustrated as you are. We have 900,000+ users and most of them are, if not comfortable, not unhappy with how the system works.

& we are well aware of people gaming the system. If they do it too much, and we identify them--we ban them.

All that being said, moderation will chage radically in the coming weeks, and further in the coming months. I'm not free to currently discuss the details. I suspect the new system will be both 1) more effective in publishing what should be, 2) more responsive & in real time when something is deleted which shouldn't be.

We'll have to see how it all plays out once we put it in place--but the changes are specifically designed to help folks who have the same impression you do.

Give us 4 months (tthough I think you'll see significant changes in the next 2-3 weeks)--and you may be much happier.

Best I can offer at this point,

Rob S.
Senior Moderator, Administrative
Huffington Post
Original Message
Subject: Re: Moderation Concerns
Date: 2010-04-08 18:43:59

Red Dog to Community
show details Apr 13 (1 day ago)
"We have a mandate to moderate"
Really? From who? Have you ever solicited the input of your users? I've been on the site since it launched and I don't recall ever seeing any discussions or solicitation for feedback about the policy.

I think this is what bothers me the most, that there is no discussion about the censorship policy. And any comments about it get censored! I think you should have an article posted by you or Ariana or your CTO describing where you are and where you are going and encouraging people to give their opinion.

Thanks for the reply.

Red Dog
- Show quoted text -

Community to me
Apr 13 (1 day ago)
The mandate is from the corporation. I wasn't aware Huffington Post needed anybody else's permission for how it moderates comments stored on its servers and displayed on its website.

& again, changes are coming. I'm not trying to frustrate you--and you may even be happy with how it works out--as I said.

Again, they will let users know about these changes--and hopefully address some/most of your concerns when they are ready to--and they are working on it.

There is nothing more I can say at this point, and there is nothing I can accomplish by agitating but slow things down--so I'm letting them do their work.
Thank you,

Rob S.
Senior Moderator, Administrative
Huffington Post
=== End Email Thread ===

There you have it folks. The mandate is from the corporation and Huffpo is not aware that they need the opinions of their users. Quite a mindset for a progressive blog.


  1. hey red dog,. great site here..and interesting exchange above..

    but as i have done on huff po, i want to point out that OF COURSE 'the mandate is from the corporation' .. that this is the nature of commercial media.. that they sell audiences to advertisers.. it is standard business model, just that the 'users' are not the customers, the advertisers ARE..
    the HP user is the product being sold, their attention to advertisements.
    indymedia doesn't really have a social networking model that i know of,.. but that is what you would need.. HP, as a capitalist enterprise, HAS to do it this way..

    perhaps you are already all too aware of this, but by the comments above;
    "Have you ever solicited the input of your users? I've been on the site since it launched and I don't recall ever seeing any discussions or solicitation for feedback about the policy." seemed that you express the unrealistic expectation that HP would seek advice from its own 'product' (the users) rather than seek direction from its customers (the ad purchasing corporations)..
    commercial TV/print/internet will NOT morph along lines that are more pleasing to the consumers of commercial media.. until they are completely dissembled and someday replaced with an independent journalistic model, non-corp, non-mersh.
    after the barricades perhaps.

  2. Thanks reddog07. The censorship issues at HuffPo are much greater than the use of their bot. The only true free speech may be for, and in the service of, their advertisers and the corporation. . .

    We applaud your mission and your website!

    Here are some resources for more Huff Po censorship stories.

    1. blogs:

    2. Huffington Post Censors Comments by School Librarians?

    3. Huffington Post Censorship Goes Beyond Quality Control

    4. Censorship is Alive and Well at The Huffington Post

    Keep up the good work!


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