Over the last several days, I've received a fair amount of email on the
subject of the moderated group, and the question of messages...present,
slowed, deleted and adjusted. I've sent a number of notes to Jay
inquiring about the situation, and giving my thoughts to him. On the
theory that conversations in public serve the commonweal more than
conversations in private, I wanted to take one moment and reiterate my
feelings on this subject...which were stated very clearly in one of the
first messages on this group, and my very first overall. But as someone
once noted of recurrent themes in literature, "Of course everything has
already been said. But since no one was paying attention, we begin
again." Nothing is lost by clarification.
(Preliminary aside: I'm told that apparently some messages that folks
thought were being cut were, in fact, simply held up in the system by the
software or may not have been showing up in their local system for
whatever reason; this seems to be true, insofar as I can tell.)
The moderated group, as I understand it, is designed to primarily control
three problem areas: spoilers, excessive personal attacks of a chronic
nature (especially libelous or defamatory material), and story ideas. The
second is what drives out other users, the last is something which cannot
be where I am for legal reasons.
Not for content. Not for language. Not for unpopular opinions. Not for
opinions of controversy. Not for critical opinions regarding this show.
If somebody wants to say, "Joe, I'm sorry, but 'Avalon' just really
sucked," he should be perfectly free to do so. Others may be perfectly
free to disagree, and allow the two sides to discuss the reasons for their
I said it in my first message here, and I'll repeat it: from time to time,
somebody is going to lose their temper, or say something less than
prudent, or explore some of the more colorful aspects of the English
language. From where I sit, there is nothing wrong with this. We all
have momentary lapses.
Note the penultimate word: *momentary*. If someone is *chronically* and
consistently engaged in this stuff, ongoing personal attacks, then you
warn, you warn a second time, and then and ONLY then do you delete. A
blipped message should be the tool of last resort, not the instrument of
When I was first approached about the moderated group, I expressed this
very clearly, as well as my own willingness to be moderated when and if I
might ever cross the line. I said that I would be more than glad to be a
part of a moderated group *as long as* everybody felt comfortable speaking
freely, that moderation would only be implemented for the extreme cases,
the chronic abusers, the trolls and the flamers and the fabricators and
those who exist only to bring grief to other users. That was my position
then, and it remains the same now. A lighter hand is always better than a
heavier one; always better to err on the side of letting something
Sometimes, you can only get pertinent information by asking impertinent
questions. And as I scan through the group as it stands now, there are a
lot of impertinent questions lined up. Which is great. There are also a
few questions about some of the material on the edge of that. Those need
to be addressed, or at least discussed openly.
For the record, I think the moderated group is performing well overall.
In just a few short weeks by my counter it's logged about 7,000 messages,
and will shortly pass the unmoderated group in volume. The atmosphere is
friendly, and the questions and discussions good. A nice mix of critical
messages and positive ones, and almost always in the spirit of
So this is not a flag on the play, only an advisory and a restating of
what I noted here in the beginning. The moderators have a hideously
difficult task ahead of them in the sheer volume of posts, and they are
doing an exemplary job. That doesn't mean mistakes won't be made.
Mistakes are inevitable as we all learn the feel of this place, and grow
together. If they have not been made yet, and I'm not sufficiently
conversant on the whole situation to say they have, then they will most
certainly be made in future. That's simply the nature of any new process
being implemented; there is trial and error.
We learn, we adjust, and we move on. It's what humans do.