'Policing benefit bashing in the forum: valid debate or hate crime?' blog discussion

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  • WelshwoofsWelshwoofs Forumite
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    Just a thought... Given that this site makes a lot of money (I presume that that is still the case) would it be worth putting some extra resource into this area?


    My career is in community management, particularly the moderation and safety aspects of them. The biggest outgoing for my current employer is the moderation and customer service function and believe me, it costs a fortune and simply isn't doable by a non-profit.

    There are three ways to moderate any community:

    1. Pre-screening where everything is read by moderators before being published. You'll find a lot of sites which have worries about libel suits do this (Times Online, BBC)
    2. Post-moderation where everything is published live, but then every item will be moderated after the event
    3. Reactive post-moderation where the site has a report system and relies on its users to report abusive content which it then moderates

    The latter option is the most efficient and cost-effective. The first two options carry legal risks in that, if you state you moderate everything you are open to challenges about content which you either a) accidentally missed or b) which you thought was appropriate but one of your users did not.

    On a site of this size, the first two options would likely require 4-5 moderators working simultaneously peak times and 2-3 in off-peak and 24/7 moderation. That would mean approx 84 manhours a day in moderation. You'd not be able to use volunteers for that as it's now become a job. Average pay-per-hour for moderators is £10 so you're looking at £840 a day in moderator pay. Once you have teams of moderators you then need someone to manage them which means you need a Community Manager at an average cost of £35-40,000 a year. Now you're butting up to costs for moderation around £350,000 a year for this site...which would likely mean that you have to start charging a subscription to recoup those costs.

    Rather than all those costs, isn't it really just simpler that people employ a bit of common sense and use the tools they have available to them (Ignore + Report Abuse) if they take issue with a poster or a post?
    “Don't do it! Stay away from your potential. You'll mess it up, it's potential, leave it. Anyway, it's like your bank balance - you always have a lot less than you think.”
    Dylan Moran
  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    I agree with you Welshwoofs. Option 3 (reactive post-moderation) is the only sensible option.
    But my point is that with more resource behind it the moderation team could react quick to reports of abuse.
  • edited 5 August 2010 at 3:31PM
    WelshwoofsWelshwoofs Forumite
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    edited 5 August 2010 at 3:31PM
    I agree with you Welshwoofs. Option 3 (reactive post-moderation) is the only sensible option.
    But my point is that with more resource behind it the moderation team could react quick to reports of abuse.


    Well speed is subjective of course. Different people will have a different view of what's a reasonable turn-around.

    As it is, the site does essentially have reactive post-moderation. There's a report system and an abuse team who receives those reports and removes the posting if they feel it's inappropriate. Now on a subscription site, I tend to feel that a 4hr turnaround is a reasonable response rate, however this is a free site and in that case I feel that a 24hr response rate would be more appropriate as there may only be 1 person on the end of abuse mail and it may be one task out of several which makes up their job.

    From what Martin posted it seems that someone was complaining because a posting wasn't removed within 20 minutes. Even on a subscription site with robust moderation resources that would not be a reasonable timeframe to expect action on content reports.
    “Don't do it! Stay away from your potential. You'll mess it up, it's potential, leave it. Anyway, it's like your bank balance - you always have a lot less than you think.”
    Dylan Moran
  • JimmyTheWigJimmyTheWig Forumite
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    If the money was available to make it so that abuse was removed in 20 minutes then I'd be all for that. I doubt that that sort of money is available, so I think that sort of complaint is too harsh.

    Just because we don't pay a subscription doesn't mean that the users don't generate a lot of revenue for this site. If the money's there, why not make things better?
  • flashnaziaflashnazia Forumite
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    cit_k wrote: »
    Martin, where did I state you are complicit in a hate crime because you allow benefits to be discussed on a forum.

    No where have I stated the problem is down to benefits being discussed.

    Its down to abuse that occurs when benefits are being discussed - its down to the level of hatred / discrimination / nastiness that occurs in some posts, you have either worded your blog post badly by accident, or you have done so on purpose, either way, it is inaccurate if you were referring to me.

    It has never been simply because benefits are discussed.

    If it had been, I would have stated that, which I did not.

    So it was you who complained?
    "fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)
  • SwipernoSwipingSwipernoSwiping Forumite
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    I don't post often - though read regularly- I witnessed the forum-phenomenon develop from the 1990s-through the "google-bump-me-up-the-rankings" to the current stage of one-up-manship that it tends to breed. Throughout that there's gradually developed a behavioural tatic that "snipes" at others.
    It may well be that the troll-type poster is just doing it for kicks, for pay, or for some other material gain(webrankings and a pat on the back?) Perhaps in "real day to day" life they are the ones that are picked on, and this is their way of (rightly or wrongly) addressing the cruel balance of the world, from the safety of their own home ( as you don't catch them protesting outside the likes of C.A.B) It happens on every board now, in every forum. A post is mis-understood, purposefully or not for what ever reason.

    On a money based website, when you have something money can not buy, put it to use.

    Manners are free - old hat, out of use - unpopular. (unless of course ladies your out on a date and your bloke hasn't held the door for you ...:rotfl:)

    It is nigh on impossible to police such a busy section of a hugely popular site for free. Sure impliment advertising and pay more moderators. No one likes doing something for nothing these days (regardless of what current policies would have you believe)
    Lottery Funding ? doubtful.
    The Moderators, Admin and staff that keep this place ticking are doing us all a favour, so why risk loosing it. - But then 'we' know that the people that seem to cause the problems don't care - or even hope to see the forum pulled.

    As a former single mum, business owner, PAYE employee, and currently skint but debt free individual, I have nothing but thanks to say to the many people that have simply taken the time to post their knowledge, the man (Martin) that put the whole idea together, and the team that makes it all work.


    How to stop the nasty comments? How to police it? (some are perhaps a tad tongue in cheek!)

    1. Perhaps the boards should be private - login and register with your address details - if the abuse gets that bad, heck IP addresses and technology can have your internet removed, and police at your door. - Isn't that a bit extreme?

    2. pay per post.. perhaps? --but then we're all looking to save a penny -- that wouldn't do us that really use the site for what it was designed for.

    3.How about as well as the "thankyou" rating - "What a total muppet" button? - a certain score gets you blocked for a couple of weeks/months/
    But then the wise ones here know that will be SO very much abused.
    perhaps just the button to alert others that some posters are more "muppet/trollish" than others - it would give the admin teams something stronger to work with, a behind the scenes flag system could be implimented in some fashion.
    Isn't it a shame that the imaturity of the minority ( for what ever reason) reflects on the mass majority.

    4. If naughty children don't behave they are supervised. Here, then, put a post vetting system in place - nothing reaches the forum publicly till mods and admins etc have decided what goes.
    - again it removes the main aim of the site doesn't it?

    Personally - if I wouldn't say it to a person's face, I wouldn't post it on a forum, but then - thats manners again - isn't it?
    I tend to review what I have written (missing the grammar, typos and other such) and try to guess how I would react to it. - I generally can spot a troll/rise causing post and avoid them.
    Maybe just I'm old, considerate, and outdated :rotfl:
  • cit_k wrote: »
    Martin, where did I state you are complicit in a hate crime because you allow benefits to be discussed on a forum.

    No where have I stated the problem is down to benefits being discussed.

    Its down to abuse that occurs when benefits are being discussed - its down to the level of hatred / discrimination / nastiness that occurs in some posts, you have either worded your blog post badly by accident, or you have done so on purpose, either way, it is inaccurate if you were referring to me.

    It has never been simply because benefits are discussed.

    If it had been, I would have stated that, which I did not.
    Hey you're the guy who couldn't take the hint and kept starting the same threads that Martin kept closing down aren't you? :D
  • WelshwoofsWelshwoofs Forumite
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    3.How about as well as the "thankyou" rating - "What a total muppet" button? - a certain score gets you blocked for a couple of weeks/months/
    But then the wise ones here know that will be SO very much abused.
    perhaps just the button to alert others that some posters are more "muppet/trollish" than others - it would give the admin teams something stronger to work with, a behind the scenes flag system could be implimented in some fashion.
    Isn't it a shame that the imaturity of the minority ( for what ever reason) reflects on the mass majority.


    Slashdot do a version of that they call 'Karma'. Instead of threads rising up to the top based on last activity, they rise up based on how much Karma they have. Threads with bad karma sink out of sight very quickly.
    “Don't do it! Stay away from your potential. You'll mess it up, it's potential, leave it. Anyway, it's like your bank balance - you always have a lot less than you think.”
    Dylan Moran
  • edited 6 August 2010 at 10:40AM
    SaucepotSaucepot
    12.3K Posts
    edited 6 August 2010 at 10:40AM
    NASA wrote: »
    I took part in the thread that started this whole kerfuffle* and think it has been blown totally out of proportion.

    One user, a serial wind-up merchant (Some would say troll - I personally think there is a subtle difference), make a few outlandish statements and another user (Who continusously defends the rights of everyone under the sun being allowed to claim benefits) took the bait.

    Messageboards are always goint to bring this kind of behaviour. Every forum has it in its own way. Football, politics etc.


    I hope you do not mean me; I have never frequented the benefits boards as I neither need advice nor wish to offer advice in this area. On DT people do accuse me of being a serial wind up merchant.

    However I have read through the Benefits board by way discovering what the kerfuffle is about and see the issue as similar to many others.

    I use MSE to find out about the latest financial products and find the site useful. As a user of a secondary Nationwide account used to load up for travel, I have found it useful not only to discover the changes about to be made but look into better options. The boards offer even greater depth than simple comparisons, as that’s where I discovered that whilst Santander had what appears a decent alternative, many are unhappy with the customer service. However when I look at the threads there are many posts which would understandably annoy people. Posts from people looking to get debts they have accrued cancelled. I can understand why this annoys people.

    Shoplifters are paid for by higher prices to shoppers. Debt defaulters are paid for by higher interest(price) to debtors. Fraudulent insurance claims push up insurance prices to insurance buyers and benefit claimants cost tax payers money.

    I decline to engage on those forums with threads from people engaged in behaviour that I consider dubious. I certainly don’t “give them a piece of my mind”. I read what I consider useful, offer advice if I have any useful advice to give and ignore those I feel are cheating.

    However on DT and in the arms, people can talk about a range of issues and so long as it is not personally abusive I see no wrong. My personal opinion of the welfare state is that it is a disaster for the wealth and prosperity of the country, creating perverse incentives to neither work nor save. I see no wrong also in expressing a lack of respect for those in the news that have 8 kids, get 40k a year in benefits and live in a free state funded house worth 400k. I think it is an insult to the millions working hard on modest incomes shuffling a third of their take home (NI & Income Tax) to the government. I understand exactly how and why it infuriates people. This is not a “hate crime”. No comparison can be made with racism, sexism or homophobia. Comparisons to the treatment of Jews in the third Reich are an insult to those who suffered. There is no conspiracy of propaganda in the media to demonise welfare claimants, only stories that inform us just how broken and perverse the welfare state had become.

    I am saddened if abuse has been occurring on forums designed to share knowledge and ask or offer advice. I would be saddened further if DT was stifled by a few abuse button happy oddballs accusing anybody they disagreed with of being Nazi’s
    I wonder why it is, that young men are always cautioned against bad girls. Anyone can handle a bad girl. It's the good girls men should be warned against.-David Niven
  • Saucepot wrote: »
    I hope you do not mean me; I have never frequented the benefits boards as I neither need advice nor wish to offer advice in this area. On DT people do accuse me of being a serial wind up merchant.

    However I have read through the Benefits board by way discovering what the kerfuffle is about and see the issue as similar to many others.

    I use MSE to find out about the latest financial products and find the site useful. As a user of a secondary Nationwide account used to load up for travel, I have found it useful not only to discover the changes about to be made but look into better options. The boards offer even greater depth than simple comparisons, as that’s where I discovered that whilst Santander had what appears a decent alternative, many are unhappy with the customer service. However when I look at the threads there are many posts which would understandably annoy people. Posts from people looking to get debts they have accrued cancelled. I can understand why this annoys people.

    Shoplifters are paid for by higher prices to shoppers. Debt defaulters are paid for by higher interest(price) to debtors. Fraudulent insurance claims push up insurance prices to insurance buyers and benefit claimants cost tax payers money.

    I decline to engage on those forums with threads from people engaged in behaviour that I consider dubious. I certainly don’t “give them a piece of my mind”. I read what I consider useful, offer advice if I have any useful advice to give and ignore those I feel are cheating.

    However on DT and in the arms, people can talk about a range of issues and so long as it is not personally abusive I see no wrong. My personal opinion of the welfare state is that it is a disaster for the wealth and prosperity of the country, creating perverse incentives to neither work nor save. I see no wrong also in expressing a lack of respect for those in the news that have 8 kids, get 40k a year in benefits and live in a free state funded house worth 400k. I think it is an insult to the millions working hard on modest incomes shuffling a third of their take home (NI & Income Tax) to the government. I understand exactly how and why in infuriates people. This is not a “hate crime”. No comparison can be made with racism, sexism or homophobia. Comparisons to the treatment of Jews in the third Reich are an insult to those who suffered. There is no conspiracy of propaganda in the media to demonise welfare claimants, only stories that inform us just how broken and perverse the welfare state had become.

    I am saddened if abuse has been occurring on forums designed to share knowledge and ask or offer advice. I would be saddened further if DT was stifled by a few abuse button happy oddballs accusing anybody they disagreed with of being Nazi’s


    I refer everyone to this post.
    [greenhighlight]but it matters when the most senior politician in the land is happy to use language and examples that are simply not true.
    [/greenhighlight][redtitle]
    The impact of this is to stigmatise people on benefits,
    and we should be deeply worried about that
    [/redtitle](house of lords debate, talking about Cameron)
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