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Are moderator's too heavy handed?

LOCKED DISCUSSION

I fully understand why the moderators need to keep angry and inflammatory posts off the site. Nevertheless, I can't understand why they remove posts which ask legitimate questions which could result in angry replies. I think this is wrong!!! If the question is reasonable, it should be allowed, but angry or unreasonable or inflammatory replies should not be tolerated.

I have recently had a few very polite and respectful posts removed, and I'm so annoyed that I'm about ready to quit CH. If "touchy" or controversial topics cannot be politely discussed here, then I think this site loses much of it's value. Two recent posts I've had removed related to 1) how I should best handle a situation when we were seated next to over-the-top unruly children, and 2) whether a restauranteur's political stand should reasonably influence the choice of dining there.

I think the moderators greatly overstep their bounds by removing the legitimate questions. Their role should be removing disrespectful, vulgar, angry, inflammatory responses....not the reasonable question! Do others agree?

  1. "If "touchy" or controversial topics cannot be politely discussed here, then I think this site loses much of it's value...."

    Touchy and controversial topics are hardly ever politely discussed here. What remains of controversial threads are the posts from the polite ones after the moderators have cleaned up after the usual "unruly children" have had their say. That's just how the internet rolls. Also, CH's singular purpose is to help people find delicious things to eat. Topics like unruly children, or a restauranteur's politics are superfluous to that mission IMHO, so as simply a sidebar conversation on NAF boards, I'm happy with those being minimized, since all they do is spread the vitriol.

    1. There are a few areas where people have great difficulty discussing the subject with any kind of decorum, children in restaurants is one and politics is another. When a subject is one that goes badly and is tangential to our core mission of helping people find delicious food -- which is the case with both of these -- we can't spare the resources from investigating shilling and keeping the rest of the site honest and friendly in order to keep on top of a thread that is inevitably going to be flame-filled and ugly.

      We'll sometimes leave a question on those topics if it's framed very carefully in a way that'll stave off the flames for awhile, and then lock it once it becomes too unruly for us to manage effectively. If the thread is headed downhill right from the start, we're sorry, but for an issue that's only tangentially related to food, sometimes it's just not worth the amount of time and attention it would take to keep it in line.

      4 Replies
      1. re: The Chowhound Team

        If you only want to "help people find delicious food", why do you have the "Not About Food" forum? This forum is the perfect place to discuss subjects such as the two legitimate, although controversial topics that I raised. If you don't allow them, then this forum becomes pretty much irrelevant.

        1. re: josephnl

          Relevancy is totally dependent upon whose ox is being gored. Just because your two examples weren't embraced as ones that could be discussed in a civil manner here hardly means that the entire NAF list of topics becomes irrelevant. Having a little perspective, despite your bias, will better serve you and the entire CH site.

          1. re: josephnl

            The Not About Food forum siphons off some of the off-topic chatter that would otherwise distract from the food conversations, so it does serve a purpose. And some 'related to food but not about food' conversation is okay, as long as it doesn't soak up too much of the energy that would be better spent on discussing actual food -- whether that's moderator time or member attention and goodwill towards other members.

            We can't simply let those threads run freely -- the negative feelings they generate have too large an impact on the discussion of chow, because members who are angry at each other from one conversation won't share tips in a friendly manner in another thread. We can't dedicate any more attention to them -- there are more chowish, more on topic threads that need our limited resources. As you've suggested, the other alternative is to simply not allow any of those types of threads, ever, but we're trying to strike a balance without going that far.

            1. re: The Chowhound Team

              not long ago there was a post regarding a certain area of the country. as usual per here the op was looking for good dining in the area. i posted a replay that while in the area, they should check out a museum which i knew was not food related. it was a short response and didn't take up much space. if i had tried to post it in the not food related forum, they would never have seen it. would that have been deleted if i had also mentioned restaurants in the area? i doubt it.

        2. Moderation policies seem arbitrary and biased in favor of the regulars who are mostly a clique....I have had posts removed from LA thread and yet others have been allowed to post the same info/comments and it was not removed (i.e., questions regarding 5Guys that were LA specific). Currently a regular has posted that a restaurant, among other things, is dirty and that comment stands. Yet when I commented that a roach crawled across the table at a local restaurant that comment was removed.

          6 Replies
          1. re: foufou

            "Currently a regular has posted that a restaurant, among other things, is dirty and that comment stands. Yet when I commented that a roach crawled across the table at a local restaurant that comment was removed."

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/789709

            1. re: foufou

              We draw a distinction between saying a place is dirty (which is not particularly inflammatory, and something customers can observe for themselves on subsequent visits) and making accusations of things like pest problems and other health code violations (which aren't readily verifiable, and which can cause people to write a restaurant off forever, even without verification).

              We can't be an accurate, complete, up-to-date source of health violation information, and we'd rather not be an inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date source of that information, so we try not to be a source of those sorts of accusations at all. Instead, we ask that people who have that kind of information to make public do so via their local health department, which is in a position to be accurate, complete and up-to-date.

              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                thank you...I believe that an opinion of a poster that a restaurant is dirty is very subjective and is also a conclusion in the vein of a health violation, ymmv. As well, can anyone explain why I had two LA specific posts about 5 Guys removed to the chains board and yet the same identical posts were made subsequently and were allowed to stand? Just wondering.....

              2. re: foufou

                "Moderation policies seem arbitrary and biased in favor of the regulars who are mostly a clique..."

                I'm a regular, cliqueless and I've been deleted plenty. I've been reading here for years, posting for fewer, and have not seen what you allege, so far.

                1. re: mcf

                  "Moderation policies seem arbitrary and biased in favor of the regulars who are mostly a clique..."

                  I'm a regular, and I've observed that the reverse is often true. I agree that the policies seem arbitrary, but they tend to be applied harsher towards this regular, at least. I've had posts deleted for various reasons, and when I've reported posts by others containing the exact same offense, they are often not deleted.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    IME, the posts I report are usually deleted, too. For different reasons, often, because I don't get into put downs and name calling. Similar ones to mine have also been pulled down, sometimes at the same time as mine, others on their own.

              3. in short - yes. they are. but they are pretty much too heavy handed across the board,a s far as new vs established posters go. for a while it seemed i was on someones radar, where almost every post i made seemed to be contested. finally a few were put back, as it was seen that someone had an axe to grind, and it has been more consistent since. i would prefer a less moderated site, but this will never become that, so i just accept it with a shrug, post what i want, and don't worry about it getting removed or not.

                1. It's "their" board.

                  You are not entitled to question what the moderators do about removing posts.

                  This isn't like Uncle Sam telling a newspaper what to publish.

                  No First Amendment rights here, my fell 'Hound.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    "This isn't like Uncle Sam telling a newspaper what to publish"

                    What?

                    1. re: Servorg

                      First Amendment only applies to state action (like Uncle Sam). Not private actors (like Chow).

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I guess I got confused by the "telling...what to publish" since we were talking about telling people NOT (or actually removing) to publish things (here on CH).

                        Normally when it comes to the press and attempts by the Government to put the kibosh on something it is a case of "prior restraint" which..." is an official restriction of speech prior to publication. Prior restraint refers to an unconstitutional attempt to prevent publication or broadcast of any statement, which is restraint on free speech and free press prohibited by the First Amendment to the Constitution."

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Isn't that the same thing? A difference without a distinction?

                          But before we get too pedantic about all of this, I think for everyone that complains about the type or level of moderation on these boards, I think they just feel a level of entitlement that is a bit too high for a publicly run (free!) forum.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            "Isn't that the same thing? A difference without a distinction?"

                            I can't think of a single case where the G was trying to force a news organization to publish something it didn't want to? So probably it is different.

                            And I totally agree with your "level of entitlement" argument. It's also about having a serious lack of perspective as to the perceived importance of what we are talking about here.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              And I totally agree with your "level of entitlement" argument. It's also about having a serious lack of perspective as to the perceived importance of what we are talking about here.
                              ________________________

                              Bingo! Especially the last part.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      no one mentioned the 1st amendment here until you did.

                      1. re: thew

                        So?

                        No one really has a right to complain about moderation (ie censorship), unless they have a right to speak.

                        On these boards, there really is no such right.

                        Look, I wish sometimes that the level of moderation was different, but I also realize that I -- as an unpaid poster and guest on these boards -- should just take what is offered. Offered gratis, no less.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Not really gratis. CHOW does have advertising which users must see in order to use the site. Of course, this is necessary...they must make money somehow!

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            as I've said above here, and in numerous posts on this topic across the board, it is what it is here, and dealing with that is the cost of admission. however i think this board would improve with a lighter touch from the moderators

                            1. re: thew

                              Thanks thew. That is really my point. When I have been as careful as possible in wording a post about say...how to deal with an over the top misbehaving group of adults or children, I am simply looking for advice. This is a reasonable question that we have all had to deal with. When the moderators remove the question, regardless of how tactfully it is worded, because they are concerned about flaming responses, I think they are being overly heavy-handed, and are in so doing reprimanding the wrong party. They shouldn't disallow the question, but should censor rude or improper responses.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          Actually, it is our board. Just like any other commercial media, we, the participants, earn them their revenue via the advertising. If say an 1/8 of the membership decided to quit CH, they would most certainly feel it in their pocket.

                          As for the heavy handedness, my only complaint is the locking of threads when the conversations/post kind of diverge from the topic (in a non-inflammatory way). I'm a very "let the river flow as it may" kind of guy. A lot of the diverging is fun to read and comment on. The locking of threads as such creates unnecessary animosity towards the mods. IMO.

                          1. re: David11238

                            The locking of threads as such creates unnecessary animosity towards the mods. IMO.

                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                            You're not alone in that thinking. Shoot the messenger...

                            and, I fully agree with your pov on members being significant to the financial

                            success of this entire website....free as it is...