• CENSORSHIP and the Forum

    1367407378

    [suspended user]

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    Ha! I was hoping that title would catch your attention! : ))

    Joking apart, I wanted to get people's opinion (and importantly the Moderators' opinion) on posts that 'cross the line' and might cause offence to others.

    You might be aware that the moderators recently felt they had to shut down a thread. The problem (as I understand it) was that the debate was at times too 'heated' and occasionally was 'inflammatory', ie it was likely to upset people. I hold my hand up ('OK Teach, it woz me wot dunnit')!

    I guess it makes sense that we don't want the situation to arise where members start finding the Forum an unpleasant place to hang-out. And so the Forum, rightly, needs Moderators to keep things reasonably 'nice'....... (serious sex kinks and uninhibited sex-chat, an exception of course!!)

    However, shutting a thread down has to be a 'last resort', done only when things have really gone too far. It should never be an automatic response, just because someone has complained about something. Clearly the Moderators share this belief, otherwise shutting down a thread wouldn't be as rare an event as it is.

    But why should it be only a last resort?..... Why shouldn't the Forum be thoroughly 'policed' ? Well, maybe, there's several reasons.

    Controversial discussions, like the one on 'cock-teasing', can be really interesting. They give members an opportunity to examine their attitudes and to reflect on their experiences........ and let's face it, controversy, by it's nature, is bound to upset somebody sometime.

    The second reason why Moderators are right to go easy on censorship, is that Forum members in fact tend to 'self-regulate' posts. Several times I've 'crossed the line' and written something that caused offence, and IMMEDIATELY I've been jumped on by another member. It's great really, because I'm learning to be a little more careful about what I write before I hit the POST THIS button.

    However, if censorship comes from a Moderator, maybe people can start to become too anxious about what they write..... and if that happens, the Forum will lose the vitality that it gets from people thinking like 'free spirits'.

    The other form of built-in safeguard against members getting offended, is that they obviously have a choice to.....just move on to a different thread, if they find the subject is not to their taste.

    But it would be interesting to know what everybody thinks about this. Issues for debate might be 1) the right of members NOT to read something offensive, versus the right of others to 'free speech'. 2) The purpose of the Forum, and whether controversial subjects really fit-in with that purpose. 3) What sort of things might upset YOU in the Forum? 4) Is writing provocative things to 'stir-up' debate OK?..... or if not, when does it 'cross the line'?

    Please...... share your thoughts....

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    Hazy [sign in to see picture]
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    Whilst whole threads are rarely taken down, sometimes a single comment can be removed. If people use the report button to flag inflamatory or inapproriate behaviour, things can be dealt with quickly.

    The moderators do their best to keep the forum a safe and happy place and sometimes somethings got to give.

    1367437739
    chilled_out [sign in to see picture]
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    Lifebuoy & MrBC: I couldn't agree more with the both of you. Debate is the lifeblood of a thinking mind. The problem with debating on the internet is it's very difficult to quickly gauge the level of intellect of the person(s) you are debating with and that's where it can get out of hand. Debating in forums is definitely a skillset in it's own. . I love a good debate... get passionate and go for it for sure. In fact make it the biggest punch up ever if that's where the debate goes... so long as it doesn't get personal, insulting, violent. or damaging.

    My argument to Mary Whitehouse's ideas of censorship was just as valid then as it is now: If you're offended by it then don't watch it. It's just the same in a debate...so long as it' doesn't get personal etc.

    The truth is that too many forum moderators (speaking generally, I haven't seen it in here yet) fail to understand that a good 'punch-up' of a debate can too easily be mistaken for a falling out. Moderating a forum is a thankless task sometimes and one that needs very careful consideration. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship though... the latter is unforgivable.

    1367438320
    S&S [sign in to see picture]
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    It's not the first time that it's happened, so I don't think there needs to be a song and dance about a particular thread getting closed. The rules are laid out pretty clearly, and frankly the mod staff on these forums are some of the best and most consistent I've come across. I don't think we need to re-write the rules or anything at this point - things are running pretty smoothly here as it is. The only issue really has been the increased overt sexual come-ons with the demise of the chat. But aside from that, this place is very well policed.

    I read your previous thread, and frankly I'm surprised it wasn't closed sooner. It was clearly inciting a provocative conversation and was already beginning to descend into flaming, and I'm glad it was closed. It's simply evidence that the staff are doing their jobs correctly, nothing more.

    This 'meta-thread' has the potential to become quite heated quite quickly, and is not doubt being watched closely by the mods already. So in response to your original post, all I can say is that this place is policed very fairly and thoroughly, and the regular posts by the Lovehoney staff themselves should be commended. I have yet to disagree with a decision the staff have made so far, and do not see that likely to change so long as the current standard keeps up.

    1367438835
    chilled_out [sign in to see picture]
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    Is that really what's happened to society? That "clearly inciting a provocative conversation" has become an offence that must be removed from sight before someone is stimulated into action?

    1367439407
    S&S [sign in to see picture]
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    chilled_out wrote:

    Is that really what's happened to society? That "clearly inciting a provocative conversation" has become an offence that must be removed from sight before someone is stimulated into action?

    From the rules: "Posting inflammatory material to provoke emotional responses from other members (often called 'trolling') is not welcome. Please find the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29."

    That's what I meant - maybe a 'provocative conversation' was a bit too light a term. But if you read the original thread lifebuoy made, it was clear that there was inflammatory material throughout.

    Frankly this thread itself and the semi-provocative tone of the original post could be seen as a form of trolling, but I'm not gonna get into that. The forum rules are clearly linked in a sticky on the front page and they don't really leave much room for confusion or debate.

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    rose hip [sign in to see picture]
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    There are plenty of places on the internet to have 'provocative conversations' and a 'punch-up of a debate'. If LH staff decide that this isn't the place for them, free speech is hardly hampered.

    There are far fewer places where we can talk this openly and safely about sexual and personal matters. IMO, I'd much rather both staff and self-moderation err on the side of caution in order to preserve it.

    1367440165
    Lady Ness [sign in to see picture]
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    I must be honest that I'm glad the thread was closed, however I didn't read all of it, but after reading the first post I felt it best to stop. Otherwise I knopw I would've gone into a big rant.

    The thing is you have to also remember that sex is an intimate topic, and when posting a thread, you don't know what someone's sexual history is. A provocative thread my stir emotions from someones past and lead to negative feelings and upset. Sometimes the when a reader gets like this, they may not know completely why, and a part of these hidden emotions may be why they're here.

    As a community about offering sex advice and seeking advice, everyone should really consider that people are here for advice, but also place yourself in someone elses shoes as you write. Will it upset someone? If what you write could upset someone, alter it, to still show your intended topic, but add some consideration into it. We all have our own demons, just think about how upset you get when yours are stirred.

    Also as someone who's moderated forums and even run my own in the past, I feel what LH has done is correct, and that also their guidelines are clear and easy to follow.

    Remember that the forum is linked with Lovehoney, and they want to make sure it's a place of support, not a platform where it can upset people.

    1367445744

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    Really interesting feedback, guys...... especially comments in favour of shutting down the thread in question. I rather (perhaps smuggly) thought everyone would be saying that the Moderator's shut-down was a little over the top.... it was just a fun debate..... and everyone would be very easy-going and liberal minded.... even if people agreed it did go a little 'far' at times.

    A little sobering too, I confess. I think I shall have to be a lot more cautious when starting (and commenting) in threads in the future. I was aware that the Forum membership was impressively diverse.... but it didn't occur to me that a thread like that would cause offence to anyone. I think I made the mistake of thinking that if the membership was regularly reading the often very sexual posts in the forum, they must be easy-going, 'anything goes' types.... who may find something inflammatory, but wouldn't be fazed by it, unless it got really extreme.

    A pity and saddening (for me). I love a good debate.... and I rise to it if it gets exciting. It's immensely tempting to stoke things up by playing devil's advocate, or being otherwise provocative. Of course there are limits.... you can't have people slagging eachother off.... or being overtly sexist, etc.

    Anyway, I'm very sorry you took offence... and I'd like to reassure you that there won't be any other threads from me that could stir heated debate and controversy : )

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    MrBumcheeks wrote:

    Lovehoney is a commercial organisation, with a good reputation. The last thing they want is for anyone to feel alienated through the forum. It's not good for their friendly vibe, or their cashflow!

    Yes, MrB. LH is of course a commercial organisation (and judging by my purchase, and the website and it's Forum, a pretty outstanding one at that).

    Yes, the Forum needs to be a happy place where 'noses don't get put out of joint'. But I submit that part of the Forum's appeal should derive from it being mentally engaging. Debates, even ones that become hotly argued, have a place here.

    From a commercial point of view, it 's in LH's interest to have a busy Forum with lots of people finding it fun and interesting. The more 'hits' a website gets, the more prominent is it's place on search engines. (...correct me if I'm wrong)

    Sometimes when I come into the Forum, there's not a lot I find to be that interesting. Hence my tendency to lark-around sometimes. It's at these times, I tend to think 'Hmmm..... is there a thread I can put together that will add a little a bit more to talk about'.

    Judging by some of the (perfectly legitimate) contributions to THIS thread, this process is more tricky than I assumed. Some members favour a more gentle ambiance, and prefer anything that someone might find 'provocative' to get posted on some other website.

    Unfortunately, that makes it a bit difficult to devise a 'lets-get-things-going' type of thread. One is limited to introducing games, chatting about you and your life, chatting about (inoffensive) sexual practices, and asking for advice. (Not that there's anything wrong with these, of course).

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    Fluffbags [sign in to see picture]
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    I love a good debate thread. I have opinions and that is pretty much what forums are for, your opinions or advise on the subject matter related to the forum. Lovehoney also clearly state in their rules that: "Debate and discussion is encouraged but personal attacks will not be tolerated." Which indicates to me that debates are allowed and encouraged (Literally, says so in the rules.) The problem is that there is a difference between debate and flaming and often heated debates turn to flaming as people get more angry and at this point the thread will be stopped and so it should be.

    As someone who often gets involved in debates I end up feeling pretty guilty after the thread is closed down because I am paranoid. I think "Oh no, did I say something nasty or did I flame anyone" To be honest I always re-read my posts and am careful to word things in a way I think is acceptable, even if I disagree, but everyone has different limits of acceptance and even if I think it was fine, someone else might not. It puts me off getting involved in debates. I do not want to offend anyone.

    I agree with both Nymph, who says people have different triggers and you could upset people but I also agree with others who have said "If it offends you, why are you reading it" However it is in peoples nature (Mine included) to get involved in a conversation about something that stirs an emotional response and this is why it is called trolling if you purposely start threads designed to stir that response from the majority. This is not allowed because it starts big fights.

    I dont think anyone is being censored here. Ultimately, this is not a debate forum for heated discussion. Sex toy chit chat is not something everyone feels comfortable having with friends or family so this is a refuge for those people to come for advice and Lovehoney want to keep it unintimidating. I do not think starting debates or provocative discussions is wrong (I even enjoy them) but I agree with Rosehip. Free speech is not hampered here, Lovehoney have the right to err on the side of caution however, to keep these forums a welcoming place.

    Some people here love a (good level headed) debate and want more while others will want them stopped, preferring not to see the arguing going on. Such is life. Cant please everyone.

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    rose hip [sign in to see picture]
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    Fluffbags wrote:

    I do not think starting debates or provocative discussions is wrong (I even enjoy them) but I agree with Rosehip. Free speech is not hampered here, Lovehoney have the right to err on the side of caution however, to keep these forums a welcoming place.

    Part of the free speech/censorship issue which is often overlooked is the fact that we choose when and where and with whom to have or not have certain types of conversations all the time. It's just normal.

    These forums need to be in keeping with LH's 'sexual happiness people' approach to running and marketing their business. Intentionally stirring up controversy, especially around sexual behaviours, doesn't fit with that. LH is doing something really neat here - countering mainstream mores and creating an environment where all sorts of people feel comfortable talking about their sexuality.

    This forum provides a a safe, accepting and welcoming environment to discuss a topic that is itself far too often treated as provocative or controversial. That is a brilliant achievement. Contentious debate can happen elsewhere; there's no shortage of opportunities for it on the net. What we're doing here is much rarer and an important counter to the strange depictions of sexuality so prevalent in the media and advertising. IMO, as a society we need every bit of this that we can create. We get plenty of argument elsewhere.

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    The comments on that thread made my blood boil......I was more than happy it was taken down as I feel I must confront such opinions.

    it was the antithesis of "sexual happiness"

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    Janny [sign in to see picture]
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    Cannot agree more with Rose who talks absolute sense

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    rubysoho [sign in to see picture]
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    it just made me hulk style angry

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    rose hip wrote:

    These forums need to be in keeping with LH's 'sexual happiness people' approach to running and marketing their business. Intentionally stirring up controversy, especially around sexual behaviours, doesn't fit with that. LH is doing something really neat here - countering mainstream mores and creating an environment where all sorts of people feel comfortable talking about their sexuality.

    This forum provides a a safe, accepting and welcoming environment to discuss a topic that is itself far too often treated as provocative or controversial. That is a brilliant achievement. Contentious debate can happen elsewhere; there's no shortage of opportunities for it on the net. What we're doing here is much rarer and an important counter to the strange depictions of sexuality so prevalent in the media and advertising. IMO, as a society we need every bit of this that we can create. We get plenty of argument elsewhere.

    Thanks for the post, Rosehip. Frequently, there's an impressive cogency to what you write.

    However your over-sight here, is to insist that that the purpose of the Forum is to be a sort of extension of LH's advertising jingle..... 'LoveHoney, the sexual happiness people'.

    I would suggest that the purpose of the Forum is to make available a 'meeting place' for a great diversity of people who want to chat about sex and relationships. Some.... not all...... of those people enjoy debating subjects that lend themselves to multiple viewpoints. Must they be silenced, for fear of an opinion being voiced that other's may disagree with?

    Furthermore, you propose that the great achievement of the Forum is that it gives space 'where people feel comfortable talking about their sexuality'. No one could deny this. But frankly, there's no conflict between this and there being an occasional debate in the Forum. I am aware of no debate that has challenged anyone's sexuality, or given them cause to feel they can't be open about their sex-life and relationships. Have you noticed a sudden drop-off in posts about people's sexuality after a debate has been in the Forum?

    I say, let's have debates for those who want to participate in them. But let's keep it friendly. Smiley faces are there to be used. If the discussion starts to get a bit heated, are we so immature and ineffectual that we can't jump in and say 'Cool it guys!' ?

    1368230915

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    Ork wrote:

    If the discussion starts to get a bit heated, are we so immature and ineffectual that we can't jump in and say 'Cool it guys!' ?

    My experience is you will be essentially told to go away, or some general dismissive statement that generally in its self can start a flame war, a simple gesture to try and cool things down can easily be taken the wrong way when emotions are running high.

    OK Ork.... but that's not my experience of THIS forum. Maybe being told to 'sod-off' happens elsewhere. But people here aren't that aggressive. And people who contribute to debates here are pretty smart.... not just 'mouthy hot heads'.

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    munchkin [sign in to see picture]
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    Wow, been away a little too long from threads recently. I haven't seen the thread being referred to but here are my thoughts.

    Getting to read other people's views on LH's forum has really shown me that there are some really normal people out there with enjoyable and fun sex lives - and that it's ok to actually enjoy variety! I also love coming to this forum because people can openly discuss topics about sex without it slipping into the realms of 'sleazy' in a way that other forums descend into that abyss (really it acutally just becomes monotonous).

    Anything funny is eaactly that and most cases anything serious is discussed maturely. Whilst I don't agree with what everyone says I think it's important that people are able to express themsleves. HOWEVER, I don't believe anyone should behave in a manner that may be insulting to other people as I feel that would deter others from getting involved. I'm all for someone playing devil's advocate if it's approached intelligently and provokes thoughtful debate. I do think though that any thread where this approach is adopted needs to be managed carefully as the tone of a discussion can become heated and that's when it can get personal, so I'm all in favour of moderators actively censoring anyone that becomes insulting or abusive.

    It's the LH customers that make this forum so great and that needs to be protected.

    1368262965

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    Very clearly put, Munchkin. Yes there obviously is a role for pro-active moderation..... and maybe one shouldn't take it too personally if a thread gets stopped.

    On reflection, I can also see Rose hip's point about normally being able to choose WHO you debate something with. Here, on the Forum, everyone gets exposed to the arguments..... and that can be bad news if the reader could be really upset by it. For example, you could open a debate, starting with the idea that it's stupid to choose to have kids. Well, a reader might recently have lost their child in a car accident. One might be able to avoid this sort of situation occurring, by starting the opening post with a warning..... 'if this subject is a sensitive matter for you, it's better to read no further...'

    Debates are, potentially, a tricky thing. They can be interesting and a lot of fun. But they also need to be conducted in a way that is aware of other people's sensitivities.

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