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How much moderation do the forums need?



Before we even get started, I'm going to warn you now that some of the language behind the links in the next paragraph is not safe for work, so please be careful when you click.

Warcraftchicks.com argues that the official World of Warcraft forums need full time moderation. This is an issues that I am very divided about.

I generally fall under the 'say anything' school of free speech. If you know me personally you know that, while I'm capable of expressing myself without any vulgarities at all, I'm actually a fairly salty individual and when I talk I can be rather crude. Furthermore, I'm very comfortable with discussing topics that would probably nauseate or sicken a lot of people. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of my time doing things that most people don't nowadays. One of my summer jobs every year was working in our slaughterhouse, and I spent almost every morning mucking out stalls. To this day, I can talk about these kinds of things while I eat. So I generally have a much higher threshold before anything really bothers me, my hot buttons tending to be overt racism or prejudice, and even then I usually just opt to avoid talking to the people spewing those kinds of things.

But clearly the examples SugarChick lists are, in addition to being insanely crude, horribly racist (especially the lists posted on Martin Luther King day that she mentions) and otherwise generally unfit for social discourse with strangers (which is, after all, what the forums ultimately are) have no purpose aside from trying to be offensive or shocking.

Not only are they at best moronic, they're also absolutely pointless and serve only to clog up the forums which are ostensibly about World of Warcraft and not about random racism, sexism, crude representations of bias or raw sexual discourse. The forum guidelines even clearly state that these kinds of things are forbidden. Blizzard is not running a BBS or a message board dedicated to the free and open exchange of ideas here, even including hateful ones, they're running a forum for discussion of the game. This isn't a freedom of speech issue because there's no guarantee of free and open speech in a privately owned forum with a stated goal. While I appreciate that Blizzard isn't draconian in their moderation, I'd have to say that it could use some tightening up - I would personally have much less trouble with some of the speech here if it was being expressed in a post that had anything at all to do with the game, but my personal tastes here aren't important. Blizzard has already set the bar for what's acceptable and what's not, and it seems that a great many posters can't seem to bear to abide by it.

I can't see how some of these posts could ever be germane to the discussion of WoW, and in that case I think they should go post-haste. I'm okay with shocking, harsh or even crude speech personally, but I recognize that in this case it serves no useful purpose at all and isn't in any way protected on a privately owned forum used to help promote discussion of the game. If moderation is the only way to prevent this kind of nonsense, then I find myself rather unhappily supporting the idea of increasing the amount of it on the forums.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Forums

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