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Censorship The Internet

The Effects of Censorship — a Tale of Two Websites 146

An anonymous reader writes "Two message boards devoted to the same topic have each been on-line for roughly eight years. One is censored, and the other is not. The two forums are virtually the only ones devoted to their topic (polygraph testing, a fairly arcane one), so they're in "competition" only with each other. The result? The uncensored forum has more than six times as many posts as the censored one." To be fair, there are a few other differences between the two forums, but the point may still be valid.
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The Effects of Censorship — a Tale of Two Websites

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:09AM (#23461332)
    cmdrtaco smells bad.
  • by BattleCat ( 244240 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:10AM (#23461344)
    ? What about s/n ratio on censored and uncensored forums ? if 5 of 6 posts on latter messageboard are offtopic (goatse, flamewars, irrelevant and trollish) , then s/n ratio of censored forum is waay higher.
     
    • by Vectronic ( 1221470 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:40AM (#23461724)
      Yeah, thats basically it, post the artical with that answer, end of discussion.

      Google has 52,600,000 results for "Slashdot" but its only the first two that matter (.org, and wikipedia... followed by the page for every section)
    • by Apatharch ( 796324 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:41AM (#23461742)
      Judging which posts qualify as noise is not a straightforward issue, though; one's results could vary wildly according to exactly where one chooses to draw the line. And when all the moderators drawing that line are on one side of an argument, any deletions which might objectively be judged as overzealous will most likely favour that side. The only way to be sure of seeing the whole argument is if there is no moderation (or, less euphemistically, censorship).

      As far as the uncensored site attracting more discussion, that can only be judged conclusively if the number of posts deleted on the moderated site is known - although they would have to outnumber existing posts by a factor of 5.5 for the sites to have had equivalent levels of traffic.

      (All of which disregards bannings from both sites, which would also be a factor.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Traditionally, I've found that forums devoted to relatively specific interest groups tend to be mercifully free of gaping orifices.

    • by corporatemutantninja ( 533295 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:45AM (#23462436)
      In regard to this question of quality vs. quantity, where is the line between "censored" and "moderated"? I'm thinking of the official WoW forums compared Elitist Jerks forums. The EJ forums are heavily moderated, whereas the WoW forums are not. The WoW forums get many, many, many times as many posts...yet most of it is total crap. Anybody who wants to seriously discuss WoW and not just have flame wars goes to EJ.

      And in response to concerns that "oversight doesn't scale", the advantage of moderation is not just that the moderators weed out the junk, but that people end up posting less junk in the first place.

      • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

        In regard to this question of quality vs. quantity, where is the line between "censored" and "moderated"?

        In my opinion, the line is drawn when one can have posts and posting privileges removed for expressing an opinion. The official WoW forums are moderated but not censored.

        The WoW forums get many, many, many times as many posts...yet most of it is total crap.

        You are too kind. It's difficult to find any signal at all. It's an interesting idea, posting as your in-game characters, but horribly executed. Breaking up discussion by class is an open invitation for endless whining and flaming. By comparison, thottbot, which breaks discussion up by quest, item, recipe/spell, etc. and has up/down

    • ? What about s/n ratio on censored and uncensored forums ? if 5 of 6 posts on latter messageboard are offtopic (goatse, flamewars, irrelevant and trollish) , then s/n ratio of censored forum is waay higher.
      There's a difference between not censoring, and not filtering out spam. censorship implies that certain view points are barred, unsensored implies that everyone's view point is accepted, it doesn't mean that no one picks up the trash.
      • by fwarren ( 579763 )

        There's a difference between not censoring, and not filtering out spam. censorship implies that certain view points are barred, unsensored implies that everyone's view point is accepted, it doesn't mean that no one picks up the trash.

        I have to agree. That is one thing that people don't think of when they think of freedom of speech and tolerence.

        Someone advocating something is speech. Someone against the same thing is speech. Both of which should be allowed. Someone just yelling "work from home, let me show you how" is advertising and NOT free speech. Not all points of view should be protected. Speech designed to keep others or anyone from being heard (spam) would fall in that category.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @11:23AM (#23462976) Homepage
      I'm on the two large Pontiac Fiero forums. and I can tell you that the amount of USEFUL info is far greater on the Censored forum compared to the uncensored one.

      The uncensored RFT is chock full of outright lies and bull while the Fiero.nl one is censored not ony in content but in quality of content. If a post is flat out wrong and the poster will not change it it get's deleted. on RFT you get a 3 month long pissing match that degenerates into nothing more than a flamefest.

      Yes the number of posts are higher, but the quality of those posts are of lower value.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DittoBox ( 978894 )
        Something concerns me though. There's the more pertinent question of your sanity, now that we know what you drive.

        Actually it's not really a question. It's more along the lines of "WTF dude!?!?"
    • by Endo13 ( 1000782 )
      Yeah, there's a difference in post quality. You're wrong on what it is though. One of the two forums is a discussion board about polygraphs. Yes, of course you'll have some dross mixed in. The other forum is a Q&A board, where you ask a Q and the A (almost invariably posted by a mod) boils down to "STFU idiot".
    • Both have 100% noise ratios as polygraphs are complete rubbish.
    • I think the somethingawful.com forums have proved that strict moderation is needed for large general forums. Despite being one of the largest forums on the internet and having tens of thousands of members, it manages to avoid the usual spam, flamewars and brainless repetition of memes that plague others (well, they last for a while, but often get clamped down on quite quickly as old and overused). The $10 fee to register probably helps, since it gives a monetary loss for being banned.
      • by Pluvius ( 734915 )
        No, it's just proved that you can charge money to post to a forum with totally asinine policies (particularly the "no sassing mods" one, which gives the mods power to ban pretty much anyone they don't like or anyone who questions their decisions) and thousands of idiots will still queue up for it. SA could still have a decent set of forums without these rules.

        Rob
    • by krunk7 ( 748055 )

      if 5 of 6 posts on latter messageboard are offtopic (goatse, flamewars, irrelevant and trollish)

      Agreed. Polygraph Tester enthusiasts are known to be a pretty wild, ornery bunch.

    • Well, I guess you'd have to make the distinction between a moderated discussion (which is what you're talking about) vs. a censored format, where posts are removed because they fail to meet some arbitrary standard imposed by the forum operators. Then, of course, there are user-moderated environments like Slashdot, where the operators don't censor us ... we censor us.
  • umm.. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does the censored one get "FRIST P0ST!!!" posts?

    Also, FRIST P0ST!!!
  • Melodramatic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:11AM (#23461350) Homepage Journal
    Censored? Do we mean, less melodramatically, "moderated"?

    Perhaps the author is under the impression that quantity and quality are the same thing.
    • Re:Melodramatic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) * on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:26AM (#23461560) Homepage Journal
      Agreed. And moderation doesn't necessarily have to mean deleting posts. As a FidoNet echo moderator many years ago, 90% of what I had to do was to tell users to cool off or they were gonna get banned. Only nodes that were deliberately sending spam (or refused to listen to the moderator) got banned. It wasn't like we could really delete messages anyhow (there was no equivalent of UseNet's 'cancel'), but my moderation for local boards (where I did have the power to delete) was basically the same.

      I only ever deleted a very small number of posts, most at the request of the original posters.

      • Hey, I remember Fidonet. Sort of like my 1950 Plymouth. Probably not as satisfactory as what replaced it, but a solid, useful, product/service in its time. A belated thanks for your efforts on it.
    • Re:Melodramatic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Slashdot Parent ( 995749 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:33AM (#23461654)
      Nevermind that while the topics of the forums are "polygraph testing", they couldn't possibly be more different. One is pro, and the other is anti polygraph.

      Which one do you think has more posts?

      What a stupid waste of an article.
      • Re:Melodramatic (Score:4, Informative)

        by Idbar ( 1034346 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:32AM (#23462308)
        Better yet, the article is in the anti polygraph, and they are those that argue to have more posts. Is there an "objective" document somewhere, rather than complains of "And yeah.. they even removed our posts!".
      • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:43AM (#23462428)

        while the topics of the forums are "polygraph testing", they couldn't possibly be more different

        I guess the difference is not as much due to being "censored" (i.e. moderated) or not. One site is for professionals in the field, the other is for activists who fear that technology for some reason.


        Anyone could create the exact opposite effect if they wished to: create an unmoderated forum on, let's say, chrome plating technology. Then create a moderated forum debating the supposed ill-effects of chromium on human health. Want to bet that the "censored" anti-chromium site would get six times as many posts as the technical one?

        • by Reziac ( 43301 ) * on Monday May 19, 2008 @01:03PM (#23464200) Homepage Journal
          Also, a site used by professionals simply won't have the huge volume of unfounded and tinfoil-hat opinion that you see in open-discussion forums, *regardless* of the subject and *regardless* of whether either is pro-whatever or con-whatever. It's that way everywhere. And if a professional forum is opened to every wild-assed opinion that flames by, it soon becomes useless to those professionals for whom time is money.

          So... while I am against censorship in principle (and absolutely against it when it is *government mandated*), this doesn't mean that a privately-owned site should be forced to allow every post that comes down the pipe. It merely needs to be consistent.

    • Re:Melodramatic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:36AM (#23461696)
      Censored? Do we mean, less melodramatically, "moderated"?

      Really. I'm surprised the summary didn't say, "One site, run by fascists, gets less traffic from nice people like me."

      Of all of the terms that get tortured out of proper use (on this board, esepcially), "censorship" is one of most abused. When you choose to go make use of a service (like an online forum), one of the things you consider is whether or not the rules of that gathering's discourse are useful to you, or not. It's called freedom of association, and it's the exact opposite of censorship. Censorship would involve a central authority, backed up by force, that would impact all public discourse in the same way. That central government authority is not present in this case. Censorship is not happening. There's nothing stopping anyone from just starting up another board that DOES tolerate any nonsense anyone wants to post.

      There are all sorts of forums that are only worth a damn because they ARE moderated. That's not censorship, it's quality control. People who call it censorship probably also complain that there are rules in pick-up basketball games among people who gather to play them, or that not every church uses the hymn book they think should be used, or that the politcal party they hate has primary elections according that party's own preferences.

      Slashdot has opted not to run with at least a few of my submitted articles over the years. Censorship? Give me a break.
      • by sukotto ( 122876 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:20AM (#23462144)

        Of all of the terms that get tortured out of proper use (on this board, esepcially), "censorship" is one of most abused. When you
        We do not torture terms here at Slashdot. (We may, however, subject them to severely harsh treatment, inflicting traumatic pain and degradation. But not *torture*, oh no, never *torture*)

    • Yeah, but it's much more exciting to throw up the Censorship tag on slashdot. If they removed all the articles on slashdot with the censorship tag, perhaps slashdot would have less than six times as many posts
    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      Censored? Do we mean, less melodramatically, "moderated"? Perhaps the author is under the impression that quantity and quality are the same thing.

      RTFA! Moderated means removing trolls, off-topic junk, and depending on the board, inappropriate language and such.

      OTOH, censorship is removing posts that are on-topic and politely worded but express or imply an unwanted opinion

      TFA states that the latter is what is happening here, so it would be censorship.

  • * post censored *
  • quantity != quality (Score:4, Informative)

    by moranar ( 632206 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:12AM (#23461362) Homepage Journal
    I shouldn't have to say this. The article doesn't talk at all about the quality of the posting in the forums, only that in one, dissenting opinions are banned (and, being said by the competition, I take it with a boatload of salt).
    • I dunno - it depends on the topic and the site more than anything else.

      Strict moderation doesn't automatically make it better, either. I happen to do server work (and am currently rebuilding) a website that deals in NSFW (okay, pr0n) 3D/CG artwork. The only moderation is to keep out spam and the occasional dickhead who can't seem to figure out how to behave in polite company.

      We have roughly 300k members, ab't 75% of them active. The galleries get the lion's share of the traffic (for obvious reasons). OT

  • by ThreeGigs ( 239452 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:13AM (#23461386)
    Show me a topic with 10 or 12 forums, with a balance between censored and uncensored formats, and *then* I'll grant the possibility of a trend.

    Otherwise, one bad moderator, or one good poster can make a big difference, hiding the effects of censorship.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Thanshin ( 1188877 )

      Otherwise, one bad moderator, or one good poster can make a big difference, hiding the effects of censorship.
      I understand why one bad poster can't make a big difference, but why can't one good moderator?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KeithJM ( 1024071 )
        I think the point is that a bad poster or a good moderator make the opposite argument (they make the argument FOR a moderated forum, rather than against). He says that one bad moderator or one good poster can hide the affects of moderation.
        I believe one bad poster in an un-moderated forum could be enough to make you wish the forum was moderated. Obviously, a good moderator could also make an argument for a moderated forum. I think the point was that it's hard to make an argument for a moderated forum if
    • Otherwise, one bad moderator, or one good poster can make a big difference, hiding the effects of censorship.
      to help you prove your point, (which is quite insightful) I have modded you '+1 overrated'

      my one bad moderation will now throw all of slashdot entirely out of whack!

      haha!

      I thought my plan was so brilliant, I just had to post about my actions for everyone to see.
    • An even better comparison would be a pair of forums, one moderated and the other unmoderated, with the same viewpoint on the same topic. The poster in the forum quoted in the article is comparing apples grown in a greenhouse with oranges grown outside.
  • and the website is already slashdotted so you can't blame me for not having RTFA (RTFF?).

    Anyway, what's the point of just counting the number of posts?
    • and the website is already slashdotted so you can't blame me for not having RTFA (RTFF?).

      So, does that mean we just censored something?
  • by Russianspi ( 1129469 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:15AM (#23461418)
    Wow. One website has a green background, and another has a blue background. The one with the green background has 12x as many posts as the other one. Coincidence? I think not.
  • by J_DarkElf ( 602111 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:15AM (#23461420) Journal
    The "uncensored" board has two sections which do not exist on the other board: "off topic", which has the usual "forum games" and other post-count spammers, and a section called "Employment Forums", which also deals with off-topic posting.

    It's easy to claim you have more posts than your competitor if your scope is much wider.
    • I'm not sure if this is the case with the forum in question, but an OffTopic forum can help smooth the flow of a forum's posts. When I took over PCQandA.com (then called PCNineOneOne.com), I realized that the Computer Help forum (the main reason for PC911) was being overrun with off topic posts. They weren't bad most of the time, but you might make a post for help, check back later, only to find that your post had dropped a page or two thanks to a few jokes. Plus, flamewars that were erupting over politi
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:18AM (#23461452)
    This sounds a bit adolescent to me.

    Measuring your success by the number of posts, either as an individual or as a forum owner is irrelevant - unless you're counting on advertisement revenue.

    If I was interested in this topic, I'd be inclined to post to whichever one had the more professional (i.e. lowest spam ratio) content

  • So what? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One search engine has been online for roughly 10 years, the other for about 13. Both devoted to search the web. One is Google and rules the world, the other is Altavista and almost disappeared. Conclusion? There are a lot of factors that influence success; this article is useless.
  • by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:18AM (#23461466)
    The problems are obvious and numerous.

    First of all, there is the assumption that the only difference between the two boards is that one is moderated (censored? give me a break) and the other is not. There is no accounting for differences in advertising, domain names, partnerships, ease of use and navigation, bad moderators, abusive members, on-page advertising, site speed, yadda yadda.

    Second of all, there is a difference between quantity and quality. Many Usenet groups still get many more posts than online forums covering the same topics, but 90%+ of Usenet posts are just garbage.
  • Pro Vs Anti (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn@gmaMOSCOWil.com minus city> on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:18AM (#23461468) Journal

    To be fair, there are a few other differences between the two forums, but the point may still be valid.

    I'll say.

    My first suspicion was that one just reeked of horrid angry fruit salad 1999 intarwebs design (dancing Jesu & flying toasters with a midi track in octaves meant for torture timed with a blinking marquee tag). Honestly, they look about on par although I prefer the simplicity of YaBB though in my opinion it doesn't seem to be an issue here. Normally this is the biggest discriminator for a website's success, not the content.

    I did find it interesting to note the slant to these message boards though. The 'uncensored' website has this text as it's homepage:

    Did you know:

    While the 'censored' board has this as its opening text:

    The Polygraph Place

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ildon ( 413912 )
      That was my first reaction, too. Technically, the content of the two forums are completely opposite. If I started two forums, one called "The Moon Landings Were Fake" and one called "Lunar Landing Discussion", which do you think would have more posts?

      Not including a link to the other polygraph forum (the "loser") directly in the article was another red flag.
  • by piemcfly ( 1232770 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:19AM (#23461470)
    Talk about useless research.
    I wonder what their research proposal looked like.

    I bet it goes something like this:

    research hypothesis: censorship leads to conversations (c) being censored
    H1: c1 > c2

    Null-hypothesis: censorhsip has no consequences whatsoever
    H0: c1 = c2

    Money needed for research: $12 million + travel expenses
    • Furthermore, you may argue the $12M are in case c1 c2; an otherworldly result that would probably destroy the poor researcher's mind with it's alien incomprehensibility.
  • Sample size (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The two forums are virtually the only ones devoted to their topic (polygraph testing, a fairly arcane one), so they're in "competition" only with each other.

    It seems to me that any one of a number of factors could cause one to be far more popular than the other, even if the forums were identical. For instance, a lot of forums have "supermembers" that bring a lot more value to the forums than most people do. If one of these people made their way to one forum rather than the other, people subsequently f

  • I've been a user of a forum about running for a long time (runnersworld.com). Suddenly they changed the software, and responses to a topic where suddenly sequential and not threaded (tabbed), which caused a vast majority to emigrate to another board that had a much better overview of the posts, and who replied to who. Maybe censorship is not the only pointer.
  • by jozmala ( 101511 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:21AM (#23461504)
    Why polygraph is bad.
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    Polygraph for therapy.
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  • If your forum deals with a POPULAR topic. Boards about obscure topics don't need as much (or any) moderation cause spammers don't visit them, and annoying immature trolls, don't know such things exist let alone there are msg boards about them.

    Try having an unmoderated Microsoft board.

    Mind you, the only two forums i am regular at are unmodarated. Granted they are quite uninformative, and there is certain kind of community policing.

    But moderation is required, however as slashdot has proven a moderation mainly
    • Boards about obscure topics don't need as much (or any) moderation cause spammers don't visit them, and annoying immature trolls, don't know such things exist let alone there are msg boards about them.
      I respectfully disagree. You're disregarding automatically generated spam, that infects even totally empty boards.
  • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:25AM (#23461542)
    Sure, the "article" may be a crappy posting by some guy in antipolygraph.org, but he's right. Moderators don't filter very well.

    To see a good example, moderate me +1 Insightful.
    • by AEton ( 654737 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:31AM (#23461624)
      Now that I have your attention: even strict editor-based filtering doesn't often work very well. Too often it reflects the knowledge gaps or biases of the editors. This is not to say that people are dumb. Rather, we tend to trust others and think less critically about topics with which we're only casually acquainted, compared with topics where we're experts.

      To see a prime example, take a look at Saturday's Slashdot post Wikimedia Censors Wikinews [slashdot.org]. The latter half of the article text, written by an anonymous author, was just wrong, a fact that one commenter noticed [slashdot.org] after discussion was well underway.

      The text, in case you're curious:

      The US Communications Deceny Act section 230 grants providers of internet services (such as the Wikipedia and Wikinews) immunity from legal action related to their user-generated content provided they do not exercise pre-publication control. In deleting articles critical of the WMF prior to publication, Wikileaks says the Wikimedia Foundation may have set a dangerous precedent that could remove all of its CDA section 230 immunity (at least for Wikinews, where the control was exercised)."


      (Actually, section 230 exempts you whether or not you exercise editorial control. In fact, that law was passed in large part to clarify unclear prior laws and to make it clear that even if you exercised editorial control, you were still protected. See Stratton Oakmont Inc. v. Prodigy Services Co., 1995 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 229 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1995).)
    • Moderation does not improve the quality of a forum. [...] To see a good example, moderate me +1 Insightful.
      Shut up, dickwad.

      Now they can moderate me (-1 Troll) and prove you wrong.
      • Sounds more like "flamebait" to me, Trollie-O!

        OH SNAP, that teh funny! Mod me +1 funny pl0x, kthx.
  • This is an article on a website claiming that it is better than its (only) competitor. There is no attempt at analysis, no evidence presented other than anecdotal, and the author's bias is clear:

    The board also has a private forum that is open to polygraph examiners only. It has some 7,789 posts. They must have a lot to talk about that they don't want the public to know.

    Or maybe it's all stuff that simply wouldn't interest the public, like arranging social engagements or talking about last night's game. Poin
    • Precisely. If this had appeared in 'another place' I would already be reaching for the 'bury as spam' or 'bury because this is lame' options.
  • Who did that math? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mizlet ( 1291952 )
    22,919 is not 6.5 times 4,579 or anywhere near 30,000. And if you include the private posts on the other forum, it's down to less than twice as many posts.
  • I like the rounding error/optimisim in the linked topic:

    30,000 posts (22,919 at the time of writing)

    "I earn nearly half-a-million a year", said the man earning £100K!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tack ( 4642 )
      I guess it was a typo, as it now reads 29,919 with 22,919 stroked out.
  • They are 2 websites! Different traffic, different stats: ===== Antipolygraph.org: Google PageRank: 5 DETAILS Alexa Rank: N/A Compete Rank: 95,912 DETAILS Quantcast Rank: 81,376 DETAILS Google BackLinks: 101 DETAILS Yahoo BackLinks: 6,704 DETAILS Live Search BackLinks: 5 DETAILS Technorati Links: 193 DETAILS ==== www.polygraphplace.com: Google PageRank: 5 DETAILS Alexa Rank: N/A Compete Rank: 339,102 DETAILS Quantcast Rank: 304,754 DETAILS Google BackLinks: 42 DETAILS Yahoo BackLinks: N/A DETAILS Live Se
  • Signal to noise right?
  • we're dealing with polygraph aficionados? people who's obsessive hobby or profession is in the detection of lies... ok

    you would think that such a crowd wouldn't need censors, in fact, wouldn't WANT censors. if lie detection was my thing, i'd want a comment board littered with lies. you know, to work at my skillset. i could bond with other posters on the commment board as we sniffed out who was lying and who wasn't

    "did you see the obvious freudian slip in that post, and the so-called 'accidental' dropping the pronoun at the end of the second sentence? his subconcious is practically screaming guilt"

    "as good as beads of sweat on that post. and you can almost hear the hesitant stammering in the final sentence, the way he loops around his final point"

    "yeah, that post is a lie"

    it seems to me that aficionados of polygraph testing who need censorship is kind of like psychics who can't guess the lottery numbers
    • One board is for Polygraph aficionados ... who believe that Polygraphs can be used to detect lies (which has been repeated demonstrated they can't) the other is for people who might or might not believe that?

      So one board is for a much larger group of people (Everyone) so has more posts ...Amazing!
    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:36AM (#23462354) Journal
      I think you're confusing polygraphers with Jedis or Betazoids or something like that.

      That said, your theory is still an improvement over the one in the original story...

  • All moderation really does is change the type of abuse.
  • Sample size... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lordholm ( 649770 )
    I must say it, with a sample size of two, the statistical evidence is surely convincing...
  • Polygraph testing is just divination with a technological slant. Instead of looking at chicken bones or tea leaves and trying to interpret them, you look at how someone's skin resistance changes. It's just as bogus as phrenology.
    By the same token, comparing numbers of posts on two boards doesn't really say much about how good they are.
  • I'm not normally a negative individual but, OMG! Little wonder it came from an AC; I sure wouldn't want my name associated with such a blatant attempt to build FUD over censorship. Others have already addressed the utter lack of statistical significance of the suspect sample group.

    If anything, this article made me more tolerant of censorship, particularly if it prevents baseless FUD like this article.

  • !Censorship (Score:2, Insightful)

    by youngdev ( 1238812 )
    I would like to point out that unless the government is moderating the forum, then it is not censorship. It is simply a private entity moderating the site which he owns. Good for him.
    • by Miseph ( 979059 )
      Not that I believe the given example actually is censorship, but governments are not the only ones who can engage in censorship.

      For example, the film industry is notorious for censoring ideas and images that the people who run it find distasteful or contrary. The Hollywood blacklisting of communists [wikipedia.org] was inspired by the government, but created and enforced by the studios.

      If the major news networks refuse to carry stories that would be damaging to their corporate interests (including political movements or ac
  • One from last year [slashdot.org] here about George Maschke critiquing a polygraph test that was admitted as court evidence without the agreement of both parties.
  • It's one thing getting up on your high horse and saying "Censorship is wrong" is one thing, but ascribing it negative effects is simply doesn't have is just damaging your own cause. The websites listed are on different damn subjects, one discusses the merits of polygraphs, one helps people search for people trained in using them. So one's a discussion forum, one's an information source, not the same thing at all. The simple fact is if censorship had such measurable negative effects then it would be well kno
  • I can say that this "article" is quite off base. I own a fairly busy political debate forum. We're a moderated forum by choice. We have a clear set of rules in place aimed specifically at maintaining quality and discouraging quantity, regardless of whatever opinion someone may present, and we have a group of moderators who cover the entire political spectrum. We've been around less than six years (compared to the 8-9 years in the article), and we sit at just short of a quarter million posts. Who cares? Pos
    • Sorry, I figured Slashdot automatically converted linebreaks...

      I can say that this "article" is quite off base. I own a fairly busy political debate forum. We're a moderated forum by choice. We have a clear set of rules in place aimed specifically at maintaining quality and discouraging quantity, regardless of whatever opinion someone may present, and we have a group of moderators who cover the entire political spectrum.

      We've been around less than six years (compared to the 8-9 years in the article),
  • The "article" is nothing more than a message board post on one of the sites in question, by one of the site's administrators, loudly proclaiming how much better they are than the other site because they don't "censor" people. Oh, and it was submitted by an AC.

    Call me cynical, but I'm not seeing the news here, just a sly attempt at advertising.
  • Can you really get any scientific conclusions from analyzing websites devoted to what is essentially electronic astrology?
  • by abbamouse ( 469716 ) on Monday May 19, 2008 @12:46PM (#23464002) Homepage
    A quick check of Google Groups shows that soc.history (my favorite USENET group back in 1994) has 42477 topics, while soc.history.moderated has only 7482, around one-sixth as many topics. But I would never pick soc.history over soc.history.moderated. The quality of posts in the latter is much better. Indeed, I had to abandon soc.history entirely around 1995 or so due to the flooding of the group by "Serdar Argic" (a semi-automated genocide-denier that argued that the rest of the world had it all wrong and that the starving Armenians had massacred the poor defenseless Ottoman Turks during World War I). The number of posts is far less important than the content of those posts, and some forms of censorship (restrained moderation) end up producing a much more interesting and intelligent discussion than a free-for-all.
  • ... but the point may still be valid.

    Indeed. If only we knew what the point was. Of course I know what the poster is trying to say here: "Censorship is soooo bad for you". And there are indeed many examples in the world that illustrate that point, but this posting reeks to high heaven of dishonesty, in my opinion.

    First of all - we hear about two message boards, "one is censored, one isn't"; what does that mean? My guess is that it means one is moderated, so why not just say that? It is after all the normal, accepted word; the answer, I assum

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